Author Archives: dawndi

About dawndi

I've been a very happy film producer (commercial and long format) for over 20 years. But, the horses have always been foremost in my heart... Currently I live on a small ranch in California with my wonderful husband, 13 horses, 4 dogs, 3 cats and various woodland creatures. Life is good!

We’re PUBLISHED! And, that sinking feeling…


WAHOO!! We are published! Horse and Man, the blog, got a full page in the August issue of Horse and Rider (page 16)!


They did edit the story in order for it to fit, but that’s OK by me!  Yay!  We love you Horse and Rider!

If you don’t get the magazine, and haven’t already read the story, here is the original link for, “THE HARDEST FIX”.


Knife through the heart.

I’m in that phase with BG, who is new to trail riding, where she turns tail and vanishes if I have a halter in my hand and the truck is running…

Now, that might not seem so bad to you all, but it devastated me.  She used to looove to see me.  She’d wait at the gate with her big bro, Finn, and be so eager for me to put the halter on HER instead of Finn.  OOOOhhh, pick me, pick ME!

But now, if I start the truck and then indicate that she is the one who is going in the trailer with me… she runs.  She runs fast.  I’m lucky if I see anything of her besides a huge dust plume in her wake.  Big Brother Finn just stands there chuckling like Muttley.  Heh Heh Heh.

Finn and BG, as they usually appear..."Pick Me!"

And I know this always happens.  The newbie green trail horse always goes through this “I’m not gonna” phase.  It happened with Aladdin and Gwen and Tess and Damien and Finn.  They all do it.

Still, every time, it breaks my heart.


It always happens the same way.  First, the brand new riding horse is eager to go into the trailer for his first, new adventure!  Exciting!  Then, when he arrives, he is excited and is looking forward to whatever happens.  You saddle him up and make him work.  Wha?  Huh?  “I have to lead?!”  And, it goes downhill from there…

Any other horse they see, they call out and try to join.  Any person, any dog, any living entity — rabbit, squirrel,  is better than having to walk, alone, down a trail with Mom on your back…  She’s so heavy.  He knows a lion is sure to get him with so much weight on his back…  And then, the bikers and strollers!  Oh My!  Trail Riding is a lot more fun in theory than in practice for a new horse.  He has to do so much thinking!  And then, when his little horsey mind is so tired that he just wants to stick his nose into someone else’s tail, you ask him to cross water!  After that gauntlet, you hose him down – yikes – and then put him back into the bouncy trailer on jelly legs.

And so it goes with the newbie green trail horse.   They see you coming; they run.


So, when I started the truck this morning and meandered over to her pasture calling her name, you can guess what I found.  Nothing.  Yup, she was GONE.  I could see the dust, however… and Finn was doing his Muttley impression.

I felt like a horrible monster.  HERE I COME LITTLE HORSEY…    (the music looms) dum de dumdum   And my little mare says, “Eeeeeeee, she’s coming for me!!  I’m gonna die.  She’s gonna hurt me!  Hide me, little tree, hide me. (The little bush is obviously too small, even to her… so she runs to Finn) Ohhhhh, hide me Big Brother, hide me!  (Finn looks at her and smiles and laughs, No Way Little Sis!)  Ahhh gasp!  dum de dumdum…


BG, she's new at the whole riding thing...

I’m not a monster.  I treat her really well.  I know that her tack fits and I know she has a good life.

I also know that they all do this when playtime starts becoming worktime.  I know this.

But, even though I know this is a phase, and, even though I know they all get over it, and even though I know that I do everything I can to make sure they are comfortable and happy, it crushes me.


Of course I have no idea what she is really thinking…  I just try to surmise what she is thinking as I walk away, lip quivering.  And to me, it is something like this…  My little filly is growing up and I’m asking her to think/lead for herself.  No herd.  No Mommy.   Snort!  What?  No Leader?  How can I follow YOU when you are sitting on me?

She looks right at me and I can hear her little fuzzy voice, “This is too hard, you are stoopid and I’m not going to do it.”    Sound familiar?


BG contemplating if she should run away RIGHT NOW!

For those of you with 12-13 year old humans in your household, you know EXACTLY what I mean.  This is the time in their lives where they become sullen, incredibly forgetful and “I don’t know” is their mantra. “What happened to the cat?”  I don’t know.  “Why didn’t you do your chores/dishes/brush your hair?”  I don’t know.  “How do you expect to collect on your allowance?”  I don’t know, but I need money.  “For what?”  I don’t know.

And, it continues…

Truly, in my mind, this is the pattern of a young person who thinks they are rebelling against you but actually, they are rebelling against growing up.  They want to have all the powers of the leader without having to actually lead.

She runs to the furthest corner and I'm crushed

Oy.  Obviously I have a teenage horse standing in her pasture, checking her email and totally ignoring me while she visits the chatrooms of her mind… hoping I will continue to give her treats but not make her do anything responsible.


Now, part of me can understand her reluctance.  She did come with me on the last three trial runs.  And, she didn’t have the best time.  We had a few trailer rides, we met lots of other horses, she had to lead, she met inconsiderate biker people (which I wrote about previously), she had to cross water, go around boogeyman corners, remember her gaits, walk uphills and downhills slowly and remember to breathe. And worst of all, she had to eat a Granola bar when everyone knows that her favorite treat is an apple.

Did you want me?

Ugh.  Hard work.  No thank you.  I’d rather not.

So she runs away when I, who used to be her hero, comes into the field with a halter and the truck running.


I knew I couldn’t just let this go.  I knew I had to go back out there and try again.  No matter how hot it was outside or how much my feelings were hurt, I knew I had to break through this temporary phase.

So, I walked to her pasture with just the halter and no truck running.  Yup.  She ran over to me.  BG was her same lovely, teenage self.  As I rubbed her I spoke softly and told her that we had to do this.  We had to build our bond and it would mean a lot to me if she enjoyed trail riding as much as I did.  And, I told her we were going to go out first thing tomorrow morning, no matter what form of trickery I had to use to catch her…  She was listening and nodding earnestly.

Then I told her how hurt I was and asked her why she ran away from me this morning…

She turned her soulful brown eyes onto me and with the very familiar expression of my 13 year old daughter, she sighed, “I don’t know.”


HORSE AND MAN is a blog in growth… if you like this, please pass it around!

July’s Bucket Fund will benefit the charity THE GOLDEN CARROT SANCTUARY.  To learn all about the Bucket Fund and to donate $5,  please click on the photo (photo credit, Trish Lowe)

HORSE AND MAN is a blog in growth... if you like this, please pass it around!

A Sponsor’s Golden Heart.

Giving to horses in need is a very noble thing…  I honor anyone who helps the horses.

For me, I tend to dump my Piggy Bank when I hear of horses in desperate situations.  You know the type… THIS HORSE IS GOING TO SLAUGHTER IN AN HOUR or, THIS MARE IS GOING TO FOAL ON THE WAY TO MEXICO or, THIS HORSE WHO WAS A KIDS’ PONY IS GOING TO THE KILL BUYERS TONIGHT!…  You know the drill.  The ones in immediate peril usually pull on my purse strings.

But, what about all the other horses who need ongoing help?  Who helps them?  Who are the tortoises in the human group, eh?  Who are the people who drop a coin in their horsey bank account day in and day out?   The Sponsors.  Those who sponsor a horse have decided to put their pennies together for the slow and steady long haul.  God bless ’em!

It is the sponsors who guarantee the rescues.  It is the sponsors who pledge to keep the sanctuaries running.

So, today, I’m going to tip my hat towards a couple of wonderful sponsors of THE GOLDEN CARROT, our Bucket Fund Equine Charity for this month.  (If you’d like to learn more about THE GOLDEN CARROT, a sanctuary for the old, sick and abandoned horses, please click here.)

Now, onward to these very moving stories of why these women help…

First up, in her own words Shela tells us why she sponsors both Cha Cha and Duke.  Cha Cha is a 34 year old Appy mare whose previous owners called her anorexic because she was losing weight in a paddock with three other, younger horses who were stealing her food.  Luckily, with the great care at TGC, Cha Cha recovered from her “anorexia” as soon as she was fed alone.

Duke is a 22 year old QH who is very crippled but is thriving at TGC.

“I came to TGC about 6 months ago…only at the request of a disabled friend who had heard about it and wanted to see the horses.  The person who left the ranch that day was a different person than the one who entered it a couple of hours before.  I had no previous experience with horses…I’m a dog person…and a little intimidated by the bigger guys.

Cha Cha, the "anorexic" 34 year old Appy mare...

But, there I was, in the middle of a herd…having a tour…seeing horses that had been worked to the point of injury, used-up and discarded…some would see them as broken-down old nags…I saw beauty, grace, dignity, spirit, love, gratitude, trust.  Their stable area, which is more about function than form and Casey jokes about its less than pristine appearance…well, I saw a clean, safe place to have dinner and spend the night out of the weather.

Duke, the old but handsome, crippled gentleman

And the woman with the long strawberry braid down her back…she had so much to teach, I could tell…the way the horses responded to her…her skill with them…the mutual trust.  I didn’t want to leave this place. What happens there is something quite extraordinary.

I first thought of sponsoring a TGC horse as a Christmas gift for my grandniece, so it didn’t start out as being about a particular horse. I went to Casey’s website to read about each of the horses…which one needed us the most?  I chose ChaCha Native Dancer because she was very old, a little scraggly looking and somewhat aloof…I guess no one else had thought her particularly appealing.

Shela and Duke

She is beautiful to me…and I don’t mind that she doesn’t want to nuzzle…it’s not about me, after all.  This old gal has enough spirit and leadership qualities to compensate for her disabilities and oversees the other mares with confidence.  I respect and honor her.

Later, as I got to know more of the horses as individuals, I chose Duke because I didn’t want him to leave us without a sponsor. He’s so old and disabled, yet you can see his desire to keep on moving through each day, one at a time.  He’s kind and sweet and patient…I’ve spent hours grooming him…and he allows me to hug him.  I adore this horse and feel so privileged to know him. I’m very grateful to Casey for watching over him and allowing him to spend whatever time he has left with dignity and knowing he’s loved.  When it’s Duke’s time, he will let me know which of his friends he’d like me to sponsor in his place, and I will do it in his memory.”

Let’s help her out, eh?  Let’s support TGC and their sponsors who love the unwanted horses…
Next up we have Margaret who sponsors Sara, the 21 year old Belgian/TB mare.
“I had a horse when I was a kid.  But was stupid and let my high school activities come between Bayla and I.  My father sold her to someone.  Who, I do not know.  My horse “bug” was dormant for years.  I got back to horses when I was watching the Kentucky Derby when Eight Belles went down.  For some reason her death really bothered me.  I went online to search for information on her.

Sara, the very sweet BIG older gal...

I found the Alex Brown discussion forum and began to read.  What an education I received.  I learned for the first time about the horrors of slaughter.  I learned about horse rescues and rescurers.  I learned about horses who were thrown away when they, for whatever reason, became inconvenient to their owners.  One day I read on that forum about a horse that had been abandoned in a California desert and about the rescue that took him in.  I found that rescue’s website and started reading.  I read about Casey and the residents of The Golden Carrot.  Then I saw the picture of Sara.  Oh wow!  She looks a LOT like my Bayla.  I read about her.  Oh wow!  She crashes through things, just like my Bayla did.

Sara nudging Margaret, the carrot lady...

I contacted Casey to see if Sara was unsponsored.  Low and behold, Casey still needed a sponsor for Sara.  Unfortunately I do not earn enough money to do a full sponsorship of Sara.  But each month I send what I can.  I told Casey that I wanted to sponsor her FRONT half!  I also have a “Spare Change For Sara AKA Miss Piggy” jar on my desk.  I throw my coins in it and when I get to $20, I send it to Casey to use however she needs.  I work at a music store and several of my coworkers and customers add their change on occasion.

I had the opportunity to visit TGC last year to meet Casey and Sara.  That was the first time I was in the midst of a herd of horses just wandering around.  I loved it!  I was covered with horsey slobber!  What a wonderful experience that was!  I am hoping to get back there one day, possibly to actually ride Sara.

Thank you HORSE AND MAN, for picking TGC as your Bucket Fund recipient!”

I know the horses at TGC are already “saved”, but care doesn’t end there…  I really want our July Bucket Fund to help shoulder the load for these folks who take in the abondoned horses during their golden years.

Please let’s band together and fill the Bucket with our appreciation. I’m asking you to donate to the Bucket Fund now.   Just put a drop in the bucket (anything from $1 to infinity) to hold the hand of those lovely few who carry the weight each month.

Thank you, everyone, for caring about the forgotten ones! It is so appreciated.

If you feel moved by this and wish learn about all the levels of sponsorship, please click here and meet the older horses that need you.
HORSE AND MAN is a blog in growth… if you like this, please pass it around!

school fundraising ideas


to track your green

HORSE AND MAN is a blog in growth... if you like this, please pass it around!