Ride Like a Girl: Audree Taylor on Wholeness

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Riding makes me feel free and confident. When I’m out with my horse there are no bullies, the curl in my hair doesn’t matter and neither does the style of my clothes. No one can make fun of me or make me feel small. When I ride I get to bond with a huge animal that will always love and protect me.

If someone told me I rode like a girl, I would smile because that’s exactly how I want to ride. Beautiful. Graceful. Determined. Better. That’s what comes to mind.

Riding makes me feel whole.

 

– Audree Taylor, 11 years old, Skinner Performance Horses

Ride Like a Girl: The Ones to Watch Out For

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Riding like a girl doesn’t mean riding poorly. Being told to ride like a girl means to ride smart, aggressive and gritty, all while looking professional doing it. Because not many people can make running a 1100 pound animal around three tight turns look easy, and the ones that are the best at it, and the ones that I look up to the most, are girls.

Riding like a girl means that you’re capable of rising above the pressure you face to accomplish a goal, win a race, or even set a record. Doing anything it takes to win, and to stay on top? That’s riding like a girl.  Because not everyone is willing to put the time, effort, restless nights and long days, it takes to rising above all the others and becoming one of the best. Those who do are the ones to watch out for. Those are the ones that find a way to accomplish their goals no matter what, and no matter how long it takes.

Because riding like a girl isn’t being inferior, it’s doing everything in your power to be the best.

 

-Katherine Quast

Riding Made Me: Lindsey Nordick on Working Her Way to Success

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Riding made me more determined and humble.

I run a full-service equine training facility. We take in around 8-10 young horses a month. I am determined to have a successful training business and that doesn’t happen by wishing and hoping it would happen. It happens by being a determined human and reaching toward those goals one step at a time, little by little, every single day. It happens because I wake up with a goal, get up, and kick butt all day long. There is no slacking in my life and there never has been. I am a huge advocate for working hard for what you want.

Building my business was challenging at first. Like every other self-employed person, I started from the bottom and worked my way up. I’d take in any horse for training–those horses the accomplished trainers turned down for good reason, usually the unstarted 10-year-old problem horses.  I rode the rejects from other trainers for a good year and made them into quality horses. Soon, I began to get nicer horses into training, and now I’m very selective on what comes into training at our farm.  I had to be determined to see the light at the end of the tunnel during that first year, knowing if I could get those difficult ones started would help me build my resume. I got through that trial period of the up-and-coming trainer and now I can be selective.  

At my facility, Rush Meadow Farm Performance Horses, determination runs at an all-time high. What does that look like? It looks like riding every single day, every holiday, and in any kind of weather Mother Nature throws at us here in northern Minnesota.  Horses need to be worked and cared for daily, even when you don’t feel like doing anything besides sleeping all day.  You have to get up and take care of business. Getting 10 horses plus some of my own ridden can be draining, but somehow I get it done every day.  If I lacked determination, I’d have a lot of unhappy clients.

A certain horse I own, Patsy, has taught me so much humility.  Just last weekend, we smoked a run–it was one of the nicest runs we’ve ever made. Later that day for our second run in the buckle series, the wheels fell off. We knocked two barrels and I pulled up on the way home because she was pulling on me and taking advantage.  She’s been my problem child since the minute I bought her.  The only horse who’s ever made me want to sell one because I can’t figure out their quirks. Usually, I can get on a horse and have them pegged and know how to fix their issues within a ride or two. Not this mare. She challenges me every day and I love her to pieces for that. She keeps me learning and wanting to improve.  

Humility–riding teaches me that every day. Just when I think I have a certain young horse figured out they throw me for a loop. I question my own abilities some days.  Then the next day, they ride better than they ever have and I’m back on cloud nine.  I know as soon as you’re at the top, the next day you can be right at the bottom again. I aim to always stay humble and kind, no matter what I’ve accomplished in my career. I’ve never been the type to jump up and down and cry when I win something, but more of the type to go give my horse an extra scratch and thank them for letting me be their passenger.

Lindsay Nordick from Detroit Lakes, MN, owns Rush Meadow Farm Performance Horses, a full-service training facility.  They emphasize creating a correct, soft, willing, honest, and well-exposed horse.  

Solving Digestive Problems with Daily Gold

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It’s what we all dread.  I walked into my horse Tina’s stall to do the morning feed before turnout and there was no poop.  None.  She’d come in from turnout late last night.  It was now 6 am.  I called the vet.  He said it would be about an hour.  

I was scared and couldn’t think what to do, so I  got a tube of Redmond’s Daily Gold clay and gave it to her.  I gave her another tube 20 minutes later and another 20 minutes after that. Before long, the vet walked in…just as she was pooping.  Whew!  

I love Tina.  She knows when people are sad.  She will go stand by them.  When I lost my Thoroughbred, she literally wrapped herself around me and stood that way for over an hour while I cried.  It was good to give back.  

 

Santos is a retired Heeler.  He won a lot of money and was National Runner-up before he was injured and had to retire.  He was donated to our non-profit equine therapy program and changed from a Heeler to a Healer.  

Santos has diabetes and drinks up to 8 gallons of water a night.  He also always has diarrhea.  I started feeding him Daily Gold every day.  After about a week, I noticed he had only had about 3 gallons of water one night.  I checked him. He seemed to be ok.  I also noticed his poops were firm. (Are you as obsessed with poop as I am? I would never have thought this of myself before horses.) Surprisingly, if I give Santos 2 scoops of Daily Gold each day in his supplements, he does better with his diabetes.  Who would have thought?  

 

-Jolene Green

Riding Made Me: Jec Ballou on Mindfulness and Accountability

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Even for those of us who describe ourselves as firmly connected to reality, our tethers to a calm, realistic state can become frayed during everyday life. For numerous reasons, we often experience our bearings altered, our perceptions skewed. This is when a give a sigh of gratitude for horses. Riding has made me more grounded.

It has done this by requiring that I possess two particular traits on a daily basis: mindfulness and accountability. I would argue that when a person practices these, she is the best version of herself. But without horses, it is pretty hard to cultivate them.

Consider mindfulness, for example. In the course of our lives, becoming distracted or frazzled or fatigued is a norm. But where horses are involved, there often is no room for these other states. There is only room for paying very close attention to every moment, staying calm, and being ready with the right response to your environment. To do anything well with horses, we have to focus and concentrate. We simply cannot wander off in distractions. Both for safety reasons as well as respect for the horse, we have to stay present with 100 percent of our attention.

When a person experiences this in enough moments throughout a day, it spreads throughout the rest of her life. It becomes more attainable and consistent. And I can only pause and smile when I think what a gentler place the world might be if we were all a bit more mindful.

Or what might the world look like if we were all more accountable? Riding and training horses reiterates this trait for a person every single moment. When something is not going well in the training or care of a horse, I have to stop and ask myself why not. What am I not getting quite right? When during a ride, the mood or comfort of the horse changes under me, I must stop and assess what I botched. Tempting as it is to point a finger elsewhere, there is nowhere else to point it where horses are concerned.

They mirror back to us the spirit in which they are cared, the health and comfort they either are or are not provided. No conscious person can ignore the reflection of that mirror. Sure, it can be sobering, but it also prevents any of us from getting caught up in delusional thinking or ‘quick fixes.’ It keeps us tethered to our own individual integrity and honesty. It helps us respect other horse professionals.

Perhaps I’ve made the case that if more of humanity were mindful and accountable, the world might realize a better version of itself. This just might be true if even more people rode horses. At the very least, they would undoubtedly be more grounded.

How Daily Gold Helped Relieve One Horse’s Ulcers and Stress

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I have been feeding the Redmond Daily Gold to my primary Gelding, Ace, for at least 4 years and love it as much now as I did when I first started it!

About 4 years ago I moved my horse, Ace, to a new pasture due to some life changes. He did not handle it well. He dropped weight because he was a very hard keeper and was stressed. He ended up with ulcers. After the initial treatment for the ulcers I still didn’t notice any improvements with him, so a friend suggested that I try the Redmond Daily Gold to see if it would help. I was desperate to help Ace feel better and ordered that day. Within a short time, Ace’s attitude was back to normal and I could see that he was gaining weight back. With the Redmond Daily Gold, I got my happy healthy horse back and he’s been on it since! Daily Gold not only helped Ace’s tummy, but I also noticed that he was calmer at the gate when we competed, wanted to run in every time, and was back to loving his job.

Now Ace continues to love his job and is never gate sour, but rather has a hard time waiting for his turn to go. I am so thankful for the Redmond Daily Gold; it gave me my Ace back happy and healthy!

 

-Stephanie Schelonka

Want to learn more about ulcers and stress?

Six Things To Do To Help Your Horse Through the Winter

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Winter is coming, and in some higher elevations it may feel like it has already arrived.  Here in Heber, Utah, we are at 5500 ft and this morning the icicles were hanging off of the pasture water wheels like frozen knives. I really feel for our horses. Even though it’s said horses can cope with temperatures down to -40°, they must be cold.

Horses are incredible creatures, and as winter approaches, they can naturally adapt to the changing environment to increase their defenses against the harsh weather. They will add some extra body fat for warmth and grow a thick coat with which they can fluff up to withstand the chill. Our horses can also manage their blood flow, pooling the majority in their core and vital organs and allowing their lower legs to tolerate the cold. This enables them to stand on ice or snow. If you have ever felt their almost frozen ears in mid winter it’s clear they can handle their cold extremities. Nevertheless, even though they adapt well and we may not be riding, we cannot ignore them during the winter. They need us to do some things that they can’t.

Here are the six things you can do to help your horse through the winter.

1.Tend to their hooves – Ensure they can dry their hooves off and have a dry place to stand. Wet hooves can lead to rot and infection, especially when left for long periods. Hooves grow slower in cold, but still need maintenance and checking on. Take his metal shoes off and trim him every 6-8 weeks. Pick out his hooves and make sure they are clean with no bacteria or rotting deep in the crevasses of the frog. When we give the hooves attention, we can catch any potential problem early and have him happy and ready to ride in the spring.

2.Ask your vet about blanketing – Your instinct may be to place a blanket on your horse when the temperatures dip, but not all horses need or benefit from one. In some cases, putting covers on prevents them from growing a thick winter coat and doesn’t enable them to regulate their own temperature.  Place your hand on their neck under their mane on the coldest mornings, and you will see that it is a radiator of warmth. That said, some horses absolutely need to be blanketed. Let them grow out their shaggy warm coats and talk to your vet before deciding whether or not to blanket.

3.Provide a run-in for protection from the wind and rain – A run-in will enable your horse to take refuge and stay dry, sheltered from the driving wind and rainstorms. Keep it open so they can seek shelter when needed and still have the freedom to saunter out and bask in the winter sunshine at will. Penning them in the stall has its own issues as the air is often still and cold, and there is less heat from sunlight available. It’s possible during dry, cold conditions that stables (box stalls) can often be colder than standing outside.

4.Feed them a little extra every day – Our horses burn a lot of calories just trying to stay warm and may need a little more feed to provide energy for that. Burning a lot of calories without additional feed will result in a miserable winter and a thinner horse who is less happy and healthy.

5. Keep your horses hydrated – Place a heater in their water tub to prevent it from freezing. Horses don’t like to drink water that is too cold, and this will warm the water just enough to help them drink. Dehydration is a significant issue in winter with our horses not moving much, giving them no incentive to drink. A good salt lick will help give them the trigger to drink. The rock licks are better than the blocks. You can buy good ones these days that hang on a rope that keep them out of the mud and rain.  A good electrolyte mix, such as Redmond’s Rein Water, that you can mix in their water is a great option to encourage them to drink and supply them the minerals and electrolytes they need.

6. Keep Up the Exercise – Get his blood flowing, raise his core temperature, reduce his boredom, and keep him healthy by exercising him. Riding during these months is a great opportunity to give him some attention, check his attitude and demeanor, and retain good contact, communication, and a strong relationship with him. It is also a great time to check and ensure he is drinking enough and is not dehydrated, and to brush him down and clean him off so he is not covered in mud, as that would prevent his coat from regulating his temperature and helping him fluff up to stay warm.

Do these six things to help your horse through the winter and you may be surprised how much easier the cold season is on both of you.

Can My Horse Overeat Salt?

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Once in a while, you’ll come across a horse that has a large appetite for salt. They just won’t leave it alone.  Whether it’s salt blocks, salt rocks, or loose salt, some horses just keep eating it–sometimes even biting at it. The question then arises: can a horse overeat salt?  

This is a question we have heard from horse owners for decades. We have been in the salt business for a lot of years, and we have yet to see a case of a horse over-consuming salt, although in rare cases, salt toxicosis can happen. Symptoms include colic, diarrhea, frequent urination, and general weakness. A horse displaying these signs should be seen by a vet immediately. Salt is water-soluble, so generally speaking, as long as a horse has constant access to fresh, clean water, the horse will naturally balance salt intake by drinking water and their body will flush it out. Hence on the Redmond packaging, we always advise you to keep water available at all times.  

With that said, there could be some downsides to letting your horse constantly binge on salt.  

First, the horse’s stall might tend to be messy because increased salt consumption leads to increased water consumption, which results in an increase in urination and a messier stall.

Second, you could be spending more on mineral salt than you need to spend.  Just because your horse has a huge appetite for salt doesn’t mean they need all of that savory goodness. Most of that over-consumed salt and your investment will pass through the horse and end up in the bedding or on the ground.

Last of all, horses that spend too much of their day licking salt could end up with a sore mouth – not something we need when we are wanting to insert a bridle bit. Not something we want for the well-being of our horses.  

So, what to do with that salt-aholic horse?  

Overeating salt can be a sign of boredom. Make sure your horse is getting enough exercise and time to roam. That turnout time can help them find other ways to satisfy their impulse to chew. A toy or another enrichment to their stall may be helpful as well.  

You might consider taking away the free choice salt option and changing to a measured feeding of Redmond Rock Crushed.  Two scoops a day will do it for most horses with an average level of activity.  By daily measuring in the salt, either with the feed or in a pan by itself, you control the amount of mineral salt your pony consumes.  This way, your horse gets the salt she needs, and you keep a cleaner stall, save a little money, and have a happier horse…and rider.  

Ride Like a Girl: Finding Your Inner Alpha

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I love horses, don’t you? I mean I REALLY love horses. I love them so much, I have ten of them! Feeding them is the first thing I do in the morning. Checking on them is the last thing I do at night, “just to make sure . . .”

This is a surprise to everyone in my life because I was 53 when I got talked into going for a trail ride and found a passion I didn’t know I had. However, because I found a passion didn’t mean I found knowledge or understanding. I was afraid to go into their “cages,” as I called them. I didn’t know what to feed them or how to clean up after them. I jumped every time they moved too fast. (Well, sometimes I still do that.) I needed to learn how horses “worked”.

Have you ever watched an alpha walk through the herd to food? They walk in a straight line, moving all the other horses out of their way. If the horses in their path don’t move, first they look at them, then they push with their nose, then they pin their ears and if that isn’t enough, the horse in their path gets bit or kicked. Why am I talking about this? I’m a therapist, and most of the young girls/women that come to see me are like the horses that get pushed out of the way. They are sweet, kind, gentle women or young women, that haven’t found their inner “alpha”. Natural horsemanship helped me find my inner alpha–one I didn’t know I didn’t have until I tried to do ground work with a 1,400 pound paint quarter horse. He is my herd’s alpha. Learning to be his alpha and at the same time preserving the relationship and be fair, not abusive or wimpy, not timid or angry, either, was (and continues to be) an amazing journey.

As I continued to spend time just sitting on the fence, observing the horses, I saw how the alpha mare lifted her leg at the mini, but didn’t follow through. Not so much with all the big horses that got in her path. And I thought, “Horses have changed my life so much, how can I help them do that for others?” I found a form of Equine Therapy that fit for me. I became a natural horsemanship instructor. And I found a way to help girls and women who were “too nice” in their life to tap into their inner alpha appropriately. In my experience, people are born timid or aggressive. Appropriate assertiveness is something that has to be learned. Bringing our life up or bringing it down to match the situation is learned through a remarkable process of developing self-discipline and inner confidence. Horses are wonderful partners in helping us learn this skill.

Tristan’s mom came to me saying that her daughter’s first word was “horse”. Tristan’s passion only grew stronger over time, until her parents couldn’t bear to hear one more prayer asking for a horse. That’s when they came looking for me. They couldn’t afford a horse, but they could afford lessons. Tristan was so sweet. She wanted her horse to be her friend. She knew how to feed carrots, but she didn’t know how to keep a horse from getting pushy and mugging her for treats. That turned into her first lesson. As Tristan and I continued to work together, our relationship became strong enough that I could talk to her about her “timidity/inner wimp.” She was a good sport. She didn’t get offended. She learned. Last week I watched her get respect on the ground with her horse and ride a friend’s horse through a little “bucking” episode with a look of fixed determination on her face. I was so proud of her, I cried. She couldn’t stop smiling.

Recently she said, “Jo, I’m feeling timid bridling this horse.” I was proud of her, again. She knew she was timid, she asked for help, and she hung in there with me until she could do the task with confidence. Another time, I watched her get off a horse during the middle of a group class. One of the girls laughed at her for getting off. She blew it off. She had come to respect her own inner voice that said that horse was fixin’ to get out of control, and she cared more about what she thought than what the other girl did. I was proud again. Yesterday, 12-year-old Tristan taught her two little sisters and her mom how to keep a horse out of their space, appropriately matching the horse’s energy to stay the alpha. I’m still smiling. Session after session, I watch the horses help the young girls that come in my barn’s doors find their inner alpha. The girls keep their gentle hearts and their respect for the horse and the partnership while they find their respect for themselves and their girl power as well.

I LOVE horses, don’t you?

-Jolene Green, LCSW, PARELLI Instructor, EAGALA certified

Riding Made Me: Alyssa Fleming on 3 Ways Horses Improved Her Character

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Riding has always been a big part of my life. I realize that I would not be the person that I am today without all of the things that riding has taught me, and ultimately, all of the things that riding made me. While riding’s made me many things, the ones that resonate the most are more grateful, more resilient, and more driven.

 

Riding made me more grateful.

At age 16, after years and years of constant and tireless begging, I convinced my parents to help me buy my first horse. I owned him for a little over 3 years until a freak accident in the pasture took him away forever. He and I had been through a lot together, and he was my absolute best friend. So when he was taken so suddenly, my world was shattered and my head was filled with doubt. Had I rewarded him after our last ride? Did I give him that extra treat before I turned him out? Was I too hard on the both of us after a bad round in the jumping ring?

I couldn’t change any of my “lasts” with him, but I could learn from those feelings and apply them to the rest of my life. This taught me to work to see the best in any situation and always find something to be happy about. My mare and I knock a barrel at a big race? I give her a pat anyway because she still tried hard for me, and we’ll do better next time. I aim to always be thankful for the blessings in my life, especially the everyday little things that other people may miss.

Riding made me more resilient.

When I first started my mare on the barrel pattern, all I heard was how we would “never make it past the 3D” or how “barrels will just be too hard for your horse to excel at.” But I knew better. My horse loved her job and so did I, so I kept pushing on. Now, in only our second competitive season, we’re placing at rodeos and running in the 1D with some of the best of them! All because I didn’t let the naysayers determine what my horse and I could or could not do. The only person that limits me is me. I learned not to be afraid to ask for help, and not to be afraid to go above and beyond other people’s expectations for me. You’d be surprised what a little bit of stubbornness, hard work, and time will do for you and your horse.

 

Riding made me more driven.

Once I discovered my love for riding, nothing could stop me from doing it. Riding makes me feel complete, and I am always eager to keep building and improving my skills. I will never know everything there is to know about horseback riding, and I love that. I strive to always take away something new from every ride, and I try to attend as many lessons and clinics as I possibly can. There is no such thing as a rider that is too well-rounded. Everyone has something that they can teach me – the best thing I can do is listen.

When I feel like I need a new perspective, I take a lesson from someone in another discipline. If I’m contemplating skipping that long conditioning session I had planned for today, I remember that I might be taking a break today, but my competition won’t be. There is always something new to learn, and there is always a higher level to reach, but it’s up to me and me alone to push myself to keep improving.  

I could go on forever about all of the things that riding has made me over the years and how much it has changed me, but when it comes down to it, I can sum everything up pretty simply: Riding made me more…and for that, I am so incredibly thankful.

-Alyssa Fleming