Autumn Gold

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When summer comes to an end, my good humour goes with it for a time. Summer always seems too short. I am not ready - not ready for cooler weather, not ready for jackets, and definitely not ready for winter! Because, although summer is followed by autumn, it's also one step closer to winter, and that means freezing temperatures, extra chores and no arena to work my horses in. For a week or two, at the end of August, I am a bit cranky.

Inevitably, my bad attitude changes in a week or so to acceptance . . . and that probably has something to do with banquet of visual goodies I feast on every day. How can I be out of sorts with so much beauty around me? The river is its most rich turquoise, the aspens ripen to vibrant gold with orange and reddish highlights. The wild roses, ripe with hips, mature to a deep burnished red. I remind myself - again - to value the moment. How lucky I am to be surrounded by such beauty!

Yes, autumn splendor heralds approaching winter but today, as I watch, from my window, a lone bald eagle soaring above the golden scenery, I am content. When winter arrives (and it will!), I will be ready to see the beauty in that season too because, after all, winter precedes spring...

Just Stay Out of The Way...

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Several years ago, when I was training a three-year-old reining prospect, I asked my husband if he would like to get on and try a sliding stop. After a few coached rundowns to the fence, I told him he was ready to run Cimarron at full speed and "stop short".

"Collect him for a few strides, slowly lower your hand, keep riding all the way to the stop, say "whoa" and stay out of his way," I instructed. It was one of only a few times Don followed my instructions to the letter. . . and Cimarron slid 30 feet!

A lot of horse training technique is exactly that - staying out of the horse's way. I watch my young horses running and playing (my barometer for their talent) and it's pretty obvious that most of the ones I raise now can do what I will be asking of them - if I let them do it! Check out these two photos of week-old foals doing what comes naturally...

Wildwood Sable stopping (and ready for a rollback!)

Wildwood Sapphire going "down the fence" like her mother does...

...and Wildwood Liberty, first photo as a yearling in 2007, then as a three-year-old "trained" reiner in 2009!

Wildwood Liberty running free 2007 - one year old. (Photo by Verna Allinson)

Wildwood Liberty and Terry Lee Sapergia at the Canadian Supreme 2009 (Photo by Sharon Latimer)

Horse training is simply putting a horse in a position where it is easier for him to do the maneuver than not do it - and staying out of his way so he can! Cimarron's stop was like that, but so are circles, a spin or a lead change. I can "fix" or position before or after the maneuver but it generally works better if I stay out of my horse's way when he is actually executing the maneuver. When I start my colts, I don't want to mess up that natural talent they were born with!

Sable and Sapphire are two year olds now. Sable has went on to another home and, from all reports is going to be a fantastic reiner. I am riding Sapphire and she is super athetic and sweet. I'm showing her what I want and trying to stay out of her way so she can show me she can.

Alive and in the Present

Posted by Sharon

Have you ever woke up one morning and suddenly realized that the world and everything in it seemed brighter, fresher, more alive? Once in a while, like a couple of days ago, that happened to me. I looked out the window at the same view I see every day, but with a difference - the colours popped; bold defining lines edged the clouds; the river shone a more brilliant turquoise than usual; even the yellowed grass jumped out at me. I took a picture.

As I walked out on my deck in the morning silence, I became aware of the sounds of silence (yes - I know that is a song) - a breath of a breeze, the whisper of a bird flying over, the shuffle of a horse in the barn. It wasn't really silent after all! I realized then that I was remarkably in tune with the universe - every colour, sound and smell.

"I must try to capture what my senses have become so acutely aware of," I thought. More pictures...

My next photo was pansies lightly dusted in morning sun.

I looked at the digital photo. Not quite what I envisioned. So I walked to the garden, still inhaling (literally) each and every sensory experience. It was there I saw, really saw, a sunflower. One more photo before I would put the camera away and begin a day's work. This photo says it all - from the vibrant colour to the bee to the board fence behind . . . and maybe just a little imperfect! - this is close to what I felt that morning- alive!

I think this might be what is called "living in the present". If it is, I want it - every day.

Born To Be

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I always watch the television show, "America's Got Talent". There's always a variety of acts and maybe, if I'm lucky, a one-in-a-million talent will be revealed. That's what is happening this year. Jackie Evancho, a ten year old from Pennsylvania, stunned - yes, stunned! - the world when she voiced the first note of her first appearance on the show. She must have deeply impressed the judges before that - when they listened to her audition on YouTube, because it was from the YouTube entries that Jackie Evancho joined others (who had already been through a screening process) in a hunt for the number one talent for 2010. Jackie's voice defies description. It does not seem real. It's difficult to wrap my mind around the fact that that voice is coming from that wisp os a girl - a little shy, a little giggly - but when she sings, it is with the voice of an angel and the maturity of a diva.

My mind wandered after I watched Jackie's last performance. I started thinking about where a talent like that comes from, and of course there is only one answer - they are born with it! There are people who are born with a gift, whether for singing, dancing, writing, drawing . . . or horsemanship! Although there are many vocalists, dancers, writers, artists, horsemen and horsewomen, there are a handful who stand above the rest - and it is because they are born to be . . . great!

Most of us work hard all our lives to achieve some level of expertise in our chosen field. Certainly I did. I am in awe of those born with the gift for I shall never quite achieve what they do with so apparent ease. I quite understand that, as hard as I try, I will always be missing that extra magic of a super-gifted horseperson, a person born with an innate sense of the horse, of feel, of timing. Although I know several people who almost have that, one name rises above the rest - Guy Gauthier.

Guy, a native of Quebec, stormed the reining world the moment he entered the reining pen. He stunned the competition with win after win., tapping into the best of each horse, delivering time and time again. He was unstoppable . . . until he and his wife were killed in a car crash in the late 80s. Guy's name is still 52nd on NRHA list of top money earners and he has been gone for over 20 years. (Keep in mind that reining competitions did not pay as much then either.)

A few years before that fateful day, I had a wonderful opportunity to take a clinic from Guy. I was living in northern Saskatachewan at the time, the clinic was to be held in Beechy, 300 miles away, and it was winter, but my neighbour and I hauled together. I took a 3 year old mare belonging to a client. Below is a photo of Guy with me, the mare and the owner of the mare.
This photo is of all clinic participants. BAck row: Jack Wartman, Chris Larsen (my neighbour), Jake Braun (owner of the facility), myself, Steve Braun, Brenda Gael; Middle row: Marg Perrin, Vicki Braun, Brian Braun, Doug Jones, Dale Montgomery, Eric Lawrence, Guy Gauthier; Kneeling in front: Dennis Perrin and Keith Taylor.
And here I am perfecting a spin on Bobby. (All photos by Verna Allinson)

And so this is a tribute to Guy Gauthier, gone so many years now, but whose mark will always remain in the reining world, and to Jackie Evancho whose career is only beginning. Born gifted. Born to be the best!