Does YOUR horse love their bit?

March 29 Journal Prompt

Horse Welfare

Please click here to read the journal prompt

I have rehabed many horses. This is the only before photo I am easily able to find to show you.

This is Bailey, shortly after I aquired him in the fall of 2015. He took about 3 months to rehab.

This is what his feet looked like. A year and 1/2 later, still not perfect, but will hold a shoe and are pretty healthy. But it took good diet, a hoof supplement and frequent and diligent farrier care.

GMC Course March 25

Quote of the week “Throw your heart over the fence and your horse will follow”.  Sounds easy, but having confidence with horses takes years of experience…but the quote is true when you are able to ask for something from your horse that you completely understand 1) what you want to do and 2) exactly how to do it. 

Second quote of the week “If your horse says ‘no’, you either asked the wrong question, or asked the question wrong”. Pat Parelli

I think by this week everyone has felt a little of both— increased confidence and a bit of discouragement when things don’t work quite right in your communication, or when the class does not go as planned. You are all doing a great job by the way. Your journal prompt is to let me know how YOU are feeling about your current communication with the horses as class is now at about midterm. Improved? Frustrating? Disappointing? Exciting? Empowering?

Also I’m hoping you will watch the links below to see how wonderful it is here during nice weather (which is hopefully coming!)

Click below to watch Betsy ride Jetta over Horse Amour’s Novice cross country jump course during the summer of 2016, courtesy of a go-pro!

(pending upload)

Click below to watch a Musical Freestyle at Horse Amour (Steph riding Sirius)

Click below to watch some fun things we do during nice weather at Horse Amour (Steph riding Annabelle)

I also hope you will all look at a dressage test; there are many, right here on the website. The tests give riders some structure to their schooling, training and lessons, and our little competitions are a great way to validate your efforts and to compare yourself with your peers in a fun atmosphere of friendly competing. Our Spring Dressage Show will be held on April 30. We offer tests as well as Musical Freestyle, Pas De Deux and Quadrille. I have always wanted a GMC Quadrille team, but it has not happened yet…all of the musical rides are freestyle compilations of basic dressage moves. Anyone can have fun with it! See you on Wednesday.

Green Mountain College 1 credit course

Click here for photos of the Fall Class of 2017.

Click here to see Steph & Sirius’ Musical Ride at GMC 9/15/17

Please click here to access your journal prompts, video and article links. Thank you!


Legally Blonde’s Elle Woods had her Chihuahua called Bruiser. I have a young Hanoverian gelding named Donovan. So when Harvard Law School accepted me into it’s fall 2002 entering class, I never questioned whether Donovan would go with me.

As a college student at the small town, agricultural Univerity of California at Davis, I always had a horse with me, always rode every day, always competed during the school year. Except, that is , for my first quarter, which, not coincidentally, was the least-happy term of an otherwise enjoyable undergraduate career. So I was no stranger to juggling competitions with term papers, veterinary emergencies with final exams and training with daily reading. I had always done this, I though, what could be so different?

Turns out, a lot of people thought it would be different. When I told friends and acquaintances, even other students I rode with at Davis, that I planned to take my horse with me to law school, their reaction was invariably, “You’re crazy!” “It won’t last!” “You can’t possibly ride every day while in law school, and especially not at Harvard!” The other law students at Harvard, many of them from big cities, were equally disbelieving. “A horse,” they would say in surprise, “How cool! Do you have time to see him most weekends?” “No,” I’d say, “I’m at the barn six days a week!” Then I would try very hard not to leave a trail of mud from my paddock boots in the dorm hallways and I always removed the horsehair from the washing machines after laundering saddle pads and polo wraps.

But as the semester progressed, I began wondering if everyone was right. Life was so busy! The owner of the barn said she was taking bets on when I was going to collapse. Was I really crazy to try to do this? Then I began to realize that it didn’t matter. My friends at the law school would get burned out from the daily pressure of endless reading and paper writing. And I would too. I’d despair that there was no way I could ever do all this work and come out alive. Then I’d go to the barn. Donovan would be there, waiting for me with a look that seemed to say, “What took you so long? I’ve missed you! Do you have any sugar cubes for me?” I’d groom him, and as I curried his shiny black coat, law school would seem farther and farther away. Then I’d lead him to the mounting block and law school would vanish from my thoughts altogether.

For an hours each day, Donovan and I are the only ones in the world. We ride a supple shoulder-in, a floating medium trot, find that perfect distance to a square oxer or hack through the woods. Promissory estoppel, res ipsa loquitur, in rem jurisdiction—who’s worried about any of that? All I know is that I am calm, focused and at peace. I am whole.

And each day, upon return to my dorm in Cambridge, the work I had left to do always seems far less daunting, much more doable, even more engaging. I come home every day with renewed serenity and zest for my studies that many law students around me sadly never find. 

All during that first semester, widely thought to be the most difficult of three years of law school, I continued to see Donovan nearly every day of the week. His training continued to progress.  Twice we met our Los Angeles-based trainer six hours away in New Jersey for a weekend of concentrated instruction. I even drove Donovan by myself, twelve hours each way, to Virginia to compete in a year-end championship. And we finished reserve champion, a mere fraction of a percentage away from the champion. Much to everyone’s surprise, I did all of this while keeping up with my daily reading, finishing all my assignments on time, going to class religiously and giving respectable answers when called on by professors using the dreaded Socratic method.

Now that I’m finished with the first semester, I realize that I didn’t make it through my first term at Harvard Law in spite of having a horse. I made it through because of having a horse. Unlike my peers, I have a daily opporutninty to escape the stress of school and city life. I have  something that relaxes and rejuvenates me and makes me excited to get out of bed in the morning. For this, I realize I am very fortunate. Thankyou , Donovan. Thankyou for helping me thrive at Harvard Law School. 

Jennifer Chong “Chicken Soup for the Horselover’s Soul” jack Canfield ( 2003, Health Communications Inc. Deerfield, FL

junPo© Sue Cook 2015