Letting Go of the Face To Be A Better Rider

This winter I’ve taken it easy riding, mostly just bareback hacks around the arena talking with my good friend. Last Sunday I threw my saddle on G, slipped on my spurs and set off to get some work done. Nothing too intense, I know we’re both a bit out of shape, but something more substantial than just a bareback walk.

At a jog, I set us about the arena, small and large circles, even speed, a low head flexed at the poll. It was great. I sat in my saddle on my not-so-high-horse smugly thinking about how far we’ve come, how much I used to rely on the reins to set a head, control our direction, bend his body. I actually thought, hey, I’m going to write a really smart blog post about how power comes from your legs, not your hands. How the legs are the engine, hands are just the guide.

And then, as the universe is wont to do when one is feeling especially wise and smug, I was reminded how quickly you can revert to your bad habits.

My good friend was selling a 16.3hh appaloosa who would sometimes drop his shoulder in a left-hand lope. She wanted me to lope him to see how he felt. I was intimidated by his size. I wanted to collect up his face and hold onto it until I trusted him. Let’s just say you’ll probably see my book published (please, god) before you’ll see me fully trust a horse. I have trust issues. But this horse was not trained like my catty 15hh reiner. If I crank down on Gangster’s face it’s like pressing on a coil, he gets tight, pushed into the bridle, pushing forward, looking for the release. (Full disclosure, I don’t always give it to him, which is shame on me and bless him for putting up with me.) But cranking down on the appy’s face wasn’t going to make him push into the bridle or look for release, he would just shrug his hulking horse shoulders and drop out of the lope.

16hh Appaloosa gelding
The gentle giant. Keep in mind I’m 2 inches shy of six feet tall…

It’s so frustrating what we can see for others but can’t see for ourselves. You can pick out amateurs by their dependence on the face. For some reason when you’re just starting out, you think you can control the horse, the speed, the shape of the body with your hands. Maybe it’s because as humans we use our hands for so much. If we were more in tune to the rest of our anatomy, maybe it wouldn’t be such a steep learning curve to not worry about the head with our hands and instead ride with our body.

The next night I was working around the arena at a posting trot. I’m lazy and hate lunging so I was posting at a good clip, knowing G wanted to break into a lope. But I just wanted to let him extend at the trot. My friend was lunging her own horse and told me to slow down my body, to incrementally take just a split second longer to lower back into the saddle, to rise up with the outside shoulder. An amazing thing happened, Gangster slowed down his trot to match the speed of my body. Obviously not every horse is as sensitive, but they all have the ability, if we give them the opportunity and don’t grip the reins so tight.

Arabian Horse Trail Obstacle
Look what a happy relaxed pony!

A few days later I was loping around the arena by myself, thinking about staying off his face, sitting back, using my legs to keep him straight, curved around the corners, head slightly tipped in. An owl that has taken up residence in the insulation on the roof flew out from his perch and into the vision of my horse. Certain we were about to be attacked, Gangster bunched up and prepared to spook himself out of danger. Instinctively my hands tightened down on the reins to bring him down to a total stop. And then for the rest of the night, I couldn’t loosen back up.

Trotting Arabian Horse
I would still like to see his head lower than this and for my reins to be let out more. At least my hand’s not behind the saddle horn in this photo!

I’m sure there’s an allegory for life in here somewhere. Definitely some psychology related to physically letting go of tight control, of trusting in the process. I’m seeing now that this letting go will be the next big hurdle to me taking a big leap in my riding abilities. It will hold me back if I don’t figure it out. You can’t really ever ride in that beautiful space, where horse and rider are connected but not leashed to one another, if you’re one fluttering leaf away from curling into the fetal position and ratcheting down the reins. I’ve never had a bad horse wreck, never had a reason not to trust. Gangster can be hot and reactive, but he’s never bolted, never flung me from the saddle and caused bodily injury. But all the little twitches, sideways jumps and refusals add up I guess. I don’t know how to get over this except to ride through it. I have to figure out how to ride through my trust issues, to put my hands down, my back straight and not lose my nerve over a humped back and a few crow hops.

PS… That photo at the top was taken in 2013 of me and Gangster and every time I look at it I cringe. Look at how tight his body is! That mouth pulling against those too tight reins! Why! Why??? Because I didn’t know any better. Now I know better so I do better. But I have no problem sharing this photo (which I titled horrible horseback rider) because I don’t believe in fakeness. Because if I can learn from my mistakes then you might learn from them too.

PPS… THANK YOU to Chris T. Sloan for the photos from the trail course and the competition photo. Without her there’d be no proof that I have actually improved over time!

Pillow Covers For The Horse Lover In Your Life

Spring is coming! Spring is coming! I know this because now instead of walking my dogs in the dark and pouring rain, we’re walking them at that magical twilight hour when the sky turns from light blue to black with the stars sparkling and the threat of a skunk lurking behind every blackberry berm. (True story, we once spent a cold Valentine’s night washing the dogs multiple times from a skunk spraying.)

Eventer Pillow Cover

What does spring’s pending arrival have to do with some cute pillows? Because spring always has me opening the windows wide whenever its above 55 degrees, cleaning and fantasizing about updating my home décor. Spoiler Alert: I never get to the updated décor part of that fantasy. You know, because the horse always takes all the discretionary income. However, throw pillows are a great way to update your style without much in the way of a financial commitment.

I received these pillow shams from Horsely to review for the blog. And because I love you (actually more like because my husband would kill me if I owned one more throw pillow) I’m giving them away!

So what do I think about these shams?

Vintage Race Horse Pillow

I LOVE the Vintage Race Horse design, and the fabric it’s printed on has a slight texture to it that’s not too rough. The cream-colored background extends to the back of the pillow as well. The drawback to this pillow cover is that it’s a zipper closure at the bottom of the sham, so it can’t handle a lot of taking on and off if you prefer to wash your shams frequently. One end of the zippered opening already started to fray a bit from taking it on and off the pillow a couple times.

The Equestrian Olympics Pillow cover is fun because you can order the image in mirror, so one design on the left side and one on the right. Those of us with OCD enjoy the balance this brings to a couch. I know not everyone is as neurotic as me, but if you are, it will make you happy. This pillow cover has a slip opening on the back so no trouble with a zippered opening like the above. The silky fabric is really soft, however, the back of the pillow is white. Some people won’t mind that, but it’s just something to be aware of.

Olympic Eventing Pillow Sham

Getting to what you really want to know: how do you win a set of these?! (A set is considered the two Olympics Pillow Covers or two Vintage Race Horse pillow covers. Pillows not included) Head on over to the Facebook page and like and share the post. Comment to let me know which pillow covers you like better!
There is no purchase necessary. By participating in this giveaway you acknowledge that the promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by Facebook and that you hold Facebook harmless. One winner will randomly be drawn for each pillow set and announced on Monday March 5th on the Sass In Boots Facebook page. The drawing will close at pm 12pm PST on Sunday March 4. I will PM you via Facebook to obtain your shipping address. The information you provide to me will not be used for any other purposes. Good luck and THANK YOU for participating!

Vintage Racing Horse Pillow

You Might Be A Horse Husband If…

A couple years ago I wrote a poem called Ode To The Horse Widower, to honor those amazing partners who respect our passion, however frustrating it might be for them at times. (I have no idea how hay got in the bed!) I love sharing that poem around Valentines day but I started thinking, what if they don’t they’re a horse widower? What if they have no idea there’s thousands of other horse husbands out there, just like them?

Horse Husband Barn Husband

So I created the below reference guide for those who are trying to decide if they’re a horse husband or not. Are you a horse husband? Do you know one?

  1. If there’s a horse in the barn referred to as the “husband horse” that you only ride once a year, you might be a horse husband.
  2. If you ever thought she was talking about you when she told her friends, “He’s an easy keeper,” you might be a horse husband.
  3. If you trip over her shoes inside the house, and trip over her boots outside the house, you might be a horse husband.
  4. If she rakes the barn aisles every day, but only vacuums the house every couple of months, you might be a horse husband.
  5. If you’ve ever missed a football game to watch your wife in a horse show, you might be a horse husband.
  6. If you’re not exactly sure how much money she spends on horses every month, you might be a horse husband.
  7. If your wife cries a lot and is cheating on you with a guy named Buck, you might be a horse husband.
  8. If you suddenly find yourself having time for long naps on the weekends, you might be a new horse husband.
  9. If you’ve ever had to fix the washing machine because a round of filthy blankets jammed it up, you might be a horse husband.
  10. If you’ve ever faked a back injury to get out of stacking hay, you might be a horse husband.
  11. If you’re annoyed your wife spends money on new shoes every 6-8 weeks, you might be a horse husband.
  12. If you’ve ever been late for dinner reservations because your wife had to swing by the barn for “just a minute,” you might be a horse husband.
  13. If you’ve ever lingered at the edge of the arena, resetting jumps, you might be a horse husband
  14. If she spends $200 on a vet bill for a cough, but tells you to quit being a baby when you have the flu, you might be a horse husband.
  15. If you’ve ever said “Take your time at the barn,” so you could finish a football game, you might be a horse husband.
  16. If you’ve ever had to do barn chores because your wife was sick, you might be a horse husband.

And finally, if you think your wife likes her horse more than you, you might be a horse EX-husband!

What’s missing from the list? What needs to be added?

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Wyoming Husband Approved Horse Back Ride

How To Tell If Youre A Horse Husband

One At A Time

You want to throw a leg over without worry of a rank ride

What you need are sweaty blankets

You want the confidence of that rodeo rider

What you need are miles in the saddle

You don’t want to fear what you love

What you need is to show up

To put a foot in the stirrup

To ride

Every day.

Great riders aren’t made by watching

Great riders aren’t made by ribbons and roses

Great riders aren’t made.

Great riders are built.

Built by bricks made of sweat and grit

One buck

One crow hop

One whoa

One ride at a time.

One At A Time Great Rider Poem

Pictures Of Ponies Jumping

Last weekend at the Oregon Horse Center they hosted an indoor eventing show. Sans the dressage portion of eventing. I really don’t know much about eventing or show jumping. I just know it’s cool to watch, I never want to do it and it’s lots of fun to shoot.

I was struggling mightily with my camera in the low light of the arena and the fast movement (blurry photos, me getting irritated) so my photographer mentor handed off her camera to me and I had an absolute blast. I’m a big believer that the clothes don’t make the woman, but I’m pretty sure in this case the gear made the photographer. My saving grace is all the post processing is completely my touch.

Please enjoy some photos jumping ponies from this fun event and amazing course that the crew at the Oregon Horse Center put together.

Bay Eventing Horse Jumping Log

I love the look of this guy. Big, beautiful, bay. The three b’s.

Black white & Blue Jumper

Weeeee! Look at that length!!

Dublin Boots & Breeches

Dublin boots abound. I cropped out the part showing them all on their phones, ha ha.

Bay Eventer Warm Blood


Blue Eventing Show Tack

Don’t you just love the look of boots and breeches?

Focused Horse & Rider Galloping


Beautiful White Horse


Eventer Pony Jumping Log


Show Jumping Pony White


Show Jumping Pony Pole Down


Sorrel Eventing Jumper Horse


Appaloosa Eventer



Weren’t You Writing A Book Or Something?

Isn’t that what started this whole nutty adventure? The desire to write a book?

It is. The whole blog, Facebook page, giveaways, interviews, published articles, all of those things are because I had have a little idea to write a book. The problem with me is that little ideas turn into big dreams. And big dreams take time, hard work, more time, and more hard work.

The little book is still chugging along. It’s the little book that could.

Last year I started sending out the first pages along with a query letter to literary agents (literary agents sell the manuscript to publishing houses). This is the most traditional route for publishing. It turns out I queried my story prematurely. Even though I had worked quite a bit on it, when you’ve never written a book before, you don’t know what you don’t know. I didn’t know that the book wasn’t really done and still needed a few more rounds of serious rewriting. So I stopped querying the story and went back to editing the hurking thing. I’ve been editing it for the last six months, most heavily in the last three. Which is what I blame for putting the blog on the back burner.Writing


I have it out for another round of edits and feedback right now. Once I get the edits back, I’ll go through it AGAIN (I mean because why not?? You’re supposed to be able to read it from memory by the time you’re done with it right?). After this next round of editing then I’ll resume querying. When I started this process I said I’d query until I had 100 rejections. That’s still my plan. I’m not going to lie, the first several rejections I received last year stung. “But my life’s work! How could they not love you??!!” Because it wasn’t ready. Now I’m ready to move on. I’m ready to set this little bird free. Will it fly into the arms of a loving agent and get published the traditional way or will she land on the desk of a small independent press? I haven’t a clue. I’m okay with whatever form the book takes. But this is the year it’s going to leave the safety of my hard drive and take it’s worldly form. I’m ready.

I can’t tell you what an amazing journey this has been. From the very first shaky conversation with a friend about my shy desire to write this story, her encouragement to blog the process (But what would I blog about? Would I have anything to say? Yes. The answer was yes. You’d have plenty to say. Sometimes maybe too much.) Then on to my first writing workshop, then writing conference, talking with a real-live Brooklyn-living, New-York-Bagel-Eating, Funky-Glasses-Wearing literary agent. I may or may not have been a little star struck. That conference is where the little idea exploded into a big dream. All of a sudden I had visions of a book tour and Matt Lauer interviewing me about my New York Times Bestseller. First of all, Matt Lauer ugh, second of all, have you recovered yet from my stars-in-my-eyes visions?? Oh sweet child. Sweet, sweet child.

Theresa Rice Writer
Looking to the future like….

If those things happen (interview with Hoda now, not Matt) I of course would be totally okay. But they are not likely. The same way me winning a million dollars isn’t likely. But I know I’ve grown and I’m on the right path with this journey because money, fame, notoriety are not my goals. I care about this story. I want women to read it and feel like I told them a juicy story over a cup of coffee and now they’re ready to go out into the world and kick some ass.

And that’s what I want to keep doing on the blog. Keep telling stories that leave you happy, thankful, inspired and like you’re ready to kick some ass.

So wish me luck. Cross your fingers and toes and your friends’ fingers and toes too. And whatever happens will be okay. Because no matter what, I still have all of you awesome people who give me a little bit of your time by reading my words. I love ya for it.



Get Out Of Your Way: Be A Better Friend

Did you enjoy the holiday? Or did you get bogged down by the pressure to be happy, to serve delicious meals on sparkling table settings? Did you feel sad and disconnected even though you were surrounded by people? Or were you alone and wished you had a tribe to spend your time with?

The reason I ask is because our lives must be conscious decisions, choices we make and steps we take on purpose. Otherwise, we end up slipping into our most comfortable routines, which can be masquerading as Pinterest-level entertainers, keeping relationships alive that are draining, or even holding people apart from ourselves to the point that we end up with no friends at all.

Life Choices Inspiration Quote

You might be surprised to learn that even though I give up my inner-most thoughts, doubts and desires on my blog, I can be hard to get to know in real life. I am what I like to call slow-to-warm. Also known as cold. Which is a word that’s been used to describe me on more than one occasion. Earlier this year I looked around at my friends and realized the majority them were people I knew because of my husband. I pretty much made zero effort building my own gang and relied on the built-in spousal friendships of my husband’s coworkers. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve made some amazing friends that way. Friends who have become family.

But I also felt bad. Because I knew part of the reason my friend set was made up of women I’d known for 10+ years or through my husband was because somewhere along the way I stopped trying to make new friends. I got burned a couple times by girls (and I am using the word ‘girls’ here on purpose) and lost faith in the possibility to have healthy female friendships. When I met new women I’d be polite (probably they’d say cold, ha) and then go on about my life. Building new friendships requires vulnerability. Even before honesty (which is what you need for an actual healthy friendship), you need to be vulnerable enough to let someone get to know you, to let them know some of your secrets (fun and painful) and to show them they can be vulnerable too, that you can be trusted with their feelings.

Earlier this year I read Jen Hatmaker’s book Of Mess & Moxie (which I highly recommend, regardless of if you are Christian or religious at all).

Jen Hatmaker Of Mess & Moxie Book
I like to read while camping. And by camping I mean staying in a cabin with a toilet and shower.

In her book she talks about to have a friend, be a friend. I had a revelation. I have a friend who’ve I always felt held me at arms-length, that I never got the chance to really be a true friend. After reading Jen’s book, I wondered if in actuality, she only reflected what I’d demonstrated, I held her at a distance so she would do the same. Unfortunately this isn’t someone I’ve had the chance to explore this with, and I may never. But that’s okay, because the wish for what that friendship could be caused a new wish to bloom: to be a better friend to those I already have, and to be a better friend to the women I haven’t yet met.

I made three new friends this year. Not just casual talk-about-the-weather and what’d-you-on-Saturday friends. Friends with depth, friends who talked to me about their spirituality, their desire (or not) for children, hurts and triumphs. I don’t think that’s a coincidence.

I can’t tell you if I did any better at being a friend. It’s not for me to say. But I can tell you that on my husband’s 40th birthday, and on the days leading up to Christmas, I looked around and felt so much love. Have you ever been in a room filled with people and felt like the walls were fogging up with the volume of love in the room? I didn’t tell my friends I loved them, I’m not much for the L word. I didn’t grow up saying it or having it said. Love came in the form of food and hugs and good-natured ribbings.  But I did hug my friends, and told them Merry Christmas, and how happy I was to have them in my life.

So what does this all have to do with feeling pressured to be Martha Stewart or feeling disconnected or lonely? Because you get to decide what kind of life you want to live. You get to decide what kind of day you want to have. What kind of year you have. You can’t control the bad shit that rolls your way, the bad people who’ll cross your path or the misfortune that might befall you. But you do decide how you’re going to respond to it, how you’re going to let it shape your tomorrow, and all the tomorrows after that.

I would never let a horse throw me and then give up on riding. But for some reason a couple friendships knocked me back and I decided I didn’t need to make new friends. That’s the easy way out. Giving up and turning away is the protected path that ensures no pain.  But that’s not the way life is supposed to be lived. Loving people is hard. We do shitty things to each other. We lie and falter and say unkind things when we’re hungry or hurting. But loving people is what makes life full. Loving people is always the harder choice, but it’s the bolder way to live.

Horseback Riding Friends

Whatever you want to be for 2018, be a good one. (Which is my take on old Abe Lincoln’s quote).

Dream big. Love big. Be prepared to forgive.

I hope you have an amazing 2018


Products To Love & Win: THANKSgiveaway

For a little holiday cheer, I’m reviewing (and giving away!) the Solo-Ride mounting aid, a Pink Pinecone Studio neck warmer, a subscription to Northwest Horse Source and a bag of barn-useful goodies. Before we get to the goods, a little legal stuff. I was not paid by any of the below businesses for my reviews. Where I received a free product, I will let you know that. It’s important to me that you know this isn’t just an advertisement parading as a heartfelt product review. So now you know!

Oh, and the winners of the Solo-Ride, the neck warmer, and the barn goodies, will also receive a custom Sass In Boots canvas bag featuring my original photography.

Sass In Boots Original Photography Canvas Bag

If you were around for last year’s review and giveaway, you know I love discovering new, useful products. And finding businesses built by women is even more invigorating. I love seeing all of the wonderful, amazing, inspiring things that you ladies do. And I say ‘you ladies’ because I know even though we’ve never met, you’re doing great things.

Solo-Ride Mounting Aid

Up first is the Solo-Ride Mounting Aid by Hairy Back Ranch. I stumbled on this tool by accident and was smitten by Randell’s story about how the mounting stirrup came to be. The quick version is that after finally having her own horse and living her dream of horse ownership, the dream hit a roadblock when she took a solo bareback trail ride, had to dismount, and couldn’t find a good stump or rock to help her get back on. There was a mossy log, and a resulting injury that still didn’t get her back on her horse. So she had to walk all the way back to the truck, sad and bruised.

Solo Ride by Hairy Back Ranch

Randell sent me the Solo-Ride free of charge to try and giveaway. I’ve had the Solo-Ride for about a month and it’s been making the rounds at my boarding barn getting tested out by different riders on different horses. The Solo-Ride is a well-made aluminum stirrup, on a nylon strap with padding under the stainless-steel hardware. To use it, you drape the nylon strap around the foreleg of your horse on the opposite side from where you’re mounting. The strap then drapes just in front of the withers, and you can adjust the stirrup height to wherever you need it. Once you’ve mounted, you unhook the strap and slip it in the included carrying case, which you can either wear (if you’re bareback) or tuck in a saddle bag.

Solo Ride Mounting Aid By Hairy Back Ranch

This is such a great idea to help you get back on without a boost or hunting for a suitable rock or log. You can use it for getting back on a bareback horse or to help when you can’t quite reach the saddle stirrup from the ground. You can see the Solo-Ride in action with a saddle here.

Or you can watch a video of the mounting aide being used on a bareback horse below.

Pink Pinecone Studio Neck Warmer

Next up is a handmade neck warmer by the Pink Pinecone Studio. You may recall I talked about Sara Baker and her artistic skills when she did a memorial painting of our dog Connor. Why do I love this neck warmer so much I bought one to give away to one of you lovelies? First off, it’s like a hug for your neck, it’s so soft and warm. Second reason I love this thing? It has no tails! Whenever I wear a scarf and lean over to pick hooves, the ends of my scarf always get in my face. I find it annoying. So I love that no matter what, my neck is warm and the scarf isn’t shifting or getting in my face. Once you try this thing, you’re going to wonder how you ever lived without it. And it requires no special care and feeding. Just toss it in the wash when you need to get the horse slobber off.

Pink Pine Cone Studio Neck Warmer
Don’t you just want to curl up with this cozy little thing? She makes blankets too!

Northwest Horse Source Subscription

I’ve been writing for Northwest Horse Source for two years now and I am so excited at the chance to give one of you lucky readers a free one-year subscription. In the age of the internet and arm-chair experts, Northwest Horse Source gives you useful information you can depend on. Their contributors are veterinarians, trainers and experienced horsemen and women. If you’re a horse-related business you can order bundles of the magazine to stock in your retail space.  My local feed store is where I first discovered Northwest Horse Source and it was a column by Trainer Allison Trimble that kept me checking back for new issues.

Northwest Horse Source Print Subscription

Barn Hack Bag

Last up, a little gift from me to you. I call it the Barn Hack Bag. I’ve packed some ultra-useful items to make barn life a little easier. Also, if you’re struggling on what to get your favorite boarders, this makes a great gift and can be put together for as little as $15.

Barn Hack Bag Makes A Great Gift under twenty five dollars

You can never have too many rags out at the barn so I’ve included two rags. During these winter months, I don’t care how puffy your jacket is or how well insulated your socks are, having hand and feet warmers can keep you going even on the coldest of days. I’ve included Softsoap antibacterial soap, which I use pretty much any time I need a good clean area on my horse, including cleaning wounds or washing rain rot patches. Along the same lines, triple antibiotic ointment is another barn necessity, so I’m throwing in a tube. Scissors. Where do they all go?? I’m giving you another pair. A toilet brush? Yes, a toilet brush. Toilet brushes are perfect for scrubbing out buckets. It’s brand new, I promise.

I’m also including a sample of Finish Line Herbal horse shampoo as well as a sample of Willowcin-X, a paste for when your horse has sore, stiff muscles due to a hard workout. Did you know you can save on your shampoo and conditioner when washing your horse’s tail? Once you’ve wet your horse’s tail, add shampoo or conditioner, and then add a bit of water to a plastic grocery bag and put the tail in the bag to work the suds/conditioner thoroughly into the hair. It will save you a lot of energy and product.

And the last thing in there is a strainer. Even if you don’t have a hay dunker (I’m not so lucky) having a strainer makes it easier to fish debris out of water troughs.

Barn Hack Bag For Equestrians

So about this giveaway… The Rules

There is no purchase necessary. The giveaway will take place on Facebook so you must have a Facebook account and you just need to like and comment on each post related to each giveaway item. Each item will be listed as a separate giveaway post so that way if you aren’t interested in a certain item, you’re not entered to win that item. For the Northwest Horse Source subscription, I will provide the winner’s information to the magazine. The neck warmer, Solo-Ride mounting aid and the barn hack back will be shipped by me personally and I will cover the shipping costs (it really is a free giveaway!). You can enter once a day for each item by adding a new comment to the giveaway post on Facebook. By participating in this giveaway you acknowledge that the promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by Facebook and that you hold Facebook harmless. One winner will randomly be drawn for each item (4 items: 1 Solo-Ride mounting aid, 1 subscription, 1 neck warmer, 1 barn hack bag) and announced on Friday December 1st on the Sass In Boots Facebook page. The drawing will close at 5pm PST on Thursday November 30. I will PM you via Facebook to obtain your shipping address. The information you provide to me will not be used for any other purposes. Good luck and THANK YOU for participating and giving these businesses a look-see.

Did you read all the rules?? You little rebel you! Go on over to my Facebook page and comment and like the free item posts to get entered.

Barn Hack Bag Necessities To Make Your Life Easier At The Barn

Why You Need To Get In The Picture

A couple years ago I came across a picture on Pinterest. A 1950s cowgirl sat on the ground, her dog next to her and her horse behind her, head resting on her shoulder. I wanted a photo like that image, my beloved dog and horse all in one shot. I had the best intentions but kept procrastinating. I thought I should lose a few pounds, wait until the weather was better, sunnier, cooler. I never made the time. Then Connor died. I have plenty of photos of him. Even some with me in them. But I didn’t get to recreate that Pinterest photo that would capture my bond with my dog and horse.

Arabian Horse & German Shepherd Puppy
The new puppy, Hinter, is desperate to play with what he thinks is a giant dog.

I follow a fellow horse blogger (turned MFA student) Lauren Mauldin of She Moved To Texas and she had some absolutely gorgeous photos taken of herself and her dogs and horse during the bluebonnet bloom in Texas. In her post, she talked about previously not getting photos taken because she wanted to wait until she was thinner. But like she points out, we could be waiting forever on the idea of perfection that’s never going to happen.

I took her words to heart and talked to a photographer friend of mine about getting photos of me with the new puppy and the horse.

Equine Photography

Chris (of Chris T. Sloan Photography) took some amazing photos. I love the golden light, the good friend off camera making me laugh and my beautiful animals. Oh, and my husband too. I will tell you a secret though. When I first saw the photos, I didn’t see how gorgeous my horse looked, how his ears were up and forward, or what joy in my animals she caught. What I noticed was how my jeans fit a little too tight; how I could lose some fluff around the middle.

Chris T. Sloan Photography

It’s a great gift to get older, not just for the added time here on earth, but also for the wisdom gained as you age. But does letting go of insecurity come much later? Because I’m still working on it. I had to tell myself to quit picking my body apart.

German Shepherd Puppy

Adding to my insecurity, a few people asked why I had the photos taken. I should have answered, “Because I wanted them.” But I didn’t. I said I wanted some updated photos for the website, some family photos. And those things are true. But the truest statement is “Because I wanted them.” Please listen to me, get photos of yourself with your horse, your dogs, your family (What?! That’s not in order of priority, I swear!). Whatever you want, and for whatever reason, get them.

Theresa Rice Writer Horse Blogger

Our horses, our pets, and members of our family, won’t be with us forever. Someday you’ll want to look back on photos that transport to you to that time, how you felt in that moment, the love you had in that split second of time. To relive that love shared or laugh that filled your soul with relief.

I know a woman who regularly gets photos taken of her children, but she never jumps in the pictures. I’m not the first person to say this, and hopefully I’m not the last. But I’ll say it anyway. Get in front of the camera. Get in the picture. Someday your children will want to look back at photos of their mom or dad. Don’t leave them just a photo a year. Let them be reminded of your love long after the flash burned. 

Animal Family Portrait
Animal Family

Don’t let the fact that you think you should lose weight, or have shinier hair, or wear more stylish clothes, hold you back from capturing your life. I’m pretty sure your future self will look back on the photos and think, “Wow, I looked great.” In reality, and sorry to be a buzz kill here, we’re only getting older, saggier, fluffier. You’re more beautiful than you think.

There are 215 photos on my phone of Connor. That’s 35 for every year he lived. About three per month. That seems like plenty. But I wish I had more. When it comes to those we love, there are never enough photos.

Get in the picture.



Don’t Make My Mistake: Thank A Farmer

Today was National Farmer’s Day.

I only saw one post on social media about it. None of the horse pages I follow mentioned it. Not even the feed stores I follow posted anything about it. They mentioned a fundraiser for FFA, Future FARMERS of America, but nothing about thanking a farmer. No wonder someone made a day to encourage some  recognition. Even on the day, farmers can’t get a thank you from those who should know better.

I’m not laying blame, just merely observing. Obviously I can’t judge the speck in someone else’s eye when I’m posting at ten o’clock at night the day of.

But I did think of some farmers today. There was Earl who wore overalls and a white shirt so thin you could see through it. He sold me my 4-H lambs while I was in middle school. There was also my friend’s dad who raised cattle, and hayed properties every summer while still showing houses as a realtor. But I never really appreciated those two farmers. I was too young. I didn’t have a concept of the work they did.

There is a farmer though who I knew right away was special. Initially he won a place in my heart because he kept his promise that he wouldn’t make me back up my trailer to his hay stack. I didn’t know how. He just chuckled and said I wouldn’t have to back the trailer up. When I first bought my horse Gangster, that man even let my buy a ton of hay but leave half of it stored with him to pick up a few months later. He didn’t give me a receipt or take down my name. He just said “sure” when I asked him if he could store half of it. This blows my mind five years later because real estate on a farm is precious, and he let me take up room in his barn for no additional cost.

Stacked Hay Bales

He was already old when I met him. Somewhere on the back half of his eighties I believe. He was always outside when I pulled onto the property. He’d see me and stop what he was doing to step into a tractor and load bales. I had to be patient though because gentlemen in their late eighties don’t move with the swiftness of youth. A little extra time was a small price to pay for the knowledge that my money was going directly in his pocket. My money kept his business going and put food in his lean belly.

I always wanted to make him an apple pie.

I never did.

That farmer passed away last January.

It’s funny how you can have such affection for someone you barley know at all. But I did. I cried when I found out Lloyd with the horse hay died.

You don’t have to do anything for National Farmer’s Day. But I beg you to tell a farmer how much you appreciate the hard work they do and the long hours they put in to feed you and your animals. Better yet, show them. Make them a pie. I lost my chance.

cow at watering trough