Grateful To Celebrate 3 Years With The Gray Friend

becoming a better rider

3 years with this ever trusting sweet mare.


She’s become a great friend and an absolute ease to handle.  So cool to see her grow stronger and more filled out over the years!  Here’s the annual Before & After Post!

If you’ve followed along for some time, you’ve seen the yearly update at Thanksgiving, a long slew of pictures each time.  Today, keeping it short and sweet.

Want to see some of the fun stuff we’ve done along the way?  Transforming from dark-silvery, gangly half-ugly-young horse, to “half way there” mature mare – here’s the link to the other two anniversary posts:


Starting out, possibly the most unflattering picture ever.  Brought in from her pasture herd, in a temporary stall at her breeders.

slim young horse before training
Soaked, scared, and she clearly thought the room needed an upgrade. No ocean view?! The brochure had been so nice…

She was a few scant months above three.  Not halter broke…  A drenched rat with the spine tenting.  Sloping hind.  Cartoon hocks.  Impossible shoulder and neck.

Logic should have kicked in, to walk away.  Deciding to have an adventure instead, I took her home.  (Smacks hand on forehead…)


A little more than a year later –

With Intro Level schooling shows under her belt.  Here 4 1/2 years old, stepping up to Training Level.

Elinor Yee


At 5, first time out at First Level, in the warmup 2016.

Elinor Yee


This year, Late summer, 2017.  Go Gray Mare!

becoming a better rider

Is it recommended to do this on your own?  Absolutely not.  Doesn’t mean you can’t!

Physically, she’s done a 180, looking strong and capable.  For everything we’ve done wrong, today is a little pat on the back for everything that’s gone right!

Having fun with her along the way?  Yes!

September Schooling. Better?

elinor yee

Yes!  Better!

After treading water for some time, things feel looser, easier, less grindy.  Sure, that’s not even a word.  But it is now.

I think she’s getting to where she really likes the work sometimes, feeling happy and content there.  A little less “falling apart” as soon as she gets the chance.

So fun!

Here’s the photobomb for this time.

dressage in smoky air

collecting the trot

Where some horses want to come too low and you have to train hard on short moments of more elevation – Valiosa has the opposite difficulty.  She wants to go short and up in the neck.  All the time.

gray horse dressage

lengthen trot on long side

It will always be the “trick” to training well with her – getting a lower, more relaxed neck, and coming over the back.  We didn’t quite get there in these pictures (surprise), but the connection is so much better.  See?

amateur dressage

taking better pictures of dressage canter

As long as I get a few moments like these out of each ride, I’m thrilled.  Gray Mare is growing up and she can be SO much fun!

Elinor Yee

10 M Volte without hissy fits or a clamping inside calf.  It’s happening!

10 meter trot circle

30 Second Summer Recap

union valley reservoir creek

Lots of camping.

Sums it up without getting too much off topic.  Quick peek at a fraction of a luscious summer, then back to horses.

Started with the tell-tale Boot-Tan Foot.  Here, at our lake close by.

pale feet and tanned legs

It was beautiful this year, finally full of water, after years on end of drought.  The lake, not the foot.  Is there a written rule you have to post pics like this on social media?  Exhausting…


In Crystal Basin, Union Valley Reservoir, above Silver Creek Falls.  An unmarked trail, you can sort of hoof it through the brush, leads to the creek that feeds into the Reservoir.

union valley reservoir creek
Family dogs may or may not throw themselves into deep water on the side, almost drowning.  Depends on your breed and how exciting the day is.


Summit Lake, high above Donner Lake.

summit lake above donner lake
Easy hike. (Depends; your 8-year-old will want to die. Return 4 years later:  The 5 mile climb is nothing, and only a 20 mile mountain bike ride the next day will ensure regular bedtime hours.) Lake will be all yours to swim in, only Loon Birds.


Best smelling secret meadow at around 7,700 feet.

meadow above donner lake


No one around.


But wait!  There’s something moving!


dalmatian jumping in flowers


Black Bear by our cabin.  Brown, because that makes sense with the name.  Blurry pic, because even if just last year’s baby it felt sort of.  Close.

black bear at donner lake

Hope you’ve had a beautiful summer!

Next week, back with some special posts, inspired by Avery at AHA Moments.  She writes about simple things, with her horses.  And stays positive about it. That’s what we’ll do too, for a week.

One of those days where you really don’t have to say much

horse with halter too low

‘Nuff said, type of day.

So thrilled to have this horse.

tacking up before a ride

Well, honestly, it’s just a regular day.  But with just the right combination of exhaustion, caffeine refueling, cold water and sugary treat – it’s just extra great.

young boy and horse


Can’t wait to get back on soon.  Maybe vacations are over rated.

horse with halter too low