Thursday, October 15, 2020

Where our Love for Ranch Life Grew

When we were 11 or 12 years old, we took lessons at a local lesson program. We have always loved horses and we loved taking lessons. Before long, we started helping around the barn as well as taking lessons. We helped get horses ready for other lessons and started learning the ropes and more "behind-the scenes" of how to take care of the animals. Those were some really great years and played a major role in us wanting to train horses and teach lessons.

One thing we take away from that time is...don't just pick up a water bottle and take a swig. It might just be infested with ants. Yes, that did happen to someone when we were working there. Keep your water bottle screwed or clipped closed and water is probably the best drink. It's clear so you can see if you have any unwanted friends inside and it is less likely to attract them in the first place.

Another thing...if you catch colic early enough, you might have a chance to save your horse. Being observant every day you are at the barn will help with this. You spend the most time with your horse, so you are likely the first person who will notice something amiss. If one of your horses is acting weird and you can't find the cause, vets have an emergency number and can possibly ask you a few questions to better help you decide what to do. An emergency call visit charge could save you time, energy, emotions, and money in the long run. One rainy day, I was helping to lead a horse around who was suspected to have a mild case of colic, basically he had a compaction of his food that would not pass through. It was quite slippery that afternoon as I remember and I was helping to keep the horse of his feet. He did collapse at least once, but we were able to get him back on his feet. I am pretty sure that horse did survive.

A funny thing I remember is working with an older horse. He was a joy and taught me a lot. He actually inspired my "Harry" poem (see for the poem). He was a lesson horse in the program so I wasn't the only person who rode him. On several occasions he came up lame when it was someone else's lesson time. For my lesson, or when I turned him out to get a little exercise, he wasn't lame at all. What can I say, I think he loved me. I think it also might have something to do with the fact that he had quite pronounced withers so there was a special pad the lessons girls were supposed to use on him. I always used it, but the other girls didn't. Without it, he was probably getting pain along his spine.

Working at the ranch made us realize that good and bad things can happen to the horses and to the humans who spend time around them. For us, it makes us want to own our own Slice Of Ranch ( that much more.

Sunday, October 11, 2020

Update on our Equines

Training horses during the week, limits the time we have available to spend with each one. We have found it better to work them each a little every day than take turns on who we work which days. So, on Saturday we set aside the whole morning and part of the afternoon to work with each horse for as long as they each need.

With Soot we spent time to enjoy working on techniques while he pulls the tire. The single tire might be heavy for us to carry, but easy for him to pull even as it fills with dirt. He can sure pull it with ease. We still aren't riding him, till April 2021, but we'd like his legs to continue to bulk up and get stronger. Another stride forward with him is his improvement while being led. He listens and walks slower when we ask him to walk slower, We have even worked in the round pen to have him back up next to us when we back up. He's not completely consistent with that yet, but we think he's understanding the idea.

With Shine, we finally had the availability to ride in the arena. During the week, we don't always have an arena that is available to work in. Saturday we mounted up and headed into the arena. With Shine, I am working on him having the correct body curve. While going right (center to the left), he much more easily keeps his head toward the center while staying on the railing or following the line I have asked him to stay on. Am I asking him to go that way more often because it's easier? To the left (center to the right), he tends to turn away from the railing so he keeps the opposite body curve. I feel we are improving though. We rode in the roping arena too, and I worked at the far end by the shoots. At first he wasn't listening to me, startling at an open gate at that end. After a few repetitions, he was listening and keeping the correct body curve when I asked him to go to that end from either direction. Because the arena was empty, I also got to ride him at a fast canter, that was super enjoyable for both of us.

With Serita, she is still only 7 months old, so we are working mostly on teaching her to lead and let her energy out when we get to the round pen. We are also trying to get her food portions right as right now she is a little overweight. When we get her down to the correct weight we are sure she will have all the energy she needs. And did I mention she isn't afraid of anything? From the lunge crop to a loud plastic shavings bag. She is fine with anything around her back and legs.


Sunday, October 4, 2020

Be Consistent

Whether you want a champion level horse or simply a horse that small kids can feel safe riding, you have to work on training with consistency.

When you look at someone else riding a horse, you might at first see that horse following all the riders' cues, or better yet, thinking ahead of the rider to what they will ask next. This kind of connection only comes from hours of working together as a team. Once you are more advanced in years of experience with horses, you will be able to develop the connection much quicker with each horse, but you still must be consistent.

When you ask the horse to stop, get a complete stop, or you might find that your horse is really only slowing down and not stopping at all.

Recently, with Shine, I have been asking him to keep his head slightly inward. Really it's not about his exact head position, but his whole body shape. He'll be faster at turning around those barrels, turning tight around the last pole bending pole, or even just quicker at picking up his feet and turning to keep the cow away from the gate. If his body is already in the correct position, he will just move easier and quicker.

These might sound like western disciplines, but the same goes for dressage, jumping, etc. Be consistent with the basics and you'll see improvements in the more advanced moves and disciplines as well.

Now, think back to that rider and the horse who seemed to read their mind. That connection probably seems a little more attainable now. You also might start to notice that the rider and horse duo do have a few inconsistencies in their own training. If I see this in others, I make a mental note to help it make me that much better in my own training and riding.

How does being consistent work for you? Have you noticed anything?

Sunday, September 27, 2020

Golden Charmer

Golden Charmer was another racehorse who lived with us for several years. He was a Thoroughbred of 5 years old when we first met him on an October 1st evening. 

First Day we met Golden Charmer
We enjoyed having a second horse to train and ride, but he was quite a bit different to train then others we have had over the years. Being a Thoroughbred, he had long legs and a narrow body, which felt much different, especially at the center, than our other horses.
Since he came off the racetrack later in life, he was more "set in his ways" making it harder to work on his conditioned response. 
A conditional response is an interesting concept. You can't tell a horse to not get scared, but you can condition his or her response, so they will do what you want even when they are scared.
One of the last days we owned "Charmer"
After training and riding Charmer for over 6 years, we sold him. Last we knew, he was enjoying his life as an easygoing trail horse.

Sunday, September 20, 2020


SeyvillaDawnProof was the first ranch horse we started and she became the first equine for SS Ranch 77.

Seyvilla came to use from the racetrack where he sweet personality caught the attention of our uncle who happened to be a farrier at the same track where she was racing. He had shod her a few times and when the owner decided to sell, our uncle gave us a call.

What followed would be 16 years of training, riding, and enjoyment as well as challenges. Being an Arabian she was definitely a handful. Over the years we developed a bond with her that increased our love for horses and our desire to train other young equines. Other horses he had for a few months at a time, during those years, helped us continue training her while bettering us as trainers and riders.

Seyvilla taught us so much and we are grateful for the time we had her. Thank you for the opportunity!

Be looking for our book "Our Arabian Cow Horse" coming soon!

Sunday, September 13, 2020

September 13, 2020

Now with the newest addition to the barn, we have three horses at very different training levels. This works great for us because it helps us have more variety of training each day. We can go from beginning training on the "go forward" cue with Serita, to the flying lead changes with Shine. Then jump over and work with Soot on pulling the tire.

Each horse has a different learning style too, much like people do. Having these horses at the same time also helps us keep our minds open to different ways of training that might work better for different tasks we want them to learn.

Here is a recent update on each horse:

Shine: He is enjoying our time together, usually meeting me at the gate when I enter. He has good energy. Working on having him bend in the correct direction when I am mounted. Have worked on the barrel pattern and he is getting better. Have also done some pole bending practice.

Shine and Soot: (8/3) We did Soot and Shine together. I rode Shine bareback and Sheena led Soot. We walked all over the SPVR property then to the round pen in the corner. We did some with working them together in there, but then one of us waited in the middle while the other one worked. Shine did a good job and listened quite well, both when Soot was being worked and when he was just standing there. Soot was a little distracted when Shine was being worked, but then listened better when Shine was just standing in the center of the round pen.

Soot: Soot is getting more confident in pulling the tire. He pulls it with almost no effort now and seems to love it! Getting better control of turns and practically drags the whole round pen until it's flat!

Serita: She loves to be petted and loves attention, though she has learned to calmly wait her turn while we work Shine and Soot. She is learning to more consistently "go forward" and to hold her feet up in preparation for hoof trimming.

Saturday, June 13, 2020

June 13, 2020

Shine is visually more balanced after doing some bending practice for a few days (see * below for details on the bending). It’s a good way to wake up the muscles, get the blood flowing, and the brain engaged. Shine has always liked groundwork, so I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised. I think, especially with Shine, that having a groundwork day once or twice per month is really going to help him stay nimble.

 * We do the bending in their stalls, so they don’t get going too fast. We use the western split reins looped through the cinch to remind the horse to keep his head toward the center. The inside rein is much shorter than the outside rein, causing the horse to get a pull on the inside if they don’t keep the bend in their body. We suggest starting out with only a slight pull and working up to him keeping his head more toward the center.

Soot is getting much better at leading. We usually don’t go too far before we work him, but from his stall to the close round pen has been working well. Been working on walk/trot transitions and trot/canter transitions. The trot/canter transitions still need more work. We have been using the nylon halter for Soot, but we recently switched back to the original rope halter. We do have more control with the rope halter, and we get a better response rate from him too. We have also figured out how to allow him to pull the tire evenly by using 2 calf ropes (one of each side). That way the tire follows along behind him rather than to the inside.