A Final Goodbye To My Friend


There is still a 1,000 pound hole in my heart and even after three months, tears regularly pool in my eyes as I try to process and accept that the horse who rekindled my love of horses will no longer greet me as I enter the barn. The photo I took the day Cigar joined the family shows him sticking his tongue out as I clicked the shutter. If only I knew then what a wild ride it would be. Cigar would test the limits of my patience, the limits of my credit card, and my ability to forgive. I think somehow he knew I always would be there for him.

He joined the family in December 2005. His inability to work in a group without thinking it was a race prompted me to try dressage. While I found dressage to be challenging and a worthy pursuit, Cigar would challenge the judges to find something positive to say. “Nice Braids!” was a common comment (though truth be told they were not). He found the 20×60 meter ring to be tedious. He was never happier than when he was allowed to stretch his legs and gallop. His ears would prick forward and you were merely a passenger while he found his stride.

This year was a challenging one for him as you could see his body failing to do what he loved the most. He started the year with hoof issues. A heart murmur was detected by the vet in early August. It was the return of the lymphangitis in September which was just too much for his body to fight…In the end, I knew I had to let him go to run free over the bridge, free from all pain and eternally happy.

His brother has been lost without his constant companion and cohort in crime. We were fortunate enough that one of Ms. C’s other clients sent her horse to the farm for rehabilitation, so Toad helps quell some of Ike’s loneliness.

I love you Cigar. I will miss our conversations. The barn is very quiet without your nickers. I will always carry you in my heart.



Fun Photo Day

Fun photo day! Ike is enjoying the final days of his fall vacation. He has spent the week trying to engage Cigar in some roughhousing, taking his gate off the hinges, and pushing down fence boards. Maybe a week off is just a little too long…

So what do you like to do with your horse when they are enjoying some well deserved down time?


Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner!

Thanks to everyone who took the time to guess what Ike’s weight is. Ike says he is glad that we did this now instead of when he comes out of winter with a little something extra around the middle. Guesses ranged from a svelte 1,211 pounds up to a full ton. My joints are extremely grateful that Ike does not top the scales anywhere close to 2,000 pounds. In total, we had 32 guesses.

And…without further ado…




Karen Siebert!

Her guess of 1,330 pounds was only 5 pounds away from his weight of 1,335 pounds.

Congratulations! I will be in touch so you can pick your prize.


Carnival Game Time

“Does this angle make my nose look big?”

If you have followed us for any amount of time, you have probably heard me call Ike various nicknames: Big Boy, Baby Huey, The Jolly Green Giant (while wearing his green winter blanket), or Blue Whale (while wearing his blue blanket).

Well now we know precisely what he weighs thanks to the scale at the clinic in Marshall…so, let’s do a contest to see who can guess his weight.

Contest Rules

  1. One entry per person.
  2. Enter by posting your guess (weight in pounds) in the blog comments, on Facebook in the comments for this post, or on Twitter by replying to the tweet.
  3. Winner will be the closest guess without going over.
  4. If more than one person has the right weight, the person who posted it first will win.
  5. Contest will run July 7, 2018 through July 11, 2018.
  6. Winner will be announced July 12, 2018.

Winner will have their choice of either a $10 Starbucks gift card or a $10 Dover Saddlery gift certificate.

Good luck!

A Dressage Poem

Shoulders, shoulders, shoulders

Inside leg, more leg, some more leg

Half halt

Half halt

Inhale, exhale

Shoulders, shoulders, shoulders

Seat bone, leg, just the thigh

Half halt

Half halt

Breathe you fool

Look up, look ahead, look up!

Shoulders, shoulders, shoulders

Half halt

Half halt (you forgot didn’t you?)

Are you breathing?

The end

Being Worthy

IMG_20180119_150145_027.jpgThere has been a lot of time for reflection this winter. Mother Nature has reminded us repeatedly that she is in charge and we had better respect her authority. Weeks of beyond brutal, face numbing cold, a little snow, and now flooding rains mean that I spend more time thinking about riding rather than actually being in the saddle.

Sadly, I care more about not riding than does my horse. He is entertaining himself by standing on his overturned water trough (just the front hooves thankfully…for now), breaking fence boards, and testing the hot wire…you see when you realize the hot wire is off, playtime with your brother is so much more fun as is reaching over the fence to eat the tree.

I can share that we did earn some year end awards from both our local chapter and at the state level. It was nice to have our work recognized and to have work worthy of recognition. Now to build on that success and continue the journey.

2017 vada awards

When we can ride, we have been strengthening Ike’s ability to carry himself. Incrementally we are building our collection in the trot and canter. Slowly but surely we are seeing improvements in our work. The plan is to stay at Third Level and to get scores consistently in the mid-60’s before we move on to Fourth Level. Luckily Ike’s rider is finally figuring out correct half pass alignment. Hopefully that coupled with better collection and clean flying changes will mean higher scores and fewer “needs more ____” comments. Once we master those skills, poor Ms. C can face teaching me the coordination I will need for tempi changes. I fear it will be reminiscent of tap class or gymnastics – lots of flailing with little accomplished. Stay tuned.

One of my biggest concerns for the coming year is Ike’s lack of tail. He managed to rub a significant portion of it out last summer and what is left barely qualifies as a tail. We have moved into Appaloosa territory, and I am researching hair weaves for horses. It is too embarrassing to share a photo. Well, I am embarrassed; Ike is rather blasé about the situation. He might change his tune when the bugs return and he has no tail to swat them away.

As I reflect on our journey thus far, I am grateful for my equine partner’s willingness. He is not the most gifted dressage athlete, but he more than makes up for that with his heart and his try. He gives me everything he has when I ask him to try new skills. He has become rather adept at interpreting my requests. The year to comes holds so much promise. Let us hope it will also be worthy of recognition.


Thought For The Day

Actually, two thoughts can sum up my ride today…

1) I am pretty sure that I spent 45 minutes arm wrestling an animal that weighs about 10 times what I do. Look for Ike leaping off the top rope of a WWF ring later this year.

2) Thank goodness no one was around to witness the lopsided wrestling match. Today, I was the designated loser.