Monday, June 5, 2017

Why Horses?

I am one of those people who came out of the womb loving horses.  There was not a speck of horse-y anything in my childhood but that did not deter me.   I devoured anything I got my hands on about horses.  I daydreamed horses.  I collected Breyer model horses.  I made miniature tack and grooming supplies for my model horses.  I drew and painted horses.  Each and every birthday and Christmas I asked for a pony.  I entered to win horses in Horse of Course magazine contests.

I lived in the suburb where the closest equine was an ancient Shetland pony that lived in an old century barn with a teeny tiny run for it's 'turnout'.  It was several blocks away in what was likely the old farmstead before the land sold to a developer.  I would get apples and carrots and take the hike to see the pony.  I never saw the person who lived there.  I didn't understand at that time that feeding treats to the pony might not be what the owner wanted.  Thankfully, I only remember feeding small quantities of carrots and maybe an apple or two.  I knew enough to cut them into slices.  The carrot and apple slices had the added benefit of allowing the pony's attention to be on me to last longer.  I savored every moment as he savored every bite.

As I got a bit older, I begged and pleaded with my parents for riding lessons in the next town over.  I saved up babysitting and birthday money to keep the lessons going.  During these lessons, I learned hunt seat from the stereotypical, critical, feisty, weathered woman who would bark commands at me endlessly during the lesson.  I was kind of a sensitive soul but tolerated the barrage of belittling just so I could be around the horse.  I rode Bay Rum most often and loved him with all my heart!

At this same barn, many of the girls who rode in the lessons had horses of their own.  They had the correct outfits, correct tack, a beautiful horse, and a similar condescending attitude toward me.  I came for lessons faithfully, week after week, as my money held out.  Sometimes I would have to stop until I had enough to buy more lessons.  I remember paying for the lessons with money obviously scraped together with small bills and coins since the lessons were paid for month by month.

The other girls in the barn would giggle and talk in groups as they discussed the upcoming shows and events that never included me.  I was an outsider but did not care.  I was there for other reasons.  I took those lessons very seriously.  I did exercises to strengthen my riding muscles from one lesson to the next.  My progress felt agonizingly slow, with no riding in between, but  I lovingly persisted.  I made drawings of the horses and jump courses as I mentally practiced and prepared for my next lesson.  I read voraciously anything to do with horses, horse care or riding.

 That continued until life got in the way.  I lost a parent at the age of 16.  Life got difficult and teen years where a mix of rebellion, family chaos and grief.  I wasn't able to get back to horses again until I was married and the mother of a beautiful daughter.  My husband bought me my first horse.

Annie was a tall, lanky, grey NSH (National Show Horse).  She had the build of a Saddlebred and mind of an Arab.  She did something my trainer said was called 'star gazing'.  He described it as something that sounded a lot like inattentive ADD!  She would kind of blank out when stressed, get a faraway look in her eyes and kind of mentally check out!  But I thought she was perfect!  She was tall, fancy, a bit flaky and had the smoothest gaits I had ever ridden!   She also was afraid of anything outside of nature!  She apparently had been ridden most often in an indoor arena and so when encountering things like leaves, wind or puddles would shy and bolt.  I had boarded her for years but then, along with my husband and growing family, bought our own 80 acre farm- without an indoor arena.  I did not have the confidence or experience to help her over her fears, although saw she rode quite well with other riders.  She sensed in me the inexperienced rider I still was and reacted to it.

I went on to donate Annie to a Children's Home that was just starting a horse program.  I was upfront and honest about my experiences with Annie and got the reassurance from the program director that they had kids of all riding levels and Annie would do just fine.  I later found out that Annie not only did 'just fine', she was a valued part of that program for many, many years and lived out the rest of her life as a much loved and treasured horse that was known to take to the troubled kids and bring them out of their shell.  I was thrilled to know that Annie blossomed there and brought joy to so many!

I lived on that farm for a dozen more years, riding on our farm, going to shows, bringing my daughter up as a fellow horse lover.  We enjoyed riding and caring for a variety of other horses over the years. I have had the pleasure of raising 5 foals.  I rescued horses from the 'kill pens'.  I rehabbed and rehomed some horses and others became family.  I made some great horse decisions, and some not so great.  We eventually built and ran a 25 stall boarding stable with a trainer and riding instructor before we sold the farm and bought a smaller 'hobby farm' close to school for my kids where I still had horses but scaled down what we did with them.  I no longer take in boarders, show, offer riding lessons or training.  I trail ride now.  And give pony rides for the grandbabies.  I never stopped painting and drawing horses.  Hope I never do!

I gain so much from being around horses.  I find them to be interesting mentally.  Horses are complex and multi-faceted but also straightforward.  They are contradictions.  Powerful and gentle.  Large and fragile.  Willing and opinionated.  Fierce and soft.  I love watching herd dynamics.  I find them visually interesting and beautiful.   I can't imagine my life without horses.

Happy trails,

Sue Steiner
equine and animal artist 

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Horse Questions.... What is Your Horse Asking You?

When my kids were little I always told them and they would ask the often incessant questions, 'It doesn't hurt to ask' before I said no.   I told that to my then 3 yr old son when he asked to have pop to drink at breakfast.  He never drank pop at home and certainly never drank it at breakfast but that didn't stop him from asking numerous times on different mornings.  I don't know where he got the idea of asking but I think he thought if he kept asking, I might forget and say yes one of those days!   So he would ask, "Mom, can I have some pop?" I would tell him it doesn't hurt to ask before I said no and smile at him.  He would accept the no and we would go along with starting our day.  No power struggle.  No yelling.  It worked well and I got a laugh out of his asking without teaching him to badger me with pleads for things we both knew were off limits.

Riding my trail horse, Cimarron the other day reminded me of my son and his requests for pop for breakfast.  I wrote in another blog post about some soreness and possibly saddle issues that delayed the start of our riding season.  We got those straightened out and so am working on getting him back to being trail ready.  The first few rides on him, like many horses after a long rest, are a bit more ~ exciting ~ then I strive for.  :)  I'm old.  LOL I don't want that kind of excitement when I ride.  Yeah, he can be a bit of a hot mess when fresh so I take my time in getting him out on a trail until I get a few rides under our belt out and about around my place.  I think often, it is actually harder when you ride around your barn alone, like I do, then haul out because the barn and other horses are a huge draw and distraction.

I also took these next actions to confirm Cim's soundness and separate it from freshness, naughtiness, hotness or disobedience.   Sometimes those things can be hard to decipher.  Is his behavior 'behavioral' or physical?  Is it the usual testing a horse will do or it something else?

There are certain trigger points around our usual routes around the barn which I am sure we all have. One of our trigger spots is my lane and the barn driveway.  I rode Cim down the lane and he was his usual well behaved, experienced trail horse self.... until we get to the point he thinks we should turn to the barn.  I got some sideways stepping and attempts to dart down the driveway.  I persisted in asking him to continue walking and in a matter of 2 or 3 steps, he dropped his head, took a big sigh, and relaxed.  I take note of that and then ride by another trigger point with a similar reaction.  I can confirm he is just doing his asking- turn here, right??  I say No.  Turn here then?  No.  Here???  No.  You can ask Cim but I decide.  Setting a boundary.

 Can you see the asking?  And the repeated telling 'No, not here.'  And the resuming of what is at hand.  Cim is doing his toddler-like asking to see if I am paying attention.  Or maybe I forgot we go to the barn when I decide, not him.   Just asking.  But I have to see it and be ready for it to set that boundary.  The more consistent I set that boundary the less of a pout I will get from him.  Plus I need to be fair.  Which I am.  I don't ride him hard and do take into consideration what he may be telling me.  Just this time, in this instance, this boundary needed to be re-established.  Not unlike kids.

I try to use the same approach with Cim as I did with my son- calmly but firmly say No and then get back to our ride.  Sometimes the fight and power struggle is what the horse (or child) is used to receiving.  I find that only causes everyone to dig in their heels and resist more.  And I am too old to think I can out power a horse.  I can't out power him but I CAN out think him.

After doing this a few times in different spots I could see my horse visibly relax into the ride and become less hot and irritable.  :)  So I know his issues are NOT discomfort or pain related (among other signs and info).  He is looking for the boundaries to feel the security of knowing I am taking care of things-- not unlike my young son.  Yes, he probably would of very much liked pop for breakfast, just like Cim would very much like to only hang out in the pasture, but finding and reinforcing these boundaries makes for a happier toddler and a well-mannered horse!  I also believe Cim ENJOYS our trail rides just as kids thrive on structure and healthy food! Cim lets me know he is happy too as I can see it in his demeanor and attitude once we get these first few rides of the season out of the way.  

Today will be day 3 this week of riding him.  Yeah!  I think next week we will haul out if the weather and my schedule hold. 

PS.  I do not profess to be a horse trainer....anymore than any other horse owner who knows we are always training or untraining our horses every time we are around them.  I get some help from Carson James .  He IS a horse trainer.  A good one too.   

Happy Trails to you! 

Horse and Pet Portrait artist

Some new artwork.....

Don't forget to stop by my website at and subscribe to my site.  You will automatically become a member with access to freebies like a horse journal and training log, horse digital art, horse themed memes like below, tutorials and more.  
Horse memes

Pet Portraits and Custom Horse paintings in watercolor, oils and mixed media

Monday, May 22, 2017

Horse Quotes and Memes for Sharing!

Horse Quotes & Memes!

One of my hobbies, in addition to horseback riding and art, is photography.  I have an abundance of horse photos and have begun to create horse and nature themed digital art that I share with subscribers of my website at  These are created for sharing and would love for you to stop by and share away!  I also have horse journal and training log pages, horse screensavers, DIY tutorials and whatever else I dream up for my subscribers.  I will never sell your e-mail nor spam you- just art, horses, dogs and cats!  

I do this as a way to say thank you to like-minded people who love horses, pets, nature and have a generous heart!  My dad also told me as a small child that anyone who loves animals can't be all bad.  :) I believe what he wanted to convey is that people who are kind to animals are people who have good hearts.  I have found that to be true.  

Here is a sampling:

Happy Trails!
Sue Steiner
equine and animal artist

For more info. on ordering a pet portrait, 
horse and rider portrait or custom horse painting,
 go to my website or Etsy shop links below.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Moving out of Your Dis-Comfort Zone

 Anyone who has ridden a horse knows that going into new territory can bring about high anxiety, in horse & rider!  What is a rider to do, in order to gain their horse's confidence, stay safe and expand their horizons?  How does one get out of a rut?  How can you meet a specific riding goal?

Let me offer these suggestions.

  • Create a vision.  Decide what it is you want to do.   Write it in a journal to begin the process.  "I like to ride my horse on trail rides with friends." 
  • Break your vision into specific steps in the process.  
           1. I want to feel comfortable driving the truck with a trailer.
           2. I want my horse to load easily.
           3. I want to connect with people to ride on trails.
           4. I want my horse and me to be safe and sound on the trails.

  • Set goals under each step to get you started. 
          1. Drive the truck more.
          2. Drive the truck with an empty trailer. 

         and continue with each step.   Write this in your journal.  
  • Be ready to revise your steps and goals as needed but use your Vision to keep your focus on what it is you want.  
  • Remind yourself of why you want your Vision.  Spend some time thinking about the benefits this will provide you and your horse.  Write this in your journal.  
  • Keep track of your progress.  If you meet too many stumbling blocks, break your steps into smaller, more manageable goals.  Seek some assistance if needed.  Use the stumbling blocks as learning opportunities and consider it progress along the way.  
  • Be open to new adventures!  Is a stumbling block possibly pointing you in a different direction?  Be open to new possibilities!  Maybe your horse is trying to tell you he is not suited for trail riding but LOVES to jump.  Be open to what your horse is telling you in this process.  
  • Spend some time thinking of your horse's personality.  What do you sense he really enjoys?  We've probably all ridden or have seen ring sour horses.  They are trying to say, with every fiber of their being, this activity is no longer something they can do.  Respect your horse's preferences.  Learn and explore what he is saying.  Let it be okay to take a sideways approach.  
  • Journal from your horse's point of view after a major break thru or stumbling block.  Revise whatever is needed and return to try again.  
  • Remember the fun of doing this is ~~ in the process ~~!!  Write down what you are learning in the process and remind yourself what is enjoyable in the process.  Your horse will thank you - he knows where YOUR heart is in what you are doing with him!  This is the blessing and the curse of horseback riding!  :)  

I hope these tips may help you meet your horse goals but more importantly, 
I hope this helps you to 
enjoy the process and enjoy your horse!  

I have created a reusable Horse Journal and Training Log that you can download for free by clicking the horse image below.  It will take you to my website and give you the link.  The only thing I ask is you share, like, comment or repin this article or others of mine.  

Happy Trails! 
Sue Steiner

 Horse Art Online, Free Horse Journal Link

Thanks for stopping by! 

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Horses and Healing: Hitting the Trails!

Horses and Healing: Hitting the Trails!:  Fall Has Arrived!   My favorite time of the year! You've probably heard of the saying, Horse people (in Ohio) have four seasons, ice, mud, flies and autumn.

Hitting the Trails!

 Fall Has Arrived!  

My favorite time of the year! You've probably heard of the saying, Horse people (in Ohio) have four seasons; ice, mud, flies and autumn.   So very true!!  This year we have been fortunate to have an extended Indian summer this year with beautiful, crisp, sunny, cool weather that is perfect for riding.  I have been enjoying exploring Mohican State Park and Silvercreek using my new (to me) horse trailer.  The artwork below is from a photo I took of my horse and a friend's on a trail ride.  This style of artwork is being offered for sale on my etsy shop here:  Custom Barn wood horse sign 

The wonderful weather, good riding and a nasty election season inspired me to create this vintage sign. Ride More Worry Less Sign
 Ride More, Worry Less Sign

Here is the gorgeous view while riding around my home.  This is Cimmaron.  I'm not sure what the crop is... possibly spelt?  Whatever it is, it makes a beautiful, golden field that looks magical from horseback! 

One of our first frosty mornings... good bye flies! 

Below is a new painting I painted in between Christmas and Holiday Commissions.  

Below is a photo of my 23 yr old Arab, Abbey.  Google Photos enhanced it and I liked the effects.

My husband got a new toy... wish he would want to ride horses but he gave that up years ago... I went for a spin with him and here we are with our yellow helmets.

Stall signs have been a hot item this fall too.  Here are some I completed recently.  

I have had fun with polymer clay and beads making these horse pendants.  I use them as a purse charm.  I get lots of compliments on them.  Hope you like them too. 

Cim feeling good!  My 16.1 Strawberry Roan Sabino TWH gelding.  Love this boy!! 

 A sampling of other live edge wood and barn wood horsey things for sale.  The wood was gathered during a treasure hunt of sorts when my Amish neighbor had to clear his land that had several old barns.  I had a field day!  A couple friends came over and we had a great time!  You can read about it here: A repurposed upcycled salvaged me

I love this sign I made below.  Is it okay to say that and not sound conceited?  I guess an artist has to like what they make or else it would be pretty torturous to do the work, right?  

On the trail with friends!  Cim and are in the back, which is not his preferred place on the trail but he did great. 

This is from a solo ride we took at Mohican.  Such a good boy!! 

A pasture scene.  I love having my horses at home and being able to see this out my back door. 

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Back in the Saddle!!

Hitting the Trails! 

I am a happy horseback rider!  I wrote a bit ago about my horse's struggle with lameness here:
I am thrilled to write he has been sound and happy for a little while now and we are really hitting a happy place with our riding.  He's happy- I am happy!!  And the weather is cooperating.  The super humid weather is gone, it has been slightly cooler, less buggy and very nice to ride.  We even got rain and our pastures are starting to green up again!  I am not digging into my winter hay at a fast clip any longer!  

 Yellow brown grass no more! 

 Happy & Sound makes me happy!!

 I have also been having a great time completing custom stall sign ordershorse and pet portrait commissions and trying out new artsy things like these horse wire sculptures and horse charms and pendants. I even played around with broken glass mosaics.  You can see more at my etsy shop.   If you'd like info on pet portraits please check out my website at 

Happy Trails! 

Sue Steiner