Making Mistakes

Great Quote

Maximus our beloved “Party Pony”

As many of you know…Maximus is our beloved foster horse from Hope For Horses.   Here is a quick recap… Maximus comes from terrible abuse and was given a “second chance” only provided by the courageous team at Hope For Horses.  Since Riders Edge Farm began fostering Maximus in June of 2011; he has learned how to trust and respect his handlers.  Maximus has begun to let down his guard and in turn lesson his aggression towards humans and other horses.  I was able to take him to the Buck Brannaman Clinic in October; where we both learned the skills needed to start a new chapter together.

Skylar's "Maximus" Birthday Party

Maximus was named after a famous animated horse in the film “Tangled”.   “Maximus” the movie character was so loved in the first film…that a short film was made featuring him during the preview of “Beauty and the Beast 3D”.  The point being his animated character has made a huge impact on little girls all over the country.  Our Maximus has a great deal of character, expressions and overall personality as well.  We are working on how to encourage these exceptional gifts while continuing his lesson of respect.

My daughter Skylar had her 5th Birthday in January and she insisted it would be a “Maximus” party.  She invited all her girlfriends from school and they had the chance to meet Maximus in the flesh.  This was an amazing experience for the girls as well as myself.  I looked at my daughters’ birthday party as an opportunity and eventually a milestone for both myself as well as Maximus.  After an entire bottle of purple shampoo and purple hoof paint; Maximus was “show ready”.  He came into the arena with beauty and grace…no aggression or fear of the large group of excited and (loud) 5 year old girls.  He was so comfortable with the excitement of the girls anxiously awaiting the opportunity to meet, touch and have a photo with him.  The party was a huge success!

As I had mentioned earlier…this was an incredible milestone for both myself as well as Maximus.  We are continuing our work since the party and might be back at it next week for my daughter Madison’s 3rd birthday party.  I could not be prouder of Maximus’s success and look forward to seeing how far he will progress in another 6 months!

 

Equine Therapy for Veteran’s Untilizing Brannaman Horsemanship

I have been busy working on developing a Socially Conscious Business (Social Enterprise) where we provide Equine Therapy for Veterans!!  This is a very exciting time for me as I have become quite clear on what I would like to see happen long term for me, my horses as well as our beautiful facility.  I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to run our exceptional Equestrian Facility with my six horses…Jessie, Scamp and JT (3 formally “unwanted” horses) as well as my 2 foster boys Maximus and Flynn from Hope For Horses. My primary goal for the last few months has been to find a positive and healthy way for my horses to have a “job” where they have purpose with as minimal “wear and tear” as possible on their body and minds.

Buck Brannaman ClinicEquine Therapy programs currently exist across the country but from what I can see…non of them follow the Buck Brannaman, Ray Hunt Tom Dorrance Horsemanship with their therapy horses.  There has been some debate on whether horses used in therapy situations are really being treated and thought of in a fare and human way.  Not to say there is “actual abuse” in these types of programs…but there can be a debate on whether the therapy programs are in the “best” interest of the horse.  My goal is to provide an environment that supports the highest and greatest good for both horses and humans!!

The way in which I hope to provide the best support for the horses and indirectly supporting the Veterans; is by utilizing the Brannaman Horsemanship.  It’s my belief my therapy horses will be physically as well as mentally supported through the Ground Work; allowing the horse to feel confident working with the Veterans.

I am excited to see how this path will continue to unfold for me and my horses.  The thought of each horse having a “purpose” well into their years even after they are no longer comfortable carrying a rider, but have a ton of life left…is the best!!

The first few months of 2012 will be spent continuing the Foundation Horsemanship with my horses, building the infrastructure for my Social Enterprise “Horses For Veterans”, building relationships with our local military organizations and gaining the necessary  certifications to begin working with our local Veteran’s and their therapists.

I am looking forward the 2012!!

Buck Brannaman A Fantastic Clinic!!

The last blog post I made was a few days prior to the Buck Brannaman Clinic…I was busy preparing the horses, loading my equipment in the trailer and  packing my belongings.  I was full of nerves and excitement at what was ahead.

I can now look back at the clinic with eyes wide open and full of motivation!  I took my two foster horses Flynn and Maximus from Hope For Horses to the Buck clinic.  They had to share a small trailer and be stabled in close proximity. These were very valid concerns as they come from the same abusive situation which left them with a very unhealthy relationship towards one another. I am happy to say; “They did fabulous hauling to the Tacoma Unit as well as stabling together.” It was like they had been doing it forever.”

 Vanessa Howard  Kissing Maximus @ Buck Brannaman Clinic

Vanessa Howard Kissing Maximus @ Buck Brannaman Clinic

I arrived a day and a half early in hopes to have the horses settle in before their first session.  I worked and rode both Flynn and Maximus Friday evening before the Saturday morning sessions.  The boys did okay but were very tense and curious about the indoor arena and the new horses arriving for the clinic.  Maximus had the hardest time as he struggles with being “left” so when the horses left the arena he had a bit of a meltdown.  We were able to work through it…but it was one of many signs that I had made the right decision by bringing the boys to the clinic.

I thought long and hard about my strategy regarding who I would ride in the 1st and 2nd sessions…as I wanted to make this clinic as successful as possible for myself and the horses.  I decided to do Flynn in the 1st Session and Maximus in the 2nd Session.  I can’t even begin to describe the excitement and nerves I had when I put my foot in the stirrup and swung my leg over Flynn’s back.  I saw Buck entering the arena with his grey mare and just hoped Flynn and I could keep it together for the beginning of the clinic.

Flynn & Vanessa Howard at the Buck Brannaman Clinic

Flynn & Vanessa Howard at the Buck Brannaman Clinic

Flynn and I did a bit of ground work movements horse back and then we were called to the center to meet Buck and share any information regarding ourselves and our horse.  I knew I needed to let Buck know about Flynn’s history without sounding like I was making excuses for his behavior.  I believe I was the 1st or 2nd  person to raise my hand…when Buck looked over and said my name I felt a hug lump in my throat.  The last thing I wanted to sound like was a person who was justifying or making excuses for me and my horse.  My goal with sharing was to let Buck and others know about Flynn being a 2year old in an 11 year old horses body as well as being gelded at 10 years of age.  I wanted to be transparent about the potential concerns of Flynn working in close proximity with other horses in order to stay safe.  Buck seemed to have little concern about what I shared and I was able to give  a hug sign of relief.  I had a great deal of work ahead of me but felt supported and thankful to be in the clinic.

I had a 1 hour break between sessions which does not seem very long when you need to put your 1st horse away, give him lunch, feed yourself and tack up the 2nd horse in order to have enough time to do a good amount of ground work before the 2nd session starts.  Maximus was very excited to see I was preparing to take him to the ring…I did my ground work in the ring as there was a huge audience there to see Buck (many of them there for the very first time).  Maximus handled the crowd great but was a bit too interested in the other horses in the ring.  Looking back over the 4 days I realized I did not start doing enough ground work with Maximus until day 3 or 4 as Maximus requires a great deal of involvement when asking him to move his feet, yield to the flag and move away from the human.

Maximus and Vanessa Howard @ The Buck Brannaman Clinic

Maximus and Vanessa Howard @ The Buck Brannaman Clinic

I was able to be horse back before Buck arrived with his Bridled horse…which was my main goal for the first day.  I did a bit of riding and then we were called to the center again for a meet and greet.  When Buck asked his signature question “Does anyone have anything they want to share about themselves or their horse?” I immediately raised my hand.  Again, when he looked over and said my name I felt the lump in my throat return.  I wanted to share with him and the group that Maximus was another foster horse who was 18 years old and gelded only 1 year prior.  All I remember about Buck’s response was him making a comment like; “Who would wait so long to geld a horse.”  I new the reason but was sure to not reply as it was meant more as a rhetorical question.  As an FYI…Maximus was gelded so late in life as it was the only other option as he and Flynn were too dangerous to handle otherwise.  The choice to geld them was not an easy one but it provided a 2nd chance at a quality life.

Flynn, Maximus as well as I made tremendous strides with our ground work and ride-ability in large groups.  By the 4th day of the clinic we were really starting to jive and the “dance” Buck refers to was beginning to come together.  We decided to haul home the following morning so as to make sure we were not hauling the boys in the dark during rush hour.  The boys hauled home great…my husband needed to stop for a quick bit to eat so Maximus had the opportunity to demonstrate his ability to stand quietly in the trailer.  When we returned home they stepped off the trailer with eagerness.

Since returning from the clinic…I have been busy working on all I have learned: small serpentines, hind quarters/front quarters, 1 rein stop, backing in circles, the list goes on and on.  It has been great to work with my other horses as well, as they are more experienced with this type of work and teach me!

I had an invaluable clinic with Maximus and Flynn and am so grateful to have the opportunity to work with them.  I have grown tremendously has a horse-person and feel rejuvenated in my work with the horses!!  I also want to thank  all the amazing volunteers from Hope For Horses who came to watch and support Flynn and Maximus!!

 

Upcoming Buck Brannaman Clinic

I am excited to announce I am taking both of my foster horses Flynn and Maximus to the upcoming Buck Brannaman Clinic this weekend!!

I have attended multiple Buck clinics…as my mother Marianne has been riding with him for years.  She had always asked me to participate in the clinics with her but I was focused on doing the A Circuit H/J shows with my jumper Opus-One.  In 2008 Marianne convinced me to participate in one of Buck’s clinic in Ellensburg WA.   I not only enjoyed the clinic with Buck but also found out I was pregnant with my second daughter Madison the very same weekend!  Opus and I had a fabulous time participating in the clinic and I always looked forward to the next time I would have an opportunity to ride in one of Buck’s clinics.

Marianne continued to participate in Buck’s annual October clinic held each year at the Tacoma Unit in Spanaway WA.  In 2009 she took one of our adorable horses Jesse.  I was now a mother of 2 young girls so I remember feeling disappointed at having to miss out on the clinic.  I came to watch for the day and vowed I would be back soon!

I never really thought of who I would eventually take to the clinic…so when I decided to foster Flynn and Maximus it seemed only natural to try and work towards preparing one if not both foster horses for the possibility to participate in the Buck Clinic.  Flynn and Maximus both need the exposure but need it for very different reasons…Flynn being a 2yr old colt in an 11yr old body while Maximus has been through all sorts of training (non very humane) but has difficulty being socially appropriate with other horses after being gelded so late in life.  It did not feel good to have to choose one horse over the other to attend but at the time there was only 1 spot available.

Marianne was planning to attend the Buck clinic as well and had reserved two spots for use to participate together.  She recently discovered she would need to have knee Surgery…which would make it impossible for her to participate in the clinic.  Marianne’s unfortunate knee surgery provided me with the opportunity to take both Flynn and Maximus.  Marianne’s knee surgery went great so she will be attending the clinic as a spectator.

In order for me to commit to taking both Flynn and Maximus I had to be sure they met a few specific requirements such as; the willingness to haul together in a 3-horse stock trailer, demonstrate relatively manageable and respectful behavior towards other horses while working in the arena and ride-ability in small groups.  We have spent the last 40 days working on achieving these set goals knowing horses are always able to surprise you once they arrive at a new facility.

My plan is to leave today…Thursday Oct. 27th in order to have plenty of time to haul the Flynn and Maximus to the Tacoma Unit, unpack the equipment, let the boys settle in to the facility (before the rest of the participants arrive) which will then giving us all day Friday Oct. 28th to check out the arena and work the boys!!

I am extremely excited; yet when I find myself getting nervous about the clinic I continue to remind myself this is a once in a lifetime opportunity for me to work with Flynn and Maximus in the Buck Clinic!!!

Stay tuned for updates on how the clinic goes and all the great things we will have learned and accomplished!!

Transition From Summer to Fall

Opus One 1.0 Meter Champion at the NW Autumn Finals

It has been an extremely busy end of the Summer as my family and I transition to Fall!

We finished the show season with Opus One capturing the 1.0 Meter Championship with Corey Smith as well as placing 2nd with Elyssa Armstrong in the .90 Child/Adult Classic at the NW Autumn Finals!  Elyssa and Opus have accomplished so much this show season…I am extremely proud of the two of them.  I look forward to seeing their partnership continue to grow this Fall/Winter.

 

 

 

 

REF Pumpkin Garden

Zach and I have been preparing for the Fall by watching our daughters Skylar and Madison move into the Rainbow and Sunshiner rooms at The Shyne School!   Skylar only has one more year before Kindergarten and Madison is speaking in full sentences and mastering potty training.  We have been seeing the change from Summer to Fall by picking the remaining Apples and Carrots and harvesting our Squash and small Pumpkin Patch in the REF garden.  There are still many Tomato’s to be picked…Skylar and Madison have been up to the challenge!  Many thanks to Leslie Kamptner our dear family friend and REF boarder for planting yet another beautiful garden this year!!  I am always a bit sad to see summer come to an end…but I’m beginning to get excited for the upcoming Holiday Season!

 

 

In Memory of My Lucky Star – Lukie

My Lucky Star (aka Lukie) was laid to rest on Thursday August 25th.  He was cared for by Leslie Kamptner for over 2 decades and lived a full and prosperous life.  In 2003 I was introduced to Lukie while still training at Gold Creek.  I met this amazing woman Leslie; who had a special pony she cared for in Bridle Trails.  When it was time for Leslie to purchase a horse…I knew we would need to find an exceptional home for Lukie.  I was in the process of building my lesson program and offered to do an evaluation on Lukie and see if he was a good fit.  I remember meeting him for the first time at the Bridle Trails Big Arena.  I fell in love immediately!!  He was well into his teen years and did not know his lead changes…but I knew he was going to be perfect.  Leslie allowed me to do a care lease with Lukie and we eventually bought her horse Willow.  Lukie was amazing with the kids, jumped around like a pro…and yes; he even learned to do his flying lead changes!!!  In 2004-2005 Lukie showed in the short stirrup division; with great success.  Lukie continued to teach young kids to ride and jump and was always such a pleasure to have in the barn.  In 2010 we decided it was time for Lukie to “officially” retire and live out his days at Rider’s Edge Farm.  He did this by taking daily walks with Leslie through the Farrel Mcwhirter Horse Park, teaching ground-work to both kids and adults and enjoying daily turnout in our grass fields.  I feel so grateful to have met Leslie and Lukie and am honored he was able to enjoy his last days here at our farm.  Lukie will truly be missed!!

Rest in peace “Lukie Man”

 

Good to be home!!

It feels great to be back home at Rider’s Edge Farm…after 3 full weeks of vacation, The Evergreen Classic as well as a successful show at Thunderbird Show Park!

Opus One and Elyssa Armstrong as well as Macy and Leslie Kamptner attended both the prestigious Evergreen Classic and Thunderbird Horse Show these last 2 weeks in August. Opus One has demonstrated he can be successful in the Jumpers, Hunters as well as the Equitation divisions. I am so excited to see him maturing into such a wonderful show horse for a great Lessee such as Elyssa Armstrong.

Macy attended her first two horse shows these last two weeks…and has already acceded our expectations of her in an amazingly short amount of time. Macy’s owner Liz Moscaret is looking to sell her to a good show home where she is eligible to compete in the 2012 Baby Green Division. Leslie Kamptner did an outstanding job showing Macy in a few Flat Classes at Thunderbird…winning a 2nd place! We are excited to watch Macy grow with her future owner!

I am happy to be back at the barn to work with my two foster horses; Maximus and Flynn. They are both doing fantastic and I am excited to get back to riding Maximus and ride Flynn for the first time.

Opus One and Elyssa Armstrong are planning to attend the Jeff Cook Clinic at the new horse show park in Cle Elum as well as we have Opus One, Watch It Dance with Leslie Kamptner and Macy attending the NW Autumn Finals.

I will keep you posted on how the next few weeks unfold.

Maximus and Flynn Ryder Update

Hi REF Community

1. “Bay Horse” name change…based on popular demand we will be calling him “Flynn”.   His eventual show name would be “Flynn Ryder”!!  I think it’s a great fit!

2. “Flynn” has been doing great these last few days with Tanya…as soon as she feels he has slimmed down enough to wear her Western Saddle they will be out riding!!

3. Maximus and I have had 2 rides and it has gone great!! Many thanks to Tanya for her training as I was prepared for him to be less willing to go forward and harder in the mouth. She has done a fantastic job! We will continue to work on his social skills in the arena as well as around the barn…as he still thinks he needs to be dominate towards the geldings and has a bit too much interest in the mares. 🙂  I am very proud of his great progress.

Again, thank you for your continued support here at REF!!

Have a great weekend!

Vanessa