Second Wind Horse and Rider

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Who We Are

At Second Wind Horse & Rider we combine a foundation in classical horsemanship with innovative non-violent techniques to help bring horses and riders together at the highest levels of accomplishment. We span a variety of disciplines, including English and Western pleasure to high performance. Our goals are centered around safety and enjoyment for both people and ponies, with no limit to how far we can take you.

 original publication 2005 Northern Horse Source: posted photos of Sir Sizz, Dakota Rose, Three Jewels, Clancy, and JB Carricaburu, DVM

I was born in the mid-seventies, in Juneau, during a record snow storm. I was also born into a legendary horse family from southern California. My early childhood memories of horses are of intense need, of a near-hysteria for want of a horse. When model horses charged around every available surface in my bedroom, my mother took mercy and sent me to California. She made me a deal: if I still wanted to ride after a grueling summer with my Basque grandfather, she would look for a local barn.
My grandfather was an equine veterinarian. He had been a chief vet at the 1960 Olympic Games in Rome, president of the American Veterinary Medical Association, Dean of Equine Sciences at UC Davis, and a three presidency White House vet. When I stayed with him, he was the acting president of the Santa Barbara Humane Society. We spoke of nothing but horses, and I remember being offended by his dismissal of Arabians as just pretty. I was reading the Black Stallion series at the time, and bristled. How was I to know that my venerated grandfather wrote books debating these issues? Not that I agree with him anymore today than I did thirty years ago.
From his Santa Barbara home I crossed the sweet San Fernando valley to stay at my aunt’s ranch in San Luis Obispo. She was just uphill of a retired olympic dressage rider who had turned to breeding welsh ponies, and who gave me my first lessons. My aunt had two heavenly western horses, a Quarter Horse and a Paint. I think I rode each once before taking on Clancy.
Horses have taught me most of the important lessons in my life. Clancy was my first master. He was a throwaway ex-racehorse whom my aunt had rescued from a dude string, where he suffered from hunger and vicious saddle-sores. He was notorious with my cousins for rearing them off and leaving them to walk home. He was cantankerous and spooky and raw. I rarely tacked him, to spare both his back, and the equipment. I rode, and worked, but I never seemed to make much progress with his behavior, only in my ability to deal with it. In thanks to Clancy, I now specialize in retraining horses with behavioral problems.
Still, we had many great adventures, and once he carried me home over miles of mountain trails, semi-conscious and covered in severe sunburns. I was ill for weeks, a victim of sunstroke. He had saved my life, delivering me on the porch in front of the door. I remember the sound of hooves on wood near my ear. Clancy opened the door on the huge hearts and minds of horses for me. He passed on a few years ago, at age thirty-seven. He always ran so hard when I let him loose, I like to think that he’s finally fast.
Years passed. I rode, first at Eaton equestrian center, then Dimond H. I became a barn rat, hanging out for hours, watching, listening. I traded work for rides, catch-rode at twenty below and eventually got my first lease, the wonderful So Big. He began the process of making a technical rider of me. That sweet red fellow passed at age thirty-six in a home where he was deeply loved. Our entire local community mourned him.
When my intensity again boiled for more, my mother and grandfather joined forces to buy me my own horse. She was truly my dream horse, meeting every wish on my list. After a few months of intense work, she lost her pasture look, and I had to learn to sit her gigantic self. We were on our way. Then she came up lame. Significantly lame. After a month of testing, we finally had a diagnosis, dreaded navicular disease. Progressive, incurable. she was sold for the price of her blankets to what I could only hope would be a good home. Her vet bills were devastating. When Jeffa left, I learned about real loss, and letting go. She, too, has crossed the Rainbow Bridge, and my peace is in knowing that is beyond pain.
After blue ribbons and broken bones, and one particularly nasty brain injury, my heart broke, and I quit. I spent a few months bitter, until a woman called for me one afternoon in the fall. She was new to me, although she was from a founding family of Alaskan horsemen. She was a first for me in many ways, and a pivotal moment in my life. After much consideration, I agreed to ride with her, with a caveat. I wanted a horse of my own again. I wanted autonomy. As winter set in, I took possession of perhaps the highest-caliber horse of my life, and began my career as a trainer for VC Smith.
I have ridden under Olympians, and with truly unrecognized local greatness, but VC changed everything. From the techniques that I used, to the clothes I wore and the horses I rode, she reshaped me. She was my ally and my mentor, and she introduced me to natural horsemanship long before it had a name. She had ridden with a host of renowned professionals, had titles in reining, hunters, eventing, grand prix jumping, and dressage, but it was her jockey’s card that wooed me. She had successfully mounted racehorses for Monty Roberts for years. It was his school of training that I learned. With her, I rode both the toughest and finest horses of my life. I didn’t suffer another major injury for the next ten years.
My sweet and magnificent Quarter Horse took me all the way to a top-twenty finish at the AQHA World Championships, three ROMs and better than a one hundred blues in his short, sweet, four-year old season in Alaska. I was only seventeen. I sold Sizz to the late Victor Hugo-Vidal and he lived out his life where he belonged, in the hands of the best in the world, at Flintridge. Sizz taught me to see - to see myself from outside, to see beauty and courage, to see vast horizons, and the blast of a spotlight at the end of a ramped dirt tunnel, beneath an arch that read “Gateway Of Champions”.
VC moved, and so did I. Amid growing up, getting married and becoming a mother, I started the horse who would become my next. She was an original, absolutely aggressive and dangerous. She’d had what I consider a very lucky and kind childhood with her dam, in a pasture with a small lake. There was little excuse for her violence. Our first encounter was harrowing, and she tested my new skills to their limits. With time, we won titles in reining, trail and dressage. In the end, she became the best gauge of a rider that I have ever known, and was absolutely fearless, a born jumper. Once, during a lesson, she ducked the fence and jumped me. I hadn’t known that there was a small white spot on her belly. My own Free Willy, and moment that will be etched into my memory until I die. During a bout of colic that began mild, and became nightmarish, we discovered enormous tumors. There were no options, and so I kissed her one last time. When doc gave her her final injection, she reared up into the sky, and I believe she leaped clean out of her ravaged, agonized body. She was the first being that I had ever prayed for. She taught me patience and faith. We had thirteen magical years together.

I am both a student and a teacher every day of my life. There are a few things I’ve learned about this business, and about life, that I need to share.
We are all hearts and minds, disintegrating bodies and expanding souls. Horses use theirs, just as we use ours. To be truly capable, we must address all of our facets with equal parts tenderness, precision and discipline. We are responsible for doing our jobs correctly before asking them to do theirs. All horses can be good students, focused listeners and brave warriors. We do not have to be victims of our own foibles, or theirs.
Energy doesn’t go away, it simply goes somewhere else. We are each responsible for how we direct our own energy. Horses and humans are uniquely suited to channeling that energy, doing it together is what surmises good horsemanship. We must continue to struggle for each new step, because each new plateau is a bath of awakening, magic and joy. We are obliged to follow our instincts towards loving every gorgeous gift God gives us, to say thank you every day, and to rejoice in the moments when we get to share these gifts with other beings.