Program Note

Greetings Loyal Readers: just a quick note to let you know that I’ll be taking a break from my equestrian career to work on a couple of projects that are long overdue. Hope to be back in the saddle in a couple of months or so.

Meanwhile, I’ll post whenever I happen to do something horse related. I plan to go to Karin’s first vaulting competition at the end of May as a casual observer, photographer and perhaps parking attendant. No doubt I’ll have something to say about that.


One on, One off

For Lesson #116, I chose to ride Windy again. I had some one-handed riding in mind and Windy doesn’t seem to care how many I use. By employing this advanced form of riding, I am able to take partial selfies such as these:


It was a cold, but sunny day so we decided to venture out and see what’s what. Gerry was on Habakuk and Karin rode Charley.

From the onset, Windy and I kept falling behind. One-handed riding can be slower if you don’t do it just right.


As we entered the wooded area, we came across a number of questionable patches of poorly defined puddles and soft spots, treacherous enough for two hands. I tried to anticipate these and tuck my camera away before any real trouble started, but I wasn’t always successful. Most of the time I managed to get the thing into my coat’s breast pocket just as we were emerging from the trouble area.

Several times Windy walked under small branches that she fit beneath nicely, but I had to use my camera hand to push them away to defend my face. One rather large, but weak branch actually came off in my hand. I couldn’t just let it fall haphazardly least it catch Windy on the flank, so I carried it with my camera for a moment or two not really wanting it all that much. The thing was a good 3 inches in diameter and at least 6 feet long. I really wanted to take a selfie of me holding it as Windy ambled on, but if I was going to do any zero handed riding it would be to push additional branches away from my face. I could have just rotated it 90 degrees and carried it like a joust, but I didn’t want to give Karin any ideas. I managed to toss the thing far enough away that it didn’t disturb poor Windy.

Meanwhile, Habakuk and Gerry stopped periodically to engage in some kind of peculiar bouncing dance. I don’t think any of this was Gerry’s idea. Windy and I stopped and allowed the two ample space for whatever it was they were doing.

Just as we were getting back to the house-barn environs, Habakuk made a particularly effective series of moves and off goes Gerry. When the trouble had started, I put my camera away and put two hands on the reins. I didn’t know what part we would be taking in the festivities, but whatever it was, I would be using two hands to do it.

After putting Gerry on the ground, Habakuk bolted across an open field. He would have looked prettier without his saddle on. There is something inherently unsettling about seeing a saddled horse gallop across an open field.

I could feel Windy tug a little as if it at least occurred to her to join Habakuk in his mad dash. I immediately dismounted. If Windy really wanted to follow Big H, she would be doing it without me.

Gerry insisted he was all right. In fact, he said he was proud to finally experience his First Fall. Karin always says you can’t be a real equestrian until you fall once. Of course, after my First Fall, Karin upped my number ex post facto to five.

She also wanted to know if I got a video of Gerry’s fall. I wanted to ask her if she was planning on including it in the promo video they are putting together for the place, but instead I merely explained that both my hands were busy at the time.


A Ride in the Woods

Jenny and I recently spent some time in Florida visiting daughter Jamie and son-in-law Kyle. I didn’t get a chance to ride any horses and I’m not sure they would have let me anyway. But we did get a peek at some interesting creatures that you rarely see at home.

There was this iguana guarding the middle of the street.


In what is sure to be an award winning nature photograph, you can see the fin of a dolphin if you look closely.


I wasn’t too upset that this big guy/girl was on the other side of the creek.


And a big ol’ manatee hanging near the legged creatures.


In any case, no lessons for me in the second half of last month. So I thought I’d share this article I wrote for The Trail Rider magazine that appeared in their Mar/April issue of 2013. It’s about my first ride on one of Karin’s horses.

A Ride in the Woods

“Trail ride” is such a pleasant sounding term. The way it rolls off your tongue with no menacing consonants like “k” or spooky letters like “x” or “q”. The two words sort of blend together – trailride – offering a mixture of agreeable associations: sunshine, fresh air, tall trees and the best companionship known to humankind.

Trailride. Such a nice word…

Unless, of course, it’s your first time on a horse in thirty years and you’ve spent the last fifty-two minutes at the edge of mortal danger and your riding instructor is using it in a sentence that you did not want to hear: “Why don’t we finish your lesson with a little trail ride?” In that case, it sounds more like: “Let’s go out into the woods and finish you off.” 

The horse Karin put me on was a Perchon-Thoroughbred mix about the size of Godzilla, but much nicer. He was definitely a good boy, who did not seem to mind the white-knuckled death grip I had on his mane for the last hour.

“Good boy, Caspian. Good boy.” 

The death grip was actually the result of an attempt to pat the horse’s neck. But my hand didn’t make it all the way and on its own accord, seized the nearest object offering any measure of comfort and security. Once there, I couldn’t convince it to leave.

I should have been less afraid. Caspian, an experienced vaulting horse, was exceptionally calm and well mannered, as any creature employed as a mobile jungle gym would have to be. Besides, since this was my first lesson, Karin chose a vaulting saddle for me use. These are saddles that come with actual handles, like they all should. There is nothing you can put on a horse that could make a new rider feel any more secure than a vaulting saddle. But that wasn’t enough. 

Foundation for a Phobia

Highlighting my apprehension was a well-founded Low Hanging Branch Phobia. When my kids were young, we went on a group ride with their cousins at a local riding stable. You know, the kind staffed and managed by horse-crazed teenaged girls. Everything was fine for the first thirty feet of the ride. And then everything wasn’t. I don’t know exactly how it started. Something about a disagreement between the two lead horses. Maybe it was an election year, I don’t remember.

Anyway, all hell broke lose. Two of the horses took off down the road, while another split into the woods, perhaps in an attempt to cut ‘em off on the other side of the trees. It’s hard to say what goes on in a horse’s brain during these situations. Probably nothing.

The horse that took off into the woods was carrying my nephew. I could see the little guy ducking branches as his freaked-out mount carried him deeper into the woods. Lucky for everyone, except my sister’s attorney, the kid was athletically inclined and able to hang on without further incident or injury. I remember thinking at the time that the boy was fortunate to still have a head.

Ever since the incident, I’ve associated trail riding with decapitation. Although, my daughter likes to point out that a low hanging branch is more likely to break your neck or crack your head open than to take it clean off.

Yeah, that’s better.

Into the Hole We Go

It’s not just the trees and branches that scare me. It’s the things hiding behind the trees. The things that both Caspian and I know are there. It’s about how the horse will react when those things jump out at us. Horses are unpredictable! People aren’t much better! 

Despite my fears, we head toward the trees. As Caspian and I follow Karin on her little pony into the woods, he behaves as if nothing is wrong. His gait is steady and calm, nonchalantly swaying with a steady rhythm. I can almost see the thought bubble above his big Baby Huey head: 

Doh-de-doh, doh-de-doh, into the woods we go-de-doh, go-de-doh… 

I should take heart in his courage, but I am unable. If the branches and things behind the trees aren’t enough, we are approaching the Dreaded Mudhole, the lowest part of the trail. Karin warns: “You’ll feel him pick up a little speed. He knows he needs to do that to make it through the mud.” 

Speed? I do not want speed. Not at all. It’s unpredictable! No, no, NO! 

The horse’s cadence quickens and his gait becomes irregular. Into the Mudhole we go! The mighty horse powers his way through it without stumbling and we surge up the hill. And the top, we emerge from the woods and back into the open! The orchestra in my head strikes up Strauss’ Thus Spake Zarathurstra (2001 Space Odyssey music) and we are in the clear. 

Caspian’s steady gait returns. 

Do-de-doh, do-de-doh, out of the woods we go-de-doh. 

That was actually… fun. 

As we return to the barn, Karin says, “Next time, lets try a little trot.” 

Trot, such a fun word.


Enter Team YAH!

Team YAH!

When Karin told the team that we would be performing at A Vaulting Connection Fest at the end of May, I assumed it would just be a demo sort of thing. You know, a kind of “see what all the cute old people are doing?” ….


Actually… make that “see what all the cute people and the one old guy are doing?”

Sorry, Pete. It’s a performer’s prerogative to pick on the coach.

But no, this was an actual competition in front of a real judge – who came all the way from Southern California – who gave real scores, that were posted in front of real people and then put somewhere on the Internet too, I think.

Well at least on one place on the Internet:

vaulting scores

I got both first and last place in the Men’s Division. Like usual.

Just from being around Karin’s Horse Connection for three years (as of June 18th, I believe) I knew that they divided these vaulting meets into “Recognized” and “Unrecognized” categories. I’m not sure which we were. Although, I think maybe they could create a third category for me: “Unrecognizable”.

My scores for the Half-Mill and Half-Flag were so low that even Scorekeeper Kevin had a hard time seeing them:


I was actually happy about my Basic Seat and Kneel scores. And all of it was just huge fun.

This was after the proceeding week in which my dread grew as the time drew near and I began to hear my coach and teammates utter words like “judge”, “scores”, “disqualification,” “you’re vaulting in those? You have to wear stretchy pants!” and the most devastating words of all: “you can’t wear your Tiger’s hat.”

“My Lions’ hat, then?”


“How about my Red Wings hat?”


“My Secretariat hat?”

“Well…um… … … NO!

Rules? We don’t need no stinkin’ rules! We’re just supposed to have fun, right?

Oh, but we did have fun.

The biggest personal shock of the day for me happened right after Pete launched me onto Avenir: instead of being nervous, I found myself absolutely loving it. Every frickin’ second of it. When Pete said it was time to get off the horse, I hesitated, almost telling him to mind his own business. I wasn’t ready for it to end.

I finally got a grasp on the sequence of moves and I just focused on showing the judge that  I knew what I was suppose to do, which is not normal for me. And then I just tried to do each the best I could.

As if I needed cues to remember the sequence – which is usually the case – that little voice inside my head became clearly audible. In fact, I could actually see The Little Voice Inside My Head. It looked like this:

The Little Voice Inside My Head

The Little Voice Inside My Head

My teammates and coach were amazing. They took great care of me every step of the way. Literally.

For the team routine on the barrel, we marched in using our little “eins, zwei, drei, I’m stook” routine that Karin taught us. We were blessed with having a second go at it, because the first time we went before the bell and you can’t go before the bell. I wanted to plead Geriatric Hearing on our behalf. Also, I didn’t know there was a bell. But the judge was strict: you people go back and do it again. I thought California Girls were supposed to be little more laid back than that. I think she just wanted to confirm that she actually saw what she thought she saw. Anyway, it worked out great because we were much better the second time.

Our freestyle barrel routine went really nice, especially considering we only practiced it twice. During the barrel routine, I had the opportunity to exhibit my brute animal strength by launching Penny onto the barrel with just one arm (behind my back!)

Brute animal strength.

Brute animal strength.

Here, Penny and Karin demonstrate good lines. I think that’s the way you say it.

vaulters on a barrel

And here, Liz, Kim and Michelle perform our Grand Finale’ Move, which finished with a “See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil” pose. Their backs were to the crowd so I’m not sure how many people saw what they were doing. But it’s good advice anyway. 

three on a barrel

We’re talking about getting some team shirts. I think we should get our names on the back of them like in football.

There is a video of us doing the barrel which I posted on my Bob the Equestrian Facebook page, if you would like to check us out. We were magnificent.

There were many highlights of the day. It was fun to watch kids do their stuff. They never cease to amaze me. Especially now. We have an album of the day on Karin’s Horse Connection Facebook page, if anyone would like to check that out as well. Good stuff!

And there were some moments during the adaptive vaulting where I had to put my camera down and just watch. It’s just keeps getting better every time I watch it. It all does.

The biggest highlight of the day for me was when Jenny and Hiliary showed up with granddaughter Aubrey.

Grandpa and Aubrey

She got some barrel time too.

toddler on a barrel

At one point she stood up on the barrel and without being coached, put her arms out to her sides. Just like the big girls she had been watching. That was so cool to see.

And now she thinks she’s a little expert or something. “Did you see Grandpa’s Half-Mill?”

laughing toddler on barrel

She got in the line up with us.

Aubrey in the line up

Helped us look for whatever we were looking for here:


It was just a great day. And the judge turned out to be a very cool California Girl after all. When it was all over, she promised to give me another blue ribbon next time if I gave her the beer I was dangling in front her. At least that’s what I thought she said. It was warm day.

I can’t wait to do it all again.

following grandpa

Big Toys

At the end of this month, Karin is hosting a Trail Mix vaulting fest. By “Trail Mix” she means different ages. And since I’m a different age, I am expected to participate.

I’m still not in shape for this. I’m emerging from winter about 20 pounds overweight and about 35 of that is in my gut. But I’m going to vault anyway.

Because it’s fun.

So Lesson #91 was all about vaulting.

And fun.

I was fortunate to have brought along my Special Designer Vaulting Socks.

Detroit Lions socks

I never vault in shoes, even when Karin says I can. I don’t want to look conspicuous. And then there’s that thing about digging into the horses back with your heels. Since the horse is already dealing with what from his perspective is a one-rider triple, I don’t want to do anything else to piss him off.

I began by warming up on the vaulting barrel.  With Karin and Charity busy with other students, this mainly consisted of me taking pictures on top of the barrel without falling off.

shoes on vaulting barrel

Detroit Tiger hat on vaulting barrlel

Since the weather was nice – the breeze was actually warm and not the freeze breeze that penetrates your clothes and skin and tries to kill you from the inside out – we got to go out into the round pen.

Prior to that, I had noticed that Karin had put wood chips all around the property as part of her annual counter-offensive against the spring mud.

wood chips by barn


dog on wood chips





sensory trail

The round pen had a particularly ominous pile. There were toys around it…

wood chips in round pen

Charity (the nice one) took me through some basic instruction that resulted in a number of undignified poses:

rider with one arm out

rider with butt off horse

For me, the wood chip pile marked the center of the ring and was useful in keeping me oriented as I did my tricky moves. For Karin the wood chip pile was an opportunity for something else.

“You have to go up it,” she announced.

“No, I am not going up it,” I informed her.

lunger on top of wood chip pile

This woman is incapable of leaving anything alone. The whole place is like her personal playground and the horses – and people – are her toys.

The great thing about vaulting is that you, the rider, don’t have to control the horse. The bad thing about vaulting is that someone else does.

So despite my protesting like a baby being born, Karin coaxed Habakuk – and thus me – up that wood chip hill.

riding up a wood chip pile

“Now put your hands up in the air!”

Hell no!” I was already feeling a little iffy with Habakuk trying to find his footing on top of the pile. No way was I going to compound the problem by putting my hands up in the air…

hands in air on top of wood chip pile

It’s like she has strings attached to your limbs or something.

“You know,” she told us as we posed for the Post Ridiculous Activity photo op…

horse with Detroit Tiger cap

mustache on horse

“I always say that the little horses like Peanut are my toys. Habakuk is like one of my big toys.”

Oh, the indignity…

It was a fun lesson.

fake blue jay in a tree

Lesson #90

muddy driveway

On the Saturday before Easter, Karin is hosting an Easter Egg Hunt party at Legacy Stables. The festivities include an “Easter Fire.” This is a bonfire that, according to tradition, symbolizes our “farewell” to Old Man Winter and sending him on his way.

I’ve already said adios to winter using my own set of words, none of which I will share here. But I may attend the Easter Fire anyway. I wouldn’t mind roasting a hot dog while pretending that the hot dog is Old Man Winter:

Burn (compound expletive deleted), burn…

Early Spring has its own challenges. For Lesson #90, the weather was downright crappy. Wind, rain, cold: the Trifecta of Outdoor Unpleasantness. The horses don’t like it either. Us mammals would be sharing the morning’s misery.

woman leading horse

But at Karin’s Horse Connection, we don’t complain about the weather. Not without someone complaining about our complaining.

And this how it was for Lesson #90. The horses were in their spring mode, which is a combination of nervous energy, displeasure with the weather and annoyance with whatever it is the bipeds want.

I just can’t deal with you now, Hu-mon. Come back in June.

We used the arena, of course. I rode Maree and Gerry was on Habakuk – who I think own each other now. Both horses were jumpy. And not the equitation over fences kind of jumpy. Any sound over 20 decibels served as an legitimate distraction and a perfectly valid reason to ignore the Hu-mon. Maree spooked at sounds that no one else could hear.

I feared Lesson #90 would feature the second involuntary dismount of my equestrian career.

I didn’t even get a chance to take any photos because Maree couldn’t tolerate the sound my little Sony camera made when I turned it on. And it’s a very pleasant sound, in my opinion.  Kind of like a cross between a harp and the noise R2D2 makes. But I could feel her tense up when I flicked the switch.

And this made me tense up.

And that made her tense up even more.

And then me tense up even more.

Then her, then me, then her. The was no end in sight!

I put the camera away.

Charity told me I needed to get rid of the tension.

“Roll your head around a little,” she advised.

“You mean while it’s still attached, right?”

“And shake your arms out a bit. Take a deep breath.”

I did these things and it seemed to help. Probably only because I thought they should.

Karin told us that when the horses get like this we have to do everything we can to get their attention on us and not on all the stuff going on around them.

“And you do that by giving them commands. A lot of commands.”

No wonder she’s such a great horseperson.

So I spent the balance of the lesson by continuously giving Maree these commands: “walk on… whoa … back, back, back…. walk on … whoa… back, back, back… walk on….” No doubt she was getting sick of me, but she mostly listened. Mostly.

Lesson #90 wasn’t one of great accomplishments and milestones. But we did survive to ride another day. A warmer, happier day.

warm ride in the sun

Vaulting Seeds

Karin is starting a Tiny Tots Vaulting program for kids ages 3-7.  Since our granddaughter Aubrey is a mere 18 months away from qualifying, I think it’s time to get prepared.

Actually, preparations were well under way last year. These included an introduction to the barrel.

baby on vaulting barrel

And an introduction to a vaulting horse.

baby looking at vaulting horse

Although the horses she’ll be vaulting on will be considerably shorter than that one. And I believe Karin is making miniature barrel for the Tiny Tots as well.

Of course, the vaulting will have to compete with other interests the child is developing.

baby looking at planet


toddler with shovel






baby Suh with ball




And she has a particular fascination with anything that has buttons.

baby with camera


baby with phone and purse

Although there have been some positive signs.

horse on child's computer

But the biggest hurdle will be Aubrey’s phone addiction. These days, we rarely see her without one plastered to the side of her face. It’s gotten to the point where she’s learning to do everything one-handed. We have no idea who she is talking to. Maybe the kindly folks at 911?

toddler on phone

Competing with all this great technology that kids have available to them is an uphill battle, but I’m encouraged by help from unexpected quarters.

The Daddle makes a horse out of Dad

They call it a “Daddle.”

The Mom takes a more traditional approach:

baby, mom on supermarket horse

Although, if Karin develops a freestyle vaulting program that includes chatting on the phone in basic seat, we’ll be all set.

Dad with stick horse

Louis’ Rainbow

We all know that Karin’s favorite word is “connection.” Almost everything she does, revolves around some kind of connection. There is the horse-human connection, of course. That’s what her business is all about. There are also professional connections, social connections and spiritual connections. For her, these distinctions are artificial and it’s really all about the same thing. Legacy Stables is simply the physical manifestation of these connections and it would not exist without them.

The following is a story about one connection that goes to the heart of what Legacy Stables means to Karin and her Legacy Stables family.

* * *

In late 2012, as Legacy Stables’ new arena was being built, Karin received an unusual suggestion:

“You should paint the arena’s posts all different colors.”

This bit of advice came from Karin’s good friend, Louis Lake.

Louis Lake

Louis Lake

Louis had to be joking, of course. You don’t do that kind of thing at a serious lesson barn.  A “rainbow” in the riding arena just wouldn’t look professional. In any case, Karin was so overwhelmed with other matters that there was no time for something as frivolous as decorating the posts in the arena. But she didn’t forget about the idea.

Karin’s connection to Louis began in early 2012, just weeks before her decision to move Karin’s Horse Connection from the Lamoreaux Ridge location to the property that would become Legacy Stables. They met through Louis’ wife, Allison, a new student of Karin’s. While Allison had her own horse and barn, she began taking lessons with Karin to enhance her riding skills and boost her confidence.

In the beginning, Louis dropped Allison off at her lessons and then left. Then, one day, as Karin puts it: “He made the mistake of getting out of his truck.”

With the move to the new property just weeks away, Karin was in desperate need of a tractor.  She found a small John Deere for sale, but she didn’t have much experience with tractors and she wasn’t sure if it was a good deal. So when Louis got out of his truck, Karin couldn’t help but notice his John Deere hat and shirt. He was obviously a big fan. Perhaps he would be able to offer her a little advice?

Louis was indeed a genuine John Deere enthusiast. And he did more than offer his opinion. He went with Karin to see the tractor. Although the tractor needed a little work – the brakes had locked up – he assured her that she was getting good deal. And then he stayed and worked on the brakes.

Since Karin did not have a way to transport the tractor, Louis offered to haul it on his flatbed trailer. But he didn’t take it to the new property right away. Instead, he took the tractor to his place for some overdue maintenance.  By the time he delivered the machine to Legacy Stables, Karin had a very nice, well functioning tractor.

man driving tractor

But Louis wasn’t done. There was a mountain of work to do on the property before Karin could bring the horses and resume giving lessons. The day Louis delivered the tractor he started working on clearing the driveway and arena area.  Then he blazed a riding trail all the way around the periphery of Legacy’s twenty-eight acres.  He loved every minute of it.


Louis was a skillful tractor operator. Without a glance, he knew exactly how deep to go with the bucket and rake. Karin was amazed at how he was able to gracefully maneuver in the tightest spots.

Louis just didn’t do the work. He also shared his expertise with Karin as she sat next to him on the tractor while he operated the machine. It brought up warm memories of Karin’s childhood in Germany when she and the other neighborhood kids begged local farmers for a ride on their tractors and the farmers would show the kids how to work the controls.

With eighteen horses, all the equipment and all the work that needed be done to prepare the property, the move from Lamoreaux to Legacy was a huge undertaking. And Louis was there every step of the way.



Just before the actual move, Karin was running dangerously low on hay. Despite a local shortage, she was able to find some at a relatively reasonable price. However, she didn’t have a way to transport it and the new property didn’t have a place to store it. Louis took care of both problems by offering the use of his flatbed trailer to move the hay and his own barn to store it until Legacy was ready.

Louis assisted Karin with the construction of the new arena by helping her deal with the parade of planners, builders and inspectors. He even accompanied her to the required meetings with the local government.  It was during this time that he suggested painting the posts in bright colors.

Louis and Allison

Karin’s favorite story about Louis is the time he rescued the entire vaulting team from a precarious situation on the Paul Henry Freeway. Karin and her team, including eight vaulters and two horses, were on their way to a competition in Ann Arbor. After Karin’s truck broke down, they found themselves stranded along the busy freeway.

Karin called AAA and they were able to take care of her truck. However, she still had two horses in a trailer, just inches off the freeway. She barely got off the road when the truck died. After several anxious moments, she called Louis and described her situation.

Within a half an hour, Louis showed up with his truck. He not only towed the team to safety, he took them all the way Ann Arbor and stayed for the entire competition. It was the first time he ever witnessed the sport being performed.

While Louis grew up on a farm and rode horses in his youth, as an adult he was never much into riding. Karin changed that by introducing him to Vinnie, her super-smooth gaited Thoroughbred. Louis took to Vinnie right away. He soon began to accompany Allison on trail rides. The couple cherished their time together on horseback. Karin had reintroduced Louis to the human-horse connection.

Allison and Maree, Louis and Vinnie, Karin and Caspian.

Allison and Maree, Louis and Vinnie, Karin and Caspian.

* * *

In February of 2013, Louis was diagnosed with a terminal form of cancer.  He was recently put on Hospice.

During these months, as Louis and Allison have adjusted to the realities of the disease, Karin has been with them every step of the way. She visits several times a week.

On Karin’s visits, she routinely brings Louis some kind of gift. At first, she brought food, but as the disease progressed this was no longer an option. Once, she brought him a small polished stone with the word “Joy” written on it. For Karin, the stone is symbolic of a verse from Matthew (28:20), a reminder from Jesus that “Surely I am with you always, to the end of the age.”


“You can put it in your pocket as a reminder that God is always with you,” Karin told him.

Recently, Karin was in a hurry and forgot to bring Louis’ gift. She also didn’t have a chance to shower and change her clothes after working in the barn. She brought with her the rich aroma of the barn and horses. She apologized to Louis for this.

Louis told Karin that she smelled wonderful to him. He hadn’t been able to get out to the barn for months and he deeply missed that fragrance.

“I realized later,” Karin shared, “that was my gift to him that day.”

Karin has decided to take Louis suggestion and paint the posts.  The work will be done by her students, mostly the kids.  And soon there will be a rainbow in the Legacy Stables arena after all.

Karin is clear about the meaning: “This will be Louis’ legacy here.”

Bring it On

Last week’s Lesson #79 was put on hold until later this week.  I missed last week due to the developing bowel habits of a 16-week-old girl. This girl:

Australian Shepard puppy

Jenny and I got Zoey from a shelter run by the Humane Society. She’s an Australian Shepard mix. Mixed with what, we’re not really sure.  She’s a dog.

Outside? I think?

Outside? I think? Do what?

Anyway, I was ready to leave for my riding lesson, but I couldn’t go until she did. We’re still in the process of learning what the Inside and Outside are good for. Individuals belonging to this species instinctively do not wish to soil the den (which I now define as the entire inside of my house), but that doesn’t always stop the young ones from getting Inside and Outside confused at times.

Of course, with the change of seasons upon us, Outside and Inside has been a major topic of discussion among us humans. Many curse the impending change.



Oh yes, we do curse it. We don’t even want to utter the word. Instead, we say “The ‘S’ Word,” thus granting the substance the same Dare Not Speak It impact as the customary “S” word and Lord Voldemort.

To hell with that. I’m going to say it:


Snow, snow, snow.

Snow, snow, snow.

Snow, snow, snow.

Not only will I say it, I will welcome it. I’m taking my cue from Karin, who dismisses the notion that we have to experience winter as some kind of spirit crushing demon that chases us indoors and holds us hostage until baseball season.

Instead, Karin turns Snow into our friend. Like this:

KHC winter program photo

And this:

girl with pony

And does this look like we’re cowering in our hovels?

riding upside down on a horse

To be sure, riding can be problematic during the cold months. It’s about footing more than anything else. Horses do not do well on the ice.

But, experienced horse people are very sensitive to the quality of the footing and have a pretty good handle on when it’s not safe enough to ride outside. On those days, we will go into The Great Indoors.  That’s not so bad, either.

arena heater

Besides, as long as we don’t get confused about what the Outside is good for, the retreat will always be temporary.

dog in the winter sun

The Home Front

While Karin and Leoni were way out west with A Vaulting Connection at the AVA Nationals, the fate of Legacy Stables was in the hands of Karin’s helper, Charity and her sidekick, Kim.

Charity has been working for Karin for several weeks now and has shown herself to be quite capable around the horses. She’s also good with the books and good with the kids. And she can sing.


Charity took over for Kathy, who retired earlier this year. Of course, Kathy’s idea of retirement is to show up at the barn and work anyway.

Kim is one of Karin’s newer students, but she already appears comfortable in the saddle and confident around the horses. She won a blue ribbon in Showmanship at the Barry County 4-H Fair earlier this year.  I think with Maree.  Kim is entering a vet tech program in the fall.

Kim on Caspian

Kim on Caspian

With both Karin and Leoni gone, I thought Lesson #72 would involve no work. The thought pleased me. I can be lazy as hell, if allowed. In fact, I think it’s my natural state.

Easy day for us, Goldie!

Easy day for us, Goldie!

However, as Goldie and I were warming up in the arena, Charity told me “get those heels down.”

 Oh, so that’s how it is.

And then… then she told me to canter!  On Goldie!

I said I would try. And I did. And we didn’t.

Goldie is a fine horse and the more I ride her, the more I like her. However, she doesn’t respond to my cues as quickly as Vinnie does.  Actually, she doesn’t respond to my cues at all. Not for the canter, anyway.

The word around the barn is that once you get Goldie going, she’s the fastest horse in Legacy’s herd. I have a feeling that my first galloping experience will be on Goldie.  I hope it’s a planned event.

After working me to death in the arena, Charity (on Habakuk) took me and Kim (Vinnie) and Christi (Maree) out for some Instruction in Open Terrain. We headed out to Narnia.  It was a glorious morning weather-wise and we had an ultra-pleasant ride.

On the way back, Charity joked that she half-expected to see Double Karin come bounding across the field on Charley, as if to the rescue. A ride out to Narnia kind of makes your mind work like this.

No Double Karin this time.

No Double Karin this time.

But a rescue wasn’t necessary. The Home Front was well guarded. In fact, in Karin’s absence, Charity and Kim worked overtime on a number of barn organization projects.

They organized the tack room:


They labeled the halter holder:


They straightened and systematized this area, whatever it’s called:


And they found time to make this:


I think they had a lot of fun. And I think Karin knows that the Home Front was well guarded while she was away.