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Entries in horse show (15)


What is Your Horse-Related Dream? Make This Year The Year! 

Do you allow yourself to dream?  Do you give yourself permission to really dream big?  I love being at the Cowboy Dressage Finals; we get to be surrounded by people who put their dreams into action.  It’s very inspiring!  Closer to home, we strive to bring a little of that experience back to our clients. 

At MM Training, we try to encourage all our clients to dream big, to think of their potential and life’s amazing possibilities.  Some know right away what their dreams are, while others need a little more encouragement.  Which are you?  Are your dreams right on the tip of your tongue or have you buried them deep thinking its just nonsense to even think about them?  If you’ve buried your dreams deeply or just never put your dreams into reality, I would like you to consider thinking a little differently.

What if our dreams are very important?  What if they are messages directly from God?  This is what I believe.  Listening to dreams and not squelching them might just be critical to our peace and joy in this life.  Dreams can possibly be an indicator or a clue of our Godly purpose.   Pursuing a big dream is not so much about the achievement of reaching that dream, but about the person we become while pursuing that big dream.  I think that’s what God really is concerned about.  Can we pursue our dreams, grow in Him, inspire others, and give Him glory in the process?   Allowing ourselves to dream is very healthy.  C.S. Lewis once said, “We are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.”  In the following, we are not only going to encourage you to dream big, but I will share with you some of my personal experiences and give you a template for taking your own horsey dreams and making them your reality. 

Space to Dream

I love winter for only one reason!  I’m ready for the change of pace.  After pushing myself so hard during the busy show season, it’s nice to shift gears a little.  It’s a place we call recovery time.  A time that’s so important but often under-valued and overlooked.  My horses and I work very hard during the busy show season.  To be our best physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually, and to come back strong in the New Year, it’s important that I give my horses and myself a break.  As James Loehr reminds us in his book Toughness Training for Life, we need to rest as hard as we work.  Just as our muscles need a break so do our emotions and our brain.  It’s important to allow space in our busy lives.  When we do it gives our minds the opportunity to dream. 


  • Do you feel you (and your horse) get adequate recovery time (physically, mentally, emotionally)?  Do you rest as hard as you work or play? 
  • Make a list of how you recover.  What are some things that really feed your soul?  Are you consistently getting these in your schedule?
  • Have you created enough margins in your life to free yourself up to dream?
  • What, if anything, holds you back from pursuing your dreams?

No Limitations to Dreaming

The feeling I have during the recovery months is like a big deep breath; an end.  It’s pretty much the opposite feeling I have in January.  Although it’s still winter in Northern Idaho, it’s also a new beginning.  The New Year is so exciting for me!  I’m a big dreamer by nature.  My struggle is narrowing my dreams down into goals and action steps to make them my reality.  A quick fix for this problem is entering a big show or a big competition that stretches me.  I’m able to quickly narrow things down and my dream suddenly becomes more focused.  


  • Take the time to brainstorm your dreams for you and your horse.
  • While dreaming do not limit yourself by money, time, energy, fitness, skill, etc.   We can tackle those things later.  Let your mind go to places it may have never been since you were a child.
  • Now pick your top dream.  Does it stretch you to learn and grow but with hard work is still achievable?
  • Is there a specific time line for this dream?  As they say, a dream is a goal without legs.  Put some legs on your dream by giving it a time line.  A competition date makes for an easy time line.

Make a Plan

After I get my big goal on my calendar, I then break it down into smaller goals.  Last year, my big goal was Top Hand at the Cowboy Dressage Finals Gathering.  I had to honestly look at where I was with my skill level as a rider and a trainer.   And I had to take an honest look at where my horse was in his training.  Frankly, after I rode Challenge Test #2 a few times, I was wondering if I took on a little more than my horse and I could handle.  But that’s what’s so great about a big goal; it pushes us to places and teaches us things we never would have gone to or learned about without pursuing the experience. 

My other big goal was that I wanted to ride two different horses in the Freestyle competition.  One I did with the Garrocha pole and the other I did bridleless.   Although one of my horses didn’t travel very well bridleless, I didn’t feel I was lacking in my skill level or that my horses didn’t have the training they needed to get the job done.  My challenge with a Freestyle routine is my personal standards.  I want it to be meaningful to me and hopefully the crowd.  I want it to be visually appealing with an appropriate outfit/costume.  Plus, I really like the routine to be well choreographed (those that do this know it’s much easier said than done).  What I’m trying to say is, with my own self-imposed standards and my own limitations, Freestyle can be stressful for me and become a big goal.


  • Take the time to honestly look at your own skills as a rider/trainer.  Where are your specific weaknesses?  Do you lack knowledge?  Or is it more physical?
  • What are a couple of baby goals to help you grow and become a more effective partner for your horse?
  • Now look at your horse honestly.  Where is he lacking in his training?  Is it foundational?  Or has he been at the same level for quite awhile without his training moving forward?
  • Look honestly at your personal situation.  Time, money, season of life, resources, etc. all need to be considered before tackling a big dream or goal. 
  • If you need help with this evaluation, don’t hesitate to ask a professional.  Sometimes when we get an honest evaluation, it might send us back to picking a more achievable goal for the current year.  But don’t let that derail you.   It will be time well spent because you will still be working towards your bigger goal. This is a process and we need to love the process. 

Intermittent Goals and Time Lines

Top Hand and Freestyle were my two big goals for last year and I definitely had a time line: the CD Finals.  After I knew specifically what I was going to do, and had honestly looked at myself as a trainer, my horses training level, and my personal situation, I could make a monthly plan to help fill in my and my horse’s weaknesses. Plus I could set some intermittent time line goals.

I scheduled many smaller, less important events, shows, play dates, etc. every month leading up to the Finals.  For example, I performed at events where I could do my Freestyle in front of a crowd.  I signed up for a couple of clinics.  I took a few lessons.  I attended some smaller open and CD shows.  I planned trail rides just to give my horses a mental break but still keep them physically fit.  I made a point to go places and spend the night with my horses.  All these things were specifically scheduled, not for just fun, but to help us toward my bigger goals:  Top Hand and Freestyle.


  • Looking at you and your horse’s weak areas, what do you think you would benefit from?  One on one lessons?  A clinic?  Getting out and about more?
  • What about you as a competitor? Do you need practice in stressful, intense situations?
  • What events, shows, clinics, etc. can you schedule that would help you set some intermittent goals and time lines on your journey to your bigger goal?

Daily Habits and Sacrifices

After I had my schedule set, I then broke my intermittent goals down into daily habits.  Daily habits are so important.  Consistency is key to transformation.  We cannot hit and miss and expect any change.  As Joe Frazier once said, “Champions aren’t made in the ring; they’re merely recognized there.  What you cheat on in the early light of the morning will show up in the ring under the bright lights.”  Or as an English poet once put it, “We first make our habits, then our habits make us.”  We can’t force training, but we can show up and nurture the process.  

I know, for myself, I have to give up a few things in my life and schedule if I want to be serious about pursuing a goal.  I have to say “no” sometimes to myself and to others.  Yes, that can be hard at times but those that love us will understand.  And in the end the sacrifice can be so worth it!


  • Are you serious about your dream…your goal?
  • What are you willing to give up to pursue your dream?
  • What kind of daily habits do you need to establish in your life to making your riding/training more consistent?
  • It’s always good to have a lesson plan and a schedule, but do you listen to what your horse is telling you he needs?  A good leader can adjust when needed.

Make This Year the Year!

In closing, although there can be much more to this goal setting process, I hope this blog was helpful and will get you started on the way to your horsey dreams.  Remember, it’s healthy to dream.  It is a way that God speaks to us uniquely.  Dreams might be a way to discover our purpose in life.  Don’t ignore them!  Get excited about the person you will become for taking a courageous step in following your dreams!

 If you want to learn more or want some personal help with your dreams and goals, please give us a call.  We are coaches at MM Training; our passion is helping others achieve their dreams.  We would love to work with you!

For more information on goals and goal-setting to reach your dreams please see our website at


Celebrating Successes - How Cowboy Dressage and Liberty Have Helped Us Define Success

As you look back on 2015, have you considered and celebrated your successes?  How do you define success?  Stephen Covey suggests that success is very personal, and each individual has a different definition.  For some, wealth or fame makes a person successful.  Others consider the quantity or quality of their relationships.  Webster’s dictionary defines it as the accomplishment of an aim or purpose, the attainment of popularity or profit or as a person or thing that achieves desired aims or attains prosperity.  At MM Training and Consulting we believe that having a solid foundation of horsemanship and relationship skills, rooted in faith and principle, coupled with a strong work ethic and commitment to growth, leads to success.  We celebrate the successes we’ve had in the last couple of years and share them with you.  

Foundation of horsemanship and relationship skills

In 2014, when Marcia decided to compete in the American Horsewoman’s Challenge, none of us knew how much it would test her horsemanship skills and all of our relationship skills.  The three components of the Challenge – Liberty, Cowboy Dressage, and Competitive Trail – seemed fun and interesting.  Liberty and Cowboy Dressage were new to us but we had always had a systematic ground-training program and liberty appeared to just be the next step.  Sign us up – we were ready to take on the Challenge!  It didn’t take long for us to figure out that liberty was a whole new ball game.  Marcia spent hours and hours working with her young gelding, Stretch, to prepare for the liberty section of the Challenge.  Never had their relationship been so tested, and never had Marcia worked a horse on the ground to this degree.  It was intense; yet, the rewards were evident and lasting.  Marcia’s horsemanship went to a whole new level as she experienced a new degree of awareness of her body language and developed a deeper connection with Stretch.  This was success before we ever even got to Oklahoma and the competition. 

 On the people side of things, we developed a team to take our show on the road.  Kori, Marcia and I drove all the way to Oklahoma in two days.  We spent five days there in full-tilt competition mode.   Then we spent three days driving back.  It took extreme thought, energy, commitment, communication and tolerance, for us not only to survive the trip but also to triumph in the midst of stress.  We worked as a team, gave each other grace, and appreciated each other’s strengths.  Many people commented on how great our team was and how well we worked together.  This was the picture of success. 

 There were the external rewards of Marcia’s placing first in Cowboy Dressage and top 5 overall.  The money, trophies and kudos were nice.  The true success came from the deepening of relationships, both horse and human.

 Rooted in faith and principles  

Zappos CEO, Tony Hsieh, says success is about living in accordance with your values.

“Your personal core values define who you are. For individuals, character is destiny,” he says. 

Going into the 2014 American Horsewoman’s Challenge, we knew that there would be some testing of our horsemanship principles.  The Challenge was specifically for trainers, and had a time constraint of six months.  The horses could have no more than ten rides at the beginning of the training period and in many cases that meant the horse would be young.  In Marcia’s case, Stretch was a 3 year old.  I figured with the expertise we were facing in terms of the trainers competing, Marcia would have to expect to reach a level of training where Stretch would be able to do a consistent flying lead change. That would potentially be a physical, mental and emotional stress for him.  Marcia and I sat down to talk about what she wanted to achieve during this competition.  We didn’t talk about placings or money or notoriety.  We talked about the best way to take care of Stretch mentally, emotionally and physically and how to bring glory to God while we were there.  Setting parameters to stay within the boundaries of our faith and principles helped us achieve freedom to easily make the decisions that needed to be made along the way.  In the end, Stretch was able to do multiple beautiful flying lead changes as well as perform bridleless.   But the real success was setting the boundaries that we return to again and again to help us stay in alignment with our faith and beliefs.  This was success. 

When Marcia and Stretch competed in the Top Hand competition at the Cowboy Dressage World Finals Gathering in 2015, we returned to the values and principles of taking care of Stretch mentally, emotionally, and physically.  This included turn out and rest time at the show, not drilling patterns, not expecting more than Stretch had been trained for, taking time to connect with him, and maintaining his usual good routine of care.  Top Hand stretched over several days and included increasing levels of stress.  Stretch handled it all beautifully and he and Marcia came away as Reserve Champion Top Hand.  That’s the payoff for sticking by your values and principles while under the pressures of competition.

Work ethic   

Thomas Edison - holder of over 1,000 patents - had an insane work ethic.  He stated, “Success is 1% inspiration, 99% perspiration.” 

People sometimes discount the value of hard work.  Sayings like “work smarter, not harder” are valid in certain situations, but often the difference between success and failure is the amount of “perspiration equity” that has been invested.

When Marcia was planning for 2015 and considering new challenges, I mentioned to her that her older gelding, Sam, looked like an excellent Cowboy Dressage prospect.  He is a reining cow horse, with a nice handle and amazing athletic ability.  I had a picture in my head of Marcia and Sam doing a La Garrocha freestyle routine.  Marcia could see the vision, and off she went. 

Traditionally, the Garrocha was a pole used by vaqueros to work cattle, and especially fight bulls.  Today, the Garrocha pole is used as a prop in a kind of dance with horse and rider.  It requires surprising precision and control to achieve the perfect circles and other movements with the pole.  Then there is the difficulty of handling the pole in a graceful manner while riding the horse one-handed with soft feel.    Holding a fourteen-foot pole in one hand can become shockingly difficult and awkward when doing a rollback or spin. 

There was no doubt that Sam had what it took physically, and mentally he is a happy boy who can handle the stress of learning very well.  It was the emotional part that we knew would be tricky.  He has a ton of energy, can be quite silly when exposed to new things or places, and has a hard time being focused and precise.  Just to get his energy to a level where he could focus on learning took a lot of time each ride.  It was hours and hours of riding, day after day, which got Sam to the point where he was able to perform successfully.  Marcia’s work ethic really came to the forefront and it paid off.  Success was measured by Sam’s ability to listen and focus, his soft response, and his happy expression. The freestyle wins and placings at the 2015 Cowboy Dressage Gatherings in Bend, Oregon, and Rancho Murieta, California, were just the icing on the cake.

Commitment to growth

Taking on a new discipline in the midst of preparing for the biggest competition you have ever faced may sound a bit crazy.  But when Cowboy Dressage was billed as part of the American Horsewoman’s Challenge, it was exciting to dive into learning about this specialty.  We had experienced the Cowboy Dressage culture at the 2013 World Gathering and knew that it was a great fit for us.  Now, we just had to learn all the details.  Simple, right?  Well, in a way it was and in a way it wasn’t.  Cowboy Dressage’s guiding principle of soft feel was something we had been living for a long time.  But there were many things to learn about forward movement, lifting the forehand, the court, the challenge court and the nuances of the detailed simplicity that is Cowboy Dressage.  We decided we wanted to learn it from the founder himself, Eitan Beth-Halachmy, and found a clinic with him that was within driving range, near Tahoe, in Nevada.  We invested the time, money, and “sweat equity” and we had great return on our investment.  When you attend a clinic you learn both what to do and what not to do, and there is wisdom in both.  Getting to know Eitan and his wife, Debbie, and discovering that we loved Cowboy Dressage as much as we thought we would, was life and goal changing.  Our commitment to learning and growing in Cowboy Dressage has led to many successes, both personally and professionally.  We have met countless amazing people with similar faith and principles, developed wonderful relationships, experienced a culture of kindness, worked hard and had fun, and grown in our horsemanship skills.  That’s what we call success!

We invite you to share in numerous upcoming success opportunities in 2016!  Check out our Upcoming Events here.


Cowboy Dressage: Adding Physical and Emotional Resiliency to Your Mental Game

Hello fellow Cowboy Dressage enthusiasts! The Gathering and Finals is getting closer and closer! We are so excited for this Gathering. For us, it is a chance to meet again with friends from all over and celebrate this discipline that we love! Thanks for this opportunity to connect again before we meet in person. This is the second part of a two-part blog. In Part 1, our conversation centered on the mental aspect of our preparation for competition. In this blog we will focus on the physical and emotional components.

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Cowboy Dressage: It's a Mental Game!

Hey, fellow Cowboy Dressage competitors, are you feeling the anticipation for the Finals in November? The excitement is growing here at MM Training and Consulting! As we build-up to the show, we are rooting ourselves in the spirit and culture of Cowboy Dressage. Focusing on relationship, encouragement, communication, community, and learning and growing from each other, we want to take this opportunity to start a conversation with fellow contestants about the mental and emotional side of competing in Cowboy Dressage.

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What Dr. Miller Says About Cowboy Dressage

When we attended the Cowboy Dressage World Show, we had the honor of meeting Dr. Robert Miller, a renowned veterinarian who is known for his imprinting techniques and empathy for the horse.  When asked why he likes Cowboy Dressage, Dr. Miller said the following:
 “There are several things that I am enthused about in Cowboy Dressage.
 1. It is one of the rare horse-show events that is not potentially damaging to the horse’s limbs. (Another is the trail class and ranch pleasure).
 All others I can think of, (under saddle) can do harm, especially if done to excess, to an immature horse (under 5 years of age).
 2. This discipline will demonstrate that proper collection is possible on a loose rein, without excessive contact. 
 3. It will also help to sophisticate Western Horsemanship.”

We appreciate Dr. Miller’s perspective and whole heartedly agree with him.

We will be attending a Cowboy Dressage Clinic this June.  We look forward to bringing back knowledge and techniques about this exciting discipline and sharing them with you.