Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Getting Back On Track: The Worst Form Of Memory Loss

There are very few people that can fully appreciate how difficult it is to keep this program relevant and meaningful. Sometimes I come dangerously close to taking the path of least resistance. Our program would be much easier to administer if I stopped breeding endangered horses and if we reduced all of our livestock down to only keeping the horses and donkeys. 

I decided that was what I was going to do.  The idea was my own. No one had forced me into considering radical downsizing.

Doing so had strong appeal to me. yet at the same time I knew that doing so would be something that I would be deeply ashamed of...but it would be so much easier. Perhaps my life would have a bit of normalcy by scaling back.

Then I thought about what the limits of our program should be. The limits should only be two fold--my capacity to imagine and my capacity to work. 

I have reached neither limit.  Sunday Ashley came down to help me decide what the future of our program should be. She reminded me of what we do, and have done, over the years. Most of all, she reminded me who I am. 

I had forgotten that part. 

Our discussion that was intended (on my part) to consider how to roll back programming resulted (as it should have) with a decision to increase our programs over the next two years.

In addition to what we do now, we will be working towards the following:

development of an endurance riding team 
initiation of a pod cast 
renewed efforts at soil and water conservation projects
creation of paddocks for goats and sheep on the New Land
development of a drama program culminating with living history educational programs
focus on doing more offsite clinics
formalizing and renewing efforts to teach training and taming of horses
expansion of our series on using the lessons learned from natural horsemanship to become better people
finding ways to encourage program participants to learn more about human health, nutrition and exercise
getting the stage constructed for the music program
buying or building a storage shed for our vast library of books to make them accessible to program participants

The virus has restricted participation  for so long that restricted participation seemed normal. The virus will not last forever and when we step out of its shadow we will be ready to grow with the same sense of of purpose that I once had. Our volunteers continue to put extraordinary hours into making the program work and as we expand we will attract more volunteers. 

We will be bigger and we will be better.

Thursday, September 9, 2021

Playing Past One's Prime: When One is Through Talking One Should Shut Up

It has been over twenty years but I once kept lot of deer hounds. Some of you might member when George Allen left from coaching the Rams and took over with the Red Skins. He traded for banged up veterans who had once been stars, but whom he felt still had a few good games left in them.

I used a similar practice with my hounds. I raised a lot of young dogs but also took on many formerly great hounds whose age put them past their best hunts. But they were great teachers for the young hounds and often their experience allowed them to bring a deer out of a thick, tangled  swamp that the young dogs would have never found.

But even Molly, even Fox, even Cajun reached a point that they could not pull it off any more. They stopped running deer. They simply shut up.

It is not age that has brought me to that same point. It is experience. Experience has taught me what I can bring out in people and what I can't. Sometime it has lead to a very unpleasant surprise. Gordon Lightfoot really put his finger on the worst difference between winning and loosing (Sometimes I think it is a sin when I feel like I'm winnin' when I'm loosin' again.")

And with that this blog ends. it has been around for along time and it has a search button on it. So if one, for whatever reason, would want to know what I think about an issue you look back at what I once thought, because what I once thought can generally be counted on as what I still think.

It occurs to me that if I don't have anything left to say for the blog then I don't have anything left for Facebook  and will be leaving that platform. If one must contact me I can be reached by email at

Thursday, September 2, 2021

Instructors: Pay Attention To Your Communication Style

Riding instructors--study your communication style intensely. Study those of other instructors. Learn the best from every other one and work hard to make yours as effective as it can be. And always remember, there are many ways of communicating that are effective. There is more than one way to do it right. Over the weekend I watched as two young adults assisted me in showing some brand new riders how to tack up. As I watched how intently the kids listened to me I realized that the message that my tone taught is "This is important.!"
As I watched Chris, using nearly the same words that I used, the message that his tone taught was "This is easy!"
Abigail, who used the same words as did Chris and me, had a tone that taught, "This is fun!". 

 Each of those tones conveyed very important messages. One of the advantages of learning in our program is that new riders learn so much from experienced riders. 

And that is not mere happenstance.  I work hard to teach our riders how to ride, train, and talk.  It is one of the most important things that kids learn in our program. 

On Saturday I am heading up to Pennsylvania to do a lengthy session on round pen work, communication, and understanding the mind of the horse. And I am very proud to know that Chris and Abigail could do the sessions without me and teach the same lessons that I will work to get across.