Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Mt. Hood

Every time I drive out to Templeton, I pass miles of Christmas tree farms and I see beautiful Mt. Hood as I pull in the driveway. I think it is so amazing that this magnificent mountain is right in Maddy's backyard. The mountains are such a treat for me because I grew up in Minnesota. In the land of 16,000 lakes, a decent hill is a rare find! I enjoy taking my friends and family that come to visit up to Hood for some of Timberlines famous hot chocolate. Here is a little trivia for those that don't know...the exteriors of the lodge in "The Shining" are Timberline Lodge on the top of Mt. Hood.....here's Johnny!!

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Ben and Rachel

My friends, Ben and Rachel, spent the afternoon out at Templeton Equestrian Center. It was their first time seeing Maddy. They rode this summer in Monterey and really enjoyed their experiences with the horses, so they wanted to get out to the barn and see her. We used to work together, but they have since moved on to bigger and better things. We still get together to make dinners and see movies. We are avid film buffs and Derek and Ben enjoy cooking together. It was a busy day out there. On Sundays, everyone takes part in a jumping class or they head out on the trail. Today was a good day to go because they were able to see many horses and riders.

The Mane Event

The Mane Event expo is coming February 9-11. It is a Canadian run horse expo that will be at the Clark County Expo Center in Vancouver, Washington. I was a vendor there last year with Stable Hand Video. I met tons of cool people, including the owners of the Ansur Saddle Company. I am hoping this year they decide to go forward with producing a promotional DVD for their saddles. Anyway, I am really looking forward to going this year as a spectator because there is a pretty good line up of events and there were some great vendors and bargains there.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Not Gonna Happen

There is a donkey stud next door that has growing sexual frustration. He is a tiny little guy, in with four horses. He chases them all around and when they stop he tries to mount with no avail. He can't wait for the mares to lay down. He sprints across the pasture thinking he finally has a chance and they just stand up:-( We all feel bad for him, but he does provide the barn with endless entertainment. I wish they would just geld the poor thing.

Friday, January 26, 2007

The Girls

Maddy and her buds...Queenie and Classy. I love them like they are mine. Just really distinct personalities and the three of them together are a great combination. It is like watching a horse sitcom when I am out there. Classy; the bold, sassy beauty who can't get enough scratches. Queenie; the boss, the brains, the instigator. She is always up to something. Maddy; the insecure, shy girl that needs Classy to help cut loose.

Hang Time

This week I have really spent a lot of undemanding time with Maddy. On Saturday night, I pulled up a bucket and sat with her in her stall for about an hour while she ate. On Monday, I played in the pasture with her and her herdmates. I love the "girls." Queenie, Classy, Novi, and Maddy just love to be adored. Wednesday we "mosied" around the facility. I took her down to the pond to see the ducks. She is not quite sure what to think of them. In this picture, she is just trying to figure out what those floating black things are. I am working with her as well, but I am noticing a HUGE difference in her this week. There is this amazing calm about her. I think a big wall came down Saturday night while I was in her stall. She would munch some hay and then stroll over and see what I was up to. It was very sweet. When I go to the pasture, she is coming to the gate. When I put her away, she stays, preferring to get her face rubbed. It is really amazing to experience. I was always the kid chasing my ponies all around the pasture and when I was exhausted, finally resorting to getting a bucket of grain. Learning about horse psychology and practicing Parelli techniques is the best thing I have ever done and it is paying off in big ways.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Age Brings Wisdom

Turning 5 was apparently a good thing for Maddy. She was left brained all day and just a happy camper. We made it through all seven games without any drama and did some work around the mounting block. I have to get some video of her going sideways. She goes down the whole arena wall and it is so cool. She is showing a lot of progress on her feet. I am still not able to pick them all up from one side, but she is offering her front and is now holding her back for up to a minute. The barn will be worming in February so I need to get a big syringe and start filling it with applesauce so I can get her used to it before the big day.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Happy Birthday Maddy!

Maddy turned five today. Derek and I went out to see her and give her lots of carrots. I promised her that next year, we would throw a little barn party if she helped me to achieve these goals by her sixth birthday.

1. Submit and pass our level one Parelli test
2. She picks up her feet for me
3. Trailer loading with ease
4. We start trail riding this spring
5. No rearing in the circle game

I am confident we can do this and more because everyday I go out there, she is evolving into the horse I want her to be.

Rockin Maddy Ranch

This is a picture of Maddy's sire, Smoken Now. Isn't he something! Derek calls him a "horse super-hero." I bought Maddy from the Rockin Maddy Ranch in Yreka, California. She was posted on Dreamhorse, and when I saw the photo, I truly couldn't take my eyes off her. I remembering watching something on tv and during commercial breaks I would go back to my computer just to look at her. I contacted Laura and made arrangements to come down. She was about $2,000 over my price range, but I just couldn't get her out of my head. When I got to Yreka, Laura and I went for a long trail ride. Maddy felt so good under saddle and she was so sweet. I thought I have to find a way to buy this horse. My horse buying experiences so far had left me crushed and disappointed. I was expecting her to fail her vet check or something horrible. She passed with flying colors and a couple days later, she was here in Oregon.

I wanted to write about the Rockin Maddy Ranch. Today Laura launched their ranch website. There are some great shots of Smoken Now and there are some photos of the ranch. It is a beautiful place at the base of Mt.Shasta if you are looking for an amazing trail riding experience, Laura and family have put together some great equine tourism packages.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007


The horses are probably going nuts by now. They have been kept in since Saturday. They are alternately getting turned out in the arena for a little exercise, but I imagine they are going stir crazy. At least I got to work with her for about two hours on Monday. I wish the fencing was better because there is nothing like watching horses play in the snow. They love it! I grew up in Minnesota so we never thought twice about turning the horses out in it. I love the snow myself, but I miss my girl and I am anxious to get back to a normal routine.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007


Did I wake up back in Minnesota? We got some crazy snow this morning! This is a very unique situation here in Portland. The whole city shuts down even if there is a dusting. This is the most snow I have seen on the valley floor. You can go to KATU website and read more about all the drama going on here. The horses have been in since Saturday I was fortunate to get out yesterday for my lesson. I can't get to the barn today and I am getting called in early to work, so I took my Cairn Terrier, Ellie, out to play in it.

Sunday, January 14, 2007


They say owning a horse sometimes is "addictive." Even though you have one, you start to think about having two, and then oh why not three. Even though you are perfectly content with one, you start to think about what breed and what traits you want in your next one. I love Queenie, the Percheron cross out at the barn. She looks like and over-grown Shetland, but she is a beautiful mover and what a personality. My boyfriend loves Queenie. I think about draft-cross babies and how much fun it would be to find a nice yearling and raise it for Derek to ride. It is so fun to daydream!

Friday, January 12, 2007

All Dressed Up

I saddled up Maddy on Wednesday and worked her with her gear on. There is nothing quite like a Circle Y saddle. Great quality and as far as I am concerned, the best western saddle out there. This particular one has seen better days, but it is comfortable and fits well and that is what is important. It is an old barrel racing saddle. Maddy seems to think, "it is SO last season."

So Cold!

It started to snow and Wednesday and the temperature keeps dropping. This is a shot of some of the horses out at Templeton Equestrian Center in Beavercreek, Oregon. Notice the electric fencing. I hate it, but it is a new facility and eventually there will be corrals and pasture fence. The Templetons are working hard to get things done around there, but weather this winter has really slowed any progress. It is really a beautiful location with 3,000 acres of BLM land and trails right behind us. I can't wait to explore the trails this summer.

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

I've been tagged!

I guess there is a chain going around and if you are tagged, you have to post 5 things most people don't know about you. Thanks Jerri! Since I am trying to keep my blog horse oriented, I will try to come up with five "horsey" things.

1. My first horse was "Rocket Tink." My dad claimed him for $500 off the track and ran him for two more years. He was twelve years old when he retired from racing and he could still beat the two year olds. He had the heart of a champion and loved to run.

2. My first riding experience was when I was a toddler. My dad plopped me down on a pony named "Pogie." She took off and ran all around the yard and I didn't fall off. My dad was pretty impressed.

3. I have never been thrown from a horse. I have been dumped off all of my ponies MILLIONS of times.

4. As a teenager, when I was grounded "Tink" got padlocked in his stall and I couldn't go riding. Talk about punishment!

5. I lived in England at one point and stayed at Alnwick Castle right above the Dukes Stable. Lord James loved to fox hunt and early mornings I would wake to the sound of hooves on cobblestones. I loved that.

Good Girl

Maddy was on a roll today! We got a lot accomplished, so I went back to some of the basics and polished them up. This photo is a shot of her yielding her hindquarters on the stop during the circle game. When I want her stop, I step forward and slide my hand down the rope. She is so great at giving me two eyes...and those ears are always in motion. The circling game is going much better this week. No fussing, no rearing! It is the first time I have seen the trot I want to experience when I ride her. I have her backing to the end of her 12 foot line with the wave of my finger. Lots of exhaling and licking her lips...for those that don't know much about horses...this is a great thing. It means they are relaxed. I feel pretty good today about my girl.

Monday, January 8, 2007

Horse People

My friend Jerri Gillian came up to Portland over the weekend to see Maddy for the first time. I can credit Jerri in a big way to getting me back into horses. After college, I left horses behind to delve into my career. I moved around the country, going home to Minnesota to see my dads horses run at Canterbury Park in the summers. I was just too busy to miss them. A couple years ago, I felt this big void. I shot a horse neglect story for work and this wave of sadness washed over me and I wanted to ride again. I sought out Jerri on Craigslist after she posted about needing someone to help her exercise her Paso Finos. I had no idea what a "gaited" horse even was, but I was curious and I went out to Hillsboro to meet Precious and Tesoro. I fell in love with Precious. She was sassy and fun. I rode her and I was hooked all over again. Jerri has since moved down to Eugene and has added another Paso to her brood. Young Zapa is her project horse. She has been a wonderful support for me and a great friend. Her blog is a great source of horse information, with lots of fun posts. These pictures are from Saturday. I watched her take a dressage lesson out at this new boarding facility in Banks. This is "Hoss" a twenty-something quarter horse and Jerri getting instruction from Gina.

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

Rainy Days

It is hard to get motivated to go to the barn on rainy days. We have had a really wet winter and everything is muddy. Maddy gets turned out everyday with her pink blanket. It was cute for a day, then it got dirty. I was kicking myself for not getting the brown one. She has four pasturemates who she adores...especially Queenie. Queenie is a fabulous Percheron cross who is loaded with personality. She is a barn favorite and Maddy's best bud.

Tuesday, January 2, 2007

The Horse Project

There is a cool thing going on in P-town called "The Horse Project." An artist, Scott Wayne Indiana, started putting plastic horses on the historic horses rings around downtown. It has really caught on and this morning I found one just across the street when walking the dogs. I had alot of fun this summer doing a video essay of his work, not just because I love horses, but I thought it was a pretty cool idea. I find myself looking for new horses all the time. There was one down the street, but she was taken by horse thiefs! Anyway...check out the link on my blog to the Horse Project for more photos.

Monday, January 1, 2007

Lesson Days

Every Monday I have a lesson with my trainer Michelle Merkin. We worked on picking up feet today because my farrier Andrew was unable to do her back feet last time he was out. She suggested I work around her legs with a rope, first rubbing her with it to desensitize her to it then I criss cross it and hold it like a pulley right above her hoof and lightly tug back and forth until she picks it up. The release is important, because it tells her, "that is what I want." It worked really nicely and by the end of our session, she was picking them up and holding them up. For me, I was safely out of her kick zone which is always a plus. Another trick is to softly touch the chestnuts on the front legs and increase pressure until they pick up their feet. You do the same with the cap of the hock for the back legs. It is important that once the foot is up, to gently circle it and when ready do some tapping. This is the approach I was using, but the rope technique seemed very effective and much safer.