Varian Arabians


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Working Equitation 101

Looking in the arena gate, my palms were sweaty, I could hear my heart beating in my ears. What had I gotten myself into now? Arizona Mac V was fairly relaxed as he stood looking over the gate. Well, at least he was until the mule brayed from not far behind him. He seemed to shout at me "THE ALIENS HAVE LANDED!" He'd never seen one before. After ou...

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Jeff Derby


He is simply brilliant… and humble, and well-read, (and not at all hard to look at, either). He'd picked up Arizona Mac V the end of October after he and Bruce Sandifer had put on a California Bridlehorse workshop in Walla Walla, Washington, and taken him home to Colorado. There, he'd ridden him in the snow, hauled him to the fairgrounds, ridd...

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Andres Castano


Roverto was leading a young mare across the road when I drove up. She was following politely, but would startle, flinch, at something to the right, then at the gate, then at a sound from the house. I watched this perfectly put together little bay in awe. She simply could not be any prettier. Earlier that morning, I'd stopped by the little graveyard...

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IMG_0979 Idaho Traffic Jam

Here in Idaho, there are shepherds. They are mostly Peruvian men, non English speaking, that live the entire summer out in the mountains and valleys with enormous bands of sheep, a few great pyrenees dogs and a couple of horses, roaming from place to place grazing the grasses from springtime to fall. For decades, these men have carved their na...

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Get Along


It had been a whole week since I'd even looked at Arizona. A short trip to Seattle followed by three days of intense work requirements took up every minute of my days. Finally it was Saturday. After a leisurely breakfast with friends at the Farmer's Market, I said hello to him, burying my face in his mane, rubbing my hand over his perfect back and ...

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The Hummingbird


 She startled me! She'd zipped right in through the big north window of the arena, stopped right in front of my eyes underneath the brim of my hat and hovered there for a few moments, looking right at me, intently it seemed. It took a second for my eyes to focus on her, she was so close. Her colors were of the rainbow, but more intense, her ti...

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Waking up in Sheila's bedroom, the sound of the cars on Corbett Canyon told me that it must be around 5:30 AM. The early light seeped through the lace curtains as I stretched my legs and imagined what the day would hold. At around 9:00 I walked Arizona to the trailer, saddled him up and walked to that big beautiful arena, saying hello to the cat on...

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A Break in the Weather


It had rained for days…. and days. When my plane landed in San Luis Obispo, the clouds were clearing out. In the morning, the sun felt good on my back as I put Arizona's halter on and walked him down to my trailer, where my saddles and bridles waited. Scrubbing the mud from his belly, his legs, his neck, his back, I looked up and saw Mike waving at...

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Step by Step

MikeMMfilly Kalena Mac V

December 27th, two days after Christmas. The morning was perfectly glorious. No wind, no clouds, the sun warmed my back through my jacket. I found Mike at the wash rack hosing the soapy suds off a big bay horse. "Good morning Lisa!" his blue eyes smiling at me. I'd asked him the day before if I could shadow him and watch while he worked with the yo...

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Quinta do Brejo


"Lisa, this guy is a genius!" Sheila was talking about Jack Brainard. She had met him through the Light Hands clinic, had picked up his book, "If I were to train a horse," read it and re-read it, voraciously studying every word and practicing his maneuvers. She was a perpetual student her entire life. A year later, there we were, in her arena, with...

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Summer's Over

Biddle Look Out

Arizona Mac V and Roy had been hanging out in their own nice roomy pens at Varian Arabians since we'd arrived after the clinic in Grass Valley. Arizona had developed a rather large white spot on his withers, telling me that I either needed a new saddle, or a change in my padding. Possibly he'll fill out more by next year. Nevertheless, I figured Ar...

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The California Bridlehorse


In that time between sleeping and waking I see Sheila and I in her big arena on a beautiful fall day. Mostly she is just riding her horse, enjoying the bliss, the dance that is her and her Jubilation. When she looks up and happens to see me doing something that she doesn't' like, she corrects me, as if it disrupts her dance. I focus, try to emulate...

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It's All Good.

IMG_3125 Janet Phinney

I decided that the only thing to do was to open the window and fling my ego right out there into the breeze. My perfect young Arizona Mac V had begun to go from that contented agreeable little soul to more of a schoolyard bully. He was biting at Roy, he kicked another horse, he was pushing through the bit and was being unresponsive to me. I remembe...

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New Adventures

Tollhigh Tollgate Trail

We picked up Roy and Arizona Mac V and drove an hour south and east, past a small town called Tollgate and parked in the Andies Snow Park parking area in the Umatilla Forest. We saddled and crossed the highway, finding the Horseshoe Trail trailhead. Dropping down onto the trail, we followed it through dense forest and ferns. Arizona feels...

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IMG_2432 High Country

​A true friendship withstands the test of time. I've known Martina for a long time. We've laughed together, we've cried together, we've held on tight to one another through our darkest hours. Her life is very busy, and to squeeze in a little time together is always a real treat. Even though she is working with three green horses this summer, s...

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Water Works

Headwaters of the Salmon River

I can still hear Sheila's voice in my head. "I'll ride with David any day!" She would say, and it's not just because he's handsome and fun, or because he rides a nice horse. It's because he likes to go off trail. He likes to explore and look for challenging places. I call these rides the "Dave Thompson adventure rides." You can't be a wimp if you r...

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Taylor Loop

Taylor Loop

We had no idea that this trail had become so popular. I picked up Carol and Smartie on Saturday morning and we drove down the road to the Taylor Loop trailhead. This trail is only about four miles long, but it's a pretty steep trail. We chose the easiest direction, with the steepest part on our climb instead of our descent. As we were getting ready...

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Oregon Gulch to Fox Creek


There is a trail that goes from Oregon Gulch to Fox Creek, which is right across the street from Carol's house. We decided on the shorter one, which is only about six miles I would guess, ending with a big solid bridge over the Big Wood River, which is rushing by at full force. The trail is shady and cool, following a route through the forest and t...

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Cow creek


It was going to be a hot day. I checked the sheep report and even though they said there were sheep in the area of the Lodgepole trail, which lay at the end of our route, I figured they would be tucked up into the canyon and not in our way. If we did run into them, it would be at the end of a pretty long ride and I figured Roy and Arizona could wor...

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We had to take a little trip out of town for a couple of weeks, so the horses had a vacation out in a large pasture with good green grasses to their bellies. When we got home, we decided on a short ride at a trail I hadn't been on in over a decade. I seemed to recall that it was a little rough, but a friend had hiked it and the trail report said it...

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major mac v interior concho

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