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,


Thursday, August 25, 2011

3rd Day with Pip

Had a 3 hour session with Pip this morning it wasn't as cool as last night but not as hot as the first day. Again I strove to work smarter not harder. I also focused on pretending I didn't have any tools. How much can I get accomplished with just my thoughts and body? I also slowed way down, waiting for the golden licks and chews often even if it took a few minutes to get them. The more soak and relaxation time I give each horse the more then want to perform me and understand I am on their side.

Started the morning off with where we left off last night; synchronized walking (with saddle on). When way better this morning, she is stopping with my breath and seat now, and it doesn't matter which side I am on, it is equally good.

Then reviewed life up life down, and circle with human in neutral giving the horse 100% responsibility to stay in gait, don't change directions, watch where you are going and by the way keep a float in the rope. Still took longer than I wanted it too, but I remained patient. Aiding her only when necessary, rewarding the slightest tries. Also worked a little on Yo Yo. Being sure that she floated back like a boat moving away from the dock. Lots of soak time on each end of the yo yo, creating sweet spots.

Started teaching backing in a circle. First couple of times she had some brace in her rib cage and didn't feel like bending. But I used the barrel for a focus and she soon found how easy it was to go around the barrel when she softened and bent her body while keeping the impulsion backwards.

Took her with me to do some other horse chores like putting out hay for my horses, filling water tanks, moving hay bales etc. She was like my partner. I just put the lead in my pocket and went about my work. Let her have a nice drink and a little hand grazing before going to the round pen for our final work out of the day, where the focus was proper posture and free forward movement with some flexion.

Ended in the round pen, instead of starting in the round pen just to keep things fresh and unpredictable, yet keeping my communication and fairness very consistent and dependable. So in other words using repetition for security in learning yet variety for motivation for willingness to learn and practice.

Really worked on shaping her body up while in the round pen, not just letting her run around without purpose, focus and form. It again took longer than I predicted but we were able to quit on a very good note. The lesson for the day for anyone reading this is SLOW DOWN be PATIENT and CONSISTENT, your horse will love you for it.

Happy Trails,

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Pip's Beginning

Pip arrived yesterday. It was hot, humid and no breeze. But despite the weather conditions we proceeded to get to know one another. She is a beautiful three year old appaloosa owned by Donna, who has raised some very fine appaloosas. I have had the privilege of working with a couple of other horses she has raised, one included the sire of this fine filly. Not only is she pretty and built well, she has a good mind. She may be a little snotty and opinionated at times, but for the most part she really would rather just get along and go with the flow. I think she is going to be fun.

We started in the round pen at liberty. I just let her go stood in the middle and watched her, leaving her to just be a horse. I carefully observed where her attention was, how she was moving her body, and what she choose to do when left on her own. She was pretty relaxed, she found a few blades of grass near the edge of the round pen to nibble on. Her attention was quite divided between me, grass and my horses on the other side of the trees out in the pasture. She has beautiful balanced and relaxed movements.

After a while I asked her to move out at the trot, that is when the snotty started, head tossing, shaking, and even kicking out at me. So each time she was snotty I asked her to move a little faster and as soon as she soften I asked her to turn and face me by backing off the pressure, NOT chasing her HQ. She was good at turning and facing but didn't want to move towards me in the middle. So I made the effort to go to her and play some nice friendly game. I also played a backing game using steady pressure, plus moving the FQ a little.

When I asked her to move out again, I was very particular about staying as subtle as possible. I was working smarter not harder. I was choosing to do as little as possible in order to get maximum results from her. It didn't take her long to figure out it was easy to go with the flow. Now remind you it is very hot out, and so I am doing my very best to get this all done without any sweat from either of us. It is working. As she is turning and facing so well, but choosing to stay on the rail, I keep working on the draw. She is finding that I am a darn good deal and choosing me more often. The center has become our sweet spot and we both enjoy our time together there.

When she chooses and stays with me three times in a row, we call it a good day. But I don't just go put her away. Donna says she is food motivated. So I go to the pasture to hand graze her. Here comes my herd to check out the new horse. I use my stick to chase them off and she learns to read me not the stick. We become a herd of two and the magic has begun.

Pips second session on the first day started at 8:00 pm. It is still hot, humid, no breeze and not much cooler than it was this morning, but we press on anyway.

I make sure she touches me first at her gate. I am particular about her lowering and turning her head to me while I put the halter on. Spend some time with friendly scratches. Move the HQ over to position her butt to back out of the gate. Ask her to back out of her pen, which will be her habit for the next 30 days. I put the 22 foot lead rope on and head to the arena. She wants to lead me a bit on the way, so I remind her that we are going together as a team, practicing my synchronized walking. Everything you do with a horse matters. And you are continually either developing poor or good habits for you and your horse. It is your choice, but you must pay attention in order to develop good habits.

Upon arrival at the arena she thinks it is more interesting to pay attention to the other horses than to me. So we play a little attention game and work on the million dollar move (move the HQ then the FQ through). When she has softened and paying attention to me, we begin life up, life down exercises, mixed with friendly game with the stick and string. (Read me, not my stick, read my intentions, respond don't react or escape.)

When she is moving lightly and quickly from life up and slowing down and relaxing from my life down, we proceed to circle game. The goal is for me to do as little as possible to teach the horse it is her responsibility to:

a. stay in the gait I have asked for until further notice.

b. don't try to change directions

c. watch where you are going

d. relax in forward motion with rhythm and a slight bend in the body, keep attention on me and on the circle.

e. don't pull on me, (keep slack in the rope, in fact I want the rope on the ground for now, don't let it come off. I do nothing but stay the same in the middle and only correct when she makes a mistake. Even then I give her a moment to fix her own mistakes if she can. The longer we go the better she is at doing this.)

f. Do all of the above for one entire circle.

This exercise is actually very easy if the handler is very very very patient. Don't try to cause it, rather allow it to happen, then it will go a lot easier and quicker. Think and visualize the circle in your head maybe even from birds eye view.

I did reward her a few times before she had completed the circle, just because I didn't want to loose the draw and join up that I had established in the first session with her. Always remember to reward the slightest try and you will be pleasantly surprised at how much harder the horse will try for you.

When she finally gave me the circle that I was seeking for I turned and walked out the gate towards her pen. She joined up and walked on a loose lead synchronizing as my partner all the way back to her pen even though she was leaving the rest of the herd. We have bonded as a herd and as a team. We are off to a very good start. It is dark and my clothes are stuck too me because the air is sweating it is so humid. Even so I had a lovely time with a great filly.

Thank goodness it is a little bit cooler this second morning with Pip. It is still hot and humid, but the difference is there is a little breeze. Hallelujah. I bet Pip is as happy about this as I am.

She greeted me at her gate with a good look on her face, offered me her head for the halter and backed out the gate like she knew it was expected. All signs of a good session to come. We started in the round pen again this morning. However, this time after watching her for a few minutes, I played with the invisible line driving. I drove her to the middle to stop and smell the saddle and pad which were now our next goal. It was easy to stop her at the saddle and she was curious about it, playing with it and stomping on it. Good thing it was my 40 year old saddle. Ha Ha! You don't think I am stupid enough to put my $3000 new saddle on the ground in the middle of a round pen, do you?

Anyway, after some good line driving and a couple of good join ups. I put the halter on and saddle her from the off side. All good, she stands perfectly still. After cinching tight enough so it won't slip, I step back as if it was her first time saddling which it is not, and let her do whatever she chooses. She meanders off towards the gate looking at my horses in the pasture. I let her settle, she walks around a bit. Then I ask her to move out at the trot. She moves out easy but is a little tense, however nothing alarming or extreme. So I let her float down to a walk and rest. Do this a couple more times each direction.

Then I think, I'll bet if I ask her to canter she will show me her true colors. Because yesterday in our first round pen session she was a little snotty when asked to canter. Oh Yea, I am right, when I ask her to canter she goes to bucking and bawling. All my horses come running to see what is the matter. I kick it up a notch with her asking her to go faster and whala, it works like it should she stops bucking and when she begins to relax in the canter, I ask her to come in. She joins up real nice. We have a nice long friendly session. Repeat on the other side, all of the above. She buck each direction one more time, but not as violently. Then the 3rd and 4th times each directions she transition nice into the canter, I don't ask her to stay in it. My goal for now is to just get a good transition. I will ask her to hold it longer later.

This whole thing did not take very long, and each rest session was a little longer than the bucking or moving out session. I am excited at how quickly she comes around to be willing, and she is an extremely beautiful mover. I could see some dressage moves on her real soon, when she gets in harmony with the rider.

As soon as she transitioned to the canter nice each direction I unsaddled her in the round pen, did a little more invisible line driving. Then hand grazing on the way to the barn, gave her a grain treat, brushed her out and applied fly spray, which was not big deal.

Don't worry about the bucking Donna, it is all part of the process and she came around real quick. I predict she may attempt it half-heartedly this evening, however, I am not worried about it. She really wants to please. Plan for this evening is the same and then take her to the obstacles after round penning.

Oh and she did overreach on her right front foot while she was bucking. A little blood on the cornet band on the inside. Just a small scrape, I'll keep an eye on it. But I don't think it will turn into anything. I will also get her a salt block this afternoon.

Already have 7 hours in Pip in the first two days. Well at least it was a lot cooler this evening working with Pip. As I predicted she only gave me half-hearted bucks tonight in
the round pen and we introduced obstacles. She is very confident, got up on the pedestal in 5 minutes, crossed the bridge in 2 and went right through some squeezes no problem. Took a little longer to get the circle to the right tonight. Last night she was quicker to get it going to the left. I work one direction at a time until it is good, because every time you start a new direction you can have a new horse because we are working the other side of the brain.

We also had a little discussion on the way back to the barn about who leads who. Which is why it was well after dark before I was finished, and Keith came looking for me to be sure I was ok. Good hubby. All in all a great 2 day beginning. Don't know that I will be able to keep up with detailed reports like I have already posted as I have a very busy schedule coming up.

Happy Trails,

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Think About What You're Thinking About

Dear Horse Lovers,
I've been studying the mind for a long time. As a teacher I am very interested in the brain and how it works and how we learn. Over the winter I have been reading a lot of books on this subject.The more I learn the more I realize how important our thought life is. I remember Ray Hunt repeating the words "Think, have a plan." over and over at the clinic when I rode with him. And I recently rode with Buck Braanaman and when one student asked him "How did you do that?" He said, "I thought it." Have you ever thought something and your horse just did it? I know some of my students have experienced this. Thoughts are powerful and they have creative ability. So it is critical that we think about what we think about.

I don't think it is very likely to have a positive life if you have a negative mind. If you struggle with negative thinking, it's important for you to come to grips with the fact that your life won't change until your thinking does. I have learned not to think about every thought that falls into my head. I decide whether it is a profitable thought or not and if it is not I simply throw it out, and I don't allow my mind to dwell upon it. Then I start thinking about things that are true, honorable, just, and honest. I consciously think about things that build myself and others up instead of tearing them down. This includes any horse I am working with.

It may take a little time to develop the discipline of taking your thoughts captive. It may happen little by little just like we develop our horses little by little over time with good habits. Don't criticize yourself when you have setbacks in your thinking patterns, just get back up, dust yourself off and start again.

Sometimes people come to me for lessons or bring their horse to me because they are discouraged about their progress. My job is to equip them with tools in their horsemanship skills and more importantly to encourage them to keep moving forward. Some people are afraid to be positive or hopeful because of past hurts or failures in life. But the pathway to freedom begins when we face the problem without making excuses for it, and then begin to change our thinking about it. You don't have to allow the old things that have happened to you and your horse to keep affecting your relationship and progress forward.
I can't promise the journey will be easy, that you will never be disappointed, or that things will always turn out exactly the way you want them to. But you DO HAVE THE POWER TO THINK AND BE POSITIVE AND MOVE FORWARD if you so choose to replace your fear with hope.

No matter how negative your thoughts are or how long they've been that way, I know you can change. I can promise you that it will be worth it if you make the effort to think about what you're thinking about. This has helped me to succeed in so many ways. But don't forget that the thinking will then have to be followed with positive actions that match those positive thoughts.

If you are struggling in any area of your horsemanship or even in your personal life, our camps will help you transform your thinking and we will encourage you to be the best you can be. Hope to see you this summer at one of our many camps. Please check out our calendar and sign up now.
Happy trails,

No Matter What!

Dear Horse Lovers,
Throughout the course of a horse's life both positive and negative things happen to them. Some of those things are very damaging to the horse's willingness to interact in a safe and acceptable way with humans. It is heartbreaking to me when I see a horse operating with high defense mechanisms. They are simply doing it for self-preservation and survival. People who are ignorant of the horse's survival needs and effective ways to communicate with the horse are normally the cause of this. The horse is struggling with fears, confusion, lack of trust and respect for humans.

I had a horse like this in training during April. I am very happy at the dramatic changes that happened in her in just over a month. But I spent over 100 hours with her in order to break the chain of fear and confusion which caused her to be scared and defensive. Through a lot of relationship building exercises I gained both her trust and respect. She looked like a different horse when she left here both physically and emotionally.

I was patient with her, no matter what. I took the time it took with her, no matter what. I worked with her consistently every day, no matter what. I gave her enough repetition and variety, no matter what. I expected the best from her, no matter what.
I never got frustrated or angry with her, no matter what.I preserved her dignity and curiosity, no matter what. I remained calm and stable for her, no matter what. I focused on her confidence, no matter what. I was crystal clear with her, no matter what. I was soft as possible and firm as necessary, no matter what. I did not 't give up on her, no matter what. I know it may sound impossible that I was able to do all of these things but it is true. I am not perfect; however, I have taught and disciplined myself to be very serious about doing whatever is necessary to help a horse come around, no matter what.

Going at a slower pace than I wanted to with this horse actually paid off much more than I ever thought it would. In the end I was very pleased with her overall progress and I know that she has a new confidence in herself and would like to be a willing partner given half a chance to do so. Once again I realized going slower is actually faster.

No matter what issues you or your horse may have there are workable solutions. However, depending on the severity of the issue it may take a lot of time and effort in order to get to the other side. You will find great satisfaction from overcoming these issues and by taking it to the next level with your horse.

I became very attached to Babe this month and it is was very hard to part with her. But I know her owner also has her best interest in mind and will do all that she can to continue what I started in Babe. Babe was not the only beneficiary here, I gained another opportunity to take my horsemanship to the next level by working with her.

After I fulfill the obligations I have already committed to,
I am not taking any more horses this year. I really want to take my horses to the next level. I have had very little time in the last couple of years to work with my own horses because I am always so busy riding everyone else's horses, and solving their problems for them. However, help is still available because I am still doing camps, clinics and lessons. One of these avenues is a great way for you to take it to the next level with your horse.

I will take horses again next April. I love working in the cool spring weather even when it rains and snows. And I hope to work on my second book during the heat this summer, when I prefer being inside with the air-conditioner.

I hope you have another great riding year, having more fun than ever and staying safe, no matter what.

Happy Trails,

Affordable Horse Vacations

Whether you show, are new to horses, have lost your confidence or simply want a safe and quiet mount to trail ride, our clinics, camps or lessons are for you!!!

I am all about safety and creating a "partnership" with your horse. I am a full certified instructor for American Asso. of Horsemanship Safety, Inc.

By attending one of our events you will learn to understand how to work through any situation that may arise between you and your horse. Knowing why your horse does what he does is the first step in creating a willing relationship based on mutual trust and respect. The result will be a well trained "partner" and will always result in a safer and more fulfilling relationship for you and your horse.

I will use proven methods I have learned from other great trainers like Buck Brannamen, Ray Hunt, Richard Winters, Jack Brainard, and Pat Parelli, (a few that I have actually ridden with) in order to teach participants how to achieve:

A "yes" attitude in your horse
Respect, trust and control
Softness and suppleness with the bit
Collection and lateral/vertical flexion
Softness and suppleness with leg and seat cues
Balance in both horse and rider

Some of the topics covered and issues dealt with will include:
Ground Manners

Standing Still While Mounting
Head Tossing
Pulling Back
Great Stops
Smooth Gait Transitions
And much, much more!!!

If you are interested in more information about attending one of our events go to our website at

When you come out to Burwell to one of our very affordable camps you will be surprised at how much you get for your dollar. The clinics which I mentioned above that I have attended on average were $600 for about 12 hours of instruction and did not include lodging, food or stalls for my horse. So that is always an extra expense, which can really add up when you stay in motels and I have paid up to $40/night for a stall for my horse.

For about the same price at one of our camps you will get over double the amount of instruction from me which is very individualized because I keep the groups small on purpose. (Only about 6-8 people as compared to 25-30 participants in other clinics).

Plus I include in the price very comfortable lodging in our bunkhouse, nice stalls for your horse, and beautiful scenery on free trail rides each day. (Meals are optional for some of our camps).

So if you are looking for a summer vacation where you can enjoy your horse or one of mine, give me a call. You can come and just ride trails, or participate in a horsemanship camp for learning, or even sign up for a Spirit Horse Retreat where you let the horse teach you about yourself and God.

We do private camps upon request. Call to find out available dates. So if you want to come with a friend and design your own camp, let me know. The bunkhouse is full from June 15-30th. But starting July 1st I have some openings.

Here is a testimony from a gal in Florida who attended a camp and she doesn't even own a horse.

Had the good fortune of participating in one of Sherry's amazing clinics 2 years ago... the experience was a life changer. The lessons learned go far beyond you and a/your horse. I continue to practice and reflect on my experiences, thank...s Sherry! Oh, I augmented my "camp" experience with a few days working with Sherry and her herd. I stayed in town... again, I cannot tell you how special the time was and how much I learned. Don't pass this up!

So if your looking for an affordable horse vacation give us a call.

Happy Trails,

Watch Your Words!

Here it is the 14th of June. This is the latest date I have ever sent out my monthly newsletter. It normally comes between the 1st and 5th of each month and I have met that deadline every month for nearly 7years now. That is a lot of writing and articles. However I have a good excuse for being late this time. Many of you know that on May 19th my Dad had a heart attack and he is still not out of the hospital. However, we are hoping he can come home by this Fri.

On June 9th my parents celebrated their 54th wedding anniversary in the hospital. What a great accomplishment to be so in love and devoted to one another for over half a century. I have a thing or two to learn from them about relationships. They seem to always be there for each other no matter what. They always speak good words about one another. It is amazing how powerful words are. I saw this quote on facebook and I believe it is so true.

Watch your thoughts: They become words.
Watch your words: They become actions.
Watch your actions: They become character.
Watch your character: It will become your destiny.
How does this relate to horsemanship? We really have to watch our thoughts and actions around horses, because they have this uncanny way of nearly reading your mind. But technically they don't read your mind, however they are so darn good at observing your body language they just as well be reading your mind. And words we say about our horses and our own horsemanship abilities can somehow become self fulfilling prophesies. So be careful what you say. I think a horse knows our character even better than we do. Because he knows what happens before what happens, happens. What is your destiny with your horse? You can create that destiny by paying more attention to your thoughts, words and actions.

I recently said that I wasn't taking any more horses in training at my place until 2012 so I had more time for my own. Another example of being careful what you say. I had to eat my words because last Sun. a nice little black mustang named Husker came to live with me for the next month. When these people called it just seemed the right thing to do to help them on their journey. I have already had a great time with Husker in just 3 days. The owners are going to be spending a lot of time in training with Husker, because they realize that they need the training even more than he does. So it will be an enjoyable month teaching both horse and owners who are so willing to learn and be the best they can be.

It is exciting to have so many people coming out to Burwell to stay in my bunkhouse to learn along with their horse instead of just sending the horse for training and expecting him and I to do all the hard work. I have 5 more people coming this month to do exactly that. Then at the end of the month is the parent youth camp, which will be fun.

I have given my bunkhouse a name, "Horse Lovers Bunkhouse". I purchased some signs and brochures for it recently and am excited to see them and get them hung up. It is very cute and comfortable. You don't need to bring your own bedding, towels, or dishes, all is provided. Just bring your own personal toiletries, food, clothes, and an attitude of learning and fun. We have air-conditioning, but no TV, don't worry you won't have time to watch one anyway. However we do have wireless internet access.

I hope you get the chance to come visit us this year.

Happy Trails,

Report from Parent/Youth Camp June 2011

By Anne Burkholder

Megan and I had a wonderful time at Sherry's Youth Horse camp this week. We sat
down tonight and she recited some of the things that she learned.
1. Don't ever over-correct your horse b/c it makes him stop.
2. Always have control of your horse. (Keep them between your legs)
3. When you are doing ground games or riding, take your time. Don't rush your
horse and always reward the slightest try.
4. When something is hard, don't ever give up. Stay positive, Get creative, Be
5. Attitude—have a good one!
6. Be confident, Be a leader!
7. Have fun and be interested—your horse will too!
8. Fun with horses also comes with responsibility.
9. Don't let your horse get in your bubble-protect your space so that your horse
respects you.
10. Don't pull your horse, push him!
11. One reign stop! Lateral bending with softness.
12. Nose, neck, maybe feet.
13. There are four distinct phases---hair, skin, muscle, then bone.
14. When backing, the way that you move your hand will determine which direction
his butt goes.
15. Never get frustrated when your horse is yanking your chain.
16. When backing while riding: keep your hands in front of the saddle horn with
tightened reins, roll your hips backwards by rolling your belly button back, and
lift your hands.
17. Two pointing is awesome and I can't wait to gallop!
18. Never lean forward in the saddle.
19. When your horse has a bad expression with his ears, fix that before you ask
for anything else.
20. Do not touch your saddle or your horse's butt with your leg when climbing in
and out of the saddle.
21. Always balance your relationship with friendly!
22. What you don't do on the ground, you shouldn't do in the saddle.
23. There are 7 ground games: friendly, porcupine, driving, yo-yo, circling ,
side passing, squeeze
24. Have a set routine when asking your horse to pick up his feet—pinch instead
of push. When you ask for a back foot—stay out of the kick zone and bend his
neck toward you. Don't release until he gives you what you ask for!
25. Use your entire body to direct your horse.
26. Lead and ride your horse like a QUEEN.
27. Be particular!
28. Be a partner, not a predator.
29. Don't let your horse wallow when you are on his back!
30. FOCUS (pay attention to your horse) and have a PLAN!

Thanks so much to Sherry for a great camp. Horses are such a wonderful thing to
share, and they teach great "life lessons".

Youth Parent Camp: July 21-23
As of today I don't have anyone signed up for this camp. It will be a first come first serve basis whether I stay home for the camp or go to Omaha and Lincoln for monthly private lessons that weekend. If you read the above report you will see it is a great camp for both parent and child. The list of things that Anne and Megan learned is very detailed. This camp is a great value as the parent instruction is virtually free. So it is a two for one as far as the instruction fee is concerned. Carol another grandmother who came said she thinks she learned more than her granddaughter. It is a great way to bond with both your horse and a child.

A More Excellent Way

Do you need help with getting your horse to stand still for mounting, bridling, trailer loading, crossing water, taking a lead, slowing down, speeding up, stopping, or a million other things you wished your horse did better? Or maybe you are ready to take it to the next level with collection and refinement. Whatever you are searching for to make your life better with your horse, I am sure that we can assist in a way that will allow both you and your horse to be happier.

I am always pursuing excellence in both my horsemanship and teaching skills which is why I also continue my education through clinics, seminars, classes, etc. Excellence as I define it is a general consistent state of high quality. It brings to my mind an unmatched performance, someone with unusual expertise who demonstrates consistent high-quality performance. We often think that to be the best at something we have to be naturally gifted or talented. But experience has taught me that talent, while it can be important is not the main ingredient for excellence.

I believe that no matter what area of life you want to improve you can develop it to a level of excellence with a little know-how and a lot of effort even if you are not particularly gifted in that area. The primary pathway to excellence in any endeavor has three main ingredients, none of which depends solely on talent.

# 1. Find Your Passion:
Well I believe you would not be reading this if you didn't have a passion for horses. People of excellence love what they do. I am sure you love riding horses, so I challenge you to learn how to fuel the fire that keeps moving you forward in your skills as a horseman.
You can spot a really passionate horseman seeking excellence, here are some things you may observe:
  • They put their whole heart into it
  • They are attentive and undistracted
  • They work with maximum energy needed for the task
  • They are consistent
  • They have a positive attitude
  • They put in the time it takes
  • They are willing to take small and gradual steps
In life the prize goes not to the person who is the smartest or the most talented; it often goes to the person with passion. Are you passionate about being excellent at trail riding, barrel racing, dressage, jumping, cutting, roping, showing, or just developing a relationship with your horse where you can both have fun and be safe? If you are passionate, that is wonderful. You are off to a good start, and that is the easy part, but the next step is the hard part.

# 2. Never Cease Practicing
Passion won't take you anywhere unless you combine it with disciplined practice. Successful people like the Beatles, Bill Gates, any great horseman like Chris Cox, Clinton Anderson, Buck Braneman, Peter Campbell, Pat Parelli, Bill or Tom Dorrance, Ray Hunt, Walter Zettle, Lynn Palm, Karen Rolhf, Charmayn James, you just pick the one you think is great; they have all put in thousands of hours of practice before making a big splash. Nobody cruises to the top on natural giftedness alone.

Malcolm Gladwell writes, "Practice isn't the thing you do once you're good. It's the thing you do that makes you good."

I don't consider myself as having made a big splash yet, but if people knew how hard I had to work to gain the mastery I have, it would not seem so wonderful at all. Learning is only the first part. The real key is putting that learning into practice that leads to excellence. You can't just read about how to fix your horses problems and expect it to just happen. You can't just watch a video about how to train or ride a horse and be able to do it very well the right away. You need to perform what you have learned over and over and over again to perfect the skill.

# 3. Honor Your Values:
Passion and practice bring excellence, but character sustains excellence over time. Absence of strong character eventually topples talent. People cannot climb beyond the limitations of their character. Eventually the limelight of success brings to light the cracks in their integrity.

I encourage you to develop a core set of horsemanship principles and values from which to be passionate about and practice from that foundation. Without that foundation the building of something excellent will eventually fall apart. I have tried very hard to never sacrifice my principles in order to achieve my goals. It has been difficult at times, but in the end it will pay off.

The fact that excellent horsemanship skills aren't something a person has to be born with should be encouraging... In order to be excellent all you have to do is determine what your passion is and then put in the hours and hours of practice. As long as you stick with it and honor your foundational principles and values along the way, you will reach a level of excellence you never thought possible.

I hope to be a part of your journey towards excellence no matter what your passion. And it doesn't matter whether you go to the grand prix, or the world show, excellence is not a competition, it is a prize of satisfaction for a job well done.

Our camps will set you on the course of learning and give you the extra practice you need to help ensure your success when you get home. A commitment of a couple of more days at a camp instead of an hour or two private lesson or a 1-2 day clinic will offer the extra practice with instruction that can be just what you need to keep you going at home. All you will have to do is use some wise time management.

Hope to see you this summer! And keep reaching toward excellence with your horse. You can do it!