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Discipline: LD/Endurance, CMO, Trail Rider, Cartoonist, Writer, Co-Director/ Green Bean Endurance

September 18, 2011

Holy Cow! What a nice weekend!

The cow clinic at Michaella Walker's Circle M Ranch was so much fun!  But first let's start at the beginning.  I was due to haul out at about 4:30 on Friday.  So at 3:30 I thought I'd be smart to practice trailer loading prior to actually needing to load (an hour later...yeah, I know, it was a long week prior), but anyway, it was going good. Journey was getting in, Journey was getting out.  Her not being able to relax in the trailer was the issue, and my not have two sets of hands instead of one.  I was having an issue getting her to hold her feet still long enough that I could swing the divider over, fasten it, and spend some time with her.  If I stepped back to get the divider, she stepped back too, and then stepped on out.  All pretty low key, but her brain was definitely thinking out, even though she was in.  So I've got her holding still finally, thinking good, good....reaching for the divider and she steps over right on to the bursa joint of my right foot. The one I get steroid injections in so I can continue to bear weight on it, the one that swells and I'd babied all week trying to get it in good enough condition to handle riding long and hard for a few days.  Then not only did she step on it, she pivoted.  I SCREAMED.  The pain of crushing my already inflamed (and previously crushed by another horse who stepped on it in 1987) joint was just incredible.  .  I turn Journey loose and limp into the house heading straight to the ice pack in the freezer.  The foot didn't look to good.  But I iced for an hour, applied arnica gel and was able to get the foot into my tennis shoe.  Downed some anti-inflammatory, and waited for my husband to come home to assist with the loading procedure.  With a prayer that my foot would not out swell fitting into my boot we were on our way.  

The Circle M Ranch is about a thirty minute drive east and then south for me.  Michaella is an accomplished horse woman.  Her mare won a $10, 000 cutting competition, a futurity, and she won the Extreme Mustang Challenge in 2010.  She trains horses, and she trains people.  Her personality is like a bright shining comet that swirls straight into your orbit.  She isn't shy about telling you what you are doing wrong, but she is also very encouraging when you get something right.  The ranch sits up on ridge with a beautiful view off to the southeast, looks like you landed in Appalachia!  The cattle on the farm are Scottish Highlands and they are not nice cows!  Big brutal shaggy beasts with hard little eyes, and big massive horns.  We had one case of a bull charging a horse and rider on day one.  Thank goodness it wasn't Journey and I.  We eventually got to round up these critters, but first we worked our horses on the flag.  At this point in Journey's training she has no back up to speak of, and her whoa is rather  She was good at tracking the flag, but not to hot on her rollback.  Okay, her rollback sucked.  But it was still a lot of fun and it helped her in other ways.  Journey is a bungee horse and when she is around other horses it is like a magnetic force is pulling you towards this horse, or that horse, and her attention is constantly adrift.  This exercise had her standing in a line-up of horses while other horses that were pretty good were having their turn at the flag.  At first she struggled with this but by the end of day two she was able to stand still consistently while some pretty good cutting horses went after the flag with energy and impulsion.  Journey's life-long bungie buddy Cody was there too.  That created some training opportunities as well.  When I tied her to the trailer she started having herself a melt down, doing mini-rears, and pushing into my space because she wanted to be with him.  At first I tried to deal with her, and then finally I thought to myself FITS ARE FREE.  I'm here if she tries to kill herself, but otherwise I ignored her, and by gosh she defused herself when it suddenly seemed like a lot of work.  She stood quiet after that and I didn't hear a peep out of her.   Journey got a lot of good exposure this weekend.  But all I could think when working that flag was I should have brought Phebes.  Phebes would have been all about kicking butt on that flag with her sweet little back-up and front leg yield.  If this is offered again I may take her to see how she does...or I might build one of those contraptions for her.

Lida was at the clinic with Doc, and that Saddlebred never ceases to amaze me.  You should have seen him going after those shaggy cattle!  All beautiful and dressage-like with ears pointed forward... herd cattle he did. Doc is what I call a good all around horse.  Lida has done some many things with Doc that as horses go he is a wise ole sage.  Lida has promised to hook me up to the Snap Fish link so I can maybe get some digital images of the clinic.  If I get some I'll post them up.   Fun weekend .


  1. Thanks for sharing about our fun little weekend. You do such a great job of putting into words what actually happened.

    What a blast. Makes me wish I lived in cattle country so Doc & I could work them on the range. He sure loved it! I sure wish I could have seen him. It was sure fun riding him. :-) (Thanks for your compliments. I love that little horse as I'm sure you can tell. He is worth his weight in gold!)

    And I'm glad you enjoyed your weekend with Journey. I know you were thinking you should have brought Phebes, but I'm thinking it was the perfect experience for you and Journey - lots of opportunity to test her out in a variety of ways that I imagine will make your first endurance ride much more relaxing as you will know some of what to expect out of her. And from what I saw, she may get out of sorts at times, but she sure is smart and settles herself pretty quickly. A great quality to have in a trail horse. A horse can't help but be a horse at times, but if they can snap out of it quickly that is worth a lot.

    I will try to send you some pictures tonight. I was too pooped when I got home last night. I got home at 7:50, took a quick shower and thankfully my hubby made me dinner. I was in bed by 9:00.

    It was a wonderful, glorious weekend with the horses and so much fun hanging out with such a diverse and interesting group of people.

  2. The weekend was good for me in a lot of ways. I have a really hard time finding my "safe place" in social situations, especially in groups of more than three people. Doesn't really matter if I know them or not. So by sitting still around the campfire I was able to kind of overcome that enough that I enjoyed myself. I did find learning opportunities for Journey in several situations this weekend, so it was all good. And who knows....Phebes might have cleaned my clock in the cow situation. But it was a fun weekend, and I was happy to connect with you and Doc again. And the idea of training for cutting is so TEMPTING. But of course I'd probably need me a cow horse. We need to build us one of those flag things at my place :)

  3. Jacke, What a fun clinic! It sounds terrific! Sounds like a lot of interesting people, good times and some challenges with Journey, and a great trainer. I'm sorry your foot was hurt again; I hope it heals quickly. Thanks for sharing about this clinic!