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!

A little update on Dalton!

Wednesday, March 29th, 2023 | Filed under Dalton

Many of you may remember that I sent Dalton to Thru-Rider, Gillian Larson, a while back.  I wanted him to have miles of trail experience – and the timing was perfect because I knew that my life was going to get very busy.

Well… he’s been there longer than he needed to be, but it worked out because I’ve had so much going on, it really was fine… and he’s in love with the three Morgan fillies she has – he is completely happy there.  Most days, he gets to go to school, then run on 45, hilly and treed acres with his filly friends.

Recently, Gillian asked if she could use Dalton during one of her weekend workshops.  Of course!  It only helps me that he experiences as much as possible.

Here is the photo from the trail ride on Saturday at Montana de Oro (a lovely mountain/beach ride on the Central Coast of CA).  Dalton is the last horse on the right.  His rider is in a blue jacket.

Dalton is on the far right. His rider is in a teal jacket.


Here is what Gillian said:

One of the things dominating my agenda recently was the wilderness camping workshop scheduled for this weekend, which I had to move to Montana de Oro due to damage at Lopez Lake.  Then the weather seemed like it wasn’t going to cooperate for a while (and a fallen tree was blocking the horse camp at MDO too), so it was super stressful. But in the end it worked out really well and I had a great group of people (all women!), including one person who came all the way from Germany, though to be fair she was also working in Atlanta this coming week, so it wasn’t just for the workshop.  

And Dalton spent the weekend at MDO with me.  He was a champ the whole time; very cool and relaxed about traveling and staying somewhere different and all the new horses coming in.  He was a little excited to go out when my mom rode him on Thursday (but to be fair it had been raining for several days so he was a bit fresh and it was cold and windy), but he was a perfect gentleman the rest of the weekend.  I will attach a couple of photos from a big ride we had on Saturday when one of the participants rode him on the trail. She was from Minnesota and it wasn’t feasible to haul her horse to CA for the weekend, but Dalton was great for her.


I’m not sure.  If Gillian can keep using him, he will stay for a few months.  If not, he may be home by Summer.  I will keep you posted!

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The grace of older horses…

I’m writing this today with a smile on my face.  You see, I’m not sure if I’m writing about myself or my horse…

A few weeks ago, I decided it was time to move Gwen into the barn at night.  She’s 28.  It’s not that she can’t be outside, she can.  But I really don’t have the perfect pasture mate for her, and she doesn’t like to be alone at night during bad weather.   And truthfully, I don’t like to have her outside during bad weather (even though we have plenty of trees and shelter).  So, I brought her in.

She was happy.  I was happy.


Since I’ve owned this house, I’ve had 2, now 3, horses who have lived in the barn long-term.  The first was Aladdin.  The second was Mama Tess.  And now we have her daughter, Gwendolyn.

The interesting thing is that I’ve owned all of these horses since birth or shortly thereafter.  I know/knew them all very well…

I can say from experience, there is a distinct difference when they move into the barn.

Gone are the days of mischief and shenanigans.  It is as if they decided that being older means it is time to drop all pretenses and simply reap the benefits of a warm stall with lots of great food.

I swear, Tess was totally unmanageable as a show horse – and for many years thereafter.  Yet when barntime came, she was an angel.  Same with Aladdin.  He wasn’t unmanageable, but he got into everything if he was left in the barn.  Yet, when barntime came, he was an angel.  And now with Gwen, the bullymare of all time… she has turned into an angel.

Barntime is a nod and a smile.


I think barntime is when your horse realizes that they know most of it and don’t need to prove anything anymore.  Time to enjoy and settle into their new normal.  Mostly, though, it is time to be kind and forgiving of the little human.

For example, during barntime, all three horses came when I called – every. single. time.  I never had to use a rope or halter if I let them out.  They always came back when called.  They didn’t mess up their interior surroundings, in fact, all of them created their bedrooms and bathrooms respectively.  They didn’t mess with my things.

In return, I gave them special attention.  They had cozy and lovely Barndo living.  And, of course, all the special food, grooming, tender nothings and love.

And now, Gwen is enjoying Barntime in her Barndo with me.  I kinda figure we are both understanding our limitations now, and respecting the heck out of each other.

This is really a nice feeling…

Gwen sticking her head into the tack room as I prepare her special meal…

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