November 23, 2019, Volume 14, Issue 44

Flora and Rachel heading to horsemanship

Howdy everyone,

As we venture further and further into our winter horsemanship season, I am quickly gaining an understanding of what all the hype is about. This is my first season being able to participate in winter horsemanship- there are so many reasons that it is a special opportunity. Riding in Shayne’s large new arena it creates the perfect environment for rider and horse to particularly focus on what is being taught. Secondly, everything changes when you are surrounded by particularly like-minded individuals; this fosters a real sense of community and camaraderie among all of the riders.

Karmen working on impulsion and bend with Jasper

We had a smaller group of guests this week: Lynn was with us for the beginning of the week and Norbert stayed over from the 8-day clinic last week. This week we also got to welcome back our very dear friend Karmen who has been here with us as an intern before.


This week has been special for other reasons too. Rachel and Yaz both came home! It hasn’t been the same around here without them. We’re so glad to have the chance to ride and work and laugh with them again. For just a bit of fun one night, they pulled out their hair straightener and curling iron and went to work on the boy’s shaggy heads. Kevin had his hair straightened and Scott had his curled. Caleb had the good sense to steer clear of the whole deal- it was all so much fun.

Also, this week Emily came home! She went home for six weeks and is now back to stay for the winter- she will be our chef all winter while Miriam is away. From the sheer amounts of delicious food she has made for us in the past, I am sure that we will all be well fed this winter.

Everyone enraptured over Shayne’s demonstration

In horsemanship we have been working a lot on energy at the walk, leg-yielding, and attaining proper flexion in our horses. On Thursday afternoon, after warming up all of the horses and without a direction, everyone started to fall in line behind Shayne and Des as they went single file around the arena. It was really cool to see; everyone in an ant line, leg yielding, changing direction, and making transitions. After that, Shayne picked up his canter so every body else followed suit. At one point everyone, about 12 people, were cantering around the arena with proper spacing and on the correct lead- to top it off we were all cantering with the reins in only one hand. It was amazing!

Shayne and Cooley

Following this opportunity to move the horses out, we worked a lot on very quietly attaining proper flexion in our horses. It was a beautiful sight: all the horses moving around the arena with softness. The arena was silent because of how lightly the horses were stepping as they were ridden in balance. The whole of the afternoon was wonderful because of Shayne’s ability to match the exercises to the needs of all of the horses.

Our fearless leaders!

Thursday of this week was Des’ birthday! I love being able to celebrate birthdays with people because it is a great opportunity to be intentionally grateful for them- to take a moment and really reflect on how blessed you are to have them in your life. I know I can speak for all staff and interns here at the ranch when I say that the place would not be the same without her; her devotion and sincerity are unparalleled. She is industrious, she is clever, she is kind. Finally, she is constantly pushing all of us to be better. I am so grateful to have someone like her to look up to in this worthy journey of horsemanship.

Gotta love Chief

Next week we will have a great celebration for Thanksgiving! I am excited for many reasons, one of which being that I have always loved Thanksgiving at home with my family so it will be a delight to be able to celebrate with the family I have found here at the ranch. In addition to it being our Thanksgiving week, next week is also our last week of the season. It is a little bit surreal to be ending; the past couple of months seem to have flown right by.

Until next time, Friends.

Happy trails,


Photographs don’t do this view justice

Janice and Cheech

Dusty taking advantage of the soft bed and sunshine

Kevin and Chalkeye

Shayne demonstrating ‘the holy grail’ with Julio