My Journey With Raina – Forming a New Partnership

Photo by Emily Covington

Photo by Emily Covington

Thanks for your patience in waiting for the final installment of “My Journey With Raina”. I have been away on a hiking retreat but I am happy to be back with you!  The challenge of building a new relationship with Raina lay before me, and the Lord made clear that my heart towards her needed to become softer and more peaceful. Providentially, the Lord put in place the pieces I needed. I had the good fortune to attend a clinic with legendary horseman, Buck Brannaman, which reconnected me to my “natural horsemanship” roots. I took a break from riding her to develop a ground program that established clear boundaries and helped Raina feel more comfortable around frightening things, particularly moving objects at ground level. I required myself to praise Raina for each and every effort in the positive direction. I supported her by using Bach Flowers therapy, a form of homeopathy, to help settle her nerves. I found Aspen (for fear of unknown things), Mimulus (for fear of known things) and Red Chestnut (for over concern for the welfare of others) particularly helpful. I would dispense 4 drops of each remedy into her drinker daily. I also dispensed each remedy onto a sugar cube that I fed to her prior to each training session. Since Raina unhealthily attached herself to her fellow mare friends, I reassigned her a gelding as a pasture mate. Alongside these measures, I felt impressed to really simplify her management. Raina was forever losing her shoes and scuffing her inside hind legs. Consequently she wore bell boots 24/7 and was booted or bandaged for each work session. I stopped using these and within a few short weeks she kept her shoes on, stopped scuffing herself and her way of moving improved. I also discarded her flash attachment and loosened her caveson which helped her relax her jaw resulting in an improved connection to the bridle. As Raina became more comfortable in the world we were able to venture out of the rings and start hacking around the farm which she has learned to love!  Now each training session begins with a long walk followed by a good gallop before working on movements. The work on uneven terrain and hills has really helped build her fitness. I was also intentional about changing up her schedule. Sometimes she got worked in the morning, sometimes in the evening sometimes she was ridden in the morning followed by ground work in the afternoon followed by a third short ride in the evening of just stretchy trot. Sometimes I would bring in her in when her pasture mate got turned out into the large field. The unpredictable nature of her schedule really helped her become more adaptable. Undergirding all of these strategies however, were large doses of prayer. My dear friend and prayer partner, Donna, often felt led to pray Proverbs 3:7-8 “Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the LORD and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your body and refreshment to your bones”.   And to that I say AMEN.

My Journey With Raina – Moving Through Loss To Hope

Stephen and I

Stephen and  I

Within a year, I grieved several losses including my beloved brother whom I adored.  Alongside the sadness came increased care giving responsibilities, leaving my heart heavy and my energy depleted.  Raina in particular felt the shift.  Because of her sensitive nature, she needs me to be peaceful and undistracted when I enter into her world.  Continue reading

My Journey With Raina – Finding Healing

Playing to the camera

Playing to the camera!

As a young horse, Raina really enjoyed playing exuberantly in her field, earning a muscle tear at age 4 and a low limb contusion at age 5.  Both injuries required stall rest, cold therapy and NSAID support.  Raina really missed her pasture friends during stall confinement, so I entertained her by rotating stall toys, developed a program of core building and stretching exercises and put her on a natural supplement to prevent ulcers.  Despite these precautions however, Raina developed symptoms of an ulcer after her second injury. Continue reading

My Journey with Raina – The Beginning

BW-Raina at DAD.  Handled by Mårten Walter.

BW-Raina at DAD. Handled by Mårten Walter.

My lovely Raina is the daughter of Royal Prince and our imported mare, SPS Danina.  Born on a miserably wet day in 2005, she was the first foal my son helped me deliver.  Raina was well received at her Hanoverian inspection and later that year took us to the Breeder’s Group Championship at Dressage at Devon.  In the summer of her 3-year-old year, she was started in-house by Emily Covington and Martina Thiel-Poblotzki.  As with all of our youngsters, Raina was offered for sale.  Though we had a number of showings, no one offered to make her their own.  As the months passed, I heard the Lord’s gentle voice prompting me to develop and retain her. What I did not realize at the time, was the many challenges that lay ahead.  The next three years brought two soft tissue injuries followed by a confusing mix of fore and hind gut issues.  In 2013, Raina was diagnosed with and treated for Lyme disease.  Continue reading

How Hiking Helps My Riding

Bryce Canyon, UT

Bryce Canyon, UT

I became a true lover of mountain hiking in 2010. Since then I have hiked through the Shenandoah Valley, the Blue Ridge Mountains, the state parks of Utah, the Rocky Mountains in Colorado, the Black Mountains in North Carolina and along the Appalachian Trail in New York and Pennsylvania. There is something so transforming about being in very high places and gazing out on God’s untouched creation. Continue reading