The horse's pasture to the East...

Thursday, October 18, 2012


We are in a full blown, mind boggling, amazing Autumn  here. All of the photos I use are just as I took them. Gorgeous, isn't it? We've had one of the worst droughts ever recorded here in Kansas this year, worse even than the Dust Bowl years my Grandparents lived through. 

You can see the pond there in the back ground. It's just a mud puddle now and I have to admit that worries me, but oh ... THE COLOR! I'm in a daze. I can't get anything done. All I do is stand out in the fields and look at the color.

I am bedazzled. We've had just enough rain to put a tiny bit of green back in to the ground. It's so thirsty, though, that none of it has run in to the ponds. One is gone, just a hole full of grass. This one is nearly gone and the last, the biggest, is still there but choked with lotus.

This was taken yesterday evening as the storms went past us, again...sigh, and the sun peaked through right on the horizon. Everything was on "fire" with color. It just doesn't look real, does it? 

How am I supposed to concentrate when the colors are like this? 

I had this story to write about the past week, working and playing with Lucky and Apache and all I can do is look at the leaves and grass.

Even the scrubby locust trees are an eye searing yellow. And the sky today is a deep, crystal clear blue, like someone squirted cobalt blue straight out of the tube. 

I'm just too boggled, to goofy with color to say anything intelligent. 

I'm going back out to stand in the field with Lucky and Apache and just groke the world. Words have failed me.

Saturday, September 29, 2012


Some years are more challenging than others. This has been one of those "Million Little Things" kinds of years. I'm not going to list all the woe-is-me stuff. That's dwelling on the negative. I don't want to go in that direction. 

I do have to admit that I let it get to me. Shouldn't have, but there you are. I got stuck. Yup...couldn't move forward, couldn't even move backwards. Sideways would have been nice. Heck, at one point I would have taken any direction offered. 

I'm not very good at waiting in line. I have to talk myself in to it. I get bored, frustrated and start thinking about things to get people moving, or at least just get them out of my way. 

Sound familiar? That's my Left Brain Extrovert side. If I were a horse, I'd love cows! In fact I do love cows, but more for their gentle nature than the opportunity to move them around. 

And that's my Left Brain Introvert side. I'm an artist by profession, a designer, an illustrator, whatever it takes to pay the bills. Like most artists I keep several balls in the air at once to keep my head above water. I'm a lone wolf. I love the quiet, those times during the day when all I can hear is my own breathing.

But this year I've been a deer in the head lights, frozen and barely breathing. Sheesh. I've been making myself crazy with it. Yup. I've gone tharn. Couldn't move, feet stuck, neck tense. You've got it right if you're thinking Left Brain Introvert. 

It's been months of "Don't touch me, don't even look at me!" Lucky and I have had a lot in common this year. 

This morning I was hiding out, down here in my lovely, messy studio sneaking around on Facebook, lurking in the background, when a Parelli Friend of mine popped up and said " Hey, Nancy, how are you?" AACK! Busted!

It was Petra Christensen, Two Star Parelli Professional. I'd told her earlier in the year about some of the woe-is-me's. She saw my name pop up as "on Facebook" so she messaged me. There was no way to hide so I took a deep breath and told her just how stuck I was. Frozen is more like it!

We "talked" back and forth about what was going on, some possible strategies to use and then I said " OK. I'll give it a go and send you a video." 

Whew! Talk about going Right Brain Extrovert! I tidied up my studio before I went upstairs, swept the hall way before I made it to the stair case, stopped to fold laundry and scrub the laundry room floor where Joe, my ancient cocker spaniel, had lost it during the night ... and that was just the first fifteen minutes. I was in full blown "RUN FOR IT! ASK QUESTIONS LATER." mode. 

I put the dishes up and cleaned the kitchen, dusted and vacuumed, made the bed, scrubbed the bathroom and went out to do the same to the barn. When I run for it, at least I get lots of things done!

Except I was using all of that frantic activity to put off what I really wanted to do, what I needed to do, what I promised Petra I would do. I had to break the ice, get the runners unstuck and go out there with Lucky and Apache and begin the scary, leg shaking, fingernail biting job of just being with them. 

Uh huh. Going out in the field and hanging ten with my "boys" looked mighty BIG to me, Rocky Mountain high. So I decided to do my own Approach and Retreat on myself. Butterflies flying? Step back out of the gate and wait. Breath. Take a step forward when all the tension is gone. 

I didn't time it. A clock would have added to the fear. I was there long enough, just working myself up to sitting on the chair in the middle of the field, that they finished eating all of the hay in their slow bags. The sun had moved around behind me by the time I was out there and they were off at the back of the field. Sitting down felt good! 

What a gorgeous day to make a breakthrough! I sat there and reconnected with the Earth, grew roots through the bottoms of my feet and enjoyed the quiet. Things have greened up a tiny bit since we had some rain this past week. I rested my eyes on all the tiny, new bits of grass and waited.

It took quite a while before the "boys" acknowledged me. I sat, and I waited. They came closer by degrees ... and I sat, and I waited. " Ahhhh ... I could get used to this. The sky is perfect today!" And I sat, and I waited.

I wasn't watching the clock. I was just being. It was a place I hadn't been in a long time. 

And then Lucky came up to me and offered to play! I'd carried a cone out with me and set it up about fifteen feet away. I'd forgotten it was there. I wasn't tharn anymore. I'd forgotten how nice it was to be in their field, just enjoying the breeze and quiet. I was ready and Lucky knew it! Talk about calling a teacher and having them come just when you need them!

Petra this morning and Lucky in the afternoon. It just doesn't get any better than that! I didn't leave my little stool. I'd decided it was Home Base. I sat on it, stood on it and kept my foot touching it. And we played! Lucky, my LBI/RBI came to me from six acres away and we played! He even did Circles around me, his least favorite game. And he stood next to me while I stood on top of my stool and let me lean on him and over him. 

Lucky was teaching me. He said, in so many horse words, "Nancy, we were always here, waiting for you. And we haven't forgotten how to play with you either. Glad you're back!"

The hardest part was stopping. He was so excited, and so was I for that matter, that both of us were chortling! He said " Wuh uh uhhhhh huh!" and I said " You are awesome!" 

Lucky helped me to step out of the shade, in to the open again. 

We, all of us, walked back to the barn together. Apache was part of this too. He did something that was very hard for him to do, LBE that he is. He waited politely. 

I'm sitting here, still dirty and all over horse smelly, and smiling! Today I took my first tiny baby steps back on to the path. 

I am, ever yours ... at last!, Nancy, smiling BIG TIME!

Monday, June 18, 2012


When I was a girl, Summers always seemed to exist in a period of suspended animation. Everything moved slower, and sometimes it felt like nothing moved at all. There was no sound. It was hot and so humid you slurped the air in like a thick, hot broth. 

Ever so often a cricket would try to rub it's legs together or a bird would make a wobbly chirp from the top of the maple in the front yard. Sprinklers would run non stop, trying to keep the new turf alive,sending rainbows across the yard,and everything would stop in the afternoon when the sun was at it's height.

We didn't have air conditioning. Mom would try to create cool areas in the house with a floor fan that had wet washcloths draped across the front of it. Mostly that just added to the humidity. There was a constant supply of lemonade, Popsicles and iced sweet tea, anything to keep liquids in us.

There were no sun blocks, no neighborhood swimming pools, and in our area no ponds or lakes to swim in. Just the Kansas sun, field after field of wheat turning yellow and an occasional tractor going by on it's way to plant corn or soy beans. The dogs would go to sleep under the front porch and the cats would disappear where ever it is cats go when everyone hunkers down to wait out the passage of the intense Summer light.

My favorite place to spend my endless afternoons was under the maple, leaning against the trunk in a place that had split and healed years ago, forming a round dimple in the bark where my head fit like a pillow. I'd wiggle around until everything was just right and read a book from the library...or maybe a comic book stolen from one of my older cousins.My chores were done and no one was expected to work too hard when the temperature soared past 100 every day. 

Grandma would bring out glasses of lemonade and plates of cookies to keep me and Penny, her wonderful stinky old farm dog, company. Penny would get fat off of those cookies while I was there. I'd eat one, then give her one. She'd lay there, draped across my stomach sighing and, occasionally,drooling with contentment. I'd drink the lemonade and she'd lick the condensation off the outside of the glass. It was perfect, laying there in the shade and watching the late afternoon clouds slowly build out on the horizon. I thought it would never end.

But physics is inevitable. Turned out there was an end and time kept moving on. Sometimes time goes round in circles though. And it always happens when you're not looking.

This is one of those Summers, where the clouds are always hanging on the horizon, the heat is thick and the grass is crunchy. I don't like to turn on the air until July, maybe because of those wonderful sweaty memories from my childhood. Or it could be to keep the bills at a manageable level too. But I'm a romantic, so I'll go with the sweaty memories. It's going over 100 today, much earlier in the year than normal. The yard looks like August and I'm down to watering only the vegetable garden to keep it going. The flowers, except for the native wildflower garden, are fried. We're in a drought and the wind has been blowing straight out of the south for a couple of days now. The windows are open, curtains flapping, dogs under the deck and cats off to sleep in the barn where the fans are blowing to keep the hay from getting moldy.

But that's not why it feels like I'm in suspended animation today. Today my status changes from Mom, Wife, Artist and Horsewoman to Grandma! My youngest son, Ben, called to let us know that he and his wife, Lauren (my lovely daughter in law! I love having a daughter.) were on the way to the hospital. When I heard from him via texting a few minutes ago, he said that she's already 8cm's dilated and her contractions are 2 minutes apart! MY GRANDSON IS ON HIS WAY IN TO THE WORLD!

I can't seem to stay focused on anything except my memories of my Grandparents place in the Grandma's cookies and fresh made lemonade, pop cycle trucks and library books, even the smell of stinky Penny (that could be Joe adding in that little sensory note). Now I get to be the Grandma and our little converted barn/house will be the place he comes to visit. It will be my horses, dogs and barn cats providing the background and the frogs that sing at night who add in the sounds of our Summer symphony. 

Tomorrow will be his very first whole day and it will be mine as Grandma Nancy.

It's time for me to freshen up my bed time stories, my rocking chair skills and to do my best to give him some of the same timeless Summer heat and lemonade memories. 

Oh, the stories we'll tell. Let the laughter begin! 

I am, ever yours, Grandma Nancy, smiling so big and so hard my cheeks hurt!


Pulitzer Photo Mural, image taken while in DC at the Newseum                          

Monday, June 4, 2012


Lists... I use them all the time. My desk top is covered in old, dusty, curled up bits of paper with snippets of lists on them. There are lists of projects to start, people to contact, chores to be done and questions to look up on that wonderful tool called the Internet (love Google!).

I use lists to write a story, lists to garden with, lists to paint from. Sometimes I even glue into or smash on to a canvas one of my lists or parts of an old list that's floated to the surface.

It's an easy motivator for me, a habit I formed when my sons were little and I was in the "Super Mom" stage of my life. I went to school full time, worked part time at two jobs and was a Mom (and Wife!) 24/7. I'd end my day with a list for tomorrow and start the next one with a revised list. Then I'd go my own way, forgetting to check anything off and, somehow, I'd still manage to do most of the things on my list! The reward was finding that list a day or two later and reading it, discovering that I'd completed that set of tasks.

I've just finished a major project and I'm in that "waiting in between" place, where the new lists are being made and the juices are flowing. I love finishing something I've worked on for a long time, but even more I love the beginning. And part of the beginning is the lists and doodles on scraps of paper and envelopes, the backs (and sometimes the fronts!) of bills, that I make. I'm sitting here typing and stopping to make another list. It's my way of thinking out loud.

A professor I had in school started one of his lectures by saying " I can always tell who the graduate students are. They're the ones that, when I say 'Good morning!', their heads go down and the note taking begins. The undergrads are the ones who sit with their legs crossed, foot bobbing up and down, and their eyes glassy."That was one of those eye opening moments for me. By then I was in my twenties, back in school and I was personally and financially invested in my education. Every single minute spent in those classes was time away from my family so it all had to count, had to be worth my while if I was going to give up precious time with my sons. To keep myself organized, I started the LISTS.

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This morning when I was outside, cleaning the stalls and paddock, filling buckets and all of the other hundred and one things I do to have my horses here with me, an idea popped in to my head. While I'm here, in my "in betweens", I should make a list to share with you! It's a list of some of my favorite products that I've made up over the years, things that are taking us further from the corporate idea of what chemicals we're "supposed to have to be happy".

One of our goals for the past several years has been to put as little as possible in to the rubbish bins, to make do with what we have and be happy about it. Turns out that was a much harder goal to reach than I thought it was going to be. I was more hooked on commercial stuff than I thought I was. Keeping recyclables separated and getting them in to town is a job all on it's own. I'm not good with clutter, well except in my studio. I'll grant you I'm pretty messy in there, part of my creative process.

The more aware I am of what we don't really need to be happy, the more Zen my life becomes. So do my interactions with my herd, with people, and in my studio. Even my photos have taken a new direction, verging on the abstract with a new focus to the 'quiet' inside. Our meals are simpler, with the colors, textures and smells of raw food being the center of our table. And part of that is the things on my list that I want to share. This is not a complete list, just some of the things I know work consistently.

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1. Vinegar and Orange Peel spray.
I use a pint container and fill it about 3/4's full of plain white vinegar. I add the peels of several oranges over two or three days, about four. Put a cap on it and let it be for about two to three weeks. It will turn a pretty shade of pale orange.
I put that in an old Windex spray bottle and fill it up with water. It will be about a half and half mixture.
Voila! the best surface cleaner I've ever used. It smells good and cleans up everything! And it's all natural, no chemicals at all, you get to reuse an old plastic container over and over (recycle it when it breaks) and the ingredients are something you have in your house all the time and cheap to boot. Doesn't get any better than that!
2. Put white vinegar in your dish washer, about a cup or two, when you use it. We're also using an all natural, plant base dish washer soap called "Homesolv Citradish". (locally we buy it at the Community Mercantile in Lawrence). Weirdly enough, it's the cheapest stuff on the shelf too. Go figure! The dishwasher smells great, the dishes are sparkling more grungy stuff on the cups or grit stuck to dishes...and it's all natural, no chemicals.

1. "Herbal Armor" It's a lotion that is made of organic and all natural oils (cedar, geranium, lemon, etc) that keeps the bugs off. It isn't cheap, but it is definitely worth the money spent. It keeps the ticks, chiggers, flies and mosquitoes off of me and I smell good to boot!
2. Olive Oil and sea salt scrub : I make this. Super easy. Take a tea cup saucer and pour about a teaspoon of sea salt in it, add a teaspoon or two of organic extra virgin first press olive oil to it and use it to clean your face. I rinse my face first with warm water, pat it dry, then use a little bit of the salt/olive oil mixture on the ends of my fingers and rub it in circular motions on my face (avoid the delicate eye and temple area). After I've massaged, not scrubbed, for about a minute or two, I rinse it with warm water and pat my face dry. Leaves my skin super soft, taking the dead skin cells off along with any grime from the day. There's enough on your saucer (up end another saucer over it to keep it clean and, if you have a really big dog, to keep her from eating it!) for two or three days in a row. I like to use it in the evening before I go to bed. I do that every week or two. Again, it's stuff I have in the extra packaging or waste and all natural, no chemicals.

1. Horse spray. Recipe :
1/2 cup AVON Skin So Soft
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1 cup Repel X concentrate (made from carnations and other flower oils)
6 cups of garlic water (Boil 1/4 cup garlic granuals in 6 cups water for 10 minutes. Let it sit to cool. Strain out the garlic .. I put it around and on my apple trees to keep pests away ..)
I mix this in an old bleach bottle.( I know no one will accidentally drink from a bleach bottle.)and pour it into old spray bottles saved from years ago ... those suckers are tough!...that used to have the more toxic bug sprays for horses in them. I recycle when the bottle breaks. It's a win win for all of us. And it works too! You get about four hours of complete protection, keeping them comfortable. Really nice when you're work/playing with them. No jumping around when you're on top!
2. Hoof and Coat Supplement from Springtime for the horses. It's an all natural supplement made here in the US, processed here, and harvested here. The horses love it and their coats are super shiny all year long.
3. Bug Off Garlic, again from Springtime. I give this to them in low doses in the Winter and, when the Summer is like it is this year ... super buggy ... in double doses in the Summer. It stops ninety percent of the bugs, enough to make it much nicer for them. And I use it to make a paste when there's an abrasion or small wound. Keeps the flies away and speeds up healing. Super easy to use and all natural. Especially effective on my donkey. The flies never bite her and she used to be bloody with wounds all Summer long from pests biting her.

Last but never least, all things Parelli! Their learning system is set up to allow the human to mark off on a chart and on lists, things to do with your horse. And it's set up in a logical progression, taking you through from the very basics on the ground right on up through high level riding. I love my Parelli Lists! They let me know where the "holes" are in my game time with my herd and keep me moving forward, even when I'm feeling overwhelmed and out of that famous comfort zone they talk about, the place you need to be to learn new skills. I can always look at my checked off accomplishments, hone those skills a bit more to remind myself of where I've come from and then plunge in to new territory.

Doesn't get any better than that!

I am, ever yours, Nancy, making a list and checking it twice...smiling!

Keep it natural!

Monday, May 14, 2012


Life is tenacious this time of year. It shows up everywhere. Even our new hedge fence posts are growing! When it gets dry, I go out and water them too. I hope they all turn into trees.

When I called the neighbor who brought them over for us, he offered to come take them out and bring new ones. "No way! I was just calling to tell you how wonderful it is to have the fence start growing. Thank you!"

The ants have all decided that our house is so way awesome that they all want to do their mating flights right in the bedrooms. Yup, you read that right...the bedrooms. And it goes on night after night too. Have to admit I wish life wasn't quite so, ummmm, tenacious with that one. Right around 7:30 PMish, they show up. I swear they're coming through the walls! I've used Windex, bleach and water, vinegar, peppermint oil and pleading, all to no avail. Nature is calling and they're answering...on the walls of the bedrooms. (I even tried turning on the AC and closing up tight. No go. )

We have frogs again this year too... billions and billions (in the words of Ralph Nader). I love them though. And I'm guessing that the more ants we have, the more frogs there will be to eat them. So, GO FROGS!

And the neighbors have put in a new chicken coop! We have chickens everywhere. I love free range chickens. They're so much fun to watch and friendly too boot. I've started saving some of my kitchen scraps for them and, when I find a particularly big, juicy grub in the compost, I take it to them. Lucky them, it's a year for over abundance. And they will soon lay lots of very rich country eggs. I just love the way a plan comes together!

I've been working on my "mojo" too, trying to get my slightly dented self confidence to bloom along with the wild flowers that I planted last year and are growing this year. I decided to set up a Question Box out in their pasture. I think that it's original intention was to provide a rider a place to set up patterns but I decided to use it as a starting point with ground work.

Apache loves to play at Liberty (typical Left Brain Extrovert) but we really need to clean up our act, so to speak. I want to be more specific. So the challenge with him is to make On Line fun and intriguing. And, as it's one of those 'full of life Springs' he is too.

He loves to play, oh boy does he! I think he would make a wonderful cutting and reining horse, something I know very little about. But he does love to move things, the dogs, the Canadian Geese that stop by in the mornings, the very confused male Turkey that keeps trying to mate with Willow (I've been trying to catch it on film. I'm too far away with the lens I have on my camera and he takes off when I walk down there. I'm working on it though. How could I not? It would go viral if I could just catch it on film.) and Willow herself. He loves to play his version of 'dodge the horse' with anything he takes a fancy to.

It is working though. I went out this morning (fourth morning for the Question Box) and he was waiting for me smack dab in the middle! Nothing like taking the time it takes for all of this to work. All I did was put the halter on, give him a massage and then take it off. Blew his circuits with that one. He followed me all the rest of the morning while I did chores. WOOHOO!

Lucky, gentleman that he is, came to me the first time I walked in to the pasture with the halter and said " What took you so long? I've been waiting and I'm ready to go!"

I kind of think obsession and love go hand in hand when it comes to being with my herd. I love every single, muddy, mucky moment of it! Speaking of which, I have a book to recommend. It's titled THE POWER OF HABIT, WHY WE DO WHAT WE DO IN LIFE AND BUSINESS by Charles Duhigg

Excellent read. I kind of wish I'd bought it in hard cover instead of on my Kindle though. It's one of those books that I want to put lots of bright colored sharpie marker highlights in and stick bright colored sticky tabs on the best pages. Guess I need to learn how to use the highlighter in the Kindle. One of my 'bad' habits is being shy with the new technology. Maybe it should be my first habit to change? Another project! I love a challenge.

My life status is changing too. I'm going to be a Grandmother, for the first time, in June of this year. Looks like life is REALLY tenacious this year. It's busting out all over!

I am, ever yours, Nancy, laughing out loud

PS. Joe moved, doggone it. Decided to use it anyway. It's a nice shot of Miniver, our 120 pound puppy. Like I said...LIFE! It's going to be an interesting year.

Thursday, April 5, 2012


Horses! Tall, small, wide, short, thin, old, young, silly, serious, wild... I love them however they come. I'm obsessed! I love them after they've rolled in mud. I love them in their long, shaggy Winter coats or in their lovely, brand new shiny Summer coats. I love the ugly ones, the beautiful ones, roman noses, arab noses...short tails, long, bushy tails, every last single one of them. 

I am fascinated with their spiritual aspects and amazed at how complicated they are physically and emotionally. The information that is out there about horses is never ending. I could spend the rest of my life learning and never come close to knowing even a half of what I need to know.  

But one thing disturbs me. There are a number of folks out there who purport to be experts on the subject of horses. They have no certification, no degrees, only a few years of experience (in other words, rank green newbies!) and they hang a shingle out, either here on the Net or in the real world and call themselves experts. Working with horses is complicated and tricky at best and can be very dangerous at worst. 

Am I an expert? NO, absolutely not. I'm just barely moving out of the "Rank Green" stage and into the "Intermediate" stage and I've been living with, working with, learning about them for ten years. I do have enough information, now, to realize that I've barely scraped the surface, only just begun. The more I know, the more I realize I need to know. When someone asks my opinion I'm very careful to tell them what my background is first before I offer any information. Then I give them my resources to boot! And I caution them to get a second and third opinion too. 

My Lucky is lame again, in his left front hoof. He hasn't been balanced for a couple of years. I've tried to discuss my concerns with my farrier, talked to three different Vets and more than a few friends who have more experience than I do. So, I came to the not too startling conclusion that I needed to fire my farrier and find a new one. 

The one I've been working with is, sometimes, spot on with what has to be done. But the past year or so his work has been sloppy and inconsistent.When I asked him why he was doing what he was doing, he was prickly and defensive, avoiding giving me any good answers. That should have been a big red flag for me, but I'm a softy and like to give people a chance to prove themselves, to improve. Who knows what's going on in their personal lives that might be affecting their performance? 

Today I had to call the Vet out to check Lucky for me, to find out what was wrong. Why was this happening...again? It's the second time in two months and I've known for a year that he wasn't moving as gracefully. I had to pay for an exam, xrays ... the full monty, as well as the farm call fee to have an expert confirm what I already knew. The trims we've been getting have been sloppy when they're good and really crappy when they're bad. Poor horses! They've been paying for my inability to say "Enough is enough! I'm moving on to a farrier with better qualifications and reputation. You're fired!"

Whew. I've had to fire people before and I never, NEVER like doing it. But in this case my horses were suffering for it. Apache's hooves are flared. Willow's are way too long. Lucky's are uneven, toe in and he's in pain. They suffered for my inability to say "No!". It's a hard lesson for me to learn. 

When the Vet was here, lovely, straight forward, opinionated person that he is, he said "Nancy, when was the last time you had them trimmed? Their hooves look terrible!" After I blushed and gulped, I told him it had been only four weeks. When he asked who was doing the work, I told him. He said, " Well, if I were you I'd look around for another farrier. He's ruining your horses." I told him I'd already found someone and they were coming out on Monday. sigh.... Kind of slow on the uptake, aren't I? 

I've put up with shoddy work for two years while I waited for this person to better himself because I didn't want to have to say "NO!" It's a hard lesson to learn. I seem to need to bonk myself in the head more often than not while I learn to defend my territory...and equines!...while I work up my courage to say no.

Lucky will be getting Epsom salt soaks and Bute while we wait for him to get better. He's the one who's paid for my timidity.

The important part of this story, though, is that I've at last learned enough to understand this person isn't any good at his craft! Part of that is my fault. But the rest of it is his for not making his kind of good, better and his better best!

So this then becomes a cautionary tale for you readers. Make sure your so called experts are real experts. Get more than a few opinions. Read, read, read. Watch, watch, watch. Go to clinics. Auditing is not expensive and will give you a much better idea of whether or not you want to work with that instructor. Talk to other people who've used their services. Ask questions! If you don't get the answers you need, ask other people. And, whatever you do, DON'T BE AFRAID TO SAY NO. Being the nice guy will do nothing but protect your feelings, your ego when it's your job to be there for your horse. They can't talk or protect themselves from this "humansville" they're now forced to live in.

Lucky will, thankfully, recover from this but it's going to hurt for a while. I've caused my horse pain he probably never should have had to deal with. Is my lesson learned? I hope so. I plan to remind myself on a regular basis of what this has cost both of us. 

NO is a very effective word. 

I am, ever yours, a very chagrined Nancy, shaking my head at the way things go...and smiling anyway!

PS. I am constantly amazed at what they will forgive us for. Another reason to love them!

Friday, March 30, 2012


I love it when a plan comes together!

Success is all a matter of perspective. It's how you decide to look at the world.

Wednesday night I decided that Thursday was going to be an experiment. No matter what happened I was going to look at it ALL as a success.

If this were a movie everyone in the audience would be sitting there groaning, knowing that something was going to happen...kind of like the extra crewman in Star Trek that always got killed or turned into a zombie. But if Thursday was an experiment then I was going to control all of the parameters of how it was set up and that included making my own movie. The worst case scenario was that it would be a comedy. And I'm good at laughing, especially at myself. 

I started the day playing with Lucky and Apache in their field, at Liberty. I kept it easy. I played some long distance Stick To Me. I wanted to restart all of us working as a team. When we play at Liberty, it really does make it partly their decision to participate. Good way to build my draw too. 

It took ten minutes to get Apache's attention enough to draw him to me. No surprise there. He loves to play, classic LBE. He came to me and we did some tiny Circles and lots of Friendly game. 

Lucky took a bit longer. He loves his grass and everything out there is emerald green. I worked on keeping my signals to him very subtle with lots of breathing away any tension on my part. When he did turn towards me, or step in my direction, I took all the pressure off. And, son of a gun! worked! He came to me soft and easy as you please.

My game with him was Touch It with the nearest fence post. He loves Touch It. He walked to it, touched it, looked over his shoulder and said "This one?" Yes! He came to me, got his carrot, a whole lot of Friendly loving and I called it quits. I'm working for tomorrow.

The best part was when I walked in and they followed me back to their paddock, knowing that I was going to close the gate on all that grass. Woohoo! Good start to the day...

Saturday, March 24, 2012


I'm an artist. It's part of my hard wiring...can't help myself. It permeates every facet of my life. 

I see the world in colors, paint, light, textures and, because I have a bit of synesthesia ( I can hear colors and see certain kinds of music, as well as hear it), sounds. 

When I was in school, more years ago than I want to admit to, at some point during the year my parents would be contacted by my teachers. I was an honors student but all of my essays, math papers, science tests would be "decorated". I think by doodling. My Mom would, patiently, explain to the teachers what was going on and, because my grades were high and, extrovert that I am, I did well participating in class they would let it be.

Thankfully I found a partner, my husband and best friend, who "let's it be" too. I'm not, by nature, an organized person. My desk top is covered in stacks of old photo albums, little pieces of doodled on paper, unfinished masks, unpaid bills and dust with more doodles drawn into it with my fingers.

My head wonders through my day focused on whatever project I'm working on and I multi task while I work. 

Today was a celebration of too many things to do and not enough time to do them! Most people call it Spring. It's the time of year that, pretty much, blows my circuits. My seeds came and I want to garden! My arm is healing so I want to play with horses. My house needs to be cleaned and organized since I've been one handed for three months (broke my right arm and I'm right handed). The horses need to be groomed, dogs trimmed and bathed, flower pots re-potted, patios swept, fences mended, lawn mowed and here I am, writing. I crack myself up! (I forgot to tell you that I'm an Olympic Procrastinator with a thousand excuses for not finishing things.)

Spring has sprung! WOOHOO!

This morning I celebrated my first real play/work session with Lucky since the "Big Break" in January. We played for thirty minutes, all light and easy stuff but even the easy things can always be improved. I did that last night (sorry, my head's suffering from run away thoughts too). And this morning I spent the first several hours of the day with my camera in hand, capturing some of the images you see here. Calligraphy was in my head this morning when I woke up so everything I saw had a lyrical quality to it. 

The light was beautiful, horses were funny and engaged and the whole crew was out with me, dogs, cats, horses and donkey. The world was a maze of lines, triangles, new colors and the light... lovely, clear air after the rains light. 

Even the compost, steaming and forming a fog above it, was beautiful with the sun rising behind it. (I'm sparing you a picture of that.)

I'm playing with my horses again, painting and writing, pulling weeds and even carrying water buckets with my right hand and arm again. I AM HAPPY. And I'm flat out amazed at how much fun it is to scrub out a toilet and mop the floor. 

You're wondering at that leap, aren't you? Well, aside from the fact that that's the way my head is working today, I can tell you that I've found a new kind of focus and concentration in everything I can do BECAUSE I CAN DO IT. Yup, it's as simple as that. I'm finding my own balance back as my arm and hand grow stronger. Even better, I'm now ambidextrous... really ambidextrous. I can write with both hands, draw and paint with both hands, flip my tools in the barn as well as my tools in the house from one hand to the other and complete my task well enough that you can't see which is right handed and which is left! I've found my silver lining in the "Big Break" cloud and I've decided to keep it.

I'm sounding a bit manic here, I know. I'm not. I'm just excited. And I'm not taking any of it for granted either. I'm moving forward  and plan to use every single drop of all that I have in front of me. The hard part is figuring out how to prioritize since it all seems so important!

Things I have done today, and the last several days :
1. Groomed all three equines, using both hands.
2. Played with Lucky On Line for thirty minutes. (Hooray!)
3. Scrubbed and cleaned my bathroom and kitchen, using both hands.
4. Trimmed Joe (my cocker spaniel) to prepare him for a much needed shave
5. Pulled weeds, carried water buckets (only 1/2 full), ran the vacuum, and mopped and swept floors with my right hand.
6. Trained Miniver, jumping my much neglected cavalettis with her
7. And danced all over the house with the stereo turned up way too loud!

It just doesn't get any better than that!

WOOHOO! I am psyched! 

I am, ever yours, Nancy, suffering from a massive case of the best kind of Spring Fever! 

Thursday, March 15, 2012


WOOHOO! I am on the "official other end" of my recovery from my accident in January!!! That means I'm done with physical therapy and follow up visits with the surgeon. 


I'll still have to keep up with my exercises, but that's a twice a day commitment and not that big a deal. I like to exercise. It's been a regular part of my day and sorely missed when I can't, like in January when I walked around in a haze, holding my arm in the air. (" You will need to rest, keep your elbow above your heart and your hand above your elbow, and REST.") So, for me, exercise is it's own reward, part of my routine.

While I was " resting ", I had more than enough time to think. Since it was my dominant hand and arm that were out of commission, that and pacing, reading and gnashing my teeth were all I could do. Being an extrovert who loves to DO, it was the hardest part for me. I had to learn how to think while being still, no easy accomplishment for me. It was on a par with learning how to be left handed! 

For the past two and a half months I have been completely rewiring my brain!

You know those images that have been flying around FB, the ones where it says "This is how my friends see me." and " This is how my Mother sees me." and so on? Well, this is how my brain WANTS me to be, what it tries to make me in to ... a sweet, soft, silly, comfy, warm, safe, sleepy kitten! This is what my brain sees as my default setting. The hand that comes in to it, trying to wake the sleeping kitten, is the ME that is trying to keep myself motivated to make my better BEST. "Wake up Nancy!"

And THIS is what my brain thinks it's trying to protect me from when I reach for that good, becoming a better, on the road to BEST with my horses or anything else, for that matter, that is outside my comfort zone. It YELLS at me, saying " LOOK OOUT! RUN FOR IT! EMERGENCY! " (misspelling intended) 

Recognizing this in myself has been the real breakthrough for me. I'm not sure I broke my arm on purpose. I'd have to be truly crazy if I'd chosen that path consciously. But I have to admit that I went to bed last night thinking about something that one of my sons said to me. " Mom, something always happens, like this, whenever you're on the verge of a breakthrough." 

NO, I haven't had accidents all of my life. This is the only time I've ever broken a bone (so, of course, I made up for lost time and broke two!). But he is right about the fact that I do put obstacles in my way. All of the goals I've reached for have always been on the other side of really BIG MOUNTAINS. Or at least I thought they were. 

Breaking my dominant arm and tearing the ligaments, requiring a metal plate to stabilize my arm and additional surgery to stitch the ligaments together, has been a major obstacle. But it's also been an opportunity to relearn how to LEARN, how to reach for new goals, how to FOCUS and how to keep myself MOTIVATED. (FOCUS was my word for this year, my New Year's Resolution. Hmmmm... how interesting!)

I've read several posts and articles, books and books, about how to overcome fear, how to stay motivated. Interestingly, several of those were written by Linda and Pat Parelli (and I'm not quite tech savvy enough, YET! , to figure out how to attach to those, but you can find them if you Google them or go over to the Parelli website) as well as some of the Parelli Professionals I've become friends with on the social medias here on the Web. In fact it's been a major topic of discussion this year.

Since this post is about my horse-man-ship journey I won't write about my other life as an artist and story teller, but I will tell you that my focus there has changed too. In fact, this " Woaaaahh Nelly!" has been a mountain with gold and silver inside it. The way I approach everything has changed! It's up to me to make sure that the change is in the direction of over the mountain and for the better.

THIS is where I'm going with Lucky and/or Apache . Aren't they wonderful together? I'm "taking the time it takes..." and I will find my way there. I THINK I CAN. I KNOW I CAN! 

One step at a time... 

I am, ever yours, Nancy, doing my Happy Feet Dance, out the door and smiling

Sunday, February 26, 2012


I've had a little extra time on my hands the past couple of months. I've watched Parelli Videos over and over, slowing them down so I can see expressions on the human's face and where the horse's ears are, how relaxed they are together. And I've also been reading about human psychology, especially about fear and how to regain confidence. 

But I've also been reading about the different phases or emotions that you go through when you're recovering from an illness, injury or dealing with grief. I'd read about them before but I've never really had to deal with the kind of emotion that rolls over you when you can't control it. 

Last week I was in my anger phase. I mean I was really PISSED off. Even worse, the only one I could be angry with was myself. January 3rd was entirely my fault. It's much easier to be angry at someone else than it is to be angry with yourself. I can't point an accusing finger or huff and puff about how 'they' screwed everything up unless I want to look in a mirror and do it. Anger is an exhausting emotion. I wasted way too much time on it. Then again, maybe it's a good thing that I've dumped it all outside of myself so I can let it go and move on.

This weekend I've been depressed ... way, waay, waaay deep down I can't move, can't sleep, can't eat de --- pressed. Everything's been in slow motion. It's like moving through thick, gooey mud and having it suck at my boots until one comes off and the only choice is to step in the muck if I want to get out. 

So, in to the muck I went. I've wrestled with with my demons, made myself look in the mirror, cried about what happened and then cried some more. It's been a major pity party here. Call me Mrs. Whiner! 

Enough is enough. I've had it with the phases running things. I decided to think my way out of it. So last night I went to bed with an article in my head that my son had sent to me about sleep patterns. The article talks about research showing that it's alright to sleep in three or four hour segments with an hour or two in between of being awake. It's normal! Who knew?

I read it twice, then I told myself it was fine to wake up and feel bad. No worries. In my contrary way, when I went to sleep thinking like that, I slept for nine hours straight! I woke up this morning with all kinds of ideas in my head about how to use the day, what I wanted to accomplish. My mojo was back and wanted to be fed.

I'm not sure all of the phases are past but I have to tell you, today they aren't in control and that's a very good thing. Today I was in the moment, not worried about mountains or valleys in front of me, real or imagined. It's been a very pretty day and I've just 'been'. Everything in it's own time...

I do have a new list of things I've done.

1. I mopped the floor with my new mop. Had to wring it out with both hands but I still did it by myself.
2. I cleaned the barn, doing all of the sweeping and dusting, brush cleaning and organizing. John pulled up the floor mats and put out the new bedding, cleaned and filled the buckets. Those are still too heavy for me to manage.
3. I'm touch typing all of this using both hands and I've started to write with my right hand, draw too!
4. It's no issue to pull up zippers or button buttons anymore. I'm using both hands for that too. (It's the little things I'm feeling good about these days!)
5. I was able to stand on Apache's right side without being nervous. We took a 'sun bath' in the paddock after his breakfast, together. I massaged his face, neck, under his chin and the top of his poll around his ears.
6. And this one is huge! I haltered both Lucky and Apache by myself. HUGE! I'm still wearing my arm brace but I now have enough mobility to manage the ropes. 

Lucky was so excited he could barely keep his feet still for me. He stood there and talked to me the whole time, nickering and sighing, licking and chewing. It took only three times to get it just right, with his head turned softly to me, nose down and sliding softly into the halter. Good job Lucky!

And Apache. Oh my. He came straight to me, swung around in to perfect position, turned his head to me and put his nose in to the halter soft and easy as you please. Just like that! He looked me straight in the eye, completely focused on me the whole time. Then he leaned down and picked up my carrot stick off the ground and handed it to me! It was another one of those complicated laugh and cry moments! He gave me one of his patented 'Apache hugs' too, wrapping his head around me and sighing.

I think they've missed all of this as much as I have. 

I ended things right there, on a perfect, quiet note. They went back to munching hay in the sunshine, under the eaves of the barn. And I floated inside, about two feet off the ground.

I think I can. I think I can. I think I can!

Lots of mountains to go...lots of valleys too. But I THINK I CAN !

I am, ever yours, Nancy, licking and chewing ... and thinking

Wednesday, February 22, 2012


I remember watching a video, a few months back, put out by Jerry Williams, 3 Star Parelli Professional. In it he talks about taking responsibility for how your horses behave, taking responsibility for how you as the human partner and leader behave. Well, something clicked for me last night. I woke up with that idea in my head this morning. If being hurt was not their fault but mine, then I better get my act together and REALLY take responsibility for what happened.

I've reread Dr. Stephanie Burn's book MOVE CLOSER, STAY LONGER and then I did it again because I didn't pay attention. I didn't absorb what I read. In it she talks about her journey while learning how to play/work and live with horses and the program she put together to deal with fear. She talks about how your brain, sly devil that it is, will take over and try to save you from yourself! Uh huh. Mine does that all the time. It's an expert at helping to find ways to procrastinate, to do other things that are easy for me to do ... safe stuff like cleaning the house, cleaning the barn, pulling weeds ... instead of doing the things that help me to grow and change, to get outside the comfort zone where it's scary. 

Well, today I decided to take responsibility for breaking my own pattern of going right brain. I did everything backward. Instead of cleaning the house, taking my shower after working out, neatening and tidying up all the messy places, I made sure my arm brace was off and then I surfed the net, watched silly YouTube videos, ate some chocolate, went out for a walk WITHOUT MY ARM BRACE and then I went into the paddock with the horses and we played together.

Did you catch that? WE PLAYED TOGETHER! I did it, I did it, I really, really did it ... YES! I REALLY DID IT! I'm sitting here with a pack of ice on my achy arm and typing left handed, but I did it. I even moved the carrot stick from my left hand to my right and back again. And, oh, the sighing and licking and chewing on their part...the laughing and crying and "Ow, ow, ow!" ing on my part. The sun is out and I played for just five minutes with Lucky and Apache ... and I feel like a million bucks!

I've asked for help to, from friends of mine, to help me through this process of banging the dents out of my confidence. I'm learning how to unbend and ASK. I'm pretty good at humble pie now. In fact, it tastes pretty good!

Other things I've done today :
1. Top of the list is playing with Lucky and Apache for five minutes
2. Brushed Miniver with my right hand
3. Made the bed, lifting the heavy top cover, with both hands
4. Filled the water bowls and buckets, mostly using my left hand but supporting it with my right (water is heavy and moves around)
5. I've spent the whole day with my arm brace off! (You'd be surprised at how hard that is to do when you've become used to the protection and support it provides.)
6. I trimmed some of Joe's hair off with a scissors, using my right hand to do it.

Every day it just gets better and better! WOOHOO! I'm back in the saddle again...metaphorically speaking.

I am ever yours, Nancy, doing a happy feet dance, ice bag and all!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012


Sometimes things just happen. 

On January 3rd I broke my arm. Maybe I should be more specific. I smashed it, breaking both bones, tearing ligaments, damaging nerves... the full Monty. 

Wish I could say it's over now. I will heal but it's going to take a bit more time than I thought. I have several more weeks of physical therapy to get through and then there's the gigantic dent in my confidence to deal with. But at least I can sit here and type. There's a plus!

I've been "writing the story" in my head for weeks, wanting to get it all down. But the truth is I'm kind of tired of it now. It just is. 

It was my fault. I didn't focus, didn't think about what happens before what happens happens. I was too  lost in my game,stuck on a silly goal and not thinking about the 'here and now'. I didn't think like a horse. They have one goal, to survive. They were fulfilling their goal, from their point of view. If I'd been more in the moment and paying attention to
 what was going on right then, instead of thinking about what I wanted to do, none of this would have occurred. Lesson learned the hard way!

So, the only thing to do now is to go straight forward from here. I'll have to do some restart but that will probably be good for me anyway. I need to practice being 'here and now' LOTS more. I thought I was doing that but my gnarly arm tells me different.

Truth be told, I seriously thought about quitting, throwing the towel in, walking away, giving up. I knew I wasn't going to do that the day after my surgery. I'd been told not to go down to the barn. Resting and healing was going to be my new job for the next few months. But John came in and told me that Lucky and Apache were lethargic, hanging up around the gate (where the accident happened) and off their feed. So I broke my first set of rules, didn't follow instructions and walked down to see them.

I admit I was pretty whacked out from the pain meds. I really wasn't thinking clearly. But I couldn't let them stand out there, depressed, either. John said they'd been like that since the accident but he was afraid to tell me (because he knew I'd go out there, of course). And that's when I made the decision I wasn't going to quit. I would just have to look at it as a painful lesson. 

I'm going to keep a list of all the little steps forward that I make. I'll need them to convince myself it's all OK. I can still reach for goals. I just need to be a bit more Zen about it and less monkey brained obsessed! 

Things I've done today :
1. Typed this entry, sometimes using both hands.
2. Pulled on my cowboy boots and took them off by myself.
3. Put my hair up by myself (can't say it looks great, but still I did it!)
4. Made it through the day without needing to sleep
5. Folded all the laundry using both hands
6. And, the really BIG accomplishment, I went in to the paddock by myself and hung out with Lucky and Apache without being nervous.

Now all I have to do is put on my 'Little Engine That Could' cap and get my mojo back.

I think I can, I think I can, I think I can...

"Chug, chug, chug.", she said as she went up the hill. 

I am, ever yours, Nancy, slightly dented but back in the game, smiling!