Wednesday, March 30, 2011

My New Custom Mohair Cutter's Cinch

Pete’s been promising to make a custom mohair cinch for me. Yesterday he gave me the final product: a royal blue and tan cutter’s cinch. It’s made of double-stranded mohair yarn, one layer on the bottom interwoven with one layer on the top. You’ll see in the photo that the royal blue from beneath is brought up from the bottom and woven into the tan yarn. In this way, it’s used not only to reinforce the cinch, but to add an accent color to the design.

Pete used silver D cinch rings and later I’ll add a shoo-fly, a horse hair tassel that adds both a decorative flair and a practical tool for fighting flies underneath the horse’s belly in the summer time.

Pete and I think it will suit my quarter horse, Ziggy (Docs Vintage Oak), just fine.

I told him it suits me, too.

For more information on Pete's custom cinches, see my posting at:

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Daily Life

While I made mental notes of the things I needed to do today, I was reminded of drying dishes in my grandmother’s kitchen. I often visited my grandparents in Cheyenne, Wyoming, drawn by the warmth I found in their modest 1930s style home. I remember my grandmother turning to me after pulling the plug of the kitchen sink and sponging the counter for the last time, “If only life weren’t so daily?” And with the reflection, she quietly laughed and smiled. My grandmother was like that: she knew it was helpful to use humor in face of life’s dilemmas.

I needed to be reminded of her today. The dailiness of life, the tasks and chores I do every day and then turn around and do again tomorrow, felt wearing. Whether I clean the kitchen floor knowing it will need it again tomorrow morning or finish the laundry and know I will start all over in a few days, the work remains the same: it’s done, it vanishes, and it needs to be done again.

Perhaps, the question at the heart of any routine human activity is, “Does this have meaning? Do I have meaning if what I do simply disappears?” Whether I clean a floor or weed a garden or rake the hay meadow, my efforts are temporary. The floor gets dirty, the garden gets weeds, and the horses will consume the hay this winter and Pete and I will hay all over again next summer.

Several years ago I came across a Buddhist quote that went something like this: “It doesn’t matter what you do, it matters how you do it.” When I remember the thought, I find it helpful to re-focus my efforts. I consciously slow down and begin to feel present to the task at hand: a complete sweep of my broom, a proper fold of the towels, or an extra glance at a weed hidden in foliage of a peony. Giving my full attention to the task helps me deal with its temporal nature. When I’m able to focus in this way, I experience a calming satisfaction and comfort in experiencing the world I’ve put in order.

Even though my grandmother struggled with the dailiness of life she continued to create a quiet ease in her home. Whenever I visited my grandfather and her, I felt a surety about the world. Whether she was in her kitchen washing dishes, making rolls, or layering her crisp sugar cookies in a tin, those simplest and most temporal of moments provided a hearth for anyone who sat at her small kitchen table.

I will continue to have days in which I struggle to find humor in life’s necessary tasks. Bu when I don’t want to grab a broom or sort the laundry or track down errant weeds, I am fortunate to have the memory of my grandmother smiling after having finished the most mundane of life’s chores.

To read more about my grandmother, please click on this link to read an excerpt from my manuscript titled, “Mabe”:

For my grandmother’s cookie recipes, please visit my store at:
to purchase My Grandmother’s Kitchen: Recipes and Remembrances of Mabel Ide Mortensen.

*This revised essay was first posted in July of 2009.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Common Ground Riding Clinic

Andy will soon be on his way from Whitney’s Wild Oak Ranch in California to the upcoming Rocky Mountain Horse Expo in Denver, Colorado. He and Regina Wendler, an English riding instructor from Steamboat Springs, Colorado, will be presenting four Common Ground Riding Clinics March 18-20th. at the Equine Event Center at the National Western Complex.

Andy and Regina founded the Common Ground Riding Clinics here in Steamboat a year ago after Regina attended one of Andy’s riding clinics at the Kurtz Ranch. They both realized that, while the disciplines of Western and English riding are quite different, the fundamentals of horsemanship in each are very similar, and an understanding of each approach can improve one’s riding skills. As a result, Andy and Regina have officially and appropriately named their clinics: Common Ground Riding Clinics: Where East Meets West.

Each clinic will include an overview of their approach, hands on instruction with horse and rider on a specific riding skill, and a time for questions and answers. Common Ground will also have a booth at the Equine Event Center so visitors will have an opportunity to meet Andy and Regina and discuss the Common Ground riding philosophy.

Praise from previous clinic participants:

“This is a clinic that any rider can get something from no matter your specific discipline. Regina and Andy did a great job of pulling together the common foundation to sound horsemanship; and put together a fun and informative clinic. You are a dynamic duo. Thank you!”
--Cheril Trousil, Humble Ranch

“Riding with Regina and Andy reinforced the common ground that exists amid many different riding styles. The concepts presented gave my horse and I the support and direction to be the best we can be…no matter what discipline we ride!”
--Joan Ryan

We wish Andy and Regina the very best at the Rocky Mountain Horse Expo!

(The Rocky Mountain Horse Expo is sponsored by the Colorado Horse Council. Please visit them at: for more information about the Expo.)