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!


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!



Maximus Update!

Maximus has made tremendous strides these last 2 weeks here at Rider’s Edge Farm!!  Tanya has been diligently working Maximus on his ground manors and ride-ability.  Today was the 2nd time she rode him…and he walk, trot cantered in the round pen while remaining calm and relaxed!  We are extremely pleased with his progress and look forward to moving his training from the smaller confines of the round pen to our large indoor arena.  Tanya has exposed Maximus to the indoor, the mirrors as well as the occasional traffic from other sport-horses doing their work.  He seems to handle the traffic nicely and will soon be ready to ride in the arena as well.

Thank you to the REF community for their continued support with the fostering of Maximus!  We also would like to thank Amanda Kaplan for her generous donation of Adequan as we know Maximus will greatly appreciate it!

Stay tuned for more information regarding Maximus’s progress at Rider’s Edge Farm.  As always we are looking for sponsorship to help off-set the ever growing costs associated with caring for Maximus.  If you or someone you know is looking for an amazing opportunity to sponsor a kind-hearted and athletic foster horse please contact Vanessa Howard via Facebook or through our website at… or


Beautiful Friday!!

Yesterday was a busy Friday!  I began my day with the sun out and the ground beginning to dry!!  It’s amazing how the sun has become a direct link to how the day can go.  I was up bright and early ready to work with my first horse of the day.  He too was excited about the beautiful day…so he was a bit fresher than planned but who could blame him?  I certainly didn’t.  He eventually settled down into our typical morning routine and finished excellent!

Then I was off on my first of I imagine many visits to “Hope For Horses” an amazing non-profit equine welfare organization founded in 2001.  I had the honor of meeting the staff, owners as well as the dedicated volunteers at the barn…but most importantly the animals.  There was a large pig snuggled up in a horse cooler taking her morning nap, 2 mini donkey’s who just arrived from the Nordstrom’s Sale, Abby (grey Hinnie), Brody (black mini horse), Josie (Chestnut mare), Sugar (Appaloosa mare) , Cantour and Zigi (2 large Sport-horse type  Warmblood geldings).  All the horses were extremely well cared for, in good weight, willing to be social with me as well as their fellow farm-mates and enjoying the much needed sunny day! I really enjoyed my visit and look forward to many more in the next few weeks.

Then it was off to take my beloved Golden Retriever Rocco to the vet…as he has degenerative arthritis in his low back…which requires me to learn how to give an inter-muscular shot! I have done it with my horses…but never to my dog. Luckily Rocco was the perfect patient, so I should be able to give the future shots at home.

I headed back to REF where I was able to work one more horse and give Opus and Elyssa their lesson. They were both super through the gymnastic…which always makes for a great day!

Zach and the girls picked me up at the barn and we were off to catch the ferry to Treasure Island. We are enjoying a beautiful Saturday on the beach digging for clams, fishing off the dock and eventually taking a ride in my brother’s new boat!

I am off to join the party and hope everyone is having an outstanding weekend!

Much Needed Spring Day At REF!!

Redmond Horse Boarding "Have it your way"Today was literally a breath of fresh air!  I woke up to the sun being out and happy horses grazing in their pastures.  I can’t emphasizes enough how beautiful and peaceful the farm was on this bright Spring day!

I spent the day exercising our REF horses, giving much needed baths and hand walking through our horse friendly neighborhood.  I didn’t realize a simple walk could turn into an expedition: whether it be intercepting the FedEx semi truck, or the adorable mini pony at my neighbor’s house.

I enjoyed talking with friends at the farm, teaching my evening lesson and spending quality time with Zach and our 2 girls in the ever growing garden.

I have to say…Zach and I are really enjoy living and working at Rider’s Edge Farm.  We have been spending a great deal of time redeveloping our REF website as well as learning more about how we can best support our awesome community of horses and owners.

I know the weather forecast does not hold much hope for additional Spring days…but the taste of Spring today was a much needed treat!!


Horse Trailer Covers – What You Must Know Before Buying Them

If you own a horse and enjoy taking your horse out for rides through different destinations such as camping trails,the beach, or other various destinations then you understand the importance of having a horse trailer. You want to ride your horse on so many different trails but the only way to get your horse to all of these different locations is with a horse trailer. What happens to your trailer when it is not in use though?

Horse trailers can be very expensive as anyone who owns a horse or enjoys riding a horse already knows. If you have already invested a great deal of your hard earned money in to a trailer then you know that a trailer cover is needed. The trailer cover is going to protect your trailer from harsh weather and elements. It is also great for protecting your horse if needed as well, just while the horse is away from its stall of course.

What kind of trailer for your horse do you own as you need to know this information in order to choose the cover that is right for you. If you own a goose neck trailer then the cover will most likely be more expensive simply because goose neck horse trailers have a tendency to be a bit larger than the regular trailers.

There are many different options to choose from when searching for a cover for the trailer. The best option is usually what is refereed to as a “universal fit”. The universal fit horse trailer covers are made for regular trailers and goose neck trailers and are made to fit any and all different types of trailers. This is because they are made very large but can be tightened to fit around the trailer ensuring that it is a perfect match every time.

As always when searching for different trailer covers the best possible option is almost always online. If you search the internet for horse trailer covers then you can almost always find covers that are just right for your trailer as well as finding the best deals and bargains. So search the web and compare prices and you will have your new cover in no time at all.

Article Source: