Category Archives: Post

This horse is (not) a bucker! Look for the magic and you will find it

This is stated many ways for people – we are not our actions ‘what we do’, we are not ‘how we react’… Yet this is how we describe animals, and it is only one tiny piece of their life. A change can be made so the behavior can be a thing of the past.

The beautiful horse I met last night touched my heart. A horse that is a reactive introvert who is born into the world of a sport he is not suited for – mentally, emotionally, physically – will react. The reaction may be small at first – or it may be huge, depending on his desire to be heard. Regardless, the reaction is based on an opinion that the horse has on how we are with him – how we are using him, using his body, controlling his life.

If a horse is being asked to interact and he isn’t especially keen on humans, he is going to put any obstacle available between himself and the human. If he is in a paddock with foals – that is the obstacle he will put between himself and the invader. He is not a wimp because he hides behind a foal. That is the only tool he has and he is using it wisely to his advantage. It was clear by the catching dance the level of interest or curiosity he had which was not so much. I could have gone up and haltered him immediately – that is what most people do. I don’t often halter a horse if they choose to stay with me after our connection. I want the feedback of what allows them to stay and what makes them leave. But what if I’d stopped there – walked away before connection – having given him only that much time? Instead of walking away I asked for connection, I asked for tolerance, patience and to accept my touch. I got all those things – hopefully not only because he was haltered (not by me). We worked, tested boundrys, changed his mind about people. A lot changed not only with him but the two foals as well. Funny how good energy ripples through a herd.

When faced with avoidance, what if the human approaches with a polite ask and genuine heart felt  interest? What if the human gives him time to decide if there might be something in this connection should he choose to allow himself to be approached and touched? This is where the magic happens – when we combine our energy into interaction that is agreeable to us both. It is about exploring each others openness, level of trust and interest in what we both have to offer. Humans easily share themselves with other humans equally. How often do we share ourselves with other species in a mutual relationship? When we allow ourselves to be vulnerable and open and we seek to find each others gifts – that is when we understand ‘what this horse is’ – or more accurately – ‘who’ this horse is in his heart and what he is capable of. From that moment on – he is no longer whatever he’s been called.

All too often we ‘size up’ people, horses, dogs based on how they react in given situations. What often goes unheeded is their response to our energy – combined with the surroundings, their energy and what is being asked or expected in a given situation. When we approach we have expectations, questions, an attitude, thoughts, we project energy… Others see us as interesting, overwhelming, self absorbed, controlling or maybe open to connect.

What if – from birth – we allowed and nurtured this connection? What if we allowed everyone to seek and find what works for them? While it’s great to  breed for bloodlines, sport and to educate throughout ones life – it is also imperative to allow other outlets for abilities that don’t fit in the mainstream flowchart.

I believe it is time to intenionally allow other species to ‘be’. I believe there has to be a place for all to live and thrive on this planet outside of our control. Horses can take care of themselves as long as they can find food and water which is provided by the earth, not by humanity. We all need a place to go when we don’t fit in where we are at. Just my two cents worth…

Plum Creek land – please read

Updated: Steve from PC came out the same day I posted this story. We walked the land and he agreed the problem is extensive.
I was not satisfied with the results of our conversation so I called the county weed department. I just got a call back saying that PC will log the land and Steve agreed they will spray the weeds this Fall. PC, The weed dept and I will follow up with landowners to be sure all is well.
Original post:
Plum Creek – Hwy 2 office in Kalispell MT – Steve
Steve Since you didn’t call back or come out as promised- here is the knapweed and spruce budworm that I wanted to show you.
Will Plum Creek please take care of your Weeds and Spruce Budworm? My neighbors and I simply can’t manage our land when it borders your unmanaged land… If nothing else – knapweed and Mullein are medicinal – please harvest them for sustainability and income.
The Spruce Budworm just spent 5 years going through this area with only one year reprieve. As you can see- they are back in full force and about to hatch and eat our forest.







Mullein and knapweed – medicinal or noxious weeds




Knapweed new growth and last years flower stem




Thanks for listening! – Steve email me!

Earth Prayers 4-4-15 p 102

The Peace of Wild Things


When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.


Wendell Berry, “The Peace of Wild Things” from The Selected Poems of Wendell Berry. Copyright © 1998. Published and reprinted by arrangement with Counterpoint Press.

Earth Prayers 4/1/15

I have come to terms with the future.
From this day onward I will walk easy on the earth.
Plant trees.
Kill no living things.
Live in harmony with all creatures.
I will restore the earth where I am.
Use no more of its resources than I need.
And listen, listen to what it is telling me.

M. J. Slim Hooey  (Earth Prayers, ed. By E.Roberts & Elias Amidon, 1991, p.109)

Earth Prayers 3-30-2015

We join with the earth and with each other.

To bring new life to the land
To restore the waters
To refresh the air

We join with the earth and with each other.

To renew the forests
To care for the plants
To protect the creatures

 We join with the earth and with each other.

To celebrate the seas
To rejoice in the sunlight
To sing the song of the stars

We join with the earth and with each other.

To recreate the human community
To promote justice and peace
To remember our children

We join with the earth and with each other.

We join together as many diverse expressions
of one loving mystery for the healing of the
earth and the renewal of all life

U.N. Environmental Sabbath Program (Earth Prayers, ed. By E.Roberts & Elias Amidon, 1991, p.94)

Anna Twinney – Gentling Mustangs ROTH style

Anna Twinney will be here at Greater Good Ranch
June 26-18 2015
This video is from Anna’s youtube channel. Check out her videos, Check out her website. Go to the Events page – and if you are interested – sign up for the clinic here at GGR!!

“Sharing space, food as comfort, food as reward, advance and retreat, water gentling and pole gentling, these are all ways Anna suggests you may wish to gentle your Mustang. Each method may be effective depending on your personal circumstance, environment, ability and horses’ history and style. Expanding your knowledge to encompass that which suits your needs in order to prevent inappropriate behavior and allow the correct behavior to be encouraged. Gentling a Mustang requires a conversation, this means the topic has been chosen but the dialogue has yet to be created. Discover the possibilities of a flexible program through true communication. Come save a horse from a holding pen and discover your true potential with ROTH.

Horses… Saving the best for last… 1-16-2013

Anyone – at any age who has spent time with a horse – in a situation where communication takes place is fully aware just how smart and interesting horses are. They have the capacity for extreme intelligence as well as having a memory second to the elephant… Horses are aware of everyone and everything around them, although they don’t just let anyone into their world. Self preservation is number 1 and working together as a herd is number 2 in importance. They continually test each other for pecking order which is based on leadership skills and trust.

Horses are simply amazing- spirited, curious, communicative, athletic, cooperative -yet each are individuals and they fit in with ‘almost’ all other species.  They are easy keepers as they get by on just eating grass and other plants… Yet when managed by humans, the balance they so easily thrive on – on their own, changes in ways that can become life threatening in captivity. Yet we insist on baiting them, driving them from their natural environment into holding facilities and then taking them to slaughter or adopting them out. This control should not be our call, we humans lack the ability to determine who is worthy and who is not… The greatest thrill of a lifetime is watching a band of horses out on the range going through the motions and simply living their lives one day at a time.

I didn’t grow up with horses. I rode a bit as a kid but I wasn’t intelligent enough to understand them.

1999… The plan was to sell our Colorado house and retire to Montana. I’d been spending summers in MT since 1982, my husband – a Montana native was now retiring early. Having sold our totally remodeled house in SW Portland, Oregon just 2 years previous – it would be tough to go back- so we go forward.

We had replaced the Montana garage with a Canadian Cedar log house kit we had designed and built in just 3 months- 1996. The following summer was spent finishing the house inside. Then the job transfer came – Fall ’97… We sold our Portland house, I gave up my final opportunity to complete my masters degree. We settled in to Pine CO – just outside of Denver. Three months later the job and the company we transferred to was to be closed down. I continued to work for a consulting firm- Database design for US west and CU Boulder.  My husband took a job in Boulder. Living in Colorado would have been fabulous had I taken time out of my 16 hour day to look at something other than the computer screen. It was my goal to make it work – as usual, but some things you simply can’t force. Living in Colorado wasn’t meant to be – for me.
Fall 1999 in Montana, skiing during the week, hiking as often as possible, work as much as possible (for me). It was the dream life we’d given our all for – for 16 years… Work really hard and retire early. Here we were – both with pretty huge regrets. apparently.

Fall of 2000 our long time Portland friends were coming to visit. Lee and I had lot’s in common- especially woodworking. Susan loved to cook and she was really into horses and riding and all that goes with that lifestyle. I had ridden as a kid but there was no actual attraction to horses. Or so I thought.

The thought was to take some riding lessons so Susan and I would have something to talk about.  I took 2 lessons before she arrived and one while she was visiting. I became totally addicted, obsessed and consumed by everything horse…  (To this day Susan and I still talk about horses and she still visits) The trainer I took lessons from retired her horses in November for the winter. But she had a friend who “might have a horse I could lease”.
We drove out to meet ‘Jimmy’ a chestnut quarter horse that I could lease. That same day- they brought in ‘April’ – a 2 1/2 year old Percheron Quarter horse filly… ‘She was for sale’ they both said…. … …….. She’s a Dun…. …..   I got to ride her – not knowing much about young horses… She had a kind and beautiful eye.. I walked her around the arena after our ride. She felt like my new best friend… the one who wanted to be with me- walk with me and do stuff together. My heart had been empty for so long… I had been kept busy for decades working hard for retirement and here we were- actually here I was. alone still. All I knew was that this horse inserted her heart into my head and attached herself to my heart and she was all I thought about for weeks… This is now known as the horse bug – you have it or you don’t.

I leased ‘Jimmy’ because time in the saddle is what helps a person to become a good rider. Turns out he wasn’t ‘a safe and very broke horse’. One day my trainer came out to ‘help’ Jimmy become less head shy and more obedient. gulp. Jimmy galloped me into a fence- I rode the gallop well – but he did a slide and right turn- then a bucking frenzy. I flew off at a pretty good clip – my leg broke the 2×4 fence rail that was mounted to a round post and that snapped back and did some damage. I don’t know how long I was ‘out’. The new helmet I had purchased was the only thing in perfect shape…

Jimmy went back after a few weeks- turns out he had dumped someone else before me. This simply wasn’t a good fit. I went back to visit April –  this horse I couldn’t stop thinking about and 3 weeks later she was mine… I boarded her for a month and took 3 riding lessons from the owner. I felt OK as long as the horse didn’t move. Then I was OK if she followed another horse. It took years for the fear to subside.  My love for this horse never wavered. April was re-named Mikaila – which means ‘God like’… There hasn’t been a single moment since January 21 2001 where I’ve regretted having her in my life.

Our friends Lee and Susan came back to visit – April 1 2001- the muddiest time of year. Mikaila was at her new place- closer to where I lived and I was ‘taking lessons’. Susan came to meet my new horse and taught us the wonderful world of Clicker training. Mikaila was a natural – she loved to eat – treats were fabulous and she would try anything for a treat. Her facial expressions were priceless. What a cool horse she was! We soon had quite a routine going… I’ll have to search for that video as it was pretty fun. RFD-TV was my second addiction for the next few years… I watched everything about horses…

Fast forward to 2013. Mikaila is still with me, Susan’s horse Starry has come here to live, and I brought home a grey appaloosa – a girlfriend for Mik in 2009.  These horses are my reason for living, I have learned a ton. and I still know – I don’t know much. I am humbled by horses. I wish I could share what I’ve learned with the folks who work for the BLM – the ones who decide a horse should go to slaughter. One week with me – the things I could show them – would change their world. Enough said for now.