Monday, May 24, 2010

What A Great Weekend!

This past weekend several of us from ETI Corral 88 went to the poker ride hosted by local gymkhana club the Dusty Spurs in Phelan. We had a blast! Even though the weather was not so great, being breezy and a little bit cooler than ideal we just bundled up and enjoyed a nice ride.

My daughter had the 5th best hand out of probably close to 100 hands and won an Outback Steakhouse gift certificate!! Woohoo, we're going to dinner! :) I was on down the list somewhere and brought home a huge jar of Mrs Pastures horse cookies which all the horsey kids here love.

Yesterday the weather deteriorated and it was really cold, so cold that we actually had brief snow flurries here! Can you imagine, late May?! After stacking hay and tending to some basics like cleaning stalls (one of my favorite things, sarcastically speaking of course :P) and scrubbing/re-filling water barrels, it was time for some good old fashioned hot cocoa inside.

This coming weekend is our ETI Corral 88 tack sale in Phelan at White Shadow Ranch (Saturday May 29th) and the following weekend is the fundraiser trail ride in Llano at Bill & Susie Figley's ranch. Check out our website, there are flyers available with all the information you need to know!

That's all for now...busy, busy, busy!!


Sunday, May 16, 2010


This isn't going to be at all horse related, just to let you all know. :)

My daughter turned 18 years old today ~ talk about a milestone!! And here I thought Sweet 16 was something to attain.

She aspires to become a fighter pilot in the US Air Force. This has been a dream of hers for a very long time now, and we are going full bore to make it happen for her. Not sure what a parent can do, other than teach the child right from wrong, good from bad and so on.

Other than that, she is an incredible artist and writer, does amazing website and coding work plus she's an exceptionally talented horsewoman.

Her dad and I could not be more proud of this beautiful young lady. Here's to hoping ALL of her dreams come true.

Happy Birthday sweetheart!! We love you more than anything in this world!!


Friday, May 14, 2010

Good News...And Other Things

Yes, because of my schedule lately I have been lax again about the blog. There's another week or this and then I should have more time...maybe.

First up, we are moving!! The most wonderful thing happened, and we could not be more thrilled. Not moving far away, simply further into lovely Pinon Hills. Nothing could have made us happier! We have been given a golden opportunity of a lifetime.

Then, Ruby's eye treatment: Her ulcer is getting a whole lot smaller, it's a fraction of the size it was and she is really getting around well. With any luck, she will be fully recovered and bred to Magic Aulrab later this Summer.

Next, today several new horses come into training. Business just continues to increase and I'm feeling so blessed.

Also, yesterday the Andalusian/TB filly wore a saddle for the first time. She was a champ!! Then we led her through some of the elements on the Cowboy Course at the ranch and she dealt with it like she was an old hand. What a good girl!

Finally, we are thoroughly busy with ETI Corral 88, the Tri-Community Horsemen. The club continues to welcome new members which is awesome. Our used tack sale will be on Saturday, May 29th and our first trail ride will be on Sunday, June 6th. Flyers for the events are on the Corral 88 website at

Thanks to you all for hanging in there and sticking with reading the blog. We're maintaining our readership numbers even with a lack of posts. Hopefully once we get settled into our beautiful new home I can rest a bit and feel like I can stay awake long enough to give ya'll some great reading material.

Until then...


Monday, May 10, 2010

Just A Little Update...

Hopefully everyone had a really terrific Mother's Day. I certainly did! Doing what I love ~ riding, training, hanging out with good friends and talking horses, then my wonderful husband made me an amazing steak dinner. What a perfect day!

Unfortunately, I missed a blog post for yesterday, and it could be spotty for the next week because of the treatment schedule for little Ravishing Ruby's eye. I'm just almost never around and have zero time in front of the computer. I didn't even have a chance to peek at the computer yesterday morning before heading out to the barn! By the time my day was done, I couldn't keep my eyes open long enough to type anything. And so it goes...

Ruby is doing better, the corneal ulcer is getting smaller. I have such a soft spot in my heart for this mare!! She's a trooper for getting poked and prodded, and having so much put into/onto her eye.

We've all been having fantastic rides, getting many of the horses more exposure to cattle and the cowboy course, the barn owner's TB gelding is also getting back to work after recovering from an injury and there is a gorgeous Andalusian/TB cross filly who's getting put to work and will be an incredible Dressage prospect.

Life is good!


Saturday, May 8, 2010

Safety First, ALWAYS Safety First!

As horse owners, riders, handlers and trainers, one of the most basic tenets of good horsemanship is safety. I preach to my students and clients how important it is to pay attention to what the horse is doing, to what is going on around you and your horse, and think ahead. I had a whole blog post I'd wanted to write on safety as it pertains and relates to horses and horsemanship but like every other night so far this week, I am just too exhausted to finish it. That I will get to later on.

Today my husband and his helper, a young man of just 27 years old, were at a jobsite working on installing some flooring. This was to have been just about a wrap on this particular job, when suddenly something went horribly wrong. Brandon, the helper, nearly lost several fingers on his right hand in a freak accident with the table saw. Tonight he is in the hospital where he will hopefully be able to have them reattached surgically.

Things can happen SO fast. Tragedy can occur in a blink of an eye. That goes for just about every aspect of our lives. Please say a prayer tonight for Brandon and keep in him your thoughts.


Friday, May 7, 2010

Extreme What?!

Okay, so I've gotten essentially dragged into this "extreme cowboy" thing. You know what? It's fun. There are several different divisions and both indoor (arena) and outdoor (natural) courses. At the ranch we have the beginnings of an outdoor course and it's shaping up nice. Clinics are in the works and we've got a whole lot planned.

I checked out the association's website and some of the things you have to do in order to compete at the bigger events are pretty damned tough. Not to mention you're timed! Lesser horses are going to have a really hard time keeping it together mentally long enough to complete each obstacle in the quickest way.

Likely I'll either be adding to this post (probably the most likely scenario) or making another one on this subject matter. It's all very interesting and so far what I've begun to do is a blast. Then there's the matter of the Arabian show mare who will likely make her debut soon on the barrel racing, pole bending and other patterns at some of the local gymkhanas. Yes, you read that right. More on that later. ;) Have a great night!!


Thursday, May 6, 2010

Happy, Happy Birthday Baby!!

Today my most beloved Brute Force (Sabio+ by *AN Malik x Southern Chablis by Tarbush [by El Gato]) turned 25 ~ he made it to the quarter century mark. This is his story.

Brutus as he is affectionately known was foaled on May 6, 1985 and the only baby, out of six foals she had for us, I ever got to see his mama actually give birth to. She was a sneaky one! Turn your back and out pops baby. When the little bugger was little, he was a horrid bully to his mama. I was looking for something to call him that sounded fitting for an English horse and one that had an overbearing personality. At first I was thinking of the bully in the Popeye cartoon, but did not want to call my horse "Bluto", so "Brutus" it was. :) Here's a bit of hilarious trivia that I never realized...the Bluto character originally was called Brutus. Wow!!

He made his show ring debut at the tender age of 2 1/2 months, when the Sierra Empire Arabian Horse Association was holding current year foal classes. Of course he had not yet been weaned, so we had to bring mama wasn't pretty. All was fine when we took them on walks the few days we were there before his class, but that morning we had to make a choice whether or not to leave the mare back at our stalls, or bring her to the arena while he was being shown. We opted for leaving her back at the barn, and she screamed bloody murder the whole time. My lovely Brutus and I made a grand entrance at the trot, and all of a sudden he launched into mid-air, leaping like a wild horse before SPLAT landing flat on his side in a muddy arena. Needless to say, though it was a memorable first outing, it wasn't memorable in a good way!

Twice more he was shown at Halter as a youngster, one time as a yearling and again as a two year old colt. During his yearling year we took him to the 1986 Region One Championships as he was an International Arabian Horse Association (IAHA, now AHA) Breeder Sweepstakes Breeding Entry to show him in one of the first Yearling Sweepstakes classes. There were 19 horses in the class, and I was but a young teenage pup back then. I knew his best chance to go Regional Champion or Reserve was to have a big name trainer on the end of the lead, so I reluctantly went in search of someone who wanted to catch-handle him for me. There were more than a half-dozen trainers chomping at the bit, so to speak, to get the chance to show this horse, but all of them wanted me to put front shoes on him. In those days it was still legal to show Arabian babies in shoes. That was something I was going to stick to my guns on and I decided ultimately to bite the bullet and exhibit him myself barefoot. He was named Regional Top Ten with me at the lead, and I have little doubt he would have placed higher had I compromised my beliefs for a ribbon. He was considered one of the favorites! At that show I turned down an offer of $50,000 for's a decision I have never once regretted.

His last show before going under saddle was the Whittier Host Lions Club show in 1987 where I showed him in the two year old colt class. There were nearly 50 entries, and he was pulled into the Top Ten though did not ribbon (they only placed to 6th with a ribbon). Not too shabby! Being a May baby, it was hard to compete anyhow against the January foals who were all far bigger than he, not to mention his mama didn't quite make 14 hands.

My dream for Bru was to have him excel in the ring as a superstar in the "new" Country English Pleasure division, though it was a long haul to get him there. He was started under saddle at 3, after having spent most of his 2nd year in longlines. Being the character that he was, Brutus proved to be a tough cookie to break, but once he decided having his person on his back wasn't a big deal he began to enjoy our rides. Very shortly after I began getting on him, we headed out on the trail. Aside from water crossings and cows, nothing generally phased him. He's a champ these days about water (and he still actively goes down the trail 4-5 times a week), but isn't so sure cattle aren't evil. ;)

In addition to my dreams for my little horse on the show circuit, I fancied keeping him a stallion. One major barrier to that, however, was our band of mares since my family had begun to liquidate bloodstock by that time. We still had his dam and two half sisters ~ with little desire and the lack of major funding to go out and purchase top quality unrelated mares which would cross well and compliment him. Therefore, he was gelded in 1989 at the age of four.

In the meanwhile, I got married in 1991 and had my beloved daughter in 1992. I always knew in my heart that someday Brutus would become my little girl's horse.

It wasn't until he was ten years old that I had an opportunity to debut him under saddle in the show ring. Because I wanted to get a feel for how he would behave and likewise stack up against the competition, we took him to an All Arabian show, but one that was smaller and unrated. Laid back, inexpensive, easy show but that had some nice horses. One of those who was in the same classes as my boy was a Half-Arabian/National Show Horse gelding who later collected a number of National Championships as an English Pleasure and Equitation horse, Holy Spirit+. Brutus had three classes and brought home two blue ribbons and a Championship on May 14, 1995. What an awesome Mothers Day gift!!

For the next several years, he was shown in Country Pleasure, winning more than his fair share of the blues and tri-colors. In 1997 we added English Show Hack to his repertoire, and he won a huge Show Hack class, besting the competition (including a number of Scottsdale and National Champions) at the 1997 Region One Championships. Two days after coming home from Regionals that year I found myself in desperate need of a Hunter Pleasure horse for one of my students. The gelding she had been taking lessons on and interested in was sold to another, and we had a show the following weekend. So, after one day off we embarked on schooling a couple of days as a Hunt seat horse, threw in a few lessons and off we went. There were blue ribbons for an incredibly happy little girl that day, too. A few weeks later at our next rated Arabian show, I put him in the Hunter Pleasure Maiden class, where he ribboned third out of 30+ horses, in addition to his Country and Show Hack commitments. He then was also named 4th in the Hunter Pleasure Championship. My little Country horse! I was so proud of him.

By the Summer of '98 I made a monumental decision to try him Western, just for fun. Because of all the Show Hack training, he was amazing at collected gaits, and it was a breeze to shift him over to a Western curb from the double bridle. In the Fall of that year, he was bringing home massive armfuls of blue ribbons on the local show level in Hunt seat and Western classes competing against the Quarter Horses and Paints. 1999 brought him back to being a Country and Show Hack mount on the Arabian circuit, all the way to Scottsdale.

After that, for a few years he did more trail riding than anything else, and after a few local shows doing the Hunter/Western thing in 2003 my lovely Brutus made a return to the ring in Show Hack during 2004. He was officially retired from being an English horse as of 2005, when he began to carry my daughter Lisa. He was winning classes left and right, and brought home three blue ribbons and the Reserve Championship in Purebred Open Western Pleasure at the Las Vegas Arabian Horse Association show that November. 2006 saw Lisa and Brutus become a beautiful, successful pair in Hunter Pleasure and they won numerous all around High Point awards together. At the 2006 Rancho California Arabian Horse Association Fall show, Brutus was named Reserve Champion Purebred Western Pleasure JTR 17 & Under with Lisa, and Champion Purebred Western Pleasure Open with me in the saddle.

This horse has won in Halter, Showmanship, Country English Pleasure, English Show Hack, Hunter Pleasure, Trail, Hunter Hack, Hunter Over Fences, Hunter Seat Equitation, Western Horsemanship and more. He has competed in Parades all over Southern California and is far and away the best trail horse I have ever ridden.

Brute Force, you are one in a million. No horse could ever compare, or replace you. I love you with all my heart!


Wednesday, May 5, 2010


Something is going on with my blog, the last entry did not show up in its entirety and there is no comment form. I've inquired to Blogger, we'll see what they say and hopefully have this resolved soon.

Edited to add, now it appears that everything is doing what it's supposed to do and behaving the way it's supposed to behave. Yay! Thanks to the Blogger help forum folks.


Tuesday, May 4, 2010

All The News That's Fit To Print

Today was a bit of a mixed bag. I had a topic rip roarin' and ready to go, wanted to get it written early to post it this evening and then I get the phone call. One of my longtime clients has a mare with an injured eye. Prognosis is not good, we're bringing her over to the barn so I can treat her 6-10 times a day and we'll re-evaluate at the end of ten days. Keep your fingers crossed and say a prayer for Ruby, would you?

News regarding the local ETI Corral 88 club has been exciting, we have planned a couple of events and after our Board meeting yesterday we finalized details. Our used tack sale is going to be the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend, May 29 at White Shadow Ranch in Phelan. Then we're holding a trail ride at the Figley ranch on Sunday June 6 over in Llano. Details should be on our website soon, and fliers will be available. If you're local, come on down and join us.

Plans are in the works for the formation of a professional horsemen's association here in our local area affiliated with the California Professional Horsemen's Association. Very exciting for those of us who are working hard to set ourselves apart and operate to the highest standards of the industry.

That's all for tonight ~ please keep Ruby in your good thoughts.


Monday, May 3, 2010

Barn Raising

What is it you look for in a barn? For me, there are a number of "must have's" that I cannot live without.

Roomy, light stalls with plenty of ventilation is first on my list. 12' x 12' is standard size for a box stall, though I like 16' x 16' or 12' x 24' for foaling stalls.

I want the grilled stall fronts (all across the front) similar to these:

(Photo credit MD Barns)

(Photo credit Barnmaster Barns)

My preference is also to have grilled stall dividers between each stall. As a rule, however, there may be a reason so have some stalls with solid walls, so a mixture is ideal. Then there are sliding back stall doors which open out into paddocks, with grilled windows that can be "closed". Having a well lit barn is another must, I love the "skylight" panels many barn companies offer these days, and I insist on good lighting for both the stalls and the barn aisles.

Safety is of paramount concern, so the barn needs to be well constructed with no shortcuts taken. Recently I attended a Dressage show at a lovely brand new facility and was appalled to notice they had a beautiful 20 stall barn which was virtually unusable because when the foundation footings were poured, the contractor blew it on the measurements and toward the far end of the barn, the footings were well over a foot off from where the walls were erected. WTF? I can't imagine how or why anyone would have allowed the barn to continue to be put up once they began to notice something was wrong! But I digress.

Stall doors, feed doors and the walls themselves are also of great importance. I prefer sliding doors with a grilled top, and I'm partial (for some horses) to the open yoke doors (pictured below):

I also like these grilled dutch doors, because you can close a horse in and he an still see out the door, but if you want the option of allowing your horses to hang their heads over the door (and don't have blanket bars on your doors):

I have spent countless hours designing and planning the perfect barn. What about you?


Sunday, May 2, 2010

Widgets, Gadgets and Gizmos

So here we are...we're supposed to be talking horses, right? Therefore, I present a real horse related topic! :)

This one I've put a lot of thought into and there's been all manner of discussion across the internet about various training aids, tools or what some would call gimmicks. Alright, here's my take. In the right hands, many of these things are indeed tools that help horsemen achieve their goals with their horses, but most can be improperly used and overused. Shortcuts are never okay. Choosing to use certain training tools while working toward an admirable goal is just fine in my book. But, there are some I simply don't have any use for.

Let's start with the basic running martingale ~ there are actually several variations, though I like to keep it simple. This is what I personally use:

Easy to adjust for each horse, no worries when properly adjusted of the horse coming into contact with it unless he's misbehaving.

Variations include the ten ring martingale (pictured below):

My problem with this one is fairly simple. A martingale should not be used as a leverage device and should only come into play if the horse attempts to throw his head in your face or otherwise try to get out of staying where he needs to be. With this one, there is too much of an ability to actually pull the horse's face down. Likewise with the training fork (pictured below):

I really dislike the training forks, even moreso than the "pleasure martingales", because of how easy they are to over-adjust. Pleasure martingale here:

Now, I've found these are almost always too long anyhow, unless your horse has the neck of a giraffe, and inevitably the rider has them tied in a knot. With my martingale of choice, no worries about that.

Let's move on to the standing martingale, which is not dissimilar to the tie down. Tie downs are used in working Western and Western games (roping, gymkhana, barrel racing) events and standing martingales are used in English circles for over-exuberant jumpers. What really is the difference, the English version attaches to the cavesson and because Western horses generally are ridden without a cavesson, tie downs come with a hanger and noseband in addition to the strap itself.

Standing martingale:

Tie down:

I've got a standing attachment for one breastplate I have and it's been used on one horse because I didn't want him to smash my face in. Never had any use for a tie down and here's why...that restriction of the horse and a desire not to impede his natural carriage and movement. Okay, ask any skilled roper and he'll tell you there is a need for a tie down in order to help the horse balance himself. I don't rope or game, thus reinforcing my not needing one.

Next up is the German martingale. There are really very few cases where I'll use one, such as the horse needing a little bit more help than a running martingale will give him, but not in need of draw reins (which I'll get to in a moment). Pictured here:

They work similarly to a cross between the two and work well for the horse who's learned to evade the bit while in draw reins.

Speaking of draw reins, they are basically a leverage device though I always use them in conjunction with a direct rein (as pictured in the first photo, below). There are as many configurations for draw reins as there are manufacturers, and they are used in both English and Western styles of riding.

I'm running out of steam ~ there is so much more I would have loved to cover and a whole lot more I wanted to say. Not being able to stay awake to write is becoming a severe hardship, however, so I'm going to wrap this one up. We will revisit the topic, get more in depth and explore things like chambons, sidechecks, overchecks and side reins later on.

Thanks for hanging in there!


Saturday, May 1, 2010

Major League Fail!

I admit it. Getting back into blogging has been just about impossible. There are so many ideas roaming through my head, but by the time my day is nearing its end I'm so exhausted that putting the words swirling up there into blog form just gets impossible. I feel like I'm letting you all down by not making this a priority. I've definitely failed in my mission to make blog posts regularly!

There is so much going on that at times I feel like there's barely time to breathe!! A lot of news will be forthcoming soon on a variety of fronts. In the meantime, please check out the Tri-Community Horsemen ETI Corral 88 Facebook page and group at these two respective links:

ETI Corral 88 Facebook Page

ETI Corral 88 Facebook Group

*(I'm not sure you can view either without "becoming a fan" or a member or whatever it is that you do on Facebook with these things, it's still pretty Greek to me)*

Until next time........