Cayuse Corona Community, Week 8

A note from the Editor:

Here at Cayuse Communications, we’ve been thinking about our community of horse owners and riders. How best to come together and share during this time? We’ve reached out to friends to see how they are making lemonade from lemons and coping with the strains of the pandemic.

The Cayuse Corona Community is a recurring feature. We’re from California, New Mexico, Maine, Utah, North Carolina, Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, Virginia, and Colorado. Please join us by leaving your comments below.

View all Cayuse Corona Community content here.

Concurrent with these Cayuse Corona Community pages, we will be offering weekly giveaways, including goods from Jec Ballou, Redmond Equine, Kershaw knives, Pharm Aloe Equine, Hitching Post Supply, and the Cayuse Communications library of books. Read more about that here.


Read Maddy Butcher’s account on HighCountryOutsider.

This week’s participants:

Katrin Silva is a Best Horse Practices Summit presenter and regular guest columnist for Cayuse Communications. She lives in New Mexico where she works with dressage and Western clients. Visit her blog here.

Buy her book, Dressage for All of Us here.

Katrin writes:

Katrin Silva sent us this pic from her barn

Quarantine fatigue is definitely here: I miss my laptop-and-latte time at the coffee shop. I miss hugging my friends. I miss movie theaters. I miss barn get-togethers, especially the unplanned kind, when people stay to watch each other ride, to celebrate each other’s progress, to support each other in times of frustration. I am not teaching much, so I miss the connection I with my students. And I am tired of cooking. I am tired of the sameness of my days. Horse shows, trail races, road trips – these are the punctuations of my life. Without them, it’s a run-on sentence.

Still, I feel lucky. Compared to most people I know, not much has changed for me, at least not yet. I am a hardcore introvert, so being alone a lot is not a problem. I still get to spend my days doing what I enjoy: riding, running, reading, writing. I still have plenty of work, with a full barn of horses in training. I still get to run after I get off my last horse. Population density in New Mexico is super low, especially where I live, which makes social distancing easy. And I enjoy being out in the middle of nowhere by myself, with or without a horse.

Last Friday, I got bucked off. Nothing terrible happened. I tucked and rolled, got back on, finished the ride. No big deal. Unscheduled dismounts every once in a while are a part of my job and always will be, no matter how careful I am. But I know I need to be extra careful now. A moment of bad judgment or lack of attention could get me injured. It would be a bad time to end up in a hospital. That’s one place where I would not enjoy being alone.

Amy Skinner is a Best Horse Practices Summit presenter and owner of Amy Skinner Horsemanship in North Carolina. We spoke as she was in her truck, heading home to her farm:Subscribe to Amy’s YouTube channel here.

Buy her book, To Catch a Horse here.

Screen shot of video lesson with Amy Skinner

Amy writes:

I’m getting better at doing video lessons. It’s forced me to figure out how to use technology which I’ve resisted because it’s hard. I’ve been doing lessons via FaceTime and Google Duo.

I did a video lesson with a Pixio video system and called in as a coach, so I could see the video on my phone and spoke to my student via a headset. It requires some technical figuring and has a high price tag, but the picture was much clearer and easier for me as a teacher to see my student. 

I’ve done recorded lessons and live ones. It’s also forced me to find different ways to explain things to people, since I con’t be there to demonstrate or touch anyone. 

It’s been interesting to develop better teaching skills because I’m noticing how tempting it is to just make something happen for a struggling student and now that ability isn’t there. So, I have to really explain things in a what that the student can accomplish. 

I’m still busy training horses, but we’re also working hard on the farm. My arena is almost finished. Fences are in repair and I’ve enjoyed planting flowers. 

Skinner’s arena is almost done!

Jec Ballou  is a popular BHPS presenter and busy clinician based in California. Ballou is the author of several horsemanship volumes, including Equine Fitness, 101 Western Dressage Exercises, and 101 Dressage Exercises. She lives in the Bay Area, south of San Francisco.

I reached her at her barn:

Jec reports:

Jec Ballou

Yesterday, I got sidetracked with the launch of my new on-line course titled Supremely Supple: 5 Rules for a Looser Horse. I’m hopeful these online courses will be a useful resource.

In other news, I’ve started up lessons again at my barn and everyone is eager to do stuff with their horses. Although—interestingly—several students have reported an odd anxiety or fear about getting hurt, falling off, etc. The combination of not riding for nearly six weeks plus general stress has put students in a negative headspace, I think.
I’ve found some time to get my own horses out on the trails in the last week and the wildflowers have been totally mind-bending! Still no clinics on the horizon, but I am grateful that local lessons and training are busy for now.

Nicole Churilla is a BHPS steering committee member and horse trainer.

She wrote to me from her home in Ohio:

Snow on her birthday!

I can now say for the first time in my life, it snowed the day after my birthday. Previously, early May has either been rainy or relatively warm. The snow was certainly a bizarre sight as I am blowing out candles on an absolutely delicious Texas sheet cake. It is wonderful how something bizarre such as snow in May is what made my birthday dinner unique and unforgettable. It dusted the bright green leaves and lush hay fields in a soft white coating. Just as soon as it arrived, it was gone.

I spend every day outside. Lately, it seems that we cannot get consistent days of warm weather and sunshine. Many mornings are still in the 30’s with days barely climbing to 45 degrees.

Foals bring excitement to Nicole’s barn

Despite the chilly weather, we have been blessed with two new foals on the farm that are healthy and well. One is an Andalusian cross who is the most fluid moving baby I’ve ever seen. The other is a miniature donkey who is probably the cutest donkey foal I’ve ever seen. I love the new life, new greenery, and new opportunities that spring brings.

I feel great compassion for those that the COVID-19 Pandemic has very directly affected. For me, it fades into the background as the horses and nature sweep me up.

Debbie Hight is a BHPS board member, horse owner, and occasional guest columnist for Cayuse Communications. She writes from her home in Maine, where she is caring for barnyard and, most recently, her 10 year-old grandson, too.

Debbie writes:

William and Roxy

William had been making great progress on Roxy at a walk, trot, canter.  His cues were becoming increasingly light, she followed him all around the arena.  We went for rides in the field and muddy trails.  While I appreciated their relationship, I never became complacent.  Then the unthinkable happened.  We were in the arena one afternoon. William was in the saddle at a walk, working on turning Roxy from his seat, and she flat out took off. Think 0 to 60 mph in nanoseconds.  He held on for quite a while, then flew off her side into the side of the arena.  I watched in complete horror.  My horse was crazed, then the saddle slipped around, and she was even wilder.

I ran over to William, determined that he was really scared, his leg hurt, but not his head (hallelujah for helmets).  I got my horse calmed down and took both horses back to the barn (I had had the second horse on a lead line at the time), heart thumping.

When we got home, I looked at his torn jeans and discovered a pretty deep laceration right across his kneecap. Now what? A trip to the hospital during the pandemic?

I contacted my son who sent pictures to some medical friends, who advised that we go to the hospital.  While William has not been away from the farm in eight weeks, I go to the grocery store once a week.  We have been isolated, but now a trip to the hospital??

It snowed in Maine, too.

There, I was so impressed by the staff and their protocol. The emergency department was essentially empty.  (We have had only 17 cases of Covid-19 in our county, with no hospitalizations. Hooray for living in rural Maine.)  We were in and out in less than an hour, with seven stitches and no fracture.

Later, I went to the barn and checked my horse. She seemed a bit sore, but was otherwise well.

The following day, William accompanied me to the barn and hand-walked Roxy, told her that he forgave her, and kissed her on the nose.  I rode her a couple of days later, and he rode her a couple of days after that, attached to a lead line.

Ten days later, he had his stitches out (in the car outside the ER). We had to be careful about not bending it much, but hand-walking turned into hand-trotting, so I knew that he was better.

I’m learning that William seems to have a sixth sense about groundwork.  He has Roxy turning on her forehand and haunches with no touch.  Yesterday, he said, “you know, riding is so much more fun than walking by hand.” Stay tuned!

Posted in BestHorsePractices Summit, Cayuse Corona Community, Horsemen & Women and tagged , , , , .

One Comment

  1. Very enjoyable updates by the corona community. Loved to hear how all of you managed the unexpected, a good skill during the pandemic.

    It never ceases to amaze me the resilience of many horse folks and lessons learned by daily horse interactions. Today as I read about Katrin’s fall and Debbie’s grandson, William’s bolt from his horse, Roxy, I am struck by their descriptions of their experience. Happy to hear there were no bad injuries. Impressed to hear how resuming the “ride” literally and metaphorically, in life in general, calls upon us to proceed with keen attention (often to easily missed details ), skilled judgement and courage without being burdened by enduring fear of what could happen next. Trusting in our ability to manage the unexpected, that feels like a message to me. And as Nicole points out, despite our desire to break into riding in the warmth spring usually brings, their was a hidden beauty in the May snowfall in addition to being short-lived! Good reminders.

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