Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Good Riddance!

The ball dropping on Times Square, marking the demise of 2008 and the dawn of 2009, will be a more-than-welcome sight for me, and I suspect I'm not alone. Each year has its troubles, but doesn't it feel like this one had its share and more? Steph & Molly, can I get an "amen"?

The worst of it will likely follow us into 2009 and several more years to come: the economy. Mr. Fry's high-tech job evaporated like dew on a summer morning. A highly qualified, generally sought-after network engineer, Mike has found himself in stiff competition with millions of others. He ended up taking the first thing he could get just to keep an income stream, but he's horribly underemployed. And working nights! Although as secure as anything can be these days, my job hasn't given any substantial increases in more years than I can count. My annual raises haven't even covered the rising cost of living; I'm actually making less than I was a few years ago. Couple that with the beating from Wall Street, and we're financially punch drunk. We know that life goes on, and we hold high hope that the new year will bring better opportunities.

In March, I lost my companion, my soulmate, my heart of 17 years, my BooBoo kitty. Letting him go was not nearly as hard as watching him decline for the past few years. But he wasn't even gone before our newest wild child showed up in the midst of horrific weather. In many ways, Leeloo seems to channel my old friend, so I still catch a glimpse of him every once in awhile, particularly when clean laundry is involved. Just the other day, I came in the door and I could have sworn I saw him sitting there, but it was just a shadow.

Due to complicated circumstances, my routine of regular exercise went out the window. I'm overweight, out of shape, and pissy about it. My body feels like hell and I have a closet full of clothes that don't fit. One of my goals in the new year is to work out a new routine that will help me get my groove back.

2008 was not without its positives:

I started blogging, which has been a huge blessing to me. I so appreciate everyone who stops by to laugh with me or at me. I am grateful for the help and encouragement as I bumble my way through horsekeeping. I'm learning every day.

I moved to a different position within my department — Communications Coordinator. After having a job that defied description for so long, I can now say simply, "I am a writer." After the transition period, the travel portion of my job should be either greatly diminished or completely gone. Although I traveled to some fabulous places, stayed in five-star hotels, I was not handling the stress well at all. Every year for as long as I can remember, I have gotten very sick on at least one (of five) of the trips. I'll miss the perks, not the hassles.

My confidence continues to grow, and that in itself has moved mountains in terms of being able to handle my spotted problem child. Last year at this time, I would not have dared even attempt taking Poco outside the fence with or without Jaz. Pokey will never be a pocket pony, but he's the reason I can't be complacent for a second and why I keep stepping outside my comfort zone. And where would I be without my patient, steady little Jazu? I love them both dearly. My goal is to continue to strive for improvement. If finances permit, I want to get back in a regular lesson program.

I got my new saddle as well as all the tack necessary to have both horses completely outfitted with their own stuff. And they be stylin'! I'm still a slob, but they look good.

If I start creating a litany of New Year's resolutions, I'll surely doom myself to failure. Let's just say, my theme, as it were, for 2009 is "SIMPLIFY." What's yours?

I thank all of you for your support and wish you a happy, healthy and prosperous 2009. God bless us, every one.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Lazy Day With the Boyz

I had the most wonderful day with my horses. I literally laid around with them, playing with my new camera. Here are some of the stills.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Husband Abducted By Aliens!

You may recall my post from a few weeks back, wherein I expounded on my husband's benevolence in encouraging me to purchase my new saddle. Although unexpected at the time, the gesture was not out of character; he's a really great guy, and he wants me to be happy.

Then, this morning:

Him: You know what you should do? Go out to one of the "big box" stores and see if you can get a good deal on a new digital camera. Got any money?

Me: Some. Really?

Him: Yeah. Cramer (CNBC "Mad Money") says all the retailers did so badly, you can probably get a really good deal.

Me: Really?!

Him: Seriously. Don't go to Wal*Mart, cuz they're the only retailer that had record profits. Go to Target or Best Buy or some other place that carries them.

Me: Okay, I'm outta here!

It's true, my digital camera is a modern day dinosaur. It's close to 9 years old. It's probably 6"w x 2"d x 3"h and weighs almost 1.5 lbs. It uses 4 AA batteries. It has a whopping 8MB memory card, 2 mega pixels and 3x digital (not optical) zoom. On the lowest resolution, it holds maybe 50 pix. Video? What's that? Still, it works, and the pix aren't half bad — all the pix on this site were taken with that camera — although it makes my purse weigh a ton. It doesn't even fit in the purse I'm using right now. Hell, it doesn't even fit in the cup holders in my truck! Kodak no longer supports it, and the only place you can buy bigger memory cards (ooh 16MB!) is on one of those "vintage" sites where some geek has a closet full of outdated parts they sell at a premium to idiots like me who don't know when to upgrade. I've been wanting a new one for years, so this was all pretty exciting.

So what's wrong with this picture?

Mr. Fry is not a gambling man, so I know he didn't win the lotto or hit it big at the poker table.

We don't have any rich, recently deceased relatives.

He's not a dope dealer.

There's no money buried in the backyard.

Ed McMahon and the Prize Patrol have not been spotted on our road.

There's only one explanation remaining
: my husband has been abducted by aliens.

Yep, he's a pod person.

I did give some thought to contacting the authorities, but then I remembered that poor guy in the movie and how far that got him. [back of hand against forehead] No, I decided no one would believe me, and the best thing I could do is just go along with it until I figure out how to melt him or freeze him or electrocute him, or whatever that guy did in the movie. Best Buy, here I come.


Man, I have some serious catching up to do. I feel like one of the apes suddenly facing the monolith. Guess what I'll be doing tomorrow?

I was, in fact, able to get what I think is a very good deal. I got the camera, an extra rechargeable lithium battery, a case, and a 4GB card. I also got a 2 year warranty that includes accidental damage. I thought that might be a good idea because of that big LCD screen. Needless to say, my old camera had nothing like that. I used to drop it routinely. Thought I busted a small bone on the top of my foot once. My phone (Samsung Blackjack) has a big screen like that and it's scratched all to hell. The warranty on the camera seemed like a wise investment. I also got a 15% e-coupon when I registered it. I'm thinking of getting a silicon skin to help protect it.

What I paid for this amazing device is not all that much more than I paid for the old clunker back in its day. Can't wait to see what it can do!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas and the Day After

Our son, Jesse, and daughter-in-law, Ryley, brought our granddogs, aka the Ugsley Pugsleys, to visit for Christmas. We were skeptical as to how all the dogs would get along — ours lead such insular lives — but they seemed to genuinely enjoy the interaction with each other and the horses. The horses were exuberant, delighting in playing chase with the Pugs. The Pugs would run on those stubby little legs, barking like mad, the Boyz would take off, tails flagged, necks arched, then circle back and the game would start again. It was fun to watch. I'm sure the Pugs were sick last night after rolling in and eating every pile of horse poop they encountered. Their cute pink hoodies were pretty nasty by the end of the day. A good time was had by all, and I'm betting those Pugs slept soundly last night.

Ryley and Jaren (our niece, who took all the photos) wanted to ride, but the horses were so wound up from playing with the dogs, I didn't think it was such a good idea. Neither has any experience with horses whatsoever.

Got food?

My Wildman Rockstar. The look in his eye is what we call "that look," which basically says, "anything can happen, and it's up to you to be on your toes and ready for whatever it is."

Jaz, checking Ryley and Jesse for treats.

What I really want is some of what's in that can under your arm.
Can I have it pleeeeze?

No food. No beer. We go.

Cindi, aka Ratweasel, doing what she does best — being cute.

Clockwise from top left: Chula, Callie, Izzy, Dylan & Cindi.

Daddy, those little flat-faced dogs took my ball!

Callie, my favorite of the Pugsleys.

We had a full-fledged fiesta, complete with Mr. Fry's Fabulous Fajitas, tamales, fried burritos (all homemade), and copious amounts of margaritas. Dessert was dark chocolate brownies with mint chocolate chip or Butterfinger ice cream. We watched "Iron Man" and "Tropic Thunder," both highly enjoyable.

The day after is a bit anti-climactic. Although in the mid-to-upper 60s, it's very gray, damp and windy. The forecast is calling for rain, thunderstorms and isolated tornadoes tonight. I wanted to groom the horses this morning, but had to cut it short because they were both so jumpy. They were doing okay until some yayhoo across the road started having target practice. It was loud and random. So they got the bare basics — brushed, faces & bums washed. I tried out my new clippers on Jaz's mane. Umm, I need practice. It looks like you might imagine it would if Poco had gotten hold of the clippers and decided to give Jaz a haircut himself.
Things are never as easy as they look.

I got two horse books for Christmas that I am looking forward to perusing: "How to Think Like A Horse" by Cherry Hill and "What Your Horse Wants You To Know" by Gincy Self Bucklin. Mr. Fry is off helping a friend whose truck is dead, so the house is very quiet. Think I'll grab a Dr. Pepper and curl up with my books.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Falling Down #1

Denton, TX

This was supposed to be a Wordless Wednesday, but there were words to be said.

I have always been fascinated with structures that have fallen into disrepair. There is a certain quiet grace to the slow decline and collapse that I find oddly compelling. I pass many such buildings on my commute every day, and my New Year's resolution is to photograph them. I do need a better camera to replace my near antique, but I can't afford it. I'm also not going to let that be an excuse not to do it.

Adding the PhotoShop sepia tone makes this a mood piece. This photo could have been taken yesterday or fifty years ago.

Merry Christmas, everyone. Don't forget to hug your ponies.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Psalm 30:5

Ad vesperum demorabitur fletus et ad matutinum laetitia.

Lake Ray Roberts — Tioga, TX

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Baby, It's Cold Outside

Warm Gatorade and hay: breakfast of champions
(and think-they-ares)

I said yesterday I didn't mind getting a little bundled up as long as it wasn't windy. I lied.

The Boyz were running, bucking and playing before the sun came up this morning. I heard them long before I could see them. I sat here in my warm hobby/computer room, watching them out the window as they played a rousing game of Bite Your Buddy's Face.

Later, when I went out to toss them some hay and give them warm Gatorade, I saw that it was 19°and still windy. I'm not riding today unless it gets quite a bit warmer than 19, that's for sure! I can see you snow bunnies from the north rolling your eyes, but my blood has thinned since moving to Texas in the early 80's.

It's a good day to putter, write, watch Christmas movies, and drink tea. Have a great Sunday.

"So shall it be written, so shall it be done."
— Yul Brynner as Ramses II in Cecil B. De Mille's epic The Ten Commandments

Saturday, December 20, 2008

The Best Laid Plans

"The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry."
— Robert Burns

I started early this morning, bringing tack and grooming items outside.
My friend Nita and I planned to ride here today, she on Jaz and I on Pokey. Although it started out ugly and overcast, the temperature was pretty nice and there was no wind. I got everything outside and ready, then came back inside to putter and wait for Nita's call. If we ever reached today's supposed high of 68°, it was for a brief moment when I wasn't paying attention. The cold front that was originally scheduled to hit this evening appeared much earlier than predicted. It got cold and windy quickly. Just about the time I mentioned to Mike that Nita and I probably missed our window of opportunity, Nita called and made it official. So I had to schlep everything back inside.

Earlier, I switched out the girth Sergeant's had given me with the saddle with a fleece one, and replaced the standard leather strop cinch with an It's A Cinch Pro. I have both on my other saddle, and really like them. These two items were the last things I needed to have both saddles outfitted just the way I wanted. Now, if someone comes and wants to ride, I don't have to spend time switching out and readjusting tack. Each horse has tack that fits and is adjusted specifically for them.

I couldn't understand why the old saddle was so dirty. Then, I remembered I had taken it to Heather's, covering it with a big blanket to protect it, since their tack room is not completely enclosed. Man, everything gets so dusty out there. Anyway, when I brought my stuff home, I had just shaken out the blanket and not laundered it. So that got washed today. I conditioned both saddles. After the fenders on the new one were damp with conditioner, I worked with them, twisting and torquing, to get the nice, soft arc around my leg. I store both saddles with a dowel through the stirrups to encourage them to remain perpendicular to the saddle.

I prepped the horses' buckets for an early feeding. Mike had promised to help get their blankets on them. Poco was no problem, but as usual, Jaz fussed, backed up, tried to leave, and we ended up needing a lead rope. All the time Jaz was acting up, Poco was in the shed, munching away. When we finally got Jaz's blanket on him, I put his food in his pan and walked the 4-6 steps to get them some hay out of the back of the trailer. I cannot believe the audacity of my Appaloosa, as he walked right in front of me, ears back, pushed Jaz out of the way, and started eating his food. Now, I know this is just what horses do, but to cut me off trying to get there? Dude! I shooed him, and before I could even turn around, he did it again. I made myself very big, stalked toward him in my most predator-like manner, forcing him to back away as I growled
in my most threatening voice, "DON'T. YOU. DARE." In truth, this has been building for almost a week. Just part of Poco's normal bi-polar disorder. He's been toeing the line pretty well since our last go-round this summer. We do this Dance of Dominance 3-4 times a year.

Not a lot going on other than that. I'm just playing on the computer, watching Christmas movies. I'm hoping tomorrow won't be windy, even if it's cold. I don't mind bundling up a little, but Nita probably won't show if it's still this cold. If she comes, we'll take both Boyz out. If she doesn't, I'll force Poco to face his herd-bound issues again and maybe take Jaz on a real ride. Maybe I'll call the guy across the road with the hundred acres and see if he'll let me ride over there.

Stay warm, y'all.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Snug as Bugs

From a high of 76°on Sunday
to a low of 19°last night
to a high of 30°today.

Welcome to Texas!

Why we don't have anything nice.
He rolls in it. It's torn.

There are patches on the other side.

Kidz — they're so hard on clothes.

This guy's hard to fit.
I found this 82"-84" on sale at Paul Taylor's this summer.
He's the one I thought would really tear up a blanket.
Turns out, the big stink likes being toasty.

When I left this morning, he was curled up like a cat.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Sinner's Sunday

It was definitely Sinner's Sunday at the Church of the Divine Walkabout. It was a beautiful day with high temps of around 76°F with a light wind. I tacked Poco up in his new saddle to test the fit for both of us. And it's a winner. I'm so glad I found one with a wide tree.
My handsome little tank. The Galloping Barcalounger.

This is the headstall I got after they discovered I had been overcharged for the original saddle but I had to take the difference in merchandise rather than a refund. Under normal cirmcumstances, I would never have paid $99 for a bridle. Not surprisingly, it barely fits his fat head. The throat latch is on the loosest notch, but the leather is so nice and supple, it already fit better by the end of the ride.

I'm not a barrel racer (ha!), but I still really liked the bridle. Unless you look closely, you can't tell that's what the conchos are anyway. And I remembered to turn the flash off before trying to take pix this close! I know it creeps some people out, but I love the mottling around his eyes and the white sclera.

OK, so we were stylin'. Well, he was anyway. I was my usual slob self. It was such a gorgeous day, we walked out the front gate.


Without Jaz.


We started off pretty well until we got to the next property and Jaz called out. Now, that pissed me off, because when I take Jaz out, it doesn't matter if Poco is screaming his head off, Jaz never calls back. And Poco immediately started fighting me. He stopped. He planted himself. He danced. He backed up. He tossed his head. He zigged when I wanted to zag.
He is his own worst enemy and had himself completely in a dither. Pat on the back for me for remaining totally calm and in control.

Whatever he wanted, I made him do the exact opposite. We ended up doing a lot of tight little circles. We'd take a couple steps forward (and further away from home and Jaz) and it would start again. He wanted to turn around and come home. I'd ask, ask again, tap him with the crop. When he finally gave in and we were toodling right along in the direction I wanted to go with no guff about it, I turned him around and we came back. He wanted to gallop or lope. I held him to a trot or walk.
He was soaked with sweat even though we couldn't have been gone more than 20 minutes and didn't cover much distance at all. He hung around even after he was tacked down, brushed and turned loose: "Tell me what a good boy I was again. I was a good boy, right?" I shared a Dr. Pepper with him. He even hung around while I conditioned the saddle and put everything away.

It's going to take a lot of patience and pushing him a bit further each time I take him out by himself.

Glad I got this ride in today. The wind has picked up again and it's supposed to be down into the 30s tonight and tomorrow.

Tis' the Season ...

... to be joyful!
Yeehaw! I am buckin' for joy! I got 25 nice, clean, green bales of coastal for $4.50 each!
A great price for this time of year for decent hay. The Boyz had been eating on a round bale since October, but when we tried to get another one from our usual source, the guy had sold his entire last cut to one buyer. Bummer. This guy has the best hay, and he's right across the road. He had hoped for another cut, but we haven't had any rain. We were trying to decide if we wanted to another round bale or do square bales. We went to the feed store yesterday and that price sealed the deal.

I like the convenience of a round bale, but so much is wasted, more so in the wet winter weather than when it's as dry as it has been. I certainly got my $50 out of that round bale. I like that I can dole out flakes from the square bales and put it in the run-in shed (which they don't use unless there's food in it). They don't waste as much. The downside is that I have no barn, so my trailer has dual duty as hay storage. If I need or want to use the trailer, I've got to unload whatever's in it.

And horses ... go figure. There's hay in the shed and on the ground in several places. Which hay does Jaz want?

... to be ornery!
I went out to feed the horses last night and Poco came swaggering up to the grain locker, ears back and with "that look" in his eyes. I swear, that horse is bi-polar. He had been good; I haven't seen that ultra-snotty attitude since summer. Just this week, he's started acting really bossy again. That attitude pisses me off to no end, so I ran him off, which I've had to do several times this week already. He is not allowed to approach me in that disrespectful manner. He turned his back to us, but I could see his ears flicking wildly as I sweet-talked Jazu while I prepared their buckets. As a dear old friend of mine used to say, "Good on ya." I took a couple steps outside the shed to grab some hay from the trailer and in those few seconds, Poco had already run Jaz off his food. Jaz knows the game, so as soon as I chased Poco, Jaz came trotting back in to finish his meal. Poco then returned to his own bucket, but kept his eye on me and Jaz, looking for the next opportunity. Time to play cafeteria lady again for awhile.

... for changing weather!
It has been really, really windy. It's supposed to be warmer today and so far, it doesn't appear to be quite as windy as it has been. Still, they are calling for gusts of 35-40 — not good. I am hoping to get out with the Boyz later. I haven't tried Poco's new saddle yet and I'm pretty anxious. Depending on just how crazy he is today, I'd love to take him down the road, even if it's just a short distance. I'll probably start out in the round pen until I get the stirrups adjusted right, etc., then hope he's taken his Prozac so we can get out there and have some fun. Psycho pony. Even Mike remarked about "that look" in his eyes this morning.
Heather says I'm the only person she knows who would put up with him.

I guess I should give the big lug a little credit. Last time we went down the road with Nita and Jaz, Poco did really well. Even when he spooked at the 3 manic Labs (fenced), he didn't bolt, he just flinched hard, but stayed in place. At another point, 2 other doofy Labs followed us down the road, barking their fool heads off. I hate it when people let their dogs run loose!! Poco kept looking back at them, but remained calm and didn't fight me.
Big improvements noted there. It shows a little more trust in me and confidence in himself. Without Jaz is still another story altogether.

... to cook!
Our son and his wife and our niece and her boyfriend are coming for Christmas and I promised a Mexican fiesta. I have a pot of beans started this morning, part of which I'll freeze for fried burritos, my son's favorite. Also on the menu: Mr. Fry's fabulous chicken fajitas, homemade (not by me) tamales, chips, salsa, guacamole, and — of course — margaritas.

Back to work tomorrow. We've been so busy, the weeks have been flying by. Hopefully, things will calm down over the holiday season as many of the suits are off to their vacation homes. Don't hurry back, fellas.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Serendipitous Shopping

My saddle was included in Poco's purchase price. It was maybe a $300-$400 saddle, certainly no more. It is tooled leather and doesn't look bad, but it has never been what anyone might call comfortable. It has a very thin layer of that fake fleece padding. I compensated by buying a high-end, thick wool pad to make it better on the Boyz' backs and my butt. I also added a sheepskin padded seat because there is no padding whatsoever under the suede seat. It has taken me two years to get the leather supple enough so the fenders and stirrup leathers don't torque my knees to hell, making my toes point out. I could go on, but suffice it to say, I've done everything I possibly could to make the best of what I had until such time as I could afford better.

In all the times I've "test-driven" saddles, I've never actually chosen one, i.e., "If I had the money today, I'd buy x." I've been stopping at Sergeant's every day since last Saturday (when the closing sale started) and finally identified what I wanted. My intention had been to choose several, then wait for a deeper discount, and take whichever one was left — if I did, in fact, decide to buy at all, and I truly was leaning toward not at this time.

Mr. Fry and I went to breakfast late Saturday morning in Aubrey, TX, and I talked him into stopping at Sergeant's to check out the state of the discounts. He never ceases to amaze and delight me. He asked me which saddle I liked and what made this one better than the rest and the one I have. I showed him the cheap ones, comparable to my current saddle. I explained the features I liked about the good one, flipped both over for comparison, showed him the construction. You get what you pay for: that is language Mr. Fry understands. It also didn't hurt that the young girl (cute as a bug) who helped us asked Mike if he rode. He said he didn't, to which she replied, "If you did, you'd know how miserable it is to ride in a saddle that's not comfortable."

Everything except the saddles was marked down an additional 5%-10%. The selection of saddles had dwindled, but there were still perhaps 30 good ones left, in addition to about 25 synthetics and cheap leather ones. Mike, the consummate wheeler-dealer, spoke to the folks behind the counter who told him this had been one of the highest grossing of the corporate-owned stores, so the employees had no power to bargain. They said that although everything else would continue to be marked down until it was gone, the saddles would probably not go down much more. They also said there were several dealers who were interested in buying the entire lot if they got marked any lower than the current 20%. There were only two left in the style I wanted.

My dear husband said he thought it was a good idea to get it! I will be the one to pay for it, but having his blessing, though never necessary, is always desirable. I am paying it out on a low-interest line of credit, not a credit card.

This is a Tucker 260 High Plains Trail Saddle with a smooth, light oil finish. I don't know why, but I didn't want tooling. Remarkably lightweight — only 25 lbs. The under padding is 1/2" thick, compressed wool, rather than the fleecy stuff. It has a gel seat (eyes rolling back in head). You'd think that with an ass as broad and well-padded as mine, this would be a non-issue, but you'd be wrong. My middle-aged joints, especially my back, do not appreciate the jarring, especially when I'm trying to sit a trot, which I have yet to master. Even new, the fenders are pliable, and wrap around my leg the way they should. As I do with my other saddle, I'll store it with a dowel woven through the stirrups to encourage that nice, soft wrap around my calf.

I will keep my old saddle for those occasions when someone visits and we want to take both horses out. I also hold out hope that one day Mike will trust Jaz enough to climb aboard. The old saddle fits Jaz better; the new one will be too big. Nita always brings her own English tack when she comes to ride Jaz.

It occurred to me there might be another reason altogether Mike gave his blessing to get the saddle. There is a funky side to my nature that my husband finds intriguing, amusing, or maddening, depending on the manifestation. I saw this pair of Ariat Fatbaby (ProBaby) boots and fell in love with them. I have very wide feet and these boots are super comfortable, like my Doc Marten's, the best shoes ever. Mike hates my Docs and when I showed him these, he rolled his eyes, shook his head and groaned, kind of like Lurch on the old Addam's Family TV show. It sounded like the human equivalent of a very low, drawn out nicker. I think he blessed the saddle just so I wouldn't bring these boots home.

But wait, that's not the end of the story!

This morning
, I tried the saddle on Poco and did about 10 minutes in the round pen. I'm no expert, but the seat felt too big, and it didn't sit right on Poco's broad back. It felt fine in the store on the stand (of course it did), but riding, I felt like a little kid in a grownup's chair. No, my ass didn't shrink overnight (dang it). Sergeant's agreed to do a straight exchange. I left the saddle at the counter and went to find the right size, but they had sold the only one remaining in the light oil finish. All that was left was the dark. No prob. My NEW new saddle is the same as my OLD new saddle except this one has a 16 1/2" seat and a wide tree — what a lucky find there. And the finish, of course. [Edited: My saddle also has the full skirt, unlike both pictured.]

Then, the woman behind the counter tells me I have the wrong tags, shows me the SKU on the sales slip, and the two don't match. They had charged me for a tooled leather saddle. They can't do any cash adjustments or charge back my debit card because technically, all sales are final. What? I have to shop some more to eat up the discrepancy? Say it ain't so!

Needless to say, the fugly pink boots are in my closet, making nice-nice with my Docs.

AND I had enough to get this beautiful headstall that matches the new darker finish saddle. I now have two very stylin' ponies.

I came within 8¢ of the original invoice. I choose to think this was the hand of God making things right.

Mike, honey, we could have saved a lot of money if you'd have just blessed the boots in the first place.

Monday, December 1, 2008


Behind the scenes at the 2008 Christmas pony photo shoot
how I almost got killed (twice) taking goofy pictures of my horses

I like to think I treat my horses with respect, but like any doting mama, I want nice photos of the kidz for the holidays.
I had planned on doing the annual photo session sometime over the long weekend with the help of the ever-patient Mr. Fry. However, the weather and his schedule were not in sync, and I realized I was going to have to make it happen by myself. I really didn't want to be in the pictures anyway, it's just easier if someone's holding them, and you have more control over the background.

Step One
Make sure the subjects are clean and looking their best. This took much longer than I anticipated. We had just enough rain last week to make it sloppy. Poco hides the grunge pretty well, but Jaz lets the truth be known. He wasn't just dirty, he was caked with mud, pretty much from head to foot. He had mud in his ears! He either rolled in it or lost his footing during some spirited play. It took a rubber curry, a fine tooth curry and two different brushes just to get the chunks out. It was too cold to hose them down. They got their faces washed and their manes and tails baby oiled. Of course, as soon as Poco shook, he became Wildman Rockstar again, just like a kid with a cowlick.

Step Two
Choose the location. Because I had to do it myself, I tried to find a place where I could tie them but where you wouldn't see so much of the lead ropes and other background crap. The fence is too high and I would have had to climb to the other side. I thought about the round pen, which is the right height, but not sturdy enough to withstand their fidgeting.

Stupid Human Trick #1 or What the Hell Was I Thinking?
I know! Mike's flatbed trailer! I could tie them to the front bar, then I could get on it and crouch down, getting just their heads. The trailer is red, so if the front bar was visible, no big deal.

This trash bag was on the trailer, weighted down over top of what I think is the power pack to the hot fence. Shouldn't be a problem — it's not going anywhere, right?

Wrong! It was very windy (gusts to 45mph), so both horses were already jumpy. And I somehow completely forgot that Jaz has this thing about anything black — he'll spook at black water main covers, black tar road patches, etc. I tied him to that front bar, the wind caught a small corner of the bag, and he wigged. He actually plowed the trailer several feet (look at the skid mark) before I could safely release him.

By default, it was going to have to be the hitching post. In retrospect, I should have shut the garage door and put up all the grooming supplies, etc., but by this time, the Boyz were getting restless on top of being super spooky. You know that window of good behavior you get when you dress the kids up and haul them to the Sears Portrait Studio the day after Thanksgiving? That window was closing fast.

Step Three
The hats. I took the antler headband things from last year's photos and pulled the hats on over them. That left desensitizing the Boyz to the hats and the bells right by their ears. Not very hard, since the headbands sit in the same place as their halters.

Step Four

OK Boyz, smile! Jaz, honey, look at mama. And fix your hat!

Jaz, sweetie, don't stick your tongue out. Fix your hat!

C'mon Boyz, it's Christmas. Look happy! Jaz, baby, fix your hat.

Guys, if you don't cooperate, Santa won't bring you those new halters. Jaz. Fix. Your. Hat.

Poco! Stop antagonizing your brother! JAZU! FIX YOUR @#*% HAT!

As good as it gets.

Stupid Human Trick #2 or What the Hell Was I Thinking? (er, again)
I decided I wanted a really close shot of Poco's eye. Except I forgot to turn off the flash. I'm lucky I didn't get trampled. What a freakin' idiot I am.

I'm sure the Boyz are very glad this nonsense is over for another year.
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