What does a horse say? Sometimes, it turns out, it’s the horse doing the whispering.

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If you answered “Neigh!” to the opening question, you’re right, of course. (You’re also right if you’ve been talking to my horses and the answer is “Nay.”)

However, I’m coming to the understanding that if we’ll let them, horses can say a whole lot more. (Have I gone even weirder on you?  Maybe. But probably not.)

We hear a lot about “horse whisperers.” And we’ve had a wonderful opportunity lately to get reacquainted with this concept with Buck  Brannaman’s Buck the Movie. (Did anyone else get this one for Christmas?I’m so glad to have my own copy!!)

So in keeping with all this, I’ve been playing around lately with the idea of equine assisted learning and animal communication. My research and interviews for The Smart Woman’s Guide to Midlife Horses led me to cross paths with lots of these people and dug up enough compelling information to make me want to delve further into these areas. (This, of course, spawned a new idea I can’t wait to tell you about, but it’s still in its incubation, so stay tuned!)

Last week, I enlisted the help of a friend of mine we’ll call Mary. That’s not her real name. If I used her real name in this story there’s a good chance she’ll cease being my friend. And an even better chance that everyone who knows me will then take a much wider circle around me to escape having any conversation we have become blog fodder. So if you know me personally, be advised that what you say can and will be used for the common good in my blog, but I will always protect your privacy. Then if at some point you want to claim the story as your own, we can give you a proper introduction.

Like so many of us, Mary has an affinity for horses that reaches back to her childhood and early adolescence. Then, grown up responsibilities and family rearing took her far away from any thought of horses — except, of course, for the occasional fond flashback whenever the subject of horses came up. She’s very grounded, centered and self-aware, possibly the most balanced human I know. These factors (plus a little curiosity on her part) made her the perfect candidate for one of my favorite journaling exercises in The Smart Woman’s Guide to Midlife Horses.

So here’s what happened. We went out to where my horses are stabled and I got them both out, along with all their brushes and combs. Then I invited her to pick one and brush him. I assumed she’d pick Rio because of his sweet clownish face and docile demeanor. She admitted to being a little nervous about handling horses because some of her memories, come to think of it, weren’t that fond.

So she went straight to Trace. Go figure. His head was stuck way up in the air in what Clinton would definitely classify as his “unsure zone.” In fact, I could almost just see the whites of his eyes. Not a good thing, and I can tell you if she had made a sudden move or sneezed loudly he probably would have come unglued.

I watched as they sized each other up, noting as I did the gentleness of how she brushed him. She didn’t talk; just brushed. Pretty soon his head started to come out of the clouds and the softness returned to his eyes.

“You know, I thought I would choose that one,” she said, pointing to Rio, “but for some reason I feel more drawn to this one.” She patted Trace gently on the neck. His head shot straight up, the wary look returning. We laughed. “He does scare me a little, though, so I’m not sure why I’m choosing him.”

Don’t I know that feeling? I thought to myself.  Trace, you may remember, is my first midlife horse, the one  that came to me from the group of milling geldings when I wasn’t even looking for a horse. The one who has tried my patience to the cellular level and my soul even more, and yet for some reason, I just can’t give up on him. And, in all fairness, it’s been worth it.

The Smart Woman’s Guide to Midlife Horses came from a perfect storm of my struggles with Trace, my resulting introduction to Downunder Horsemanship, and then all the Midlife Horse stories I heard and got to write about when I worked for Clinton Anderson.  Seeing the difference finding my best solutions made in my own midlife horses journey — and from what I learned and observed firsthand as Clinton’s head writer as I helped him write his best selling Lessons Well Learned and dozens of articles and training tips — I knew I wanted to share what I learned with others as desperate for this information as I was starting out. All because of a persnickerty horse.

For all my trials created at the hooves of this horse, he’s  made me a better rider, a more aware rider, and a person who has had to learn (with a lot of help) how to walk through fear to find that “calm courage” Martha Beck describes, and this has helped me in many aspects of my life, on and off the horse.

Every horse has something special to teach us — and I now believe that when you open yourself, on whatever level you choose, to midlife horses,  the horse that appears in our life (and believe me, you’ll know it when it happens) is the one sent to teach us something we need to know to heal ourselves of whatever is still bugging us here in the halftime of our lives.

So, going back to Mary, after she was finished brushing Trace and combing his mane, we dragged a chair into the pen and she sat down with her journal to do the “Awaken Your Horse Sense” exercise (found on page 15 of The Smart Woman’s Guide to Midlife Horses). I left the two of them alone (but occasionally peeked, once to see Trace rolling, once to see him walk up to her and nibble at her pen and the edges of her journal and her sleeve. (I should probably stop giving him carrots.)

Then, hearing Mary laughing out loud, I looked just in time to see her walking across the pen — and Trace prancing along beside her, head protectively curved around in front of her, looking at her square on. I wish I had been quick enough to get a picture of this for you, because it was profound to me even before I heard the story behind it.

Here’s what Mary had to say afterward: “I started writing, just mundane journaling stuff . . . you know, trying to get started just by writing anything that came into my mind, just like the exercise instructs,” she said. At that point Trace was totally ignoring me. Sniffing the ground, facing the opposite direction. I kept writing, just this and that, observations, what I thought of this exercise, random thoughts about journaling. Then he dropped to his knees and rolled in the dirt. That was kind of funny, so I chuckled a little bit and he got up and walked toward me. I went back to journaling my observations and he turned away and walked to the far end of the pen.

“Then some stuff started coming to me that was a little more personal, engaging my emotions and some internal questioning. He then turned and walked straight toward me, coming to stop with his head right in front of my notebook. What’s he doing? I thought. I wasn’t afraid, but looking back on that now I can’t imagine why I wasn’t. Then he started nibbling at my pen. Does he think it’s a carrot? I wondered, remembering that Melinda said he likes carrots. I noticed how big his teeth were, but again, without any fear. He was clearly playing with me.

“I tried to ignore him and continue writing, wanting to finish writing the thought I had before he came over to me. He nibbled the edges of my pages and then a singe word came into my mind: “Play!!!” I wrote this word, including the three exclamation points, and he then dragged his nose right across where I was writing, leaving a big smudge. I  laughed out loud. This horse is telling me to play! I thought.

“So I got up from my chair and just started walking, He came right up beside me and sort of wrapped his head and neck around me, kind of like a protective hug and he was prancing and looking me right in the eye.

“I immediately understood that the message from this horse was that I need to play more. I do a lot of fun things, but it’s all with structure and purpose and  intended outcome. I never just play. I’m not sure I even remember how. So I guess he was trying to show me. Here in this pen with this horse, I laughed out loud with no idea of where we were going or what we were trying to do.  It was the pure joy that comes from pure play.”

So, midlife sisters, I challenge you now: Go get that journal and find a horse (preferably one you don’t know, but you can do it with your own horse if you’d rather). And, with the owner’s permission, of course, go sit with that horse and just write, as fast as you can, anything that comes to mind for as long as you can make yourself sit there. (10 minutes is a good start. As is three pages of full sized notebook paper. Whatever gets you to sit there and just write. Don’t try to direct, connect or analyze the thoughts that come to you as you sit there. Just write. It may take you a while to get going, as it did Mary. But do what she did and just write EXACTLY what you’re thinking. Even if it’s “I think this is the dumbest thing I’ve ever done in my life.” Just keep writing your thoughts. You may be surprised at what bubbles up.

And if you’re willing, post your most surprising thoughts here, on our Facebook page,  Twitter, or YouTube. (As one animal communicator explained, pay special attention to the random thoughts that don’t seem to have anything to do with anything. The ones that don’t make any sense at all at first are often the deepest and most profound revelations, once you dig into them deeply enough.) If you’d prefer to be anonymous, but still want to share something amazing, please just email your story to me and I promise a cloak of invisibility around what you have to share.

I can’t wait to read more stories like Mary’s — and with your help, to make people aware of the magic than can come from journaling with a horse.

Happy Trails!

 

A big thank you to Colonial Country Club Ladies Luncheon Series for inviting me to be their August speaker!

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At first, I wondered what I would talk about with this crowd, a group more accustomed to hosting style shows, politicos, and noted experts in something or other as their speakers. I’m no expert, but I have written about a lot of interesting things and people, so I decided to go with that. In the mix, of course, I got to talk about the creation of The Smart Woman’s Guide to Midlife Horses, and all the unexpectedly synchronistic ideas, people and experiences that came together to result in this book.

One interesting thing I’m discovering in almost every group I speak to (formally and informally), is that while many are intrigued by the idea of Midlife Horses, they also relate to the metaphorical side of this book — and there’s always a handful whose eyes light up with the easily recognizable glow of old “horse dreams,” and I’m pretty sure they go home with the full intention of, as Koelle Simpson puts it, “bringing a little equine energy into their lives.”

 

Meet Maximo, the horse that nosed me under the midlife bus.

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When I went to the Equine Experience retreat at  Hacienda Tres Aguilas near San Antonio Texas, I had no idea what to expect. I had just bought a horse the summer before, we were still getting along pretty well at that point, but something about this new relationship in my life compelled me to want to learn more.

This retreat, as its literature explained, was hosted by the three “eagles,”  Doctors Tom, Adele, Deborah McCormick, who wrote two of my favorite horse books, Horse Sense and the Human Heart (Health Communications, 1997), and Horses and the Mystical Path (New World Library, 2004).

 

I discovered this opportunity quite by accident (if there is such a thing, which, increasingly, I’m starting to doubt). According to their course literature, passed on to me by a freind who knew I enjoyed delving into such matters, the McCormicks were trained in “Psychoanalytic and Jungian Psychology with an expertise in Object Relations Theory and mysticism.” I had no idea what all that meant, but it sounded pretty serious. I was intrigued.

My intrigue grew with the fact that they had traveled the world studying with an impressive list of greats in both psychology AND horsemanship, including the Celtic traditions of horsemanship. This last part REALLY  got my attention.  Folding what they had learned about horses and humans into this retreat, the Drs. McCormick called upon their championship Peruvian horses to help participants “explore the transcending connection between horses and people.”  The Equine Experience Retreat (which, by the way, is still held several times each year at their beautiful Texas Hill Country ranch)  promised  “a place to find inner peace, growth, and creativity.”

 

Well, I don’t know about you, but I’ve been looking for that stuff for most of my adult life. Sign me up!

 

 

So I naively packed my riding boots and clothes (not understanding that this was not going to be a riding experience at all) and headed off to the Hill Country to hunt for that elusive “still place in my  heart”  the McCormicks promised would help me learn to connect with the “heart and rhythms of nature.” Especially, I hoped, with the heart and rhythm of my increasingly agitated horse, Trace.

 

Even then I realized on some level that it was my own escalating agitation and stress that was coming back at me through the misbehavior of my horse. He was simply mirroring what was going on inside me, but it would be a while before I learned about that. (Chapter 10, to be exact, of my new book,  The Smart Woman’s Guide to Midlife Horses, a somewhat errant chronicle of this journey. At this point, we are still in Chapter 1, headed toward Chapter 2 where a Peruvian horse named Maximo escorted me to the trailhead of my midlife horses journey.

 

If you're ripe for a comeuppance, this is just the guy to make that happen. (The Smart Woman's Guide to Midlife Horses)

 

Here’s a book excerpt to describe how it all unfolded:

 

“The day before, an aging Peruvian horse named Maximo had demonstrated for the group how he could use his buddy sourness to play my overactive nurturing instinct like a cheap fiddle. Then, as I later tried to lead him “with authority,” he plain-old ignored my pace and used each turn as opportunity to graze, oblivious to my “authoritative” yanks on the lead rope. “Max sees that you have no boundaries,” Deborah McCormick, Ph.D.,  explained to me and to the group. The message resonated with issues I had dealt with time and again in my life, without resolution.”

 

Do you cringe when people say how “nice”  you are? Do you habitually sacrifice your own needs (or wants) to accomodate the needs (and wants) of others? Then maybe it’s time for your midlife horses!

 

“Horses see us for who we are on the inside,” agree many of the popular “horse whisperers” of today (who are parroting, by the way, the grandaddy of them all, Tom Dorrance.). The bottom line for those of us who have chosen midlife horses as a journey to rediscover who the heck we are? Watch the behavior of the horses you interact with very closely. The inner reality is closer  than it appears.

 

Happy Trails!

 

Thank you, Dallas Morning News, for a great job portraying The Smart Woman’s Guide to Midlife Horses! Read it at http://dallasne.ws/qjHmBn

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A big thank you to Dallas Morning News Writer Kathleen Green and Pulitzer Prize Winning Photographer Robert Hart for this week’s Dallas Morning News My Town feature that highlighted The Smart Woman’s Guide to Midlife Horses. What I love most about Kathleen’s story (notwithstanding her exposure of my fairly serious (and obvious) Mexican food addiction and my enthusiasm for horse shopping at Teskeys) is that she really gets what this book is truly about — and the amazing power of embracing any midlife dream as an antidote to the sense of ennui that can settle in on all of us at this pivotal time of life.

 

What’s your dream?  When you were young, what did you think you would always get around to doing — someday? Whatever it once was, I’d be willing to bet it’s still there. Really. Look under that  pile of  outgrown clothes, in the bottom of that overflowing junk drawer, or wedged between the post-it notes on your exploding calendar or bulletin board. You’ll find a hint of it.

 

Yes, for me it has always been horses that capture my imagination. But as the chapters of this book reveal, horses are really just a metaphor for  anything that brings us a sense of freedom, a proverbial breath of fresh air, right here in the middle of our lives. It’s time to  win independence over the day-to-day minutia that creeps in and takes over while we’re busy taking care of others and doing what we’re “supposed” to be doing as responsible adults.

Now don’t get me wrong. I’m all about being responsible and doing what we need to do. These are by no means mutually exclusive ideas.  However, it is only when we embrace this natural midlife pause to reflect on our earlier dreams (whatever they are!) that we realize the opportunity is still there for us, on some level — and our dream is still waiting patiently for us to walk into the corral our subconscious built for it and make the decision to reclaim it.

 

What are you waiting for?

 

 

Saddle Up! Your Midlife Horse is Waiting!

Happy Trails!

 

Special thanks to Rick Lamb for a delightful radio interview and an enlightening male perspective on my book!

Book info Midlife News Projects The Smart Woman's Guide to Midlife Horses Women and Horses

What a pleasure it was to talk with Rick Lamb on his radio show, “The Horse Show with  Rick Lamb” about The Smart Woman’s Guide to Midlife Horses. Although I had never actually talked with Rick before, his reputation as  the quintessential nice guy preceded him, and I’ll say I now fully agree with that assessment!

We covered a lot of good ground in our hour-long conversation, and even though after talking to so many women about this subject it was a little funny at first to discuss the whole midlife thing with a man, I’ll have to admit that I may have made a small tactical error. Somewhere in my assumption that the search for meaning, magic and mastery with the help of midlife horses is a phenomenon particular to Baby Boomer women, I think I got caught in my own stereotype!

As Rick pointed out, the Baby Boomer generation(s) are also chock full of men who are  now finding their thrill  and chasing their own forgotten horsemanship dreams. And, for many of these men, the issues horses help resolve are strikingly similar! Rick’s book, Human to Horseman, chronicles his own midlife horse journey, much as I did mine, so if any of you are looking for a view of the midlife horse experience from the male perspective, you ought to check this one out at www.ricklamb.com! Also, you’ll find several references to Rick’s earlier book, written with Dr. Robert Miller, DVM, called Revolution in Horsemanship within the pages (and listed in the resources) of  The Smart Woman’s Guide to Midlife Horses.

If you’d like to hear this great conversation for yourself, just click here to visit Rick’s site.  And, while you’re there (and to access all his great radio and TV shows and take a look at an impressive array of other books and products), be sure to sign up for a free membership!  This site is a great resource for all kinds of horse information and entertainment — a place to visit often just to see what he’s up to!

Go give it a listen and let me know what you think — and if the interview sparked any follow up questions you’d like to ask either of us, please feel free to post your comment here and I’ll be sure to get back to you with a good answer!

Saddle Up! Your Midlife Horse is Waiting!

Happy Trails!

 

 

 

Thanks, Dallas Morning News, for a fun interview and shoot! Look for the story in Our Town July 25!

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It’s a darned good thing I didn’t know that was a Pulitzer winning photographer taking my picture this morning to go with Kathleen Green’s upcoming Dallas Morning News Article featuring The Smart Woman’s Guide to Midlife Horses. THAT would have made me nervous. But quite to the contrary, our early morning photo shoot with crackerjack photographer Robert Hart was nothing but fun!

The horses behaved admirably, the blistering Texas heat had yet to fully wake up for another 100+ degree day day, and I’m not sure, but I think Robert got some photos he liked. (He said that when a photographer makes the “ooh oooh oooh” monkey noise, it’s a good thing. Did I mention he won a Pulitzer? Although I’m fairly camera shy and highly self-critical, I’m guardedly optimistic about this one.)

As one not accustomed to being on this side of the interview or camera, I’ll have to say it was a little weird at first. But, just like the Horse Radio Network “Horses in the Morning” radio interview last week, once I get started talking about The Smart Woman’s Guide to Midlife Horses, all weirdness faded into my genuine enthusiasm for sharing this book.

You know the best thing about writing this book? Because it came from my own personal midlife horse quest — and because I built it to be a resource guide for readers to use as a springboard for finding their own answers, the ideas, connections, and useful information just keeps flowing my way!

That’s why I’m so glad we’re building this comunity — a gathering place where we can all pool our ideas, stories and experiences — and just generally bask in the fun and camaraderie the  whole Midlife Horse experience can bring! (I’m looking into adding a virtual margarita machine . . .)

If you haven’t done it already, please visit (and “Like”!) our Facebook page and join the conversations growing there! Id love to hear from you any time something on this blog strikes a familiar chord — and, if you have pictures of you and your horse, advice to share, funny video, or favorite quotes, if you send ’em, I’ll post ’em! We’ve built  an exciting social media hub that includes this blog, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, and Flickr.

Tell your friends! Come back often! Happy trails!

 

 

The magic of this midlife horse thing? On a good day, it feels like the look on a baby’s face when he tastes chocolate for the very first time.

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Meet Teresa, (pictured here with her midlife horse, Lladro). It was on a quiet morning ride, when Trace and  I were the only other ones at the club,  that we began to mimic, in follow-the-leader  fashion (at a respectful distance on the far end of the arena, of course), Teresa and her beautiful and majestic Fresian through their daily dressage maneuvers.

Here's Teresa and Lladro enjoying one of those "first chocolate" midlife horse moments . . .

We botched them all, of course, as neither of us knew what the hell we were even trying to do, but in the process (and in Teresa’s charitable kindness) a friendship was formed over our midlife horses.

As we rode along afterwards together (with Lladro casting a disdainful but tolerant eye toward Trace) it was our discussion of what our midlife horses mean to us that actually sparked the exploration that, three years later, became my soon to be released book, The Smart Woman’s Guide to Midlife Horses: Finding Meaning , Magic and Mastery in the Second Half of Life.

. . . and here, modeling the kind of “I’ll scratch your back if you’ll scratch mine” relationship we all hope for with our midlife horse!

Teresa was giving me the 411 about the Fort Worth Horseshoe Club where I had just moved Trace. “We have the cleaners — they come out every day and clean their stalls their buckets their feed bins. Their stalls are cleaner than my house. We have the groomers, they come out and shampoo, brush, apply hoof dressings and keep their horse looking like a million bucks. We have some that stay pretty much on the ground, others who take a lot of lessons, some ride just for fun and others are very serious competitors — or used to be. There really is something in this experience for everyone!”

“What do you think it is about horses that attract women at this time of life?” I asked in what would become the genesis of this book .

“You know the look a baby gets on his face the first time he tastes chocolate? That’s what a good horse day feels like — and that’s what keeps us coming back for more!”

 

and then, living her midlife horse dream to its fullest expression, Teresa gives us all a vision that is nothing short of magical!

 

The Smart Woman's Guide to Midlife Horses by Melinda Folse (formerly Melinda Folse Kaitcer) - Order yours today at www.horseandriderbooks.com!
Saddle Up! Your Midlife Horse is Waiting!

 

 

Today’s the Day!

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by Melinda Folse (formerly Melinda Folse Kaitcer)

I woke up this morning the same way you do on any big day, in the foggy recollection that something exciting and long awaited was about to happen. This, friends, is the day my new book, The Smart Women’s Guide to Midlife Horses: Find Meaning Magic and Mastery in the Second Half of Life finally hits the streets. WooHoooooooo!

It’s been a long time coming, starting on the day I was riding with my friend Teresa (you’ll meet her and her horse, Lladro, in an upcoming post). I had just moved my horse to a wonderful place that was home to about 75 horses, and I couldn’t help but notice the number of women out there who were my age and older.

When I remarked on this she explained. “We have lots of women out here who just love being with their horses. Some are the cleaners— they come out and wash their horse, scrub their buckets, and their stalls are cleaner than most houses. We have the groomers. They brush, shampoo, condition, apply hoof dressing, and wash their horses’ faces. Some do groundwork — they walk with their horses, hand graze, round pen and lunge. Others of us ride, some just for fun and some working on learning new things, and a few serious ones who go to a show every weekend. We have all come to the place in our lives that our kids are grown, we have a little disposable income, and this is where we want to be. Some of us have husbands, some don’t; some husbands participate, some just come to the parties. But every day, or as often as we can, we come here for our ‘horse fix’.”

Then I remember asking the question — and getting the answer that started this book (even though I didn’t realize it at the time):

 

“What do you think it is about horses that make us want to have them at this time of life?” I asked.

 

She thought for a moment and then replied, “You know that look on a baby’s face when he tastes chocolate for the very first time?”

 

So here we are, some three years and many many miles (and lots of chocolate) later, with this beautiful book created for this special group of women.

The Smart Woman's Guide to Midlife Horses by Melinda Folse (formerly Melinda Folse Kaitcer)

Check it out (and place your order!) at www.horseandriderbooks and please let me hear from you!  My goal was to create the book I was looking for when I came back to horses in the middle of my life. I was looking for more than “how to” . . . I was interested in doing things right, of course, and I wanted to learn how to find the experts I needed and to know what questions to ask, but beyond “how to,”  I wanted to understand “why to” — and to make sense of it all in the context of my own life and experience and goals.   I also wanted to hear from others like me—to learn from them, laugh with them and sometimes cry and complain with them. It is not an easy journey — and there is a lot to know and some of it is not pretty. But I’ll have to say it’s all been worth it. And just like that first taste of chocolate, an unexpected delight!

 

So if you’re a “woman of a certain age” (or not! All are certainly welcome — even the men out there just trying to understand this obsession), whether or not you have a horse, I invite you to join the community we’ve created around this book.  Stop by as often as you can to join the fun, laughter, camaraderie and joy only midlife horses can bring. Find us on Facebook,TwitterYouTube (please send your videos–even camera phone!– and I’ll post them!) and Flickr (send photos of you with your horse!). This is our free Midlife Horses support community — a place for us all to share what we’ve learned, commiserate, celebrate and, to the greatest extent possible, laugh our butts off in the pure joy only midlife horses can bring. I’ve built it — now, y’all come!

Saddle Up! Your Midlife Horse is Waiting!

 

 

 

 

 

Some people wouldn’t spend as much on a saddle as on a new living room sofa. But as far as I know, an ill-fitting sofa never caused anyone to land in the middle of the living room floor.

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by Melinda Folse (formerly Melinda Folse Kaitcer) Order it now at www.horseandriderbooks.com!

In Chapter 9 of my new book, The Smart Woman’s Guide to Midlife Horses: Find Meaning, Magic and Mastery in the Second Half of Life, I make an unapologetic confession. I own three saddles. And while I love each and every one of them for very different reasons, none of them fit my horse.

As it turns out, there’s a whole lot to this saddle fitting thing — whether you ride English or Western, and I found a few experts to help me understand this complex issue — and I barely scratched the surface! As you follow my well-worn train of saddle frustration, you might as well learn from my mistakes, get ideas of where you might find the experts you need, and have a decent idea of what questions to ask and what kinds of things to look out for.

There's a lot to consider when choosing a saddle, and it's important to look at it from the horse's point of view first! (From Chapter 9, "Let's Get Tacky," The Smart Woman's Guide to Midlife Horses)

 

The bottom line? While it’s hard (and usually impossible!) to get horse experts to agree on anything, I did find a general consensus on this topic.  When you’re trying to fit this “moving target,” there are three things to look for:

1. Your horse has to be comfortable and able to move freely without pain.

2. You need to be comfortable and well balanced in the saddle.

3. The saddle must be designed and suited to the purpose you intend to use it for.

When you’re saddle shopping, it’s easy to find a saddle that meets any one of these criteria, sometimes two. But girlfriends, take it from me and keep on shopping until you find one that meets all three. You may have to spend some money (and once you find the one you want, you might be able to find it used at any one of a bazillion online or in person resale sources.), but believe me, it will be worth it.

And, it may not be as cozy to watch TV in the evenings sitting on a saddle instead of that Pottery Barn sofa you’ve had your eye on, but at least you’ll have a secure seat when it really counts!

 

The Smart Woman's Guide to Midlife Horses by Melinda Folse (formerly Melinda Folse Kaitcer) - Order yours today at www.horseandriderbooks.com!

Come! Join the community that’s building around this book.  Stop by as often as you can to join the fun, laughter, camaraderie and joy only midlife horses can bring. Find us here, on Facebook,TwitterYouTube (please send your videos–even camera phone!– and I’ll post them!) and Flickr (send photos of you with your horse!). This is our free Midlife Horses support community — a place for us all to share what we’ve learned, commiserate, celebrate and, to the greatest extent possible, laugh our butts off in the pure joy only midlife horses can bring. I’ve built it — now, y’all come!

 

Saddle Up! Your Midlife Horse is Waiting!

“The horse is a mirror to your soul. Sometimes you might not like what you see. Sometimes you will.” Buck Brannaman

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by Melinda Folse (formerly Melinda Folse Kaitcer) Order it now at www.horseandriderbooks.com!

What a profound statement from Dan “Buck” Brannaman in the riveting documentary, “Buck,” now showing in theaters everywhere (learn  more at www.buckthefilm.com) . Go see it and reply to this post with your favorite quote! Free “Saddle Up Your Midlife Horses” t-shirt to the first five who respond!

What is most interesting to me about this statement from this celebrated “horse whisperer” is that, in the midlife horse experience we often completely miss this gift of pure gold.  It’s so easy to blame the horse when things don’t go as we hoped in this relationship. We deny what our horse’s  behavior may be telling us about who we are on the inside. Or, paraphrasing Buck and before him, Ray Hunt, and before him, Tom Dorrance, “horse problems” almost always turn out to be horses with “people problems.”

That invaluable reflection from our ponies, girlfriends, is the essence of what we can learn from our midlife horses. And, whether we like it or want to admit it or not, you can’t fool them or change their opinion. Horses just call ’em as they see ’em . . . and it’s up to us to figure out what changes we need to make so we’ll like what they see in us!

What did my horse, Trace, tell me? (I’m not sure why I’m sharing this, but it does give context to my struggles, documented for all the world to see in my recent book, The Smart Woman’s Guide to Midlife Horses.)  That I have an innate tendency to overthink, overachieve and overreact. That I am something of  a control freak and get upset when I can’t have my own way. That I am sensitive to others’ feelings and emotions, need a certain amount of sincere, positive feedback, and am happiest when I have a job to do or something new to learn. I don’t like being pushed around. There’s a certain amount of disrespect I’ll put up with from people if  I like them, but enough’s enough. And bullies bring out the  crazy in me.

Fortunately, my second horse, Rio,  shows me a sweeter, gentler reflection (if a little headstrong): I like to have fun, I’m sweet and committed (sometimes overcommitted) to doing the right thing, loyal as a dog, and my quirky personality gives me a knack for making people laugh — especially when things start to get too serious.

 

What does your midlife horse tell you? Don’t have a midlife horse, but wondering what’s going on in your inner landscape — and outward relationships? Get yourself one of these swishy-tailed mirrors and you won’t be wondering for long!

The Smart Woman's Guide to Midlife Horses by Melinda Folse (formerly Melinda Folse Kaitcer)

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Happy Trails!

Saddle Up! Your Midlife Horse is Waiting!