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The Value of Winning

What does it mean to win? Has society placed winning as the value or worth of the competitor?  Is that the sole intention of winning? 20170723_075144I have never really been a competitive person. I hated the idea of one person better than the other, and avoided at pretty much all costs. Was it because I didnt want to fail? I didn’t want to be embarrased or was it that I was scared of my own success?

Just these last few years have I began to look at competion as an act of personal growth. Although I have found not all people feel the same way. I am suprised of the vast array of emotions that some people go through with the thought that they might not bring home the winning blue ribbon.  Last weekend I had an opportunity to participate in a small horse show. I did not have time to prepare or even a chance to give my horse a bath, let alone clean up his bridle path and simple things like that.  I was anticipating a few classes and a grand experience  what ever the outcome.  By the time we got there I ended up signing up for 20 classes, so far out of my comfort zone I could only laugh at what my colt was going to think of me by the end of the day.

As the day wore on class after class I found my little red horse gave me all he had, improving with every class, along with my own feeling of accomplishment.  About the 15th class I felt him falter, hesitate. At first I thought to push him through, only five classes left. I didn’t want to be a quitter.  But that thought past through my mind and disipated in an instant when I asked him one more time for a lope and he gave it to me, with ears up and forward motion. I knew this would be his last tough class of the day as he gave me a beautiful stop. I was filled with pride and emotion as we walked back in line and waited for the ribbons to be handed out. As we stood and waited, a young girl sitting next to me, anticipating 1st, but was upset her horse didn’t pick up the correct lead. She was really upset and found fault in the everything around her. How important is winning? I found out later how her coach reprimanded her for being lazy and not paying attention. Later another young girl was hoping that in trail class they would have things she was good at, such as the mail box…

I replied back at her, “I don’t want things I am good at.”

“Why? It makes it easy to win.”

“I’m not here to win,” I replied, “I am here to challenge myself and my little red horse.”

The little girl was quiet while we waited. Then as we started out of the arena, she said something that will forever be remembered. “Thank you for talking to me.”

“Well, your welcome, my name is Kathy.”

She gave me her name as we visited as we continued out of the arena. Later that day I heard her say to another young girl.

“That woman right there, she doesn’t want to win.  But she sure is winning alot.”

It amazes me the challenges we face and how we evaluate winning and challenging ourself to be better than who we were before  we got there. I have challenged myself several times by entering something. Such as Cowboy Idol cowboy poetry competion and horses shows or what ever, I feel blessed to have competitors who taught me more than by the competion itself.

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On this paticular competion I  was taking a young horse, working at becoming a team and asking him to do things I had never asked of him before, to see if he would follow through. I will say this in facing these challenges.  In English Pleasure, in a saddle I am not familiar with, I did mention English didn’t i; my colt spooked at a paper in the wind. As he jumped to the side at a canter,  I felt myself beginning to fall, Hitch broke stride and brought himself back under me, then picked up his lead and continued as if nothing happened. Ears up and focusing on what’s in front of him. It was a secret he would of kept, had I not mentioned it. If this is not winning I don’t know what is. The ribbons on the wall are a reminder of the adventure, but no one will know the feeling inside, of the challenges faced and achievements within.2017-07-23 13.21.16I will be forever greatful for the challenges we faced together and the sense of achievement that little red horse gave me. Not by ribbons or trophies but by memories and fun we had that day.

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Through Equine Eyes

What is the magic in the horse, that draws the human spirit? The grace? The power? When you look into the eyes of the horse what do you see? No, I mean what do you really see.
I see a mirror of ones self. If I were honest and really stop, look and listen, I would see my strength, and my beauty, I see my courage and my fear. I heard it said, the horse is the mirror of the soul.
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Ray Hunt, a significant influence on natural horsemanship once said, “You are not working the horse you are working yourself.”

From the hundreds of horses that I have worked I feel these words carry a depth that words alone can not be understood until you have felt the impact of the horses knowledge. In the silence of a glance or a tug on the lead to give you guidence on your journey. You have the ability to listen to the horse or redirect the horse to what you thought you wanted, but don’t know how to ask.

Time and time again I have witnessed the correction of what I thought I wanted and what the horse has offered me. And I stand humbled at the difference. From working mustangs who only understand equine language to working the more domesticated horse who have been peopled to death, stalled, and waiting silently, living within four walls hour after hour, waiting to be let out and able to move freely as the athlete they are supposed to be. Some are scared of their own shadow evident when riding.  Other horses critiqued in a discipline of their persons choice to be worked and reworked to perfection of controlled mobility, on a human perspective.

Some horses enjoy the challenge of people working on their discipline others are looking for another outlet, another area of expertise that they can excel at.20170322_141246_231852

The horse waits and adjusts to its surrounding the best it can, some looking forward to blanket and stall, others want freedon to be out and about. We expect a horse to adjust to any situation on our terms, but most of us know there is a limit to their silent sanity.

They try to express their understanding the only way they know how.  Sometimes their efforts is not good enough and we push them beyond their understanding or trust. A lot of times it does not turn out so well.

I was with some buckaroos one morning out at cow camp several years ago, a man had come to ride with us. His horse never being out of an arena before. As he got his horse saddled, the horse spooked and jumped to the side, almost stepping on the man. With that the man proceeded to kick the horse in the belly several times to make him respect his space… the horse became even more nervous of his surroundings then the man began to jerk on the horses head.

An old cowboy watched for a few moments, then stated, “Well that feller is trying to work beyond his knowledge.”

Then turned his horse to begin his day.

I have thought of that instance many times. And realized,  when I don’t know what to do in a situation with my horse, I fall back to old habits taught to me. Some not in the best intrest of the horse. From there I have a choice, keep doing what I have done, or I take a moment pause, think of his reaction to my action and move from there.

If you think for a moment and question this sinario, if a man that speaks a different language walks up to you, puts a rope around your neck and started dragging you along to an unknown destination, would you be inclined to resist? Would your instincts kick in? What if he kicked you in the belly because you jumped, what is your reaction? If this paticular man knew a little bit of your language and offered communication between you and himself what reaction would you offer? If he allowed you to be scared, uncertain, hurt… would trust develop?  Every horse is different, just like every person is different. We have learned what walls to build in life to get by, just like the horse. The damage or abuse we can’t let go of, holds us in a pattern that controls our fear or anxiety that we have learned how to cover up. But we still continue to look for rules, bounderies and leadership along with having some kind of freedom.

As society changes some perceptions of horses  communication, it brings awareness that horses are asking the same things. If they can’t understand or have the courage to try then they take it upon their self to try and find release, what ever the effort. But if we look deeper, the question comes to mind, is that not what we do? Right or wrong, don’t we try to get control, hide behind our fears or flat out take charge?

Why do we want a horse? What draws us to them? Is it that they  healing our life? Do they give us the feeling of being understood, heard? Or it might be trying to get control of life in one way or another. Could it be the challenge of competion, using the horse as our legs? What ever we are searching for through the decades of living and the universal appeal of the horse, they stand silent and wait for our requests. Blindly stepping in the trailer with no idea of where they are headed. To chase a cow, long jog through the desert, or run a barrel pattern, to jumping or dressage. They face and react to our planned days with effort and resistance.

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This is a broad area to talk about and some people might think I have gone off the deep end, but I believe, people and horses have to be multi lingeral to share their existence with each other. To some it is as obvious as breathing and others it is “I have to control this animal.” People can talk of their knowledge and accomplishments,  they can express judgement and compassion. They can feed, not feed, beat, punish or discipline horses in untold techniques behind the scenes to make them shine in the light. The magic is really the reality and truth of our action and reaction that makes a horse truly communicate with us. One thing for sure as you work through the issues and soften the communication between what you want from the horse standing next to you,  it will shine in the silence, for the truth lies within equine eyes.

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Mother Nature

I find myself on Sunday morning, with coffee in my hand sitting outside listening to the Meadow Lark, the Doves, Killdeer and various other birds hidden in the distance in the mystery wanting to be herd but not seen. A cow bawls in the distance, her baby hidden from view. There is a peace here, the horses are fed while others are turned out. I sit in the busyness of the peace…

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I recap of the last few days…

Friendship, laughter, aloneness all wrapped up into a life of adventure and challenges. One challenge accomplished another to face.

I hear the birds chattering and bring myself out of my peaceful state to awareness of the singing… above a hawk circles, two little birds above its head areally a quarter of its size attempting to sway the raptors course. Others team up, as below a grouse hunkers down under a willow, camoflouged in the dry shadows.

The cow has become more concerned about her calf, she starts to stroll where she had last seen it, since it did not present itself or answer her calling.

This all brings an awareness of life… struggles and how as individual species, we are all the same. The hawk flies off leaving the worried birds to tend their young while the hawks babies go hungry, the cow notices her calf on the off side of the fence seeming to have forgotten the hole it found to get through.

Off down by the river a doe has her new born twins stretching and strengthening twig legs, the momma leary of all around her.

In this quiet busyness, it brings the words of Leon Flicks in his poem  The Cowboy. “mother nature, she”s twice as hard as she is kind.

I look at this moment as kind, more of awareness than anything. All that is around me, the bee buzzing in the window and a cheeseburger bird calling in the distance,  life together. The strength of stress, worry and moments of peace wrapped together into life. A moment of graditude.

 

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A Gift of Time

What gift is given with out words? With out money? Without being wrapped? What gift is priceless, selfless and honest? 2017-06-16 10.22.22

Time…

Time to appreciate life. Time to appreciate learning, time to understand a childs point of view.  I was given that gift last week, I relished in every question, every attempt and every try from a world I will never know. That world is being a parent. I was not blessed with children of my own. That is not a sad thing it is an honest part of life. So when given the opportunity to share my life with kids of all ages, I usually jump at the chance.

I had a beautiful opportunity to have my nephews come over for a while. These two kids came to me who want to learn about communication, understanding, courage and facing challenges and patience. All done with my horses. I am not the teacher, I am just the guide. The teacher is the animal standing next to the child.

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Where there is a silent trust, a communication of inner strength, a beacon of light not only in the eyes of wonder but the heart of understanding. When I see the effort not only by the child but by the horse then I know there is a shift, a kind of unknown silent shift that brings the both animal and child to a new awareness of growth, of goal setting, and of communication.

Anyone can Google for information.  But to feel knowledge begin at the fingertips, travel all the way though the body and reach the brain…  That is where learning begins to define character.  20170616_144915-1

When the want and try defy the option of giving up. When the choice is made to try again with such effort that they want to cry, yet fight back tears and bring forth inner strength. Where  video games are foreign words and are forgotten for an entire week.

Where what scared you yesterday is forgotten as you face new challenges today. This is the gift I speak of for in those moments of trial and accomplishments the definition of who they can be in the future begins to develope. Hope, trust, honesty, teamwork wrapped together and silently developed into a memory.

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I am aware that it is only a matter of time and they will be on their own, doing what they do. Grown beyond yesterday’s trials and accomplishments. Laughter of yesterday echoing in my memory. And I will look back and say thank you. Thank you for the gift, the gift of time.20170616_153629

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To Honor Try

Like so many people, I have had horses most all of my life. I have owned them, challenged them, and told them what to do.  I have fallen off, been dumped and been in challenging situations with hundreds of horses. In growing up I thought I knew them, understood them and could get the results I was looking for. I searched out troubled horses with a sense of pride of how I could handle them. Unaware of what they were actually teaching me. So from each experience I grew and changed, thinking I had them figured out, and each time walking away a better person for what I had learned.  I have loved them on a human level but have not respected the communication they have offered.

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Paisley mustang, Creed and Kathy

From mustangs to ponies, from saddle to draft horses. I was always looking how I could better the horse, but all the while the horse was bettering me. After I graduated high school and I had gotten married I went to my first riding clinic, and realized there were words and descriptions to the feel I had for the horse.

People were saying words like, lateral flex, bending at the poll, lounging, all words I had never used and I felt my knowledge begin to dwindle because I had no idea what the conversations were about.  I began to try to live up the the words used by other people instead of the feel of the horse, and ignoring their try. I was so wrapped up in the wanting to please the instructor, try this bit, that martingale, this spur… I lost the feel I had spent my entire life feeling and tried to bring words into play. “Leg in, leg out, rib in, rib out, head down, hip in, leg back, leg forward, words haunting my motion and loosing my feel for the horse.

Then on top of all that the instructor would say, “Did you feel that?”

“Hell no! I didn’t feel anything… I was thinking of the words you were saying.”

Then we would start again all the while the horse shaking his head in disgust as I again tried to listen to the teacher of the class who was getting disgusted with me as a rider. Who was beginning to think I needed to go back to the beginning because I was to stupid to ride a horse without the help of an instructor, who was all words about all they knew, who they knew and the  DVD’s, halters, and carrot sticks they had available for me to buy to help me get the knowledge I needed to be a better horseman.

I would feel inadequate and frustrated to near tears, wondering how I had become so stupid and questioning my knowledge I thought I once had.

Asking one time, a question I had known for years but now asking out loud to a well known clinition “How do I get this colt to pick up his right lead?” in vein looking for ques I might not of known.

When the reply back to me was, “You should be able to do this with your horse.” As the instructor lifted his horse into a lead change ever other stride. “If you can’t do that then you don’t have control of your horse.”

I started working on a quarter horse ranch where again instructors were giving me more words to how I needed to feel the feel with these action or that leg. Driving the horse in unnatural positions and mind blowing stops on babies just under two years of age. With wounded heart and several clinics and lots of money invested, I felt my knowledge I had, was so mixed up, I thought I had no right to  handle horses, I had begun to focus on the words and goals instead of the feel and try. And with a few other reasons, I withdrew from horses and questioned my own ability.  I was getting my horses as confused as I was. I had felt the loss of feel in the attempt to do what others were doing.

Years later… I began again to play with horses, this time with the knowledge that I would “play” with horses and see what that got me. Allow my feel to come back without words. I began to start colts to lead, play with a troubled horse here and there, then  a troubled little mustang and a little red colt that had come trotting into my life.IMAG1064_1With four years of watching a certain horse clinic in a little town, I thought I might try one more time and walk away not only a better rider, but a little better horseman and person.

Joe honored my try. In my efforts I was able to take my little red horse to another level of understanding me, and of me understanding my action and my horses “try”.  In four days I had found the language that I had and a language my horse could understand. This is beyond the idea of  “I want a better turnaround”, or “a better stop”. I was learning how, my actions and reaction to my horses action or try,  began to develop into a sense of feel. I began to ask myself, “Am I setting him up to try again or ignoring his efforts and expecting perfection?” Hmmm.

I was given direction, not from the instructors idea of where I should be but from where I was at with my horse. Someone who was able to allow me feel, while my horse had a reason to try.  I didn’t have to buy another DVD, or a special halter or invest in some kind of partnership program for hundreds of dollars. I found a place I could excel and honor myself for the knowledge I had and I could respect the new knowledge given, to do the very thing I came to the clinic to do. And that… well… it is not only understanding the horse, but how the horse understands me. What I say on a deeper level and how he interprets it by feeling resistance or acceptance. With no arrogance, but setting the horse up to succeed with understanding and follow through. Bringing the reality of when a horse stops or “sulls” he is beyond try and is put in a situation that he does not see a way out of.

These last few days of working with my horse on this deeper level have brought out a question that I  am now learning to play with, in timing and release. A deeper level that honors “try”, when it becomes try, and allow him to carry out his efforts in release.

 

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So why did I write this for the public to read? Well because I feel we get so busy with life and goals and ambition that sometimes we forget to honor try. We become numb to the thought of effort and allow words to get in the way of horses. Holding them responsible for our actions that they silently have to filter through their thinking process. If we are able to release as they begin to try and full fill our goal. With consistency on our part the reward is amazing and the horse is more willing to try more often. looking for the release.

Let’s play for a minute. What if you was riding your horse toward the fence straight on and wanting to turn left, you give your consistent cue that you would normally use to turn left while preparing for the turn. As the horse took a step toward the left, what if you  released and allow the horse the opportunity to finish the turn on his own, allowing him the quietness to finish. In doing so, a few times, would you notice a difference in the way the horse responds to your cue to the left? He is ready to respond without question because of the release you gave him as he started to respond, and you not carry him all the way through the turn.

If we played that kind of game in different avenues of our riding, releasing on the first step, if they step out of our intention redirect our cue and release again on the attempt of correct response, that practice would not only change the horses idea of riding but it would challenge us to focus on intention and release.

For the four days that I practiced this I found, I began to know exactly where my horses feet were and the feel of his try. and my horse? Well my horse was less worried about doing things wrong, or anticipating correction from me and focusing on what I was asking to receive the one thing that all horses want, and that is release.

In all the years of my riding and challenges I have considered myself a student of the horse and am always looking for how I can get better at understanding them and the unspoken way about them. And now I can honestly say, as I begin to teach another maneuver, I will do my best to quiet myself and to honor his try.

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Thanks for the Ride

The value of friendship. A friendship that exists through years of living. It is not twisted into a annual commercial venture. It is silent moments, a phone call after a year of not talking, yet a feeling that time had not passed. It is questioning life, analyzing truth, challenging the meaning of right and wrong.  Friendship allows discussion of wounds not fully healed, scars and hurt of life so deep in the heart that can only be seen by creases on the face and stained and calloused hands. Only one who truly knows, will see it in the eyes. It is kind gestures without talking. It is laughter so deep tears fall and laugh muscles hurt.

I sit and look at this gift a friend has given and it brings our friendship though the years to mind. I look at it with blurred vision of memory and emotion.

An old saddle sitting on its saddle tree and I feel a moment of peace and gratitude. Wondering why such a treasure was given to me.

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Every scar, every rope burn and the leather that has warn thin with age and time tells the stories. I can look at it and allow the spur rowell to sing and snow soggy days relived. I can imagine the days gone bad that turned experience into knowledge.  I will think of the early morning rides, with the sun coming up over the desert floor, where the dew was chilled into frost, while warm breath released by horse and man mingled together  into whispers of vapor.  Laughter in the still morning air breaks the silence for an instant then swallowed once again by silence of life. Stiff muscles, leather creaking, a sigh of breath and the fall of shod feet.

Here this saddle sits in front of me, aged by time, trials and triumphs. Accepted and cherished with the perfection of scars and repaired leather tethered, stitched and glued together. Letting go of yesterday and looking towards tomorrow.

I reach out and grab the pommel, swing it off the tree and on to the well brushed back of a horse. I shift my blanket, set the saddle, drop my cinch and pull my tug snug around the girth.

My horse sighs, a breath of pride?Maybe…Or the sigh of the hundreds of horses this saddle has felt before. Knowing with buckles tight and the soft creak of old leather, history rides again.

I will forever look upon this gift. Far beyond monetary value. Beyond any new gift from a store. A token of friendship, of hardship, of life, of battles won and laughter that sings and rings into the heart. Of sore aching muscles, of hard desert rides, of days of loneliness and days filled with adventure. I will step on with knowledge, appreciation and try. I will treasure this gift, a memory of our rides together through the years of trials and triumphs.

And as I step off I will stroke my horses neck and say thanks for the ride.

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Predictable

To be honest, I am not a woman to sit idol for very long. And I always try to find good beyond the negative in life.

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 From animal rescues, working with a rescued mustang, dog training, poetry, working with horses and dabbling in my third novel, that had come to a complete halt about three months ago. Egging myself on with a guilt trip beyond ego and pride. When I finally took a breath.  I stopped trying to put words on paper. Until this last week. I stopped and asked myself what I am trying to accomplish, with all my busyness?

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First and foremost in my busyness, I don’t want to have a bucket list. I want to be a part of the good I see in this world. I want to inspire desire and float my own boat. Yet sometimes something strikes and makes a person question their efforts. When a negative thought becomes strength. So here is my story.

I had read a review about my first novel Unspoken about 3 months ago, they gave me “4 1/2 stars, and said” very good but, Predictable”

I did not look at 4 1/2 stars as a complement , or even think for an instant that all romance novels are predictable also.This book not being a romance, but understanding each book is its own. It is not about the ending it is about the journey.

No… I let that one word stop me. I chewed on that for a little while, my first thought was to defend my writing. Then I thought I needed to shake things up in my writing, and it is funny how one word from one person, a stanger in a review read by others shakes up ones confidence and question ones own creation.  What you have put your heart, blood and soul into. Then having the courage to turn it out to the world to share in hopes to get accepted with great reviews. Then one review brought me to a cross road. PREDICTABLE.

From there I let my imagination run wild.  ‘Subconsciously’ my writing stopped dead in its tracks. Don’t even know what was meant by that one word. Nothing anyone would say or could say could shake the hold of that one word. So I sat on ice, so to speak… not literally.

This last week I looked at that one word, “Predictable ” and all the sudden it had new meaning. Of course it’s predictable! The Unspoken Trilogy is an inspiring story that is to lift and challenge!

There are enough murder mysteries out there, enough grotesque unimaginable things that people do. I don’t need to write about that. I will not shake things up to fit in the grove.

I look at every thing I do and  what I am made of. I believe in what I write, because I write from the heart. And a thousand wonderful letters, reviews and attaboys that showed me that i am speaking to more than one person and that I am on the right path of writing of hope and healing. Of course it is predictable, and I am happy that it is. For my first novel that I was never going to print, I am honored it has touched so many lives and created a journey I never thought I would ever be on.

And from that I stepped outside my box. Really Kathy?!

Yes I did! I had the characters come to life by having them made into audio books. For the last 6 months I have been working with a fabulous narrator Cindy Pillar who has gave a voice to my imagined characters and brought them to life. Unspoken has been out in Audio for the last few months and now Finding Home is coming to the final stages and should be released in four weeks or so.

I can not even begin to explain the journey this has taken me on. I am honored and very pleased that these books have taken on a whole new life and adventure with audio books.

Predictable,  yes but the adventure of a cozy contemporary western fills my heart with a driven force to be strong and face change, find adventure within the pages.

These books are out there to be shared, and enjoyed, but the gift they have given me is beyond words on the page. They have given me a journey of doubt, patience,  grit and strength.  As with other authors out there my hats off to you and keep doing what your heart says. One word at a time. It’s not the ending, it’s the journey that gives character.

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Find these on amazon books or http://www.akmossbooks.com

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