Most people think of the word liberty and think it means personal freedom – well in the horse world it means that and so much more!  According to ( The goal of Liberty Training is to develop a true connection between human and horse based on how horses interact and communicate within the herd.

Nicole has been talking about doing ‘Liberty work’ with her horse for several years.  I didn’t really (and still don’t) understand what it means.  Altho I am learning! What I do know is that liberty is teaching my daughter to read and trust her horse.

But more than that, it is a joy I have never seen in her before!  She is loving working with Duke and doing Liberty.  She is teaching him to trust her and to look to her for leadership!  Yesterday he got spooked, you see horses have a few blind spots and right behind them is one.  He gets scared when he can’t see whats going on or if he catches a quick glimpse of something the can’t see.  Yesterday this happened and he started running.  However he looked to Nicole to see what he should be feeling!  This is huge, this means he’s looking to her as the Alpha and seeing if she feels he should be scared.  She stayed calm and he calmed down and eventually came to her.

This is the core of liberty work!  The idea that the horse is trusting you because you have a bond!  Not one built on fear or attack but one built on mutual trust.  Duke is learning to trust Nic has his mom!

When I picked her up yesterday I asked if she missed riding and she said No way! She said she loved the liberty work!  She could not imagine doing anything else!!  I love seeing this joy in her!!  It’s hard work but she is so excited to be doing it!


Couldn’t of said it better..

Take a moment and read this amazing article..

OK Back? This is our world EVERY single day.  We attend a ton of events and we’ve had very similar situations  We were once pulled aside in a security line and had to wait for a supervisor – once she arrived she essentially yelled at the person who had stopped us and they allowed us in.

Having food allergies, means you travel with food everywhere you go.  This is a given! We can’t go to events without having food with us.  I can’t tell you how many websites I have scoured to determine how likely we’ll get Nics food in.  What extra hoops are we going to have to jump through to keep her safe.  We’ve had moments where we don’t take food in because we know it won’t be too long and we can leave her food in the car.

I’ve not gone to events because the site said no outside food allowed.  Even though I know that we are covered under the ADA act.  Essentially you are dealing with security people who aren’t fully educated and don’t understand the law.  Saying “don’t tell anyone” is really an attitude we see everywhere!

Take a moment and think about this, if you knew that going into an event meant you couldn’t eat anything there, and that potentially the food in the event could kill you, what would you do?





Horse Lessons

Nic has been riding now for several years and while I was learning a ton at every lesson I was kind of in the mode that I knew ‘enough’. (not all but enough) So we decided to buy a horse.  Seems like an easy decision, find the right one to buy, find a place for it to live and move on.

For those of you who know horses you are probably laughing yourselves off your chairs right now.  I know rookie mistake!  What I didn’t know, was the learning curve that was going to be associated with this experience for both myself and Nicole.

You see buying a dog, a car, even a house is easy.  You decide the one you want you test drive you make a decision and you bring it home. There is a learning curve, if you get a puppy you have to potty train, if you buy a car you have to find the gas cap, and even a house comes with it’s own issues of figuring out where stuff is and how it all fits together.

Owning a horse is so much more!  Not only do you have to learn how to operate this new thing but it has an opinion and often isn’t afraid to share it with you!  See horses are pack animals AND they are at the bottom of the food chain.  So they are always trying to figure out who is the boss.

And if you aren’t it, then they are going to be and then sometimes they still want to be the boss!  Duke likes to push Nicole.  He likes to test her – he gets spooked pretty easily and when he does he gets bossy.  He won’t put his head down, he will pull on the reins and he will push her to do what HE wants.  She is learning to push back be big and make sure he knows she is the boss.

What is funny (in a loose sense of the word) is that he is well aware of what he’s doing.  He will give her a look, like “hmm let’s see what I can do here”.  What I have read is that they are going to test, and if you let them win, they are going to learn.  They learn that they are now in charge and you aren’t.  So every test she has to meet and and push back.  She simply can’t let him win.  For either of them!

She is learning some very important lessons, one of those is that you have to always be thinking 3 steps ahead.  Its a tough lesson for a 14yo kid!  She has to work hard to teach her horse what he needs to do, this often means not doing what she wants (like riding) and pushing him to do what she thinks is important.

This means educating the rest of us about how to handle him and where to stand.  Today she is going to teach me how to hold him so that if he gets spooked we are both safe.

Life lessons are often hard to teach however having a horse has certainly given us alot of opportunities to teach them!


Today is bittersweet, as I watch all of my friends kids head off to school I am sad that mine is not also on her way.  However, I know we made the right decision.  Getting up every day at 5:30 to leave the house at 6:30 would be next to impossible for us.  POTS kids struggle with sleeping.  Imagine the nights you go to bed and your mind is running a mile a minute, your thoughts are racing, maybe something went down at work or at home.  Now imagine that EVERY night you lay down is like this!

This is what it’s like for some kids with POTS and then getting up early and on a schedule makes it 100x more difficult.  I know for Nicole being able to go on line and at her own pace is exactly what she’s supposed to be doing.  I just worry that we aren’t thinking of something or that there is a hidden obstacle we don’t know about.

However, a very wise friend and pastor once said worry is a monologue when God wants a Diagloge so today I am going to pray for all those who are heading out and I am going to celebrate that hopefully going on line will allow us to finish early and start college early!  And even if we don’t that she is going to get the education she needs and not worry about missing days!

So here’s to the first day of school for everyone!  If you need us we’ll be sleeping, doing homework and visiting our horse!

Dear Kindergarten Mom

Today you dropped your baby off at school.  You might of had to leave them at the door or you may have been able to walk them into the classroom.  The 5th graders look so big, is it even possible that your tiny person can be ready for this step?  You worry that they have enough crayons, that their backpack is right and that they make some nice friends.  You wonder if they will like their teacher, will they learn what they are supposed to and will they enjoy school.

In the end it won’t matter if they wore their favorite dress or torn up jeans, if they had a Superman backpack or a princess one, in the end what matters is that you both learned.  Learned that life isn’t going to always be so easy, that there will be bullies, and colds, and even some broken bones.  That the tears will dry up and the laughter will end, in the end it won’t matter.  What will matter is did they learn to have compassion, did they learn to share with the other kids and did they learn that while learning is  tough it is also fun.

In a few short days my daughter is supposed to start high school, supposed to, not going to.  So many years ago, I never thought we would not see this day, never thought that she wouldn’t follow in her brothers foot steps of being a Tiger.  However, life as it always does, had different plans for us.  Ones that took us down different roads through difficult terrain and ultimately had us choosing a different path.

This path isn’t wrong or bad, it is merely different.  So as you send your son or daughter off to school remember that the path is going to change. Friends are going to come and go, likes and dislikes will change and at some point you hope they will find a passion for something.  That passion may not be what you had hoped, but embrace that, embrace the unknown and embrace each day as it comes.  This is journey not a destination and one that only God has planned.

For today hug them so tight, cry the happy tears, and listen to their happy stories about friends and cubbies and books and recess and new teachers.  One day they are going to take a bigger step of becoming grownups and all that has to offer scary or not.  But today, today they are your little person and for today Enjoy that!

Horse Love

Buying a horse has certainly been an experience, one that includes both good and bad.  While we have met some amazing people we are learning what a giant commitment this is.  We are learning that horses as herd animals are always trying to figure out who the alpha is.  When you don’t teach them this early on, the become bullies.  Trying to tell YOU that they are the boss.

We are experiencing this with Duke.  He is trying to bully Nic by not doing what she asks or by simply locking his knees and not moving.  Imagine your 2yo on the ground having a tantrum and essentially not letting you pick them up.  That’s easy to handle when you have a 40lb 2yo not so easy when you have a 1200 pound 4yo LOL.

What I am been so impressed with is Nic’s never ending push to earn not only his trust but his view of her as the leader.  She pushes him as hard as she can and never backs down.  Yesterday she was lunging him over a small jump. He did it a few times and then decided he was done.  He refused to go over the jump and she took control. She pushed him into a corner.  By backing up the horse you are telling them you are the boss. She also crouched down showing that he had done something very bad and she was going to take over.

By doing this she is showing him SHE Is the boss!  She then made him do the jump several more times.  By doing so she again showed him that she was the leader.

In the car on the way home I asked her again if she felt that he was the right horse.  She told me that she could not imagine her life without him and that she would do anything for him.

I told her “welcome to being a parent” where you have the hardest job in the world and the one you never give up.  She is learning that life is about sacrifice and that you have to sometimes give up stuff to get where you want.  Such powerful life lessons that are coming out of this experience.


There are some real warriors in our world The ones who take on the scariest things and live to tell the story!  Most people think of warriors as old and gray, people who have lived to see the scariest the world has to offer and have survived to tell their story!

I beg to differ! Some of the most amazing warriors I know are children!  Kids who have defied the odds to not only live but thrive!  One such warrior is a child who I have never met in person, I don’t know his parent’s personally either but I met them through a mutual friend whose child was dealing with the same type of cancer.

This child has a rare type of kidney cancer and an even rarer genetic mutation that caused the cancer.  This kids parents are amazing, they take everything in stride and work to maintain a very positive attitude in everything.  His mom recently posted on Facebook some of the scary truths this family may have to face down the road.  She said she posted it because they try to remain positive but there is still the really scary part about having a child with cancer.

I am posting this because it’s important for us all to remember that there is a scary truth for many of us dealing with illnesses in our children.  We put on the bravest faces and we pretend that life is going really well.  We don’t want to admit that we are making decisions that could potentially have really negative (and in their case fatal) outcomes on our children.

We don’t talk about the days missed, the vacations skipped or the nights we spend worrying about what could happen next.  We talk about the positives and the happiness and the joy that our kids bring, but there is always lurking the darker side of what we struggle with.

I don’t say this to bring everyone down or to even say that we are just trying to keep things bright, but to remind you that when we say we are ‘fine’ we often aren’t, we are often struggling to deal with the next thing.  We are worried about what happens next, not because it’s a what if, but because it’s a What will…

Tough decisions

We all make tough decisions some of those seem harder than others.  Do we move or stay, do we hang with a friend who we know isn’t the best or move on?  For parents with a child with a chronic illness those decisions become more about the day to day than the really tough stuff.

For us, its about do we let her eat this? How much can we push her? And finally do we continue to send her to school.  For us this last one was the hardest, mainly because of our own ideas.  We both wanted her to have that experience but neither of us could really define what that would be for her.  I mean she missed almost 80 days last year.  This is almost half of her regular school year.  How does anyone learn with that?  Well she’s smart, we had a great team that supported us, but going into highschool would we have that same thing?  I wasn’t sure…

I had heard rumors that it would be tough, I had experienced it a little and finally it just made sense to explore an online option.  So we did, we found several we liked we looked at them all and then picked the one that works best for us!  And Nicole is really the one who chose! She wanted this, knowing that missing 2-3 days a week would make learning really hard she decided that she wanted to be successful.

The school we chose has a graduation option and if she wants to go to prom we’ll figure it out!  She has a great group of friends, she’ll make more and she is going to do just fine!  Mom and dad might not lol!  But when it all came down to it, we were more scared of her missing an experience that neither of us could identify than ensuring her success.

She wants to be a vet, you have to get good grades to do that, she wasn’t going to be successful going to school half the time.  Could things change? Totally! And we’ll be prepared for that – because having a child with a chronic illness means you are prepared!

I am sure everyone has an opinion on this 🙂 And I am going to ask that you keep them to yourselves.  This was a difficult decision for all of us and while we know the pitfalls, we’d like to look on the positive side and know that we are doing everything we can to ensure our daughters success as an adult!

Foreign Languages

I love listening to people talk in different languages, I always try to identify the language.  Is it german, spanish, french…  I don’t get frustrated when people speak in a different language because we all have a special code we speak.

Our family speaks in sponge bob, friends and how I met your mother references.  Nic has a pool toy called Swarly after one of our favorite How I met your mother episodes!  Listen to us long enough and you’ll hear Sponge bob references all the time!

When Nic started horseback riding, I started learning the terms, easy ones saddle, stirrup, reins, etc.  Those were easy then the harder ones came, whither pad, flying lead change and others.  I googled, (ALOT – Tony will tell you this is my secret power – if it’s on google I’ll find it) I learned, I watched videos and I educated myself And I thought I was done!

Then someone said Lope – HUH?  What’s a Lope oh and Gelding and then yesterday cinch! You see because this wonderful world has several disciplines but 2 main ones, Western and English, they each have their own language.  Cinch well that’s a girth, Lope well that’s a cantor (I think).

The language is so vastly different than I have ever learned that I feel challenged every day to learn a new word.  I love this, because I am learning and expanding my horizons.  Everyday my child exposes me to a new thing.  Did you know that poles depending on how far apart they are on the ground are either trot or cantor?

I still don’t know what a Gaited horse is – but I will figure it out!  OH And I learned what a hand is in horse measurement!

The point behind all this? Well we get so upset when people speak in different languages – we want them to speak English! Why? Because it’s what WE understand! How about learning what they understand!  Next time stop and think about the language your family speaks, my guess is if I entered your family I would lost at times because you speak your own personal language!

Today take a moment and listen to others (don’t eavesdrop lol) but just listen to the mom talk to the baby, the dad talk to the son and the grandma talk to her friend and see if you can’t pick up on some subtle differences on how they say things and what they say!