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A Master Locksmith

Harry and the Snowman is the newest documentary about Harry de Leyer and his grey gelding Snowman. ThIs is one of my absolute favorite equine stories. In 1956 Snowman, an old plough horse, was standing in a trailer waiting to be sold for slaughter. Harry took one look into the horse's eye and knew he could be something great, however he didn't recognize the horse's talent until after he sold him to a neighbor and the big grey jumped the fence to return home. The pair went on to win many prestigious hunter jumper classes and even made a guest appearance on the Jonny Carson show. This eighty dollar, Cinderella horse became a priceless champion. This story has been immortalized in books but it Is listening to Harry speak about Snowman that offers the true insight into their exceptional relationship. These two had to fight to prove that they were just as good as any team competing. Harry knew that "every horse has a different personality, just like a human, and it's like finding the key for the lock." Apparently Harry was a master locksmith because Snowman trusted his rider completely and would jump anything Harry pointed him at.

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I believe that in order to find that key a horseman must understand the type of lock they are working with. Here at Enchantment Equitreks we come across many different horse personalities and usually we have limited or no information as to what created the lock. So we have developed a series of exercises to divulge the mechanisms of the animal. The easiest lock to rekey is the tune up. Horses like Teddy have all the working parts and foundation needed to be an excellent trail horse, however some bad manners and a threatening disposition landed him at a rescue. We recognized that all he needed was a little work to re-instill that training, kind of like a rusty padlock that pops open with a little D-W40. Then there are locks so mired in fear, frozen in pain, and welded shut in mistrust that the only option is to take the mechanism completely apart and slowly put each piece back. Our Jake is that type of horse. With each layer of gunk that we wipe away another deeper problem is divulged, which can be frustrating. This is when you have to start looking at the key you're trying to use and retool the method. Often with Jake we have to reevaluate how we are approaching his training and adjust to better suit his needs. We also know we can't force a lock like Jake and sometimes he needs a step back to be able to move forward.

There are as many locks, as there are horse personalites, as there are keys. I live for the moment the mechanism slips open and the horse places its trust in you. However, it often doesn't mean the horse is fixed, all locks need a little grease to keep them working properly, keys need to be refashioned , and parts reassembled. This is what makes rehabilitating rescue horses so intriguing and fulfilling, they are a constant puzzle just waiting for the correct code.

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What Goes Up Must Come Down

I was so very lucky join our friends at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta and help crew their balloon Phobic. While the Balloon Fiesta is a tradition to may New Mexicans like my self, it is a once in a life time experience for people from all over the world. We want to share this event with our clients in the most unusual way possible... from the back of the horse. To fully encompass the experience our clients will learn first hand how these majestic floating beast work. From rolling out of the truck, to blowing them up, lift off and possibly even landing like I did. [youtube=http://youtu.be/jpCY3e5xY0I]

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Riding Under a Kaleidoscope of Hot Air Balloons

Pumpkin spiced coffee, ombré hued leaves and a crisp breeze usher in fall for so many, but here in New Mexico this season smells like roasting chili and sounds like the rush of helium lifting hot-air balloons. New Mexicans love to share these experiences with world and we want to show case them during our riding vacations. This morning came quick as we left the warmth of our beds for the dark before dawn. We were greeted with a blood moon eclipse hanging above and a cloud of breath from horses snorting in protest to their early wake up call. As we pulled out the front gate, reports of high winds and a possible field closure came in from our ballooning friends. Well we were already on our way... At least it would be a decent morning for a ride.

Our concerns grew as we rode out onto the sand of the Bosque. The sun began to peak out from the clouds and illuminate the cotton woods tinged in a soft gold. Then peaking behind a distant salt cedar was the out line of a balloon. Moments later waves of floating rainbows drifted over our heads, then drop down to splash in the muddy river, and lift off again to fill the sky with dots of magic. Our horses, at first unsure about the creatures overhead, watched in as much awe and wonder as their riders. I can only say it was the perfect New Mexico fall morning.

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Boz and the Boy

The tumbling duo are off again in the mountains of New Mexico. I captured this moment during our ride along 10k trail this summer. In just a few months we will be skiing down these slopes, but for one boy and his horse these are the fields that dreams are made of. Gosh they grow up so fast. Ride on cowboy. IMG_3743.JPG

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Throwing it Back

Disheveled hair and a big grin. Cash and I scouting trails for Enchantment Equitreks when the business was still a weanling. #tbtIMG_3243.JPG

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Happy Hen

Petunia in Poop = Chipper Chicken

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Here at Enchantment Equitreks we keep our egg layers content with their favorite treats. Apparently Petunia lives poop. She lays the best eggs!

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Thievery on Wild Horse Mesa

It was only two years ago that Mel and I relocated a 6 horse herd of greys from the Cambel Ranch in Stanly, New Mexico to Wild Horse Mesa, Colorado. We believed that they would finally be safe from the stock yards. This type of thievery makes me sick to my stomach. The very last moments of these animals lives will be on a road trip from hell in absolute fear. I pray they never find the greys.

http://www.netposse.com/view_report.asp?reportid=2329

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Bozely, The Great Teacher

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Bozely, The Great Teacher

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He was an old man, 28 to be exact, when we first found him. The black mustang with a broad white stripe down his nose had ambled through the paddocks and gummed his hay for almost ten years at the rescue. Although his sway backed apperience deemed him a pasture pal, it was his crow hopping antics that landed him on the unrideable list. Neither of this deterred my mothers love for the dark and handsome animal. So when the day came to take Cash and Zena home for the first time, we loaded Bozley right in behind them. We knew that Bozley had a limited number of years under saddle left to him but he wasn't ready for retirement just yet. He still had he most important job any horse could have, to teach a little boy how to ride. His easy going nature and smooth gait made him the ultimate teacher, but his lessons were hard learned. One afternoon we were out on trail, my nephew Taryn had just become comfortable riding off lead, and Bozley spooked. Taryn flopped in the saddle, his horse gave a little buck, and the boy somersaulted through the air landing on the ground in a belly flop. Taryn didn't move and Bozley stood there staring at him, both a little stunned at the event. I jumped off my own horse and scooped him up in my arms. After a good long hug I asked him, "What do cowboys do when they get thrown from their horse?" He replied through big boy tears, "Get back on." He wiped the dirt from his face, petted Bozley's nose making them both feel a bit better, and got back on.

Now at 32 Bozley will still side step, gallop off, rub an unsuspecting knee on a tree or simply ignore my nephew. These are the lessons that any young man should be given. To persiveere through a difficult situation, to care for and communicate with another creature, and discover leadership. One day Taryn will out grow the aging horse and Bozley will live his golden years out in comfort because he earned it, but until then they are inseparable.

The old man is the barn favorite, even our stable manager Karl dotes on him. Although his sides have started to grey and his hay is served as a soaked mush, the geriatric horse still nips and plays with the other geldings. So as the old adage goes, "You are only as old as you feel." 20140813-100850-36530897.jpg

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Zena aka "the boss"

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Zena aka "the boss"

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Zena in some language or culture has to translate as Queen, because that is exactly what this silvered chrome Appaloosa mare is, the queen of the heard. When we first encountered her at the rescue ranch, Zena had the attitude to match a spoiled and haughty monarch. She refused to listen to those she believed beneath her, which equated to any human with in biting range, and ran over those who didn't move out of her regal path. Yet, when you were on her back she made you feel like royalty yourself. Her walk is noble and proud, striding out with purpose and intensity. This is what Mel fell in love with. Now we all tend to favor a certain breed or type of horse, Mel tends to gravitate to big, solid, dark sport horses. Zena is smaller, stocky, light and spotted with pink rimmed eyes that gives her a wild looking disposition. Although she was not Mel's first choice of the herd, there was something about her imperious nature that presented a challenge. At this point Mel and I were volunteering on the rescue ranches training team. My mother had a knack for working with difficult horses and starting them on a new path toward adoption. Mel's fully intended to do the same with the appy mare but I'll never forget the day that changed her mind. While out trail riding, being a bit of an adventure, she turned Zena down a ruddy path that I hesitated to follow. The two crashed through brush and weeds as if it were a pasture of tall green grass. Cash and I picked our way through the rubbish left behind in their wake until we came upon them standing in the middle of the most beautiful meadow, Mel patting on Zena's neck. "I don't know Juss," she said, "I'm really starting to like this horse, she will go any where I point her."

Now Zena had never been abused or mistreated, she didn't have any traumatic wounds to heal. Her problem was she had always been the boss and it showed in her ground manners. She rushed through gates, walked over the top of anyone on the other end of a lead rope, she would bite and kick when she didn't get her way. However, for the first time in her life Zena met a human who was the boss, demanding obedience. It took Mel almost a year and hours of ground work to mold Zena into the intelligent and respectful horse we all love today. Every once in a while Zena will get in a mood and challenge my mother for her regency, like the white queen and the red queen battling over a spot on a chess board. So they return to the basics and Mel reminds her who is ultimately heard leader.

It is this matriarch quality that I love in both my mother and in Zena. This Appaloosa takes her jobs very seriously. As a trail horse she takes care of her rider, listening for dangers ahead, placing her feet carefully on precarious paths. As the herd manager she futs and fusses over each horse, protecting them from unseen predators, and guiding our youngest horse Rain to some day take her place. Yet there will never be another like her, stubborn, regal, bossy, and nurturing. We are so very proud to have her as our core horse, our boss mare, our Queen.

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Cash

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Cash

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The first time I saw the lanky bay thoroughbred he was in quarantine. A large abscess clung under his jaw with all of the signs of strangles. I didn't dare touch him, in fear of spreading the infection to the rest of the horses, but his kind eyes pleaded to be acknowledge. I was a new volunteer at the rescue ranch, mucking paddocks and grooming elderly horses. Each job there has it's merit but I wanted to ride, and I wanted to ride the bay. When he was released from quarantine, the threat of strangles begnin, I doted upon him like a little girl with her first pony. It had been over five years since I had lost my own mare to colic, his horsy smell soothed my wounded heart. Our trust grew over grooming sessions and long walks and so did my confidence. I was ready to ride. Yet, my stomach fluttered as I took him to the round pen for the first time. My basic horsemanship skills were returning, but I knew nothing about rescue horses. Would all that my mother so patiently taught me about horses relate to this forgotten animal? Cash looked at me from the end of the lunge line, I cued him to move, and he shot off running laps around me. Apparently he thought himself to be quiet the racehorse. After a big breath I finally slowed him down and he began to move, settling into the most beautiful hobby horse gait. My heart leapt, I couldn't wait to be on his back. Months passed as Cash and I worked. I still didn't know exactly what I was doing, but I knew I had to gain his trust on the ground before he trusted me on his back. When the day came to ask for his sponsorship, I still hadn't ridden him, let alone any horse at the ranch. I know many people were concerned that I had chosen the big skittish gelding as my maiden rescue horse ride. An audience appeared leaning on the fences like gawkers at an old fashioned rodeo. I was no longer nervous when I lead the saddled up bay into the round pen. I trusted him, and I was hoping like heck he trusted me. His ears twitched a bit, picking up on the crowds tension. With one foot in the sturrup, I swung up easily. Visions of our first encounter in the round pen flashed throug my mind as I picked up the reigns and urged him on. He walked out in a gental stride. Ok, so far so good, let try him at a trot. I slid my hands down the reign and I could feel him tense beneath me. Moving him forward he thrust up his head and roughly trotted about the circle. Seeing this shift my audience began to offer words of advise. "Disengage his rear end," or "Work the circle to slow him." I'm sure they were all waiting for a bucking bronc performance, but I didn't have a clue what they were trying to tell me. Instead I did just as my mother always taught me, relax and ride the horse. I dropped my hands a bit, relaxed my seat and trusted this horse. He must have felt that change because he trusted me too and relaxed. It was beautiful.

Today Cash has found his forever home with us as one of our core ranch horses. I'd like to say that each day with him is as profound as the first, however plastic bags have sent both of us back to the round pen over our five year partnership. He has taught me so much about listening to the needs of a rescue horse. Each one is different and has their own wound to heal, but if you trust them they learn to trust you back. Along the way they even find the way to heal your wounds as well. I trust this horse to the moon and back. <img src="https://enchantmentequitreks.files.wordpress.com/2014/05/20140527-203354-74034396the story of Cash .jpg" alt="20140527-203354-74034396.jpg" class="alignnone size-full" />

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My Mom, My Best Friend

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I'm not sure when it happened but at some point in the last 30 years my mom became my best friend. We have always had a special relationship, she a single mother and I an only child. When times got tuff she always reassured me with a smile. "It's you and me against the world kid." This tenacious woman's passion for life made even her shadow seem large and I knew I had big shoes to fill. It was in my twenties that I felt ready to cast my own ample shadow and find a pair of shoes that fit just me. So she, like so many parents do, stepping off her heroic pedestal I had placed her on, became human. She showed me her faults, her broken dreams, and provided her mistakes as examples for me to learn from. I was shocked, I didn't understand how to relate to her as a woman. It was only when I quit childishly stomping my feet in protest, which took several years, that I realized the gift she was offering me. The friendship found between two women. Now, I am no longer her pigtailed, little girl and she my infalible parent, but we are equals, women, who can share our strengths and weaknesses, our daydreams and broken hearts. We are the best of friends. This relationship gave us the courage to start out on the new and sometimes intimidating path as business partners. Our love and avidity for horses has built the foundation for Enchantment Equitreks, but it is our mutal respect as women that gives it structure. On this Mother's Day I would like to thank my mother for her friendship. I am blessed by her wisdom, her knowledge, her vulnerability. I am in awe of her vitality and uncanny ability to sooth the soul of all creatures, two legs and four. It is my ardent wish that I will be able to establish the same relationship with my own daughter someday. And even though I went out in the world and found my own shoes to fill, they look an awfull lot like my mothers. Happy Mother's Day everyone.

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