Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Being a Cowboy Taught me…

Being a Cowboy Taught me…

Campfire Cowboy Ministries

By Kevin Weatherby

Being a cowboy taught me….being a servant is as easy as feeding the horses, cleaning out their pens, breaking ice in the winter, and putting your comfort second in every situation.

Being a cowboy taught me….getting bucked off will teach you all sorts of life lessons.

Being a cowboy taught me….crap may smell bad, but it washes off pretty easy.

Being a cowboy taught me….never get too comfortable, something’s fixing to change.

Being a cowboy taught me….some people will call you Howdy Doody, but the smile on a child’s face when he points at you and says, “Look mom! A cowboy!” is worth it all.

Being a cowboy taught me….the greatest love you can show is putting down your own horse or dog if it’s suffering.

Being a cowboy taught me….it’s ok to cry when your horse or your dog dies.

Being a cowboy taught me….people will respect your actions more than your words.

Being a cowboy taught me….you can’t ride point and drag at the same time with any degree of effectiveness.

Being a cowboy taught me….God will not speak louder than your selfishness.

Being a cowboy taught me….suspenders are a great until there’s a #2 emergency.

Being a cowboy taught me….true grit is found right past the moment where you’ve always given up.

Being a cowboy taught me….worry is just as effective as cussin’ the weather.

Being a cowboy taught me….shutting your mouth is a skill that needs to be honed daily.

Being a cowboy taught me….learning to laugh at the simple things will help when things get difficult.

Being a cowboy taught me….when you try to please God, it’s gonna piss a bunch of people off…and that’s ok.

I just had to share this. For more great articles by Kevin go to

Monday, December 5, 2011

The Essence of Horsemanship

The Essence of Horsemanship

By Sherry Jarvis

Heart in Your Hand Horsemanship LLC

Good horsemanship is a lifetime pursuit. We are aware that timing, feel, and balance are three words that describe good horsemanship and most of us are still in pursuit of perfecting these three elements. No matter how good we are, we all know that if we spend very much time with a horse things don’t always go as planned or as we would like them to. No amount of good intentions, will power or self control will stop us from becoming disappointed, frustrated, fearful, or angry when things fall apart with our horse. What will change our way of being is learning to see the horse as a horse, perfect just the way that God created it.

Good horsemanship starts in your mind. Ray Hunt said, “Let your Idea become the horse’s Idea”…and “fix it up and let him (the horse) find it”. He also said, “If the horse is right on his feet he’ll be right on his head”. Ray’s thoughts and words are the essence of good horsemanship. But how do every-day people like you and me get there?

I have been trying to learn feel, timing, and balance for 40 years now and to teach it to others for about the past 10 years, because apparently these three things are all you need in order to become a good horseman. However, even after many years these are still concepts that are not easy to do or to teach. Even though good horsemanship is not always an easy task the rewards and benefits are worth the blood, sweat, tears, and money we pour into this passion we call horsemanship. Just how does one go about acquiring good horsemanship?

The Essence of Horsemanship is composed of seven things

I believe that the essence of horsemanship is composed of seven things:

1. A calm projected, quiet yet strong, and fair confidence that gives humans leadership in the equine order of things.

2. Sensitivity to the animals means of communication, most of which involves touch and body language.

3. Patience, patience and then more patience with lots of time. Don’t be in a hurry!

4. Strategic planning as to how to teach the horse to do what is desired.

5. Enough balance, athletic ability, bio mechanical knowledge and conscious control over your body that you do not impede the horse or send random or meaningless signals.

6. A sincere and honest desire to join with the animal's feelings.

7. Letting go of our agenda, at least for a little while.

Being fixated on a big agenda causes humans to have narrow vision and limited ability for being flexible, tolerant, empathetic, and patient. Not being fixated on a specific agenda allows humans to be open and more able to adjust to variations in whatever a particular situation produces. Giving up agenda gives the human a better view of the bigger picture. It removes limitations and blocks to progress and allows more opportunity for success. Giving up our agenda offers a rare glimpse of freedom to the horse and the human. Empathy is a huge key and essential element to successful relationships of all types, including with our beloved horses.

Humans need to learn flexibility and creativity when training horses. I love this quote by Betsy Shirley (Buck Brannaman's foster Mom),"Blessed are the flexible, for they shall not get bent out of shape." No one standard method will always work with every horse. Each horse will develop as an individual and will react differently to the same stimulus.

“The balance of human rules and horse rules will depend on the particular horse and human involved. That's why we can't treat all horses in the same way and expect the same results. Recipes have an allure because of their simplicity, but they will ultimately
fail because of their lack of specificity.” Greg Brass

Knowing what to do, how and when to do it (and more importantly, when to stop doing it) is bound together within feel, timing and balance. If you release the pressure at the wrong time, you have lied to your horse. Horses that have been lied to repetitively are easy to spot. They are the ones who:

  • throw their heads up instead of softly backing up.
  • hesitate or refuse to enter a horse trailer, the arena, or go over a jump
  • step away or kick at the Farrier instead of lifting the desired foot.
  • won’t stand still for grooming, saddling, mounting
  • push through any kind of pressure, or crowd people
  • avoid being caught
  • buck when asked to go forward, etc….

Yes, I have had horses like this, we all have. The good thing is I have also had horses that will do just about anything I ask of them with an amazing willingness. Horses that desire to be ridden are a joy. You can easily spot these horses because they:

  • are easy to catch.
  • will stand still untied for saddling or just about anything else within reason.
  • stand quietly to be mounted and they may even step over to the mounting area to pick you up.
  • respect your space and respond willingly to all your suggestions when understood etc….

I think horses are more intuitive than we give them credit for. They can understand your intent….your THINKING. They can feel a temper, anger, frustration, all of which they do not respond very positively to. Therefore we should always remain empathetic.

Feeling what others are feeling is called empathy. Horses are naturally and always empathetic. Empathetic responses help animals to become bonded, develop trust, respect and create loyalties. If we have empathetic relationships with our horses they truly become our trusted companions and we become that to them as well. If this sort of relationship is established, generally the horse will really try as hard as it can to comply with the wishes of the human because the human has become a great herd leader for the horse.

Horses should not be accused of doing anything personally to a human. It's only a horse, and does not think to intentionally cause a human to have problems, spoil a humans day, make a human look bad or ever have any such inclination to personally do something to a human.

“What appears innocuous is insidious, but there is no bad intent in the horse. It's nothing sinister, they're attempting to fill the void. Horses relate to each other with a set of rules. Some of the rules are hard-wired in their DNA and some are learned. But the rules give them an ordered understandable way to live in their environment. It makes life more manageable. When humans enter into the horse world there needs to be a negotiation to determine the rules that will apply.” Greg Brass

All behavior we see in our horses that we call bad or stubborn is born out of fear or confusion within the horse. Horses will not act against their good herd leader. After all, it is the leader of the herd that helps assure the survival of the herd.

I think one answer to better horsemanship is our willingness to become empathetic with our horses. Greatness in humanity seems in part to always contain the quality of empathy. When empathy is combined with compassion and kindness huge strides are made towards a better existence for all. With our horses, if we can add the ingredients of great equestrian skills, wisdom of the mind of the horse and excellent leadership, then high levels of success are assured. Think about becoming an empathetic horseman and, at least attempting to feel what your horse is feeling. You will be amazed at how much closer you will become with your horse and how much closer that horse will become with you.

So the next time you are working with your horse you may want to think about these principles:

before you blame, examine self
before you speak, listen
before you demand, suggest
before you respond, watch
before you ask again, wait
before you block, offer an out
before you drill, be creative
before you get angry, preserve dignity
before you take a hold, let go
before you brace, breath
before you say no, know the right answer
before you yell, whisper
before you go over board, stay balanced
before you speed up, slow down
before you ride, pray

I would like to close this article with one more quote from my horseman friend Greg, “Once humans recognize that they aren't particularly special, that they are merely different, then they can relate to horses as different equals that together have the ability to be greater than themselves individually. A human's greatest obstacle to being a good horseman is ME.”

Happy Trails,

Sherry Jarvis

Oct., Nov., Dec. Newlsetter 2011

I have had such a busy fall that I have not kept up on my blog very well.
So here are the links to my Oct., Nov., and Dec. newsletters.

Oct. Newsletter; Think Like A Horse

Nov. Newsletter; Thanks

Dec. Newsletter; New Beginnings

I will reserve the dates of Jan. 13-16 and Feb. 10-13 to set up private lessons and one day clinics in Omaha and Lincoln. The back-up dates in case of bad weather and unsafe travel conditions will be Jan 20-23 and Feb. 17-20.
Please contact me as soon as possible if you are interested.
308-346-5663 or 308-730-2150 email Sherry at

The rest of 2012 Schedule can be viewed on the

All dates are subject to change: So Please call first to check availability.
If there isn't anybody signed up for an event and you want to host a clinic or reserve the bunkhouse for that weekend, we will make the necessary changes.
All our business is a first come first serve basis.

15% OFF

Sherry's book or
Your 2012 stay at
Horse Lover's Bunkhouse

Make a reservation today with a deposit 3 months prior to your date and receive a 15% discount off regular bunkhouse rates. Does not include stall, lesson or guide fees.
Also 15% off Sherry's book "Win Your Horses Heart"
Offers expire April 1st.

at Horse Lover's Bunkhouse,

Give a Gift Certificate

to a Horse Lover for Christmas.
Round up some friends, grab your saddle, enjoy a good laugh, and let us help you ride the trails and relax with your horse. We offer trails, lessons, spiritual growth retreats and more.
An affordable vacation where you can bond with a horse. Make new friends. Ride over 12,000 acres of gorgeous trails. Stay in our comfortable heated and air-conditioned bunkhouse. Nice pens for your horse. Lease Horses available.

Get away with your horse this year.
Contact us today. 308-346-5663

" Win Your Horse's Heart" (Be a Better Horseman)

I bought two of your books (one for me and one for my friend, Terry) and she was so excited when I gave it to her. She sat down and read it in two days! She is my friend that is a foster Mommy for two to three horses at a time from a local rescue in our area. She works with them to re-build their trust in ppl and their self-esteem and most often she has to put weight on them – she is nourishing them inside and out. She said she learned a lot reading your book!
Sherry, keep up your great work and inspiring others with your messages.


Monday, September 5, 2011


Get Refreshed, Restored, and Ready
A journey with the Master Trainer, Jesus!

Sept. 16-18 and Oct. 21-23

Horse Lovers Bunkhouse
Burwell, NE

Fri. 1:00-6:00 Sat. & Sun. 9:00-5:00
Trail Ride Sat. Evening & Church Service on Sun. Morning.

If you love horses and want to grow spiritually this retreat is for you!
Using a Bible Study by Beth Moore called: "The Promise of Security"

You do can bring a horse or lease one of ours.

Call Sherry @ 308-346-5663

More Details:
1. The last time we did a bible study on Slaying the Giants in our Lives. This time I bought a short Bible Study by Beth Moore called: "The Promise of Security". Today's women face all kinds of unrealistic expectations: look young, get ahead, have it all together etc... Some women feel trapped in chronic insecurity, but God wants us to be free from this "trap"and find our security in Him. Drawn from the Scriptures this little bible study by Beth Moore will inspire you to find the soul-deep security God longs for you to experience. "The Lord is your security. He will keep your foot from being caught in a trap." Proverbs 3:26

2. This is not a horsemanship clinic. We will NOT be focusing on developing our horsemanship but rather; while we are developing our horsemanship we will focus on how the things we are doing relate to our spiritual life. So don't come expecting to fix all the problems you have with your horse, or even addressing every one of them like I will try to do at horsemanship camp. This is about looking beyond the mere physical aspects of horsemanship (how do you get a horse to do this or that) into what can the horse teach us about ourselves and God. It is about observing analogies between the relationship we have with a horse and the relationship we have with our Savior Jesus Christ. It is about how we live our lives and who we are both as horsemen and children of the most High God. So if you just want to focus on developing your riding ability you may want to choose a different camp. I just don't want anyone to be mislead or disappointed.

3. Meals will not be provided. But we can share food and eat together as we fellowship.

4. Schedule:
We will start at 1:00 on Fri. ending around 6:00 Then supper and fellowship in the evening
We will start on Sat. at 9:00 am ending around 5:00 Then supper, fellowship, and trail ride for
those who wish in the evening
We will start on Sun. at 9:00 then you may go to church with me or not at 11:00. Then we will
begin again at 1:00-5:00.
If you need to leave a little earlier on Sun. or come a little later on Fri. that is up to you.
I am requesting that if you come you attend as much of all three days as possible in order to get
the full benefit.

5. Some people have asked me if they have to ride a horse or bring a horse. The answer to
both questions is no. It is up to you. And I do have horses for lease if you choose. $25/half day
and $50/full day which includes tack.

6. Some people have asked me if we are going to trail ride. Those who want to may do so on
Sat. evening.

7. Of course everyone wants to know the bottom line of the cost. I am doing this as a ministry, so my instruction is by free will donation. You can give me whatever you think it was worth to
you. However, there is a charge for the facilities as I must still pay my insurance, taxes, electric,
water and garbage bills. It will depend on how many come and how many nights you choose to
stay what your cost will be. Right now I have no clue how many people will come. The last time
the number of people coming changed every day right up until the day it began. So I can never
predict how many will show up. I wish I could, but I cannot. So no guarantees on the final cost
until it is all over. But you can figure an estimate by these rates.

Bunkhouse Rates
* Single person reserve the whole place $50/night
* Double the fun (2 people) $80/night
* Triple the fun (3 people) $90/night
* Four people $112/night
* Five or more people (double up in beds) $125/night
Tax in not included add 10.5%
Outdoor or Indoor Stalls.
* $10/night/horse
* Guided Trail rides are $20/hour for the group
* Lease Horse is $50/day or $25/for half day (includes tack)

Greatest parts of the Journey

Photo by Julie Williams
Here are some of the greatest parts of my journey so far, in no particular order
of greatness or importance.

1. My first pony Ginger at 2 years old.
2. Riding my Dad's rope horse at 12 years old.
3. Starting my first colt by myself at 13 years old.
4. Teaching others especially mentoring interns
5. Riding at Parelli's in Pagosa
6. Riding with other great horsemen like Jack Brainard, Richard Winters, Kirsten
Neilsen, Bryan Newbert, Buck Brannaman, Ray Hunt.
7. Helping Sunshine find a better life within herself.
8. Helping people gain more confidence and reach their firsts.
9. Riding with Keith in the WY mountains
10. Going to the Carter Ranch in WY for a week every year to ride and give
11. Giving my heart away to so many horses and receiving the greatest reward and
satisfaction of all back from them when they partner up with me.
12. Meeting so many wonderful friends who are also horse lovers like minded with
me on the journey.
What are your greatest moments on the journey?
I would love to hear from you.
Happy trails,

Friday, September 2, 2011


You know the routine. You pack the kids into the car to go on your summer vacation. It is a long trip, and five minutes out of the driveway it starts: "Are we there yet?" I can remember as a kid that it felt like it took forever to get anywhere. Sometimes I was so excited about the destination that the hours of sitting still in a car were complete torture. Time didn't go by any faster when
I was figiting and frustrated. So I had to learn to "wait well" in the car. As an adult I occasionally find myself with the same wrong attitude, spending too much time focused on my destination instead of enjoying where I am. I believe I have finally learned that life is about the journey, not the destination, and now the ride is becoming a lot more easy and fun.

On your own horsemanship journey toward excellence and safety, you also need to enjoy the ride. Now you may be one of those lucky people who does enjoy every ride with their horse, and if you are congratulations. However, in my travels I meet so many people who are frustrated, afraid, and feeling incapable. It is not how far away your are from your destination, or even where you are right now, what matters most is the direction you are headed.

If you live in Alaska and are headed to the sandhills of NE for a horse vacation in our bunkhouse you've got a long way to go. However, you will get here, no questions, as long as you keep heading south. On the other hand if somebody living in Denver CO heads south they will never get here even though it is a lot closer to Burwell than Alaska. If you are studying tried and true
horsemanship principles and applying them to your journey, be excited that you are headed in the right direction. Every thing you learn, every book you read, every DVD you watch, every lesson you take, every clinic you attend takes you one step closer in the right direction. So go ahead and feel good about it no matter where you are compared to those around you.

The important things is not what you can do with your horse today, but that you are improving. If you goal is to gallop across an open field or compete at the highest level of dressage don't get discouraged because it seems so out of reach. Instead, ask yourself if these are realistic goals considering your age, physical abilities, dedication, time, and money you can put into the project. If you can make the necessary sacrifices then continue by developing a plan. If not there is nothing wrong with lowering your expectations a little.

But even if you have to change your goals to become a bit more realistic given your current circumstances, be PROUD of today and all that you have accomplished so far. Don't focus on how far you have to go, always remember to look at how far you have already come. Do everything you can to make this day with your horse a success. And when it is, allow yourself some deep satisfaction in it.

Think about your successes, rather than your failures. Maybe you made a mistake with your horse today, but the good news is you probably didn't make as bad of a mistake as you would have a year ago. Perhaps you intended to ride your horse for two hours today, but got started late and could only do 20 minutes. Don't feel that you are a failure and should have done better. Remember there were plenty of times you didn't get out there at all. Be happy that you at least got a little time in, and then try to get a little time in more often, and you will be amazed at your progress. Keeping a positive attitude about your progress will breed more progress.

Let your days be filled with good choices and good thoughts. Then your body and soul will be happier and more content with where you are. Don't focus on the long trip, the many miles ahead of you, instead focus on the day or even the moment. Have one good day with your horse, and tomorrow becomes more enjoyable, and that leads to an even better next day. As you enjoy the journey, you'll soon discover how easy it is to love just where you are each moment, even if you haven't arrived at the ultimate destination yet. Your horse lives this way and so should you if you want to see horsemanship from his perspective.

I hope to see you on the trail this year. I am staying a little closer to home the next couple of months because of training horses and quite a full schedule of people reserving the bunkhouse to come out for lessons, to enjoy our gorgeous trails, participate in a spirit horse retreat, or even just to relax and kick back. If you would like to have one last horse vacation in 2012 we only have a few dates open, but I am sure we can figure something out if you want to come bad enough.

Happy Trails,

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

End of first week with Pip

Introduced Pip to the snaffle bit yesterday. I took the reins off the bridle and put the halter on over the top of the bridle and continued with normal ground work and liberty round penning. She did the typical chewing getting it under her tongue etc. I ignored it all and let her work it out. Oh and I also did the rope around the butt, follow the feel exercise, mixed with some friendly with ropes around her legs etc. This all went according to the book. No big issues.

This morning after the normal warm up; greeting, haltering, flexion, backing out of stall and moving HQ and FQ over, some million dollar moves, and backing in circles. I turned her loose in the round pen, she was full of energy today so I upped the games with her saying if you want to go fast, me too, I like that idea, and by the way let’s see how athletic you can be by changing directions at fast speeds. She got pretty hot and sweaty while I smiled calmly working a lot less in the middle. When she decided to settle and join with me, I gave her a nice long break to cool down. Gave her plenty of scratches and brought her a bucket of water. Then I did a little invisible line driving which was lovely because our connection is coming along very well. I put the halter back on did a few transitions on the circle and she was much more relaxed and responsive. Then I took the halter off and put the bridle on with the long lines.

I started with contact on only one line and slowly progressed to having two, she did really well. Then I started changing directions, she was more resistant when turning to the right but when I stayed in time with her feet using good timing and release it wasn’t long before she softened both directions. Next I started stopping her, again there was some resistance in there but I was able work it out real quick, also aiding with my breath and seat. Went back to some circles and then change of direction all at the walk. I checked to see if we still had a smooth stop before I started working on just a step or two of backwards feel. . This came pretty easy because all the other pieces were in place. So it was time to ask for the trot and do some transitions, she was a pro, looking real pretty with some nice lines, good impulsion, flexion, balance and rhythm. Called it quits on a very very good note.

This all took about 1 ½ hours.

The pm session was the best one we have had yet. She was really acting like a partner the whole time. Did a very short version of this mornings warm up after saddling her. Neither one of us were sweating a bit, she decided it is much easier to just be a willing relaxed partner. No bridle tonight. My main focus was to see if she could transition into the canter on the 22 foot line without any bucking, squirts, and not increase the speed into a gallop. If she could do this, I was prepared to ride her tonight. She did it perfect both directions. This is the first time she didn’t even give a thought to bucking. So to the mounting block we went. Didn’t take long to get her standing exactly where I wanted her. Mounted and dismounted several times. Did some lateral bending and moving the HQ. Walked around a little and by then it was dark, and the bulls were starting to freak both of us out a little. My brother’s bull and the neighbor’s bull were having a yelling match the precursor to a fight and my place is in the middle. I won’t be shocked if the fences are down in the morning.

Anyway, we quit when all was well. The first week is under our belts and I am very happy with her progress. I gave her two days off which is unusual for me but I had to man a booth at the state fair on Friday for the Burwell Chamber, and Sun. before church I took a family trail riding who were staying in the bunkhouse and then after church I took my parents to the horse races in Columbus. However the days I have worked her she has gotten two session each day except for Sat. So far a total of 11 sessions and 20 hours.I am looking forward to the rest of our time together. I am positive we have begun in a way that will set the rest of the month up for success. Her owner is coming on Sat. to bring more hay and take a lesson.

Happy trails,