Santa Ynez Vaquero Days.

Its now two days since I have returned home to the Great Frozen North after a simply perfect weekend in California at the Santa Ynez Vaquero Show and Sale with Bruce Sandifer being the Honored Vaquero this year and all my “Colorado” sistahs  in attendance as well made for the perfect reason for jumping on a  plane and heading south for a few days…

And what a brilliant time it was! Friday was spent ogling all the trade show vendors with everything from 18th century bits and spurs, turquoise and silver jewelry, hats, new gear and saddle makers, books, music and laughter by the bucket load. Add to that a glass of California wine, great friends and sunshine, the day sped by. The evening gala dinner and auction celebrated Bruce’s enormous contribution to preserving the traditions and passing on Classical Californio Bridle Horsemanship. Truly one of the great ones, and yet humble, humorous and inspiring. 

Saturday was an eclectic mixture of wine tasting in one of the seemingly endless venues for this favored pastime in the picturesque town of Santa Ynez, more shopping, Bruce’s presentation on the gear and its use in the balance/signal system, and then a BIG treat. We were permitted to tour a private collection of Vaquero tack and art and to say it was completely overwhelming was an understatement! Every millimeter of hanging space, standing space, wall space, air space was filled with silver bits, spurs, saddles, artifacts, books and artwork that would fit! To see and touch the beauty and memories held in each of the many thousand pieces was an experience I’ll cherish for ever!

Sunday was back at the show, and I ordered a new felt hat (yay), visited with Bruce about reatas( preferably ones not chewed into seven pieces:), shopped, more wine tasting, and by now it was getting bad! When you are wine tasting in Albertson’s Food Stores, its getting bad…….and then over for dinner to Karen and Wally’s new place for supper. It was Karen and Wally’s place I have ridden with Bruce the last two years and they  recently moved from Colorado to California (the winters are better…or more wine, not sure which) and imagine my surprise when we drive up to a gorgeous property with log homes on it! and Canadian flags on the gate! It was Pioneer Log Homes out of Williams Lake. What a place! Simply stunning and perfectly suited for entertaining all their very cool friends.

Monday. Monday was lesson day. Overlooking the ocean in Santa Barbara. 

Under swaying palm trees and blooming bougainvilleas we once again were treated to Bruce sharing his knowledge and humor with us. I LOVE one of his statements. “Do less, WAAAAAY less. Just do more of it.” Just another piece of subtly, refinement, feel, and awareness. So breathtaking when its right…what a treat! this journey of immersing myself in the exploration of this fine old Art has been so intensely rewarding and never have I felt so at peace and excited to be riding and being with my horses. It just flat feels GOOD!

Linda’s “Magic”, 1/2 Arab, 1/2 Saphiro and the reason Espada is bred…

Then, hugs all around and it was scuttle of to the airport ( even their airport was beautiful!) for the journey home. And even that was very cool, having had an unexpected and thought provoking conversation with another passenger on the joys of this brilliant woven tapestry we call life. I stumbled off the plane full onto midnight West Coast fog and rain, and pointed my faithful Dodge home thru the Canyon and home, home again to my very welcoming Sage and Griffy and horses all. What a trip………….Thank you:)

Eventing. Well, Manely

Well. Well well well……….. 

The week has sailed past already following the Mane Event, and I find myself just really wanting to Thank everyone that stopped by and had a visit. Some old friends which were so cool to see, some new ones made, some surprises, and alot of familiar faces that have stuck with me on this crazy loop-de-loop path….:)I was taken aback with the enormous amount of interest in all things pertaining to the Bridle Horse, and the gear certainly drew folks attention.

   Funny thing is though that once the concept was explained to those who did not know of the journey, that it quickly became apparent that it is more the Time, Reverence and Patience, combined with a balanced understanding and communication through the ‘gear’ that gives this ancient, harmonious, “Signal” based ideology a truly remarkable place in the horse world. 

It is most simply put as  ” designed with the horse and the utmost respect for him in mind”. This is certainly not new, fast or a “program”. It demands Feel. It requires Balance. It is Fluid and it is Movement. It can be crazy making and brutally honest…..But, it creates Confidence, Softness, Grace and Empowerment in both horse and human. 

It encompasses all things I hold dear that I have come to cherish along my journey with horses and it is cultivating a finer, quieter, simpler, cleaner more aware rider of myself. This has been my private and personal exploration, something that has been my fascination since I was 8 and collected pictures of spade bits and yet had no comprehension of why. My passion for helping folks learn feel, I mean Feel (:), Awareness, Connection and Confidence dove-tails so effortlessly with what I now find myself faced with. All this curiosity and desire to explore the Art of the Bridle Horse from others who have felt the same pull and wondered…. And so what it is that I love to do really truly is becoming what I do……….


 I am constantly humbled and challenged and exalted…and my horses are my best feedback, as always. When I get it right, they fight for the halter and seem to take as much joy in the connection and dance as I do and this…..this is what I have longed for. 


A way to balance innumerable elements into a Grand Work of Art with the horses dignity and needs held in complete respect.  I do this simply and utterly because I love it and the way it allows me to feel…and I am honored and humbled to share the exploration.
There is a line in a song, a buckaroo song, that has captured my heart…
” What I do is an Art, not a Sport”.

So, once again, thanks to you all who showed such keen interest and here’s to hoping I will get to spend time with you this Spring and Summer with your horses, cultivating a love for the Art…..oh!and the Gear….:)

A very, very special THANK YOU needs to go to Joan and Erin who’s dedication, kindness and wonderful support truly made the difference for me with set up, breaks and just being with me….Thanks, Girls!

Hackamore Y Garrocha La Isla…

Well, after a week of -25 and high winds left little time for anything other then survival and keeping everything warm and working, I am finding myself finally back with more pictures and stories of last summer…and remembering T-shirt weather…Remember???????

So the next clinic was on Vancouver Island, at my long time friend Deborah Flynn’s Twin Creeks Facility. Twin Creeks is such a beautiful location and Deb the consummate hostess, and it just set the tone for a great three days of Hackamore and Garrocha fun.

Laurel and Fancy looking well….Fancy!

As you may know, the hackamore is the the first stage of Bridle Horse Development and very dear to my heart, and of late, there has been a substantial amount of interest in what on earth I am doing with all this gear and what my point is and where does it go and why….sooooooo in answer to all these questions and more, the first Hackamore clinic was put on. Ironic to me that it took place in my old back yard, put on by me yet, when I would have given my eye teeth (whatever they are….:) to have had this opportunity 20 yrs, or even 10 yrs ago… fitting somehow…
Vicki D and Falemma…cantering:)

With a Garrocha segment as well, and BOY! has this proven to be an unexpected big hit addition to clinics. (I actually decided that there will be an entire Camp up here devoted to Garrocha just to give it the time it deserves….but more on that later….:)

The first morning of the Hackamore Clinic was devoted to going through the gear…sizes, diameters, cores and fit of the hackamore and mane hair mecate, and why they are made of the materials that they are. This is a very fascinating part of Bridle Horse development and crucial to allowing the horse the time to develop the Feel necessary to eventually carry the spade. It is a SIGNAL based philosophy, and as such demands a great deal from us as horsemen. Timing, Feel, release, balance, position, and weight all crucial to having the horse understand what we are asking. For me, I think the biggest contribution that the hackamore does in its brilliant design is that we humans simply cannot make a horse do anything in the hackamore, as they very quickly can get dull to it, bracey like you can’t imagine.

Alexa and Diva…just look at that drive, collection and Alexa’s position….

So, happily this really compels us to become increasingly aware of their feedback…watching, feeling, sensing what they are doing and indeed releasing BEFORE the maneuver happens allows them to be willing participants and empowered in their learning as well. Think of the implications of connection, rapport and confidence building. Every time I ride, I find new places of softness, ways of being that are more in harmony with my horse and it is pure magic.
So, after a great am of show and tell with the gear, it was off to fit everyone and get started with experiencing some of this for themselves. All the participants were so curious and open to what was been offered and the horses responding in the typical way…Whoa! What’s this heavy thing on my nose? And seeking that place of least resistance, vertical with that full neck arch, not just at the poll. And of course, therein lies the challenge….how do we help keep this carriage and respect with our guiding and active riding, soft hands and body awareness, because they very quickly give us brace feedback if we get it wrong….aaahhhhh! LOL…!

That afternoon, I introduced the Garrocha…on the ground first, going over the basic ‘rules’, why and how it is is used and the extremely beneficial rewards of integrating this oh so simple tool into our regular riding program. Everyone was dead certain that they would not be cantering with it by day three…and of course, all were.

Laurel and Fancy sorting it out and looking fine…

This single wooden pole is almost magical in its abilities….and is the most effective way of encouraging correct equation and seat, connection and focus, softness and Purpose! Virtually every aspect that we strive for is compressed into this artistic and fluid art and it seems to happen all by itself with far less struggle and tension. Its like the Spanish music and the very act of dancing somehow distracts us from all the ‘technical’ stuff we always think we need to learn and just Let Go, Flow, become absorbed in the Moment and Movement and learn almost in spite of ourselves. And the Horses….? They LOVE this thing….!

Meredith and her Good mare…and only their first day! See how everything is just lined up?

All in all a simply marvelous three days, and as you can see from the pictures, everyone who rode achieved beautiful moments full of grace and togetherness with their mounts.

And again…This gives tremendous focus for both, having the rider stay centered and not over or under steering, gives a point of reference and just causes both to be in line and together…or its not going to work….

Add in an each participant’s individual routine performed for us all to Spanish music, perfect weather and I for one cannot wait to do this again….!

Vicki executing the Inside Turn…

Which reminds me, yes, there is another Hackamore y Garrocha planned for June 8-10 of this year, the location on the Island is not yet set, but please, feel free to contact myself, or better yet, Alexa Linton at ,my Island Clinic Organizer.

Alexa and D. Wish you could have seen their routine to the Spanish Music…Muy Beuno, Girls ! ~

Begin Again

Well, it been quite some time, hasn’t it?

If I could count the number of times I’ve signed into my Blog….….…....and then left it.

Only just toda
y do i understand why. Writing this first entry after my Mom’s story has proven to be one of the most difficult and challenging transitions of my life. It’s like finally admitting that life does indeed go on….

Oh, and Life has been so unceasingly busy this year. Go Figure. That I have perhaps orchestrated it that way is not lost on me. With no time to pause and reflect, to sit with the pain and emptiness that comes on Sunday mornings when I call her to share… hand frozen on the phone as I remember. When I have to make trips back to the Island on that ferry and the pain crawls in close then as I usually miss a boat and am left with no choice but to sit quietly for 2 hrs surrounded with decades of memories. As randomly as grocery shopping…Chocolate….Lilacs…The screwy hour hand on the clock in my kitchen……my mohair hand knitted mittens.


I have been for the most part able to carry on as if she may soon be coming back….But like her dear Soul Dog, Toby, I have finally begun to get that she is just not coming back.


I had a visit with him last time on the Island, and he was just done waiting and so, off he went off to find her. Another piece of her goes as well for us, and yet, life goes on…

Don’t get me wrong….I love life and understand its ebb and flow and rhythms that color it and shape it
and mold it to be always perfect, balanced and natural intellectually and spiritually. But Emotionally?

It hurts like hell and I miss my mom so much it staggers me sometimes.

I will heal. I will allow the pain to come in and pass thru. I will be still enough to feel. I know that she has never left me. I see her in every Red Tailed Hawk that flies so often in my path whenever I am unsure or question…..

This grieving process is a first timer for me and my compassion for those who have lost one so close knows no bounds now…I get it. Hiding in buckets of work is what we Travers’s like to do, and feeling the bad stuff sucks, but better out then in. So I learn a new ability. I feel the tender raw new sensations and the dirty, gritty, rotten old ones as well. The sweet taste of memories running down my face, the empty ache inside that I simply just need to allow myself to surrender to. Odd I suppose that it has taken so long for me to really feel this, but then again, I guess not. I am the past master at not feeling, and well well well…don’t old habits die hard when the chips are down.

The most beautiful thing about all this though? The only thing I need to do is also the hardest thing to do. Feel and feel and feel and feel and feel and then…

Let Go…

and begin again.