Well Howdy Wranglers!
To me it feels as much like Thanksgiving as it does Christmas and the Holiday Season!
Living out here, it is really little wonder. With the first snowstorms under our belt, and today a lot of water in most of the fields, there are reasons every day to be appreciative and thankful. Right now I feel thankful when I come in cold and wet and the wood fire is roaring, filling my soul with instant warmth, and Love. That reminds me of a quote from Bob Hope: "My idea of Christmas, whether old fashioned or modern, is simply loving others. Come to think of it, why do we have to wait for Christmas to do that?"
Horses and really all creatures sure do appreciate the "Love" as well, yet it is very different from our human feel of "Love". I do not profess to know what "Love" really is, yet if I do not feel it, I ache. For horses, "Love" really relates to respect, being kept safe, access to food and water, knowing one's place in a herd; that there is play and that there is quiet.
Let me explain. Human to human 'Love' is often associated with being listened too, trusted, physical contact and the warmth that that contact can bring, that our little missteps are easily forgiven, or at least tolerated; that our significant others know us enough to be able to surprise us with words or deeds that only those who are in tune with us would know.
When we bring that version of human 'Love' to our horses we are really doing them a disservice. To my way of thinking, I best way to express my 'Love' to Bart is by respecting his standing in the herd (greet him first); to approach him from the side and not straight in his face (respecting his personal space); that my 'asks' of him are consistent (not driven by my moodiness); that I do NOT let him invade my personal space without being invited (requesting his respect); that I do not set him up for failure (lope where he can't see how to place his feet) when we are out riding; that I acknowledge that it is a challenge for him, as a lead horse, to ride last or in the middle of the pack and that he does that for me because he respects me and acknowledges my leadership. He knows I trust him implicitly when I hug his butt and give it all up to him, if you 'Love' (respect) a horse and are 'Loved' (respected) back, there is deep and unconditional trust and respect.
We have made new friends and got reacquainted with folks who rode here decades ago. Nikki and NJ have had a very successful year training horses, teaching their owners and keeping our own horses working so very well. More and more folks are enjoying bringing their own horses to the Ranch to attend our clinics, be guided through our trails or to try them on cows. I was out with Jimmy and Pepe and got wonderfully lost on our ride to the lake... wilderness all around and buried fences - yet it all went well. Not only were they very patient with me, but our horses just don't panic when severely challenged by terrain and circumstance. Rawhide Adventures, not your ordinary trail ride! Keep an eye on our website for our 2015 schedule of events! If there is something that you would like to do with us in the New Year, make sure you get to us and we will help customize your event.
A huge thank you goes to Nikki who looked after all things ranching while NJ and I took a well deserved two week break (first time in 15 years!). If you think house-sitting someone's cat is stressful, imagine being responsible for keeping 36+ horses and 110 cows happy when it starts with a 3 day blizzard to contend with too! In the end, all was good but a bit of an edgy start!
The cows are pregnancy checked after a very green grass season, raising the biggest calf crop yet on these beautiful fields on the east side of the Niagara Escarpment. We are getting ready for the 2015 calving season and are looking forward to what 2015 will bring. Thank you to all of you who have come out this year, or referred others to us. It is because of you that we are able to work here, representing true western authenticity and hospitality.
To all of you from all of us here, Happy Hanukah, a very Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and may 2015 bring peace, contentment and the wish for our paths to cross again.