Monday, December 29, 2008

The Holidays in Ohio

Oh my goodness, has it really been three weeks since my last post? I didn't realize it until I started getting emails asking if everything was all right since I had not posted since the ninth. Sorry. Ohio had become one large ice skating rink until the other day when it turned 66 degrees and all of it melted.

Lets go back a few days to the ice skating rink. Our driveway is long and sits on a slight slope that starts with the highest point being the front door of the kennel. Traveling downward to the road, our driveway was a frozen waterslide. It was unavoidable with all the snow melting and freezing rain coming down in buckets. Add to these conditions an overzealous rather large dog who thinks he is a puppy, three adults and a teenager trying to get that puppy from the kennel to the awaiting truck in the driveway and what you have is an episode of the Three Stooges plus one. Thank goodness it melted and we can start over with the winter mess and possibly trade in the sleet and ice for some pretty fresh, clean snow. I know the horses were conspiring with each other about packing up and moving to greener pastures and I must say I would not have blamed them at all.

Well we shopped and wrapped and exchanged and unwrapped and ate and slept and watched old movies and went to Grandmas house like everyone does and we visited and came home and ate and slept some more. Sigh. Fun but tiring. I received two, no make that three very special gifts. One was a book that my older daughter had made for me and it is one of a kind. Photos of my dad and two poems I had written for him. The second was a 45 record, remember those? Rod Stewart which was the same record that my brother gave me for my birthday years ago. Jennifer even found a record player to play it on. Good memories attached to both and very thoughtful.

The third was an oar. Yep, I won a boat oar in the white elephant gift exchange. Funny! I am sure it will come in handy when I am up shit creek without a paddle. Now I have one. Any way, Merry Christmas to all of you and heres to a new, better year filled with hope, promise and more time out in the barn.


Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The American Quarter Horse

There is a saying in the industry that says "Friends don't let friends ride Arabs". Oh I am sure that each of us have our favorite breed and an Arabian is a perfectly good choice for some. My personal choice is an American Quarter Horse andhere are a few examples of why.

Riding in the Christmas parade one year with several friends, while stopped on Main street due to an approaching train, my gelding Teddy watches as the whistle blows and the ground seems to rumble beneath his feet. I look around at the other horses and realize that there is quite a menagerie of various breeds in attendance. As the train comes closer, three of the horses begin to prance. One actually backs up about twenty feet and nearly stops on top of the mini horse and cart just behind us. Another rears and the rider quickly dismounts. A third moves from side to side anxious and clearly not comfortable with the sound of the train. Two horses, mine and a sorrel mare lead the pack and stand quietly seemingly unaware of the chaos that is unfolding around us. Two Quarter Horses, Teddy and the sorrel mare hold their ground against the big iron horse that goes speeding down the tracks just a couple feet in front of us.

That is what I love about the Quarter Horse... they are rock solid when it comes to intense situations.

The other night, my husband was late coming home from work and I had been preparing a surprise steak dinner for him. I called him on his cell phone and told him I had a surprise for him and wanted to know if he would be home soon. He assured me he was at our corner and would be home in a matter of seconds. I put his New York strip on the plate, butter on the baked potato and a dab of sour cream and I watched out the window as his truck pulled up the driveway and he stopped about halfway to the house. The phone rang and it was him. He said. "Please tell me that my surprise is not the horses standing by the garage."
"WHAT?" I replied as I had just fed our crew and all were standing exactly where I had left them. I looked out the window and there in the driveway were two horses, a Paint horse and a pony with no halters. By the time we found the owners, a neighbor that lives a few houses down, it was quite dark and she was unable to come and retrieve them. My husband and our friend Sheri decided to walk the pair home with me following in the car so traffic could see them along the road. In the headlights, I watched as the two horses danced all over their handlers, struggling to get away and spooking over anything that moved.

I thought to myself, "I am a lucky woman to have horses that are better behaved and stay where I leave them, Quarter Horses that I can trust."

The truth is that a Quarter Horse is that one friend that we all have that has your back during the worst of times and makes the good times better because they are fun to be around. There is such a rich American history in their lineage and they have a work ethic that far outweighs that of any other breed. Now I may be bias considering they are my personal breed of choice but I can honestly tell you that the view from the back of my horse, my Quarter Horse, is a barn that is quiet and content enough that gaurantees me that the dogs will NEVER eat my steak dinner while I go fetch MY horses from a neighbors yard and walk them home.

We spent the evening eating rice while our dogs sighed a contented sigh with bellies full. "Friends don't let friends ride Arabs and smart people ride Quarter Horses.


Thursday, November 20, 2008

A Birthday Blessing

Well, I made it over the hill to the other side of 50! Bear and I drove down to Nashville, Franklin and Leipers Fork Tennessee. We stayed with Marvin and Mary Ella Bastian or more specifically in their little cabin and we had a wonderful time. They treated us extremely well and we love them very much.

I had to share that I recieved a really special miracle while on our way home. As I said, I am missing my brother Joe terribly and this would be my first birthday without him. I always made him peanut butter cookies for his birthday so armed with the cookies, we stopped at every cool place we could find and we left a cookie. The highway patrol is probably wondering where all the cookies came from. I felt him with me a lot. Early in the morning when I woke, before I fell asleep and every moment in between. So we are in the gift shop in a Cracker Barrel restaurant waiting to be seated when a woman bumps into a rack of greeting cards next to me. She walked away and one card fell to the ground at my feet. I picked it up and the front said "Happy Birthday Sister"It was the perfect way to let me know he was with me. I love you Joe, thanks for the card.

The view from the back of my horse is the beautiful landscape of Tennessee and the pretty little cabin that sits on the hill in Franklin, what a perfect place!


Monday, November 10, 2008

First Rides, Cousins and Cabins

Good morning world!

It is 32 degrees here in Ohio and it is snowing light flakes. I am not a winter person, I am a summer person but this year, I will try and enjoy each day for what it is instead of counting down the days til summer rolls around again.

The other day, I told you about my frustrating work session with Hootie, the buckskin gelding. Well I called in reinforcements. I called in my friend Carolyn who also used to be one of my 4h kids years ago. See, she is younger and bounces instead of breaks and to be perfectly honest, I really hate the first ride. I love taking a horse that has had a rider on his back and perfecting everything from that point on. So after about an hour of the same nonsense he offered me, Carolyn sat down in the saddle and he dropped his head and said... "Ok, I get it now". That makes him my clean slate to apply our ten steps to a great horse. I hav e decided to document those ten steps for my next book.

Cousin Marvin and Mary Ella called from Nashville right as Bear and I were discussing what to do for my 50th. As I mentioned, these people had read my book, The Horses We Love The Lessons We Learn and called us one day. Their last name is the same as ours and even if we are not related, there is a definate connection. Well they took a revolutionary war era cabin that stands on their property and completely renovated it into a guest house. They invited us down to stay in it for the coming weekend, so we are leaving wednesday and coming home friday or saturday. We are excited. I will be waking on my 50th birthday in a cabin in the hills of Tennessee and I couldn't be more excited.

We spent the weekend clearing the trees from the pasture and burning leaves and branches and assessing the damage I did to the barn when the big cherry tree fell on it. We are thinking it is going to be about $750. Yikes! Again, let me say that it is amazing to me how little space trees taake up standing compared to falling and especially when they fall on your barn. Oh sigh, I can't wait to sit in the little cabin and reflect on what is important in that lesson. The view from the back of my horse will be much nicer than the mess out in the pasture.


Thursday, November 6, 2008

What is Important

The view from the back of my horse today is what is important. In the worst of circumstances, the power to see the positive side of any situation.

My friend Shannon tied a horse to a gate, the horse spooked, dragging the gate and injuring himself and Shannon in the process. Shan has a broken back and pelvic bone, the horse had a few staples . Tying horses to moveable objects is never a great idea but what is important is that neither of them were killed.

As my 50th birthday approaches, I must admit that it bothers me because I really wanted to do something special to mark the occasion. Time and finances won't allow me to go on a cruise or have a big blowout party but I have a husband who tries to make me happy with smaller gestures and what is important is that I almost lost him once and the good Lord let me keep him on this earth a little bit longer and that is what is important. That he loves me enough to want to celebrate my birthday and he is here.

In training our gelding, Hootie, I have worked in the round pen for quite some time getting him over his fear of basically everything that frightens him. I was frustrated beyond belief because I have waited three years to be able to ride this horse that I have raised from the day he was born. Everytime I tried to put my foot in the stirrup, he would bolt. I grew tired and took a break but never left the round pen because I didn't want to end the session on a bad note. I sat on a barrel in the middle of the pen and something wonderful happened.

As I sat there, I looked around at a day that was perfect. It is Indian Summer here in Ohio and the temperatures are high and the sky was blue and leaves continue to fall creating a blanket of reds and yellows and oranges and it occurred to me that what was important here was that I have the ability to get this horse past this hump after years of working with horses. What is most important is that if I stop rushing the process and allow him to figure it out on his own time, I will have created a horse that I will enjoy for years to come.

As I sat there in my frustration admiring the beauty around me, he walked over to me as if to say "be patient, I am frightened and I need your guidance." I traced the lines around his eyes with my fingertips and stroked his beautiful black mane and just "visited"with him. Once I calmed down, he calmed down and the lesson continued. NO, today was not the day that I would take my first ride on his back but what was important was that it reminded me of why I love horses in the first place. I was reminded how fortunate I am to have them in my life and that the day will come when he is ready for this big step and I don't want to rush him. Something tells me that there may be six inches of snow on the ground before he comfortably accepts me as his rider and these frustrating days will have been forgotten but what is important now is patience.

In the darkest, most frustrating times, we have to remember what is important in life and cling to it. I sent Shannon a care package of halloween candy, magazines and other things and as the days of indian summer come to an end I will continue to patiently work with this horse as often as time allows and just enjoy it for what it is and remember what is important.


Sunday, November 2, 2008

Happy Holidays!

I know, I too hate the holiday celebration coming so early but there is a reason for my madness. First of all let me tell you that I have stayed true to my suggesting in The Horses We Love that going trick or treating in full costume is good for the soul. I was an alien butterfly and collected 7.5 lbs of candy. I was attacked by a cat. My grandson and I laughed so hard that he is unlikely to ever forget that night. That is good for my soul! Don't forget how to play, people, it is what keeps us young.

Now to the reason that I mentioned the holidays. My buddy and awesome web designer is putting together a contest for all of you. Just go to our web page at either or in about a week or so. Click on BOOKS and there is a free gift for you. Two audio chapters that I have recorded that you can click on for free. Then there is a link to enter to win a collection of the three books that are currently in book stores. Someone is going to win a signed copy of The Foal Is The Goal, The Horses We Love, TheLessons We Learn and Tips and Tidbits For The Horse Lover.

Bear and I wanted to give back to you for the holidays and for all the blessings that we recieve. On that note, I am going to be doing some Christian radio interviews over the holidays. I would love to do one in your area so please give me a call if you have a fav radio station that would like to participate.

One more note...Thanks to Holly Clanahan from America's Horse who will be doing a feature article on the books and the story behind the stories in reference to the nightmare that was occurring while writing the books. It is a story not to be missed with her expert writing skills. It will be months before it actually hits the pages of America's Horse but they have always supported us through the Sage Remarks page by quoting us 9 or 10 times over the past few years and we thank them for that.

So for the upcoming holidays, you are the view from the back of my horse. Get out and vote and enterfor your chance to win at our web site. As always, Blessings to you and yours this holiday season.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Friends, Favors and Falling Trees

Wow! Almost November and I've realized that it has been over a month since I have posted on this blog. I appologize. Let's catch up!

I learned yesterday from Roxane Cerda, my editor that The Horses We Love, The Lessons We Learn is going into reprint and am very excited about it. My friend Biggun, Duane, has been really sick and in the hospital and our thoughts and prayers go out to him. Tommy in Columbus was out riding his horse with his wife and stopped talking suddenly, got down off the horse and dropped dead from an aneurism. Prayers to his family as he was only 46. Drove down to Congress and spent time with Jeff and Laura Stratton and the Murnan Road crew. Beautiful new babies, birthdays and beers. I love them and always have a great time down there. Speaking of birthdays, I turn the big 5 0 in three weeks! Yikes.

A funny thing happened yesterday that scared the hell out of me. Our good friend Rusty and his brother in law Kyle came overto take down some cherry trees in the pasture as a favor to us. ( So nice to have friends that you can call on now and again.) We just signed for a nice Ford F150, cherry red, for the hubby and have only had it a couple days. Rusty drives a smaller truck that got stuck trying to pull down one of the really big trees. Sooooo with hubby at work, I pulled his new truck into the pasture and the guys proceeded to tie ropes to it. I put it in gear and hit the gas. Just then, the two cute little boys in the truck with me started a conversation and I heard Rusty holler what sounded like "WHOA!" so I stopped. "Go, Go, Go!", he yelled. Oops!

Now to a horse person, go sounds a lot like whoa and I am sure you can see my confusion. The next sound I heard was a huge crash that seemed to echoe through the woods. All the horses in the next pasture scattered and I turned to see the huge tree on top of the run through shed. Again, oops! Apparently when I stopped, the tree shifted and fell in the wrong direction. The round pen lost a few rails and I can tell you that there is now a skylight in the roof of the shed.

Bear estimates that it is going to cost about $500 to fix it but if there is one thing I have learned is that things could always be worst. The truck is still in tact and no one was hurt. People are so much more important than things. Sheds are replaceable and people aren't. I guess I am just not good at things like falling trees and power tools (see earlier post about routing my finger to the bone and skin graft surgery) but I will keep trying. The view from the back of my horse shows me that trees take up way less space when they are standing upright instead of lying all over my pasture but I thank Rusty and Kyle for the favor and for being good friends and I hope that cherry wood keeps them warm all winter long.

P.S. I wonder if Caribou Barbie cuts down her own trees.


Tuesday, September 2, 2008

If there is one thing I know, it is horses

Sitting in my lawn chair at the corner of the arena watching a halter class, three people walk up and stand at the rail in front of me, blocking my view. Two men and a woman not aware that they are in my direct line of sight. I clear my throat. They don't move. The class is a large one and the judge is taking her time. I have already chosen a winnder in my mind and have placed the others according to what I like. For those of you that do not know, halter is based on the horse and more exactly on the confirmation of the horse. Anyhow, getting back to the people.

I decide to listen to them to kill time until the judge has made up her mind. The one man says "If there is one thing I know, it is horses". Interesting statement considering my experience has always been that the more we think we know them, the less we actually know because they will always surprise us. The woman asks, "What are they doing out there?" He answers, "This is a class where they see who is the prettiest horse". "Oh", she says. "Oh", I think. The second gentleman asks, "On what do they base their decision?" "Mostly on how well they are bathed and how nicely the owner is dressed." "Oh", he answers. "NO!", I think as I chuckle under my breath.

"The colorful ones always win", he adds. "Why aren't they riding the horses instead of leading them?" asks the woman. "Because it is early in the show and they haven't told the owners to saddle them up yet", he replies with confidence. The halter classes continue and finish leading into the showmanship classes. Now Showmanship is based on your ability to present your horse. There are specific rules of Showmanship such as squaring your horse up so that front legs are side by side as are the back ones. The handler doesn't actually touch the horse at anytime but rather holds the lead rope up and directs the horse using the pressure from the lead. They walk their horses up to the judge, trot past and stop. Pivot or turn, and line up in a row. At this point, the judge inspects each horse individually as the handler moves around the horse and positions themselves in an exact position that corresponds to where the judge is at any given time. If the judge is at the front of your horse, you stand on the opposite side, as they pass the shoulder of the horse to the back, you are on the same side as the judge. That said, the conversation goes something like this...

"Now why are the same people out there doing the same thing as the earlier classes?" He answers, "Because the judge gave them a second chance."
"Why are they moving around the horse this time?" He answers, "Because they forgot last time." Now I have never been this entertained by a class for as long as I can remember. There is just something ab out his clueless commentary that is adding spice to the classes. Still blocking everyones view and being totally oblivious to it, the woman asks, "So you know the names of all the colors and the breeds and classes and everything?" "Yep, it is really quite easy". "My trainer says I will be ready for Quarter Horse Congress by next year!" I am thinking, "maybe as a spectator".

The questions continued and the uninformed answers did as well until finally the epitomy of my entertainment came to a close when the woman asked the man "Hey, what is that color called?", pointing to a big grulla gelding in the arena. "That is called a cappucinno!" "it is a little darker than a sorrel". He says with all the confidence of a seasoned professional. Everyone within ear shot chuckled and I moved my chair elsewhere.

The view from the back of my horse is all the new people that believe if there is one thing they know, it is horses. If that is the one thing you know, you are in trouble because after all the years I have been involved with horses, if there is one thing I know, it is that none of ever know it all and when we don't, lets use our indoor voices to answer other peoples questions. Here's to you, cappacino boy, see ya at Congress.


Friday, August 29, 2008

Tips and Tidbits

Things have settled a bit since "stupid woman" mutalated her dead horse. Our neighbors just found out they are having a boy in January and we couldn't be more excited for them. Bear and I are getting ready to head to our county Fair this weekend and eat Fair food and drink margueritas at koolaid corner.

The view from my horse today is Horse and Rider magazine. Hereis why. The book, The Horses We Love, The Lessons We Learn has been doing really well and we arepleased. We have recieved emails and letters and phone calls from people all over the world who read it and liked it. Tips and Tidbits is agreat, fun little book thatcame out at the same time but has been a little slower to take off. Out of the blue, we started recieving several emails about it and wondered why. So one morning, I was reading my August issue of Horse and Rider, which I love, and there in little blue boxes now and then were quotes from the book. I called to thank them and spoke with a gal by the name of Erin in editorial and she was really nice. Hi Erin.

Horse and Rider has been around for several years and I think we have an entire closet dedicated to back issues. I hope to see them use references to all three books in the future and if you haven't read it, pick one up.

So off to Fair we go where there areless horses than in the past years but I am sure we will have fun just the same.


Monday, August 18, 2008

The Lines are Blurred

The lines are blurred these days between right and wrong and humane and cruel and I for one am mad as hell about it. Our government is seriously considering killing the wild mustangs in Nevada. Stupid, unappreciative politicians playing GOD again. Bad enough but expected. An incident happened the other day that just really makes me question how bad it has become. A while back, I told you about the neighbor with the horse that had the big gaping hole in his forehead that I was trying to hold together while the vet stapled it shut. It was the night my hubby Bear was struck by lightening in the same barn. The owner, a woman that we shall call "stupid woman" just so we don't want accidently insult her, refused to give the horse any meds after the incident because she believes only in natural care. The horse should have been put down several times since then and "stupid woman" has refused to do it. When the horse foundered because she trimmed the hooves too short and when it colicked and when it was literally covered in flies that were eating the horses flesh.

The horse died the other day and stupid woman called the neighbor to come help bury it. She believes it died during the night but she wasn't sure. She just knows it was dead when she went out to feed him breakfast at 11:00 am! She was a little busy apparently because she had just given birth to her second daughter in the garage. Yes I said given birth in the garage.

The man with the front end loader showed up and the neighbor stuck around to help. Stupid woman's husband was there so if it were me, I would have left but the neighbor stayed. Stupid woman requested that thee mane and tail be cut off the horse and they complied. Then she wanted them to cut off her beloved companions front legs! Ms. "ALL NATURAL" stupid woman thought that if she gave the front legs to someone for research, it would be helpful in figuring out why the horse foundered. Not neccesary! I can tell her the reason is that she trims her own hooves down to about 2 inches long and not very even at that. Well they complied as she went to take a nap because she was tired. (Giving birth in your garage is apparently really hard work).

The neighbor cut this poor horses front legs off and asked "where is the ice?" No one had any ice. No one considered at any point that the horse had laid out in the heat for several hours and the tissue was too dead to really do any useful research. So now we have a dead horse, two severed legs and stupid woman is taking a nap. Are ya with me so far? Good. Before the horse is buried, stupid woman decides to take her three year old out to say goodbye. As the neighbor recounts the details of this story to me through my husband who knows all too well how stupid stupid woman can be, I am devestated. I had nightmares all weekend.

So now it is monday and I check my messages only to find that one is from Stupid Woman with horse questions. My only thought is this... ask the questions before you mame and torture your horses and leave them standing there for months covered in flies and suffering. Maybe before you have the neighbor cut off his legs and keep them in your yard in 85 degrees for , my guess is, nothing. Taking direction from a crazy woman who gives birth to her children in the garage is never a good idea but calling me for any reason after you do something so incredibly inhumane and pshycotic is just not acceptable. Keep your questions or ask them before the horse actually dies because I have always said that the only stupid question is the one that goes unasked and you have proven me wrong. As for the wild horses in Nevadaa, easy solution really...the ranchers that want them dead so they don't graze on their land, give them a tax incentive to set aside a certain amount of land for grazing and stop playing God with God's creatures. Have the stallions gelded so the numbers stay down and don't let stupid woman anywhere near them.

I think you can guess who the view from my horse is today and you can probably guess that I am really angry. Oh yeah did I mention that one of her questions was about boarding horses at her place? Why on earth doesn't this county have a decent humane agent?

Blessings with a special blessing to the horse with no legs.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The FREE audio chapters (PODCAST)

Wait for it... wait for patient. To those of you that have emailed me asking where the free MP3 audio podcast chapters are, they are coming. Michelle is working her butt off trying to get them up on the site for you. So that would make her the view from my horse today. That's right, my buddy Michelle who works so hard to make this web site a nice one without ever asking for a singgle thing except patience is the view from my horse.

There will be two different chapters, the sad but favorite TEDDY chapter from The Horses We Love, The Lessons We Learn and a bonus chapter that I wrote after the book came out. Big Boy Money Can't Buy Everything. Both yours for the low low price of FREE! Keep checking back to the site people and don't forget to dump your cookies so you can see it. Then just enjoy these two chapters compliments of my publisher, myself and Michelle, the view from my horse.

Let us know how you like them.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Pretty little girls, puppies and podcasts

Hey all,
It has been a crazy few days but I wanted to catch everyone up to date. Here is the recent view from my horse...First, pretty little girls...congratulations go out to Jake and LeAnn, Jeff and Laura Stratton's son and daughter in law on the birth of their daughter Avery. Awww, I can't wait to hold her. Papa Jeff and Nana Laura, congrats! You are grandparents and Jake and Leann will make wonderful parents.

Puppies! I am convinced that the only thing second to holding a new born baby is holding a puppy. We have taken care of a nice little mini aussie puppy by the name of Barney for a year when he arrived to us last May covered in ticks, skinny and with a broken rib. He is registered out the wazoo and now after all this, we get to find a lovely blue merle female and have puppies! The problem is that I am having trouble finding the perfect little girl for him. I thought I did from a woman who has way too many and was going to place one or two with me. Apparently though, she can't let go of even one. She is a collector and puppy collectors are like horse collectors, they end up with over 100 or so and the animals suffer. We will keep looking and keep an eye on this situation because I am really worried about it.

The podcast! Thanks to my publisher, Howell book house, a division of Wiley publishing and my wonderful web designer, Michelle, in the next few days, we will be offering you all a FREE, yes I said FREE audio version of the Teddy chapter from The Horses We Love The Lessons We Learn and a new bonus chapter called Big Boy, that is not even in the book because I just wrote it. We recorded the podcasts with me actually reading the chapter to you and it will be available to you as a gift beginning sometime the first of the week. Sooooooo watch for it, download it and enjoy it. Heres to pretty Avery, the female aussie we have yet to find and the free podcasted chapters for all of you. Cheers! Have a great week.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Leading New Friends Down Old Paths

Bear and I met two new people yesterday who recently moved here from North Carolina. Seems Shannon and Rusty purchased one of Beau's babies who is now 8 years old. Not exactly a baby anymore but any how! You all know how I tend to ramble. Shannon wanted to get into showing her new horse so I got into my closet and pulled out some show clothes for her. Some were new Wrangler clothes that Court sends me but a few were some of the items I wore when I showed. The heavy glitzy sequined jacket that we placed fourth at World wearing. It's the one that weighs about 15 lbs. Not exactly suitable for Oklahoma in July but I wore it anyway. I dusted off the cobwebs and gave it to Shannon and she seemed pleased. One jacket actually still had a number on the back of it from a show! I wonder how long that has been in there. It made me think about old friends and old horses and old times and I loved it.

I still see a lot of you at Fair and bump into a few of you here andthere but it isn't the same as staying up all night and waiting for foals to be born or getting lost in the park after a few beers and a trail ride, (you know who you are!) or team penning til 4 am and having to be up to get to a show the following morning. I miss those days. I wish Shannon and Rusty the best of luck with their horses and will be there to cheer them on but to those of you who I ahvent seen in a while, Bear and I still do koolaid corner at Fair during the speed show and there is a spot for you on the rail. Meet us there and chat a while. Especially to John Saeger, I promise not to lock you in the portapotty this year. To Joni Leathers, try and keep your horse INSIDE the arena and not on our laps, and to Paula me to the entry booth if you need a marguerita. Love you guys!


Thursday, July 24, 2008

Brothers and Birthdays

I panicked today. It was due to a realization that literally took my breath away. I am going to be 50 in November, I know it is still a few months away, and it honestly does not botherme turning 50. Here is the problem. I was born on the night of my big brothers birthday after midnight. So Joe was born on the 12th of November and I was born on the 13th. 5 years apart. For my whole life, he would hand over the birthday honors at exactly midnight.

It didn't matter where we were or even if we were together. When we were kids, he would wake me up to give me the "birthday" and as we grew older and lived hundreds of miles away from each other, he called me every year at exactly midnight. The phone would ring and it would be his friendly voice telling me "Happy Birthday Sis!" It was one of the few constants in my life. Now the big 50 one is coming and he won't call. You see, Joe died this year before our birthdays and I am feeling pretty lost without him. Even as he grew ill and was in a nursing home with several medical ailments, I would make peanut butter cookies and go spend our birthdays together.

I thought it might be easier to change my birthday to the fourth of July but it didnt work, everyone forgot in the chaos of my daughter being in the hospital and all things aside, it didnt feel right anyway. I miss Joe so much. He left us right after my dad died so it was a double whammy losing the two members of my family that I loved the most. I am not sure what to do for my birthday and am open to suggestions here. I just know that it will be so sad turning 50 without him.

So the view from my horse is birthdays and brothers and both were always prettycool until now. What I wouldn't do for that midnight call just one more year. I miss you Joe, you were the perfect brother and I wouldn't have shared my birthday with anyone else in the world. My birthday wish for you this year is that you are finally free of all the pain and riding your motorcycle through the back roads of heaven with Debby on the back. That you have hot fresh baked peanut cookies at your beck and call and that you show me a sign on my birthday this year that you are thinking abou me and still watching over me. I miss you buddy.


Monday, July 14, 2008

The Kentucky Horse Park

Good morning all,

It has been 12 years since Bear and I have been to the Kentucky Horse Park and I must say that we are ashamed that it has been so long. To have this wonderful, calming park filled with history of horses a mere five hours away and not to visit more often is a crime. We were invited to speak to the Bashkir Curly group down there friday and saturday and we met so many nice people both in the group as well as in the park itself. The gift shop is exquisite and the landscaping is perfectly maintained. If you havent been there, I suggest you plan a trip and if it has been a while, treat yourself to a day or maybe a weekend and just relax and see the many new displays.

The weather was beautiful and all the horses are well cared for and truly a sight to see. We went to the Living Legends barn early in the morning and watched as they bathed Cigar who is one of my personal favorites. We went on a hay ride through the park which is something we have not done before. What fun!

I want to thank the ABC resgisty for inviting us as well as the entire park staff for making our visit special. Pat and Tony for the wonderful compliments on my books which will soon be available in the gift shop and our friends Laura and Jeff Stratton for driving over from Columbus to spend some time with us. We love them very much.

So the view from the back of my horse today is the rolling hills and perfectly lined white fences of the Kentucky Horse Park. What a beautiful sight to see. Meet me in Kentucky because I will definately be going back soon.

Friday, July 4, 2008

True Independance

The view from the back of my horse on the fourth of July is the true meaning of independance. I have spent the week with one particular dog that is a sweet heart but LOVES to bark. She barks from the time she wakes up until the time she goes to sleep which is usually about an hour and then she barks again. She is a sweet dog and I really think she is cool but she barks and hascontinued to bark for eight days straight. She is hyper and has a spastic colon as a result of this so when there was blood in her stool, I put her in my car and took her to the vet. I realized I was out of gas so I stopped at the gas station, locked the doors so she would be safe, went in to pay and when I came out, she wouldn't let me back in my car. She thought I was a stranger trying to break into my own car and guess what, she barked! She goes home Saturday...independance!

The Toro company has decided to put a new deck on the tractor I was having trouble with and the dealer has had since Memorial Day. I can finally park the old Huskee that spews black smoke and hot air...independance!

We are leaving for Kentucky Thursday morning to present some seminars for the American Bashkir Curly national convention at the Kentucky Horse Park and I can sleep for five hours while my hubby drives. No phones, no barking, no mowing grass or weed wacking or any other every day chores...independance!

I am taking this weekend to get my stallion out and ride him because breeding season is over for the horses and I will have his full undivided attention! I havent had this since last fall. Just me and him and sunshine. Then I am going to float on a raft in the pool before the busy week ahead begins...independance!

I am going to be 50 soon but I am still independant enough to dress myself, feed myself, go to the bathroom by myself and do all the other things that don't yet require the help of another person! I am grateful that, I can tell you!

But all kidding aside, I want to thank every serviceman that has fought for our independance as a nation and every family member that has sacrificed a soldier we have lost in that fight whether they be a father, brother or son, a mother sister or daughter. So the view from the back of my horse is that brand spanking new red white and blue flag that I proudly hang each year on this day that honors them and reminds me never to take one breath of my independance for granted. The cost they have paid has been high and in exchange, we must never forget to thank them for that. Go out and buy a brand new flag and retire the old one and hang it proudly in their honor today. Make some noise in their honor and light up the sky with fireworks in their honor. Let freedom ring so loudly that they hear it all the way across the world where they dont know the meaning of the word independance. Raise some hell, my fellow Americans! Be grateful for our freedom and have a safe and enjoyable fourth of July.


Thursday, June 26, 2008

What a Silly Question!

The horses graze on the back three acres which leaves the front 1 1/2 to 2 acres to mow. As I said, I am using a 15 year old MTD Huskee and the thing is just not enjoyable. I like mowing grass but not with this mower. It is 88 degrees and the mower blows hot air at you while you mow, it also spews out black smoke. The gas pedal is just far enough out of my reach that I have to twist at an angle to reach it and even then it only goes about 2 miles an hour.

So the thing about me is that I think life should be fun. If I have to do something that is not fun, I find ways to make it less boring. Hence the Mickey Mouse ears. Yep, I have still not gotten to go to Disneyland but when times get tough and I have to do a chore that I am not particulary looking forward to, I break out the ears and put them on. It adds humor to my life. My grandson got them for me when HE went to Disneyland.

So I am out mowing, ears in place when a black pickup truck pulls up and stops. "Excuse me", I hear from the truck. So I stop the mower. "My husband and I were driving by and noticed you are wearing Mickey Mouse ears to mow the grass, can I ask why?"I can hear her husband laughing from the driver seat. What a silly question. I smiled and thought to myself, "Tomorrow, you will be the view from my horse". I said "These ears?" Pointing to my big black ears. "Yes", she said. I simply answered..."Because I couldn't find my Elvis sunglasses." Her husband laughed louder and she simply said "Oh". I told her to have a nice day and continued mowing the grass.

Life is hard sometimes and you have to remind yourself to have fun with it regardless. If you have to stop your big black pickup and ask, you will never get it.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Cow Hunting

I have never been a big fan of hunting. Yes, the obvious reasons apply however I really don't like the wild gamey taste of hunted meat. This especially applies to the taste of deer meat. My husbands aunt and uncle raise beefalo in Colorado. Beefalo are cattle bred to buffalo. They tell me it tastes really good but I have yet to see or taste proof of this. I know that horsemeat is a delicacy in several countries but eat a horse? NEVER!

The economy being what it is, I will admit that I really miss a good steak now and then. Give me a T-bone or a porterhouse with some Sweet Baby Rays barbecue sauce and I am in heaven. So this is what led to the conversation between myself, my husband and a couple of clients the other day. We decided that there ought to be open season on cows. Now I am just asking for one day. One day where it is legal to hunt cows. I am somewhat ashamed to admit that I would be the first one to pick up a gun and go sit in my neighbors pasture and bag me a freezer full of meat. I don't mean to sound cruel but come on, think about it. I couldn't hit the side of a big red barn with a rifle but sitting on a bale of hay along side of that pasture full of cows, I could probably eat steak for an entire season! Like shooting fish in a barrel.

Ok so cows are really cute. I get that, I do. But they taste good too. Ok, so I am a redneck and proud of it. Ok, so you might be a vegetarian and don't eat meat at all. Thats all right, you can eat a salad on the new open season on cows. It's just a suggestion and nothing more. The view from the back of my horse is the twenty acre pasture of cows nearby that slowly graze and soak up the sun and have no idea what I am suggesting. Tasty view. Stock up on Sweet Baby Rays!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

I just want to mow my grass!

As you all well know, today is the third week of June. In the summer of 2006, I purchased a TORO LX460 riding lawnmower from D and R Equipment in Maumee, Ohio and it broke down shortly thereafter. They were very kind in coming to pick it up being I had my daughter and husband both in the hospital at the time. They fixed it and sent it back only to come get it again for the same issues. I mowed a couple times and put it up for the winter. Come spring of 2007, the deck would engage and disengage by itself. Very dangerous, right? It was also chewing up belts so they came and got it several times over the summer. I believe they have had my mower in their shop more hours than I have actually used it to mow grass. So guess where my mower is? You got it. D and R Equipment in Maumee!

This time it was engaging and disengaging at random and one of the blades went clean through a piece of metal causing it to break off and shoot across the yard where my grandson had just come out to tell me dinner was ready and missed him by inches. So I call Toro whom I have spoken to several times about the fact that there was a problem with the deck that was never recalled but apparently there was a kit to fix it. I pointed out the danger of metal pieces flying off and they proceeded to give me a lecture about having children nearby while mowing. Ok, good point, he should not have come outside while I was mowing but metal pieces flying off their mowers and blades engaging and disengaging at will is much more dangerous, right?

Liz from TORO tells me that I should not mow grass more than six inches long and their mowers are not designed to mow more than 1/2 acre. Their dealer knew that I had two acres to mow when he sold me the mower. Michael Hoffman, CEO of TORO, are you listening by chance? Well if you are, you're going to love this one. I am now told that because of the deck issue, I have to choose one level in which to mow my grass even though I purchased a mower with five levels. She told me that if she were me, she would sell the mower to someone else and let it be their problem. They even tried to tell me that my warranty has expired while it has been in the shop for almost a month now. Is this the way Toro takes care of their customers and stands behind their mowers? If so, I want a John Deere.

So as I said, D & R Equipment picks up the mower again on May 23 and since that time they have been telling me that they are "waiting for parts". It has been almost a month and they are still waiting for parts. Today, I call to see if the parts have come in and they answer their telephone, "YEAH!" with attitude and the most unprofessional manner that I have ever heard. Not becoming to a respected toro dealer. What is their answer to my same old question? You guessed it, waiting on parts. They have sold me a really bad mower, have attempted to fix it several times, have had it in their shop way too long and too many times, have tried to blame me for the problems, now both them and TORO are treating their customers with total disregard.

Mr. Michael Hoffman, Liz and every other person at Toro, you are the view from my horse today because I just want to mow my grass and it is getting too long to see anything other than from the back of a horse. In todays economy, I say we need to put our hard earned dollars in the pockets of those who appreciate it enough to treat us with common courtesy and let the rest of them just go out of business. I suggest we start with buying a John Deere from the Andersons or another competetor and the people who claim to know how to repair mowers, go back to mowing grass for a living. I have made 27 phone calls to date to Toro asking for help and I am still mowing my grass with a 15 year old huskee while my "new" mower is sitting in the shop.

I will give you all an update if this problem is ever resolved but for those of you in the market for a new mower, take my advice and pass on this mower, this company and this dealer. If you stop by, I might not be able to see you through the tall grass so whistle and I will come out and play marco/polo with you until I find you.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

The Bucket List

I watched the movie The Bucket List and it got me thinking of where I would like to go before I die. If money were no object, here is where I would like to go. Any Sandals Beach Resort because they are so beautiful, I would like to walk the beaches of the outer banks in North Carolina, I would like to fly to Miami and rent a convertable and drive to Key West one more time and Disneyworld because Ive never been there. When my travels were over and my time was coming to an end, I would then like to lay in my own bed in the arms of the man I love and sleep. Oh if money were no object. Just a beautiful thought on a perfect summer night with a sky full of a million stars. Life is good and we have today.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

The Dragonfly

There is a chapter in The Horses We Love The Lessons We Learn that tells a story of my childhood fear of dragonflies. This came about after my mother told me to be careful of them because they would sew my eyes and mouth shut.As a young girl, I found myself in a field with a torm approaching and dragonflies swooping everywhere around me and I was terrified. That was until a friend of my dads found me, rescued me and told me that they were spirits that watched over me and guided me through life.

I was reminded of this story early this morning when I went out to vaccum the pool. I created a garden near the pool with a small pond for the animals and insects to get a drink of water on hot days. This beautiful blue winged dragonfly decided that the swimming pool looked more refreshing and as a result, I found him lying on the surface of the water struggling to fly. His beautiful wings were wet and he couldn't take off. I got the skimmer and attempted to reach him and the harder I tried to rescue him, the more he fought me and the further he would drift out of my reach. He was frightened and in his fear, he resisted my help.

You can't help someone who is too frightened to help themselves.

Horses are fear and flee animals by nature. By this I mean their instinct tells them to flee from what they percieve as a threat. When they are frightened and in trouble such as when they are tangled in a fence or cast against a wall in their stall and can't get up, the fear takes over and often times when you try to help them, they panic.

You can't help someone who is too frightened to help themselves.

People are the same way in that we sometimes get ourselves into a bad situation and out of fear, we sometimes get in so deep that we can't find our way out. When someone tries to help, we panic and fight their help and we continue to get in even deeper. That dragonfly this morning reminded me of someone in my own life and I am sure each of you have tried to help someone that is in trouble. If this describes you, you are the view from the back of my horse today because I know how difficult that can be. Be patient, be persistant and no matter how hard they fight you, be there for them. Do make them accountable for their own recovery but try to lessen the fear. Do be honest with them in what you see but remind them that you love them. Do make them understand that you will be there no matter what but you can't do it for them.

You can't help someone who is too frightened to help themselves but you can be there when they stop struggling long enough to recognize that they need help and you are their soft place to fall.

I moved the dragonfly to the garden and when I went back an hour later to check on him, I was happy to see that he was no longer where I left him. He may have flown away and gotten out of his bad situation and there may come a day when he comes back to the pool and will drown because I wont be there to help him but for now, I was there. Be there for those you love and continue to rescue them if you can. We all need help sometimes.


Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Swanton Storms

The tornado warnings of friday night were incredibly frightening for me. As I explain in one of the stories in The Horses We Love, The Lessons We Learn, my family suffered a direct hit from a rather large tornado when I was quite young. The fear of that experience has stayed with me.

I have a routine. The sirens go off, I quickly gather all the animals in the house, my favorite blanket, a flashlight and my cell phone and sit on the bathroom floor. This has been my routine since we built this house 18 years ago. However, we have recently replaced the large sturdy tub with a standing glass shower. Now I am surrounded by glass and I am sure it isn't as safe as it once was. It is familiar to me so there is safety in familiarity regardless of how dumb it might be. So here is the thing. A new client was supposed to bring his dog at 3:00 in the afternoon. We close at 4:00 on friday but I waited. He was three doors down all day and never bothered to call to say he would be late. 6:00 rolls around and still no word. So I called a client on the waiting list and rented his run to them. Cut to 8:30 pm on a firday night and the tornado sirens are blaring and I am sitting in my safe place and my cell phone rings. Now he is telling me that he is a little late but would like to come now. I explain that is not an option and ask if he sees the funnel cloud in the field across the street that my hubby is describing to me. He says no. I say good bye and hang up the phone and he continued to call me back four times! I finally turned off the phone.

I am willing to go the extra mile for a client however this was about 20 miles and it had been a long week. I told him he could come in the morning at 8:30 when we opened and we would make some changes to accomodate him. He was a no show.

So after the friday night storms, I mowed the grass and finished yard work thinking that more rain was coming and the lawn would look wonderful for the entire week. Wrong! More storms blew through last night and mother nature decided that the large maple tree would look lovely on my fence, our big cherry would be better on the neighbors fence and our sassafras tree fit perfectly across our driveway. Trees take up less space when they are standing upright, don't they? So the view from the back of my horse (and the neighbors horses who were enjoying the leaves off the downed tree) is whomever invented the chainsaw because ours is going to be used a lot over the next few days. Oh happy days. I hope everyone survived the storms.


Monday, June 9, 2008

The Triple Crown and Big Brown

Like so many of you, I love horseracing. I always have but lately it seems that the tragedy that comes with the sport has been more at the center of our focus than the excitement. It has been so long since a horse has won the coveted Triple Crown which consists of The Preakness, The Kentucky Derby and the Belmont. It would have been nice to see Big Brown run his way into the history books but alas he fell short. He was beaten by a horse that in a previous race, was left 38 lengths behind when BigBrown passed him. It just goes to show us that nothing is a sure bet. I think in part, thats what makes the sport so appealing.

After Barbaros tragic death last year and then Eight Belles breaking both of her front legs and having to be euthanized, we now sit with a knot in our stomachs during a big race praying that these beautiful athletes come out of the race in one piece. Horses are no different than any other athlete in any other sport in that they give their all in their bid for a win and running is in their blood. Most owners and trainers truly love their horses and would never do anything to cause them harm but there are always some who would do anything to win. These are the ones that give racing a bad name. It isnt as though a horse breaking down on the track is a new thing, certainly not. It happens all the time however not all races are as publicized as the triple crown.

I am not a big fan of PETA and their radical tactics I will admit however that the sport needs to be monitored because it is driven by money and money makes some people do things that they would not normally do. From everything I seen, Big Brown ran a clean race and I was pleased to hear that he didnt lose due to any physical issues but the Belmont is the longest race of the three and he was just not up to the challenge in that sweltering heat. My admiration to the jockey for recognizing this and pulling up the horse to avoid injury.

So the view from the back of my horse is Big Brown and his jockey, both true athletes in every sense of the term. Maybe not the winners of the triple crown but winners in my eyes. What a race!


Saturday, May 31, 2008

America's Horse Magazine

It is 121 feet from my barn to the mailbox and I must say that today was definately worth the trip. I was out brushing Hootie, the buckskin when the dogs alerted me that the mailman had come. The kennel blocks my view so like any horsewoman, I count on the dogs to alert me to anything.

As I am every month at this time, I was pleased to see the latest issue of America's Horse in my box. For those of you that don't have Quarter Horses (and I can't imagine why you wouldn't) it is the AQHA magazine that goes out to all members. To me, the best form of flattery is to be quoted from one of my books. To be quoted in the Sage Remarks section of this publication is something that I used to say I would give hell and half of Georgia for. The first time I actually saw that they decided that something I said was worth repeating, I was so excited that I showed everyone I knew including the horses who were impressed enough to try to eat the issue! The second time, I put the issue with the first one in a box of special things that I keep for Garrett, my grandson. The third time, I just smiled that smile and kept it to myself. Now I can't remember exactly how many times I have been honored with this distinction but today was the best one of them all. Here is why.

When I wrote Tips and Tidbits For The Horse Lover, I was on a deadline and needed just three more pieces of original wisdom to balance out the various categories and came up with the one they quoted at 3 am the morning of my deadline. I was quite proud of it and thought it was appropriate for all horse people whether they are smart enough to own a Quarter Horse or not. It says "You break your nose, you break a window, you break a promise - all of which prove to be a negative experience, so why would you break a horse? A horse is started on a journey of a lifetime of learning. He is your partner and once he is broken, you may never be able to fix him." It is to date, my personal favorite thing I have ever written. So the view from my horse is America's Horse magazine for choosing my little sage remark and priniting it in this months issue. Thanks!


Monday, May 26, 2008

Harry Hughes memories

Yesterday was a really nice day so Bear and I decided to take a run over to Harry Hughes Equestrian center and watch some of the fun show. We have spent most of our years together showing horses over there. In the past three years since dealing with his illness, we havent gone. Not much has changed aside from some new faces. Congrats to Grace Schumaker for a good ride. There are quite a few less faces and a lot of new ones. Back when I was on the board of directors there, we raised money to build a concession stand and it looks wonderful! Jen had just gotten released from the hospital so she and her hubby Mike met us there. Jen literally grew up at HH. We were reminded of a lot of good times back when our 4h group used to have our annual May fun show and all of the horses that we knew and loved and rode were still with us. In the book, The Horses We Love, The Lessons We Learn, I talk quite a bit about HH and the fun we had. Our economy has allowed less and less people to have the pleasure of a life with horses and it was evident by the attendance there yesterday. I for one am grateful that we raised our kids in that environment as they turned out pretty good adults as a result. I think we will just take the time from now on to stop by every weekend we can and say hello. I have missed it more than I even realized. The view from the back of my horse is Harry Hughes Equestrian Haven on Route 64 in Swanton. Free horse show every weekend, stop by and grab a hot dog from the pretty little concession stand and make it a good day.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Ahhhh, summer!

Well it is Memorial Day weekend which marks the unofficial first days of summer. The grass is finally green, the trees are no longer bare and the coldest, longest winter is finally behind us. Our summer started with a bang as our daughter Jen has been in thehospital again. Jen has Crohns disease and with the medication comes a depleted immune system which leads to infections. She was admitted to the same hospital in which I have lost my dad and my brother in thelast year and that makes it difficult to even walk in the front door. Even the most beautiful summer day turns ugly when I enter those doors. The good news is that she was released last night and today I plan on cooking on the grill, getting out my flip flops and tank tops, slowing down the pace of everyday tasks and enjoying the horses a bit more. I am looking forward to a book signing this month at TSC in Wauseon and then on to the Kentucky Horse Park to present some seminars for the Bashkir Curly association in July. In between, keep that sunshine and warm air coming and allow us to be outdoors more and NOT at the hospital. The view from the back of my horse is all of you that I havent seen in a while just stopping by the barn and kennel to say hello and visit.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Working on the new kennel

Here is hoping this workd. Ive enclosed a link to those of you that have asked how the building of the dog boarding kennel is going. We are not completely finsihed yet however we are almost there. For those of you that havent seen us lately and have wondered what we have been up to, here is the answer. The concrete was poured in the old barn last July and Bear and I have been working our fingers to the bone to finish it. In September, I was using a router (scarey power tool) and routed my index finger to the bone. Had to have skin graft surgery and after a long recovery, this is where we are with it. If by chance the link does not work, you can also go to aol video and type in Ohio kennel or Bear Back Ranch and kennel and get the video. The view from the back of my horse is all the months we worked and I for one can say that we are happy it is behind us and we can actually put the finishing touches on it and open! Yeah!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Mothers Day

I called my mother in law to invite her to a cookout at our place and she declined. She said she had issues with this day because it was just a day designed by the retail market to sell cards and gifts. Hmmm. At first, I had to agree with her but then I got to thinking, who cares! Whether it is a commercialized day created for whatever reason, it still has merit. Mothers still should have at least one day a year that honorsthehard work they do. I didnt want to celebrate the daybut rather celebrate who she is and all she has done where her children are concerned. I for one as a mother enjoy this day. My two girls and my husband and new son in law go out of their wayto cook me dinner and spend time with me and they bring me cards and I love it! I am celebrated by people who care about me. I am thanked for those sleepless nights when my kids were little and sick and I sat up with them all night. I am thanked for all the cookies I baked and the field trips I went on because the other parents were too busy. The lilacs are in bloom, the cold weather has finally left us and I cant think of a better reason to celebrate. So today, the view from the back of my horse are those capitalist card manufacturers that created a day just for us mothers because I would like to thank them for giving us a day of our own. Celebrate your mom today and go buy her a card. If you are a mom yourself, sit back and enjoy it. Happy Mothers Day.


Monday, April 14, 2008

The More Things Change

They say the more things change, the more they stay the same but after visiting Equine Affaire this weekend, it would seem the more things change, the more we miss the way they used to be.

Now I know that the economy is bad and we are all feeling it in every aspect of our lives. The days of disposable income are behind us for now. The housing market has all but bottomed out and the equine industry is feeling the brunt. But what I witnessed at Equine Affaire this year was the result of more than just the economic slump.

For those of you that have gone in years before, you remember the endless rows of beautiful stallions in the barn and the overflow of vendors in the third building. You remember the line of cars that stretched out onto the expressway and the friendly faces of the people in the office that work really hard to make it the best year ever. For me having been there with my stallion and then being a presenter for years, I remember my cell phone ringing as I arrive welcoming me and hearing the friendly voices of the familiar faces that I see every year. But this year, my phone was quiet. My husband and I walked into the barn to find a third of the stallions that usually grace the rows of the Gilligan barn. There was no long line of cars as we approached the Fairgrounds and even a lot of the vendors that have been there as long as we had, commented on the changes that have occurred and the lack of excitement that used to exist among the people that work with them to create such a huge event. Some of them have been replaced with new people while some may be tired and overworked, I can only guess as to why things have changed but the effects of these changes were evident in the turnout and the overall mood of everyone we spoke with.

I smiled and said hello to a gal that I have worked with in presenting my seminars and she passed me with no recognition. No, I was not a presenter this year however after six years of volunteering my time as a presenter at this event a "hello Tena" is not too much to ask. I also spoke to another presenter that has volunteered his time for seminars for as many years as I and he sighed and his comment was "things have changed. It isn't fresh anymore and if you are not on the agenda this year, you do not exist." This is a very well known, well respected trainer and former judge.

The view from my horse is Equine Affaire past and present and the difference between them. It would seem that when we come to having a seminar that explores the difference between stallions and mares, it is time for an infusion of new blood in the ranks. We need to fill the barns with laughter and excitement and beautiful horses as it used to be and so easily can be again. We need fresh ideas for seminars with imaginative names and more and more new and creative ideas for the youth. I have to ask... "What happened?"

On a bright note, the two new books were everywhere and we stopped to sign them between shopping and visiting with old friends. I was pleased to see how well they are doing. The Foal Is The Goal book was still everywhere we went as well. We are looking forward to a full summer of book signing events and seminars. So maybe change is inevitable but we have seen the possibilities of Equine Affaire and what it once was and I have to believe can be again. I have seen first hand how much work it takes to create an event such as this and would so like to see them continue to succeed. Here is to November and Massachusetts and a great show.


Friday, April 4, 2008

Equine Affaire

Greetings Bloggers,

Well I am still holding on to this upper respiratory infection but heading toward feeling better. Next weekend is Equine Affaire down in Columbus Ohio and we are excited to go. This will be our tenth year attending. Usually I give seminars while there however this year, I will be going for some fun. We stay with Jeff and Laura Stratton and they are the most fun a person can have. For those of you that have never been, you really should put it on your list. It is equal to Disneyworld for horse people.

The first year we went, it was in Dayton and the only person doing a demo was John Lyons. All the stallion stalls were inone room with the demo arena in the middle of the room. We used to sit on the top rails of our stalls to get the best view. Then it grew and was moved to the Columbus fairgrounds and occupies several buildings. When The Foal Is The Goal came out, I was asked to present seminars for them and it became so busy trying to do that and have our stallion there at the same time. So after six years of takinghorses, I walked out to the barn and asked the crew of horses, "Who wants to go to Equine Affaire?" No one raised a hoof so we went without them.

This year, we will visit with friends, see people we only get a chance to see once a year, sign a few books and party. My buddy Courtney from Wrangler will be coming up from North Carolina this year and it will be great to see her. The weather can be unpredictable and we have had everything from below zero temps with snow to tornado warnings over the years but the shopping and the food is always good. I sometimes miss being a presenter however life has gotten busy and it wastime to let someone else do it for a while. I've presented at the Columbus event about six years, I have also done California, Kentucky and finally attended Mass. last November. All were fun but none of them outdo the Ohio one. I will have books with me but will be moving around a lot so if you are there and looking for a book or just need one signed, call me on my cell and we will come meet you. (419) 392-4036. If you have a booth there and would like us to stop by and say hello, give us a call too.

The view from the back of my horse will be Columbus Ohio the 10th through the 13th of April. Hope to see you there.


Monday, March 24, 2008

Spring Is Upon Us

Spring is upon us. Years ago, my friend Lisa and I were in charge of the big spring blow out ad for the local newspaper advertising the paint that was on sale at the store where we worked. It became a joke between us that instead of coming up with something original, each year the ad began with that same tag line. It seemed to work and was quick and no one was the wiser.

The arrival of spring shows its signs different ways to different people. The first flower, the buds on the trees, the first robin, etc. For horse people however, the first signs of spring are things that most people would not even notice. The snow turns to mud and the slop in our pastures makes way to green grass. The fat that has kept our horses warm all winter turns to muscle before our very eyes as we struggle to lose our own fat that has come from riding less during the cold winter months. We pray for rain so the price of hay goes down and then we pray for less rain so the hay doesnt mold in the fields come bailing time. Longer days allow us to get more things done and we sit for hours cleaning and conditioning the endless leather goods that come with having horses in our lives. Breeding and foaling season make the excitement in the barn a never ending flurry of activity. All of these things signal the end of winter and the new hope of spring and at the top of the list is this.

SHEDDING! As the days get longer and the weather a little warmer, the challenge begins. We know that under that dull winter coat caked with mud is a shiny, smooth summer coat that is waiting to be found. We know it is there because when the horses lay down to roll, they leave behind a pile of hair that looks as though there is an extra horse in the pasture. Oh yes, we can cheat and cheat we do by double worming them in an effort to push the process. We can blanket them to sweat it out. We add supplements to their feed with the promise of a shiny coat but in the end we know that the answer is elbow grease. It is taking a rubber curry and a shedding blade and spending hours brushing them. That is the only way to find that summer coat. We know that most of that hair is going to end up covering our gloves and jackets and blowing across the round pen for the birds to collect and use in their nests. We find great joy when we get that rare day that is warm enough to pull out all the stops and actually bathe the horses because as they dry and the sun shines on them, we can actually see spots of the new coat. Still, there are patches of the old lighter coat that remain and the brushing becomes a challenge of getting rid of these mangey looking areas. Only then is spring truly here.

The view from the back of my horse is the cloud of hair that he leaves behind as he sheds out his winter coat and reminds me of the beautiful horse that I know and love. Spring is upon us, everyone and that means it is time to break out the curry brush and get busy. Don't even get me started on the time it is going to take to comb the knots out of that mane and tail!


Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Cats, cousins and Contests

Thanks Michelle for linking this blog to my site so I can share thoughts with those who come to visit. That said, I am dizzy today. No really, dizzier than usual because apparently I have a viral infection that has spread to my middle ear and glands. They have me on steroids for 10 days so this is the view from my horse while dizzy and on steroids! Lucky you.

Yesterday, I ventured out to the barn to find an unnamed barn cat walking backwards. Ok, I know what you are thinking, steroids and! She was walking backwards and then running into the tree. Walking backwards and running into the barn. As I got closer, it became all too clear why she was acting dizzier than me. She had a JIF peanut butter jar covering her head. It was on there tight and as she breathed, the clear plastic grew cloudy from her breath and as she tried to breathe in, it would clear. I convinced her to allow me to pick her up but once I grabbed hold of the jar, all hell broke loose. It was on there really, really tight! She attacked me and actually drew blood so I let go of her. As she staggered into the corral to the neighbors house, I called for back up. Our dear friends Mary and Sherry next door who proceeded to catch the cat again and cut the peanut butter jar off her head. So the cat finally has a name...JARHEAD. I wonder if JIF knows about this. Life is wierd, moving on...

This morning I am sitting here with my mind racing and fever blaring when the phone rings. It is approximately 9am. A really friendly male voice on the other end informs me that he started reading one of my books at 3am and has just finished. His name was Marvin Bastian from Franklin Tennessee and he wanted to know if we were related. Now I suppose we are related somewhere down the pike but for the life of me, I cant figure out how. I am still trying to figure out why he was reading instead of sleeping. Bear and I visited Franklin once and felt right at home so maybe thats why. So Marvin was really nice and we talked for a long time and I hung up wondering if he realized how sick I was. More importantly, if I said anything to embarass myself, I appologize. So Marvin, even if we arent really cousins, I think we are now. We will meet ya in the little diner in Leapers Fork across the road from the General Lee car and the outside movie screen. Keep in touch cousin!

Idle minds and steroids are a really bad combination. I mentioned in an earlier blog that Dove chocolates was holding a contest for the best expression of love phrase and the prize was a beautiful bracelet. Sitting here this morning in my jammies and hoodie with my tissues and the remote, I got a little bored. I have followed this contest for months. The reason is that I am a writer and I like to write slogans for fun. I have created an entire advertising campaign for Wendys and another for Harley Davidson. No really, the only difference is that I usually keep them to myself. I did share the one for Wendys with my friend Laura who works for Wendys but other than that, I keep them to myself. Ok, that is where the steriods come in. So I have been following this contest and going to the site every few days because I really, really want that bracelet! Today, I surf on over and guess what? It's gone. The site is there but the contest is gone, it's over! There is no list of winners and I havent been called to be told that my beautiful bracelet is on its way to me. Soooooo I pick up the phone and call the MARS company who makes Dove chocolates and I ask a simple question... "Who won the pretty bracelet in the contest?" She says "What contest?"

"What contest?!" Is she kidding? You know, the one that I grew obsessed with and entered and dreamed about winning. That contest, of course. So I proceed to tell this poor customer service rep the story of how my husband used to bring me Dove chocolates to tell me he loved me and how he almost died and had to have two open heart surgeries and had three strokes and two back surgeries and how much hell our life was and how I knew it was over and everything was all right because he brought me a Dove chocolate. I know, I know but I really loved that bracelet! If someone is going to hold a contest, they should at least tell us who won, right?

So anyway, Bear will be home soon to take away the phone I am sure. I feel like Poo, JARHEAD is free of the peanut butter jar, I have a new cousin named Marvin in Tennessee I still have a fever and I still have to take the steroids for another nine days and (I still have my cell phone.) Tee Hee. Who knows what tomorrow will bring. I am sick so if you are as bored as I am, pick up your phone and give me a call. Or better yet, call Dove and tell them I want my bracelet. Going to sleep now.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Author Unknown

Author Unknown
Tena Bastian

She is sitting in the hospital, waiting to be seen
Nine months pregnant and barely sixteen
When a voice in her head says “Take a deep breath”
And “pick up a magazine.”
She flips through the pages as she sits there alone
She wants to call her mother and ask if she can come home
When she comes across a letter there on the magazine page
That seems to be written by another young girl approximately her age.
It says…

Mama, I need your guidance
Because I don’t know what to do
I’m scared and alone and I want to come home
Because I feel safe with you.

Through her tears and her pain, as she reaches for her phone
She notices the letter is signed
Author Unknown.

She sits in her car in the parking lot as her world comes crashing down
She has been diagnosed with cancer, a tumor has been found
When a voice in her head says, “Take a deep breath”
And “turn the radio on”.
She flips through all of the channels as she sits there all alone.
She wants to call her husband and ask if he can come home
When she happens across a familiar song there on the radio
That seems to be written by another young woman with a long, long way to go
It says…

Honey, I need your guidance
Because I don’t know what to do
I’m scared and alone and I want to come home
Because I feel safe with you.

Through her tears and her pain, as she reaches for the phone
She notices the radio says
Author Unknown.

She is sitting with her mother on her very last day
She knows it won’t be long now as the seconds tick away
When a voice in her head says, “Take a deep breath”
And “listen to your mom”
She has something important to say to you and you need to hear it before she is gone
So she leans in ever closer as her mother struggles to speak
She takes her hand and kisses her as a tear rolls down her cheek
She says…

Lord, I need your guidance
Because I don’t know what to do
My daughter is scared but I want to come home
Because I feel safe with you

Please help her find the strength Lord, not to miss me when I am gone
It is at that moment that she realizes that it was HIS voice all along
The magazine, the radio, as she takes her final breath
Through the tears and the pain, he was always there from her birth until her death
When she was pregnant, when the tumor was found, every time she felt alone
It was God that loved her, that showed her the way
Until now HE was the
Author Unknown.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

My Funny Valentine

Valentines day is a day for lovers, right? Well yes but it is also a day for companies to exploit those men who are clueless as to what to get their girlfriends or wives so they look to commercials to decide. "He went to Jareds" or "What your girlfriend really wants is blah, blah blah!" Listen guys, I am going to clue you all in on something very important. The truth is that we dont know what we want. No really, it changes by the day and we dont have a clue what it is that we will want tomorrow so how the heck can these commercials know? I can tell you for sure what we dont want.

We dont want the following...
A teddy bear from Vermont that looks like us (creepy)
The same circle or heart pendant that everyone else is wearing (redundant)
Roses (expensive and lacks imagination)
Expensive jewelry (ok, that one is still a winner)
Lingerie (admit it, this is really a gift for you)

What we want is imagination, creativity and something that says you know us. My daughter wants a puppy. I want a break from this horrible winter weather with the sun on my face. Now that doesnt have to mean an expensive trip to the Bahamas, be creative. It could mean tanning visits, a night at a hotel with an indoor waterpark or a dinner in a summer themed restaurant. Do not listen to thecommercials, Ask her what she wants or just listen closely and follow the clues.

Dove chocolates is holding a contest for thebest sentimental saying for their wrappers. To give you an idea how much womens opinions vary, mine was "
Two hearts. With every beat,,,one love, one life."
Ok, sentimental, right? My eldest daughterwho is forever the smart ass and not sentimental at all teased me for entering at all with her entry of
"next time I do you better, k? Sorry."
It made me laugh in hysterics. I dont think she is going to win but funny just the same.

My point is that you all need to stop being so manipulated by these companies that try to convince you that what your girlfriend really wants is blah, blah blah. Step up to the plate and take a swing. If you strike out, at least she will remember that you tried. If that doesn't work, a puppy with a big red bow around his neck will always beg forgiveness.

So the view from the back of my horse today is that of the companies that try and take advantage of the poor saps that are willing to jump through any hoops to please their sweetheart. Shame on you for trying to put them in the dog house by telling them what women want with commercials I am sure were written by yet another clueless man. Hang in there guys, you will come up with something.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

The Horses We Love The Lessons We Learn

Now that I've gotten the most aggravating piece of garbage in our lives off my chest, its time to move on to horses. The title of this blog is the same as the title of one of my books. There is nothing so rewarding for an author as to walk into a book store and see a book that you wrote on the shelves for everyone to see. It sort of immortalizes who you are and leaves an imprint on the world that says "I was here and this is what I did". Out of the the three books on the shelves that I have written, this oneis near and dear to me for more reasons than one.

My dad, whom I loved with all my heart helped me with this book. We spent many hours on the phone recalling stories from my childhood, friends names, horses names, the details surrounding the tornado that took our house and sparked my true love of horses. He shared family photos with me that were used in the book and the entire time Wiley publishing was putting it together, I couldn't wait for my dadto see it finished and on the book store shelves. It was bittersweet because dad passed away in February of last year and the book hit the shelves the following September. It is dedicated to him and he never got the opportunity to see it.

I have recieved many emails from people who read the book and saw in it a connection to their own lives and shared their own stories with me. A short while back, I recieved one from a woman who ironically had a very similar story to ours in that her husband had suddenly become ill and she fought a similar battle. Her battle and ours ironically began on the same day. On the exact same day, we were both sitting in emergency room hospitals at different ends of the country fighting for our husbands lives. They lost their battle and her husband died.

Today the view from the back of my horse is of this woman and how brave she is in her basic survival after the loss of her best friend, her husband. Ive learned a lot from the horses we have met and loved over the years and also from the people I am fortunate enough to meet. The people that see my books on the shelves of a book store and purchase them. Not all of them send me emails or call me but I am sure glad this particular woman did. Our stories are so similar and hearing hers makes me feel fortunate that even through all of the hell that Dr. R put us through, my husband is here with me and God has given us the gift of one more day. Every day is another gift and another and another. Each one gives me one more chance to get it right by remembering to tell him that I love him or smile at the sound of his laughter and even get angry with him sometimes. The only thing that matters is that he is here today and it is all bonus time. Our friends think that he is immortal and tease us about it.

He has survived two back surgeries, three strokes, two open heart surgeries and three months after the last one, he stoodin a neighbors barn with about eight people around him and we all watched in horror as lightening struck the metal lead light he was holding. He survived unharmed after being struck by lightening. Immortal maybe but we never take it for granted. We know by all odds that he shouldn't still be here but he is and I than God for that.

As for this woman, one thing she said really struck a chord with me. She said that the love of her horse was what got her through her terrible ordeal. Horses have that ability because they are such gentle, loving creatures. They are not prejudice or judgemental. They do not hold a grudge and there is nothing so soothing as spending time with them in a quiet barn in the early morning or watching them play out in the pasture.

So again, the view from the back of my horse today is this woman and her strength. Know that I think about you all the time and wish you well. I admire your strength and I thank you for reminding me just how precious every day can be with the people that we love.


Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The Cold Hard Truth

I woke this morning to a wind chill of -30 and I have decided that I want spring. Ohio can be extremely cold this time of year and by now, I am sick of winter. I am sure my horses are equally ready for spring.

Speaking of cold, I wanted to elaborate on something I touched on briefly in my last post. That is the surgeon that placed the wrong sized valve in my husbands heart. There are many great doctors out there and I thank everyone who had a hand in his recovery. I have not talked about this publically until now but here is the cold hard truth.

The word "practice" as in medical practice is appropriate in the case of this doctor who we will refer to as Dr. R. Not because I am afraid to mention his full name because if you ask, I will gladly tell you but for the sake of space because his name is long. Now he has been practicing for over 40 years so you would think he would get it right. So Bear is in his second open heart surgery to repair his valves for a second time. I am holding in my hand an operative report that specifies that the original surgeon measured the area for a size 27 valve and states that he placed a 23. Too small. Of course a different surgeon is doing the repair. The reason for this is that he and the cardiologist have convinced us that the best thing to do is to get a different surgeon. It occurs to me that they have had access to this operative report that is just now coming to my attention. It has been on file at the hospital for months and no one has stepped up and said "Hey, we have a problem here." Instead, we are reassurred that he is getting better and now he is in congestive heart failure and might die. The cold hard truth is that covering up a mistake takes priority over the patients well being.

The surgery goes well and although we begin the painful process of recovery for a second time, he is alive and for that we are grateful. The view from the back of my horse is that of a surgeon who has long outlived his talent and should have retired long ago. The next thing I hear is that he is no longer practicing in our state, his partner has asked him to move out of the practice and ironically enough, rumor has it that he is back in his native Texas and will serve on an ethics commitee there. Ethics! Can you imagine? Now we could sue however our energy has to be placed on healing and recovering from this ordeal physically, emotionally and financially. I need closure of some kind so I contact the surgeon and ask him to meet me for lunch and he does. He flies in from Texas, meets me in a crowded restaurant at lunchtime. Now he doesn't know that our intentions are not to sue. I told him that he owed me some answers and he came and met me. He begins the conversation by claiming a typing error. I hand him two operative reports both taken from his own notes and each typed by different people. I inform him that if he attempts to lie to me any more than he already has, I will make a scene the likes of which he has never experienced and his story changes. In the time leading up to meeting, I discover that he is actually named in several lawsuits.

The point of the meeting is not to argue with this surgeon but rather to look into his eyes and tell him first hand what this ordeal has cost my family. The cold hard truth is that he made a mistake, a simple human error and rather than to fix it, he has covered it up with layers and layers of lies. As sad as it is, the cold hard truth is that this surgeon, at the time of the surgery was not even registered with the American Medical Association and as far as I know, could still be practicing medicine somewhere in Texas or even somewhere here in Ohio again. That is the reason for this post because the cold hard truth is that although there are qualified doctors practicing out there, the Dr. R's of the medical world are also out there. That said, if you are ever in the position of choosing a heart surgeon, or any surgeon for that matter, do your homework.

The view from the back of my horse allows me to see the ass in front of me but it also allows me to see an open path to a bright future and although there have been setbacks, we are moving on. Spring is just ahead and on cold nights when the wind howls through the trees, I thank God that I am safe and warm in my bed and the love of my life is alive and laying right there beside me. Listening to the ticking sound of his metal valves, I am reassured that the nightmare is over and I sleep.


Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The View From The Back Of My Horse


The view from the back of my horse is one that encompasses many different aspects of the world. It is my way of expressing opinions on issues that I find important, an opportunity to give you a look into my world, discussing the day to day life of someone who has really experienced a lot of joy and turmoil, highs and lows, success and failures and has come out on the other side, a better person. I write books. That is my job and I feel fortunate to have a job where I can sit aroundin my pajama pants and hoodies and do what I love to do. I do have bosses and I have people that depend on me so it is no different than any other job. I find it ironic the way people percieve an author. It is a common misconception that you write a book and you experience instant fame and fortune. This is truly not the case. It is hard work and determination and believing in yourself and your abilities. I will give you an example...

As part of my job as an author, I promote my books by appearing at book signings and equine events to present seminars and one particular one was Equine Affaire in Kentucky a few years ago. My husband Bear whom I love with all my heart was very sick. After a simple tooth extraction, it was discovered that an infection from the tooth had traveled to his heart, brain and spine resulting in three strokes, two back surgeries and an open heart surgery where they replaced his aortic and mitral valves with metal ones and gave him a pacemaker to which he depended on to make his heart beat at all. We were all very tired both physically and emotionally from the ordeal. He was home and in stable condition and I was under contract to go to Kentucky for three days. Our daughter and a visiting nurse convinced me that I had to go. We were heavily in debt and I needed to promote the book.

I cried on the plane which was a back up flight after I missed the first one, I cried on the drive to the event because I was there alone and wanted so badly to be home and finally managed to get there and get my act together and present my first seminar. Afterwards, I was sitting at a table with a stack of my books signing them and chatting with people when a woman came up and introduced herself. She bought a book and while I was signing it, she said "My goodness, it must be so glamorous to be an author and to be rich and famous, I wish I was you". Well let me tell you honestly, at that moment in my life, I wished she was me too. I wished that I could be anyone else in the world. Life was so incredibly bittersweet!

My point is that we tend to percieve people in the spotlight as having these perfect lives when their lives are just as normal and sometimes as difficult as our own. I returned from Kentucky and was scheduled to be in Massachusetts next. Bear was not getting better and despite the constant reassurance of many doctors, I knew my husband and I knew he was not getting better. I convinced him to allow me to take him to Cleveland clinic for a second opinion. They performed several tests and the result was that one of the valves that had been placed was too small and the tissue surrounding it was tearing away from the metal valve causing leakage of blood and he was in congestive heart failure. On the day we were supposed to board the plane to Massachusetts, we were once again sitting in the hospital while he was in a second open heart surgery. While we were waiting, I went to the records of the hospital and pulled a copy of the surgical report from the first open heart surgery. In the doctors statement, it described how he measured the area for a size 27 valve. Later in the report, it clearly states that he placed a size 23 valve. Too small!

The view from the back of my horse clearly showed me that this was a problem and as a result, I might lose the one person in my life that I loved beyond the boundaries of anything or anyone that was important to me. I couldn't breathe. We had been through so much and now it came down to one mistake that could cost him his life.

I will continue to share this and other stories such as this with you but I wanted to dedicate this first blog to the woman who "wished she was me". Be happy with who you are and what you do and know that beneath what seems like a perfect life is a life with as many ups and downs as you experience. Welcome to my blog and I hope you stay with me and follow me through my life as a wife, mother and author and that you enjoy the view from the back of my horse.