Horse Talk
beloved horse, loved one, God, Jesus, miracles

Memorial to A Loved One

Tribute to A Loved One

It is with a heavy heart I write tonight.

We lost a treasured member of our family.

horse, beloved horse, loved one

Chili at 29 years old!

She came into our lives because of prayer and many miracles.

She was Mika’s horse for 8 years, but after Mika’s second year of college and a new horse, Chili adopted me.

If you’ve never been close to a horse you can’t grasp the depth of their love.

Their dedication to their loved ones.

Even their jealousy and depression.

Chili was dedicated to Mika. Had lifted her up when she was down, taught her things, and loved her. But when Mika got a new horse, Chili stopped coming into the barn and mopped around like a lost puppy. She slowly grew depressed and resentful towards Mika.

Out of pity I started walking out in the pasture to scratch her and love on her. It took me several months to gain her trust but eventually she decided I was ok and she would allow me to be her human.

From that point on she would follow me around like a dog. When I stopped she would almost push me over for attention. And without saying a word beg me to scratch or rub her.

And she enjoyed a good massage as much as you or I. Because of her troubled past she had knots in her neck muscles. She would press her neck against my chest and stand there. If I didn’t start rubbing she would put her head and neck over my shoulder and push down until I gave in and started rubbing.

I’ve had several amazing horses, but she was a one of a kind.

She would love on you till she almost knocked you down, but you always had to watch her because if you didn’t scratch her enough, or something didn’t sit just right, she would kick you.    Hard!

You could never ignore her that’s for sure!

Chili Was Our (First) Miracle Horse

She was a walking miracle.

And it took several miracles for her to walk into our lives.

She was flipped over backwards in a freak accident when she was three and shatter her withers. And a freak set of circumstances kept her alive.

When she lived through the initial accident, her owner at the time prayed over her every day for three years until she was healed.

Seven years later God brought her into our lives again through prayer and miracles.

Consequently she was a walking miracle in my opinion.

She was a tremendous competitor and an incredible teacher for my daughter. She taught her about being competitive, but also about collection, flexion, suppling, how to control every body part seperatly, or together, lead changes, rate of speed, showmanship, horsemanship, and animal husbandry like no other horse I had. She taught her about barrel racing, western pleasure, working cowhorse, and how a little horse could have a giant stride. A combination very few horses could do.

She was unique!

loved one, beloved horse

Mika and Chili

Therapy Horse

And she was the best therapy I could buy.

When Mika had surgery after blowing both her ACLs in different basketball games I would come home from work and . . . no Mika on the couch, no Mika in her room, no Mika in the house.

She was at the barn. Laying on Chili with her knee in this huge, bulky, brace thing.

When Mika had surgery on her spine, as soon as she could move, guess where I found her. . .

Yep, on Chili.

They were best friends.

She was my daughter’s confidant.

And then she became mine.

She knew when I was having a bad day and would lean a little harder. Force me to stop thinking about whatever was eating at me, and scratch her. Love on her.

Her healing love was . . .

Unconditional

Tender

Innocent

Inspirational

Lasting

Life changing

She helped me look at adversity with new eyes.

She should never have accomplished what she did without any withers.

Oh, I almost forgot, and a broken coffin bone!

We didn’t even know she had that until she had something wrong with her foot and the vet took an x-ray that revealed that the tip of her coffin bone had been broken off long before.

But she was a trouper and we would never have known if something else hadn’t happened and we had not taken that x-ray.

And if you’re a “horsey” person and are thinking, “Well why didn’t she have a pre-purchase exam? They would have found the broken coffin bone.” Yes, but with the broken withers she would never have passed the vet check. No vet in the world would have passed her. So why waste the money. Or the vet’s time.

I saw her true value even though to the world she was considered, “damaged,” “crippled”, and of no value.

But to us she was priceless.

To me especially.

She taught me about life.

About going on and striving to do your best no matter what the circumstances.

No matter what “life” has thrown at you, keep going. Keep trying. Keep striving to be and do better.

That your true value is what’s inside.

What you can share with those around you.

How much courage you have to go on in the face of adversity.

And how to share love and joy no matter what.

She did that for me, Mika, and anyone that had the privilege of knowing her.

She was, and to me, still is, and inspiration. And I promised her I will finish her story. She is my inspiration.

beloved horse, loved one, God, Jesus, miracles

Kristi and Chili just before Chili decided to buck!

I love you Chili.

You took a piece of my heart with you.

Go with God sweet mare. I’ll see you on the other side!

Did you have a beloved pet or animal you lost? Please tell me about them in the comments section below and create a tribute to them as well!

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Copyright © 2013, 2014, 2015, Kristi Ross, All rights reserved.
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How Horses Teach Us Life lessons In Unusual Ways

Horses Teach

Horses teach me lessons every day. Today it was a hard and joyous one at the exact same moment.

Earlier today I reached over and picked up the phone to call my Dad.  I had some amazing news I wanted to share with him.  It didn’t even hit me until I had the phone in my hand that he’s been gone two and a half years. 

Dad wasn’t there to answer my call.  He wasn’t there to hear the exciting news I had to share with him. 

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My Dad

I can’t tell him that Zanny is going to have a baby!  The great mare orphaned at only two months old is finally pregnant! 

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Zanny enjoying some well earned R&R

Zanny has been Mika’s number one all round horse, number one rodeo horse, number one heading horse, and number one ranch horse for almost 15 years.  The go-to horse in any situation. Too important to stop riding and let her raise a baby. Until last year.

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Mika and Zanny getting ready for the mixed team roping with Robert Hawk

But last year turned into a horse breeders worst nightmare. Four long months of road trips back and forth to Montrose, vet bills, daily, and often nightly shots. A situation that required total dedication. But still no baby.

Blessings and Heartache

After a winter off, thank God, finally, that incredible phone call from the vet! A pregnancy, and now a heartbeat! 

But I couldn’t call Dad and tell him. And that hurt.

Dad was especially proud of how Mika and Hardy made such a great horse out of Zanny.  She was our pride and joy.  An own daughter of Dad and my stud horse, and out of an incredible own daughter of the great Zan Par Bar. Her death was a tragic loss for our family.  But now her daughter, is finally going to have a little one of her own! 

One horse, Many Lessons

This one horse has shown me over and over how horses teach us many lessons.  She has taught me to believe in the power of prayer and that our God who really does know when a sparrow falls (Matthew 10:29) has answered our prayers for Zanny many times!

Zanny is a walking miracle herself.  Five years ago she kicked Hardy’s gelding square on the butt, but she was the one that came up crippled.  Instinctively we knew it was bad. I jumped in my truck and trailer and headed toward Norwood where Mika, Hardy, and Zanny were while they took her to a local vet. But vet’s x-ray machine wasn’t strong enough to detect anything.  So we packed her foot in an ice-filled inner-tube and I headed to my horse vet in Fruita, Colorado, Braden Shaffer.

Braden’s x-ray machine revealed a broken coffin bone. Some said put her down, some said, breed her and turn her out. But all agreed with that type of injury she was done. But Mika, Hardy, Braden, and I were determined to give her a fighting chance. Braden said it would be a long, slow recovery, but if she would take care of herself, she should heal. He wouldn’t tell us if she would ever be ride-able again, but we were determined.

And we were praying.

She was such a good patient it was inspiring.  She spent two, very long months in a 12 by 24 foot stall, in a special shoe as a cast. During this time she showed me horses teach us about patience. Not once did she get mean or ugly during that long confinement. Not once did she not take her meds or not let me take her temp.

A month later when I was finally able to hand walk her in my indoor arena because the ground was soft, she was patient and kind.  During this time she showed me that horses teach us about trust. She trusted I would not hurt her or allow her to hurt herself when all she wanted to do was jump and buck right there at the end of my lead rope.That would have been very bad on a broken bone.

Horses Teach Us About Dedication

Heading into month four I hauled in 20 pickup loads of sawdust into my covered, belting lined, round-pen where she spent the next six months. Only getting out to be hand walked for the first month and slowly building up to being ridden bareback only at a walk first in the soft arena dirt, then in the tall, soft, grass of my meadows the next four months.

At month nine I was able to trot her a little each day. Finally on month eleven I loped her a half a dozen strides. 

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Our daily ride

At last the day came when I had to let her out of the round pen for the first time.  It was almost 12 months to the day after her injury.  I rode her to take a little of the edge off, but after 12 months of confinement she calmly walked a few feet away from me, wrung her neck, bucked straight in the air, and took off!  She ran two laps around the pasture with me hollering “Easy!” and “Whoa!” at the top of my lungs!  But no, she just kept running!  And soon ran right past me, even with my arms flailing, over the only rocks in the five pastures.  I watched sparks fly as her shoes hit the stones. . . and I . . . threw up.  Yes, literally.  Threw up!  It was excruciating to watch.  But she never took a lame step.

Through all this she taught me that daily dedication and prayer pays off. Simple care and a prayer each day led to her being able to run over those rocks and not be hurt.

Rocks in our own paths are often testimonies to our strength and ultimate success.

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Zanny

People wonder why I keep them around. It’s because horses teach me something every day.

Has an animal or a horse taught you a life lesson?  If so, or if this story about Zanny has touched you, I ask you to share in the comments section below.

Thank you and God Bless!

Copyright © 2013 Kristi Ross, All rights reserved.
Our mailing address for permission is:  Kristi Ross, PO Box 133, Hotchkiss, CO 81419

 

 

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Memorial, best friend, great horse, Banana, treasure, kindness,

Memorial to a Treasured Family Member

Memorial to Banana

We lost a treasured family member last week and she will be greatly missed.  She taught my family so many things but the most important one was life-long dedication to those we love.  She loved us, and saved my Dad’s life.  She deserves a memorial.

Even before Banana saved Dad she was a treasured family member.    I was telling Mika a day or two after she passed how when she came to us, she was a bit fractious, but once she bonded with us, “she would walked through fire for us and killed a mountain lion on the way.”

She had the biggest, kindest eye and when she saw you coming she would meet you at the gate and follow you wherever you went.  She couldn’t say a word but you knew she loved you.  The look in her eye, the tilt of her head, the way she worked her ears to hear your every word, the way she would walk up to you and wrap herself around you.   You knew she loved you.

She came to my family as a show horse, but became a member of the family by lucky default and I will be forever thankful.    She was incredible.  One of those once in a lifetime horses that changes every one fortunate enough to have known her.

Her outstanding athletic ability showed every time we did something with her.  Her back that was too long for a great athlete, but she didn’t know that.  When she was young she was incredibly physical.  She could stop like crazy, spin till she made you dizzy, and she was beautiful and such a great mover you couldn’t help but watch her.

 

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Banana in one of her normal stops in Las Vegas at the Silver Dollar QH Show many years ago

 

She had amazing intelligence and could out smart any cow.  But her most endearing feature was the love that emanated from her.  You knew “Nana-Ba” loved you and she knew you loved her.  There was never a question.  It was just felt.

She was one horse you could always trust.  She went down the horse-show road with my ex-husband and I and had tremendous success.  After the divorce she stayed with Mika and me and was retired to the pasture.  But she was the horse you pulled out when you needed one you could count on.

When Mika outgrew her first barrel horse, I had Banana ready to take Mika to the next level in competition and Nana loved it!  But a couple weeks before they were able to go to their first barrel race stray dogs ran Banana through a fence.  Even after the wounds were healed she was still slightly lame so she was re-retired to the pasture.

A few years later when Mika hit high school she wanted to learn how to cut so Nana came back in from the pasture and taught Mika the basics.

 

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Nana teaching Mika how to cut

 

Soon her old soreness showed up again so back to the pasture she went and this time  she raised us an adorable little filly, Reva.  Who is now Hardy’s number one mount and also “eats cattle”.

 

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Banana, baby Reva, Mika, and my Dad

 

Notice her eyes?  She never missed anything and would look right at you like she understood every word you said to her. It was as though she looked right into your soul.  And the love and caring she showed to every person involved with her taught us all so much.  Her dedication to us was incredible.  She would put herself between you and a dangerous cow, or a fractious colt.  She used her own body as a shield to protect you from any danger.

I mentioned earlier she saved my Dad’s life.  She did.  When Dad was getting up there in years he still thought he should take the colts to the mountain.  The last time he did he had yearlings and was going to ride Banana and lead the colts up the mountain.  He had saddled Nana at home and when he got to the mountain, at 75 or 80 years old he forgot to tighten his cinch before getting on.  He stepped on, tied a colt off hard and fast to the saddle horn, and started up the dirt road to the top of our summer mountain ground.  Not far up the trail the colt decided it didn’t want to lead and pulled back.  The loose cinch allowed the saddle to slip and in a flash turn completely under Banana’s belly with Dad hung up in the stirrup.  My Step Mom watched in horror as Banana spread all four legs out and straddled Dad.  Kay said she stood rock solid against the thrashing, fighting, frightened colt and protected Dad as he extracted himself from the stirrups, dropped to the ground, and finally crawled out from under her without a scratch.

We had always loved her but from that day on she was treasured for the unique individual she was.  She was amazing.  Not only did she protect Dad, but she protected the other horses in the field with her as well.  She was the official coyote chaser.  Any coyote that came in the pasture learned very quickly they were not welcome and would not be tolerated.  I never saw her kill one, but they certainly didn’t hang around long when she took out after them with her head low to the ground, ears pinned back tight, nostrils flared, eyes squinted, and running straight at them.

Just thinking about her makes me smile and sigh an incredibly peaceful sigh.  She had so much wisdom and talent but was so gentle and kind.

As she grew older she didn’t handle the cold well.  So a couple of years ago we let her go to Hardy and Mika’s little nephew, Kelby, and live in a warm canyon south of Cortez.

 

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Nana and Kelby

 

I traveled down the canyon to be with Hardy’s family last Christmas.   I stepped out of the truck and hollered, “Nana-Ba,” and she threw up her head, eyes bright and eager, and ears turned right to me, as she loudly nickered her greeting!  If anyone ever tells you animals don’t have emotion, don’t believe them.  She was as thrilled to see me as I was to see her.  That life long love was still as strong as ever.

I’m glad she had a little boy who loved her the last months she was here on earth, but I certainly missed seeing her sweetness everyday.  And now my heart will never be whole again.  She took a little piece of it with her in her passing.  Those of us fortunate enough to have known her, loved her, and she loved us in return, deeply.

I hope I have learned your greatest lesson and gift, Nana.  To love, and remember, to the very end.

Good bye Nana.  You are still loved, and greatly missed by many.

Go with God and I’ll see you on the other side!

Do you have, or did you have an animal that touched your life?   If so, I encourage you to give them their memorial in the Comments section below.

 

Copyright © 2013 Kristi Ross, All rights reserved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Why Consider Communication With Our Animals?

Why Should We Consider Communication With Our Animals?

Why should we consider communication with our animals anyway? Why is it important to even think about how and why we communicate with our animals? Because it benefits us as much, if not more than it benefits them.

This afternoon when I went to feed my horses I decided to see if my attitude made a difference in my interaction with my little band of mares and yearlings.

My normal experience is feed the grain and then argue with the two younger brood mares because they come out of their pen and steal the last of the grain from the older mares and the yearlings. We go round and round. They test me and I end up yelling at them.

Today, before I fed, I spent time rubbing and scratching on each one of them, simply interacting with them and talking to them. All of them came to get loved on and couldn’t seem to get enough. Especially Zanny and Star, the two trouble makers.

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Look at those faces! Zanny and Star my beautiful trouble makers!

Our communication was so intense I decided to test my theory. While I was rubbing and scratching them I simply explained why I needed them to leave the older mares and the young ones feed alone.  And I asked them to stay in the round pen and eat their hay rather than come out and try to steal the rest of the grain and eat their hay.

Now I know that sounds pretty touchy-feely for me, but I wanted to test this and just see what happened.

Believe it or not, we had the most peaceful feeding time we’ve had since the two younger mares came. They stayed in their pen and ate their grain and then their hay and never came out or caused any commotion.

Eventually, the younger of the two, Zanny, came out and finished out of the feeder that Chili, the oldest, had already left.

I’m not making this up! It was amazing! Seriously!

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Zanny and the two yearlings

So I’m headed to Mika’s tomorrow and I am going to video her riding while thinking her cues and we’ll see how it goes.

Now I have a challenge for you. Try it yourself. Practice communication with your own horse, dog, cat, pig, whatever and see what happens. And then please tell me about it in the comments section!  This will be fun!

Go at it from a place of complete love.  Just tell them how much you love them and are honored to have them in your life and see what happens.  We’ll do our own little mini scientific study!

I can’t wait to hear “communication” on how it goes for each of you in the comments section!!

And if I don’t get another post up before Thanksgiving Day, Happy Thanksgiving my friends!  I am so thankful for each one of you!!  Thank you and God Bless!

 

 

 

 

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love, God, Jesus, Dad, dedication, communication skills, Kinesthetic communication, horses, dogs, cats, communication, emotions, happy, sad, Colorado, mountains, ranching, cowboy, cowgirl, horseback riding, rodeo

How To Improve Communication With Our Horses, Dogs, Cats, and Pets

How To Improve Communication with our horses and pets

What did you say?  Improve communication with our horses and pets? You’ve got to be kidding right? Our animals don’t talk.

Or do they?

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Deaf Brutus and Blind Pepper

These two dogs tell me when they are hungry, thirsty, or need a potty break without uttering a word. Plus, they are a reflection of my emotions. When I’m sad, mad, or happy they know and react accordingly.

My Sister’s miniature Aussie literally crawls up her and curls around her neck when she is sad.

What about our horses?

My entire life I have talked to horses. They listen far better than humans. They sense our every mood and thought. The skin to skin connection we have with horses creates amazing relationships.  Mika and her mare Zanny have that strange bond. Plus, Zanny can out think you in a heart beat. You better not think something unless you want her to do it!

communicate, communication skills, Kinesthetic communication, horses, dogs, cats, communication, emotions, happy, sad, Colorado, mountains, ranching, cowboy, cowgirl, horseback riding, rodeo

Zanny

Mika has decided to take this improve communication theory to an entirely new level. She is “free riding” her young horses in the open on the ranch. Even to move cattle. She does not cue them with reins, legs, body, or voice, but is only using her mind to guide her horses. Talk about improving communication! I’m going to document her progress while I’m there for Thanksgiving and will keep you posted of her breakthroughs.

But do they really have communication skills?

How is it we know what our animals are trying to say to us? And how do they know what is going on with us to the point they are bouncing around like a ball when we are happy, or come to lick the tears when our world is falling apart?

My tear licker is Lover. When Mika left home for college I inherited her and we have bonded in the most unusual ways. This former standoffish, arrogant cat now loves me and is as happy to see me walk in the door as any dog. She would sleep on  my head if she thought she could actually get away with it. And the moment she thinks I might cry she is in my face meowing, worried, with her brows furrowed. If I do cry, she licks my tears. She may not be able to say “I love you and I’m concerned about you” but I hear it loud and clear.

Kinesthetic communication, communicate, horses,  dogs, cats, communication, emotions, happy, sad, Colorado, mountains, ranching, cowboy, cowgirl, horseback riding, rodeo

Lover

Our Animals Enrich Our Lives, But Improve Communication, Really?

The framework of my life has been held together by animals. Each one special. A member of the family. Their lives and love have enriched ours. When death claimed one it brought sorrow and sadness. Just like I’m sure many of you have experienced.

Since I was a child I have believed our animals communicate with us. You never have to wonder what it is they are asking for. They “tell” you their needs, if you just listen. People have accused me of being too soft-hearted, crazy, and weird. I just listen.

You Bet They Tell You!

The perfect example of this communication is when a rider gets a new horse and the older/original horse is retired. The older/original horse resents the new comer and will show their displeasure at being cast aside. They may act out, become sullen, even go off feed. But they will speak their displeasure loud and clear if you simply listen with your entire body.

The scientific community is finally researching this theory.  Here are a couple links to new research:

A Language All Their Own

Intra-Action in Horse and Human Relationships

Tell Me What You Think – Agree??  Or Think I’m Crazy??

So, what do you think?  Do you “understand” when your dog or your horse communicates with you? Would you like to improve communication between the two of you?

Do you have an example or other research?  I sure hope so!  Please tell me about it in the comments section below please!

Copyright © 2013 Kristi Ross, All rights reserved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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bridleless horse back riding, Rugged Lark, Lynn Palm, AQHA Superhorse, riding, horses, ranchers, dude riding, training

5 Life Skills A Horse Will Teach You

Learn Life Skills from a horse?

We all need life skills right?  To follow are 5 important life skills my horses have taught me.

This blog is about life lessons learned on the back of a horse.  So today is one of those personal sharing moments and is about far more than riding.

The following was one of the most humbling, but powerfully educational moments in my life.

AQHA World Championship Show

The first horse I took to the American Quarter Horse World Championship Show was a Jr. Hunt Seat Horse we called Mervin. He was a great horse but he hated indoor arenas.  Wouldn’t you know it, every arena at the World Show is an indoor.

I rode, and rode, and rode, getting this horse ready to show and had him right how I wanted him when it was our turn. There were over 1000 of us qualified for that one class so they had to judge us in small groups, or “goes” and only take the top 5 horses from each “go” back for the final cut to make the actual finals. When our turn came we rode into the large coliseum with 30 some others on equally great horses striving to make the first cut.

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AQHA Hunt Seat Horse

He started out performing his best and I gained confidence with every stride. But about half way through the class someone ran down the stairs. I expected him to react so of course he did. And every time we turned the corner to head down that side of the arena his head came up and he fell apart. We rounded the top of the arena and he calmed down and everything was great down the other side.

If any of you think a horse can’t sense nerves, anger, or frustration, you are absolutely Wrong. But rather than relax and enjoy the ride, I kept trying to fix him. Of course that only made him worse.

In a huge horse show like that you have several judges spaced around the arena judging you at that same time. You can’t mess up anywhere without being seen.  But I still thought there was a chance the judges on the good side would place me high enough I would make it to the next go.

Finally the class ended and time came for us to bring our horses to the center of the arena, line up, and await our fate.

Rugged Lark and Lynn Palm

A gorgeous bay stallion lined up next to me ridden by a petite blond. As we stood there she never moved but her horse’s nose slowly came around and touched her boot, held there a moment, then slowly went back to normal. She never moved but he did the same thing the other direction, then slowly to his knees and back up. Back to her foot next to me.  There was no perceivable movement from the rider, but her horse was doing something the entire time.

Finally, I stopped trying to be inconspicuous and started openly watching the rider. All she did was barely move the tip of her ring finger on the same side the horse moved its head toward. And I mean BARELY.  She tapped the rein. That was it. And the horse responded all the way around to her boot.

Spying

I watched her intensely the entire time we waited. Wanting to learn how to be that soft on a horses mouth and marveled at how incredibly light and responsive the horse was. I had worked for some of the best horse trainers in the business, but that was the moment my training went to the next level.  Unbeknownst to me that great duo was Rugged Lark and Lynn Palm. They ended up winning that the Super Horse twice and Reserve Super Horse once – the highest honor a Quarter Horse can receive at the World Championship show. He was one of the greatest Quarter Horses, ever.

Life Skills- Bricks and Mortar Create a Foundation

That experience taught me about more than just horse showing or training.  It was mortar around the bricks of my foundation in life. Here are the life skills I learned during that painful, embarrassing, but incredibly educational experience that I have carried with me ever since:

5  Life Skills A Horse Can Teach You

  • Focus on Subtlety in all your actions
  • Remain calm, no matter what
  • Never act or react out of fear or anger
  • A simple touch is enough
  • Always be building on your relationships

Where did you learn your most important life skills?

Did you have any embarrassing moments as you built your personal foundation?

 

 

 

 

 

 

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cattle, horses, dogs, cows, horseback riding, ranch, rodeo, mountains, Colorado

How are You Riding to Higher Ground #2 in a series

Are you riding to higher ground?  –   #2 in the series

(Please refer to Post #1 for definition and explanations of terminology.)

When we last visited we had just finished gathering the cattle and were lunching in the shade with a small, quiet group of mother’s and babies. Cows that is. One was playing Peek-A-Boo with me from behind my horse! In case you missed it, you should check out the previous post to see his cute little face!

Every good gather needs at least one GOOD cow-dog. This is Hardy and Mika’s  GOOD cow dog Sugar ready and waiting for more action!

Sugar signed

After lunch Hardy, my son-in-law, started the cattle up the narrow mountain road moving to higher ground. They need to head up the road in small groups of twenty to twenty five with a couple riders escorting each little bunch.

The older cows know they are headed to cool summer pasture.  But they are comfortable right where they are with good feed and water and don’t want to put out the extra effort to walk up the steep trail to higher ground. Instead they bunch up and won’t move.

cattle, horses, west, western livestyle, dude, ranch, mountains, colorado, horseback riding

Bunched up not wanted to walk the trail to higher ground

Does that sound familiar? We may know we need to put out a little extra effort to reach higher ground, but we fight it. We bunch up and don’t want to move. We fight it even though it is for our own good. We may be moving up to lush, cool, summer pastures in our lives, but we don’t want to put out the effort to get there.

At times I have done the same thing and it has cost me a great deal.

Once the first bunch gets started all the girls jump on board and try to crowd to the front.

cattle, horses, dogs, cows, horseback riding, ranch, rodeo, mountains, Colorado

Suddenly everybody wants to be first

It takes awhile to string 150 head of cattle up a small mountain trail in little bunches.

higher ground, cattle, horses, cows, dogs, horseback riding, Colorado, mountains, west, western lifestyle

Riding drag to higher ground

Mika, and I brought the final bunch and rode drag. Riding drag means you follow the herd and push the cows and calves that are tired, distracted, belligerent, and simply not as willing to move. This job takes a patient rider that will continually adjust to the circumstances and work hard to keep guiding, pushing, and backing off to ease the cattle on up trail to higher ground.

Have you ever been tired, distracted, belligerent, or simply not wanting to do something that was actually a good thing for you?

Was someone there to patiently continue to guide you on up the trail to higher ground?

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Cattle, horses, calf, mountain, colorado

How Do You Get To Higher Ground?

How do you get to higher ground?

A couple of weekends ago I was fortunate enough to help my daughter, Mika, and my son-in-law, Hardy, move cattle from their lower pastures to the top of their summer range. It was a glorious day to move to higher ground!

Mika and Hardy are the real deal. They are excellent ranchers. Plus, they are outstanding horse trainers. I trained horses for a living and now, I send everything I raise to them. They make great horses using them every day on the ranch.  And of course I think this, but it really is true, they are great people.  You would love them!

horses, cattle, God, Higher Ground

My daughter, Mika, and son-in-law Hardy

They had moved 200 head or so the day before so our goal was to move another 100 to 150 head up on our drive. First thing was to gather the cattle from the lower pastures and hold them while we ate lunch and our horses rested a bit.

I don’t have a wide angle lens so it will take me 4 photos to show you the cattle we had gathered

Higher Ground, horses, cattle, colorado mountains

Cattle settled and resting while we ate lunch

Photo #2:

cattle, horses, rodeo, mountains, Colorado

Photo #2

Photo #3 –

horses, cattle, Colorado, mountains

Photo #3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finally photo #4

cattle, horses, mountains, Colorado

Photo #4

Some of the cows decided they should shade up with us!

cattle, horses, picnic, colorado, mountains

Some of the girls decided to have lunch with us in the shade!

We had them all around us while we ate! It was so funny!

This little one kept playing peek-a-boo with me behind my horse, Roanie, and never got scared or ran off.

Cattle, horses, calf, mountain, colorado

Peek-a-Boo!

After lunch we headed up the mountain. A couple cowboys or cowgirls would take a little bunch and start up the road to the top. After they were started the next little bunch would head out. It took several groups to get the entire day’s gather heading up the road to higher ground.

For those of you that are not familiar with some of the terminology I used here please let me take a little bit and explain some words I used here, and will use in the next couple of posts.

  • Gather – The cowboys and cowgirls ride their horses and scour the hillsides, pastures, in the brush, creek bottoms, etc. and “gather” the cattle into one area.
  • Drive – Move the cattle from one place to another
  • Head – A cow, or the total number of cattle.  Example – “I have 20 head” means the person has 20 cows.
  • Summer Pasture – The cattle will move to higher ground in the summer and graze the pastures there during part of July and August. This is a good thing because they eat down the tall grass that would be fire fuels and could destroy everything if it burns. In addition they act as natural fertilizers for the grass, and it has now been proven that their hooves act as aerators for the soil allowing air to get into the ground and actually keep it much healthier.
  • Cowboys and cowgirls – The talented horsemen and woman that take care of the cattle and have incredible skill in animal husbandry. In other words they know when one is sick, or getting ready to calve – have her baby, they even know where the cattle hang out when it’s hot, or cold. They can save a nearly dead calf (baby), make sure a young new mother learns how to take care of her calf, and know when toa call the vet. They have big hearts and live by the “Code of the West”. Check back for that post!  It will be coming soon and it’s a good one!
  • Dude – the rest of us on horses that are trying to help and are working on developing our cowboy and cowgirl skills.
  • Riding Drag – The riders that bring up the tail-end of the cattle drive. A dusty, dirty job but one that requires skill as a horseman, good cow sense, and experience. This postion keeps the cattle moving and brings along the slow, injuried, and young.
  • Trail Boss – The cowboy in charge – Hardy

This is just the first in a series of posts about moving to “Higher Ground”. I hope you will come back because it’s just starting to get good!

Have you ever moved to “Higher Ground”?

What do those words bring to mind for you?

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Favorite horse Zanny - Kristi Ross

What is Enthusiastic Dedication? And Is it possible?

What is Enthusiastic Dedication and is it possible?

It’s spring and my broad mares are getting up there in age. Consequently, I have been hauling mares to the vet, to the stallion station, back to vet, back home, around and around. And of course I can’t take them both at the same time because they have to go to different places. So I’m logging a lot of miles on my horse trailer. This is requiring a great deal of dedication.  But is it enthusiastic dedication? Is that possible?

favorite horse Zanny - Kristi Ross

My wonderful family and Zanny
Photo Credit: Shutterlife Photography – Thank you Sherry Ruble!

I am not a big believer in medication for broodmares, but throughout this spring we have had to resort to meds for these older mares. I have prayed over these mares and would like to ask for prayer from you for Zanny and Rosie.

Zanny the Wonder Horse

Zanny is my daughter’s pride and joy. Several years ago she kicked another horse and broke her coffin bone in a hind foot. One vet said put a shoe on her and retire her. Breed her and turn her out to pasture. But we weren’t willing to give up on her quite so fast.

Instead, I brought her home and became her care giver. I had to keep her in a 12’x12’ stall for two months. Then she moved a double stall for two months. Then to a large indoor round pen bedded 24 inches deep in wonderful sawdust. After another two months she was finally able to be hand walked. Eventually I was able to ride her for short trips around the pasture.

This is a photo of Zanny’s ears on our first ride after her accident where she broke her coffin bone!  The little tan dots in between the tips of her ears are elk one pasture over!

Kristi Ross horse

We worked our way up to the day she could finally be turned out in a pasture. I rode her first so she wouldn’t run like crazy. But she did. Of course she found the only rocks in the entire pasture and I had to watch sparks fly as she ran across them.  Terrifying for me as it made me nauseous.  Exhilarating for her!

She did fully recover and Mika put her back to work. She had come so close to losing her that after she was better she wanted to ride her more, and more, and more. So now she is sixteen and never had a foal.

She is an incredible individual and the stallion owner and the handler were all up in arms wondering why we have a 16 year old mare that has not raised a foal. But now that she has been at their facility a good portion of the spring, they have fallen in love with her, too. They understand why we have not bred her but have kept riding her.

Now we are finally focused on raising a foal out of her. We want to carry on her genes to the next generation of horses we raise.

Dedication

In my dedication to get Zanny and the other older mare, Rosie, bred I am going above and beyond in my service. I am sitting here typing at 11:45 at night, waiting. Waiting until midnight so I can go give another shot.

Sitting here waiting made me think about my dedication to the Lord. Am I willing to sit up half the night to do a small chore for him?  Am I willing to set an alarm for midnight and get out of my nice comfy bed to do something for Him at 2:00 A.M or 4:00 A.M?  I would like to think, yes I am. But in reality, am I?

Am I willing to work all night with no rest for Him and His glory?  I would like to say absolutely, without a doubt. But if I’m honest, the best I can say is I hope so!

I have wonderful friends that I respect and love that are as dedicated to the Lord as I am to these silly horses. They think nothing of sitting up all night praying with someone. Or being awakened out of a dead sleep and jumping out of bed to rush to an emergency for someone. Because they love people with a servants heart and go above and beyond for His people. They do it. Because that is what Jesus would do.

But I am not Jesus. I am not a pastor. I am just me. What would I do in a situation where God calls me to do something?  I hope I will respond and go where He leads me.

It’s now 12:12 A.M. and I need to go give this shot to Zanny to help her carry her foal. I better go now before I lay my head back down and take a snooze. I must show dedication because our Father in Heaven would do the same thing. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.

Your Enthusiastic Dedication

Have you ever had to go above and beyond for something?  Have you ever worked all night on a project?  I hope you share your stories with me because I would love to visit with you about them!

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