Sunday, January 15, 2017

New Years thoughts ,Cowgirls Ride for LIfe Youth Liasions and other Helping Hands

Now that the new year is here the amazing fact that in six months the Cowgirls Ride for Life will take place with us heading out on the Colorado Trail www.Colorado July 8th seems a bit daunting. Deb and I have talked an awful lot about this ride and now we need to put that talk into action.
We have started this month with the addition of three young women we know and love, MaKynna Reiff, Aerial Smith and Skyler Smith. They are a part of the youth attending the Wild West Cowboy church in Westcliffe These three are pretty impressive in my eyes. All three play in the church band and are active to a level not only in the church but in the community that I don't think we often see.  Our hopes for this addition of the girls is to have them be our liaisons to the youth in our community. To help us get the word out about the Lighthouse Resource Center as a resource for any girl or boy finding themselves in need but also being an example showing other youth and adults about living a life that honors God.
A couple of the girls have assisted us this past summer by riding solid mounts during the training of our mustangs leading us through the town of Westcliffe even during the busy Labor day weekend. Quite the adventure for a couple of green mustangs who lived within prison walls for most their lives which is another blog sometime soon.

We have also been blessed with the addition of LiAne Schmidt who has committed to being our third Cowgirl for the entire ride. Liane became a friend shortly after my move to Westcliffe two years ago and is the owner of Rhapsody Ranch She has an extensive background in the horse world - riding and training horses along with a background in Wildlife Law Enforcement. Liane began to train with  Deb and I in late summer of last year with her horses Gus the mustang and Buck who has law enforcement in his background also. I like to refer to LiAne as the voice of reason when it comes to riding my mustang Ben who I adopted a almost a year ago. Nice to have this kind of experience at my fingertips for sure when I am working with Ben on new and scary things in his opinion.  I have found LiAne to be calm and patient in her encouragement of Ben and I to accomplish tasks we have no experience in.
Nice to know she handle a gun pretty darn good too just in case....

Last but not least we had Darrell Cobb from Westcliffe who we met at church volunteer to be part of our ground crew heading up the organization of all things required for food drops and tracking our progress on the trail. Darrell will assist Mike Moore , my husband and hopefully a few others supply our five required food drops and Darrell has already done some much needed research for a GPS system, Spot ,which we hope to raise enough funds to purchase prior to the ride.
All in all we are off to a roaring start for 2017 and excited about the months to come!

What is so hard about writing a blog? And the New Years commitment!

I think I have figured out what is so hard about writing a blog.  It's seems to be for me finding the time to write a blog is the hardest part. Between making a home with my husband, our dogs and horses and a full time job which I commute to with a four hour round trip three days a week. Don't get me wrong I am not complaining - far from it since this busy rich life I lead I see as a gift from God and one that provides material to write about.
I know there are a lot of blogs out there by so many people with such diverse lives - I applaud them whole heartedly!
New Years resolution- actually write the weekly blog!

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Lighthouse Pregancy Resource Banquet

I wanted to write today about the gracious people Deb and I have recently met and who invited us to speak at the Lighthouse Pregnancy Resource Banquet last night at Lange Hall in Westcliffe , our home town.
The board members and some of the volunteers we have met through the center and our church,, and Fred who writes for one of the local newspapers , have welcomed us with open arms and invited us to the yearly banquet. It would be the first time Deb or I had spoken about why riding the CT trail to benefit the Lighthouse is important to us.

I give presentations quite often in my line of work but I realized speaking about my own life to what I considered a large crowd of eighty plus people was a different thing - but it held more weight and importance in my mind and I am sure Deb's because both of us when young could easily have slid over into the seat of any women seeking help or support at the Lighthouse Center. 

I became a teenage mom at seventeen and life changed forever. It wasn't easy but I chose to have my son and faced the challenges that come with being so young and having such responsibility.  I think I succeeded raising him mostly because of fear and of course God's grace which I did not recognize at that time. It was always in the back of my mind that if I didn't take good care of him I could lose him. He is forty this year and maybe if you asked him he might say someone should have back then, he did a long stint as a little guy of eating Malt-O-Meal with powered milk which is all I could afford at one time. I am pretty sure he has never eaten it again but I would gladly have a bowl today and remember it sustained us when nothing else was available.

This is just one of the reasons I see Lighthouse as such a beacon in the night per se for young girls or women who need support, a hand up for a little while, some advice or a hug from one of the non-judgmental volunteers. Maybe some formula or cereal for their child, maybe a car seat or some clothes. 
From what I have seen at the Lighthouse hope and love abound- it is there simply for the asking.  I know God blesses people with the kind of giving heart that the people of Lighthouse and the community who supports Lighthouse has for others when they are in need.

What I would have given to run across a Lighthouse Center in 1976....

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Ride planning and hittin' the ground

I had to rack my brain today to try and remember when this ball got rolling and when Deb and I began planning the ride.
I know it was on a cold Saturday in the winter, while mucking out stalls at the B-B so I am going to guess December of last year, 2015.
Deb has that way of just starting a conversation like I know what she's talking about but most times the conversation began in her head and with herself and then she remembers I am standing there and saunters over, with that big smile and starts with "Hey- I have this idea....."
which is what happened that day in the barn when she shared her dream of riding the CT all the way through.
I of course as a green rider-green horn again gave the perfect answer- " Sure , sounds like fun!" No consideration of what it might actually take to do this ride besides learning to stay in the saddle again and off the ground.
I had already by this time had a couple of falls resulting in a cracked rib and a bruised tail bone while my green little Morgan mare stared at me after each fall with that baffled look as if trying to figure out where I had gone and why I was crawling along the ground in the arena.  What is that saying for new horse owners-green on green makes black and blue? Oh yea Deb recently found a nice little CD with those exact lyrics in a song - could have been written for me for sure. But it always seems like no big deal when Deb comes over as I pick myself up off the ground , puts her arm around my shoulders and says " You are one tough chick".
The planning began that day and for the last ten months it has been the thing that drives us to work hard with the horses and ourselves to get ready for "The Big Ride".

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Our recent and not so recent history leading up to the CT Ride - along with God's plan

Jeremiah 29:11New International Version (NIV)
11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

People are asking Deb and I how we met and what led to our wanting to ride the Colorado Trail on horse back so here is some recent and not so recent history:

Deb grew up as a cowgirl - raised in Utah Deb was riding fence at 12 years old, worked on a ranch and even painted a horse once with her best friend Clifford - which is a story for her to tell if you ever meet her.  From what I know of my good friend now I would guess she has always had the adventurous side to her - she has been involved in motorcycles, she has written and published a cook book and been on Junk Yard Wars where she built some crazy kind of boat - another good story to hear when you meet her.
Maybe these experiences have finally led Deb to Westcliffe after raising her three kids mostly by herself to her dream job of being a horse wrangler/ranch hand at the B-B Ranch where she cares for over 30 horses every week and loves every aspect of working with the horses, her team mates, the horse boarders and the owners and their guests.

I grew up on a small piece of land in Texas that we called "The Farm" - my dad was 71 when he bought the place and moved us out of Dallas. We attempted to raise feeder calves ( my sister and I cried our eyes out the day they all went off to market after having fed them by bottle and cared for them since they were 3 days old. Needless to say my dad decided no more of that kind of farming), raised an orphan pig that began to think he was a 270 pound dog, had motorcycles and a few horses that that old man taught us kids how to ride. I appreciate that about my dad now - it factors into  that adventurous side I have to some degree and led to my working on a ranch in Pagosa Springs in the 80's riding cattle and fixing fence then later to my becoming a motorcycle instructor in Las Vegas when I needed a way to supplement my income while I raised four kids alone. He and my mom instilled in me through their hard work and actions the leadership skills to run a division of a sign company where I spend the majority of my time when not training my horse and pups for this ride or writing a blog for the first time.

For the more recent history of the two of us and the ride : Deb and I met in the kitchen of the Wild West Cowboy Church in Westcliffe over a sink of dirty dishes. As I washed and she dried I asked her those introductory questions, how long you been here ? what do you do ? etc...
With great enthusiasm Deb told me about her job at the B-B and invited me out to see what the ranch was about.  A week later I went out with my husband and friend and Deb gave us the tour- introduced all the horses to us by name and personalities and within the hour had all three of us astride horses riding in the arena.

Here is where I have to back track a bit though to explain why meeting Deb and visiting the ranch that day is extraordinary  to me and part of what I see as God's plan for this journey, the ride and our lives that now are interconnected.

After my husband Mike and I bought our home and property in Westcliffe and got ready for our move he asked me if I ever thought I might want a horse again as I had shared photos and stories of my childhood and younger days. I told him " No, I think I am too old for that now. "  Not too long after that conversation I had a dream and in that dream I owned a horse named Cash (possibly due to my husbands question or that I haven't forgotten the comments from my dad about how much they cost to keep- or maybe from something else).  Maybe my husbands comment planted the seed but the day we were at the ranch with Deb she introduced me to a horse named Kash, a Morgan mare with the sweetest of personalities and stated that of any of the horses on that ranch Kash was the one she would own if she could. 
I remember I  couldn't believe that I was meeting a horse with that name after just having the dream  and in my little world took it as a sign ( ok I am in the sign business so maybe I take things too literally). Oh and it just so happened that Kash was for sale for a little bit more than I had sold my last Harley for. I chose not to share the dream with my husband until I got home that day.

I began to spend some time at the ranch with Deb where I had started to hang out and help clean stalls on Saturday mornings.  One day while my husband and I were at the ranch Deb asked me to bathe Kash who I had become fond of during my visits. My husband told me then as I led Miss Kash around, all shiny from her bath, that he could see how happy being around horses made me and I should buy Kash.  So...... whoever he complains to that we have too many horses - I say he started it!

So now a year later my husband and I own five horses including Kash who will take this CT trip with me. Maybe I will write a blog soon titled "A small herd emerges" or " Knee Deep in it".

So to end this short part of the story - I bought Kash based on a dream, or a sign or what I prefer to think of as God's whisper in my ear and after a thirty three year hiatus began a friendship with a horse and an old cowgirl who had a dream - to ride the Colorado Trail, from start to finish. Then through the pastor's words over dinner one night the dream became a cause we both hold dear to our hearts - and the journey begins.

Riding the trail was on Deb's bucket list - I am still afraid to ask her what else is on there....

Wednesday, September 28, 2016


What response do I most hear when I tell people who know me (and well don't know me ) that I am going to ride the entire Colorado Trail, from Denver to Durango , 486 miles all in one stretch on horseback ? From my bosses to my brother it is an unequivocal - "Are you Crazy? !!"

Riding the Colorado Trail - this has been Deb's dream since she was a young girl , I just got caught up in her enthusiasm and agreed to go along - not thinking what approximately 43 days in the saddle, sleeping on the ground or eating MRE type food would be like. But that is Deb - I bet I'm not the only one who has agreed to some of her ideas when she approaches you with that big confident smile - nothing that cowgirl believes she can't do!

Our pastor from the Wild West Cowboy Church , Larry Smith, will be someone I blame also for saddle sores next summer - maybe he thought we were crazy when we told him about our plans over my dinner table one night but he didn't voice it - he just suggested if we are going to undertake a ride like this that we ride for a cause and planted the seed to do that for the Lighthouse Pregnancy Resource Center in Westcliffe, CO - our small hometown where Deb and I reside with our husbands, horses and small packs of dogs.
Maybe we should ask those mustangs we adopted, the one little Morgan mare and the pups we are training to accompany us for this ride what they think .....