Last week through to Monday we filmed task after task for the American Horsewoman Challenge. We could go on filming forever, hoping for that perfect footage. We had a few days of zero degrees or warmer and now we’re back with a high of minus ten. We’re done filming!

On several of those days we filmed in the morning and the afternoon. On the other days we filmed once and I practiced during a second session.

During our second session Monday it was pretty cold. I said, “Can you imagine how pleasant it would be if we were filming at 20 degrees.” Sue said, “Fifteen would be fine.” Someone commented, “How about a balmy five?” Ann Clifford ended the conversation with, “I’d be happy with zero.”

At one point during that afternoon Sue stood on the southern pedestal and Zelador was on his northern one. I placed the “Horses Only Mailbox” on the north arena wall and stood near Zelador. The wall is about six metres away. I said, “Zelador, how about checking to see if there’s any mail.” He happily stepped off his pedestal, walked to the mailbox, opened it, took out the satchel, returned to the pedestal and I received the mail. I unzipped the pouch (very snazzy red and white carrier with “Canada” printed on it, resplendent with a lovely maple leaf or two) and took out a card. I lifted it so Zelador could see it clearly and said, “This is for Sue. Zelador, take it to her.” He stretched his neck forward, took the card in his mouth and trotted happily to Sue. Since she was on the pedestal he was very polite and only placed his front feet on it. He was so happy and Sue let him know he was wonderful. It was amazing to watch the whole mailbox “routine”. He obviously loves doing it AND we got it on film. He could not have done it better!

Later that day I finalized my selections of the film clips to represent each task in Liberty, Ranch/Trail and Dressage. The instructions call for a two minute introduction. I’ve seen a few of the application videos on YouTube. Most of the women stand in front of the camera and cover the points needed in the introduction. I’ve never enjoyed a “talking face” (and I do believe there aren’t too many faces that have been on the earth as long as mine has that people will enjoy looking at for two minutes!). So, I decided to create a video collage of tricks/games/liberty with me speaking a voice over.

Today, Tuesday, I selected the music to underscore a few of the tasks. Slowly, but surely, this video is coming together.

Here’s the introduction I speak during the collage:

I’m Winnie Stott. At 68 years of age I’m having the time of my life, thanks to the horses I share each day with.

After decades of a rather traditional approach which included dressage, eventing and orienteering on horseback, my husband, Bill, and I purchased two weanling Lusitanos. This breed originated in Portugal. There’s an old Portuguese saying, “When a horse is three years old it has three legs. When it’s four, it has four legs.”

You’ll meet our two Lusitano geldings, Zelador and Zeloso. Bill and I had never dealt with young horses and wondered what we’d do with several years on our hands before riding them. That question was quickly answered. Our two boys led us to liberty training, Working Equitation, tricks, carriage driving, work in-hand, long reining and finally work under saddle.

The reason I’m entering this Horsewoman Challenge is because Liberty is one of the components. This is a huge step towards Liberty becoming part of every equestrian’s approach to creating an equine partnership.

I’ve had the opportunity to play with dozens of horses at Liberty, from miniatures to draft horses, from foals to horses in their twenties. I’ve also had the good fortune to play with an equine Olympic medalist. He’s amazing and has an incredible ability to focus.

My plan for choosing a horse for the competition starts with a young mare that was rescued from a feed lot. If the vet can determine that the mare is between the ages of three and six, then she will be my partner.

Finally, we live north of Toronto, Ontario and this winter has been very cold with windchills below minus 35. There have been record snowfalls and an ice storm that took out the electricity for three long days. I thank the organizers of the Horsewoman Challenge for creating the competition. Preparing the video has given us something pleasant to focus on.