I stumbled upon the Flying M while searching for a summer camp program for a friend’s daughter. Little did I know how much it would change my life!
There was a listing for a Cowgirl Weekend, at that moment I forgot all about the children’s camp program and thought how much fun it would be to be back on a horse again after 20+ years. I emailed the link to my friend and she called me back saying she had signed us up. This was surprising since she herself was terrified of horses.
We arrived that Friday night and were greeted by a group of friendly outgoing women of all ages that made us feel as though we had been friends for a lifetime. While eating that evening we got to know one another better and how we had all come upon being there, it was interesting to feel a bond already forming with new found friends.
In the bunkhouse that evening we all enjoyed watching videos taken while on trail rides and training events. You could truly see that this was not only going to be fun but we would learn so much in such a short period of time. We each talked about what we wanted to get out of the weekend, overcoming fears, relearning or learning for the first time things about horses, etc.
The next morning we were awakened to an awesome breakfast, fed the horses and then were all matched up to the horse that would best suit our needs for the ones of us that did not bring our own horse.
Within minutes (unbelievable to our own expectations) my friend was saddling her own horse, picking up its feet and actually smiling and having fun with an animal she had always been terrified of in the past.
I was matched up with Grande and he lives up to his name well. A beautiful white gelding that is so loveable and patient with someone that had a lot to relearn the right way. I had come from a background where you get on and ride the horse for your event then put it away until you need it again. My experience with trail rides was what most of us are familiar with, riding miles down the edge of roads and highways with groups of horses and wagons from point A to point B. Boy did I have a lot to learn!
We spent our first day getting to know our horses with despooking techniques, something I had never done before or even imagined. We rode around and through all types of obstacles with one-on-one training to help not only learn the right way to work with your horse but also build our confidence and a bond with the horse. By evening we were riding a trail down a railroad track, through trees and up and over hills, now this was more like it! By Sunday we were not just friends but had become family.
I have since gone on two ‘real’ trail rides with the Flying M. I now know that I did not just ‘stumble’ onto this website I was led there out of a need I had to reconnect and find not only myself again but a group of people we call ‘horse family’ with the same love of horses from all walks of life and all in different stages of our own life. I have also found my horse soul mate, Dakota at the Flying M and we are learning from each other how to trust and have fun again thanks to Marsha who is amazing at matching horse and rider in a way that is beyond my understanding.
This is a place you go to not only be with your horse but your friends. I find myself just enjoying hanging out talking with everyone and learning so much not only about horses but myself. We learn ‘life lessons’ from each other. This is not something money can buy and surely is not found just anywhere.
If you want to be taken back to a better place and time, find true friendship and really know how to bond with your horse, find a new horse or just ride every once in while I suggest you stop by the Flying M. I promise you will never be the same and you will be opened up to a whole new world of fun, friends and family. To my friends and family at the Flying M - Thanks for being there when I need you the most! Blessings & Happy Trails, Nancy Young
“Marsha matched me with “Smoke”, a 19-year-old Quarter Horse gelding she owned and trained between his 4th and 12th years. I did not want an OLD or GREY horse, but fortunately I set aside my prejudices, heeded her advice, and took a lesson on him. I was astounded by his capabilities. I experienced a major paradigm shift about old, grey horses. I realized “Smoke” (and Marsha’s mentoring) could teach me a lot. “Smoke” had the smarts of a seasoned horse and the athleticism of a five-year-old. He knew all the speed and pleasure events, and he was good at roping and trail. I offered a deposit on him the evening of that lesson. No regrets. Wow! What a ride!” B.N.
“Marsha introduced me to “Gunsmoke”, a lanky 2.5-year-old buckskin tobiano gelding, when my horse “Smoke” was recovering from an injury. She let me ride “Gunsmoke” on the March 2008 Flying M Ranch trail ride trip to Caprock Canyon in the Panhandle. To my astonishment, “Gunsmoke” was a brave, confident, inquisitive, sturdy little horse. He had “trail savvy” beyond his years. He had stamina in spades! His single-foot walk left others in the dust! Upon return from the trip, I was still horseless. Fortunately, Marsha let me continue to ride “Gunsmoke” at the Flying M Ranch. In the weeks that followed, I came to appreciate that this young horse was a dynamo! I was smitten by his intelligence, heart, and “ever-ready-rabbit” energy. “Gunsmoke” provided me an opportunity to learn (from Marsha) how to develop a young horse. With that realization, I bought him. I look forward to many years with “Gunsmoke”. His “Color Me Smart” cutting horse bloodlines cannot be ignored. With Marsha’s help, “Gunsmoke” and I will perfect our basic skills, enjoy trails, and prepare for low-key versatility and ranch cutting competitions. “Gunsmoke” has come a long way in less than a year. He is starting to blossom. “Color Me Gun” (his registered name) is a beautiful, amazing horse, and thanks to Marsha, I am blessed to share time with him.” B.N.
I started riding with Marsha and her group of ladies about one year ago. I was nervous because not only do I ride trails but I love to ride dressage. So I was worried I might not fit in with this group. Nothing could have been further from the truth. Marsha has a desire to teach people what she knows about horsemanship and horses and has no prejudices as to your favorite mode of riding. My horse had more arena experience than trail experience and my goal was to help my guy become a better trail horse. In addition, I had heard about her trail rides and I had a great desire to be able to travel with these ladies to their next trail ride. Her Cowgirl Weekends are full of information to help you to be a better horsewoman and how to train your horse YOURSELF to be a better mount. It is a fun filled weekend full of great information from a woman who is a great teacher. It is money well spent and I am so glad to have the opportunity to ride with Marsha again this year. The trail ride I got to go on last year is still the highlight of last year’s memories and will only be replaced by what we do on the trail this next year. We rode, laughed, laughed until we cried, just cried, ate until we were ready to pop and experienced some of God’s beautiful earth in a way you can only experience from the back of a horse. Ilene Cooper, D.V.M, San Angelo, TX