Just Another Rainy Day?

June 21, 2015

“Do you trust the trust your horse has in you?”                                                                                 Jamie Dodson

It all started out as a typical rainy day.  It had been raining off and on for a good week.  But today was a steady downpour that would not let up. Terry and I went out to see the horses soon after we got up.  We had to cross the foot bridge since the creek was too high to cross by foot or even 4-wheeler.  The horses were all very content.  It was only 69 degrees, a steady rain and no flies.  They were very happy!  Just a couple of hours later, we went back out to check on the rise of the creek.


The creek had risen a remarkable amount in what I thought was a short period of time.  Knowing that the horses are very self sufficient this time of year, we were not concerned about them at all.  They had plenty of high ground to graze on, lots of trees to take shelter in should it start to storm and they were getting plenty of water through the rain soaked grass they were grazing.


We walked around to see how the rest of the pasture was fairing with the flooded creek.


It was rising rapidly at this point.  After about 45 minutes, we walked back over to the barnyard to see how our foot bridge was doing.  (After losing it in floods in years past, Terry has since chained the board to a close tree so it would not float away.)


By now the water was so high that the foot bridge was floating and resting against the trees.

I took this photo just about 2 months ago of this same creek crossing.  This is the typical height of the creek.


We went inside as it had started to rain even harder.  After some time, the rain finally subsided and the sun was trying to break through the clouds.  We could see that the creek had receded by a few feet, so we went back out to take a look.

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The horses were all very close to the area they cross to get to the barn.  We could just tell by their body language that they wanted to come to the barn.  With the sun starting to shine, the flies came back out and were irritating them.  Abi and Ember are the most sensitive to biting flies.  Knowing this, Terry called for Abi to come.

Abi and Ember

Abi and Ember

She processed that and then we could tell the moment her decision was made.  She moved with purpose and did not hesitate._MG_5798This was reminding me of a time in the Spring of 2011 when the flood waters came and it had a great impact on a family of foxes that den along the banks of the creek.  You can read about that here._MG_5800



The swift current started to take Abi a little bit off course.  I was curious as to her choice of where to start crossing the creek.  She has crossed this creek hundreds of times and knows where every rock is.





After seeing their fearless leader cross successfully, the others started across, one after the other._MG_5830


_MG_5839Feeling her way, Ember lowers her head to cross, just keeping her nostrils above the water._MG_5844The current takes her off course as well._MG_5850Watching her, it appears she uses the large rocks that we have strategically placed to cross by foot, to push herself in the right direction against the current._MG_5852




_MG_5864Image uses that same rock to get his footing._MG_5868Lady Gray is taken off course the most, but pulls out of it gracefully._MG_5873


_MG_5881Once they all made it across, we were eager to scratch their itchy places and love on them. We used that as a reward for crossing the swollen creek that had to be scary for them.  They all did very well in coming across.  We were, once again, amazed at the trust these precious horses have in us.



A Little Pampering on a Hot Day

June 14, 2015

Whether it’s a




all bonds are built on trust.

Without it, you have


                                Author unknown


Summer has come quickly to central Ohio, with blazing hot temperatures and sticky humidity.  It is days like these, that I truly enjoy just hanging out with my ‘kiddos’.  During the heat of the day when there isn’t a breeze to be felt, they will typically make their way to the shade of the barn.  While Terry went on a ride on Lady Gray, I spent some time with our mustangs.  Abi, Terry’s mustang from Nevada, continues to hold the alpha status in our small herd of 4.  Image, my mustang from the Pryor Mountains, holds second place within their group.  Lady Gray, Terry’s rescue OTTB, holds third place and my Ember, a Pryor Mountain mustang, holds the last place in their hierarchy.



Ember is not one to like a lot of fuss made over her.  She is one to just like the quiet of a moment.  Imagine my pure joy when she stood still for me to brush out her entire mane.  She loved it!


It helped, I’m sure, that when I saw a fly on her face, I shooed it away and then rubbed her face.  She caught on quickly that it could be to her advantage that I brush her mane. When working with her, Abi kept wanting to push her off so I could work with her.  Each time I saw Abi’s intent, I stopped her, letting her know that it was not her time. Ember watched it all. After the third time of patiently and persistently telling Abi No, I could tell that she finally got it. She just came over to stand by Embers side. We all knew from her body language that she was not going to try to move Ember off. It was a very cool moment. Ember knew that while I was there with her, she could enjoy being pampered by me without Abi interfering.


I left her side and went over to Image to start in on his mane and tail.  Without looking, I knew that Ember had followed me and was standing by my side, content to just be there.



Image and Ember are quite opposite.  Image LOVES attention and this kind of pampering is right up his alley.  He will typically fall asleep when I brush his tail out.


I love my kiddos!


What’s In It For Me?

October 3, 2014


In one of my previous journal entries, I talked about the kind of leader I want to be.  (You can check it out here)  I know that to be an effective leader I need to continually grow my relationship with each of my ‘kiddos’.  Getting to know them on a deeper level will only help that to happen.


During the summer months when it is hot and humid, our horses stay in the shade of the barn to avoid the scorching sun and the horrible flies.  That becomes the perfect time to get to know each of them better.  Just hanging out with them, watching how they handle different situations, sheds light on each of their personalities.  Let’s take Image for instance.  Image has gotten the bad rap of being called ‘lazy’.  He is not a very fast mover.  Unless, of course, Lady Gray is in an area that he does not want her in.  Then he will move at lightening speed to correct her.


With Image, I need to make things a bit more interesting to grab his attention and to get him mentally engaged.  I will often play a game with him where I ‘stalk’ his hind quarters.  I don’t pay any attention to his face.  I am focused on his tushy.  I will become extremely intense with my body language and posture.  He becomes so curious that he snaps to attention and looks at me curiously.


That is when I release my intensity, turn away from him and slowly walk away.  It usually does not take long for him to come walking to me.


Did Image just come to me to say “Hi”, just because?  Ummmm, I highly doubt it.   Did I just engage Image in a mental game?  Did my actions intrigue him to a point where he wanted to see what other games I had up my sleeve?  Most likely.  He is looking for something that will benefit him.


I also like to use a bit of reverse psychology.  That just drives his curiosity crazy!  How do I do this?  Well, one way is that I start to pay attention to one of our other horses (Ember mostly) while completely ignoring Image.

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This drives him crazy to think that he is missing out on something.  Sounds anthropomorphic, doesn’t it?  Well, perhaps it is a little.  But if you have animals that are your friends, I am sure you have seen some of these behaviors as well.  Soon Image will be coming over to check out what fun things we are doing.

Screen Shot 2014-10-02 at 6.51.22 PM

I always thank him for coming over to check in on us by scratching his itchy places.

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And then he and I will be able to play some games and I am ensured that he will be mentally engaged.



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Image is not lazy.  He just needs a pretty good reason to do anything!


(If I were to try any of these tactics with Ember, she would have her tail swishing back and forth in irritation in a nano-second!  But that is a story for another day.)


Where Do I Start?

September 26, 2014

First off, I must apologize for not keeping up with my Web Journal as I had intended.  As time quickly passed me by, I found myself once again, falling farther and farther behind.  That leads me to my current question:  Where do I start now? Pryors_7253_3 It looks like my last entry was back in January of this year.  How can it be that 9 months have already flown by?  Well, I need to just put those thoughts behind me since they are not getting me anywhere.  I will start out with a journey that I took in February that was a trip of a lifetime for me……… Pryors_7233_5 When Ginger Kathrens (Emmy award winning filmmaker of the Cloud series for PBS and more importantly my friend) asked me if I would like to accompany her on a trip to the Pryor Mountains last winter, I was quick to say “YES”. 3 I have always longed to experience this rugged wilderness in the winter.  But I know that finding wild horses during this time of the year can be very difficult and sometimes impossible.  I needed to mentally prepare myself for the possibility that I may not see a single wild horse while out in their Wyoming/Montana wilderness.  Was I ready for such a possibility?  Yep!  Bring it on! I was ready! Pryors_7289_2 Two words:  COLD and SNOW! Pryors_2014_15 The landscape was beyond my wildest imagination.  Sure, I have been there many times….. in the summer.  The landscape was familiar, yet completely different as snow blanketed the red rocks and sage.  The experience was absolutely incredible!  Ginger is well prepared for such an adventure, trailering a UTV out to the base of the Pryor Mountains and then driving up the winding rocky, snow-covered road in the UTV.  I will not go into all of the details of the journey, since Ginger has written an incredible summary of our trip that you can access here.  Instead I wanted to share our experience through photos and a couple of very shaky videos.  I was handholding my point and shoot camera (yes, I do have one of those!) to film the videos.  Have I mentioned that it was was COLD?  And that there was SNOW? The landscape was stunning with the snow crystals that were falling from the sky, covering everything in a beautiful white blanket.  Spotting for wild horses in this vast white covered landscape was like looking for a needle in a haystack.  We spent a great deal of time looking through our binoculars and spotting scopes, hoping to catch a glimpse of the wild horses that call this magical winter wonderland home. 26 The beauty surrounding us was quite breathtaking.  Even the smallest of details took on a beauty all on their own.  I am sure some of these small detail photos will work their way into some of my future Photo Fusions. Pryors_2014_16 Pryors_7162_7 As we glassed, I pondered how these wild horses could survive in such brutal conditions.  And I was reminded of the first winter that Image and Ember came to live with us after they had been removed from this very mountain wilderness.  They spent quite a bit of time playing in our snow covered pasture.  They would not have dared use that kind of energy on the mountain in the winter.  But they are smart.  They soon realized that they did not have to scrape and paw for every scrap of food they ate after they came to live with us.  I marveled at the awe of God’s creation.  How He had perfectly designed these creatures to live in this very rugged wilderness.  They had everything they needed for survival. Pryors_2014_1 As we ascended Burnt Timber Road, I was reminded of just how fragile this rugged mountain can be…… This is the Custer National Forest side of the Pryor Mountains. The fire took place in 2002, I believe. Pryors_2014_14 We spent 5 days looking for wild horses and photographing those that we found.  Some of them were at a great distance.  It was quite an incredible experience and one that I will not soon forget. Pryors_7121_9 Pryors_2014_13 Pryors_7131_8

Can you find Cloud in this photo?

Can you find Cloud in this photo?

Do you see the horses?

Do you see the horses?

Pryors_2014_5 Thank you Ginger for the opportunity of a lifetime!


Time is flying faster……

January 2, 2014

…. than I can keep up with.


I can not remember a time when I have been this busy.   During most of 2013 I found myself chasing after  time to try to catch up, only to find myself in a losing battle….


There are a few things of 2013 that I would like to share, so I will be taking the next couple of weeks to cover a few of my personal highlights from the year.


The winter of 2013 was a beautiful one, full of gorgeous snowy days.  Our herd of horses will often choose to stay out in the snow as long as it is not horribly cold.  (In keeping our horses in as natural of an environment as possible, they have 24/7 access to the 15+ acres of pasture with a free flowing creek that runs through it.  There are plenty of trees for shade in the summer and cover from the elements of winter.  One of our barns is also open at all times for the horses to come in as well.  They will typically come in to the barn in the heat of the day during the summer months.  The shade of the barn keeps them cooler and also keeps the biting flies away.)




Ember has always loved the snow.  She has a playful spirit that can be quite contagious!



Image and Lady Gray continued on with their interesting love/hate relationship.  They can not stand to be apart, yet sometimes that closeness is too much.


Then one or both of them will protest that closeness.  If they were children, I could easily hear them saying “Mom! He looked at me!” or “Mom!  She touched me!”  But that would be anthropomorphic……


Up to this point, Lady Gray held the number two position in ranking among our herd, with Abi holding firmly to her alpha position and Image coming in at number three.  Image continually badgered Lady Gray about her number 2 ranking.  Then one day in the Spring, they had one of their love/hate tiffs.  Only this time, Image was a little stronger and a little more determined.  All it took was Lady Gray taking one step back from Image for him to have gained that dominance of status over her in their small herd.  It was no small victory for Image, considering he had been working towards this moment for two years.  He continued to hold his status above her.  All was quiet as they went back to grazing next to one another…..

We did not see what led up to it, but in the fall of 2013,  Lady Gray was once again calling the shots with Image.  She lays her ears back and swings her head around towards him, even if he just looks at her!  Poor Image…..  What’s a guy to do in a herd with four mares?  He has been keeping his distance from her!

Even with Image and Lady Gray’s relationship still rocky and unsettled, it has been a thrill to see Image grow and blossom since he has been with us.  I love that he and Ember still love to run and play with each other.  Sometimes Image will be the one to start the running and playing.  Of course Ember does not need any encouragement to play!









Ember and I continue to blossom in our relationship with one another.


I have even been able to sneak in some undemanding time with Lady Gray.




I am looking forward to what this new year brings as we all continue building our relationships.


Until We Meet Again……

December 27, 2013


Last week, my husband’s older mare Touchy died quietly in her sleep.  Terry had rescued her from an abusive situation over 30 years ago when she just four years old.  They spent many years together, soothing each others hurts, as only dear friends can do.

Don’t Cry for the Horses
By Brenda Riley-Seymore 

 Don’t cry for the horses
That life has set free
A million white horses
Forever to be

Don’t cry for the horses
Now in God’s hands
As they dance and they prance
To a heavenly band

They were ours as a gift
But never to keep
As they close their eyes
Forever to sleep

Their spirits unbound
On silver wings they fly
A million white horses
Against the blue sky

Look up into heaven
You’ll see them above
The horses we lost
The horses we loved

Manes and tails flowing
They Gallop through time
They were never yours
They were never mine

Don’t cry for the horses
They will be back someday
When our time has come
They will show us the way

On silver wings they will lift us
To the warmth of the sun
When our life is over
And eternity has begun

We will jump the sun
And dance over the moon
A Ballet of horses and riders
on the winds
to a heavenly tune

Do you hear that soft nicker
Close to your ear?
Don’t cry for the horses
Love the ones that are here

Don’t cry for the horses
Lift up your sad eyes
Can’t you see them
As they fly by?

A million white horses
Free from hunger and pain
Their spirits set free
Until we ride again



In the Quiet of a Moment

January 8, 2013

I have longed for the day I would be writing this journal entry…..



Our summer months were very hot and dry with very little relief from the sun that beat down relentlessly.  I found myself perspiring just standing still in the shade.  I knew if I was miserable, the horses probably were too.  It was the perfect opportunity to spend some quality time with them.


If you have been following my journal entries, you will know that Ember and I have had a somewhat rocky relationship since we brought her home from her Montana wilderness.  Days filled with many ups and downs.  Some days it would seem like she was happy and content with me, while other days she really didn’t want anything to do with me.  I have to admit that it was hard not to take it all personally.  But I was looking through human eyes.  When in fact, I should have been looking at our relationship through Ember’s eyes……  It truly has nothing to do with whether Ember likes me or not!  It does, however, have everything to do with how safe and secure Ember feels when she is around me.  She had shown clear signs that she did not always view me as her leader.  (I really was not surprised since I have only just recently learned more about how to become an effective leader.)  Instead of getting all frustrated by the fact that I was not a good leader for her, I decided to find out how I can become a leader who will cause Ember to feel safe and secure.  I need to back up a bit.  At that point, our relationship was not bad.  As a matter of fact, some folks who have a similar relationship with their horses that I had at that time with Ember would be enough for them and they would be content.

But I wanted more…….


As I continued to pursue Parelli’s Natural Horsemanship (PNH) way of interacting with horses, I learned that Ember’s Horsenality (the characteristics that make a horse a unique individual) is a Right Brain Extrovert/Introvert (RBE/I).  She is more extroverted in the winter and more introverted in the summer.  I am a Right Brain Introvert.  All of those times I have said that Ember is a mirror to my inner most being is really true!  She and I are very much alike in how we approach and handle the different situations we find ourselves in.

Here is a chart of what her characteristics looked like at the end of May, 2012.  We had just come off of winter, so her extroverted tendencies were pretty high.  (I will share what her chart looks like now in my next Journal Entry.  Yes, it has changed!  I will also share a little more about what this chart means.)


It was time to really get to know this special girl.  We took advantage of the hot summer months to just get to know one another better.  As RBI’s, we both need a LOT of undemanding time to get to know new friends and form deeper bonds and relationships.  Up to this point, all I had been doing with Ember was asking, asking, asking…..  (Oh, if only I could go back and do some things over again.   But since I can’t, I will learn from past experiences and move forward)

working on Embers itchy areas

working on Embers itchy areas

Our undemanding time spent together consisted of just hanging out.  Sometimes I would touch her, sometimes not.  It was very important for her to know that I was not asking anything of her.  Sometimes I would just lay my arm across her back.  If she started to walk off, I stayed with her, with my arm still on her back, asking nothing.  Just being in her presence.


While spending this precious time together, I had many opportunities to show Ember that I would do all that I could to protect her and the space surrounding her.  Image was not very happy when I spent this kind of time with Ember.  He had a tendency to come to Ember’s side that was opposite from me and try to nip her back legs to get her to move away so he could have me all to himself…..  As flattering as it was that Image wanted me all to himself, I did not allow that to happen.  I stayed true to what my purpose was: spending this quality time with my girl.  It became very important for Ember to see me defending her space.  As the summer days wore on, I could start to see Ember coming a little closer, staying a little longer.  She and I were starting to connect on a level that truly warms my heart.


As the temperatures started to cool down, we started to play our games again.  I could see a different Ember facing me.  And I am pretty sure she started to see a leader facing her as well.  I could see her asking questions, really wanting to try to do as I was asking.  As an RBI, Ember needs a solid leader.  She doesn’t want to be the leader, but needs someone she can trust and rely on.


In the quiet of a moment, Ember and I bonded in a way I had only dreamed about.  I had never thought it was possible to connect with this sweet girl in the way that we did over the summer months.



But our story does not end there.  It is just the beginning of an amazing partnership to come…..


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