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You are never too many years!  2016 Local Century Club Members

We often define and put far too many limits on ourselves and those around us because of age.  Two of our local riders and an incredible horse named Sage have raised the bar and proved that attitude overrides age.

Sage is a 30 year old Saddlebred who was adopted by Centaur Rising at Anchorage Farm in Pine in 2013.  A home with Kris and Jim Cooper was a great fit.  Jim is constantly monitoring Sage’s condition and needs.  Sage needed an experienced horse home because of his special feed and care requirements in his maturity and wouldn’t we all!  Under their care and active riding program Sage has flourished.  When he arrived, the life was gone from his eye.  His initial gaits did really did not include a true trot or canter.   He had never learned to do circles and was very one sided to the right.  Then Leanne Tousey entered his life and helped him reach his riding potential.

Leanne, Kris and Sage

Leanne, Kris and Sage

Leanne, a mountain area resident, is a lifetime dog and horse lover.  Leanne grew up riding at summer camps, but despite her pestering, her parents would not buy her a horse.  She was married to her husband Mike in 1965 and they eventually moved their family from northern Iowa to southern California.  Riding horses was one of the sports that kept their kids busy.  Leanne’s daughter spent a significant amount of time training, showing and enjoying time at Cal Poly Pomona Arabian Farm.  Leanne’s dream was rekindled there to someday return to riding and more specifically to focus on dressage.

After thirty years of breeding and showing Miniature Schnauzers, culminating in handling a dog she bred to a Best in Show, Leanne decided it was time to follow her dream to return to riding.  In September of 2015 at the age of 72, Leanne found Kris Cooper, trainer and owner of Anchorage Farms.  Kris was happy to take on the challenges of an adult beginner and the rest is history.  Kris, a couple years younger than Leanne, understood the challenges and limits Leanne may have.  Kris describes Leanne as more agile than someone half her age and rides because she really enjoys it.

Kris credits Leanne with working with Sage to learn to leg yield, turn on the forehand, something he had never learned before and was quite resistant to in the beginning, and how to stop without being pulled on.  He even does shoulder-in!

This year, Kris and Sage worked together to earn their Century Club Membership through the Dressage Foundation (dressagefoundation.org).  The Century Club recognizes Dressage riders and horses whose combined age totals 100 years or more. Horse and rider perform a Dressage test at any level, at a Dressage show or event, and are scored by a Dressage judge or professional.  Then on August 14, 2016 Leanne and Sage earned their membership into the Century Club.  Congratulations to Kris, Leanne and Sage!

Kris has been one of the only and longest running lesson and camp programs in our mountain area.  They have 12 gentle horses that were used this year in their Little Kids Camps (5-7 year olds) and she can certainly teach the older generations.  She would like to start a program for older people who may not want to ride, but would enjoy grooming, cleaning tack and being around the horses.  For more information go to centaurrising.org.  Heather McWilliams © 2016

Failure and Success in Competition

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.  The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is not effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause;  who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly. Theodore Roosevelt

I did not grow up showing much, just a little during a couple summers on a friend’s horses that she wasn’t riding.  You could never paint us with any discipline brush because we entered as many classes as we could English or Western, including any sort of Gymkhana classes.  Then a little showing again in college on the equestrian team.  I don’t remember any great successes, but I really enjoy showing, similar to the way I enjoy horses.

I love every part of horses.  Hauling hay, cleaning stalls, their smell, the way they move and talk to each other, grooming, caring and riding them, just being a part of their world.  With showing, I love the show preparation of packing, laundering pads and show clothes, cleaning tack, bathing the horses, getting up super early and spending the entire day/s immersed in horse.

Looking back on the last six recent years that I have been showing (the mid part of my forties), I have learned many lessons about myself and my horses.  My horses seem to enjoy getting out and they are different at a show.  More engaged.  Sometimes the engagement comes out in underlying tension and nerves.  You learn your horses.  They many need less time to warm up or more time.  They may need time to just walk around and let it all soak in.  Shows are a great way to bond with your horse and rely on each other.   They learn to be around lots of other horses, cars, people, signs, loudspeakers.  They see new arenas, new scenery, new obstacles.

I learn the most about me.  Being the “doer of deeds” and at most shows my face is definitely “marred by dust, sweat and blood”.  There were times I did it for the color of the ribbon.    But just wait, partnering with a large animal with their own brain will fix your ego.  Then there is the liability of my brain.  Doing the wrong pattern, forgetting the rules, going off course, “because there is not effort without error and shortcoming.” I don’t take much for granted anymore.  The most important lesson I have learned is that it is never the horses fault.

Vulnerability is not knowing victory or defeat; it’s understanding the necessity of both; its engaging. It’s being all in.  Brene Brown, Daring Greatly

I want to be “all in” for my horses.  It is really all about them and they are without question a “worthy cause”.  We, horses and people, were created to partner.  We work with them to do what they were made to do in a certain sequence.  We add value to who they are in their life with people by exposing them to new environments and by partnering with them to reach their potential as well as ours.

Now I show partly because it gives me goals and a reason to, “actually strive to do the deeds.”  Life is busy and I have to have something I have invested in coming on the calendar to make me get out, ride and improve myself.  I owe it to the horses to continue to better myself through time riding, lessons and by showing to get evaluated on my progress and goals.  I want to ride at the best of my ability in order to show my horse to the best of their ability.  You will rarely be ready or prepared, but go anyway.  Show day is not a day to fix anything, don’t worry about the judge/s, do your best in that moment.  It’s is just a horse show, whatever happens, happens, I guarantee you will both learn, grow and many times surprise yourself.  Most importantly, HAVE FUN and make it a great experience for your horse.

“Competition does not have to be a horse show or a race against another horse.  Competition can be a set of standards by which we measure ourselves.  Your standards have great influence on your perceived results.  Choose them carefully.  It is not about the blue ribbon.  It is about evaluating the direction of our work and establishing deadlines for reaching goals… I will always compete, as I need to be challenged and held to an honest evaluation of my progress.  I don’t have to win the blue ribbon, but I need to know if I’m as good as I think I am.”  Trainers Aaron Ralston in “Ride Up:  Live your adventure.”  Co-written with Edgall Franklin Pyles.

Set goals, challenge, push and stretch yourself.  Get out of your comfort zone.  Don’t just do what’s necessary, do what’s possible.  Be relentless, because it is not how you start something, but how you continue.  Expect to fail.  Success does not come without failure.  Then accept your failures.  After all, we connect with each other through our flaws.     

The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.  Martin Luther King Jr.

As we reach the end of the summer show season, I encourage riders to set some goals for next year, to find a couple shows or trail rides or team events to participate in.  If it seems too intimidating at first, start by volunteering.  There is a kind of horse sport, competition or group for everyone with any shape or size of horse that you will enjoy and meet new horse people along the way.  Encourage each other and the strangers you will meet along the way who will become your friends.  You will see new places and know victories “and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly”.

Feel free to contact me if I can be of any assistance in helping you find a challenge or to share your horse story.  [email protected] Heather McWilliams © 2016.

Summer Horse Calendar 2016!

Listed by Entity – Get out there with your horse!

Centaur Rising Horse Camps, Clinics & Shows

Anchorage Farm, 12889 S. Parker Ave. Pine, CO.  www.CentaurRising.org. [email protected] 303-838-5086.

July 10 – Centaur Rising Dressage Show I

August 2-4 – Dressage Camp

August 14 – Centaur Rising Dressage Show II

See website for remaining spots for:

Little Kids Camp/Basic Horse Camp

Basic Horse Camp/Intensive Horse Camp/Advanced Horse Camp

Little Kids Camp/Basic Horse Camp/Intensive Horse Camp

 

Colorado Horsecare Foodbank FUNdraisers!

See website for more info and to sign up online. www.horsefoodbank.org.  303-670-1470.

July 16 – Black Tie – Silver Shoes.  Enjoy an evening with horses at the Queen City Horse Show at the National Western Events Center in Denver.  Fine dining ringside, cocktail attire.

August 26-28 – Ranch Ride Weekend is a fundraiser with long-time CHF friends and supporters: Tom and Darcy Carr, owners of the beautiful Colorado Cattle Company – an authentic working cattle ranch in Northeastern Colorado. This year, Colorado Horsecare Foodbank and the Colorado Cattle Company are offering a late summer Ranch Ride weekend.  The Ranch Ride Weekend includes trail riding on the ranch’s 10,000 acres, learning to team pen cattle, delicious hearty meals, storytelling around a campfire, and charming accommodations where you can sit on the porch of your cabin and watch the horses & cattle peacefully grazing. The cost is $575 for the weekend – Registration is open.

October 14 – Hay Bales & Horse Tails – Amazing evening of food, fun and shopping for horse stuff!  At the Hudson Gardens cabin on Santa Fe Blvd in Littleton.  Sign up now, last year sold out!

 

Evergreen Ranch Sorters Association

Reffel’s Arena, Wandcrest Drive, Pine Junction.  Alternating Saturdays and Sundays, 10am-2pm.  For more information, go to:  the Facebook page at “Evergreen Ranch Sorting Association”.

Try as a guest for up to 3 times for a fee.  Come see why ranch sorting is the fastest growing equine sport in the country and fun for riders of all ages!

 

Evergreen Rodeo Association

RODEO WEEKEND!  EvergreenRodeo.com for full schedule. Volunteers still needed!  Don your cowboy boots and hat and enjoy the festivities while you help support this amazing local historic tradition!  Contact Marty Unger – [email protected]

June 17 Friday – Friday Family Fun Night Benefit for Tri-County Little Britches. 3:00pm and 10:00pm.  Great family event including Muttin Bustin’, stick horse races, barrel racing plus many more activities. Music by Arena Rock All Stars.

June 18 Saturday – Rodeo Parade, 10:00 in downtown Evergreen

June 18 Saturday – Rodeo Performance at El Pinal Rodeo Grounds 2:00 pm, Mutton Bustin’ and Pre-Show starting at 1230pm.

June 19 Sunday – Rodeo Performance at El Pinal Rodeo Grounds 2:00 pm, Mutton Bustin’ and Pre-Show starting at 1230pm.

 

Intermountain Horse Association

intermountainhorse.org or Facebook page “Intermountain Horse”

September 10 – Poker Ride at Alderfer Three Sisters Park.

Monthly meetings 3rd Tuesdays September – May at Beau Jos in Evergreen.  Various horse related topics.

 

Jefferson County 4-H Open Horse Shows

English, Western, Showmanship and Gymkhana classes.  More information, contact info and show bills at: http://www.extension.colostate.edu/jefferson/4h/4h.shtml

June 28 – Horsefeathers Show – El Pinal Arena (Evergreen) – Outdoor

July 9 & 10 – Pleasant Park Horse Show – McKeever Arena (Conifer) – Outdoor, 2nd day is the speed events (Adults can ride both days in this event)

July 17 – Golden Spurs – Jeffco Event Center Arena (Fairgrounds) – Indoor

July 24 – Fair Clinic – Table View Arena – Outdoor

August 7 – Pleasant Park Gymkhana – McKeever Arena (Conifer) – Outdoor

August 11 & 12 – County Fair – Jefferson County Fairgrounds – outdoor, only kids can compete

August 25-28 – State Fair – Pueblo

September 4 – Equine Event – Rodeo Arena, more info to come!

September 25 – 4-H Fun Show/Clinic – Table View Arena

 

Kip Fladland Clinic – All Disciplines Welcome

Kip’s website:  LaRiataRanch.com.  Hosted by Pikes View Ranch, Conifer.  Call Kelly Hendricks for more information 303-918-9570.  An encouraging and thoughtful teacher, Kip was born and raised in Montana. He has spent the last 30 years of his life working with and riding horses. In addition to riding horses for the public, Kip has also spent a considerable amount of time cowboying on several large Montana ranches. Working for these ranches would include starting colts, educating riding horses, and using them to care for and watch over the cow/calf operations. He met Buck Brannaman while cowboying and he spent 5 years with Buck on the road doing clinics.  Kip’s wife Missy is a top Dressage trainer.  Several of our mountain area horse people have had great experiences at clinics out east with Kip and wanted to bring him to Colorado for a chance for locals to participate.  Spaces are filling up, call Kelly today to sign up!

September 23-25

Ground Work Class in morningaddresses doing ground work exercises before riding towards the end of each class.

Horsemanship Class in afternoonsa riding class for all levels and disciplines of horses.

 

Starry Night Ranch – Riding on Faith Youth Camp

Llaves, New Mexico.  jubileehorse.com.  [email protected] 575-638-5661           
July 10 – 16  We are a horse lovers dream vacation, spending all day with our horses.  Youth campers will learn basic care, grooming, ground work and riding skills.  We usually ride twice a day and plenty of time in the saddle.

 

Syzygy Coaching

Evergreen, Colorado.  syzygy-co.com.   [email protected] 303-670-7244.

August 27-28 – Equine Vision Journey to Your Next Chapter – an equine guided personal growth retreat.

September – Extraordinary Women Connect Gala

November 10 -Extraordinary Women Ignite – Golden Hotel, Golden, CO

 

Tucker Black Horsemanship Clinics

Red Hawk Ranch, 12754 US HWY 285, Conifer. Check website for latest information. tuckerblackhorsemanship.com or call Tucker at 303-870-8389.

August 27 – Cow Working Clinic, 10am to 3pm

Most Sundays & some Wednesdays, June – September Cutting/boxing cows.

 

Working Equitation

Join on Facebook at “Foothills CO Working Equitation” or contact for more information Christina Turissini, [email protected]

Second weekend of the month – Lessons and/or clinics with Jennifer Holroyd.

Playdates during the month at various locations.

 

 

Small Acreage Management Resources

CSU Extension Small Acreage Website http://www.ext.colostate.edu/sam/

Manure Management Guide for small acreages http://www.ext.colostate.edu/sam/manure-mgt.pdf

Colorado Forage Guide – http://www.ext.colostate.edu/sam/forage-guide.pdf

Managing Pastures Before and After Droughthttp://extension.colostate.edu/…/managing-small-acreage-pa…/

Grass Growth and Response to Grazing http://extension.colostate.edu/…/grass-growth-and-response…/

Jennifer Cook
Small Acreage Management Coordinator
NRCS/CSU Extension
57 West Bromley Lane
Brighton, CO 80601
303-659-7004 ext. 116
(cell) 717-645-7817
[email protected]
Small Acreage Website: www.ext.colostate.edu/sam

Sign up for her quarterly newsletter by emailing her at [email protected]

HORSE CAMPS! At Centaur Rising

If there is one thing that parents are often seeking, it is horse camps for their horse crazy kids. The first place that always comes to mind is Centaur Rising at Anchorage Farm in Pine. Owners Jim and Kris Cooper have been putting on summer horse camps every year since 1992.   In 2006 the horse camp entity became Centaur Rising (CR), a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.

Kris realized after 20 years of working in the corporate world as a psychologist, that it was time for her to combine her training, passion for animals and the outdoors into a horse camp that would prepare kids with life skills for the future. Overall, Centaur Rising strives to help kids develop self-confidence, a sense of mastery, a feeling of uniqueness and the ability to make wise decisions.

The camp is thorough, teaching all aspects including the responsibilities of horse ownership, horse care, safety (they have an impeccable safety record), basic horse knowledge (colors, markings, breeds, tack) and a correct foundation for riding. A key aspect of that training is educating the students to learn compassion for the horses and learn to effectively communicate with them.

The first day of camp, each camper adopts a specific horse, which means that the camper is responsible for horse turnout, stall cleaning, grooming, tacking and learning to ride their adopted horse. Camp staff intentionally helps to foster a relationship between the child and their horse, so the child learns to understand the horses individual personality and unique view of the world.

Recently a young student asked Kris if she loved horses, Kris responded, “yes I do; but even more than loving horses, I like teaching people how to get along with horses and how to make a commitment to them.  I like people too.  If I can teach them to better relate to horses, they learn how to get along better with other people too.”

Advanced students help to operate the horse camps learning life skills in how to teach, supervise, plan, delegate and work together. Of course Jim is a vital part of all that goes on behind the scenes and in the operation of Anchorage Farm, including shoeing all of the horses.

CR offers five types of camps: Little Kids’ Camp (ages 5-7), Basic Horse Camp (one lesson/day), Intensive and Advanced camps (two lessons/day) and a Dressage Camp (August 4-7, 2015). Nic Sigler, an FEI level instructor/trainer/competitor from Evergreen, will be co-instructor of the latter camp, geared to both adults and more advanced young people. The Dressage Camp will be followed by a Rocky Mountain Dressage Society sanctioned Dressage show, which will include classes in Western Dressage.

Centaur Rising also offers riding instruction for adults and children year-round, including after school programs. They are hosting three Dressage shows (the first is a schooling show) and several clinics this year. For detailed information and the full schedule on the Events page, go to their website, www.centaurrising.org. Reach Kris and Jim at 303-838-5086, [email protected], address: 12889 S. Parker Ave, Pine.

Dates Basic Horse Camp LittleKids

Camp

Intensive HorseCamp Advanced HorseCamp Dressage

Camp

Rate $300 $60 – 1/2day$100 – all day $400 $400 $450
March 24-26 x
June 9-11 x x
June 16-18 x x x
June 23-25 x x x
July 7-9 x x
July 14-16 x x x
July 28-30 x x x
Aug 4-6 x x

Horse Math

For the non-horse type readers, you may find this to be a window into the minds of your horse friends and family.    I was in the Evergreen public school system sometime in the seventies when they decided teach us a new method for math called “Touch Math”.  Each number has invisible dots on it that corresponds to the value of that number.  So if one was adding two and four, one would count the invisible dots on the two and then the four to come up with six.  They abandoned this method within the year and I know why, it is not helpful!  Fortunately, Horse people know a much more interesting form of math called “HORSE MATH”.

VALUES AND UNITS

Horse Math is where everything in the world that does not have anything to do with horses, corresponds with a value in the horse world.  For example, as much as I may need a nice pair of pants for work, I cannot bring myself to buy them because they hold the same value as the new bridle that I would like to buy.  Not that I will buy the bridle either, but closing the door on that possibility is too hard to do.   Now, my husband and mother would strongly agree that I really need that new pair of pants and I do have plenty of bridles that I can use in the meantime, but this bridle is the latest in pressure points and all of the reviews say their horse was like a different animal…  I know the horse types are tracking right along with me and the non-horse types are starting to get an explanation for strange responses in their relationships with their horsey friends.

Another example of a Horse Math unit of value is hay and grain.  A bag of grain is a unit of about $15 and a bale of hay equivalent to around $8.  When you figure out how items affect your feed supplies, you may decide against them.  Dinner out = three bags of grain.  Movie = two bales of hay.  Set of new socks = bag of grain.  New tires = two tons of hay – that could last you a while!

ESSENTIAL ITEMS

Horse Math corresponds to different categories of horse items.  First, Essential horse supplies are a no brainer.  These items around fifty dollars or less and cancel out or even disappear in the budget.  Essential item costs, if kept to a manageable level*, are easily made up by cutting your own hair or watering plants, letting dogs out or feeding horses for someone.  Essential items might be a saddle pad, barefoot boot, the latest curry, fly spray, or mane and tail detangler.  If you forgo any luxuries that your non-horse friends indulge in like manicures, pedicures, expensive hairdos, vacations, or any other sport like skiing or biking (also requires equipment), this savings can count toward Essential items as well.

FOUNDATION ITEMS

These are the big ticket items that last a lifetime, but you really need one to get serious.  Assuming you have the horse, saddles are the core of Foundation items.  These may require saving money through odd jobs, asking for money for birthdays and Christmas, putting aside a little windfall here and there, until the day comes that you have enough.  This is a significant day to have a piece of equipment that holds its value, gets better with age and something to pass down to the kids.  See, what better investment!

NECESSARY ITEMS

Now I have a birthday coming up.  What do I want?  Jewelry, clothes, day spa trip?  Are you crazy?  Birthdays and Christmas are the time to get what horse supplies you really want, but it did not fit into the Essential or Foundation category.  This is the Necessary category.  These may be a new headstall, bridle, show coat, chaps, boots or show shirt.   Something you figured out it would be nice to have at your last show, trail ride, competition, etc.  Keep a list ready, so if anyone asks you what you want, you are ready.  One tip is to use the wish lists on your favorite horse gear websites.  Here is a sample from my list – de-wormer,  fly-spray,  a new fly sheet , stirrup pads, bridle, blue saddle pad (to match my cross country colors of course) – see, both practical and fun!

If you haven’t noticed yet, just the words “Essential “, “Necessary” and “Foundation” items are all things that one really cannot do without.  I know, it may seem like a sickness to some of you.  But now you know what to really get us horse people for our birthday!

* I am not sure who determines this…

The Souls A Barn Builds by Kristin Carpenter

I think there is something magical about the souls that the barn builds. While there is magic made in the saddle, and horses have dramatically altered each of us for the better over time, I like to think that just being in the barn is enough to have a positive impact on anyone.

The barn teaches all the major lessons of life within its four walls and pasture fences. It doesn’t take into account age, gender, race, education or family history. It teaches with the severity and grace of life itself.

I remember learning about hard work. Two hundred bales of hay don’t unload themselves, and the incoming rain doesn’t care that your back hurts, you haven’t eaten in 10 hours, and your hands are bleeding from blisters. If you don’t finish, you lose the hay, and you can’t afford more. That’s hard work.

I remember learning not only a respect for what real manual labor is, but also a compassion for those who perform it. The workers in the bigger barns aren’t nameless faces; they are men and women with hopes, dreams, opportunities and dead ends like the rest of us. Their backs hurt by the 50th bale, too, but they keep going. Even though I no longer do the hard labor of big barns, I will never lose the respect and compassion for those that do, and never miss an opportunity to thank them and offer a helping hand.

I remember learning the value of a dollar. My dad gave me $500 for my first horse as a Christmas/birthday present when I was 9. I bought a 9-year-old unbroken Arabian gelding, still in a field with his mother. And that was it—we didn’t have anything left over for a saddle, so I rode without one for almost a year or borrowed them graciously from friends.

I fell off 78 times in the first year. Yes, I still have my diary, and I counted. I worked off board and lessons, and saved and begged to go to an event. When I got there, I jumped out of the dressage arena and eliminated myself—my hopes and dreams and mouths full of dirt culminating in disappointed parents and a lot of money lost. My dad then told me to get a job, so I did. I designed websites for money for shows during middle school, and went halfway across the country during the summer of high school to find a working student job with a stipend. While my income as an adult is vastly different, I don’t forget the feeling of never buying anything and feeling complete, because just having the horse was enough. Just having the horse was everything.

The barn taught me perspective. When it doesn’t rain, and the pastures don’t hold up, and you can’t afford more hay, it’ll be OK. The rain will come next year, and somehow this year you will make it. It might mean a lot of hard decisions and sacrifices, but that’s life.

The barn makes for a different childhood experience. When all the other teenagers are out partying on a Saturday night, you will be lying in the bed of a truck staring at the sky. You’ll get to see stars how they are meant to be seen—by the thousands—not just the few that shine through the light pollution of the cities. You will learn peace with the silence of the outdoors, and a kind of meditation that comes from hours of manual labor with nothing but wind and animals’ breath as music.

I remember learning that life isn’t fair. I paid attention to every hair on my first horse, but I remember sitting and crying in a wash rack as my horse colicked. I stared in horror as the oil and charcoal we pumped into him spilled onto the ground, and I grappled with the fairness of life and death. When, 10 years later, I sat next to my father as he was on life support, and I decided it was best to let go and take him off the machines, I didn’t need to struggle with the existential questions of fairness. The barn had already taught me: Life isn’t fair, and neither is death.

The barn has taught me about unconditional love. The barn doesn’t care what you drove to get there, or what you are going home to. It is a haven for those who give it their all, and it will take everything you have to give. It will take your immaturity and give you discipline. It will take your excuses and give you failure. It will take your dreams and give you opportunity. But it makes no promises, picks no favorites, and spares no hardships.

The barn taught me passion. Very few people get to experience passion at its core, in the way that it is meant to be felt. Not the passion of winning—that is superficial and relative. But rather the passion that you feel when you have nothing left but your love of something. The passion that is there when exhaustion steals your strength and frustration takes your hope. When all you are left with is this very moment, and yet you are at peace and fulfilled. That is passion in its truest form, and that is what fuels us in barns, and what sneaks into the souls of children and never lets go. That passion drives the thousands of adult amateurs to work 60-hour weeks and still ride, and the professionals to lose in grand fashion but show up the next day at 5 a.m.

It’s easy to get wrapped up in the side of life fueled by possessions and titles and bank account balances. It’s easy to focus on what you don’t have and who you aren’t. But the barn will teach you better. You have what you have, and it has to be enough, so make do.

The barn will build your soul, and it will give you all the gifts you need to be a good, gracious person. It is up to us to keep these things when we pass through the gate. If you related to any part of this blog, you are lucky. Many go through life never really feeling passion; they only have material possessions to try to satisfy their souls. But to the souls the barn built, life is about sitting in a warm rain on a summer day and laughing with your friends. It is about lying on the back of your horse at midnight, in a field, and staring at the stars.

I love this piece and wanted to share it.  Kristin Carpenter owns Linder Educational Coaching in Arlignton, Virginia that works mainly with teenage boys with behavioral issues.  She grew up in rural Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  There is so much truth here and the effect that hard work and animals have on the soul is immeasurable.  

Old Cow Town Colorado in Saguache

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We took the horses for a long weekend to Old Cow Town Colorado in Saguache, Colorado. We had 3 friends that shared a cabin, we stayed in the hotel and 4 stayed in campers. They have several options for the horses from indoor stalls and outdoor pens to large outdoor paddocks. The outdoor arena had nice footing as well. This place is ~340 acres and surrounded by National Forest so you can ride about anywhere for as long as you like. The views are expansive and beautiful. Footing on the trails varies with the trail.

Cell reception is not good, but the wifi at the hotel works well. The town of Saguache is about a 15-20 minute drive if you need to make some business calls.

The original owner put 6-8 million into the place in the early-mid 2000’s so it is fairly new. He also put a lot of nice detail into it like copper ceilings, detailed trim, a boardwalk, woodwork and more. There is a great carriage museum, a dance hall, livery stable, barn, social club/hotel, outdoor amphitheatre, saloon/restaurant and general store, just like an old west town. They offer putt putt golf, Stagecoach or pony wagon rides and have a few horses you can rent out. The owners, Dave and his wife Joanne are some of the hardest working people you have seen and keep the place looking great. They can accommodate weddings, as well as small or large parties.

The social club/hotel is great for a group with all of the rooms surrounding a general area with a TV and pool table. They offer continental breakfast and have a coffee maker and refrigerator in the rooms.

We ate at the saloon every night, which was pretty good considering it is hard to run a restaurant when you never know who will be there. They also had a great local band on Saturday night.

We had an amazing time riding trails during the day, messing around in the arena at night, meeting great new people and sitting around the fire looking at the stars. We met other riders that travel the northern parts during the summer to escape the southern heat. It is 3.5-4 hours from our area.   I would recommend getting topo maps and getting a sense of where you might want to go ride.  We could not find the trails using the map provided by the facility, but we still enjoyed wandering around and being surrounded by the gorgeous scenery.  Highly recommended horsey destination!!!
www.oldcowtowncolorado.com

Of Warriors & Horses

Brad Myers of Conifer is a third generation veteran and horseman. Growing up in Michigan, his grandfather Sanderson taught him how to communicate with horses through true horsemanship techniques that lined up with those of Bill Dorrance, Marty Marten and Buck Brannaman. As a veteran, his family members have served in all branches of the military, Brad being the first Marine.

Brad has combined and morphed his passion for horses and veterans into what is today, Operation Silver Spurs (OSS). Based out of a facility on Pleasant Park Road, Operation Silver Spurs also travels the country to different venues, ranches and facilities for various purposes serving veterans. OSS helps to promote the “warrior spirit” and give veterans a new mission as civilians.Cold Weather Training

Starting at the age of 16, Brad envisioned a working ranch retreat where people come retreat, recharge, reconnect and experience the life of the cowboy. From there he served as a Marine, worked in information technology, and was a Project Manager for the University of Colorado. He is an outdoorsman and an accomplished public speaker. He received his BS in Leadership and Organizational Management from Colorado Christian University and has been apprenticed in The Cowboy Way, The Lakota Way, The Ancient Wisdom of the Toltec’s and The Power of Belief. When he was on a seven day Toltec Trek in Mexico, he had an epiphany that the horse teaches what he learned on this ancient journey.

He pulls from all of those experiences in his life while incorporating the legacy of his family and mentors by intentionally carrying on patriotism, character, perseverance, vision, honor, ancient wisdom, true horsemanship and the pursuit of our passions. He recognizes that his journey through life, both good and bad, can all be used to help others.

While giving horsemanship clinics, the participants would tell Brad that they not only learned to work with their horse better, but the way that he communicated principles helped them learn new things about themselves. A couple of veterans heard about his clinics and said that he needed to do some kind of training like this for soldiers coming home from war.  Veterans understand training, as training is a key aspect of military life, and Brad sees OSS as another building block in the military training.

Veterans are trained to be warriors and often when they are not serving, they are expected to suppress the warrior part of themselves. OSS seeks to celebrate the warrior spirit in veterans by helping them focus those leadership skills and qualities within them into being leaders in their personal and work lives. Brad explains, in the process of learning to ride a horse with true horsemanship skills, you learn a new way to apply your warrior leadership skills to civilian life.   A main concern with horses as prey animals is their own safety and survival. As veterans build a partnership with the horse, success comes when the horse finds the veteran as the leader to get them to safety. Horses are magical in their nature and can bring out things in a person that no other animal can. They are true, do not judge, reflect your feelings and live completely in the moment.

Brad describes training with OSS as “Warrior Horsemanship. The power of partnering with a horse is more than riding, guided or independently. The spirit of the bond with the horse in ultimate partnership is only available through true fundamental horsemanship skills. These skills are easily acquired and provide phenomenal results, directly impacting our warrior spirit and leadership traits.”Oss mountain ops pic

OSS is for all veterans, from any war, male or female, and those with physical or mental challenges. This year OSS added all female camps. OSS takes a different angle from traditional equine assisted therapy. In OSS, the horses are the teachers and Brad serves as an interpreter to facilitate that the wisdom and power that comes from the horse is recognized.

The length and intensity of training sessions vary, but the experience is intensive participation. Veterans start with safety training, caring for the horse and grooming, communicating and working the horse from the ground and eventually to independent riding.

Whether the OSS trainees chose to make horses a part of their daily live or not, Brad believes that “the experience of training with the horses is a bridge to help my fellow warriors from where they are to experiencing a new ‘dream’ in their lives. To use their warrior spirit and all the character and value from their military experience in their new mission as a civilian. To see this as an opportunity to lead and still serve. I see my job as communicating what it takes to work with a horse in order to create a personal awareness that in turn provides people with the tools to integrate new agreements and beliefs into their lives.”

After OSS participants have expressed a new ability to apply their military leadership experience to civilian life, gained significant cross-generational veteran relationships, experienced a successful transition from military experience to civilian opportunity, and significant veteran to veteran trust and communication.

OSS also offers certification programs for ambassadors, veterans, facilities and horses in order to fill the need for veterans in different areas. Many facilities that already serve veterans bring in OSS to enhance their curriculum to truly communicate with the warrior spirit in veterans. How can you help you ask? OSS is always looking for venues to hold trainings and retreats, sponsors for events and scholarships. Program format ranges from demonstration days to intensive trips.

For more information go to: www.operationsilverspurs.com, or contact Brad at [email protected], Brad Myers 303-332-9230. Heather McWilliams © 2014.

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