Just Relax…

For the last two weeks I’ve been waiting for the opportunity to grab a video of canter work.

You know…the AQHA princess and I smoothly working Western Dressage movements like the serpentine with canter-walk-canter transitions. I really wanted to show more progress.

Monday night when I brought H.M. (Belle) in I didn’t notice anything odd.

I usually don’t walk a 360* inspection around her every night.

THAT’S going to change.

Text to Karen Tuesday morning, confirming lesson time: “The princess gashed her right hip last night, I didn’t notice it until this morning. I think she’s fine.”

Karen (with her usual abundance of caution and wisdom): “Let’s wait until Thursday, I’d rather her be 100%.”

Me: “You know…I’m thinking she goes out of her way to get OUT of work!”

Karen: ” No-one said she was stupid! She has a union card!”

That’s why I love Karen! She can crack me up in an instant.

So I doctored Belle up, did ground work with her Tuesday pm and ‘let’s refresh our memory on how to s.t.a.n.d. at the mounting block nicely’ work Wednesday evening….

It worked.

Thursday morning (yesterday) dawned bright and we had an early, cool of the day (almost 90) and shade from the oaks, lesson. Despite not being ridden at all in a week, she was a good girl. She even stood at the mounting block like a lady. Great lateral work, trotting poles, transitions….

But no canter work yet.

She was tiring, and we ended on a good note. (And I didn’t pass out from the humidity and increasing heat) Plan for next time…canter early in lesson!

The good news…I really WANTED to canter! That is a huge breakthrough my darlings!!!

A quick hose off and out with the boys she went. That was the best part of a quickly downhill day for both of us.

I hopped in the Ram and went to the feed store, bought feed, went to Stuff-Mart, etc…

Got home, bedded stalls and got feed and hay ready. I called the horses in and the boys cantered up as always, Belle strolled up as always.

But….when I closed her gate and positioned her fan she went right down and rolled. Crumb!!! That’s New!

I grabbed a halter and brought her right back outside. Annnnnd…Let her loose to see if it was just another “union card thing“….. Nope, she dropped and rolled two more times! Colic alert!

I grabbed my stethoscope to listen for gut sounds, which I heard faintly. She was dull acting…lethargic.

I performed gentle belly lifts on her, pulled out my red light therapy light and worked all the points for colic AND called the Vet at the same time. Better safe than sorry!

I also used my favorite Essential oil for tummy distress on her belly, Digest Ease from Eden’s Garden.

Digest Ease™

And I called my neighbor and friend Robin because I didn’t have any banamine. She has horses, and she’s a small animal vet. The more team support the better I say.

The most important member of the team at the moment pulled up in record time and started “the process.” I told Dr. K. everything I had done, he asked a few questions and watched her for a few moments. “Let’s see how she is when you walk her to the good grass in the front yard”

….now, you know Belle would have to be hog tied or on her deathbed to not eat that really good green front yard off-limits grass!

Well…she nibbled at it, and slowly dragged me to a few lush spots. I decided the princess wasnt faking it, because normally I would be hollering and halfway across the yard at this point!!!

Doc was a bit relieved….”good sign” he said, “let’s take her temp.”

Belle was a lady and permitted the indignity, indeed, she had a low grade fever. A quick blood draw showed a slightly elevated blood count, but not panic mode. We cold hosed and scraped her, and then he gave her a banamine shot.

At this point my friend Robin also arrived. After all of us watched her mope around by the barn (No more front yard for you deary) she passed a pile of manure and pee’d……YAY!!!

Only horse people celebrate poop!!!

With instructions from the good doctor to leave Belle out and keep an eye on her, I thanked Dr. K. and made plans to spend the night in the tack room/art studio.

With the two geldings joining her, Belle had company and extra night time turn out. They were all confused.

I was….relieved.

Not too bad…

A Futon, a fridge….a new painting on the easel to work on. I checked the princess every half hour.

By midnight the mosquitoes made putting everyone back in stalls with fans a necessity. They were all notably happier. I could tell by the rush to the stalls and the happy munching of the good timothy hay. Poor Belle got a few scraps….

But, she had an uneventful night and I am so grateful!

Grateful that I had a protocol of my own I put into place, grateful that doc came quickly, (and left a tube of banamine), grateful for my friends checking in on Belle. Grateful Belle is…well, Belle. My princess.

Here is the aforementioned new painting in process.

From my own photo reference from Triple J arena, at a reining show.

For a peek at where we school? My arena behind the barn!

Shade trees are WORTH GOLD in the summer!

And a final note about my workouts with Winston my Equicizer. I did a gym session with my daughter at L.A. Fitness Wednesday am. Her trainer took us through an upper body workout. She noted, like I discovered when I started working with Winston, that my left side was weaker. Yup…fractured wrist in January. But, I could actually DO the gym machine work this week. And, like working with a new riding clinician, I picked up a few targeted excercises to focus on to further strengthen my left side. Cool!!! A date with Winston tonight!!!

By the way, I told you a couple of weeks ago that our Alpha Dressage Association GMO club (USDF Group member organization) came out to my place for the meeting. Everyone got to ride Winston…what a hit!

Comments: “Oh my, that’s a real canter!”, “This is fun!” , “Geesh, I can tell that’s a workout!” “You can watch tv and ride!!!”….

And so many more. I LOVE my Equicizer! (He’s a party animal!)


I’m heading out to feed now.

Relaxed because I’m NOT in control.

God is!…..What a relief!

So, you have a GREAT weekend! And, relax!

Personal Progress… (Yay!) and Justify…”Proving it beyond a shadow of a doubt ….he OWNS the Triple Crown”!!!

History made…and the Lord acknowledged for His blessing. So genuinely thankful, Justify did it….ALL THE WAY! What a great horse!

It’s enough to make you holler, which is exactly what I did while riding my Equicizer Winston…and watching the Belmont Stakes. It was quite the display.

It got so exciting I was jumping out of the saddle…and yes, I got a little misty eyed. I couldn’t help it, I’ve been following Mike Smith throughout this amazing journey to the Triple Crown. He loves his job, the horses he is blessed to ride, and he is so quick to give God the credit.


What a great guy!

Indeed, it’s proven that living a life of gratitude is healthier and provides much needed perspective. It helps you realize what matters most…not worrying about what we don’t have, but focusing on all the blessings we do have. Faith, family, friends, health…

(and frankly…if all I had was my faith I would be still be so blessed! Because I know God is GOOD! And I know the plans He has for me are good.

What are you grateful for?


I WAS SUPER EXCITED THIS WEEK…because when I had my riding lesson Wednesday there was a big double take moment from me and a “May I quote you?” statement that my trainer said about my ride. I said…”ummm….like for my blog”? She said “sure”…

Happy dance!

And another thing to be, er…um, thankful for…is the ability to totally change your mind and be seriously ok to go there. Like when you do a project, and then COMPLETELY redo it!

Yuppers, the kitchen backsplash I disliked for 15 years got redone. Twice.

(Poor hubby, he’s learned to just roll with these moments.)

The first redo was with paint. It was better, but…meh.

The second time…ooooh la la!

So much happier with it! A galvanized tin tile look….fits the log cabin decor, brightens and, well…its cool.

Just remember…measure twice, cut once. It was a breeze putting up. Really.

And speaking of easy…

Sometimes it’s just too hot to cook. Organic, healthy, cool and refreshing.

The best farmers market around…Detwilers Farm Market!

Where’s your favorite place to shop for organic produce and healthy food? Tips? Recipes?

Some very happy, grateful folks tonight….

What a day!

Jeremiah 29:11-13 New International Version (NIV)

11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart

12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart

Delays, Debuts and Discussions…

It’s officially here. Summer heat, humidity and rain….LOTS of rain!

Florida has two seasons, “Paradise” (8 months…and glorious) and “Blech!” (4 months..and everyone who can run for the hills anywhere north of Atlanta…does!)

These predictably humid and often stormy days are interspersed with the odd “feels like” 110 degree cloudless day and the occasional tropical event.

Annnnd….today IS the first day of hurricane season.

Thank goodness for my Equicizer “Winston”!

I can ride in my pjs or after I’ve sloshed through the yard back from cleaning the barn. Yay!!! He doesn’t care, and he doesn’t get crabby!

I can get pretty goofy with Winston…the “right brain” creativity prompted by a recurring memory from my childhood.

My parents said if they ever heard the words “I’m bored” they would fix it so we wished we never uttered them!

Chores galore!!!

Needless to say, riding is always more fun than chores!


Part of my weekly to do list (I did NOT say chores) is to stay on track with my art making goals.

One of the goals for this year was to enter several shows and exhibitions. Last week I received notice that my polo painting “Polo Verde” was accepted into the Florida’s Finest juried statewide exhibition in Sarasota.

So I attended the opening reception last night in stealth mode. By myself.

I took pictures of people looking at all the great art, I took pictures of shoes….and yes, I took pictures of my picture.

I felt like an undercover private investigator…..note to self; art exhibition receptions would be WAY more fun with someone to talk to about all those art lovers, their shoes…

and the art!

The mission continues…and another piece completed to enter into a USDF art contest!

“Enter at A”

If you zoom in you can see the dressage ring reflected in the eye. THAT was fun!

Speaking of…what is 10 pounds and always happy?

That would be Piper…the pint sized rescue Pomeranian! He makes me laugh…a lot!

(Who can keep a straight face when that little guy looks at you and WINKS! Seriously…he does it at will!)

What have you been doing to keep laughing, or growing, or getting healthier?

That is homemade chicken crust pizza with organic sauce and cheese and organic veggies…totally yummers! Easy peasy too!

Finally, I’m having our dressage club over in a couple of weeks for our June meeting. You KNOW they will want to hop on Winston. Wouldn’t you?

I asked a couple of gals who had come over for a visit, on different days…but both coincidentally named Deb, to give me a little feedback in writing from their first encounter with an Equicizer.

Here’s what they said:

Deb #1 (upper level rider, trainer and equine/human physical therapist)

Winston has amazingly authentic gaits ! Perfect to facilitate or maintain riders muscle memory from beginners to advanced . Practice upper level moves even when you don’t have an upper level horse ! Lots of fun .

Deb #2 (working on silver medal in dressage, licensed Psychologist and works with riders)

Meeting Winston
A special thank you to Deb Herbert for allowing me to try her Equicizer Winston. I was pleased to meet her patient and SAFE riding exercise partner and quickly learned he was a real workout. Winston requires the use of my core muscles to move and a non-restricting hand to keep him going. With Deb’s guidance I was able to experience walk, trot and canter, as well as feel how to keep my arms and legs independent from my seat. Winston was also very sensitive to any changes in the rhythm of my seat or lifting my seat from the saddle. He was also a real tattle tale if my rein contact became inconsistent. In about 10 minutes I was sweating and 20 was all I could handle. Winston was a fun and instructive way to stay in condition for riding.

Such GREAT feedback!

I love it when people find out about new opportunities and fun ways to stay, or get fit!

Well, here’s hoping the awesome weather guy with the cool suspenders got it right for our neck of the woods this weekend….get ready Belle…I’ve REALLY missed you!

Have a blessed weekend….

Because He IS Good!

“When it rains, it POURS…or, ‘The Little Bumps on the Road of Life’ (or on your horse)…!”

Can you catch my drift?

Be careful what you pray for folks!

Because we were in a severe drought and I was throwing hay to my little herd like candy at a parade…I, well…. you know….implored upon the Lord to send rain.

So Sorry, Floridians!

The combined prayers of horse owners alone were probably so obnoxious that the Lord waved his hand and smiled benevolently….

I’ll have to remember these last 2 weeks next time I ask for rain! Eight (Yes 8!) inches so far and a tropical event of some sort this weekend promising five inches or more!


you CAN safely assume the AQHA princess did NOT get ridden.

But yesterday (Wed) was…



I quickly shot off a text to Madame Trainer and asked if she could fit me in today (Thursday…and DRY!) for a lesson. Fully intending to have a great blog and video of Belle and I on the path back to show ready fitness for you. Phhht!

“When it rains…it pours”….not so proverbally speaking.

As I was bringing the gang into the barn, I noticed “Miss Thing” had a couple of bumps on her butt.


AND on her flanks…and belly and neck….


What did you get into?”

I tossed the other two unscathed horses into stalls and thoroughly cold hosed Belle from head to toe.

She was covered with hives and welts. No telling what bit her (Not fire ants, property treated and clear) but whatever it was my sensitive skinned mare was a mess.

And of course, a warning phone call to Karen that Belle was…not herself.

With a promise to call her in the am., I treated just the biggest hives with a little of my “go to” remedy…..Denise’s Swell Gone Salve, and hoped the hives would be gone by morning.

You need to know….pretty much nothing takes away Belles’ appetite, so since she was scarfing dinner and hay like she had been cruelly starved (in other words her normal appetite) I wasn’t too worried.

Until I checked on her at midnight and she also had hives on her face….and more everywhere else. Ack!

Lots of praying overnight, and a run out to the barn at 6 am.

Still hives everywhere.

AND… a huge appetite!

Whew! I called the vet at 9 am. and left a message to just see if anyone else was having hive “issues”….

A fast call back from the vet…YES! Two other horses were experiencing the same thing, and the consensus is that with all the rain the ground wasps have become super active. Yikes!

I was doing everything right according to the vet. Thank you…but….my horse looks like a topographical map to the hills of Kentucky.

Quick message to Denise…of the the same salve mentioned above. “Can I feed Belle the salve?”

And an equally speedy message back. “YES!”

I thought I had read I could, as I have used it on a tooth abscess I had once. Yes…me!

Belle wolfed down the recommended amount (do not mix with feed, and feed a couple of hours after meals), and I’ll repeat tonight. Thank you Denise!


I’m so glad that there are all natural, safe alternatives to drugs!

It will be interesting to see how Belle will be for next week’s scheduled lesson after 3 weeks off. I can hear Karen now, “Yup…you and everyone else!” No excuses!

So what do you do when the weather dampens your outdoor plans?

My little brain starts flashing the word “PROJECTS!” in neon!

Bill, the darling hubby, just shakes his head and retreats to the garage. Good man.

A quick run to the craft and home improvement stores and BAM!

I repaired the dog scratched leather on our super comfy sofa and also dyed the leather on a cool but outdated teal leather/nail head trimmed rolling chair I found at an antique shop.

Now it’s a gorgeous spare chair that matches the sofa!

Annnnd then I headed into the kitchen.

You know when you look at something for 15 years and even though you don’t like it, you live with it?

I’m talking tacky kitchen backsplash wall tile here.

Research mode, and voila!

I primed and painted it!

A whole different kitchen look! Now …. a decision to make. Want to help?

Do I want to ADD the galvanized metal trim pieces, or leave as is?

Let me know what you think!!!

A ” before” shot. Blech!

Speaking of the kitchen…Paleo organic blueberry muffins!!! Easy and very, very good!

I love a good sale! And plenty left for the freezer.

So imagine the smell of fresh baked muffins, a soft evening rain and a good ride afterall…….on Winston!

If I didn’t have my Equicizer I don’t know what I’d do. Mope…or think up MORE projects.


Hubby says I am going to wear poor Winston out.

I secretly think Winston really isn’t concerned…we’re having too much fun.

Working out!

Oh! Some excellent news!

I entered the polo painting into a juried show…

“Florida’s Finest”

…and was accepted!


Reception and photos to share next week!

So, my verse this week?


So despite the setbacks….

Saddle up!

“Wait…what?” (and a Workout with Weights…with Winston!)

The riding lesson last Thursday was progressing well, my epic bruise from the Friday before wasn’t bothering me, and Belle was being really good.

As in, ” ok Mom…whatever you say” mode. We went through lots of transitions and leg yielding from the quarter line to the rail. And nice forward trot, walk, trot transitions on the serpentines.

“Ok, now canter the middle loop’ says Karen.”


Too late … the middle loop was already there….and we cantered it!

Karen laughed and said ” I could see your brain going into overdrive!”

But really…all I had time to do was take a deep breath and canter.

We repeated the exercise both directions and it was literally…no biggy!

We had been planning on cantering the next week, but like the great photographer who snaps on 2 instead of 3, Karen caught me off guard. Perfect!!!

No time to over-analyze, build up anticipation or worry that Belle wouldn’t be fit enough or not cooperate.

She is fit enough and Karen can now add psychotherapist to her repertoire, lol! (Note to reader…I haven’t cantered Belle since last July! So…Happy dance!!!)

The tropical weather and daily drenching we have been receiving this week has put a hold on riding Belle. But I have been doing some fun work clicker training. Targeting first, adding a bridge sound, and next specific behaviors I want to teach or reinforce…like moving herself into position at the mounting block…and standing there. Click!

I have also been riding Winston…with weights!



Speaking of…when is chocolate good for you…and sort of a veggie at the same time? When it’s chocolate hummus!

Before you get all worked up about chocolate and hummus in the same sentence…I didn’t believe it either! So I HAD to make some to try it out…kitchen science experiment!

Oh my word…..delicious!


Seriously…With sliced organic apples, gluten free pretzels and baby carrots…yummers.

Next time I’m going to add a drop of peppermint and some shredded unsweetened coconut…

healthy snacking!


Sooooo good!

Finally…this is what I saw on the way to town this morning…just your typical baby wild pig encounter!


Thankful for the little things…and the big things, like my faith, family and friends!

Its a blessing to be able to enjoy horses, right?

Happy riding!

Getting Closer…Staying Longer! (Or Subtitled: Laughing off what would have set me back…back then!)

Good horsemanship is learned mostly by acquiring wisdom through experience…and sometimes by watching others “have an experience”!

If someone had been watching me last Friday, they could have checked off a new item for their list. After they got over laughing.

I have a dinner plate size black and purple bruise on top of my thigh to prove it. (Even my trainer Karen was impressed by it…and she’s tough as nails)

(Dinner plate picture for illustrative purposes only… My bruise is much more…well…ok, lets just say…nasty)

Ok….quick rundown on

….the incident.

Try not to become a part of an equine sandwich.

You know, when you inadvertently get sandwiched between two horses.

In this case AQHA dressage diva Belle who was getting a delicious belly scratch from me…and the insatiabley curious and cheeky mini horse Caspian… approaching.

Caspian, as he sneaks up behind me: “Mommmmm….I want a belly scratch too!”

Belle: “Don’t EVEN THINK ABOUT IT!!!

Me: “Hold on, let me move over….OWWWW! SHOOT!!! GOOD GRIEF BELLE”!

The MARE decided to warn off the mini…and unfortunately I, the MOM stepped the wrong way at the wrong moment!

Full force bite on top of my thigh. ARG!

If it didn’t hurt so bad it would have made a hysterical video…as I was holding my leg, hollering at Belle and waving off Caspian.

I gave up thinking it was a teachable moment and hobbled to the tack room to get an ice pack (Yes, every well equipped tack room has a mini fridge, cold water, ice packs, carrots and a hidden dark chocolate covered marshmallow).

I held the ice pack on my leg for 10 minutes before I dared take a look at the skin under my jeans. Let’s just say I am VERY thankful to the Lord that I had chosen to wear jeans and not my thin riding tights.

So, into the house, more icing, elevation and red light therapy. A full day’s worth!

Sooo glad I invested in a hand held red light therapy tool, it has made a huge difference in healing. (I use it all the time, for humans and horses)

And thank goodness for Winston my Equicizer!


Swinging up in the saddle on Winston Saturday was not only a safe test of whether I should ride, but also a gentle, then gradually more rigorous work out between my lessons.

So after 5 days, I am very black and blue, still some swelling, but 98% pain free.

AND still…

had a GREAT riding lesson Tuesday!

Tuesday am:

Unenthusiastic Belle slogged around on the lunge line, seriously lacking motivation.

Then when I was walking her to the mounting block she dragged her feet in her classic…. “and now….I will show you the death march of my people” walk.

But after mounting up with both dressage whips in hand, and Karen working us through lots of transitions, changes in direction, circles, diagonal, leg yields and serpentines…Belle actually went beautifully! Fit and flowing, tracking up. Forward!! REALLY! Hurray!

She’s ready for canter work next week…. Phenomenal!

AND by the way, near the end of a particularly nice set of movements I paused to hand Belle a treat (normal mid-rigorous training routine a year ago). But nooo…Miss Thing decided “lesson over”.

And the bad mare behavior was beginning to start….

I quickly used my new tool in the tool box and brought each whip up on either side of her without touching and got her trotting again right away. THAT was fast, efficient and in control. Bam! YAY!!! Treats now dispensed at the END of the ride dear!

I want to show you a snippet of my other emotional improvement as well.

If you like pretty colors, they are indicative of my heart rate differences. Now…the single spike is before my lesson, the normal gradual building up to red and then down is during my lesson.

Did you see that Tuesday the 8th was a bit lower of a single pre-ride spike then last week??? Whoop!Getting closer….staying longer!

It’s about the PROCESS! Speaking of…. these are gems of wisdom I jotted down from a great sermon I heard online Sunday, check them out! (SavetheCowboy.com)

Most people want to focus on the goal…..NOT the PROCESS.

I can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens me. I have to take the step first…THEN He will strengthen me.

The devil wants me to believe the present is permanent!

Get back on!

Ride for the LORD!
Be anxious for nothing…

Good stuff! (And I know my life verse was in that sermon for a reason!)

And now a peek at dinner.

Love me some wild caught salmon patty burgers! And organic everything on the plate. These are some colors to make the heart and tummy happy!!!

Totally, deliciously healthy!

Finally, meet another family member… Miss “India”,

as in…. INK. She kind of rules the roost, or in this case, the saddle.

And a shot of one of my paintings from a recent show, this one is a scene from the ranch across the road. Yup….blessed to live “out”.

Wishing you peaceful riding, and time to “get closer, stay longer”!

When stats meet faith…

Numbers used to stress me out…you know, that old statistics class anxiety?

Nope, not now!

They’re amazing confidence boosters…big time!

What brought about this shift of brain sidedness (I’m a total creative, except when I’m in research mode) is my curiosity about Winston and my heart.

No…not that kind of mushy heart stuff, although I AM smitten with him…

More like hard statistics about what happens to my heart rate when I ride Winston. A workout ride.

Enter using my fitness tracker, documenting heart rates, foot steps…yada yada.

I actually enjoy trying to figure out what is really happening when I ride, BOTH Winston and Belle.

That interesting little chart is my resting heart rate and my elevated heart rate after riding Winston at a steady trot and canter with periods of posting for 30 minutes. Non-stop.

Cool huh! Recorded with my Vivosmart HR, blue toothed to my phone.

Now…to make sure that wasn’t a fluke…I also recorded the results for the same workout the next day (yesterday afternoon…Tues). The fitness tracker thinks I’m using an elliptical gym machine…hah!

Let me explain something. The first highest peak, with heart rate high of 163, was when I was riding Belle during my lesson. Walk, trot…no posting. The second peak was riding Winston in the evening.

What do you think of that?

I also recorded my footsteps, started my ride in the evening at 8590 steps, after my 30 minute session with Winston it was up to 11,646…a difference of 3050 added during my workout!!!


Ok, numbers can tell you a lot. For example, when I refused to accept the standard recommended American diet anymore I dragged my Type 2 diabetic husband Bill along with me on this journey to fitness.

He used to love to eat out…ALL the time. His blood sugar levels were regularly at 242 plus! His doctor told him he would need to start insulin shots. I think that scared him into willingly accepting our lifestyle/diet changes.

His morning blood sugar levels are now regularly 134!!! He is down a pant size and a half. His Dr is astounded.

I love to prepare meals with the healthiest combinations of colorful, satisfying, natural and organic foods I can find. And….Bill loves it!

That’s grass fed beef in organic pasta sauce with organic 3 beans over gluten free fettuccine, organic romaine, organic apples, olives and a bit of cheese.

Easy peasy!

Annnnd that is home made organic, gluten free banana walnut bread. See…you CAN live well and eat Well!

By the way…my mare Belle…the AQHA diva, is doing better each ride. Looser, happier.

She also gets a home made supplement of Golden paste twice a day (tumeric, organic coconut oil, black pepper and Ceylon cinnamon).

And I often enjoy the Golden paste in warm almond milk at night and added to my bullet proof coffee in the am. Yummers!

And now, for that promised video…in retro black and white…just because.

Finally, an inside peak to where my heart rate and faith come into play. On yesterday’s chart…there was a spike indicating my heart rate went up… an hour or so BEFORE my ride. This is where I was anticipating and becoming anxious and obviously working up my heart rate. It was very revealing…and humbling.

This is my life verse:

Philippians 4:6-8 New King James Version (NKJV)

6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

So, you know what? I’m taking THAT truth to the ring with me tomorrow! Thankful that I’m in His hands!

Wishing you….happy, peaceful riding!

Chicks, Little “Squirrels” and a Wooden Horse!

So, the hubby rides motorcycle with a group of great guys from church. This makes me super happy because, number one…I feel he’s safer in a group and secondly, he’s met and made some great friends!

So it came as no surprise when he came home from a breakfast ride and announced that one of his buddies wanted to bring his wife and granddaughter out to “the farm”. No problem I said, we’ve got baby chicks! What 7 year old little girl can resist that?

The agreed upon day arrived and before they actually set out, the church biker buddy asked if it would be ok if his granddaughter brought her BFF….

EVERYONE knows that two seven year olds are twice as much fun, so ….Come On!

The car pulled up an hour later and two adorable little girls flew out. Now mind you, I’ve been a teacher my entire life, so I was grinning from ear to ear. My husband and his buddy beat a hasty retreat to the man cave in the garage, and the sweet wife/gramma and I corralled the girls for their tour of the farm. First thing…baby chicks!

You just KNOW they were a huge hit…..the girls learned to gently hold one, stroking very softly, squeals of delight. Yup…scored big points there!

Next up, a visit to the barn. “Can we ride your horses?” “Ummm, no honey…today is a visit, would you like to feed them some carrots?”

Whew….great diversion.

And after a lengthy discussion about the type and amount of horse poo that needed to be mucked each day, we headed for the house and a cold glass of water.

I casually mentioned there was a horse that they could ride in the living room.


Whoosh, scamper and bam…two little girls ran through the door and climbed like squirrels all OVER Winston!

Now dear reader, the delight of a seven year old little girl having her first riding lesson is, well, precious.

Little girl #1…”Watch, I can get on Winston by myself”!

Me…”Ok, cool!, if you can do that then you need to learn how to hold the reins correctly”….. and what followed was rapt attention to every detail of safe riding 101.

Little girl #2….”My, turn, MY TURN!… See!, I can get up all by myself too….”

And repeat….

So for the next hour two adorable little girls took turns clambering like squirrels up onto Winston, held reins correctly, walked and trotted with perfect transitions and no rein snatching. What a joy!

It was a revelation then when the gramma wanted to ride Winston also…and she had a blast! You know what, it also re-awakened her love for the times she used to ride regularly in years past.

After cold drinks, more chatting and gathering up a dozen eggs for them to take home, I also gave her the name and number of my trainer and friend Karen. You never know…

Now an update on Belle. She’s a Mare!!! MARE owners get this.

Last week, sweet Belle was compliant, I trotted her and felt pretty good. This week I lunged her first and she grew horns between those pretty dark ears. Ok…not that bad, but it set my anxiety level up a notch. Karen…the world’s best trainer/coach/friend….totally understands me and where I’m at right now. She hopped on first, and Belle was of course….lovely.

Now Karen has the body mass of a flea, really.

So, I mounted up, with a tad of apprehension and….. you know where this is going…

It’s ok, Karen talked me off the ledge….and my mantra….”get closer, stay longer” was put into practice yet again.

You see, while Belle was rehabbing, I had planned to take lessons on a few of Karen’s horses. It’s good to ride other horses…

But I fractured my wrist in January. (Non horse related) And my lay off extended the non riding time.

Brains are funny….I had a bad wreck years ago when I was bucked off a mare I owned. I worked through getting back to riding, another horse….more time. Eventually buying Belle and working our way up to the top of the Western Dressage tests, attending clinics…having a blast.

But Belle started having some physical issues and finally I decided she needed an extended rest and rehab.

So here I am today, months later….anxious.

But……getting closer and staying longer. Because I want to get back to where we were…safely, happily… and Winston and Karen are helping me work through it!

Here’s a brief video of more core work with Winston…

And…..maybe….next week a video of Belle and I!!!!

Happy riding!

News Flash….blog update!

Karen and I have a twice a week schedule until I’m “back” to my old comfort zone. Tuesday was the lesson mentioned above. Today….. I lunged Belle as usual, using more of the arena and circling at each letter, went both ways. In my mind I was preparing for what was going to happen next because Karen had disappeared and then come back with my other dressage whip. Yup…..I was going to ride first! With a dressage whip in both hands I mounted and started off at an ambling walk. The two whips are meant to pre-empt Belle’s old habit of throwing a shoulder out when she wants to evade. The mere presence of the whip is a deterrent. My very wise trainer had us walking, trotting, changing across the diagonal and doing LOTS of transitions. I know it was purposefully to make me stop over thinking and just focus on riding. I love Karen. She knows me well.

I didn’t burst into tears at the end of the lesson, but I sure wanted to…for JOY!!!

Advice to riders with fear or anxiety…find YOUR Karen. Find that one qualified, wise person who has your best interest AND your horses best interest in mind….who will listen to you and “read” you and your horse. Pray about it, and then go find that person….or BE that person for someone else!


Here’s my latest completed painting….


“Perfect Practice”…is perfectly possible!

To borrow a lyric…

….”times they are a ‘changin!”

It’s because I got serious about my health and fitness.

There is just too much evidence that consuming processed, sugary, packaged and drive-thru food is taking years off of our lives, and robbing us of the joy of living the way the Lord meant us to live.

And being sedentary (read: slouched in front of the “smellavision”) ticks off the years relentlessly. Wasted.

Ok…maybe slouching around has not been my particular issue, but it’s a challenge for a lot of folks.

So, taking matters into my own hands and becoming much smarter (at least more educated) and less passive about what gets brought into our home from the market has become…well, an obsession of sorts. Granted, I LOVE food, but I don’t LIVE for food now.

It’s that now I enjoy finding and preparing fresh, organic and whole foods as a lifestyle. I love to make healthy, colorful meals! It’s ART!

A huge difference from the “grab something quick on the way home” mindset.

That’s organic veggies, organic sliced pears and blueberries, organic chick peas, wild caught cod lightly dipped in home raised egg and coated with gluten free bread crumbs, pan fried in olive oil. Yummers!


I also enjoy brushing my horses, cleaning the barn, trimming trees, fixing things, doing outdoor painting projects, gardening, walking the herd, er, pack of dogs, making art (my business, you know, work? Hearthstone Studio on Facebook, dherbertart) and exercising. Exercising….ummm blech?

And I enjoy everything about riding….so much that I want to be able to keep doing all that for a looonnng time!

Enter Winston.

Here’s a reveal….if I’m having fun working towards a goal I’m going to keep working at it!

And guess what! In riding, there is no way to EVER learn it all….to ever say “I’ve reached the end, I know everything there is to know.” Phhht! If you run into anybody who says that, make a speedy exit, they’re FULL of malarkey! (my Irish roots, beggin’ your pardon!)

But, there IS a way to put into practice good habits so the hard things become easier, and my body isn’t holding me back.

Perfect practice….with Winston! Here’s a short video with my Equicizer ( https://equicizer.com/)….

I know….pommel front, cantle back….sigh. I just get sooo excited! Winston helps me a great deal. Really!

In the month I’ve had the “horse in the house”…I can already tell a big difference. A difference in my attitude, my body and my joy, because although I AM exercising and eating right…I’m having fun doing it.

So, more with Winston in future posts! I’ll leave you with a photo of one of our girls, laying an egg in the egg carton. Smart isn’t she!

And chicks….baby chicks…just want to hold em’! Oh, so cuddly cute and fluffy! The clutch was hidden in the ferns…and rescued before the resident wild life found them. Precious.

Horse in the House!

The new “normal”!

My house is, well, eclectic.

ACKNOWLEDGE, oh my yes, I even talk about him….. the horse in my living room.

I’m smitten.

At the horse show this weekend
(I announced the show, not back in the ring yet!) a few of us were discussing rider fitness, core exercise routines and how to “stack” your core for an optimal seat and effective aids. I so wanted to have Winston with me to help everyone demonstrate. He’s, well, just so practically perfect in every way!

I know these concepts get put into practice every time I throw a leg over the saddle and focus on correct body biomechanics.

He is such a willing horse! Handsome, quiet and moves like a dream. Sigh…

Um…..back to the point.

Winston is helping me rehab my body back into rider fitness, and I’m enjoying myself! Really! While my Level 3 Western Dressage AQHA mare is also in a “back to fitness” program (trot work, ground poles, lots of body work, no canter yet) I’m working on getting as fit as I can with Winston. For Belle, for me, for my family.

So yes, 30 plus minute rides are my new daily normal, with lots of stretches first. (https://equicizer.com/ has some great videos to help the beginner)

But, I also want to work on my correct aids. You know, PERFECT practice makes perfect.

I need to give a shout out about something really cool that Equicizer is now offering….an elastic rein attachment!


For folks who don’t know much or care about riding….close your ears or skip this section, because I’m going to go all dressage geeky for a moment!

Half halt!!!

These little elastic wonders create that magical feeling, when reins are gathered up, with contact, a correct seat, following hands, stacked core, lower back strong yet supple….of an honest to goodness…REAL half halt!


Ok…moment over.

I just had to let you know Winston keeps surprising me!

Now a little update on my Belle, the AQHA diva. She is without a doubt, my heart horse.

I get happy nickers when I head out every morning, and an automatic smooch from her before I open the gate to the pasture.

She had her hocks injected a few weeks ago and she is now moving well at the walk and trot, and without her prior obvious discomfort. I am grateful. And looking forward to the future.

Purty girl, huh?

So, what’s helping you towards your goals of optimal fitness, more fun riding, future goals?

I can tell you my pillars.

Faith, family, fitness, fun.

More in the next post on some of my healthy meal prep strategies and a quick video of Winston and I having a mini workout.

Here’s to fitness, the fun way!