Thursday, June 26, 2014



Two souls were taking a walk one day. They were enjoying the nice breeze and the balmy weather. They could have chosen any kind they wanted but for walking and chatting, this seemed nice.

The young soul looked up at the elder, “so tell me how this works? The whole living of lifetimes and all the back and forth stuff. It seems kind of confusing to me!”

The old soul nodded, “it is for us all in the beginning. There are a lot of options when you are just starting out. There are lessons to be learned, or you can choose to help someone else learn theirs. You can even be an atonement if you like, but I would wait a little bit, on that one.”

The young soul wrinkled his brow. “An atonement? What’s an atonement, Grandpa?” The old soul wasn’t really his grandpa but it seemed as good a word as any.

Grandpa didn’t say anything for a moment. “An atonement is what a soul becomes when they are ready to help someone else learn an important lesson. Some of the experiences we must go through feel very harmful to others, and then in others, we ourselves feel harmed. We are not really, we are just going through our experiences. Being an atonement is one of the most important roles you can ever play. It can be very difficult, and frightening.”

The little soul looked up, eyes wide. It didn’t really have eyes, but if it did, they would have been very wide indeed.

“I don’t understand, Grandpa, can you tell me more?”

“Not right now, son,” The young soul wasn’t his son any more than he was it’s grandpa but it seemed a good word for the moment.

“What if I don’t want to be an atonement or what if I change my mind when I said I would? What happens then?!”

“Your brother, Jesus Christ, did his just the other day. He had his moment of doubt as indeed, do we all as the dark times come. He almost forgot who he was and what he had agreed to do. Your cousin, Buddha, had to go whisper in his ear and remind him there was a higher purpose and that his suffering was only to be a very temporary thing for Jesus. What he was about to do would have a very large impact, as was his agreement before he ever took on the flesh dress.”

The soul nodded. “I heard about that. Do you think it’s worked out like he planned?”

Grandpa smiled, “That, my son, is for another day. Right now, let’s get you ready for your first life.  Many of us start out being human beings but we don’t have to. We can be anything at all.”

“What happens when we are human, Grandpa?”

“We get born, go through the gamut of average human emotions and experiences, we learn to communicate with each other and the other life forms on the planet. We laugh, we cry, we find humor and sorrow, pain, delight and many types of what the humans call love. We learn how to say good bye to those we love, and then later, we say good bye ourselves when we return here.”

“Love? What is love, Grandpa?”

“Why, you are, son, and so am I, in our current forms. It springs from being part of the Great Is and the closer you are to the Is, the purer form you take. When you take on the flesh body, then you will forget about that and who you are now. The purpose of the lives is to learn it all back and remember who you are.”

“I really don’t understand!” The little soul was very upset. “Why do I have to go through all that? I don’t want to forget who I am! What if I never remember?”

“You will,” replies the Older. “The Great Is will always know where you are even if you don’t always know where It is, or even remember that It exists. You may go through some very trying times while you learn the things you need to know, but eventually you will be brought home. We all are.”

The little soul screwed up it’s face in bewilderment. “Why though? Why can’t I just stay here and be what I am? What’s so wrong with that?”

“There is nothing wrong with that. You can. You don’t ever have to step onto the wheel and take the journey but we do, in order to become complete. We have to experience everything there is in order to fully understand everything we are.”

“Everything there is . . . but that’s a lot, isn’t it?”

“Yes,” said the old soul. “There is a lot. It takes a long time to get through all the things we need to do, but we have all the time we need. You can live as many lives as you want and have all the experiences that you need. Most of us start wanting to be done, at some point, and that’s when we have to sort out the lessons we have left. We might have to learn how to forgive when someone wrongs us, we might have to learn to give when we feel we don’t even have enough for ourselves. We might have to learn all over again that the thing we think is fear and then death is an illusion and all there really Is, is Love.”

“I really don’t get it, Grandpa.”

“That’s ok, my dear. You will.”

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Ride Your Own Ride

My horse surges forward willingly, almost 20 miles under his cinch and he doesn’t care one bit. We are picking up the pace because Summer and her crew are hot on our heels and I don’t want the fight I know I will have if they go by us at the speed they are needing to maintain to make their window.

Soaking rain two nights before, the trails are good but there might be a slick spot here or there. We are winding fast through closely set trees, this way, that, watch your step buddy, atta boy.

Royal extends his trot at my ask, ears up, completely cheerful. His feet land perfectly, my balance is good in the saddle and even though we are moving at a pace hard on a chubby gal to maintain that long, it’s all good.  We are winding up our very first Competitive Trail Ride and we are having a ball.

Branched Oak

(photo credit Sandy Cook Ries, thanks for all your help and guidance, too! same with the one below)

I should have let Summer push me just a smidge harder. They made their window, I missed mine by one minute, costing my horse and I a point a piece. I shrug, a point, how bad can that be?

Royal takes third place in his division scoring 97 out of 100 possible points. The three dings were all me. That one, late, and setting him up for an awkward offside mount causing two steps = two points. No mistakes on his part whatsoever. At least while the judges were looking anyway.

Success is the quality of the journey

I took fifth, the mistakes were mine to make and I was not surprised by any of them. Roadmap for me too but pretty darned exciting to place at all in our very first attempt!

About five minutes into the ride that morning I have figured out some very important key elements to playing this very fun game.

Take more than one time keeping, pace tracking device!! Mary Anna Woods (of Elmer Bandit fame) rattled off a list of watches, stop watch, gps, and I said “all of them? You run them all?” Check out their story. Getting to meet, talk to and ride with this amazing horsewoman is a highlight of a very wonderful weekend.

With over 22,000 logged miles in the saddle, I’d guess she knows her stuff and the blank face of my gps told me I should have brought at least one more . . .

The other key element was have a plan and then change your plan when you hear a better one. Mary Anna was coaching her ride partner and I sidled up close, shamelessly eavesdropping.

“You going to ride with us?” She asks me cheerfully.

“No, I am going to ride by myself. My horse is not good in even small groups, right now but if you don’t mind I’d love to sit in and plan some strategy.”

Her plan, walk out slow for at least two miles. It took her that long to find Elmer’s brain. If she blasted out, it was a mess all day.

Hmm, that sounds an awful lot like my horse, thinks me.

Yep, she says. You fight them, they get stronger, you get weaker.

Yep, thinks me, been there, done that, horrible results.

We walked out on a loose rein. I am riding the horse that shows up and this is the one I have been hoping for. The Arabian is interested in the goings on but not high, not overly excited.

I time my ride staying a bit behind Mary Anna and Fran Smith, and a little in front of my fellow Distance Derbiers, Kerri Weir and Julie Mruz. I figure, I might not be exactly sure of my time but I know they are and I will find out where we are at a stop, sync up with my phone, decipher my map, re-adjust our pace and all the other things that go along with riding a CTR.

It goes well. Royal settles at the obstacles and it doesn’t take much at all to precisely place his feet where I think our legs ought to be. I get dinged on my wretched forward leg on the uphill obstacle, Royal gets an excellent ++. Way to go pony.

At the pulse and respiration checks he hangs his head, relaxes and his big kind heart beats sweet and slow.

Pretty much perfection, right? Those parts were, for sure. Then there were the two different times, allowing other faster riders to pass us by (which they did with perfect etiquette and courtesy appreciated by me if not my horse) and the whirling and spinning that ensued told me I needed to nip that crap in the bud or the horse might go on the ride without me.

The third time that happened I got in front of the action instead of reacting to it, met his resistance with my own plus one, bumped him with the snaffle bit until his ear rolled back to me and his feet slowed solidly under us. Enough of that, Royal. I will keep you out of trouble where I can but I am not tolerating this behavior a moment longer. Oh yeah, and I believe I will use as fine a touch as I possible can so as to not send you screaming over the tottering edge.

If you ride long enough and work hard enough, you might get to experience that feeling of when your horse is your partner, his legs are yours, your mind and will are together and he follows your lead like it’s his own idea. We are getting there.

The Arabian lost his brain a few times along the way but it didn’t stay lost and the happy steady guy that is showing up in the skitzoid’s place is priceless. That he is pretty and talented does not hurt but without heart and brain, he would have been down the road long ago if he were just another pretty face.

A little sour and worried the Friday night before the CTR clinic and ride weekend,  I grouse about some who knows what. Tammy Vasa looks over at me and says “you know, Terri, two months ago you didn’t  know if you could even get him here.”

Well true that.

There’s a lot more detail to how very cool the CTR weekend was for us . . . We camped, Royal  stood tied, patiently for the most part. I gained more education on how to camp safely with my horse and a deep appreciation for how hard a staff might work to put on an event such as this!

You know I am going to credit our successes to riding with Peter. I know I get that “true believer” blaze in my eyes when I talk about what has happened since I really got serious about taking on his kind of horsemanship. It can’t be helped, it is only the truth of what has taken place.

The things I have learned riding with Peter Campbell are why my lovely boy and I are objects in motion, CTR, trail ride, horse show, it matters not. We load up, saddle up and get after it.

Last night, riding Cunningham Lake in the moonlight with Colleen and a couple other friends, I start to lose my calm. My horse jigs, anxious ears, tight hard body. I breathed a calm I did not feel, caused my muscles to relax, ask for a soft feel and the horse bumps back a couple of times but then softens to my hand.  His neck loses it’s wicked arch and he walks, tension dissolving from us both. Take the lead, Ter. Take responsibility for your mental and emotional condition and your horse will follow.

moonlight selfieMoonlight ride

Notice in the photo to the right, Royal is calmly allowing not just one but two horse to walk out in front of him. Huge!

Today I headed off down the road to the first horse show I have ridden in years, first one for Royal ever. My heart beats in my chest where it belongs. I am also finding my peace and my faith in my horse.  I am not going with expectations. I have no attachment to any results. I am hopeful for partnership with my pony and some more good times.

English Equitation blue2

In this photo, Royal is wearing my old English bridle as the pretty one I borrowed did not fit. In total LACK of proper preparation I have left the girth to the dressage saddle at home and a kind soul provided a saddle for us in which to ride the English classes for which we have not practiced.  I was adjusting leathers as we headed for the ring, got them too short but oh well, here we go!

When it comes time for the Western classes, well heck we tried out the curb bit and one handed riding for a whole 45 minutes the other night so we are set, right?

In my own defense, the original show date conflicted with the CTR and I had no thought of practicing or getting ready for it til I realized it had rained out and we could actually attend. It’s a very fun saddle club show with a group I used to ride with and plan to do so again.

My horse is really a deeply tolerant fellow and I will tell you, for the most part today he rode like a dream and my wish for partnership, true unity, was more than answered.  The parts that were not dreamy I will answer to and for. We still have a lot of work ahead of us, but these great days make it all worthwhile. Can’t wait to see where we go from here!

There’s been a LOT of help from our friends along the way and I am so glad I am at a stage in life where I no longer have to know everything, either do it all on my own or have you completely do it for me. Balance, man, it’s all in the balance.

Gather the bright spots, the golden moments. Remember how you got there. Build on them and don’t get distracted when things do not go well. Ride your own ride and allow those around you to ride theirs as well.

Western selfie

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Right Frame Of Mind

Bet you guys thought I forgot all about Peter Campbell, Archie MO Day Four. Could not be further from the truth. I have thought of little else this past month.

Bringing it home and putting it to work. That seems to be the challenge of every clinic and every clinic-goer I have ever known. Most of us can get at least a piece of what the clinician is teaching and get things to work during the event. It’s back at home the memory fades, the old habits subtly resume their same old songs. We forget the changes or we forget how we made them.

It’s been my determination to not allow that to happen. Peter showed us some new ways to do some old things. New to me, anyway. It’s all about getting control of the feet to rearrange the life in the body. That is not new and Peter showed us a couple pretty neat maneuvers to get it done.  He showed us more ways to help a horse come down before you mount up and once you are in the saddle.


Day 4, practicing

That means I stay ahead of the situation and try to keep Royal in a relaxed frame of mind. He and I can both lose our serenity in a lightning’s blink so if that happens, I need to know how to put us back. Both of us.


Day four, for me, was joyous. Day three ended deeply emotional. I am not going into detail, it is not my story to tell. The risks we saw Peter take to help that mare, the effort she had to make to come through to a better place and the impact it all had on her owner is worth more than I can give them in a few sentences. Just let me tell you it was one of the most powerful things I have ever seen. The effects, the rewards, were with them still the next day and I will bet, right this minute.

Royal and I were together 100%.

Peter Campbell clinic, Archie MO 2014 3601

We worked on an advanced technique in our second class, one that called for awareness and an ability to ask for a specific sequence of footfall. We didn’t achieve it right away from the saddle but what was important was our two way communication was alive and well.

“Left hind foot first, Royal.”

“I need to move my right front. No? Left front then, how about?”

“Um, no. Wait for me while I figure out how to ask so you can understand what I want.”

“Ok, Ter.”

Day Four, backing

We did get it, and then from the ground, several times. It’s a neat technique and I have forgotten all about practicing it. Thanks for the reminder Smile

Riding alone at the ranch, we had that completely blissful ride I noted in my last entry.  It started out okay with the head-lowering, ankle relaxing exercises but once we headed up the trail, that head came right back up and a couple little spooks told me we headed back down the well worn path of frustration and anxiety.

I stopped us, immediately. I did not try to go through something bad to get to something good. I did all the things I talked about in my last post to get his feet, his mind and his body with me. We did everything on that ride. Rated. Even found a little speed and I think the horse had as much fun as I did.

We found a place on a wooded trail blocked by deadfall. Hmm, to the right a slippery leaf covered slope which ends in an ancient barbed wire fence. On the left, up a bank into more deadfall and closely spaced trees. I can maybe see a logical path up there. Requires winding tightly here, stepping over not one but several down logs there, and through some brush before a steep downward to the trail on the other side.

Can't get thru that

Sizing up what we need to do, my horse is settled beneath me. He is waiting for what I want to do next. Waiting . . .

It takes a glance, a little rearrangement of my weight and we climb the bank. I ask him to wait, again. Small asks of the rein before we wind through the small closely set trees in order to set up for the least chance of breaking a leg in the vee’s of the downed timber.

The Path

He complies. We step forward, picking our way with careful delicacy. There is no rush, no panic. He pauses when I want to assess our next direction and doesn’t care when the brush grabs his sides and rudely pokes him in the butt.

Day three I had practiced what happens when you put a taller water bottle than you are used to on the offside and then forget about it when you go to mount. Don’t know about you but I make a loud crackling sound as my leg hangs, and then stab my horse under his tail when I reflexively jerk back. An annoyed grunt was fortunately the only response from my rightfully offended horse. Sorry dude.

I guess he knows that might be a part of things now. He hopes it’s not, I am sure but at least he’s tolerant of what might happen in a human’s world.

Stepping down off the bank, we jauntily resume. I think we are deeply pleased with one another and so we ought to be. This photo does not do justice to the steep angle we are looking at. Pretty good stuff when you know you can count on your horse to go up or down just about anywhere you want to go.

Step down buddy

Finally, riding my horse is fun again. He might be glad I have found my brains and heart after a long winter’s night of uncertainty and doubt.

We rode with my friend, Colleen, at Cunningham Lake a weekend or so ago. Alone, we are golden, now we need to get this working in company of other horses out on the trail.

Colleen has some of the issues with her young horse that I do with mine. They are both unsettled, riding with others. None of the old saws about taking them to the lead, riding with buddies, whatever, none of that works with either of them. Doesn’t work with any, really, but some horses will passenger their riders a little more quietly under those circumstances. Neither Colleen or I have any interest in being passengers taken for a ride.

We made a game plan for some different things to try to keep our horses minds with us instead of allowing them to focus on one another. It was a little bit fits and starts, here and there before the changes started to take place.

I was challenged to find my own mental serenity and I know for a fact Royal can’t find his if mine is lost. Processing all the following week, I know once again, that task belongs to no one but myself and regardless of what is going on around me, I can find my ability to breathe, be calm and be a good leader for my horse.

That ride worked out too, for all of us. On our way back we did things with our horses, increasing the distance between them as we went. Colleen’s horse seemed completely with her when I would look over at them, the pair was working together.

Royal found a little concern as I asked him to leave them behind but after a questioning ear flick, it was down the trail and no mad rush when I allowed him to return. More knots fell out of my soul and maybe his too.

We found enjoyment in our horses, in each other’s company and it was another great ride for the books. Here’s us, snapping shots of one another at the watering hole, and then again at the end of our ride.

Snap happyColleen at the water

Colleen happy with Ringojoy

Royal and I signed up for our next big adventure. Competitive Trail Riding is a sport enjoyed by several of my friends and has always had appeal to me. For those of you not familiar, it is distance riding but not the mad rush of endurance (that also has appeal, don’t let me  lie).

It is a judged event from everything to safety in your campsite, how your horse is groomed, how you handle obstacles on the trail and your horsemanship when you might think you are unobserved. There is a window of time so knowing how to rate your pace to make a distance is key. Vet checks, pulse and respiration requirements let you know if you can continue.

This weekend coming up there is a CTR Clinic on Saturday followed by a CTR ride on Sunday. I figure what better way to begin our chosen sport than a clinic telling us how to do it. Several of our friends who have achieved success are going to be there, teaching and mentoring.

Time to take our show on the road. I figure what we need to learn next is going to be presented to us in big, bold letters. Wish us luck!