Sunday, August 30, 2015


I sat at my cluttered desk, a sharp spike of fear knifing through me as I realized the choice between paying rent and feeding horses was again a no brainer. I was going to feed the horses.

I had too many. Of that, there was no doubt. I could tell myself a lot of things about the quality of the ponies I was raising, the uniqueness of the several that had gone from “for sale” to “mine.” Those things were all true. The $700 a month hay bill was true too. That was a hard nut to crack for two self employed people not to mention keeping the lights on and a roof overhead.

That was most of the five years my husband and I lived in Sioux City, IA. We robbed Peter to pay Paul and eventually Peter had enough. I am a very talented juggler. I once had a college advisor call me the cat in the hat. It’s only lately I am realizing that is not so much a compliment.

Looking back it would be easy to judge my decisions and the further back you get the easier the judgment comes.

What is more important than getting into a jam is getting out of one in a dignified graceful way. IRRRRK (that’s screeching tires) hold the phone folks. If getting out graceful is what matters, I failed miserably at that part, too.

We pulled the plug on the place in Sioux City only when the black mold came through the walls from the basement all the way up into the living room in a thick poisonous cloud. The Powers that guide my life were trying to tell me I was in over my head and it wasn’t until it happened in a literal fashion I released my claw hold on my dream.

We drove away from our place in a blizzard. It seems fitting.

That was 2009. The blizzard continued until early 2010 when I woke up one day and knew I wasn’t going to be in business anymore. It happened just like that.

I ran Good Hands Horse  Training and Sales since it’s inception in 1993. A birth that happened more between my ears than any actual place. I had a partnership with a fellow who has turned out to be a wonderful and true friend over the years.  We had our little business in spots all over Omaha. I rode and trained with what little knowledge I had at the time. Ignorance was blissful.

Walt and I traveled down many a Nebraska, Iowa back road following Omaha World Herald ads. We’d look over the prospect and if I thought I wouldn’t die, I’d ride it and likely we’d bring it home. He invested the money, I the time to ride it and see what we had, make it as right as I could and away Pegasus goes to his new home. We didn’t do too bad, we rarely bought something we couldn’t live with and if we did, that’s what sales were for.

Those were the years I was raising the kids by myself, going to school, and juggling like a mad hatter for all I was worth. That shoestring evolved into my new husband and I traveling out of Omaha searching for a place I could hang a shingle and be in business for real. We tried hard in Sioux City and pretty much all of the people I sold horses to talk to me so some good changes made there at any rate.

Coming back to Omaha nothing quite worked out as we had planned. The weather stayed ugly even though the seasons changed around us as they do. I cried. A lot. Made sacrifices, mistakes, couldn’t seem to find the path to peaceful thinking and right living.

Shutting down the siren song of being Good Hands was only the beginning. I don’t regret following my dreams all those years. I do wish I’d had some better internal tools to build them into reality.

Today, I sit here at my desk in a house again awash in boxes. We are moving out of the home we saved ourselves in. We are still renters and the guy that owns this place likes us enough that when we spoke of moving, he gave us another of his properties, bigger, better, prettier and there’s discussion of an eventual option to buy.

I maybe have one too many ponies but I don’t have to choose whether to feed them or pay the rent. I can do both these days. Keeping the job I’ve had for a little over three years, a personal record for this gypsy girl has required more tears and sacrifices. I’ve used many of the things Peter Campbell taught me in clinics to find corporate success, a thing I couldn’t allow myself to think I wanted.

My husband and I have a couple paid off vehicles in the back. We haven’t had to worry about any getting hungry and wandering off on the end of a tow truck in quite some time. I am thinking of trading my beloved F150 for a bigger badder version.

I am finding success in building my vitamin sales part time business to the extent that company is kicking a car payment at me as I long as I keep doing what I’ve been.  There’s a trailer with a weekender package in my fairly recent horizon.

Royal and Huckleberry are at a barn that isn’t just a boarding facility to me. I love Greg and Sally, who own the place and my fellow boarders have become a brand new set of dear old friends. From keeping the world at arm’s length while I whirled, spun, hid and juggled to try to keep things afloat, it’s quite the change to where I sit today.

Good thing I gave up waiting for my fairy godmother, she’s always been one to want me to hitch my own wagon anyway. I started taking chances on believing in other people besides myself. No man is an island but a woman can be, carried me for a lot of years. I’ve taken risks following the advice of others more successful at the things I want to do than I am. Turns out you don’t have to reinvent the wheel at every little turn, the round one works pretty good.

If you are reading this right now in the middle of your own personal jam, your own fear and despair rising up in your throat about to choke the life out of you just know at least one other person has been there. There’s no wall so high you can’t find a way over, around, or build a door, open it up and walk through that bitch. I speak from the deepest of experience.

End of September I ride with Peter in Lincoln at the Lancaster Event Center. I’m bringing friends and meeting my clinic family. Can’t wait to see Peter and Trina. Can’t wait to watch Huckleberry blossom as Peter helps me help him to be the horse he wants to be. Beloved Royal gets to work cows. I am pretty sure he will suit up and rise to the occasion like the great partner and best friend that he is. We’ve come a LONG way.

Turning dreams into plans hasn’t stopped one little bit, just had a facelift.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Killing Corie

I’ve always been one to gain courage and inspiration by watching what someone else can do with a horse. You do it and live, I bet I can too. That has followed me through my horse training career and post. If someone is struggling with a horse, the first thing I want to do it take it from them, get the calm going on and show the person how easy it is to bring the horse to a better place.

My wish to set an example sometimes does not have the desired effect. The person can’t see or feel when the horse changes so they really have only their interpretation of what they think they see me do that helps their horse get from one place to another. It’s rarely any more accurate for them than it is for me when I watch.  Sometimes they just get mad that I can do it at all and sometimes it’s yeah, that works for you but not for me. Shakes head.

Peter has taught me, until you feel the change for yourself you have no idea and cannot possibly understand it. Makes it almost impossible to replicate at home by yourself without that understanding.

A couple of years ago my dear friend Corie was ready to get her last young horse started under saddle. I was working my day job during the week and had a heavy part time schedule at the ranch. There was no place there to bring in an outside horse and less time for me to do a proper job starting one.


I recommended my friend Kip Fladland who is the best trainer in this area. He’d tell  you he’s no trainer but for our intents and purposes, you know what I mean when I call him that.

Kip did the job I knew he would and Charlie came home nicely started and ready to go. I’m not telling Corie’s story here, only mine of how I almost did her in yesterday but life got in the way and the horse didn’t see much riding. Time goes on and it gets harder and harder to take the young green one when there are steady eddys at hand. Most of us know how that goes.

Yesterday dawns nasty hot and muggy. Corie and I aren’t feeling spending the day in the indoor arena sweating and messing with horses. We arrive at good excuses, console one another and consult our calendars for a better day.

There was not one. No days left in a summer suddenly swiftly receding into the rearview mirror of 2015. So, suck it up, cowgirl up and here we come.

Adventure begins

I don’t go into situations like this often with an agenda but I had one yesterday. As long as the horse didn’t tell me something completely different and I didn’t think he would, Corie would be on him, relaxed and happy end of the day.

That was going to take some doing on both ends.

Here’s us knocking off the mud based concrete on our nags!

Fat T

getting started

I’ll be your Huckleberry

I'll be your HuckleberryI saddled my two. I would use my green horse, Huckleberry as the student demo. He’s not going to get broke standing next to Royal in a pen. I knew ponying was in our list of things to get done and I smiled to myself as I tacked Royal with the dressage saddle and no worries. We’ve come a very long way. .  .

First thing, I want to see the green horses moving loose and free under saddle. We pull the halters and I move all four around the arena. Zip thinks the flag is going to eat him, Royal wants to be a race horse. Huckleberry bucks his way around the arena at first and then only in the corners . . . there’s something up with that but not today’s issue (Peter – September). Charlie, the student the day is actually for long trots and floaty lopes easily when asked. No tension, no bounce no spring. Deep bred for pleasure and every ounce of him shows it.

Flagging to get them looseKeep moving!

I see what I need to see from Charlie. Scowl at Huckleberry who locks up and humps in the corners. Royal is asking to be done with the nonsense, facing up and Huckleberry swiftly follows suit. He learned fast from last week.

Once the other two figure out if they give me their attention they don’t have to run, we move on. There is a lot to do and not a ton of time to get it done.

My goal is to hand Corie tools. I barely touch her horse. I do something with Huck, watch and coach her with Charlie. She is horse woman enough to feel the changes as they make them together and the coolness sets in. Internally. It’s hotter n hell in that arena!

We sweat and pant. I don’t give Corie time to get worried. I keep her moving Smile. Tool after tool, watching her horse carefully and mine as well. The deal isn’t good if it’s not right for them.

My Huckleberry horse is a kind fellow. The more I work with him the more I understand how little he really knows. It’s a testament to his good nature that we got away with using him last year. He’s not just green, he’s chartreuse. He sinks his head into me when I go to him, nickers to me when I leave him. I might be the only person that has asked him questions and given him time to figure out answers in his life.  I love that I have this opportunity to spend the day with my friend and my horses. More a gift to me than any Smile

Calm and patientFacebook-20150809-075025

I am looking for both of us to be able to keep our horses soft, relaxed and out of trouble. I create little troubles to help Corie see what it looks like and how to bend her horse easy to slow him down without having to shut him down and kill his forward.

We build opportunities for success. We give our horses plenty of chances to find the end of the rope and run into their own pressure. They learn fast when that happens and they release to themselves. No drama. No upset.

They run sweat, we run sweat. I know at one point I heard my heartbeat pounding in my eyeballs and seriously wondered at the wisdom of self. Corie was a trooper. I am pretty sure she would have cheerfully shot me a couple of times.

I have learned a little about how to stay on the right side of trouble with people too. Like Ray Hunt said, you don’t go looking for trouble but you don’t avoid it either and once you find it, take care to stay on the right side.

I keep the progression of how things need to go in mind and click off tally after tally. Before we ride I want to pony.  We grab our steadies off the wall and ride them around.


Royal is my heart coming home horse.  I am never going to get over the gift he gives when he swoops in to pick me up off the block. I drop reins, fuss with my irons, and when we are ready, off we go. I do a little dressage-y stuff to warm up, the spiraling in and out, leg yielding and then forward. Outside rein, inside leg. He’s fat and out of shape not so bendy but unbelievably solid under me.

We go up to Huck, tied loosely on the rail. I leg yield Royal into position, easing Huckleberry out of the way so I can lean over, get the tail of the rope and shake the knot loose. I back Royal away giving us plenty of room to position my horse to my pony horse and we move off. Huck is coming forward off pressure in a completely different way than a few hours earlier. I sidle over close, rub his head and neck, tell both my horses how much I appreciate them.

I turn them nose to tail and use Royal to help me get Huckleberry’s hip. From braced and hard this morning, he follows the feel lightly.  I back us off facing each other. Ungracefully I flip the lead rope from one side to the other. Royal wishes he had someone like Peter who might could do this without catching his ears but he tolerates me.

Corie has a little trouble getting Zip to get in position to pick up Charlie off the wall. I send her out to work on getting Zips’ hip and attention. Royal and I go get Charlie. Hand him over, get my Paint and we are ready.

I wish we had pictures of a lot of this. It was such good work. The horses told us by their toplines, soft eyes and willing attitudes that even though it was not always  clear what we wanted them to do that they were in it with us to figure it out.

Neither Huckleberry or Charlie have much idea what to do with their feet. That gets them off balance and unconfident which is where trouble can live. As they each grew willing to trust and let us give them direction, the entire look of them changed. They are beautiful horses but no horse is beautiful when it is awkward and all of them are as they become balanced.

We even took a short trip outside the barn and down the way.  It was a LOT cooler outside and we all wondered why I hadn’t thought of that any sooner. Wasn’t time.

We’ve been getting them and ourselves ready to ride the entire day. I show Corie how to work the tail, ask for forward motion with it, and how to give it a “wild one” to see if there’s brace locked up somewhere inside.

Asking for forward with the tailFoGetting softerGetting the hip, bracedGive it a wild one!

We ride them from the ground, holding the lead in our outside hand like a rein, inside hand on the stirrup to use like our leg.

I have exhausted the groundwork we needed to accomplish. The horses are tired, we are tired. The moment to ride is going to come and go without us if I don’t keep after it.

Corie keeps herself safe as I have had her do all day. She makes sure her face is not lined up with the saddle horn as she moves the stirrups near and offside. She brings up a leg, rubs his butt with her foot. I think most of us have accidentally booted our horses when we are mounting and not paying attention. We should not do that but I darned sure want mine okay with it if I do!

Almost thereBringing him to the block

She decides to do more work of f the block. Stands in the stirrups, up. Leans over, down. Up, leans over (this is after three grueling hours of groundwork kids). Up, stay. I move Charlie’s hip. He’s working to find his balance but his mind is cool.

On, off. On, stay for a moment, off. On.

Everybody breathingCharlie untroubledTwo happy beings

And, stay on. They are ready. They ride.  Corie logged over 6 miles with her gps. Most of that was footwork but what she logged on Charlie I hope is the beginning of the first thousand miles she put on Zip to get him where he is today.

It was grand.

Huckleberry riding againCorie and her good boy

Sunday, August 2, 2015

New Kid In Town

I’ve been on a lot of horses in my lifetime. A few years ago Colleen and I tried to total up the horses we’ve been on. Came to well over a thousand for us each. Drop in the bucket for the Peter Campbell’s of the world but quite a few for the rest of us.

I have also studied horse behavior, their psychology and what changes in how they move depending on how educated they are or what their temperament is. The result is I can tell a really good horse in about three minutes. I can tell you one I want no part of in the same amount of time. Or less.

It’s the in-betweens that cause my brow to wrinkle. Red flag here  . . . but something really willing  . . . here. Been jacked with by human beings but not so sour or explosive that I don’t want to take the risk of trying to help them past it .

Pulling into the ranch about this time last year the tall flashy Paint on the rail catches my eye immediately. He's big, rangy and put together decent. I am no Paint fan or so I keep telling myself but I like this one.

He’s wearing the obligatory Tom Thumb bit bridle and a tie down. I scowl. Everybody out there knows how much I hate that set up. I’ve shown over and over again success in a snaffle bit and it looks like I’m going to have to, at least one more time.

Not today. They are adamant. this is what we use him in, see if he’s going to work.  The Paint is a prospect for my car parking crew and we have to make sure he’s steady enough that if they can’t ride him, I can.

I do a couple little things on the ground. He’s braced like no tomorrow. No surprise there, right? Locks up, no idea how to move his feet. Looks like one that will get light in front.

He’s solid enough and doesn’t strike me as broncy so I step aboard. I blogged about this horse last year. How dicey those first 25 minutes felt and how I kept riding him trying to discern where he lay in the balance. More good? Dangerous? Definitely a mix of both.

Good enough. I rode  him, he got softer, happier every time and I gave him to a crew member to ride.


End of the season we all tried to buy him but the money was not right for me. I am still horse trader enough I know where the value lies in a horse and I’m not making retail deals except the one I made on Royal and never looked back.

Flash forward to a few weeks ago, I call Charlie looking for a project. The downside of having one horse is if that one is laid up you are essentially horseless even in a world of friends with lovely animals who invite you to ride. He says, yeah, there’s that Paint.

The money is right this time. My trader buddy knows what to do when it’s really time to sell and so do I. Trailer is hitched fast before he can change his mind and Huey now Huckleberry comes home.


I had asked Epona, the Goddess that cares for horses to let me help this guy if at all possible. I thought that chance came and went last year and I only hoped I’d given him enough to secure a future not on someone’s plate.

It doesn’t matter to me what I call God and it matters even less to me what you do. I believe we have Something that looks out for all It’s creations and gives thick headed humans many ways to find It. That’s what I have to say about that.

Huey comes home

Smart, defensive, essentially kind and incredibly willing. That is my new young horse. He’s seven so not a baby but young in his education. Huck seems the type of horse no one really taught anything to, just got on and rode.  Even with never having had a chance to develop confidence, balance or much faith in human beings he’s still a pleaser who offers his heart up.

I put eleven miles on him, slow easy ride down the road with my friend Corie and her steady Zip.  I am thinking of this horse as a project I will develop, put some nice ride on and find him a home with someone that can prove they like him more than I do.

As in the old days when I sold horses for a living I need to know what I have. Education matters not, that’s what I am for. Soundness? Temperament when he’s tired? What’s his go to move when he’s bothered enough? I don’t want to bother him but things are going to eventually and what happens then?

I was ready to pay for him from the get go and Charlie said,  Terri, you haven’t seen this horse in months. Take him, try him, make sure you like him. If you do, come get him paid for. If you don’t, then bring him home and I will give you back your deposit. Simple as that.

I liked him. He doesn’t know how to move out, doesn’t know what to do with his feet and has a worry down deep inside. Because of Peter, I have some good ideas what to do to help him until we ride in Peter’s Foundation Class in September and get the real stuff.

Sound all the way. Barefoot on gravel roads. I didn’t MAKE him ride on the rocks but I didn’t spare him either. No problem.  Not spooky in the least, even tempered and a Zen horse in the making.

Huey tolerates texting while riding!Hueys first trail ride

Huckleberry tells me over and over, sinking his head into my chest, nickering at me when he sees me, following me with pretty blue eyes (finally a horse that matches my dog!) how pleased he is with his new life.  I’m thinking we have a ton of fun in our future.

Huckleberry n me

Oh yeah, I flagged him and Royal yesterday in the indoor to get Huckles relaxed and loping under saddle. Ummm, that sucker is FAST. Hmm Smile