Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Mental Training for the Rider

Reposted from: HorseCity.com

Mental Training for the Rider
by Charles Wilhelm

The first thing when talking about mental training for the rider is that I believe we all need to understand we must be very positive thinking in our abilities. We must believe absolutely in what we are able to do. And that means recognizing what are abilities actually are no matter the level. At the same time, we have to bring into account negativity. Why negativity? Because while we want to be extremely positive about our own abilities, we also have to be realistic about where the horse is in its own training. Once we are truly aware of both the positives and the negatives in our relationship, we then also need to not become overly attached to those ideas and allow them to interfere with our intentions, meaning the exercises we have planned.

Intent and Focus

Clear intentions in training are vital. We need to identify what we intend our goals to be. And that includes where to start, how to get there, and where to end. We absolutely have to prepare our mental state to stay focused on these goals rather than to react to the environment around us. You may be working with your horse and have another horse get totally out of control, or hear another rider shouting at someone but you have to stay utterly focused on the horse you are working with. Find your center and stay on track with your own work. Don't allow yourself to get distracted and you will find your horse is much less likely to get distracted as well. If you are focused, your horse will be focused it really is that straightforward.

Many people don't recognize what intentions really mean in terms of horsemanship and yet that really is the magic in training. The dictionary definition of the word intention is: "A course of action that one intends to follow. An aim that guides action; an objective." So when we are clear in our minds as to what our intentions are, our goals about how to achieve those intentions become clear as well. The mental process actually provides physical form. And as the horse reads body language the positioning of your body makes the magical communication happen with the horse. For example, when out trail riding, if your intention is to turn right and go through a gate, you need to already see yourself doing it in your mind's eye before you begin actually doing it. The process may have some difficulty in the horse not understanding or getting confused, but if you stay focused on going through the gate as you imagine it, it greatly helps the horse as they need purpose. One of the things that we have talked about before, is that with any exercise we do, we have to be able to picture our doing it every step. So imagine riding up to the gate, step, pivot, go through the gate, step, pivot to close the gate, move out away from the gate. If we cannot picture it, we will not be successful. If you can only see yourself going through the gate, then that's all you should do. Only do what you can actually perceive. Adjust your goals to meet your own ability to imagine.

Focus on Good Behavior

Another important aspect of your own mental training is not to get involved in the negative behavior of the horse. For example, if I have a rude, belligerent horse I do not get caught up in his negative behavior. I remain focused on the goals of the training only. If we are working in the round pen and he is bolting or charging, I am focused only on getting the response I want, which is for the horse to be relaxed, to have rhythm, balance, cadence, and that he wants to be with me. I am not worrying about the other behaviors just focused on what I need to do to achieve my goals. And frankly, that's often just a question of time, which is irrelevant to a horse. They operate on their own time. But again the mental image is key. You have to imagine the behavior and response you intend to get from the horse. It's the same with real estate. You can go out and look at a house as it is, or see it as it's meant to be. Do you get caught up on a brown lawn and peeling paint, or can you imagine the house after you have worked on it and see how it could look/should look? It's vital to learn to use our imagination to succeed and that's available to everyone we just don't seem to use it often with our horses.

Take the Chance, Accept the Risk

One of the reasons probably is that we get so fixated on fear and intimidation. But the reality is, those are very normal feelings when being around horses! But as a professional or even just a serious horse-lover, you have to be willing to take that extra step, whether it's to go into a show arena or out on the trail. You have to simply get on the horse one day, and to allow the practice of handling horses to take on its own life. But at some point, you have to be willing to take that chance, to accept the risk. And to do that - you have to be able to imagine yourself doing it with crystal clarity.

This is an especially common problem with many of the riders who return to horses as adults. They often feel like they want to give up, or get overwhelmed quickly. And that's no surprise. It seemed so easy to ride when we were young, and falling off was never a big deal. Now that we are older and don't bounce so good there is even more danger in handling and riding horses. So when you have those times of feeling overwhelmed or giving up, all it really means is that you need to back up in your relationship with the horse, and return to the basics until you are more comfortable. Can that mean you may be doing just groundwork for six months? Maybe. So what? I have a client who was extremely fearful. She returned to riding in her late 40's and got hurt trail riding shortly afterwards. But rather than giving up, she spent a year working her horse from the ground, and then finally riding in the round pen, then the arena, and then at about the end of that year, went back out on the trail. She has been she riding everywhere on the trail ever since! She did not give up. She instead reset her goals to be in line with what she could imagine herself doing. And slowly as her confidence built, she was able to imagine herself being more and more ambitious in her goals. Finally she broke through the fear barrier altogether and is now living her dream with her horse.

Your Mental State

It's easy to lose confidence when we push ourselves beyond what we can imagine ourselves doing. So have confidence in what your abilities truly are, define your intentions based on those abilities, imagine yourself accomplishing your intentions, and then stay completely focused on working with those goals every time you are with your horse.

Your mental state and preparation for your horse's training really is the most important thing that will determine your success, or failures. What you can imagine yourself doing, you can achieve! So don't be afraid to dream big when it comes to your relationship with your horse. Believe in yourself, be patient, persistent and those dreams will come true.


About Charles Wilhelm

Known as the creator of Ultimate Foundation Training, Charles combines the best of traditional, classical and natural horsemanship into a methodology that is applicable to any riding discipline. His extensive background includes: Dressage, Working Cow Horse, Reining, Western Pleasure and Trail. He is known for communicating and motivating people as well as his astounding natural abilities with a horse. He believes "It's Never, Ever the Horse's Fault" and his training methods reflect that belief. Charles specializes in re-schooling horses with often-severe issues.

Charles has a weekly television show, writes monthly columns, has two books and numerous training DVDs. He performs clinics and demonstrations at venues throughout the country. He offers extensive hands-on learning programs for every level of horsemanship that reflect his motto "Success Through Knowledge".

Click here for Charles Wilhelm's site.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Old Epiphany Thing

This came to me via a friend of a friend type thing (Fran is a friend of my mom's). Written by Fran Odom with Odom's Mountain Horse Ranch. She wrote this back in 2006 and it was something so profound that I saved it at the time. I rediscovered it today and am sharing with you. Read it once, read it again, then read it one more time. There is some VERY deep and interesting thoughts here. Emphasis in blue are mine:

I had a new understanding come to me today. In working Hijo in the round pen, I noticed we had a long way to go. His turns to the inside were poor. When cued, he would stop straight, look at me, sometimes decide I was indicating to reverse, step around on his front feet and move off.

My first analysis determined that his move was not on his hinds stepping under, therefore I was getting nothing from him. This disclosed that somehow, some way I needed to drive him into the movement so that the momentum did not cease as he reversed to the inside. In observing his way of going I noticed it was haltingly always prepared to stop. Interpreting that attitude into future activities meant he would not go when needed nor would he stop when needed.

I decided to push for a canter – until he believed in me. It took a long time and many stops and goes before it came. But in the end the side that was so darn difficult indeed did a lovely wide inside turn never halting the movement. That was very pleasing. He learned it and repeated it well thereafter. However….

Going in the opposite direction has ALWAYS, since day one, been an issue to this horse. He did/does not like the look of life on that side. At any given moment he will attempt to turn and reverse. His inside turn is naturally inclined due to this preference; the goal was to keep him moving. He could make 7 or 8 laps and should I move an eyelash he would give it the old college try, even considering going over the top rail. He really didn’t want to go that direction.

Some of my exercises would be to ask for the outside turn instead (because the inside was his preference) and then an inside and continue forward (a 360).

As I observed his consistent effort to choose his own change in direction, I began to think about what affect I would have on him if I stopped too soon OR if I did not correct him until he became comfortable in the direction I requested.

The answer to that thought is fairly profound to me at this point. It may sound too simple. This horse needed to believe in me. Over and over he tested mostly because he didn’t feel comfortable on one side. He needed to not only do it but believe he could do it. When he would stop and try to reverse, his correction and being set back on course by me was the support he needed. For some reason as he went round and round, he believed it would end because he couldn’t do it without end (this type of belief the horse holds is that devil named Resistance). It was a responsibility of mine to stay long enough while he did it until……..

Until he began to feel well maybe I CAN do it… He tells himself and me his change of thought by licking his lips, stretching his neck, relaxing in the movement, taking direction and returning to it without stress or argument. He begins to get the feel of that direction and finding it comfortable.

The part I play in it is a commitment to him both by staying with him and being there for him when he thinks he must fail (quit) and pushing him onward until it no longer is an issue. In so doing he knows that I know his every moment of “weakness” wherein I made him strong. I was right there every single time and not once did I let him make that mistake. He can believe in me because I believed in him. It is only through this work and support can the horse grow in confidence. ~ C here: Go read that one again.

We humans think that when they do it wrong, we are being kind to not notice. Instead if we notice and correct it, the horse is comforted by that act. His comfort is knowing you are right there every second to support him.

I never viewed this effort as making a weak animal strong. I never realized the depth of the instinct to resist and hold onto an idea of not giving in. I now see the “do what you gotta do until you can get out of there!” resistance.

I never understood how letting the horse not do it perfectly was undermining his entire outlook and confidence. Because as long as he does not feel himself let go and stop resisting, he is learning how long it takes to hold out.

Back when I successfully got his GOOD inside turn on the difficult side, I stopped to allow him a little breather. During that time I asked him to come in to me. He couldn’t. After he worked through going the other direction without interruption, when I stopped him he came right in. The round pen is very revealing if you open your eyes and see what really is happening.

I still do not feel that I expressed all of the lesson I learned today. It’s pretty deep to see the difference between fake it and give it all. Had Jerry Tindell (Fran's instructor) not stayed so long with that red horse in the round pen, I would not have seen what was necessary to know when the give happened. The impact on the horse must really be something for it to experience. I know that if Sport had experienced all this in the beginning it would not have taken him so long to get this far.

I am a fairly stubborn person. I learned to hold out. Period.

To change, to soften, to release an idea, to reconsider, to try, those are not easy to do when holding out is the way of life. I can understand the lifted load a horse must feel when he has gone through the process. Once through the process he learned the answer. Now he holds the answer and can use it every time he is asked and use it with confidence! That must be empowering!!!

Well I am finished trying to explain now. I hope that something I said held meaning…and perhaps opened a small door for someone.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Two Steps Forward... Here Comes the One Back

The little set backs just seem to be a part of life, but that doesn't mean I have to like them does it?

Friday, I made plans with one of my friends to go riding. We originally agreed to meet at a local arena and ride around there. I dug out my copy of 101 Arena Exercises and even dog-eared a few that I had plans to work on. Then, I actually GOT to the arena - or where the arena had been. Now there was a lovely fenced in pond. How quaint. Diego and I waded out to see just how bad the footing was. There was about 2" +/- of standing water on top of the very soupy sand/mud base. It didn't seem slippery at all (good), just really, really wet. I unclipped Diego after the first 20 feet and waded over to the slightly drier island which was along one of the fence lines. Poor baby was stranded in the puddle and stayed there looking around without moving for several minutes. Dork.

Once he realized the Horseness Monster was not going to swim out of the murky depths, he had fun running around the arena. He looked like one of those calendar shoots with the water flying as the horse majestically gallops down the beach, except there was no beach and he's a hairy dirty furball right now. Sarah showed up after a few minutes and turned her two horses that she had brought out as well. They had fun running around together and Diego made us laugh by doing mare squeals when Dandy tried to sniff his arm pit. Sarah and I discussed our riding options, the arena wasn't slippery at all - just really wet, and decided to go ahead and trailer out to Washoe Lake to ride down the beach instead. After a few minutes of wrangling, we were able to catch all three - but not before Diego decided he was **HOT** and rolled in the water/sand/mud combo. GREAT! At least he only got one side before frantic screaming mother chased him up.

So we trailered out to Washoe, which Diego has been to only once before. Thankfully he somewhat dried in the trailer on the way over there and I was able to curry and brush most of the sand off. Saddled up and then decided to go ahead and mount up in the parking lot right away without doing any lunging or hand-walking first, since he had already had the chance to run around. He was actually pretty good, much more scooty than normal, but listening for the most part. My problem was that I was mounted a bit before Sarah was ready to go (she was riding one and ponying the other), and Diego go impatient while waiting. As I could feel his tension start building, I decided to go ahead and get off and walk him to the beach instead. I'm glad I did, because Sarah got to the beach first - to discover a loose dog that tried to jump up on her ponied horse. That potentially would have been a VERY bad situation on Diego, who doesn't like dogs as it is.

The loose dog was leashed by the time I got to the beach and I walked Diego down the beach for a while. Eventually I went ahead and got on and we had a pretty good ride. He tucked his butt and scooted forward several different times, and never really relaxed. He also pretty much refused to go in front at all. I kept him over in the deep sand for the most part and we would just walk along and then trot a short bit to catch up with Sarah's super fast walking gaited horses. Dig was too anxious to really walk out at all. He did do well with the few obstacles we encountered, such as some drift-branches, taller grasses, and some flying birds. He would give them the "helicopter ear" by tipping his ear out parallel to the ground as we rode by, but other than that didn't seem overly concerned. He just didn't **feel** as nice and relaxed as he has the past few rides.

Once we turned around and headed back, we had a bit of a funny incident when my cell phone rang. It was strapped to my ankle and Diego kept trying to turn to see "what was making that noise?!?" Except the noise would then turn and still be behind him. I got him to settle and then hopped off to return the call - no point in trying to kill myself by talking on the phone while riding my green horse. Sarah got a way ahead while I was talking, and I briefly debated about mounting up and trying to catch up, but thoughts of Diego bolting off with me hanging off the side nixed that idea. I WILL be brave with this horse at some point, I WILL. For now, I'm playing everything extra safe.

The other new thing that Diego got to experience was being ridden in the rain. It sprinkled a bit on the way down the beach, and then started to rain harder on us as we were nearly back. Mr. I Love My Barn And Don't Do Wet was not overly thrilled to say the least. He had his head tucked and his ears back in displeasure. Poor baby. =) I dismounted again as we started to get back to the trailers (not really sure why in hindsight), but it was good practice as I let Sarah get ahead and out of sight, and then took a slightly different way back. It was good for Diego to realize that he was out there with ME, not with THEM, and that he still needed to be paying attention to me and my demands. We had a lesson in remembering not to run over Mom and stop when she stops while jogging on the sandy single-track back to the trailer.

Overall, it was a good ride and a good day. Just not as excellent as the past few rides have been. I was surprise at how much more buddied-up Diego was with Sarah's horses compared to when riding with Funder. He also was more spooky and tense than normal, but like I told hubby when I got home, it was also a good lesson for me in realizing that I CAN cope with that behavior and he didn't ever get worse. Writing this has also helped put the day into perspective. Overall, a success.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Looking Back

I'm still glowing from last weekend. Having these great rides are exactly what Diego and I both need right now. This has really been a big year of ups and downs for us. I happened to think today that I've been blogging our progress for over a year now, so I went back and looked at what we were doing around this time last year. A year ago yesterday, Jan 4, 2009, we had just trotted under saddle for the very first time. I remember how tentative he was about riding with other horses. How he would stop and freeze up when they were close enough to pass us. How getting him to trot for 5-10 steps at a time was a big accomplishment.

Now, I can look back at last weekend, how he trotted along on a loose rein for several blocks at a time. How he OFFERED to pick up the trot again, and how happy I was to have such a forward-going horse who seemed to really enjoy being out and being ridden. How successfully he leapfrogged back and forth with another horse. How he actually did a pretty good job of holding it together for his first official ride start.

While I certainly didn't accomplish everything I was hoping to, we are most definitely getting there. Baby steps. One thing that has continued to amaze me is how our relationship has really blossomed and grown in the past few months. Dig has a softer look about his eye, and I've noticed that he's started to turn to me in moments of unsureity for guidance. Even small things, like remaining standing parallel to the fence when I walk up to feed, rather than turning to face me head on, and allowing me to scratch his back and withers over the fence are small improvements I haven't taken the time to appreciate.

Looking forward to the future.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Epic Win - Still Smiling

I have to steal the title that Funder used, because it was exactly that. We took Diego and her horse Dixie to the NEDA (National Endurance Driving Assoc) ride this past Saturday and just had a highly successful day, even if our mileage ended up a bit under the original goal. We had originally planned on riding the 20-mile ride, but the fact that Silver Springs still had a FOOT of snow off the trails, and that 90% of the ride was along back-country roads that were packed snow and prone to icy conditions if you weren't along the berm, settling for 12 miles was the perfect solution.

I left early and went out to pick up Funder and we trailered over to Silver Springs. I was thankful for the 4wd on the truck as we turned off the dry roads and onto packed snow for the last 1/2 mile to the house where the ride was being hosted. We were the second trailer there, I wanted to have plenty of time to get Diego saddled and settled before the ride started. Both horses were calm and relaxed for the most part while we were getting ready. I took Diego over to the unplowed driveway across the street (the ride site had been scraped with a tractor blade and was a thin layer of snow/ice) and lunged him for a while before the ride started. He was a little rushy but relaxed and not to worried for the most part. The Arab tail was less than perpendicular to the ground, so things looked good.

He got a little snorty when the carts (3 in total) left, they're similar to homemade chariots and I'm pretty positive he had never seen a cart before, but really he was very brave and stood his ground as they went by. Then the bigger pack of riders (I think there was about 20) left and as I set off on foot (per my original plan), I found that I had a Macy's Balloon attached to the end of my reins rather than a horse. He was prancing along barely touching the ground, snorting, blowing, and his tail was flipped up somewhere between his ears. Thankfully all our groundwork has paid off and he was respectful of my space and wasn't pulling on me too bad, getting a bit ahead at times but a sharp jerk on the lead had him stopping and backing up - only to start again. Once we went 100 yards down the trail and turned a corner, there was a nice fresh patch of deep snow that I decided would be perfect to work off some of this excess energy. So we went off the trail and proceeded to trot and run in circles for a little while. I did try to be respectful of the other riders and have Diego stop and stand when I noticed that he was working up the other horses trying to pass. It was a little difficult in that there wasn't really a good place to do that in camp, so finding a spot along the trail was my best option. Either way, we all survived and after a short while I was able to continue leading him down the trail.

In less than a mile (thankfully, walking through snow is a good work-out), Dig was doing a pretty respectable job of paying more attention to me than to the other horses, so I decided it was safe to get on. We continued down to the next intersection where the trail turned right and I mounted up in the big four-way stop. I was so thankful that F and Dixie were still with us, I appreciated her being patient and putting up with "young, green horse with no brain". Dixie was being a model citizen and setting a good example for Diego. I mounted with no issues and rode the opposite way of the main pack, did a few circles, turns, checked the brakes, and then we headed off the correct direction since all systems were go at that point. Diego was still tense, but he was listening.

After another mile or so, things were going well so I asked Dig to trot a few steps for me. He did well and didn't get too rushy or try to take off. So then I was able to ask for a few more, and eventually we worked into longer and longer sections of trotting. As we were riding along back roads and passing various houses, this was an excellent experience for both horses. We had to ride past mailboxes, garbage cans, creative yard decorations, barking dogs, burned out trailers, abandoned cars, and even a couple of pigs (which I don't think Diego SAW, although I did). Dig was a very brave boy and him and Dixie were able to take equal turns leading. Often, when one was "stuck" looking at something, the other one would be able to bravely continue onward.

Dixie and Diego actually did a pretty good job together. They both had a buddy, but are also both independent enough that we were able to leap frog each other very effectively. Unfortunately, we really need to work on our pacing. Although at the walk we were able to stay together pretty well (Dix walks a little faster), anything faster than a walk just wasn't working out that well. Surprisingly, Diego hasn't realized he can TROT like a real horse under saddle, instead offering more of a 6-7 mph jog for the most part. Dixie would normally probably be able to do a slow rack at this speed, but couldn't on the ice that well (poor thing did have one good "Bambi on ice" slip that she's thankfully no worse for). Her trot was in the 9 mph range, which Diego just couldn't keep up with. So Dig and I would jog ahead, then Dixie would trot to catch up, or pass us and then walk, and then we would jog by - wash, rinse, repeat. Hopefully things will work out as we ride together more and on better footing.

One thing that riding on the snowy roads allowed me to do was to really work with Diego on our lateral work, leg yields, and steering. There's nothing like trying to ride in an 18" deeper snow path next to a more packed tire track along the side of the road, or stay in the deeper portion in the middle of the road, to find out how well your directional signals work. I was very pleased to notice that Dig's are installed fairly well and that he does listen to them most of the time. We did have a little debate about if his hind end was indeed connected to his front end, and he realized that I would boot him to remind him that it was. =)

Once we finished the 10-mile loop and got back to the trailer, we offered them water. Diego swished more than drank I think, but the weather was very cold and he wasn't that sweaty. I think the HIGH for the day out there was around 33* F. We gave them have a small snack, left their saddles on, and after 30 minutes or so, mounted back up and rode back down the trail aways. F had this most excellent idea, that way they wouldn't think that just because they were back at the trailer, they were done. While Diego had been starting to drag a little coming back, offering to stop randomly, he perked right up and trotted out of camp like a champ. They both were very forward and no one had any issues about leaving (although Dixie's "camp-dar" was in full effect she was wondering exactly WHY we were leaving). We rode out of camp for a little over a mile and then turned around and came back. All-in-all, while we probably could have repeated the loop with no issues, we ended the day with happy, healthy horses that weren't stressed or overtired by their experience. An Epic Win for sure!

P.S. Oh - and Diego survived having velcro open behind him with no issues. His only real spook (which resulted in a tuck and scoot forward and made me laugh at him) was when F got off of Dix as we finished the first loop. Dork.

Happy 101 - Happy 2010

Endurance Granny bestowed the Happy 101 to me recently and I'm supposed to go through and list ten things that make me happy. This seems like an appropriate post to start the new year off as well.

My family - especially my husband and my son. Although they both are capable of driving me totally crazy (for very different reasons), I do most certainly love my boys and really miss them when they're not around. I also love the special relationship that they have together, it makes me very happy to see my husband as a loving and caring father. I'm also very blessed to have a wonderful relationship with my mom, who is probably my best friend. Although we certainly had our differences during "the teenage years", she and I now have a great relationship and she's one of the first people I want to share my joys, achievements, frustrations, and sorrows with.

My pets - specifically my puppy Molly, cat Sushi and horse Diego. I love my furry four-legged "children" and each for their special qualities that make me laugh. Just spending time with them allows me to destress and appreciate the more simple things in life. I'm a sucker for pets, scratches, cuddles and belly-rubs, and they all know it.

Riding - This past year has certainly brought challenges and I've had to evaluate my riding like I never have before. Learning to deal with my fear issues has been very educational for me, and I'm proud of myself for the successful steps that I have been taking. Riding has always been such a huge part of who I am (I WAS/AM the horse crazy little girl right from the beginning), that I never had to evaluate if riding was something that I would continue to do, but rather, I just needed to figure out what I needed to do in order to find my joy of riding again. Turns out it was as simple as getting back into the saddle and having small successes, then continuing to build upon those.

Friends - I consider myself very fortunate to have a small group of very close friends, and an ever-growing larger group of online friends. I'm very much a "people-person" and enjoy communicating with a variety of people, getting to read about others lives in their blogs, make new friends, offer advice, and learn from peoples' questions and challenges. My email and blog-role are a part of my daily life and I genuinely miss those connections when I'm offline for any length of time.

Cooking - yeah, I like to cook. I don't particularly like to bake (although I can for the most part), I just don't have the patience to measure and closely follow a recipe. Cooking for me is more about finding a recipe that sounds good, figuring out which of the ingredients I may or may not have on hand, throwing it all together, plus and minus the various substitutions I'm making (this is pretty standard) and then, thankfully, usually very much enjoying the finished product.

Technology - I kind of have to steal this one from Funder a bit. Although I'm certainly no techno-wizard, and I'm definitely a "PC", I do appreciate the advances in technology that our society has made. I'm old enough to remember and have used C:/ (oh yeah) and the old Lotus based spreadsheets and word processing programs. Remember black monitors with the gold or green font??? I do! Remember when we had the big 5 1/2" floppys? Yep! Things have come a long way and the ability to connect with people and accomplish tasks has improved so greatly its mind boggling. LOVE Office 2007, LOVE gmail, LOVE google reader! I will admit to still having a very old school flip phone, but an upgrade is certainly on my wish list!

Living in Reno - although I do sometimes miss the green, its not too far of a drive. I do love the stark beauty of the high desert landscape. I love living in a large valley surrounded by scenic mountain ranges. I like that we normally have 300+ sunny days a year. Reno has a lot of the "small town" feel, in that once you've lived here for a while it's easy to run into people you know, you establish relationships fairly easy, etc, but there's actually STUFF TO DO! I never seem to get bored up here, there's always something going on. I especially feel fortunate that we have so much nice riding in this area - not only a host of glorious trails to ride, but many different organized rides and activities to participate in as well.

Being independent - although I would much rather do someTHING with someONE, I do like the fact that I'm independent enough to still be perfectly content to do something by myself. I'm also proud of the fact that I can accomplish most tasks by myself.

Our remodeled house - hubby especially put a lot of time and effort into the house, it's beautiful. The colors are warm and welcoming. I love the wood floor that we picked out and how the bricks on the fireplace look after being sandblasted to remove the paint. Having the washing machine flood everything in May was extremely stressful, but the final outcome has been well worth the months of living in the bedroom. =)

My readers - okay, hokey! I mainly started this blog for myself, so I'm not the best about posting very often. I don't want it to become a chore, or something that needs to be done. But it does give me a smile every time I see I have a new follower or a new comment on a post. Thanks for being patient with me and playing along!

What about you? What are ten things that make you happy?
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