As you may have heard, I moved to Bakersfield, Ca back in July (2017). I didn't want Zion Riding Academy and all of the students, horses, and community to simply discontinue when I left. So, I left it all with my intern Shelby Nash. We prepared for this and knew it was coming months ahead of time, so Shelby worked with me to become prepared to take over and continue on with the lessons. My future was uncertain. Would I continue to teach lessons? Train Horses? Would I be able to find a place to keep my horses? How would I afford it if I couldn't find new clients? I was worried, to say the least. So, months before the move, I asked Shelby if she would like to keep Booker there until I knew what my horsey arrangements would be. He would be a great help to her to get her going as she continued Zion Riding Academy. Then, it just so happened that I found this SUPER amazing property with a BARN, an ARENA, PADDOCKS!! The whole nine yards! Oh, and a house or whatever too. (Husband approves of house). So then, I was just trying to get settled in. Learning how to work around the insane heat. Folks, I am a coastal critter. I was used to the temperate, overcast 60 degree weather all year round. Also rain and mud, yes, lots of that. And here I was in 100+ degree weather every day, with all these horses that were also used to ocean weather. We were all dying. We were all miserable. we were all sweaty and chugging electrolytes and getting sprayed with the hose hourly. Then came the plumbing issues, waterers exploding and flooding the whole property, pipes breaking. Dragging my arena with my Honda CR-V. I bought a tractor and it RAN whe I bought it and now it doesn't. That's a whole story in itself. So now that it has cooled off and I have found my bearings a bit, I think it's about time to start the lessons up. I'm nervous, for sure. Nervous to meet new clients. Do people even want to learn from me here? I'm new, no one knows me, I don't know anyone. Actually, I did make one horse friend around the corner but she is ABANDONING me and moving away next week, haha! So, first week of Januray I think we'll start the lesson program up around here. Booker, Duncan and Lexy will be helping me teach the lessons. I am excited about having my very own place to teach lessons out of. All mine. No boarders to bother. So wish me luck! And if you're reading this from the Bakersfield area and you know of someone looking for lessons, I'd sure appreciate a referral! Thanks all!
One of my pet peeve’s is when a horse walks off while mounting. It doesn’t make me upset at the horse, it makes me upset at the person who taught him to. It’s not just bad manners, it’s dangerous. Think about the habits you instill in your creature of habit. When you hop on and immediately walk off, your super-smart pony thinks "Ah, when she gets on, we go! So I’ll ‘help’ by walking when she gets on! I’m such a good pony. And so cute. You may bring me carrots now". Instead, when you mount, take your time before you go anywhere. Sit there for a minute, check your phone. When I’m teaching horses, I will do some lateral flexion and even back up and/or turn before walking forward. When I’m teaching lessons, I make a point to stand and discuss with my student what our goals are for the lesson for a minute before I ask them to walk off. Sometimes, especially with a horse who already has the bad habit, I’ll mount and dismount without going anywhere. From both sides. Maybe I’ll put my foot in the stirrup and take it back out without even mounting. Some horses are so ‘smart’ that they start to walk off before your foot is even all the way in the stirrup. Smart pony, bad human ;)
In Level 2, our students learn about some basic coat colors. In level 3, they dig deeper and learn about more advanced or uncommon coat colors, including Cremello and Perlino. So what's the difference? And what's the creme gene?
The Creme gene is a 'dilution' gene that essentially lightens a horse's coat color.
When a horse has one copy of the creme gene, he is a palomino or buckskin.
When he has 2 copies of the creme gene, he is a cremello or perlino. These horses are often called 'double dilutes'. While Cremellos and Perlinos can be difficult to differentiate, Perlinos, because they are on a bay base coat, have manes and tails that are a little bit darker.
So, for those of you who are visual learners like me, it looks like this---
What's your favorite coat color? Comment below!
We are often asked whether we teach lessons in English or Western. I think today's lesson with these three girls is a great example of the answer to that question. From right to left, students are riding English, Western and Bareback. We believe in building well-rounded young horsemen who can ride well no matter the tack. We also believe that exploring various disciplines and riding in various tack creates riders who are not prejudice toward other disciplines, we don't want to raise little barrel racers who think English riders are snobby, or jumpers who think western riders are barbarians. We want them to be respectful of riders of all disciplines. It goes a lot deeper than the tack.
Just in the last week I have had two separate instances where people commented on a couple of Zion Riding Academy students. Both people made almost the same exact remark about these two separate students on two separate occasions. Their remark "She has such quiet, soft hands". This makes me absolutely swell with joy. This is one of the first things students learn when they come to the academy, good riding is not jerking and pulling your horse around by his mouth. It's not getting a harsher bit because your horse is not responding to your hands, it's patience, training, timing, feel, release. So proud of these girls, at ages 10 and 13, they're already on the right track down the beautiful road of good horsemanship. Here's picture of a student working on her soft feel, and a random picture on the internet.
Position before and after. The first picture shows the rider's position is 'behind the motion' with the legs way out in front, also called the 'chair seat'. Good, balanced riding position is actually closer to a standing position, with a straight line from your head to your hip to your heel. This keeps you aligned over the horse's center of gravity and makes work and life easier for your horse, and for you.
Have you ever seen someone yell and scream at a horse?
It's a lot like asking someone a question in a foreign language and then screaming the same request at them when they don't understand it. That person may have been happy to comply with your request had you asked in a language they were familiar with.
We have a primarily verbal language.
Horses primarily speak in a silent language, complex and vast if we are keen enough to listen.
For that reason, it's difficult for us to understand that communication with horses is silent, just as it is difficult for us as apex predators to understand the instincts of a prey animal.
I'm amazed and thankful that these gorgeous creatures allow us to fumble up on their backs, put up with our shenanigans, and share in their wingless flight.
I don't deserve it, it's not something the horse owes me.
So how can I become frustrated with him for not understanding a language I failed to teach him?
Here's to a lifetime of learning to read and speak that silent language.
And that's why we don't yell at horses.
We love bitless bridles for our riding program! (real, legit bitless bridles)The horses love them, the kids love them, and we would love to incorporate more of them as funds allow. A huge thank you to Crystal Dalton of Clyde's Towing in Fortuna, Ca for donating this amazing Dr. Cooks bitless bridle to our riding program! We cannot express our gratitude enough! Thank you so much for your generosity! (The pony in the bitless bridle on the right belongs to Crystal's granddaughter)
This is Charlie horse, a very accomplished barrel horse who helps us out with rainy day lessons. He stands perfectly still as students practice throwing a saddle up, cinching up, and tying their latigo knot. He's an easy keeper, stays fat on nothing, never offered to buck, rear, bite or kick. He also puts up with our ridiculous sense of humor!
Did you know horses need to lie down in order to enter R.E.M. Sleep? Most of the time they do sleep standing up, but they need a couple of hours of R.E.M. sleep every few days. They only feel comfortable going into that deep sleep if they have a buddy nearby watching out for them. Here you can see Tanzy sleeping while Wimpy watches out for her, and then Breezy sleeping while Peanut keeps an eye out.