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Find Joy in Unexpected

Anyone who knows me would agree that I am not the best person in the world when it comes to dealing with the unexpected or unknown. I thrive on knowing the facts, gathering data, and making logical informed decisions. But recently, I have learned the value of finding joy in the unexpected.

Here is a little story of how…..

Over the last few months I have been pondering ways to work on my horsemanship, learning from more horses, but in a way that maybe “breaks even” financially for us- or even be a little bit profitable. As many horse(wo)men can relate- the journey is not often one paved with gold.

I already have my husband sighing in defeat-since we currently own- not one, but TWO, OTTBs until at least October. He has quickly realized they require twice the care, eat twice as much, and that they need to be wrapped in bubble wrap and a nightly prayer to the Gods for no mysterious injuries the next day.

So, in comes my bright idea. I have lost *almost* enough weight to ride any size pony, but am defnitely good to go on bigger med/large ones. Well trained ponies bring big money, especially fancy ones, and ponies are fairly easy to upkeep and mostly live on air- so what better way to work on restarting more horses AND keeping us from getting more in the red- than to buy a few ponies and restart them. Then, we can resale them over the next year and all is well.

So I put out an advert in several pony Facebook pages, looking for a cute, cheap project over the winter months.

Enter stage left- Shamen’s Falcon (aka: Shermie). Now his owner said he was a halfinger cross, and sent some pictures over. She gave me a little background on him, and we arranged an appointment to come see him. She even sent me a few pictures too.

Shermie’s original picture

I have had halfingers in the past, so I thought- hmmm, large pony, stocky enough for small adult to ride, I like their mild tempermant- what a GREAT fit for our first go round with re-training a pony.

I hooked up the trailer, told everyone how excited I was to be going pony shopping and headed out on my adventure one Friday afternoon in late December.

Well, needless to say- 2 hours later the site that greeted me was unexpected. As I pulled off the ice- lined gravel road I had been traveling for 6 miles, I was greeted to the sight of a rather LARGE painted HORSE dragging a woman around the yard for dead grass near an aging farmhouse.

As I got out of the truck and approached, I quickly realized this was more than I bargained for- LITERALLY. Sherman was huge! In my defense (as an experienced horse person should be able to tell the difference in a horse and a pony) the pictures literally had no discernible “frames of reference”- no trees, no human standing near, and no other horses. Additionally, I had put out an advert for a pony- so I guess I expected responses to be….. ponies.

The older couple who owned Sherman explained his background and told me how long it had been since anyone had done anything with him (years), that he had not had his feet done in a while (years), and that he basically had stood in the field for the last little bit with his friends (again, YEARS). As he stood there staring off at his friends in the field, and hollering every other minute- I looked deep in his eyes and something special was there.

I sighed and asked the woman if she would take a paltry amount for him, IF he loaded easily into my trailer. She agreed, and once Sherman hopped on the trailer, we exchanged formalities and paperwork and down the road we went.

Shermie’s first night home- looks like jail and he felt like it was too!

The first call I made was to my husband, who was a little in disbelief that I bought another horse. I think the conversation went as follows:

Me: Hey, Honey….. so I am headed home.

Dan: Did you buy the pony?

Me: Well, I bought him….. He is about as tall as JT (my 15.1 hh QH) and as big around as Zeus in the winter (my hibernating WBX around 1400 lbs)…

Dan: So…. a HORSE. You bought ANOTHER HORSE. (SIGH)

As I headed home, for every stop for gas, or for every red light, Sherman starting kicking, hollering, and rocking the entire trailer. I questioned my sanity many times on those 2 hours home. Mostly, as I stopped for gas in $10 intervals- because that was all I could pump before the trailer started being kicked to death- thank goodness for steel trailers I guess.

Once home, Sherman was a mess for about the first week. He was buddy sour, hated being in, could not make a friend outside, and was pushy on the ground. But, as we started to work together, I saw that special something in him come to light time and time again.

Fast forward almost 60 days and Shermie is a bright light in my day more and more. When I go to the barn and feel tired or stressed- he is the first of my restarts I reach for. Why? Because he makes me smile, and feel joy- often like when I was a child. When I just worked with horses for the sheer joy and happiness they brought to my soul. Is he always “perfect” or “good” for our training sessions? No, of course not, but he is always honest and genuine with his feelings and he makes me smile and laugh and appreciate life.

He has come so far. He does great ground work, stands tied, picks up feet nicely, tarps and ropes are no big deal, and he has massively improved with bridling and saddling issues, as well as learning to stand at fence for mounting. He really just had to re-learn all the things he already had been shown by humans- but in the right way. We have now had a handful of quiet rides in the indoor and I am looking forward to continuing to help him thru his challenges the next month or so.

With around another 30 days, I hope to find Shermie a new home. A home that will appreciate his charm, will understand his personality, and will be his friend- day in and day out. I cannot wait to see what the future holds for him, and I am so glad that I was able to find such joy- in the most unexpected place- with a horse, NOT a pony, named Shermie.

We Are In! Now What?!?

Our excited announcement video! Sunday on left, and Calvin on right

We are in! Sunday, Calvin, and I have been accepted into the 2020 RRP TB Makeover. The news came a day early, but we were happy to hear it anyway. Although the competition is a trainer competition- I feel like the OTTBs who are brought along as the actual stars. So, I like to say we are accepted, not me. To me, It all about showcasing the horses, not showing off as a trainer.

So, after the initial giddiness wore off- I had to ask myself, “What now?” I think, for me, I have been training the horses in groundwork the last month and making a connection with each of them- as if we were already accepted. Not doing anything different than I would if we weren’t, because I wanted these guys to have the best foundation, and the best chance at a second career. So, it gave me pause to think about what I should do now that we WERE accepted.

I decided the answer was simple- NOTHING. For our journey, it is important to stay on the path we have started down. A path that is unwavering in the commitment to do right by the horse, no matter the cost. So, I will continue on with our current plans- taking each step as the horse is ready, building a solid foundation, and giving them the best chance to succeed in their (2nd) career.

Because in the end, I am not training them for October. I am training them for the rest of their lives AFTER October.

Working with Calvin on softness and poll down during haltering.

So, I have to stay true to this journey and this plan. And believe me, it can be hard, full of self-doubt, and sometimes seem impossible to get to the end- but I recently realized I really only feel those things when I start to COMPARE our journey to others.

Social media is fantastic in some ways, and so NOT in others. When you are working in -20 degrees and just trying to build a connection and harmony with your OTTBs- it can feel like you are light years behind those on your FB group posting full barrel patterns or cantering courses in February.

But, as a good friend pointed out- “if you do it like everyone else, you might get the same results as them.” True statement. And maybe I don’t want some of the same results, and maybe some of them I do. Either way, I KNOW what the results will be if I march to the beat of our own drum- the horses will have a horsemanship foundation that will hold up for them- no matter the discipline, the owner, the environment, or the event. And wasn’t that my goal all along in getting back into restarting OTTBs and entering the Makeover anyway?!?

So, what are we going to do now that we are accepted?

  • We are going to continue on our horsemanship journey- as far as it can take us.
  • We are going to stay positive and compare ourselves to no one, because only then do the possibilities for what WE can achieve become evident.
  • I am going to do what is right by the horse and for the horse- no matter if it leads to KY in October, or somewhere else.
  • We are going to enjoy the process, and share with others- in hopes of promoting these great horses and being an ambassador for our sport.

So, look for us- we may be on another path, or miles behind, or maybe even miles ahead.

But, we will be out there, on our journey, working towards being the best versions of horse and rider we can be- for October and beyond.

Love their stall guards- just like at track!

Back to Blogging- It’s all about Balance

So, I recently realized that it had been a minute since I blogged, and I mean a HOT minute. Every few days, I would think- “Man, I need to post a new blog…”- then days became weeks and weeks became MONTHS. And here we are. So, if sharing my journey thru horsemanship is important to me- then why am I not making the blog a bigger priority? This was the question I asked myself.

Part of the challenge for me with social media- is figuring out a balance between actually LIVING THE LIFE I am striving for, and spending valuable time TALKING about living that life- whether it is blogging, vlogging, FBing, or Instagramming- it all takes time that I would rather spend RIDING my horses, than TALKING about riding my horses.

I think this challenge and finding a balance is something that many other dedicated equestrians struggle with as well. I know many quality horseman who are not big into social media- often, it seems to be credited that this is due to their lack of “technology” awareness and skills, or their apathy for all the time we spend glued to our phones instead of interacting with real humans, or living creatures like our horses. But, I think part of it is this element of balance in our lives.

For me, the last few months have been a whirlwind of awesome break thrus for me and exciting developments in my horsemanship. So, why have I not been sharing them? Well, I have been too busy trying to keep up with living them, and learning to be positive in the moment and with in each experience.

So, this brings me back to the blog. Since our last post, several exciting things have happened:

  1. I sold Flash! He now has a great home with a new owner and will be doing horsemanship, some local shows, and bonding with his new teen owner.

2. I am working on expanding my business and will be starting off 2020 with a bang- taking in clients at my on-site location for training and boarding in my new Horsemanship Program.

We will also be working on offer a select group of sale horses for 2020- and I am excited to get this going as well!

3. I have just finalized details to host my mentor Barb Gerbitz in Des Moines for a clinic in May 2020 and I am so excited for this opportunity to have her come out!

4. I just spent the weekend in Kentucky finding two FANTASTIC OTTB prospects for the 2020 RRP TB Makeover. I cannot wait to get them home and share all of our journey with everyone!

So, with these and many other exciting horsemanship strides coming up for 2020- I have decided that I will make the TIME to share some of our struggles, our successes, and our moments of learning.

Because sharing and inspiring is a huge part of why I started BN Spired Horsemanship- to be able to relate to and with others in a positive and progressive manner on all things related to growing in our horsemanship.

So, be ready- because the BLOG is BACK!

Talk soon!

Lela

More Buck and a little bit of O.R.C.A

So, it has been a hectic few weeks for BN Spired Horsemanship. We have been teaching, training, and attending back to back to back Buck Brannaman clinics over the last three weeks…. on top of working my “normal” day job! 

I took this past weekend off to recharge and reset and to give the horses a break, and this week we got back to work. As we returned to our routine, I recognized a few key thoughts that I wanted to share.  I am a pretty analytical thinker, so applyng Ray Hunt’s principle of “ORCA” to our last few weeks helps me to process where we are and where we need to go.

ORCA stands for: Observe, Remember, Compare, and Adjust. This principle is a key for success in my horsemanship- both on a daily work session and in a bigger sense. So, here are a few of my observations:

First and foremost, the focus and awareness garnered riding with Buck in back to back clinics was priceless for my progression and my horses’ as well. I rode Flash in my 2nd clinic in Lake St. Louis over Labor Day weekend, and the progress this little green OTTB made over the course of three days was phenomenal. I made the comment to a friend that he came further in three days than in the last month. This just showed me what discipline, awareness, focus, and a great mentor like Buck can do for our horsemanship. 

Flash and I- Day 2- Buck Brannaman Lake St. Louis

The second observation I returned home with is how far my Warmblood Zeus has come over the last year or two, and especially our trajectory the last 6 months or so. I attribute all of our progress to Buck and the horsemanship he so graciously shares with anyone willing to learn and apply themselves.

From hauling to stalling for long periods, to doing groundwork in a storm in a barn aisle at 1 am, to being a good leader and example for Flash, and riding solo in pristine arenas he has never seen- this guy was SOLID! In each new location, no SPOOKING (!) or hyperactivity, no feeding off other horses energy, and complete focus on what we were working on and giving me 100% every ride.

Buck was asked at both clinics how he keeps his horses quiet and focused with so many new places and traveling and being stalled 24/7. He responded, ” When this stuff (horsemanship) starts working, and you are getting to the horse’s feet- they start to become less troubled mentally. This mental peace is what allows them to keep a good frame of mind, regardless of the environmental factors.”

For me, this is a HUGE change I have seen in Zeus at the last 3 clinics- especially compared to ones prior. He is super calm, relaxed, and not impatient in his stall or riding.

It makes me feel so hopeful for our continued progression, and I actually feel like getting him to the Hackamore stage by next fall is completely possible. I feel so blessed and excited to work with him every chance I get and cannot wait for our next adventure.

Zeus and I cantering on a loose rein at lunch time- Buck Lake. St. Louis

So, now that I am home and have done some reflecting- I realize that often the hardest part of ORCA is the “Adjusting” portion. Often, it is easy to have momentum at a clinic- when you are motivated, have no external distractions, and are super focused. When you return home, keeping the momentum going by “adjusting” your game plan is often a little harder to achieve on your own.

For me, it comes down to keeping the same level of expectations for myself and my horses as I had at the clinic. I have to remember what each horse progressed to, and start from there- not from the place I was at before I went to clinic. This is a key factor to understand when progressing horses in a positive and timely manner.

So, I ride them where they are- not where I left them last week, last month, or even a day ago. I try to check off each progression and move on until we reach our full potential for the ride. I also work to remember to make my horse a winner each ride, but not to avoid progressions that are “hard”- that is where our learning really takes place- right at the edge of our abilities.

Buck Sharing Wisdom in Lake St. Louis- Labor Day Weekend

So, I am going to keep striving to remember all I learned from Buck over the last two weekends, and keep learning daily from my horses. I am off to another clinic this weekend with the awesome Barb Gerbitz and hope to share more knowledge in next week’s blog. Until then- keep riding, keep THINKING, and keep believing.

“You have to LIVE it……”

This weekend I had the utmost opportunity to work on my horsemanship riding with Buck Brannaman in Omaha, NE. To say that this is always a privilege is almost too simplistic a statement for what Buck graciously brings and shares with all of us at these clinics.

Buck sharing his wisdom with the Foundation Class.

I rode in the Horsemanship 1 afternoon class with my warmblood Zeus, and audited the morning Foundation class. I could talk about what all I gained from the clinic and all the amazing moments I had with Zeus, but I thought that it would be more important to share some key points that Buck shared over the weekend. Of course, I hope I can do him justice conveying forward the principles he gave us all- although no one talks about or demonstrates true horsemanship better than the man himself.

The foundation class started out each day working on groundwork. Buck was quick to emphasis two key points in the groundwork. #1- not enough people do it, do it well, or do it enough. #2- Quality groundwork can save your life, and keep both you and your horse out of trouble. The first few exercises Buck went over on the first day revolved around making sure your horse would yield to you, making sure they were free from fear by testing out working with a flag, and by getting the horse to properly operate their hindquarters. Buck was gracious about spending as much time as it needed on the explanation and demonstration of these principles before giving everyone a little project to work on.

Some of the most prolific statements he made in the foundation class were as follows:

  1. “The most loving thing you can do for your horse is to be a leader and learn to set boundaries by saying “No.” AND meaning it. “
  2. “Horse operate from one premise- Do I move you or do you move me? Answer always needs to be that the human moves the horse, or you are gonna be in trouble.”
  3. “You have to often work thru the fear a horse has before you can gain their respect. “
  4. “I am always asking 2 ?s when I step to the hind quarters- Are you soft on the rein? and Do I need to drive you? If answer is (no) to first and (yes) to second- I keep at it until it works out. “
  5. “Getting a horse to break over in the hind quarters (disengagement) is NOT a disciplinary move- it should be a comfort to the horse.”
Buck on his newest colt, Manny.

In the horsemanship class, Buck continued to share many moments of clarity and knowledge with all the participants. We worked on mounted exercises ranging from walking loose rein circles, to leg yields at the trot, to haunches in, to canter work. Buck made some points that bear repeating, and apply to our day to day horsemanship journey as well.

  1. “It takes a lot to do the right thing with conscetious thought IN THE MOMENT.” – Buck talked a lot about how riders often understand the concepts he is explaining, but that being able to do them with timing, and feel- when needed while riding is what makes true horsemen.
  2. Buck also emphasized that to get some of the skills need to ride well, we needed to work on having a Plan A and a Plan B, and to know when to use them.
  3. He also talked about the importance of learning footfalls and counting cadence, in order to improve your timing with the horse.
  4. Buck also made sure to repeat often that things should be done with the horse incrementally, and to not expect everything all at once- this can lead to confusion and frustration for the horse when they are learning.
  5. To Buck, Life in the horse was defined as being 2 factors- Punctuality and Lightness in the horse.
  6. When discussing getting a horse cantering accurately and comfortably: “Make sure to slow back down (to trot) while things are still going good, while the horse is a winner. Often, people wait until a horse is careening around out of control and then they try to stop- when it makes the horse a loser instead. Why? Why not stop when the horse is still being successful instead.”
  7. ” Reins are for directing the horse, not for dragging them.”
  8. When horses are nervous/energetic: “Stop trying to STOP the excess energy and direct it into a good cause instead.”

All in all, it is hard to put into words how humbling and enlightening it is to see Buck Brannaman and learn all you can from him at these clinics. The items above do not even scratch the surface of the knowledge that was shared this past weekend. Just getting to observe and watch Buck ride and visualize the expression on his horses and try to replicate it in moments with your own horse is a priceless gift.

I think Buck said it best when he explained, “This (horsemanship) is hard. It takes diligence to get good. You can’t just dabble at it, you can’t be mediocre. If you are in it for the horse, and you really want to progress- you have to LIVE this stuff.”

Zeus and I at the end of Day 2- all smiles!

The Enemy within our Sport- Bullying in the World of Equestrians

If you have been around the equestrian world for any length of time at all- you have seen or heard it. The snide comment at a show about how “that girl” showed up with used breeches, a less than stellar saddle, or a horse that did not fit the model breed standard. The whispers in the barn aisle when a new boarder arrives, and doesn’t seem to like to gossip or follow the crowd.

Whatever the scenario, we have all witnessed, and maybe even been a part of, bullying in our industry. Sometimes we all laugh and joke about “barn drama” or how “crazy” horse people are. There are a million memes about it and Youtube videos dedicated to it. But behind all the jokes and humor runs a vein of truth, and it’s a problem.

People may think that the word bullying is too strong to use for many of the situations we see in our sport, but is it? Gossiping, negativity, bad sportsmanship, placing a win over all else- aren’t these the stepping stones to bullying and even more serious issues- like harassment and even abuse (mental, emotional, or physical).

There have been 2-3 instances in the news, just in the last week, in the equine community, that have shown that this negative culture is out there. Sexual harassment, a shooting, and a domestic dispute- this is not the rundown of the nightly news in a metropolis. These are the issues we are facing at the highest levels of our sport across all disciplines.

Articles on gossip and bullying in out industry are popping up everywhere. HorseNetwork.com published one yesterday, thehorse.com last week, and Practical Horseman last month.

So, where does this culture we have created come from? I think part of the issue is that our sport is often based around competing, winning, and supporting the individual over the group. There are many aspects of the equine world, especially if you are showing, no matter the discipline, that revolve around “proving yourself”- to judges, to peers, to coaches, to the people investing money in your future. This type of pressure tends to bring out the best traits in some, but often the worst traits in many others.

When you really think about it- I bet any one of us has a dozen examples throughout our riding career of being bullied in some way. I know I do. Starting out my riding career as a lower middle class working student, who rode whatever her trainer allowed, and had hand-me-down show clothes- 100% you bet teenage Lela heard the whispers at the shows.

And when you grow up- it is often worse, not better. Being a professional horseman as a career is NOT easy, no matter what anyone tells you. Finding rides, clients, lessons- it’s all a competition of a sort- even if you are not showing. Limited clientele with disposable income means that there is always a push and pull for trainers to get the “upper hand” and gain those clients in their chosen discipline or riding circle. You are often forced to be the wolf or the sheep. When I think back on my 20s- I probably was often the wolf- just so I did not get eaten alive.

This probably resulted in my unknowing participation in creating this negative culture as well. I was always looking for the win- for myself, my students, my horses. Trying to prove I was good enough to make it in the industry-regardless of my social standing. So, was I friendly and open-hearted to other trainers? Probably not. Did I make comments on how other riders needed to work on their equitation or get their horses “spiffier” for the show? Probably.

In my 30’s, I had an awakening of sorts. I realized I wanted to be more- as a human being, as a horseman, and as a member of my equine community. I tried to drop my guard a little- be less bossy, stop throwing my bravado around like confetti, and stop placing less value on other horseman to feel more valuable myself. I tried to be more open to having positive, meaningful interactions with others in my sport. And as often happens, I found that within my daily equine life- I had myself surrounded by other wolves, they run in packs you know. Only now they thought I was a sheep.

I lived in a perpetual state of anxiety within my equine community for about a year and a half. It took me a while to realize that I was really being bullied and harassed, and even longer to realize that the only thing that could change that was fact was me. I lost confidence, so-called friends, and even changed jobs to get to a place where I felt positive and comfortable in our industry. When I started talking to new, better, more positive peers and mentors- I quickly realized that what happened to me, happens to just about all of us.

Surround yourself with like minded individuals.

So, what do we do about it? I think the first step is to look within ourselves daily and ask one question? AM I BEING THE BEST VERSION OF ME TODAY?

The best version of you is the one who builds others up, not tears them down. The best version of you is one who is friendly to the new girl at the barn, without talking trash about her later behind her back to the other barn girls. The best version of you seeks out others who have the same positive goals, vision, and aspirations for the industry. The best version of you is the one who cheers for her friend when she rides better than you or beats you in the class for the day.

Be around those who inspire and aspire in the same positive way!

Because the truth is that the only way we are going to change this high competitive, individualized industry is TOGETHER. So, go outside your comfort zone, stop doing the things you have always done, and find your “tribe”. Help start a movement towards positive change in our sport. Instead of intimidating others,- try to inspire them. Need help getting started on the journey? Find someone already walking it- we are out there and welcome all who want to join! As a great horseman once said- “Be a part of the solution, not the problem.”

Hello. It’s Me.

Zeus and I at recent clinic

I though that for my first official weekly blog post, I would share a little about myself and my main horse, Zeus.

I thought if I share where I am coming from and where I am going: you might recognize some common ground, or see something inspirational along the way. 
I started off with horses at a young age. You all remember I am sure- the age where you fell in love with horses, and felt that draw that made you want to be near them- no matter what. If we could bottle that feeling, I am sure it would be the most addictive drug in the world. But, as many of us do- I started to think that as I grew up I could turn my passion into a career, and I did. But, as many people do- I began to pay the price for turning my passion into work. I got caught up in the pressures of our industry and although I thought I was doing right by the horse- I started to realize, maybe it was not the best I could do. 

Often times in the horse world, we get caught up. Caught up in the drama, caught up in the showing, the winning, the failures, the successes, the friends, the foes- you know- ALL THE THINGS. The problem I learned with being caught up in all things “horsey” is that all too often we are swept away by it as well. 

What does that mean? I think it really means we get lost. Horses become a way to prove something- to ourselves, to others, to judges, to peers and in that moment- we lose the ability to really connect with the horse because his perspective is lost. It becomes all about US- the human- and what the horse can do FOR us to achieve our goals. 

I am striving to break this model and mold and get back to what really matters each day- the HORSE. I am striving to find better ways to communicate and understand things from their perspective, so we can both learn from the interactions.

No horse has taught me the value of this lesson more than my warmblood Zeus. I have owned Zeus for about 6 years, and it has been a long path to where we are now. People see us ride today and comment on how willing a partner he is, and how nicely trained, etc. But, what they don’t see is all the sweat, tears, grit, and growth it took on my part, as the human, to meet Zeus where he was (and is) each and every ride.

Zeus started out as a greenie- who was a little “lookie loo” but fairly rideable. Thru a cross-country move, time off, and bad training decisions, he unraveled over a year or so into something I could not seem to communicate with or ride successfully, or even safely. Spooking, bolting, running off at the gate, impossible to ride anywhere but in a small arena indoor arena, afraid of EVERYTHING, prone to do a 180* in weather like wind or storms. Frustrated, I put him up for sale TWICE, but felt responsible for making his life better- not passing along my problems to someone else and something about him pulled at my heart- always. We were a wreck- and by we, I mean me. With every failed ride, I got more and more emotional, frustrated, and lost.

A friend of mine (who I will forever be grateful to), saw my struggle and mentioned I should come with her to check out a clinic with Buck Brannaman one weekend. That was the fall of 2015 and that experience saved us- truly. Now, I would not take all the money in the world for this guy- because you can’t buy what we have created with each other.

Nowadays we are making progress as a partnership- and I am always trying to look forward to our future, and not linger on the past. I had to get really honest, really focused, and WAY LESS emotional with him to see progress in our relationship. I had to get physically and mentally in shape and I had to start getting educated.

He is the catalyst that started me on the road to being a better horsewoman, and was a huge part of what inspired me to share all I have learned with others. I am grateful to Zeus for all he has done for me, and all he gives me each and every ride. You will see more of him in future posts I am sure.

SO WHAT INSPIRES ME? 

The list used to be long and complicated, but recently I have managed to get it down to one word- THE HORSE. 

While I find my mentors inspiring, and word of wisdom motivational- the reality of my life is that everything is driven by my love of the horse. All my actions are geared towards being a more effective communicator, a better ambassador, and a truer partner to the horses I meet and train. Each one gets my 100% focus and attention, 100% of the time I am with them. I have learned that to achieve my goals with the horse, I have to do one thing really well and that is be a better human being. 

To that end, I have spent the better part of the last 4 years, learning that lesson. I have chosen to surround myself with elements that support this goal, and my gains with horses have been greater than the other 20 years of my professional career combined.

One element I realized was factoring into my progress with horses was surrounding myself with other like-minded people. Not necessarily from a training or discipline standpoint are we all alike, but from a MENTAL standpoint- we are the same. Positive, supportive, effective, direct sometimes but not critical or destructive, and above all willing to lift each other up and inspire- rather than “compete” and tear each other down.

I realized the feeling I got from being lifted up by my horsemanship peers and mentors, rather than torn down- was something I wanted to promote and share with others as well. Thus, B.N. Spired Horsemanship was born. 

Whether you take a in-person lesson with me, subscribe to my viral channels, or fellowship with me at a clinic down the road, my goal is to show you how to appreciate the horse- where they are, for who they are. 

This blog is inspired by my hopes to show you there is a better way to learn and grow in our sport. A positive, inspiring way that makes a winner out of you as a human being,  so you can make a winner out of your horse. According to the great Ray Hunt, that’s what it is all about after all.

Who am I?

Hello! My name is Lela Mullen and I am a horsewoman on a mission! I am a life-long equestrian and most recently- the founder of B.N. Spired Horsemanship.

B.N. Spired Horsemanship is a multi-platform equine training service- providing positive inspiration on your horsemanship journey. Offering coaching and instruction,  both in-person and via virtual tutorials or lessons.

I am here to share inspiring stories, positive training tips, and to help change the face of our sport. I am looking forward to blogging and showing how much we can all do together to make our lives and the lives of our horses better.

Me and my favorite guy- Zeus
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