Saturday, February 28, 2009

Who Are These People?

You'll have to excuse the quality (or lack thereof) of this photo. It was taken very early yesterday on an overcast morning, and I had to enhance the light artificially in Photoshop. This massive entryway in progress is on Hwy. 922 in Tioga, Texas, a little further west from the McQuay and Hendricks ranches.

It's difficult to gauge the scale and materials from my rotten photo, but those lions are at least 30" tall. The walls are gorgeous, hand fitted red rocks, not a facade. You can see an existing home way back in the distance, but they are working on the land down in front, which tells me this place is not connected to that little ranchette. With an entrance like that, what will they build?

Inquiring minds want to know: while we're literally struggling to stay in our home, who are these people who can afford such an ostentatious entrance? And what do they do for a living, because I'm obviously in the wrong line of work?!

Edited later 022809:
Mr. Fry and I went to Tioga this morning unexpectedly, and I took another pic in the daylight.

I thought those lions were concrete — not so! They're bronze. And yes, that is a Ferrari sitting there in front. The car had Boyd Bros. lettered on the left front fender — who does that to a Ferrari anyway? — and Mike said that was the name of the construction company. Maybe it's his place? There were several pieces of earth moving equipment grading and digging way to the left of the gate. Curiouser and curiouser. Stay tuned.

Edited still later 022809:
The last thing I needed to get so that I have complete gear for two horses (and riders) was a second helmet. I could borrow one from Heather, but that's a long way to go to borrow a helmet. I used the excuse to visit Smith Brothers, on 1-35 in in north Denton, TX, for the first time. Cool store — there is a small roping arena in the store! There was a dad in there showing his boy how to rope. Duh — why did I not take pictures? And I have wanted one of these since before they were for sale.

Troxel put a lot of thought into the design of this helmet. The cloth liner has tabs that allow you to adjust the fit. A letter comes with it that says the cowboy hat has a larger profile than a standard Western hat, even though the helmet inside is a low profile — read that: smaller — certified safety helmet. The helmet is dishy, like a sporting helmet. They say it appears more in proportion when you are in the saddle.

Oh yeah, and this is what I got when I googled Boyd Bros. Contracting. They're building the entrance, but it could also be his place. Gorgeous stuff and that website is slicker'n snot, ain't it? It will be neat to see what else they're going to do, or at least, I'm intrigued.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Falling Down #5

Fishtrap Road — Prosper (Denton), Texas.

I had intended to convert these to pseudo sepia tones,
but I couldn't bring myself to do it.

I like the way the subtle grey tones of these first two photos is the
same across the barn, the landscape, and the sky.

I like the late afternoon sun on the slats.

I wish I could have gotten closer, but there was barbed wire.
There was no house, and I know it probably wouldn't have mattered,
but I try to respect other people's property and don't trespass.

Monday, February 23, 2009

My Little Man

First, I just had to show you what a good job the Boyz did on the dog yard Saturday, four piles of poop later. It was a good day to be them. See the previous post for the 'Before' pix.

They even edged around the patio slab.


I hardly ever write about my little Jazu. He's such a sweet, good boy, his exploits are mostly overshadowed by our resident Drama Queen. Jaz has a delightful personality, and Mr. Fry and I both love him dearly.

Jaz belonged to Nita, and came here on a free lease in perpetuity in January of 2007. It was a win-win-win situation. Jaz was out of shape, recovering from a serious hoof injury, and needing to be lightly ridden. With close to thirty head at the beginning of foaling season, they didn't have the time to work everybody. I was greener than summer grass and needed a babysitter because Poco was way too much horse for me.

Heather's exact words to me were, "Jaz is so sweet, he'll rot your teeth. You'll be begging me to sell him to you." I had my doubts. At first, his personality can be difficult to read, and he was such a bony, scrawny, banged up little guy, a nondescript, skinny grey horse. I don't know why the word "little" gets tossed about so much when describing him, since he's probably 15-15.2. He's much taller and has longer legs, but has a smaller frame than Poco.

Jaz had always been a hard keeper, but he hit the ground happy here. He and Poco instantly became inseparable, which has not always been a good thing. Jaz is way down there in herd pecking order. He likes foals and yearlings because he can boss them around — great babysitter. Poco pushes, and Jaz complies. But Jaz also knows what he can get away with and gets sneaky shots in at Poco. Regardless, his being a hard keeper was because he had been in competition with an entire herd for food. Here, he's just got Porco, and I protect him so Lard Ass doesn't take his food. Nita and Heather marvel at how fat and sassy he is. It is with great affection we say he's "almost a pretty horse." And he has those beautiful, deep, kind Arabian eyes — a very sweet face.

Jaz is a clown, the court jester. If I were to rename him, he would be called Puck. He initiates most of the horseplay, and can really bust a move on the shorter-legged, squatty Pokey. He moves effortlessly and doesn't tire easily. That said, he has the most God-awful teeth-jarring trot. Part of it is me not paying enough attention to my seat to encourage proper movement. But Heather and Nita say the same thing about him, so there is at least some truth in it.

Jaz likes to be in your business. If you're working with tools, better not take your eyes off them, or they'll be gone. If he can get into something, he will, but he's very nonchalant about it. Poco is overt, and will look at you as if to say, "Yeah, so?" Jaz looks at you like, "What? I don't know what you're talking about."

Jaz is such a BOY. He likes being around you, but he doesn't like to be mauled. Poco will sometimes stand untied and let me primp on him, hug him, kiss him, but not Jaz. If he's not tied, he's outta there. All you need to do is touch his pasterns and he'll lift and hold his feet up for you.
Try to brush his tail and he'll tuck that thing so tight between his legs you think you'll have to pry it out. He hates getting wet, especially his feet. When it's sheath cleaning time, he lifts and curls a back foot — we call it Jaz's "prissy foot." The second you're done with grooming and he's untied, he'll take 2-3 steps, drop and roll.

He's always banged up. He's one of those that gets hurt on sharp air. I haven't been able to saddle him for weeks because of a 12-inch scrape right where the saddle sits. And when I looked at him yesterday, he has another scrape on his right shoulder. It's always something with that one. One day, I went out and about had a heart attack. He was dripping blood down both front legs ... or so I thought until I got closer and it was purple — prickly pear juice.

Jaz is awesome when kids come to ride; he really seems to enjoy children. Actually, he just enjoys people in general. He is the most patient and gentle of teachers, but when you're ready, he'll let you know by living up to his nickname — Shithead. He won't give you a lick of problem until you start exuding confidence. I found this out the hard way after he ran me into a tree. He likes his riders a bit timid because he thinks he's calling the shots.

I didn't have to beg Nita to sell me Jaz. For the longest time, he wouldn't come to her or Heather when they came to visit. Anyone could see he knew where he wanted to be.

I wouldn't be where I am today if it weren't for him, and neither would Poco. Jaz is an amazing horse, and
I'm very, very lucky to have him.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Earning Their Keep

It's a clear, sunny, cold, windy morning, and we decided to give the Boyz a treat: they get to mow the dog yard. Mike keeps it well seeded and watered, so it's about the only place on the property that has a lick of grass. We wait until it's got these lush and long clumps, then let the Boyz munch and poop to their hearts' content. One downside is we have to clean up all that poo or the dogs will have their own smorgasbord. Another is that the horses tend to lean on the outside of the fence longingly, begging for unlimited access. Ooh, Mr. Fry does not like that at all. I've seen him chase those bad Boyz with a rake. They don't care — what a fun game!

Mowing as fast as they can shovel it in.

Note Pokey over there doing his best weed eater imitation
around the porch slab.

Mmmm, the good stuff!

Bless his sweet, fuzzy little head.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

En La Casa #5

Bulgarian pottery coexists peacefully with items
from other cultures at Casa Fry.

Mexican Day of the Dead figures

A Swedish horse, and Russian nesting dolls

Sunday, February 15, 2009

It Works, or It Don't

"I must not forget to thank the difficult horses, who made my life miserable, but were better teachers than the well-behaved school horses who raised no problems."
— Alois Podhaisky, Director of the Spanish Riding School (1939)

I found that quote over at All Horse Stuff.

I don't know much, but I have learned this: there is no one, right, best way to work with a horse. They are no more one-size-fits-all than we humans. You have to figure out what works for you as a team, according to both of your abilities and sensibilities. Or what don't.
  • I read about clicker training over at one of McKinna's blogs, where she posted a couple links to check out. Poco is very food-driven, so at first it seemed to make sense. But, Poco is also pushy, and tends to be a bit mouthy (let me count the posts ...). Clicker training would work for him, in the sense that food is a powerful incentive — Will Tap Dance For Food — but it would also, literally, feed his vices. I can see where this might work on some horses, but it's definitely not for this horse.
  • I bought the Parelli "7 Games" DVD to play with Poco. No joke, my horse looked at me like, "are you f*cking kidding me?" (or, "you paid how much for that DVD?"). I did learn some useful things from the DVD, but as far as my horse finding it engaging, uh, not in the least.
  • My suckiness at longeing could be the stuff of comedy legend. I don't have the human body dynamics of longeing right; it's me, not the horse. I have tried and failed to read my way through this one; I need to be taught by an actual human. Nita tried to show me once, but I guess I'm not a quick study in this particular area. In any event, get Poco in the round pen for ground work, and you'll get a look that clearly asks, "And we're doing this ... why?" He doesn't really like being ridden in the round pen, but he'll do it with little more than his usual amount of "what's in it for me?"
Except for the occasional reminder of how I expect him to conduct himself when walking on a lead, I feel as though we make the most progress together when we just ride. Would this approach work for everyone? Goodness, no. Poco is neither young nor green. He was a working ranch horse. He's been there, done that. My issues with him are in the saddle, and have been from the very first time I climbed on. That's because I am not a great rider — wait, let me rephrase that: I SUCK — therefore, I am less confident in the saddle. Since Heather has taught me how to relax, no matter how hairy it gets, and redirect his energy, I've gotten more confident in my ability to ride through his shenanigans. He'll test me every single time, but more often than not, after a few bouts of nonsense, I get the sigh that says, "Okay, I give up." The other part of it is my learning to communicate with him in a way that I am able to both understand and execute, and that he understands.

I'd still like to learn how to longe, if only to reaffirm that I am not abysmally dense. Until I do, I have to figure out other ways of dealing with issues where longeing might be an option. I want and need more riding lessons, but that is financially out of the question right now. I have to do what I can with what I have. And I'll be the better for it.

Jaz, being impeccably trained, needs no such silliness. Thanks to being raised from the age of 6 months by Heather and Nita, my "Little Man" is always a good, sweet boy. I still make him give me lessons in the round pen, which helps keep him humble, but it's for my sake, not his.

By the way, I had been noticing both horses (even Mr. Perfect) being really pushy and mouthy lately. At first I thought it was because I haven't been spending a lot of time with them. I discovered the reason quite by accident: none other than Mr. Fry! I had to have a Herd Behavior 101 talk with him, explaining why we can't play with the horsies like we play with the doggies. I still don't think he gets it. To him, all animals are just different incarnations of dogs.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

We Have A Winner!

I'm ba-aack! Happy Valentine's Day! Before I announce the winner of the contest, I need to clarify something.

Several of you commented about the red 'blanket' that served as a colorful backdrop for the
bridle and reins.

Leeloo, the watch cat, says, "Sorry, that's not part of the prize."

Those are actually hand woven place mats I found to add some pizazz to the back of my plain bar stools. Unless you've got a mini, I'm afraid your pony would be feelin' kinda nekkid!

Now that THAT'S clear, here's the hat ...

and here's the winner!

Congratulations, Paint Girl!
I'm sure we all would like to see pix of your stylin' pony
in the new getup!

Email your address to
and your prize will be on its way.

Thanks for playing, and we'll do it again for my 200th!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

100th Post Giveaway!

To celebrate BDT's 100th post, I am having a
Reader Appreciation Giveaway

This western bridle and split reins

I really like these reins. They are soft, lightweight flat-braided nylon with leather poppers. I added a pair of swivel snaps at the bit ends; they are easily removed, if you're not a fan.

Leave a comment on this post.
I will put all names into a hat and draw on Valentine's Day. If your name is drawn, you email me your address and — voila! — your pony be stylin'.

I'll leave this post up and use that as an excuse for a little blogcation. Good luck, and thank you for your support.
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