Thursday, October 30, 2008

Tag - I'm It

I've been tagged by cdncowgirl (Lisa) over at (Not Quite) Home On The Range to play "Book Tag."

Here are the rules:

1)Grab the nearest book.

2)Open the book to page 56.

3)Find the fifth sentence.

4)Post the text of the next two to five sentences.

5)Don't dig for your favorite book, the cool book or the intellectual one,
Pick the Closest.
6)Tag five people to do the same.

Well, the closest books were Merriam-Webster's dictionary or the October 2008 issue of Prevention magazine. I chose the latter. Page 56 is an article about Melissa Etheridge's very public battle with cancer. She was talking about why she chose not to hide her baldness from chemotherapy by wearing a wig.

"'I would have been afraid that people would think I was ugly or afraid that I would embarrass myself or someone else. But when you choose love, fear falls away.'

The response was overwhelming: News shows featured cancer survivors throwing away their wigs. Etheridge still hears from women who tell her how liberating her performance (at the 2005 Grammy Awards) was.

'It's very fulfilling to know that showing off my bald head had such a profound effect,' she says."

I tag:

"Many" at McKinna and Pandora's Box

Cuz K at Middle of the Road

Pony Girl


Mrs. Mom

Guess that will teach me to have more sublime reading material on my desk!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

If I Had A Boat

"If I had a boat, I'd go out on the ocean
And if I had a pony, I'd ride him on my boat.
And we could all together, go out on the ocean
Me upon my pony on my boat
-- Lyle Lovett "If I Had A Boat"

Those who have been reading this blog since the beginning may remember that part of my job requires travel five non-consecutive weeks in the year. It used to be a lot of fun and excitement, but I'm afraid it's gotten really old. I have accepted a new position within my department, yet it seems my other job will not go away anytime soon. And so I found myself -- against my will -- on a cruise this past weekend out of Miami with ports of call in Key West, Coco Cay, and Nassau. This was a planning visit prior to the real deal next April. I realize I probably stand very little chance of garnering sympathy, but you'll have to trust me that work is work, regardless of the view out your porthole. I really just wanted to be home with Mr. Fry and the Boyz. Don't get me wrong: I LOVE cruising. But this was work, not a vacation, and it's not much fun when corporate travel policy dictates your main squeeze is not allowed to go.

This cruise was aboard Royal Caribbean Majesty of the Seas, a small to mid size ship that was very clean and well maintained. Of course, the service and the food were fabulous -- good lord, I need to diet so badly and can't seem to get motivated.

Here are some pix.
This is an upgraded cabin (stateroom). It was still pretty teeny.
I can't imagine what a standard cabin looks like.

A glimpse of Miami from my cabin window.
At least I knew where the lifeboats were.

View of the ship from the ferry to Coco Cay.

The ship from Coco Cay, a private island owned by the cruise line.

Rocks off Coco Cay.

I just love the towel critters.

The buttons of the "shirt" are chocolates.

I didn't even get off the ship in Nassau. I had work to do, and I've been to Nassau a couple times before. The only reason I got off in Coco Cay is so I could write with authority about the venue to our agents who will be attending the conventions next year.

As soon as I got home, those bratty horses lined themselves up by the grain locker. Ahh, it's the Bucket Woman. It must be time to eat!

I got home yesterday, but worked from home today, since I'm still listing around like a drunken sailor. I feel like I'm still moving.

This weekend, I am looking forward to spending some time with my woolly bears. I may take Jaz to the Heavenly Church of the Divine Walkabout on Sunday morning. If I work Poco at all, it will be basics in the round pen. It seems to take him a lot of time to readjust to the program when he's been away for awhile.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Wordless Wednesday

Well, almost wordless. Jet trails at sunrise, McKinney, Texas.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Spa Day

Take a really good look at these photos,
because it's not often you'll see these horses this clean.
And it doesn't last very long.

Why, that's almost a pretty grey horse!

The only time his mane doesn't stick out in every direction is when it's wet and gooped up with conditioner. As soon as he shakes, it will pouf back out and he'll look like my Wildman Rockstar.

I kept them tied to allow them to dry. It builds character,
while allowing me my "15 minutes of clean."
I knew the second I turned them loose, they'd drop and roll.

Everything is better when your buddy is beside you.

Still a nice, clean, white pony.

Already rolled in the dirt.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


"Beauty is simply reality seen through the eyes of love."
-- Unknown

Although my primary teachers are my own horses, I am privileged to know and have the opportunity to learn from Heather's and Nita's horses. Many of their horses are rescues, obtained privately or at auction.

My favorite rescue is a 10-year old sooty palomino gelding, called Lucky by his previous owner. Considering his right eye was "rotting out of his head" (Heather's words) from advanced uveitis, and subsequently had to be removed, she decided the name was almost a cruel joke, and he should have a new one. His color reminded her of oatmeal, so he was dubbed Quaker, as in Oats.

Quaker, after our ride, with paprika (color supplement) on his nose.

There's no other way to say it: Quaker is a darling. He is a very well trained, bombproof little QH, about 14.2, same height as Poco, but much slighter in build. Once you've ridden him, he's like an elephant and doesn't forget you. I've ridden him several times, all of them good, solid rides, and now when I go up there, he always comes to visit me. He's been ridden both Western and English, and he's a very patient, tolerant, forgiving teacher. I would think this is the kind of horse to which one would entrust their child. He's totally dependable and looks out for you, but that is not to say he won't move out when you ask him. His gaits are smooth and lovely. He's honest; there's not a sneaky bone in his body. I, the original chickenshit, trusted him enough to canter a few strides on our ride yesterday, and it was quite wonderful. The second I felt a little too airborne and said, "easy," he came right back into a nice, extended trot for me.

The fact that he has only one eye doesn't seem to bother Quaker at all. He trusts his rider to keep him away from fences and obstacles, and he's not in the least bit spooky or shy. His ears are like radar when riding in a group, as he tracks where the rest of the horses are. About the only time I'm aware of his impairment is sometimes he wants to turn his head to get a better look at something, which, of course, causes him to do a few lateral steps. I prefer to think of it as an impromptu sidepass.

Although they have used him as a lesson horse, they don't really need him, and Quaker is for sale. What's sad is that most people won't look past the fact that he's a one-eyed horse. Crash is a cutie, but with his refined looks, he won't have a problem finding a loving home. Now, I'm rooting for the underdog.
If my land would support a third horse, Quaker is the one I would bring home in a heartbeat. He may be challenged, but he is by no means disabled.

Monday, October 13, 2008

No Place Like Home

I've been fighting a blue funk lately. I haven't felt like doing anything, much less writing. Job and money woes, with their accompanying uncertainty, have surreptitiously crept into my psyche. I find myself even more insular than normal, wanting to sleep a lot, or at least dull my senses. Mike says I'm depressed (ya think?) and I know he's concerned. I'm old enough not to get terribly self-absorbed about it; this, too, shall pass, one way or another. Meanwhile, I have to force myself to do anything and everything.

The Boyz had been at Heather's since we threw seed and fertilizer back in August. Since that time, we've had less than .6" rain, and most of the rye grass and oat seed ended up feeding the crows. What a bust. That in itself is depressing -- it cost a lot of money we could ill-afford to spend. We were going to bring them home two weeks ago, but decided to leave them until we got rain again. We finally got .3" (included in the above total) last Monday, so Mike and I picked them up Tuesday afternoon. It was cool and windy. Poco had that look in his eyes. I would not have been surprised if he had given me trouble getting in the trailer, but both horses loaded calmly the first time. The ride home was without incident. Say what you will about anthropomorphism, but they knew they were home and were downright joyful to be here.

The horses did not have free access to hay or grazing at Heather's. This isn't about the way Heather keeps her horses, rather Poco's inability to grasp the fact that he's a gelding. He can't be put out in the pasture with the herd, or he'll challenge all comers (and win), then round up the mares for himself. His behavior becomes insufferable, and he'll drive the stallions to distraction. So he and Jaz were kept in a big double pen and fed twice a day. Both horses lost a little weight, but that's not a bad thing.
In addition to ample grazing, they now have a round bale, but I don't think they've touched it yet. They haven't lifted their heads since they've been home and have probably already gained back most of what they had lost. I haven't given them any grain or supplements. They need to be purge-wormed and put back on their daily wormer. I don't want to hit them with too much change at one time.

There's grass everywhere...except here.
And there's a round bale about a hundred feet away.
So why the fascination with the few nubs in the sand?

Wasn't interested in coming over until he saw Jaz getting attention.

Getting his silvery roan winter coat.
I'm surprised at how quickly they have gotten so fuzzy.

I haven't messed with them much since they've been home. I groomed them a little, checked their feet and such, but other than that, my visits have been strictly for pats and treats. Like Pony Girl's spotted pill, Poco has been playing the "catch me if you can" game. Then he gets all pouty when I turn my attention to Jaz and he realizes he's missing out on a treat or being groomed. Silly beast.

Mike and I have both been suffering from off-the-charts levels of ragweed (which could be part of the funk), and I'm thinking Poco may also be feeling the effects. His eyes have appeared very swollen, runny and irritated. Heather says it could also be a slight cold. I don't feel the need to call the vet at this point, but I'm keeping an eye on him. When I groomed them the other day, I held cold compresses on his eyes, which he seemed to enjoy, and it did help the swelling a little.
When I checked him this morning, they looked fine. Jaz is not showing any signs or symptoms.

It's a cool, gray morning so far. I have off from work today and am supposed to go out and ride with Heather and Nita, unless it rains. I definitely won't take a horse; I'll ride one of theirs (probably Quaker). The blue funk has me hoping it will rain so I don't have to muster the energy and motivation to ride. I know it will be good for me to get out of myself and just do it.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Peepul R Stoopid

I live smack in the middle of prime, North Texas horse country. Take any road from any direction and the landscape is one picturesque, sprawling equine facility after another, sporting familiar names like McQuay, McCutcheon, Manion, Simons, Hendricks, Knost, Babcock, etc. Horses are a ubiquitous aspect of life and culture here. Horse hauling and horseback riding are not novelties. You can tell half the folks you see (and smell) at the grocery store came directly from working their horses or mucking stalls. Nobody looks twice.

So what the hell is wrong with people?

The last time I took my Boyz up to Heather's, no less than 3 people pulled out in front of me, cutting it so close, I had to apply my brakes, to varying degrees. Now, this pisses me off enough when it's just me in my truck. I become unhinged when people are so stupid, insensitive or selfish, they have no regard for the fact that I'm hauling several thousand pounds of live beings behind me. When it's possible, I try to be courteous and ride to the right shoulder to allow other vehicles to pass me, but I guess some people have important places to be in one hell of a hurry.

Yesterday I found myself thinking of what could happen, after hearing a traffic report about a flipped horse trailer on one of Dallas' busiest freeways. I literally almost vomited. I have a stock trailer and a very vivid imagination, although it doesn't take one to burn a truly horrific image in one's brain. Mine looked like this: trailer on its side, Jazu on the bottom and the much-larger Poco on top, both terrified beyond belief, injuring themselves and each other in their futile efforts to escape, and me, unable to calm them or physically help them in any way. If that doesn't raise a wave of nausea, I don't know what will. And I'd be willing to bet the fault was not with the person hauling the trailer, but some ignorant YAY-HOO, in a huge hurry to get one stinkin' car length ahead in rush hour traffic, that cut the driver off, causing them to swerve and slam on the brakes.

I probably shouldn't even get started on the way people drive around riders on horseback. I'm lucky -- my horses are very comfortable around vehicles, including noisy tractors and riding lawn mowers. A fairly busy road goes past one side of the property, and the Boyz are well acclimated to every sort of mechanized vehicle roaring past. When they are at Heather's, busy train tracks run the full length of their 30 acres. I have actually had to bump Jaz with my car to make him move out of the way, and he's gotten whapped in the head by my side mirrors multiple times. It takes quite a lot for my horses to be upset by a vehicle, but that's not really the point. We all know things can go terribly wrong when you least expect it.

When I first started riding Jaz down our country road, I was appalled at the total lack of common sense, much less courtesy, exhibited by my own neighbors. And it's not just car and motorcycle drivers. The bicyclists and ATVers are just as bad -- maybe worse -- because they're usually kids with no respect for their own mortality, much less anyone else's. The slightest modicum of sense should tell you that you are approaching a (relatively) small and fragile human atop an 1100-1200 pound beast. Whether you know anything about the nature of herd animals or not, it ain't rocket science. You don't have to stop or even crawl by, but you also don't blow by so closely and so fast that you make my horse's forelock fly up. This is especially true on a narrow road with steep shoulders that (in places) drop into craggy ravines and drainage ditches. Just slow down and give as wide a berth as is safely possible. I want a bumper, er, BUTT sticker that says, "If you can see the the mottling on my dock, you're too close."

When I first hear or see a vehicle approaching, I stick my arm out, palm flat, with a slow, pushing-down motion, i.e., "CAUTION, possible dangerous situation here." You would be amazed at the people who fly by, never a pause, shooting looks that say, "WTF is your problem?" I am no longer shy about yelling, "SLOW DOWN!" I can't tell you how often I've entertained the thought that, if I were a better rider, I'd kick my horse into a gallop, chase them to the stop sign, and give them a piece of my mind.

And then we have people who think it's their God-given right, as country folk, to let their dogs roam. My horses generally don't even bat an eye at large, goobery, ├╝ber-macho dogs. We have two that don't have the sense the good Lord gave a doorknob. They run right in front of the horses or under them as they stand. Again, it takes a lot for my horses to get wigged by a dog.
And again, that's so not the point. Most of the time, the dogs are just being goofy and pose no real threat. But there are exceptions, as evidenced by a post on a fellow blogger's site, showing the results of a nasty pit bull bite on a passing horse's neck. Just in terms of the dog's safety, letting them run is a bad idea. We have coyotes, bobcats, wild boars, poisonous snakes, rabid skunks, all of which are a very real threat. Every single day, I see at least one dog and several cats that have ended up as roadkill. When I used to run, I learned to be fearless and firm around loose dogs. I can generally make them back off with verbal commands and body language, but there have been times when I've had to get off my horse, grab a stick and get into it, for the safety of me and my horse and that of the stupid dog. You try to talk to the owners about crap like that, and they get all incensed, like you just told them they couldn't fly the confederate flag or toss beer cans off the deck of the trailer!

Is it asking too much for common sense and common courtesy from the common man?
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