Dec 3, 2011

Warming Up

As the weather cools down, warming your horse up properly becomes even more important, and it starts in the stall.  As they are outdoors less, your horse is not doing as much romping and rolling around getting dirty and stretching all those wonderful muscles.  Begin by brushing your horse vigorously as if it is caked in mud from head to toe.  Do the legs as well as you do the saddle area!  This gets the blood circulating and starts to warm the muscles up.  Take a tip from my dad and scratch your horse's belly and rump with a pitchfork!

This is a good time to brush up on your longeing skills or work in hand before you get on.  If it's been a while for you and your horse, beware of assuming you can pick up where you left off.  Start slow with some easy goals.  Above all else, the horse must know "whoa" and "go." 

Plenty of walk, as usual, is in order.  Calm, forward, and straight.  I often say the warm up is the ride.  When you've had a great one, there isn't anything you can't try afterward.


Oct 14, 2011

Sold Out!

Tickets to our Gala this Saturday, October 15 are now sold out!  Thank you to all who purchased tickets in support of our show.  We are looking forward to entertaining you.  Show starts at 7:00pm and dress warmly!  Feel free to bring a cushion and a blanket to keep you extra cozy. 

See you tomorrow!

Sep 18, 2011

Headwaters Stable Tour

We will be participating in the Headwaters Stable Tour once again this year on Sunday, September 25.  For information about our showtimes please visit  We look forward to seeing familiar faces as well as new ones! 

Aug 11, 2011


Sometimes the best way of challenging yourself and your skills in horsemanship is to make the goal of some of your rides simple, pure fun.  Whip tossing, riding bareback, going for a hack and opening and closing all your gates along the way are great ways to enjoy the summer.  Going for a really good gallop is an amazing way of reminding yourself of the sheer power of your horse and to feel the aliveness of your heart pumping.  If you have a friend who  would be willing to help you out, get on the longe line and do some vaulting work or close your eyes while you do ordinary gait work.  

Be safe and then push the limits a little.  I hope you have a good time making new discoveries!

Jun 9, 2011

Arena Etiquette

Whether you are riding at home, in a warm-up ring at a show, or at a clinic there are a few key things to remember when it comes to arena etiquette. 

Keep comments to yourself.  Unless asked, refrain from giving tips or outright telling another rider what s/he should be doing.  Even though a congratulations on work well done is a nice thing to share, a rider is usually concentrating and focusing on the work.  Try to save such comments until you notice a rider is doing a free walk on a long rein.

Pass left to left.  In general, passing left shoulder by left shoulder is the way to go.  Some exceptions are: 
  • move around rather than inside another rider who is doing a figure as to not interrupt that figure
  • if you are moving faster, move to the inside regardless if you're on the left rein.  Make eye contact with the other rider you are approaching as s/he may move out of the way.
  • always pass with enough room as to not be able to touch even if you tried.  (When at home, if you're close enough that I can whip you while you're passing me, I will!)
As much as possible, you should avoid calling out where you're going, but do so if it is unclear.  A rider who constantly calls out her direction gets irritating.  The arena should be a quiet place of work.

RIDE PREDICTABLY.  Think of the arena like a highway.  KEEP MOVING!  How you ride should be like clear signals to everyone around you (without talking).  Stay far to the sides if you are going slower than everyone else.  Ride recognizable figures.  Look around you before halting, doing a downward transition, or reining back.  Avoid hoarding the circle.  (I see riders stick in the same circle over and over and that limits the space others can use.  It's no different than having a horse there on a longe line.)

Give room to stallions, young horses, and less experienced riders.  If you are at a dressage show and notice a ribbon tied to the top of a horse's tail, that means that horse kicks so give space.  A braided horse with a loose forelock is also a sign that horse is a stallion (just in case his bits are out of view!).

Be flexible.  The arena is there for everyone's use.  Keep your head up and learn how to modify your work without stopping.  Doing constant transitions to get out of someone's way is a clear sign that you're not looking around and planning the best route.

Happy riding!

Mar 3, 2011

Getting Your Masters

In order to master riding a horse, you must be able to master yourself.  You'll hear my dad say, "How do you expect to tell the horse what to do when you can't even do it yourself?"  In dressage we ask our horse to do to the left what it can do on the right, to be flexible and supple, to be athletic and have stamina, to be straight and even, to have concentration and focus.  Do you possess those qualities?  Do you strive to be all those things?

The first step is self-awareness.  Be conscious of what your body is doing, isolate body parts to work them on their own and then in conjunction with others, and check your position.  Do exercises that will strengthen your weaknesses both on and off the horse.  If riding a couple of times a week is your idea of fitness, you won't keep up with your horse.  Incorporate activities throughout the day to get strong, be limber, and centered.  Follow my dad's example:  try hanging upside down from your feet, lifting yourself perpendicular to a tree trunk, and doing handstands.  He's 68 years-old--I'm sure you can manage. 

"If you want nothing, you already have it." - Frank Grelo


Fear is a crippling feeling that can obstruct action in almost anything we do in life.  I have seen it hold back the potential of more riders than I care to count.  To become a great rider, one must master oneself and that includes tackling the fear.  I often hear from riders, "I know my limits."  Someone in pursuit of greatness is committed to pushing limits.  This does not mean jumping before you know how to walk, but it does mean saying yes to taking the biggest steps you can to get there.  I love when I find myself in an uncomfortable position because it highlights something I need to work on. 

The next most frequent phrase I hear is, "My horse..." (enter any characteristic of a horse here).  My dad has a good saying for this and it goes, "A lousy handyman blames his tools."  The quicker you are honest with yourself about what you are doing and assume responsiblity for how your ride goes, the sooner you will figure out what is necessary to overcome your obstacles.  Cut the excuses and go for it.  The ride will say everything that needs to be expressed.

More on mastering oneself to come...

Jan 31, 2011

Frank's New Knee

The most notable physical attribute of my dad that most people remember is his bowed legs.  He has earned them riding the thousands of horses over his lifetime.  In fact, those legs are worth more than all the horses in our barn.  Of course that wear and tear takes its toll on the bones and muscles leading my dad to finally go through with a decision he made months ago--to go for knee replacement surgery for his left knee. 

I am happy to report that my dad is now at home and recovering well.  It will still be several weeks before he is down at the barn in his usual routine, but he will be up and running in an even better capacity before long.  Until then, he'll just have to do with being tended to and fed by my mom.  Quel malheur!