The Natural Horsemann – Arkansas Family Trip

By Steve Stevens

About two weeks ago we got a chance to take a family business trip. Our client and friend had moved her horses up to her beautiful property that backs up to the Ouachita National Forest near Mena, Arkansas. We went up there more as a consultant for the best way to work her horses on and around her property.

We started the first day of the trip with some family time spending the night in Broken Bow, Okla. We woke up early in the morning on the second day to explore Beaver Bend State Park. The weather was nice and cool and Beaver Bend seemed to really be a special place. If you guys follow us at all, you know how important it is to us to get out in nature and remind ourselves that the world does not center around us.

We took the kids on their first little hike in the forest and it started to rain through the tall trees.

I am not sure how much the kids enjoyed it, but Amanda and I were able to take some deep breaths and let go for a few minutes.

We arrived in Mena later that afternoon and we followed our friends, Terri and Ed, back to their property in the forest. They had rivers and lakes and trails all over the place. We were spoiled. Terri had set us up for some glamping (a fusion of glamour and camping). The camper sat in front of the fire pit which would be the site of our children having their first roasted marshmallow and s’mores. Thank you Terri and Ed!

First s'more for Violet. (Photo courtesy of Steve Stevens)
First s’more for Violet. (Photo courtesy of Steve Stevens)

While the kids went for a ride on a paddle boat on the lake and fed fish, I finally had to go to work. We started working the little dun filly in the round pen that overlooks the beautiful lake. I think Terri was so happy to have us there and was more interested in hanging out with the kids than working. We pushed through going over her horse’s foundation work and called it a day.

I got up early the next morning and sneaked down to the lake to watch the fog lift before everyone else was up.

Terri had really wanted us to work on getting her mare Cheyenne across a bridge that led to the lake that she was having trouble with. Her horse definitely didn’t want to get close to it. There was water on one side and kind of a bog on the other. So I jumped down in the bog and worked her around the bridge, not trying to force her on the bridge, just made it difficult for her by moving her feet. When she went towards the bridge I would take the pressure off. Before long she stepped on and a few minutes later she was walking across it with no problem.

Steve and Cheyenne. (Photo courtesy of Steve Stevens)
Steve and Cheyenne. (Photo courtesy of Steve Stevens)

I showed Terri some exercises to do around the lake and then thought maybe it would be fun to see if Cheyenne would get in the water. It took a little work, but once she was in the lake she didn’t want to get out.

It was a special moment for myself and Terri. Then we switched, and she put Cheyenne in the lake herself. Terri and Ed built this beautiful lake themselves and didn’t realize that (in my opinion) they built the lake for their horses.

Terri and Cheyenne. (Photo courtesy of Steve Stevens)
Terri and Cheyenne. (Photo courtesy of Steve Stevens)

We can take advantage of riding on our property whether it is one acre or it is backed up to a national forest. But we need to always use our common sense by making sure that our riding area is safe in relation to our horses and our own ability. Start simple and build out.

This is a hard one for people to live up to, but if you can’t walk, trot and canter your horse in a safe enclosed pen, you probably aren’t ready to ride out in more difficult areas.

Thank you again Terri and Ed for the wonderful adventures.

The Steven's children feeding the fish. (Photo courtesy of Steve Stevens)
The Stevens’ children feeding the fish. (Photo courtesy of Steve Stevens)