Viewing entries tagged
horseback riding

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Two EarsTuesday

This pictures was posted a few days ago by a childhood friend. We haven't actually seen each other since elementary school but with the ever updating world of Facebook I've been able to keep up with his beautiful family. Our dads were both team ropers and while I can swing a rope at a dummy, Reed still chases a few steers.

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This photo should be in a magazine with big block letters across the top promoting a high performance suplement for horses. Instead it is a superbly captured moment of a horse ready to do his job. His eyes and ears remain pinpoint on the cow, intensity builds in his arched neck, he waits to spring as the gates slam open. Any cowboy will tell you that half the work is done by a good horse. This is a good horse that loves his job.

I wholeheartedly believe that domestic horses need and want a job. With the cold weather and shorter days setting in, my herd has spent most of the past month napping and eating in their paddocks. This may seem like the good life but, like kids cooped up in house too long, it makes for irritable, moody, and bored horses. Their manners begin to slip, nipping at each other at feed time or getting pushy at a gate. We often have to revert back to foundation training. "This is my space, this is your space, get out of my space," kind of schooling. My horses love their trail riding job and in the winter months I have to employ a parental like ingenuity to keeping them stimulated and out of trouble.

Like Reed, many owners can keep their horses working year around. My horses work seasonally, which leaves at least 3 months of down time. I'm hoping to fill some of those days with romps in the new pasture when the weather is nice. Just getting horses out on the walker or out on a lounge line helps. How do you keep your horses fit and entertained during the winter?

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Two Ears Tuesday

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This weeks between the ears shot is a throw back to my month spent on the beaches of Africa with Mozambique Horse Safari. I believe the ears belong to Spice Girl, one of the many amazing horses the Retzlaffs rescued. The book 104 Horses follows Pat and Mandy Retzlaff's journey from Zimbabwe refugees herding horses across the war torn nation to horseback riding outfitters in the safe haven of Vinculo.

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My journey through Africa wouldn't have been complete without this experience with the Retzlaffs and all the people at Mozambique Horse Safari. This is a once in a life time adventure I highly recommend to any equestrian.

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Two Ears Tuesday

Today's photo is of me! Being the photographer of the business I'm hardly ever in the picture. Although you can't see my face I'm still working hard with the GoPro stuck to my head. The two ears belong to Paige's Appaloosa mare, Risa. You might have seen our young outfitter on our Facebook video of Risa bounding into the Rio Grande River. 

https://www.facebook.com/EnchantmentEquitreks/videos/941981499256925/ 

 

 
Between Risa's Ears

Between Risa's Ears

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Two Ears Tuesday

It's Balloon Fiesta time! What better way to kick off Two Ears Tuesday than with my favorite shot of a hot air balloon between Cash's ears. 

 

Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta

Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta

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Easter Special 

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Easter Special 

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It's been a busy Easter Sunday. While many people are out hunting for rainbow colored eggs, we have been evaluating a new horse. Rising Desert, RD for short, is a 17 hand, off the track thoroughbred. For the past eight years the fifteen year old , sorrel has been used in endurance. Now with a new horse coming in, his owner is looking to give him away to a good home. When we asked why no one else wanted him, the owner replied "Because he's so big."  He brought the big horse out to our ranch today so that we could all ride together. It was hard to notice anything else but his size as he walked off the trailer. However we all realized there was something very different about his front left leg. Perhaps that was the real the reason he was having a hard time being rehomed.

   We had been warned that he has a tendency to hold his leg back and it shakes when he is nervous. His owner believed it was due to an old injury, but when mom ran her fingers down the leg she couldn't find any signs of previous trama. It didn't seem to bother the horse or slow him down as we trotted out to ride, all of our horses were a little fresh. I kept an eye on that left front leg on RD, although his knee never seemed to straiten or lock,  he didn't take a misstep. When he finally calmed down I could see that his gate seemed smooth and powerful, his temperament quiet and inquisitive. Mom and I decided to give him a month trail to see if he could fit in our program.  

    As he wondered about his new paddock, trying to make friends with two mares, we watched his leg it seemed that the way he held it was unusual. Mom looked again and confirmed that he has a confirmation flaw, he is over at the knee.  This odd way he was standing wasn't due to an old injury, but just a physical defect, one that non of us had seen on a live horse before. Thankfully many horses adapt to this flaw and have lucrative and long performance careers, such as Seabiscutt.

   

We are very excited to be working with RD and we hope that he will fit right into our herd of rescues. Yes he isn't a traditional rescue from a shelter or bad situation. He had an owner that cared for him, however with RD's odd flaw, not many people would want him. We are the ranch of the misfits, all with a little something different that needs to be understood and cared for. 

So we hope that you have a happy Easter and that the Easter Bunny has brought you something special. Maybe as special as our RD. 

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Finding Balance In Equi-Yoga

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Finding Balance In Equi-Yoga

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What exactly is Equi-Yoga? You may have visions, like I did, of a graceful yogi in down dog on the top of a bareback horse, lounging in circles like a vaulter. It is actually a practice developed by Marty Whittle that combines yoga techniques of body awareness, breath and movement with equestrian training. Whittle found that implementing these yoga based exercises with the movement of a horse will help stretch, strengthen, and balance the rider. So our vision isn't so far fetched. In Enchantment Equitreks Equi-Yoga program you will begin on the mat, creating a foundation of poses and breath that will be translated into the saddle. As you move to the saddle our horses stand patiently, often breathing and stretching with you, as you begin to find a flow. When you are ready to advance, the horse walks out on a long line as you match your rhythm with the animal. For more advanced riders, the horse is urged into a trot and a true study of balance is achieved. 





This unique technique targets many trouble areas, such as the neck, shoulders, arms, seat and legs. By loosening and strengthening these areas, the rider allows the horse to flow through them. By facilitating  Ujjayi breathing, new lines of communication form between horse and rider. “It helps you explore your body from the inside out,” explains Whittle. Personally, I found that I often forgot to use my core and compensated by using alternative muscles. For example, after reaching down to my stirrup I would squeeze with my knees and leg to help right my self in the saddle. My horse took the cue to move forward and I would over correct to stop the movement. How many times do equestrians lean down to adjust a stirrup and the horse trots off? My natural reaction is to tense through the saddle and hold my breath, which in turn makes the horse tense. I had to learn to engage my core and regulate my breathing to keep my body relaxed and in control.  Through Equi-Yoga I began to understand that communication with my horse can be misconstrued by being unaware of my body. 



I also found a deeper understanding of my own yoga practice by testing my balance on a moving mat. Although our horses are well trained to stand as the rider reaches new positions, they can be distracted and take a step. When in a twist the rider may have to adjust to the new position of the horse. There are also moments when the horse will stretch its neck as you lean forward and both of you are working together to reach equilibrium, finding that unspoken  partnership. My greatest revelation came when we started the moving portion. As my horse walked at end of the lounge line, my instructor guided me in twists and bends that complemented the animals natural gait and I realized that I am a booty rider! In order to keep my balance I tended to over compensate by sticking my rear end out just a bit and slightly arching my back.  This throws my seat forward and legs back in the saddle, which explains my habit of sometimes loosing a stirrup. Even though it was a slight misalignment in my body, it highlighted the affect it had in my riding. When I returned to the mat for my regular yoga sessions I felt my rear end creeping back out. Now that I am aware, I tuck it right back under my pelvis where it belongs. 



By adding the equine element to yoga the equestrian will learn to adjust to new situations with breath and suppleness, recognize and adjust the body cues to keep clear communication, and build a deeper connection to your horse. The yogi will challenge balance, develop deeper self awareness while staying cognoscente of out side influences.





For this new and exciting program we are blessed to be working with Nicole Fitzgerald, an experienced yoga teacher who has completed Equi-Yoga training with Marty Whittle. Her enthusiasm for yoga, horses, and Equi-Yoga is contagious. Nicole focuses on making this experience fun, relaxing, and informational for many levels of riders and yoga enthusiasts. 



A single day course includes an introductory mat session, an on the horse standing flow, and a walking sequence.  However, we believe that a foundation for the practice is best built during an Equi-Yoga Retreat Week. This encompasses multiple mat sessions that reinforce poses and helps work sore muscles, multi standing flows, walking sequences, and the introduction to the trotting positions. We then take this knowledge and apply it while trail riding, such as warming up with your horse and after lunch stretches. The team here at Enchantment Equitreks look forward to sharing this extraordinary and new technique in both the equine and yoga world. 


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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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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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