Cayuse Corona Community, Week Five

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.

Introducing the Cayuse Corona Community, a new 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. We’ll get through this and it’ll be better if we’re together.

Read Week One

Read Week Two

Read Week Three

Read Week Four

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

A note from publisher Maddy Butcher:

Pastor Craig Paschal
Photo courtesy of Cortez Journal

I was listening to a local radio program during which Craig Paschal, pastor at the Mancos United Methodist Church, was interviewed about challenges during the Stay at Home orders. Listen here.

Even though we separated by the social distancing, Paschal felt many of us are being drawn closer together: “we’re closer together in thoughts and action and just really wanting to support the common good,” he said. Through the hardship there is gratitude as many realize that family and community trump money and ambition, he said.

Paschal added:

Everyone, regardless of their faith or lack of faith, or tradition or practice, desires inner peace. We desire love and joy. We want more patience. We want more kindness, more tenderness in our lives. Those spiritual principals or values that we try to nurture – I think everyone desires them; we might just call it by a different name.

Thanks to Pastor Craig and interviewer Tom Yoder.

National Guard is active in all 50 states

We hope you join us as we nurture our own community during and beyond this pandemic. Thanks for being part of it.

Read Katrin Silva’s Why I Ride

Read Josh McElroy’s Eleventeenth Week

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:

We are well into Week Six of our Stay at Home orders. Not sure when William will be going home to New Jersey, but the days have evolved into a smooth rhythm.

Up early, I can work on my other responsibilities and catch up with emails and friends. At 7 am, we head to the barn for morning chores. William is able to help more and more, but most often I am happy to see him watching horse behavior, to comment on something that we’ve read, to snuggle up against the “princess” (Roxy).

Horse Treats were part of William’s baking alphabet

Then it is time for breakfast and school for five hours. His teachers are doing a nice job of providing lesson plans each day. We work through them along with other areas of interest. We have been studying Newton’s Laws and William got a first hand viewing of uneven forces last week:

We were moving a creek bridge down back that had been shifted by yet another storm. We had tied a rope around it and I tugged hard. The rope came off and I landed in the stream. Once I recovered from the shock of the cold water, we talked about old Newton again. William at least had the good sense not to laugh.

Afternoons are spent in the woods, walking the dog, clearing brush and limbs, and riding.

Last week, after doing some groundwork, William decided that riding bareback with a halter and lead line sounded like fun. He did a nice job at a walk. His balance continues to improve. He decided to pick up a trot. That went well until they rounded a corner, perhaps a bit faster than desired, and off he went. Eyes huge!

William hits the trail with Roxy

He got up laughing, Roxy tuned around as if to say “what happened to you?” and he jumped back on. He is becoming a really great rider. His cues are lighter. His seat is more solid. His hands are steadier, and his joy is profound. Once off, Roxy will follow him around the arena. It’s just thrilling to watch. I am glad that his parents don’t live on a farm, I’m sure that he would love to take her home. But they are now looking for riding opportunities at home. He understands that riding lots of horses with many instructors is the best way to improve. But for now, he is pretty sure that I ought to get another horse…

Nicole Churilla is a BHPS steering committee member and horse trainer. She wrote to me from her home in Ohio:

She writes:

Don’t be a passenger, be an operator! – Ted DeHass (Owner at Windy Hill Farm)

If I had to choose one word that has encompassed my week, it would be “operator.”

Nicole works with one of her training horses

Recently, I’ve been hauling loads of six horses at a time to our summer pasture. My dad taught me to haul my own horses when I was 16 with a ‘98 Chevy Cheyenne and a hunky, steel trailer. The memory is still fresh: summer wind through the crank windows and both of us sitting on that scratchy bench seat.

Now, for work, we use an aluminum EBY stock trailer and a newer truck. Hauling six horses at a time is a new endeavor for me. Before I left for the first time, my boss called out, “just remember that’s a lot of weight back there. You need to stop sooner and turn wider than you’re used to!” It reminded me of something else he’s said: “don’t be a passenger, be an operator!”

  • Operators not only click on the tow and set the electronic brake controller, but also pay attention to loading the heaviest horse over the axle.
  • Operators work in no hurry and are stern in their plan of action.
  • Operators plans their route and drives with extra caution as not to create an unpleasant experience for the horses.
  • With precision, an operator knows how hard to press the gas and how wide to take the turn.
  • Operators know how their equipment functions. 

Becoming an operator, of course, is not only about driving trucks and machinery. Becoming an operator takes devotion, practice, trial and error, and self-awareness.

I’m considering the pandemic as a big reset button. In my horsemanship journey, I feel reset and refreshed to become a better “operator” under saddle. I ride horses with less mechanics and more feel. I ride with a plan. I know what is an appropriate amount of impulsion, just as a truck operator knows how much to press the gas. But mostly, I feel harmonious with the horses and am enjoying the dynamic relationships. I will not be a “passenger” of the horse. I will be an operator.

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:

One of Jec’s training horses performs corrective exercises

The news on this end is that I’m still riding the nine horses at my barn daily.

Random element: I relearned how hard it is to stay on a 12-hand, skinny pony when it starts bucking at canter. There is nothing to hold on to!

Normally my petite groom would be working with this pony, but given the lockdown, I’m trying to do it myself. But 12 hands is pretty tiny.

Last weekend, our county closed down all trails beaches parks So I have been  sadly missing my trail runs for sanity.

I’m making the most of being interviewed on a few podcasts this week and promoting my online courses for horse fitness. I am going to be discussing my NEW on-line courses, the first of which is titled “30-Day Core Fitness for Horses.”

Check out the Dressage Radio Show here and Talking about Horses with Patrick King here

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