We hope you’re enjoying our favorite blog photos/moments from 2011. Remember if you click on any of the photos, you’ll be taken to the original blog posts.

June 2011

The expression on Bernard’s face the day we discovered the donkeys love watermelon:

And the drooling delight of Patrick:

The day Enzi got her very own beach in our backyard:

Ellsworth’s very first trail ride with his trainer, Ryan (I was beaming with pride for both of them):

Watching the ducklings thrive and grow over the summer was awesome:

July 2001

An Independence Day celebration with wonderful family and friends (and Maryland blue crabs!):

My first trail ride with Ellsworth, a.k.a. Big Red:

The afternoon the ducklings sat out in the yard enjoying a summer rain shower:

Don and I took the day off from work yesterday to go to the New Mexico State Fair donkey show. We met some really nice donkeys and their people while we were there.

This is GW and his person Judy. Judy adopted GW from Longhopes Donkey Shelter in Colorado.

Here’s Judy’s jenny, Daisy decked out with her pack saddle:

Judy riding GW:

Daisy performing in the donkey trail, in hand class:

Judy with her other jenny, Patience in the donkey trail, in hand class:

After the competition, Don and I enjoyed walking around behind the scenes to meet everyone up close and personal. Here’s one of the handsome Severs mules:

A spotted jenny named Chloe:

Who has a heart-shaped spot on her behind:

When we stopped to visit with Judy and GW, the little jenny named Patience caught my eye. When I started telling her how pretty she was, she literally started posing for me:

Really, seriously posing:

What’s not to love? ♥

On Saturday morning, Don and I loaded Ellsworth into the trailer and headed down to see Ryan for a lesson and a trail ride. (Ellsworth walked right into the trailer with no aids, by the way.)

Once we arrived, we started by warming Ellsworth up in the round pen.

And then headed out on the trail. Me on Big Red and Ryan on Murphy.

Ellsworth was a star. Since the trail we took is closed to vehicles, Ellsworth had to step over a metal fence bar about a foot off the ground at the beginning of our ride. Good boy! I can tell you without a doubt there’s no way he would have done that five weeks ago.

Ellsworth walked strong and tall and I couldn’t stop smiling.

We walked down the canal path for about 20 minutes, then into the bosque a short distance to the river.

It was surreal to be sitting atop Big Red, quietly watching and enjoying the beauty of the Rio Grande.

And to think, this is just the beginning!

I ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ Ellsworth.

Just like that, our boy is now a man.

Big Red got his first headstall, bit and reins on Saturday.

Ryan selected an eggbutt snaffle bit to get Ellsworth started.

Ellsworth took to it like an old pro.

I’m so proud of him.

A few adjustments were necessary, but as always, Ellsworth was very patient.

Lessons for Big Red – Week Two

Lessons for Big Red – Week One

Do you know the feeling you get when you realize you’ve made a really good decision?

Hiring Ryan to train Ellsworth this summer was an excellent decision. 

On Saturday, during Ellsworth’s sixth lesson, Ryan took Ellsworth on his very first trail ride.

With Ryan’s experience and confidence guiding him, Ellsworth did a phenomenal job.

Ryan has a knack for knowing what Ellsworth needs and what he’s ready for.

Perhaps it was the antics of Ellsworth’s brothers on Saturday that prompted Ryan to take Ellsworth off the property for his maiden ride. Check out the peanut gallery:

Ellsworth clearly responds to Ryan’s consistency, perseverance and patience. For example, getting Ellsworth to cross over these logs has always been a big challenge for us on our walks.

On Saturday, Ryan had Ellsworth walking over them inside of five minutes.

And riding across them inside of seven.

Hey, Ryan? Don’t forget us when you’re famous, okay?

Lessons for Big Red – Week One

Ellsworth had his first official saddle training lesson on Tuesday afternoon, and let me tell you, he was a star pupil.

We’re very excited that after taking Ellsworth down to their farm, Ryan has agreed to work with and saddle train Ellsworth at Morning Bray Farm this summer.

As was the case the last time Ryan worked with Ellsworth, Ryan was confident, assertive, calm and quiet with him. It was a beautiful thing watching such a talented young man work with Big Red.

Ryan’s methods revolve around building Ellsworth’s confidence rather than instructing by force. I’m seeing Ellsworth react so positively to Ryan’s tact, and I couldn’t be more proud of them both.

Ryan has agreed to let me take notes and pictures so that you can follow along. Both Ryan and Big Red are going to do great things this summer!

Lessons for Big Red – Week Two

Ellsworth had an excellent adventure on Saturday. He provided us with one surprise after another and we’re so incredibly proud of him.

He loaded right up into the trailer… a huge surprise. This was Ellsworth’s first time being trailered since he came to Morning Bray Farm. Carson will remember that it wasn’t so easy getting him into the trailer the last time.

His brothers gave him a big send off.

Bernard actually tried to get into the trailer with Ellsworth. Sorry, Bernard, not this time.

Instead of my usual Saturday morning riding lesson, my riding instructor graciously offered to help us work with Ellsworth.

Ellsworth Big Red has done a great job with our riding sessions at home, but we’re ready to take things to the next level.

When we arrived at L’s farm, I think Don and I both expected for Ellsworth to act up. There were all kinds of new things going on for him, not to mention at least a dozen talking horses.

Instead, he was an angel. He was calm, poised and eager.

After Ellsworth checked out his new surroundings, my instructor gave us a ground work lesson. Ellsworth was a star pupil.

R, my instructor’s grandson, happened to be there on Saturday. R has probably been riding horses since before he could walk and was eager to work with Ellsworth. It was a beautiful thing.

Watching R and Ellsworth was amazing. (Carson, now I know exactly what you mean about purpose and intent.) Ellsworth was stunning. R’s confidence shined through Ellsworth.

They rode the round pen and stayed on the rail. Ellsworth looked like he was born to do this.

R was assertive, calm and quiet. Ellsworth was proud. That’s my boy.

What a morning. Ellsworth walked out with Don with his head held high.

Ellsworth took one last look at the horses before Don walked him through the gate. The look on his face said, “I’m hangin’ with the big dogs now.”

That’s my boy. We’re so proud of you Ellsworth. So proud. ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

We’re thinking that Big Red might be a good nickname for Ellsworth on riding days. He continues to improve and gains confidence each time we put the saddle on him. And, while we’re really proud of Big Red’s accomplishments, it looks like Bernard is his biggest fan.

Because we had the luxury of having my mom here to take pictures over the weekend, we discovered some things that may have otherwise been overlooked.

I was seriously shocked to see this picture. Because I was so focused on Ellsworth Big Red, I had no idea Bernard was back there sucking on the saddle pad.

It finally got to the point that we had to put Bernard out of the corral so we really could focus on Big Red.  Love you, Bernard.

Fergus stayed in the corral with Big Red to offer moral support and to receive butt scritches from Don.  

Big Red was quite pleased with and deserving of his carrot rewards…

…and the extra love, praise and attention he received.

We ended on a positive note (I asked him to walk and he walked, then asked him to stop and he stopped).

Of course he enjoyed a good brushing afterwards…

…and provided his signature contented sigh when his biggest fan returned to the corral.