Back at the Barn

I’m rarely happier than when my nose is buried in a horse’s neck, inhaling, or when my hands stroke a velvety muzzle, or when I stretch my legs deep into stirrups or . . . well . . . anything to do with horses, actually. I even like mucking stalls.

So when I returned to the dressage barn this morning after six Covid months away, you know how I was feeling.

Reminded me of an early piece I wrote for this blog—long before most of you were following these posts. So for old time’s and new subscribers’ sake, here it is once again.



Wild Weed: When Trust Takes Time

“Our friend Bernie swung the door closed on his cow trailer and stood by me at the fence, where we watched a Shetland pony trot across the field. We had just hauled her home for my daughter.

“I know a great trainer,” he said. Your girl could take some lessons.”

That’s all it took. I made the call and scheduled her first session the next week. Turns out that trainer had been a short-listed rider for the Canadian Olympic team. Overkill for a five-year-old, but Blake and I knew our sweet girl would be in good hands.

One thing led to another. Within a few months both daughter and her momma were taking riding lessons and I had a horse of my own—a green-broke Appaloosa who bucked me off within weeks.

Not so good, a green horse and a green rider. After I sold him to a girl with more experience, my trainer found Carlos, a retired 17-hand Appy with Grand Prix schooling. Carlos was what they call a schoolmaster. Now I could learn which mistakes were mine. Most of them were.

And so I began learning dressage—much like waltzing with a horse.

Fast forward years and years, many more lessons and, when Carlos grew too old, another horse. I learned a lot. Still, when Wild Weed came along, I wasn’t sure I was ready.

Sorrel gelding Wild Weed pawing ground

My trainer and I studied him in a pasture he shared with a couple of sheep. An American Saddlebred (and trained in that discipline, which is quite different from dressage), Weedy looked a bit like a giraffe: long-legged and narrow, with an elegant, stretchy neck that made him seem even taller than his 16 hands.

Abandoned to his stall after an alcoholic owner grew negligent, he was high-strung and—I learned after I bought him—had bitten two girls. His owners’ teen daughter was scared of him.

But as we put him through his paces, his potential shone. The boy could move.

And so, purchase complete, we brought him back to the barn. Unfortunately, he wanted nothing to do with me. He turned away when I entered his stall. Cooly tolerated brushing. Clacked his teeth and swiped at me when I cinched his saddle.

I rode him four days a week for a month before I could press my legs against his sides without him startling as if he’d been shocked. Five months later, he still wouldn’t look at me.

“He just needs time,” my trainer assured me when I spoke my dismay. “Look at his progress.”

In spite of his crankiness and worry, I had to agree. His muscles were developing, and his upright, hollow posture was softening to the the light, round lift and balance of a dressage athlete.

And then his heart came along, too. On a chilly afternoon six months after I first saw him, Weedy nickered at me when I walked into the barn. His head stretched over the stall door and and he nuzzled my outstretched hand.

Horse looking out stall window

I cried.

From then on the horse followed me across the pasture. Stood at the fence when I worked in the yard. Met me when I came to the barn. Looked after me on solo trail rides and worked hard in the arena. When I rode him, we were so in sync I could hardly tell where I left off and he began.

Sorrel gelding in soft, round frame

“He finally said yes to all that love,” my husband said one day when I came in from the barn. “You chose him—and now he’s chosen you back.

His words resonated beyond my experience with the horse. I saw a parallel to my own life. Just as I had pursued abandoned, mistrustful Weedy, Jesus kept reaching for mistrustful, defensive me, even when I turned away a thousand times.

Until, one day, I didn’t. And life has never been the same.

Weedy died at age 30, and we buried him on the edge of our south woods. I still keep a lock from his tail curled on my desk.

And I remember how Love’s power transformed us both.

“We love because he first loved us.”

—1 John 4:19


And in an eggshell, SM posts from earlier this week:

This land. ❤️

(The Palouse, last week).

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.”

—James 1:17


When autumn reaches for your hand.

“Greet one another with a holy kiss.”

—Romans 16:16


Egg yolk, sizzling.

“Do not let the sun set upon your anger . . .”

—Ephesians 4:26


Post, dwarfed.

“When I look at the sky, which you have made, at the moon and the stars, which you set in their places—what are human beings, that you think of them; mere mortals, that you care for them?”

—Psalm 8:3-4


GIVEAWAY! 🔥🤸‍♂️🔥🤸🔥🤸‍♀️

THE VIEW FROM GOOSE RIDGE turns TWENTY in a few months! To celebrate, I’ll draw names from the USA or Canada every week from October 2 through December 18. Winners will receive a signed copy in the mail.

***This is my first-ever giveaway, so am fine-tuning it—and am extending the drawings from December 11 to December 18. Here’s why:

When I pulled up my list of blog followers, I found that there were thousands of you! (Thank you!!!) I must say that I was a bit overwhelmed when it came to snipping all those names into a hat (a bowl, actually), so I decided to draw names only from those who responded to the giveaway announcement and/or asked to be entered this week.

From that list, this week’s WINNER OF THE VIEW FROM GOOSE RIDGE GIVEAWAY (drawn by my huband:) is BRANDON-LEAH SAILORS! Congratulations, friends!

To throw your name in the hat for coming weeks, either

  1. Click the link HERE at and send me a note with your name and email address, or
  2. DM me on FaceBook. I’ll announce winners here—at the end of each Saturday’s blog (& will reach out to you for your contact info.).
    Published early in 2001 by Thomas Nelson, this collection of devotional essays has found its way into many thousands of homes around the world. Now published by HarperCollins Christian, it’s been dubbed a classic.



Welcome, friends. I’m glad you’re here.

Watching Nature, Seeing Life: Through His Creation, God Speaks.

Posted by

Love the outdoors? I can take you there. Rural & wild PNW posts and photos from a naturalist, faith writer, and author of three books, including the award-winning novel Sugar Birds. Member of Redbud Writers Guild.

6 thoughts on “Back at the Barn

  1. Thank you for sharing your love story Cheryl! I started riding at about 5 years old and I understand there is always that one partner that makes such a difference in your life. Mine was a beautiful buckskin quarter horse named Barney. He was my barrel racing horse in high school and I can’t even tell you the number of hours we spent together, training, trail riding or I would just lay on his back in the field. He is forever in my heart.

    Liked by 1 person

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