Sunday, May 31, 2009

Sharing the Love

Nothing's impossible I have found,
For when my chin is on the ground,
I pick myself up,
Dust myself off,
Start all over again.

Don't lose your confidence if you slip,
Be grateful for a pleasant trip,
And pick yourself up,
Dust yourself off,
Start all over again.

From the 1936 film 'Swing Time'
(Dorothy Fields & Jerome Kern)
Performed by Fred Astaire & Ginger Rogers

My chin and the rest of me were on the ground Tuesday night, for sure! I breathed and ate dirt. You know the expression, "It's no skin off my nose"? Well, it was, and off my forehead and forearms as well. I have colorful bruises in some pretty strange places. I called Mike as I was driving home and had him draw me a bath. I iced my hip that night and almost all of the next day. I was pleasantly surprised to feel much better on Thursday, and was thankful for strength and resilience. Riders of a certain age know what I'm talking about. It could have been much worse.

This weekend, I hosted Kat, a coworker's 12-year old niece, whom I met at a party a few years ago. It's easy to recognize the soul of a fellow horse lover. It took me awhile, but I finally made arrangements for a visit. I can't begin to say what it would have meant to me at that age to have someone reach out to me. I don't want to sound like some sort of philanthropist, because I'm not. There wasn't anyone for me, but I feel compelled to share what I have with little girls who have horses in their souls. I picked her up after work on Friday.

Kat and I began our Saturday morning with a trip to Paul Taylor's, where I got that great pair of cotton split reins Poco is sporting in the photos. I love them! I also picked up some coal tar & sulfa shampoo for Amber's seborrhea, and some flea stuff for the dogs. Kat agrees with me that the best smell in the world is tack store.

I called Nita when we were a few minutes away from the farm, but she said Jason was using the tractor to dig post holes, and the arena hadn't been tilled yet. We moved the barrels and ground poles out of the way, and it was then we realized how HOT it was already — in the 90's. We decided we would wait until later to ride, and pulled a couple of the yearlings up from the pasture for baths. The two, Sweetie and Phoenix (who is Vera's full sister and a carbon copy of her), were hanging onto their woolly first-year baby winter coats and looked like unshorn llamas. Both babies stood well for the primping and looked much better for our efforts. Of course, we were all soaking wet, but it felt good!

Me on Poco, Nita on Jaz, and Kat (pink) on Doodles

Thank you Jason, for tilling the arena and moving O.

Kat & Doodles

I took Poco into the arena before I tacked him up and desensitized him to the barrels. I kicked them, beat them with a crop, rocked them, knocked them over. He was unfazed. I think Heather was right that his panic on Tuesday had to do looking back after hearing the whump of the barrel, and seeing the huge thresher coming (in his mind) straight at him. He couldn't know it was across the road. He showed no hesitation when we rode the barrels.

Like most of us in the beginning, Miss Kat has much to learn about the true nature of the beasts. After our ride, we tacked down the horses in their stalls and Nita got grain. Doodles was over-anxious, careening around the stall while Kat was still in there. Nita and I yelled, almost simultaneously, "Don't let him do that!" She wedged herself in a corner, but Doodles kept circling, demanding his grain. She didn't have a crop, so I said, "Throw the brush! Kick him!" Kat looked horrified that I would even suggest such a thing, and said, "I will not!" Nita and I rescued her and made Doodles behave. We tried to explain the logic, but I'm sure she thinks we're the most cruel, barbaric people ever.

Kat was asleep before we ever even got to the main road. Her mom will pick her up later this morning.

I will bathe Amber again, and putz around here for the rest of the day — normal weekend household chores. If I can muster the ambition, I need to clean my tack, which has been permeated with red dust and sand.

Hope y'all are having a great weekend. Don't forget to smooch your ponies.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Not a Matter of If, But When

Guest blogger: Heather

After a wonderful long weekend of spending plenty of time with horses, what would any girl want to do the Tuesday after? Well, spend more time with horses! Hence, it was no surprise to me when my barn buddy calls asking about the condition of the arena after the morning rain. It was drying out nicely but still a little on the gooey side, so Leah decided to call when she was on her way home. Yes, it's true, she's a true horsewoman (aka addict), throws her tack and riding clothes in her truck before she heads to work.

By afternoon, the arena was just damp enough that the dust was down, but it was hot and humid. Isn't that how it goes? But close enough to a perfect day, that we weren't passing up the chance to ride. Nita, my mother, is just getting back into riding after injuring her leg, so I had made plans to give her a lesson on her hands, at the walk, and either bareback or stirrup-less. Something nice and relaxing. So, she pulled her bombproof, retired, foundered, 20-year old mare Keeley up for some attention.

Leah had plans to ride good ol' Poco, and good ol' Poco isn't usually that good with mares. Mom and I had discussed it, and if Poco was too bad for Leah, she had planned to take Keeley up, let Leah get control, and then ride Keeley once Leah was done. With as good as Poco had been this weekend, it seemed like a good time to test. Besides, both Mom and I prefer mares to geldings, so if we can rides mares with Poco then YAY!

Every one headed out into the area, me with my trusty chair and bottle of Gatorade, and the ladies with their ponies. Things started out nice and easy, Poco was being, well, Poco, and Mom was relaxing into her lesson. Leah didn't seem to be having too much trouble with Poco, I mean, he's a goofy boy, but he was listening to her. He was obviously showing off though, making sure that gorgeous mare over on the other side could see how handsome he was. Keeley of course, could care less, so Poco was SURE that she loved him, and he should strut his stuff.

If Keeley went over the ground poles, then Poco wanted to. If Keeley went around the barrels, then Poco wanted to as well. Leah was using this to her advantage I think, and getting Poco to do some lovely work. He was stepping over the rails nicely, going straight, and she was heading around the barrels, picking up speed. Eventually she was rounding them in a trot, and making some very lovely bends. Poco looked like he was getting into the whole deal. Leah seemed to be in control, and while Poco was distracted by the mare, he wasn't out of control. Things seemed to be going well.

Now, I have to mention here, that my arena is next to the road. It's a moderately busy road, and the horses are used to the traffic, for the most part. But on the other side of the road is a hay pasture, and the farmer was out with his mower that afternoon. The horses seemed to have no problem with this, as it's something they see all the time.

So, after about 20 minutes, just as the horses are getting into it, things went bad. Nita and Keeley were on the back side, and Nita was getting the idea of asking her horse to reach down for the bit while on a loose rein. They were very relaxed, and looking good, so I turned to watch Leah and Poco having so much fun. Leah had Poco heading to a barrel, at a quick trot, and he looked very intent on what he was doing. They cut the barrel a little close, and whipped around it. Both looked like they were enjoying themselves, right up until Leah's foot rocked the barrel.

Time slowed, and I watched the barrel tip to it's edge, and Leah correct Poco away from it. Poco turned, and then the barrel thumped back into place with a noticible whump. Poco rolled his Appaloosa eyes back to the noise, and I glanced where he was looking. That farmer in his hay tractor was booking it across the pasture, right at us. I got the distinct impression that Poco heard the loud noise, and saw a large green monster coming to eat him. He panicked.

He tucked his rump under him and tried to take off at the canter. Leah half-halted him hard, but he tried another bolting canter step. Leah corrected that too, and had a good hand on her horn, her feet were down, and she was sitting good.

For a second, I thought, "I think she's got control". And then Poco's fear outdid his brain. He shifted his weight onto his forehand and bounced. Leah sat the bounce, tightened her rein, but Poco was in monster land by this point (and heading right at me, I might add). Poco hopped again, a little harder and a little to the left, then again, more to the left. Leah was still in the saddle, but not in control, and then Poco hopped far to the right, leaving Leah out in the air. As luck would have it, I had recently filled in a washed out spot with 8 inches of new soft sand, and that's where Leah was flying to.

She came down pretty hard, landing on her hip, side and arm. Her helmet and arm scooped the sand, sending it all over (and I'm sure quite a bit down her clothes). I hopped up, watching Poco buck off and calming down. Poco was fine, just scared. When I went to check Leah, before I even made it to her, I asked the age-old question, "Are you ok?" She replied with something along the lines of "I don't know yet". Well, she's speaking, that's good. She hadn't made a move yet, so it was nice to hear her voice.

Any one who's ever hit the ground hard (and haven't most of us?) knows, there's a mental inventory you take. Arms? Check. Legs? Yep, still there. Body? Oww owww owww... ok I still have that too. That's what Leah was doing, and I didn't want her to rush it. I looked up and Poco was running around, trailing a broken rein. Well crap, can't let him tear apart all her tack. I told Leah to take her time, she didn't have to move. Nita and Keeley were standing quietly in the center of the arena, hoping Poco would come over, and stop running around. He thought about it, then took off for the barn side of the arena, where a little hay had been dropped earlier. Nothing like food to stop a spooky horse in his tracks!

I caught up to Poco, checked out what had broken, knew I had another set of reins just in the barn. Looked back, and Leah was getting up. I told her to sit down in that chair I had brought out (which wasn't very far from where she landed) and to drink the Gatorade. Sitting and drinking something sweet has always helped me get the twitching feeling to stop. I walked Poco back over so she could hold him while I got the reins.

Poco had the look of fear on his face. His little eyebrows were tight, his head was low, and his entire demeanor showed that he expected a whoppin'. When Leah took his reins, he looked just terrified, but he stood there, waiting for the punishment. In my mind, there's no reason to punish a horse for being scared. It's not going to help the horse trust his rider, nor will it make any difference that long after the incident. Training fixes the problem, hitting a horse that let you catch him does not. [LF here. Clarification: Poco was handled roughly by one or more previous owners, never by Heather or me.]

While I went to get new reins, Leah calmed Poco, gave him some Gatorade, and reassured him that if he behaved, even in hand, he would not be punished. We snapped on the reins, and I held him while she saddled up. Walking to the mounting block looked like it was excruciating for her. Her hip had taken the main force of her landing, and she walked with a noticeable limp. I held Poco while she mounted, she calmed him (and herself I'm sure) a bit, and then they made a few laps around the arena. Poco was behaving much better, and a lot less inclined to show off.

The ride wound down, the ladies cooled off their horses, and we headed back to the barn. Poor Leah limped around tacking down Poco, but she wanted to do the walking her self, to help ease those muscles out. After every one was settled, I reminded her again of my tricks to keep her hip from being too bad the next morning. I kept thinking about how she had to drive home, and her muscles would start to cool and stiffen. Man, do I feel bad for her.

But, she took her fall like a pro. She did her best to correct the horse and prevent it, but once she was off, she handled her horse with intelligence rather then anger, and hopped back on him with out a second thought. When I met Leah 3 years ago, she was excited and full of questions. Now, she's self assured, but still takes advice from those who offer it, and has her own to offer in return. Ah, how the time flies.

So now the big question is, can Leah walk at all today?

Answer from Leah: very slowly. I am a hurtin' cowgirl.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Channeling Cowgirls Past

"Don't screw with me fellas.
This ain't my first time at the rodeo."
— Lulu Bell Parr (1876-1955)

Friday — Don't Screw With Me Fillies
When I got home, flies and mosquitoes were driving the Gurlz to distraction. They looked as if they were having spasms, kicking and biting at themselves. I looped a lead rope around ringleader Vera's neck and had Mike hold her so I could spray her. So we thought. She threw her head and swung her pretty spotted butt and refused to stand still. I slapped her on the shoulder, but she wheeled hard, spinning Mike around, snapping the catch of the lead rope so it jammed Mike's thumb. She grabbed tagalong Amber, and took off to the opposite end of the property with the lead rope swinging on either side of her. I was pissed, because now, I had to grab a halter, trudge out there, and catch her.

If there's one thing Heather has taught me, it's this:
always win.

Captive fashion templates

Amber wants to be sweet, but looks to the 6-months younger, bossier Vera to dictate her every move. Although they did not approach me, I walked right up, haltered Vera, and Amber followed. All that for a little fly spray. I had intended to give them grain after I released them, but Vera herded Amber and both did a beautiful grand jeté across the dry creek bed. Amber saw the buckets and wanted to come back, but Vera wasn't buying it.

Although I enjoy watching the fillies fill out and become more social, what it's really doing is making me miss my own horses. All our animals are goobers after you get to know them, and the Boyz are no exception. The Gurlz seem to take themselves so seriously. They don't run and play like the Boyz. They don't drop and roll the second they're turned loose from grooming. (Hmm, I may have to give that more thought. That part's kind of nice.) The Gurlz aren't goofy enough. We miss our big, goofy Boyz. But they will stay where they are for at least another week. More about that in a later post.

Saturday — Off to the Farm
Heather tilled the arena, and I laid out barrels and ground poles. Heather rode Doodles, her dad's horse. Nita, on her first ride since messing up her knee, rode dependable Jaz — I bought Jaz from her. I rode Pokemon. I told Heather my main goal was to ride a relaxed horse, even if we walked the entire time. I am still having tack issues, and both my Boyz are out of shape, so we only rode about 20 minutes. I need to be patient and persistent, and continue doing short sessions like that to break in the saddle. Heather watched us and says the saddle fits and his movement is not being restricted, but he's not feeling the love. There's no way I can determine if that saddle is going to work in the long run unless it's broken in.

I walked Poco around the course first. He was very happy when he saw Jaz come into the arena. We all played and tried to get our seats back after so long (rain!) not riding. I didn't have to fight with him at all. At one point, I was stopped, waiting for Doodles and Jaz to go over the ground poles, which we had just done. Doodles went first, then Jaz. I wasn't holding Poco's head, and he turned himself around, lined himself up and went over the ground poles again, as if to say, "Let me show you how it's done." Too funny.

No photos — too busy having fun.

After the ride, we gave Crash a MicroTek bath to clean up some mane itchies. He's a yearling, so it was also a good lesson in patience and manners. I was very wet.

Champion Lady Bucking Horse Rider of the World (Lulu's title)
Nita had overdone it with her knee, so she went back to the house to relax. Heather and I were talking about horses (what else) and the subject turned to Scorch, her 2-year old stallion, who is also Rico's full big brother. Scorch is a big marshmallow. For as huge as he is, he's very gentle and well-mannered. He is a draft cross, but although he's got the height and substance, he's not heavy and drafty. He's built like a Hanoverian or Dutch Warmblood — big and meaty. I have walked up to him in his catch pen as he was lying down, sat on him as I groomed him, and he never moved a muscle. I tease Heather that I broke her skeery stallion for her.

So, as the conversation turned to Scorch's first ride, I said, "C'mon, help me up." My weight isn't going to hurt a 16hh massive 2 year-old for five minutes. We put a hackamore on him, I climbed the fence and threw my leg over him. He didn't move, and his ears remained soft and forward. I got on and he just stood there. Heather got him to take a few careful steps forward. He was okay with me being there, but not so sure about the shift in my weight when he moved. The funniest part was when Jim went by on the mower, and we waved to him. He waved back, then did a double take, and stopped the mower to watch the breaking of the monster stallion. It was a non-event. Sorry, Lulu.

Sunday — Clean Fillies
I couldn't muster the energy to drive back out to the farm, so both Gurlz got a MicroTek bath. Amber really needed it. Being an amber champagne, her skin and haircoat are so odd. Her skin is a dark, livery pink, with black freckles. Her coat is slightly thinner, slightly finer than many horses. She has a skin condition that makes her really "crawly". I have always had good luck with MicroTek products, but as soon as she was dry, it was as if the skin on her back curdled, in that lacy sort of way. Still, it seemed to soothe her a little, so I applied several good, soaking coats.

I don't know nuthin' about nuthin', so did some internet research. I believe she has equine exfoliative eosinophilic dermatitis (equine cradle cap), which is actually a form of seborrhea. I had that as a teenager. It's basically coagulated body oils that irritate the skin. Next time, she'll get a bath in a pine tar/sulfa shampoo, and I may look for a cortisone cream to help soothe it.

A big brag on my friend Heather and the way they work with their youngsters: the fillies' manners were impeccable. They stood well for the bath. Amber went first, so she was tied for over 2 hours. I was even able to scissor-trim their ears. Both seemed to enjoy their spa day, and neither of them has rolled yet!

Heather told me the woman who bred Amber sold her because she didn't feel Amber was suited to either of her two main disciplines — reining or barrels. I think she was right. If Amber could, I think she would come in the house and lay on my lap while I watch TV. This girl wants to be someone's pocket pony. Incredibly sweet, quiet.

Vera has a good, quick mind, and is more athletic than Amber. She has her mother's 'tude, but I predict Heather's going to have a fine, reliable mount when she's 5-6, or has foaled.

The rest of the day was spent puttering around the house and a few luxurious moments parked in a lawn chair, catching some rays.

Monday — Second Verse, Same as the First
I have a few chores to do, then I'll head out to the farm again today. I'll ride Poco, then I may saddle Quaker, back from a brief lease. I bet Nita won't ride today, so if Heather doesn't ride Jaz, I may get on him too. Both Jaz and Quaker are much more tolerant of my ineptitude than Poco. Everybody knows how I feel about Quaker.

I hope everyone is having a nice long weekend. Don't forget to smooch your ponies.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Faces at the Farm


Rico was my shadow

She has one brown eye and one blue eye

Boo, Jaz's brother
BTW, that's not some funky skin condition, just mud

Cayenne, a hand-raised orphan QH filly


Dee, Jason's mare


Nita's replacement for her aging mare Keeley


Maggie, guardian of the herd

Me, me! Don't forget me! (Rico)



Phoenix and Nox


My turn again! You know you love me!
Can you believe how big Rico is already?

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Skywatch Friday 09-45

Lake Ray Roberts — Tioga, TX

I never tire of taking photos of the lake.

Click on the logo to see skies from around the world.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Whimsical Wednesday

Light & Shadow
Can you see the braying donkey I see?

Could also be a rabbit, I guess.

The shafts of light shining on the trunk

where it splits form the ears.
It's facing to the right.
The eye is a knot.
It reminds me of the cartoon boys who turned
into donkeys in Disney's 'Peter Pan'.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Flavor of the Day

What flavor ice cream is your horse?
(This was way too much fun)

Jaz = Vanilla Bean

Poco = Rocky Road

Amber = Peach

Vera = Cookies n' Cream

Jinx = Dark Chocolate

Cayenne = Butter Caramel

Melody = Strawberry

Dream = Chocolate Chip

Nazar = Toasted Butter Pecan

Arden = Cinnamon Vanilla

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Let's Hear it for the Gurlz!

How 'bout that Rachel Alexandra rockin' the Preakness?
Girl Power — YEAH!

Mike and I are hosting two of Heather's 3-year old fillies for a short time. We need a bit of light mowing — waste not, want not. They need the weight and some spoiling. My horses need neither, so they remain at Heather's, where they are getting what they need: dry stall (Jaz), rationed hay, limited grazing, and constant handling (Poco).
Heather and Nita both say Poco is being a very good boy. Jaz, of course, is always a good boy.

Amber (Cristal Lynx -- pedigree here) and
The Horse Formerly Known as Oops
(Rohrschach's Spots x Pelees Ashes)

Ash, a grey TB mare, was Heather's first horse. The Horse Formerly Known as Oops (THFKAO) will be the aging Ash's replacement as her riding horse. The shortest version of how the little girl got to be known as Oops: the breeding was planned, but Ash tested positive for a uterine infection. She was flushed and exposed to the stallion again, but the infection recurred, and the mare was flushed twice more. Months later she was exposed to Spot again, but showed no signs of being in heat. She was palpated and found to be in foal.

Ash and THFKAO
Gotta love watching Appy foals literally change their spots.

What they didn't know was that THFKAO was from the first breeding. THFKAO survived three flushes. She was born while Ash was still in the pen with Spot, who stood in a corner, a respectful distance from mother and baby.

I love her pouty mouth and mottled skin. Check out the eyeliner. She's much too lovely a young filly to be called Oops. THFKAO's registered name is Veneratio Memorium Vera (In Memory of Vera), Heather's grandmother. I issued a proclamation that since possession is 9/10ths of the law, and since I do, in fact, have her in my possession, from this day hence, she will be called Vera. Fortunately, I amuse my friends, and they are kind enough to humor me. But even if they continue to call her the name they gave her, I know in my heart that she's a Vera, not an Oops. Some things you just know.

Love the mottled girl parts.
She needs some weight, but leave it to Aunt Leah.

And they're still eating.

Amber's color reminds me of marshmallow circus peanuts.

I leave you with the above two shots taken this morning. As you can see, our rain is gone — for the moment — and today promises to be one of the nicest days we've seen in awhile. I'm headed to the barn to see the Boyz, leaving the Gurlz to graze another day or so. I'll start handling them a little this week. I have grain and Source for them. We'll fill them out in no time.
Related Posts Widget for Blogs by LinkWithin