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.