Appaloosa Journal

DEC 2018

Appaloosa Journal is the official publication of the Appaloosa Horse Club, the international registry for the Appaloosa horse.

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Page 83 of 126

OUT & ABOUT 79 thought I did weird things with my horse. We were oddballs— but, we were having *fun*. One rainy afternoon when the arena was vacant I turned the boy loose amid the variously sized jumps, which Palouse had seen his fellow show horses use. The barn owner, working at the far end of the building, watched us. Palouse trotted around a bit checking it all out, then gallantly proceeded to take several of the jumps. At one point he trotted a perfect diagonal down the entire length of the arena and effort- lessly cleared a neatly decorated picket fence. As I stood there laughing, the owner said, "Did I just see that?" And I proudly answered, "Yes, I think you did. We have a jumper!" Many years had passed since I had been around horses. I met several women who took interest in me and supported me. They showed me some of the basics and the rest I slowly figured out for myself. To this day I am grateful and still friends with them. Palouse and I continued to grow together, finding what worked and what didn't. Another fall arrived and Palouse was ready to be saddled and started. For better and worse we found ourselves for a few months at a training facility. I soon discovered two things: The word "trainer" is used rather loosely, and certain horse people excel at being mean and nasty. By Christmas of 2016, though, the boy and I needed real help. He was miserable and I was distraught, so I sought out an older man my original gal pals at our old barn had mentioned. When I watched his first interaction with Palouse, I knew immediately that he was the real deal. I made the 2-1/2 hour round trip several times a week to the little town of St. Helens, and the three of us worked together for several hours in his arena. We started over. Palouse soon showed signs of improvement, and I watched the depression I had seen in his eyes fade away. Those early morning lessons found me bundled up in my parka hang- ing onto every word and every story my new mentor shared with me. I asked a lot of questions. I had to learn and follow many groundwork routines. I had to learn to be patient with myself and not expect too much in the way of immediate progress. The riding lessons began and my first ride on the boy went well. Now, these weren't pretty little quiet lessons doing cir- cles and practicing posting. I had to ride with other young and sometimes unbroke horses loose in the arena with me. I was taught to use and carry a flag to either keep the other horses from getting too close, or to strategically put them in the exact location in the arena indicated by my mentor. This was a scary task on a young green horse. It was daunting. My mentor did not believe in longeing a horse before riding. After only a few rides indoors, we went outside on some trails across the street from this man's home. We also did quite a bit of roadwork up and down the street, which was quiet except for the neighbor's donkey, a celebratory alpaca and a few cattle. The challenges never ceased. After a couple times getting bucked, I realized that I had spoiled Palouse, and that he needed to grow up, and I had to become a better leader. I worked hard at learning how to be more consistent, and my confidence slowly began to return. In July, a friend I had met earlier in the year on Facebook offered Palouse a stall in her own small barn, which was per- fect, as board costs are extremely high in our area and I was running out of options. Her place also included a roundpen and four well-kept turnouts with an outdoor arena. This new friend of mine is a pretty gutsy lady. She has a 21 year old Arabian mare that she raised and trained and has taken on countless trail rides by herself as well as with others. What I lacked in confidence she made up for in grit and determination. She told me one day that she had a plan to get Palouse and I back on the trail. Her persistence overcame my resistance. Our first ride would be at Milo McIver State Park, a nearby site with well maintained trails and really good footing. Despite initial misgiv- ings, the ride was wonderful, and afterward I couldn't wait to go again. I was hooked. My friend and I rode pretty consistently. She reveled in showing me new places: Willamette Mission, Stubb Stewart, Nehalem Bay, Timothy Lake and Hardy Creek. Another friend of- fered to ride with me at Pacific City on the coast. I will never forget the first time Palouse saw the Pacific Ocean. We rode up a massive sand dune and as we reached the top, there it was, that vast body of water in front of us. His eyes were like reflective saucers, ears forward catching the crashing sound of the waves. We stood their a moment and relished the pause. Palouse couldn't have been any calmer. It was remarkable. In October I signed Palouse up for our first horsemanship and cow clinic in Junction City, Oregon. Again I thought, "What am I doing?" Nothing like being on a youngster, on a cold after- noon, in a new place, with a black angus running at you while your ride is hopping around underneath you. Palouse and I were asked to ride right down the center to divide them, but the boy and I were settling in with this cow thing pretty quickly. We had an absolute blast, which had always been my intention. That night as I put him away in his stall, for the first time he was real- ly affectionate and couldn't take his eyes off me. I truly believe he was proud of himself, and the experience brought us closer. Since then my friend and I have gone on more rides, and her confidence has been contagious. Something profound hap- pens to you on the trail with a riding buddy. Not long ago, I felt quite lost and without purpose. Palouse has renewed my sense of adventure, rekindled my childhood joy of being back in the forest and spending long summer days at the beach, and shown me the freedom that can only be felt out on the trail. I am forever grateful for that day in the fog, when the magic of the moment took hold of my heart and whispered softly, "go find your horse."

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