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Ann Clemons

the blog of author Ann Clemons

New On Line courses

Posted by Ann Clemons on October 3, 2014
Posted in Horse stories  | Leave a comment

course flyerGo to www.4WindsEquestrianArts.com to access our new

on-line course: Strengthening and Nourishing Body Mind and Spirit.   This course is based on Ann’s book: Wild Spirits: Running with the Herd, as well as on her lifetime of experience with horses and the application of Classical riding.

Check it out and ENJOY!

Clinic announcement!

Posted by Ann Clemons on October 3, 2014
Posted in Horse stories  | Leave a comment

joneagleclinicposterAnn Clemons and Four Winds equestrian Arts are proud to bring you this clinic with Jon Eagle Sr from North Dakota.

October 18 and 19th 2014 in Santa Fe/Pojoaque NM

Registration is open now  Social Work CEUs are available.

You do not need to be a mental health professional or have experience with horses to benefit from Jon’s clinics.

Check out our event page on FB!

More Trends in Horsemanship

Posted by Ann Clemons on September 15, 2013
Posted in Equestrian ArtsWhats inside  | Leave a comment

Clinics, workshops and lessons.

The latest trend that I find interesting is riders quitting their regular lesson program….or never starting one…in favor of jumping from one clinic to another. There are many problems with this.

A lack of consistency will stall the learning process if you do not have a solid base already in place. Riders that have been studying the art of horsemanship for years should have a good base of knowledge and will be able to pick and choose from the ever growing pool of trainers, clinicians, and wanna be professionals, to find something/someone to compliment their present program.

Every trainer is individual and different. Even if they work in the same discipline, their path in getting to where they are now will not be the same as another’s. If a rider does not have the experience and groundwork to know where they are going, then laying down hundreds of dollars for a weekend with yet another clinician could wind up being a total waste of money, and a miserable experience.

How do you know what you need if you don’t know where you are or what you are lacking?

How will you know which clinician to choose if you don’t know what you and your horse need?

If you have trouble adding 2 +2…chances are you will have little understanding of Algebra.

In other words…the knowledge you take with you to a clinic is going to determine how much knowledge you leave with.

I know of very few clinicians that are going to put you on a longe line without stirrups to teach you to sit the trot. That is the kind of thing you learn at home with your regular instructor through consistent practice and preparation. Being able to sit the trot properly will open the door for you to learn how to use your seat in an unlimited number of ways for many disciplines.

You aren’t going to learn how to half-halt, collect, have the proper use of leg aids, do slide stops…or..? The list goes on and on of the things that require the correct use of seat. So if you go to a clinic and don’t have correct use of seat, there could be  many new and wonderful teachings that you won’t understand or be capable of doing.

Be prepared! Do your work! Find a professional to help you lay your ground work so that all of those wonderful traveling clinicians/trainer/horse whisperers out there can share their talents with riders that can appreciate and enjoy what they have to offer.



Posted by Ann Clemons on August 30, 2013
Posted in Equestrian ArtsWhats inside  | Leave a comment

Horse showing, like the fashion world, is all about trends. We would like to think that it is about correct training and showing the progress that you and your equine partner are making together, but after 40 yrs in the business, I can tell you  that it is about trends.

There are trends in the clothing, trends in the colors  and types of tack. Even trends in the brands of tack and clothing.

There are trends in the methods of feeding show and performance horses

And yes…trends in the training.

Often these trends have little to do with what is practical, good for the horse or rider,.

Take, for instance, the trends in Western Pleasure. According to the AQHA rule book, and the videos the AQHA put out describing each class that their shows offer, and a book written by Don Burt, a veteran AQHA judge……..a horse should move with a natural frame and self carriage with the poll never below the withers. Their gates should have a natural impulsion and show expression and suspension.

And yet, time after time, year after year, show after show, what do we see? “Peanut rollers”.

Horses moving at a stilted snails pace. Many of them having been forced out of their natural gates and into a shuffling gate with no life or rhythm. Their noses are forced down to the ground (hence peanut roller) and their riders are stiff in the saddle and almost continually “bumping”(jerking) the horse with the reins and jabbing them with spurs.

In this frame and way of going there is no chance for a natural collection, or self carriage , or suspension. AND this way of going is grounds for disqualification in an AQHA show.

Yet we see it, and we see it all the time, and we see it WIN!  A dangerous trend. A trend that instead gradually phasing out, is being used on the “Hunter under saddle” horses, and now extending to the reining horse training and showing!

So I am wondering…and have been wondering for years…why people wish to destroy the natural beauty of these incredible animals that will go out of their way to please a human? Even a ridiculous human.

It is not just the Western world that is guilty of this.

Dressage has been around for thousands of years. Dressage incorporates levels for the horse rider to promote correct fitness and training. Dressage was the method of training for military mounts and in the courts of European royalty for centuries. Dressage has undergone trends over the centuries, but in the end, usually goes back to the original, Classical way of training because that is what makes it practical, beautiful, healthy and real.Classical training was developed over the centuries because it WORKED! And yet……

Now there are new trends in Dressage that are working at destroying the natural grace, beauty and movement of the horse /rider partnership. It is a human’s need to control.

You cannot pull a horse’s head into its chest with a strong bit, and spur it forward and torture his movement and create ANYTHING beautiful, practical or correct!

The beauty of a horse is their freedom, their spirit and their natural flare…AND…perhaps most importantly, their willingness to share all of that with us pitiful humans that have such horrible handicaps built into our DNA such as that need for total control…and ego.

Look to your Dreams

Posted by Ann Clemons on August 24, 2013
Posted in Whats inside  | 2 Comments

Mustang sunset

Mustang sunset

When did the human species start losing respect?

I mean…respect for each other, respect for the other species and life forms, respect for the planet and all of creation?

It is as though we have a set agenda to destroy everything that is good, necessary , or beautiful. it is as though we are out to destroy all life! Is that bred into our DNA?

The human race has destroyed civilization after civilization. Following the same patterns every time.  WHY?

What is so difficult about living gently upon our Earth? Where has love and compassion gone to hide in these times of fear and anger and excess?

Why have machines and technology come to mean more to humans than any life?

Whatever gave us the idea that we have the right to destroy life on a whim? All life comes from the same origin….no matter which story you believe in. Everything alive on this Earth was born to it from the same source. So what gives humans the right to destroy?

Other creatures; the bear, the lion, the coyote pass by and rarely leave a trace of their passing. Are humans so very insecure that we must leave our footprints everywhere?

We have created so much excess, both animate and inanimate, that we don’t know what to do with it all. So now the Earth is covered in piles of toxic garbage. We have unwanted children. Unwanted horses, dogs, cats…..abandoned, starved, abused….and still we want and make MORE….and MORE.   What is driving  the need for MORE? Create it, buy it, use it, throw it away…….

I believe that humans have lost the art of fulfilling their need for more by going within and looking to their dreams.

I believe that is why we were created with the need for more. Not to continually consume Earth’s resources…but to reach deep within ourselves to create from the gifts we were born with. To create beauty, grace, compassion and fulfillment of life.

i believe we were meant to procreate our gifts, and to share those gifts with the rest of creation. To celebrate life…to walk in the joy of each other’s beauty and accomplishment.

To fulfill your need for MORE….look to your dreams!

Horse Trading…..or…How I found my best four legged friend

Posted by Ann Clemons on August 23, 2013
Posted in Horse stories  | 2 Comments



I have been wondering  what  drew me to Chama recently …I haven’t been there in quite a few years! Yet last week while spending a couple days in Abiquiu, I felt compelled to drive to Chama and turn in at the barns on the Mundy Ranch. No one was around, and we merely drove in and back out again, but it began a flood of memories that are continuing non-stop with the news that Bill has passed.

I am sure there are thousands of people out there with stories to tell about Bill and Ethel. My particular story began with a phone call from a mutual acquaintance, Bob Massengill. He said a friend of his was there looking for some young, big geldings for his ranch, and Bob thought I might have an idea of what was for sale in the area.

Bill and I spent the day looking at the horses that were available, but only one caught his eye. A big 5yr old that I was hoping to make a jumper out of. “Hank” was young, big , strong, and physically sound, but he had a number of issues, not the least of which was his habit of breaking in two and bucking his heart out with no warning!

The facts didn’t deter Bill in the least…this was the horse he wanted. Hank was big and strong, and had no white feet, which was an important attribute in Bill’s eyes.

We were having a bit of trouble seeing eye to eye on the price. I was hoping to get a show horse price, but Bill was only going to pay the going rate for ranch geldings. So we decided a trade was going to be the way to go. Little did I know what a horse trade with Bill Mundy was going to entail. WHAT A TRIP! The actual business deal started in early summer, but wasn’t finalized til October. The results of this deal have lasted for 25 yrs!

Bill definitely wanted Hank, so I told him to go ahead and take him to the ranch, and he could bring me another horse in trade. So, over a period of time Bill brought me several horses and ponies which didn’t fit my needs. Then one day he showed up with a nice big gelding. The first thing I noticed was that he had 3 white socks Bill swore that was why he didn’t want to keep the horse himself. This horse appeared to be what I was looking for, so now we had to finalize the deal. A matter of just signing papers and deciding how much , if any, cash would change hands? HAH! Nope. My fiancé and I loped on up to Bill’s ranch . First we went and had a look at Hank, who Bill swore was now one of his best horses, except that every few weeks he took a bucking fit and had actually pulled off his bridle during one of these fits.

“Look at his eyes”, Bill said. “Notice that they aren’t even, one is lower than the other. Now I don’t know what that means, but it can’t be good!”

In the course of our “trade”, we toured the ranch, saw Bills elk herd, his trees, his new fishing “cabin” on the river, the ski cabin, his hunting lodge high above theranch. We met Ethel, and sat at the house listening to Bills endless, hilarious stories. Saw his pictures and memorabilia from his many trail rides. And of course , we had to go to town for steak before the deal could be finalized.

The terms? I would get the horse with 3 white stockings, some cash, and the use of his incredible hunting lodge above the Brazos for our wedding reception! Bill also offered to marry us.

Are you telling me that you are also a licensed minister?” I asked.

“What license?” he responded. “A ship’s captain can marry people, and this ranch is my ship!”


Yup, we were going to go along with that, but then he remembered that he and Ethel already had plans for that weekend. I believe he said they were going rafting on the San Juan river.

So we settled for the wedding reception and hired our own minster

I have some great pictures of the reception. The only thing missing was Bill!

When we left the ranch after sealing the deal, we stopped at a small bar/café on the way home. Someone asked what had brought us up that way. When I said I was buying a horse from Bill, everyone shook their heads and said, look out, you won’t get the best in a horse trade with Bill Mundy!

I beg to differ…..I had that horse with the 3 white stockings for 25 yrs!He just died about 3 yrs ago at the ripe old age of 35! In that time, that horse and I worked cattle, rode in parades, competed in Dressage, jumping, and 3-day events. When he was too old to compete, he was an excellent lesson horse, and old clients from Michigan even flew West to ride him. I don’t know if Bill got the best of me in that horse deal…maybe….but I will remain forever grateful for it!

Bill Mundy had one of the largest hearts I have ever encountered, and I only wish I could buy another horse from him!






Horse Dreaming

Posted by Ann Clemons on August 23, 2013
Posted in Horse stories  | Leave a comment

It was dreaming time….early pre-dawn hours in my bed in my cabin on the mountain.

I so seldom remember my dreams, but this one was intense, real, and in ten years I have not forgotten it.

Claustrophobia! That is the first thing I felt! Lying on the ground in fetal position, almost as though my hands and legs were hog tied, but they weren’t. The ground was sandy, gravelly dirt, and there was a lot of activity going on around me. People and horses; people leading horses, riding horses, horses in corrals and tied to trailers. A scene one might see at a horse show or clinic. A very familiar scene to me. I was there on the ground , trying to get up, but couldn’t. It was like my whole body was made of lead and I couldn’t get it off the ground no matter how hard I tried. Evidently I was not visible to the players moving around me because nobody so much as glanced my way.

Gradually I began to wake up, slowly moving through the veils of mist from the Dreamtime into wakefulness. Snuggling down into the pillows for a little more coziness my barely conscious thoughts immediately went to the hazy place I had so recently left. The dream had left me with thoughts of the heaviness and some tension.

”What in the world could THAT have been about ?” I asked myself. Scanning my memory of the day before, I couldn’t recall anything that might have sparked such an odd, dark dream.

BAM! CRASH! I sat up n the bed, startled out of my sleepy thoughts. BAM! Crash! There it was again and it was coming from the horse pasture. I leaped out of bed and dragged on pants and boots as I was heading for the door. Thank goodness there was a little pre-dawn light, since my flashlight was dead.

“The run-in shelter for the horses was the only thing I could imagine making that kind of noise, so I ran straight to it, and sure enough, there was the answer, to the noise and the cause of my dream!

Chapon, my beautiful Appaloosa/Trakehner gelding, was lying on his side, his legs curled up much like fetal position and he was right up against the wall of the shed and facing it. He couldn’t get his legs out in front of himself enough to get up off the ground. Great! Chapon was not a little horse, and I was going to have to drag him away from that wall so he would be able to get up. There was nobody around that time of the morning, so I was going to have to do it myself. Its amazing what one can do when it is absolutely necessary! I grabbed his front leg that was closest to me and started pulling. He yanked it back and I almost wound up in the metal wall with a hoof in my stomach. I tried it again, this time ready for the reaction to my action! It wasn’t fun, and it wasn’t easy, but with each pull Chapon would struggle and eventually the two of us got him far enough away from the wall that he could get up.

He must have been there for quite a while, because he was colicky and dehydrated. In between small drinks at the water tank and lots of walking to relax and ease his colicky belly, Chapon and I watched the sun come up over the mountain. We also had a long discussion about how, and where, to lie down !

We were both lucky that he knew how to find me when he heeded me.

I was very grateful to have received his call for help.

The Horse dreams are made of

Posted by Ann Clemons on August 20, 2013
Posted in Horse stories  | Leave a comment

He came to me through a horse trade with a New Mexico rancher. (More about that part of the story in a separate post   see “Horse Trading”)

He was fat and handsome and as far as I knew, nameless when he came to live with me. I held a competition among my riding students to come up with a fitting name for that handsome copper haired guy with flashy white feathered socks , blaze face , and ripling flowing mane and tail.

One of the boys wanted to name him “Mr T” because the horse was quite macho and arrogant and he had a scissors freeze brand on his shoulder.

Some of the girls wanted to name him Lancelot because of his noble carriage and he looked like a knight’s horse.

In the end, the only name that seemed to fit was “Horse”!  He was just ALL HORSE. That is the name that stuck, and for years he showed under that name. Often, management of shows that required pre-registration would call to tell me I had forgotten to fill in the space for the horse’s name and I would have to explain that “Horse” WAS his name. It didn’t take long for him to become known. “Horse” had quite a presence.

“Horse” also had many personas. He was the epitomy of versatile! He was also incredibly stubborn, macho and hard headed. More than once we would return from a ride , both of us irritated, and I would stick him in the corral still saddled, and walk away. We both needed time to cool off. There were always alot of people wanting to buy him. My husband was fond of telling them “You can’t buy him, but if you happen by on the right day…she might just GIVE him to you”

“Horse” loved life!He never had to be led into a trailer…just open the door and throw the lead over his neck and he was getting in, ready for adventure. He was the one that would readily jump into a herd of cattle to pull out the bull.

Once I let him know that it was OK to jump an obstacle rather than stepping politely over it, he was thrilled! “Horse” never refused a jump in his career.

When “Horse” went to the Dressage shows, people were sure that he was a Warmblood.

Parades were definitely his thing! He could show off with the best of them. His long mane and tail and flashy white socks really received attentiion as he pranced and snorted.

Cowboys from the local rodeo livestock contractors wanted to buy him for a pick -up horse

As full of energy as he was, and as wild as he liked to look, “Horse” was never unsafe to ride. Through all the parades, and bulls, and highways, and trains that we encountered in our 25 yrs together, never did “Horse” come close to hurting me.

We did have our moments however. I went out early one morning to catch “Horse” and get him ready for a show. We lived in the mountains about an hour from Albuquerque. “Horse” never did like to stand in a stall, so I would leave him out on the 10 acres over night and that strategy usually worked fine. This morning, however, “Horse” was nowhere to be found. It was a damp , foggy pre-dawn, and the pasture appered to be empty. So I enlisted the help of my husband and we started walking the fence line looking for breaks.

A soft whistle floated out from across the field and I hurried over to see what my other half had found. He smiled and pointed into a stand of pines. There was a herd of elk gathered in the trees, and in the center of the herd, was “Horse”….hiding out.

The elk scattered and disappeared up the hill. Now that he was found, “Horse” came fairly readily to the sound of grain rattling in a bucket.

We were already late. The sun was burning off the fog. We loaded up and headed to the show. This was a fairly large Dressage show with judges from out of town. We arrived with about 20 minutes until my ride. No time for braiding or proper grooming. I swiped a brush over “Horses” coat and my black boots, threw on the tack and headed for the warm up arena.

Still resenting being pulled from his early morning revery on the mountain, “Horse” decided he was not going to be a team player that day! We pulled what was probably the lowest score of our Dressage career as he stomped flatly around in front of the judge with a hollow back and braced neck.

The judge, a well known Dressage judge from California, was very kind though. In the comment section of our dressage test he had written “Grooming methods could be improved”. Perhaps the biggest understatement of the year!

Bear Hugs

Posted by Ann Clemons on July 6, 2013
Posted in short stories, fiction, non-fiction  | Leave a comment

The bear sat high in the Ponderosa Pine, relaxing against the tree trunk, one leg hanging down.

She put me in mind of Huck Finn, kicked back lazily against a  tree, stick and line fishing pole in hand.

Motion from above caught my eye, and a tiny cub appeared. As Cub shimmied down the tree toward momma , she pulled her dangling leg up, and turning toward the tree trunk she put out her arms. When Cub reached Momma’s lap, safe between her large furry body and the strong solid tree, she wrapped her arms around and pulled her baby close. A picture of contentment and love.

NOW I know in detail where the term “Bear Hug ” came from and I am blessed to have that picture to carry with me.

She Was Horse

Posted by Ann Clemons on July 4, 2013
Posted in Wild Spirits: Running With the Herd  | Leave a comment

Excerpt from Wild Spirits: Running with the Herd

She had hooves, four legs, a tail; she was Horse.

The herd began to move, and she instinctively knew it was time to go to water. Throwing her head up and sniffing the air, she struck out in the direction her senses told her to go. Not even realizing at first that she was leading the herd, she headed up a narrow trail between tall canyon walls made of huge slabs of reddish rock. Their hooves crunched on the gravely surface of the trail, and the only other sounds were of the warm breezes floating down through the canyon and an occasional riffling snort from the line of horses behind her. The rhythm of the hoof beats combined with the singing of the gentle winds to create a serenity that she could not remember having felt before. The trail eventually wound around the end of the tall mesa and opened up into a small, protected area within the rocks. There were a few small trees here and the smell of water was strong.

Going straight to the trees, she pushed her horse body through the branches, and on the other side was a small, spring-fed pond. Only large enough for half a dozen horses to drink from at a time, the pond fed a tiny brook that trickled down into some rocks and then disappeared.