Friday, April 30, 2010

The Lighter Side

It was to the point where I only had maybe two pairs of work pants that fit and only one pair of jeans. I felt bloated and crappy, and wasn't sleeping well.

On January 4, I started paying attention to what I eat, exercising (albeit sporadically). To date, I have lost 25 lbs. I feel great and if clothes in my closet don't fit now, it's because they are too big.

This was taken in early November 2009, and I know I put on at least 8-10 more pounds over Thanksgiving and Christmas. Now those jeans are so baggy, they are ridiculous on me.

Heather took this on our ride last weekend. Funny that I am wearing the same shirt. You can see how differently it fits. I used to have to stretch it so it didn't pull across my chest and stomach. Before, those stretchy riding breeches were at the very bottom of the very bottom drawer — no way would I have subjected the rest of the world to that. This has become my favorite photo of myself because seeing it marked the moment when I saw through the distorted body image that most overweight people have. That distorted image makes us continue to see ourselves as overweight, even when the scale, our clothes, and our friends tell us otherwise. Our eyes don't believe what we see in the mirror.

It sure is a lot easier to haul my kiester into the saddle from the ground these days. I will say that I've noticed a bit of chaffing on the inside of my knees where there's not the padding there used to be between me and the new saddle. For whatever reason, I sleep better, and consequently have more energy.

In addition to the practical reasons (fitting into my clothes), there are genuine health reasons behind my weight loss: women in my family have seriously high cholesterol. That didn't stop my grandmother from living to her 90s or my mother from still being a pistol now in her late 70s, both without statins. My doctor has encouraged me to get and stay as light as I can, and, as much as I love to eat and drink, I see the soundness of that advice. I do need to exercise more faithfully, as that is the second part of the equation.

I have one concern: I don't have much padding left. My rodeo incident last May cleaned my clock; I still stiffen up on that side. Six months later, I came off again, though not as hard, and on the other side. I'm convinced my fluffiness protected me from more serious injury.

I'm thinking of velcro-ing my butt to the saddle.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Monday, April 26, 2010

Walkabout With Heather

Heather aboard our sweet Jazu.

The photo she took of me is my profile photo du jour.

The end — the honey hole.
We probably stood there and let
them graze for 20-30 minutes.
It was such a beautiful day.

Look at his cheeks bulging out!
They couldn't shovel it in fast enough.

Poco was in hog heaven.

BTW, he was PERFECT again today.

Will flex for a cookie,
even with a mouth already stuffed full of grass.

Aunt Leah will be hosting Streaker (O Stop Looking) when he's weaned in September. I have a feeling about him. He's so outgoing and friendly. Never met a stranger. He is naturally curious, not timid, fearful or spooky. To me, that's a candidate for a future trail horse. I look forward to having him around, working with him, and watching the Boyz show him how to be a proper goobery gelding.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Careening Toward the Big 3-0-0

They don't like me
I just know it
But I'd be happy
Just to get along

— Lyle Lovett, 'They Don't Like Me'
from his 1995 album 'I Love Everybody'

As I draw nigh to my 300th post, I again wax philosophical about blogging. Are my reasons for blogging now different than the reasons I began? What have I learned? And the oft-recurring question of late: should I continue?

I enjoyed a successful 34-year career as a graphic designer/public relations person. Writing has always been part of my job, but I was ready to steer myself more sharply in that direction. Upon the advice of a career counselor, I began this blog as a platform. Subsequently, I shifted to a staff writing position at my company. Now they pay me to write all day long: communications to our sales force, training and advertising materials, speeches, and, as of last week, corporate blogging. My original reason to blog no longer exists.

I had no idea what to expect when I ventured into the blogosphere.
I wrote happily in a vacuum for quite a while before I received any comments. Once I did, despite my mantra of 'art for art's sake', over time, I became hooked on comments. Oh, admit it — you are, too.

Like any other addiction, this one exacts a toll. It began subtly enough. I'd craft my posts, choose photos, continue to tweak (and tweak and tweak) even after I published. If I posted in the morning, as I often do, I'd go about my business and be jonesing for the goodies when I went back online at the end of the day. Don't bogart those comments, my friend, pass them over to me ...

What I've learned about myself is that I am not too old or too confident to regress to long dormant high school emotions of feeling inadequate and rejected. There are times when I allow this silly blog to validate me. A rejection letter received by author Anne Lamott comes to mind: "You have made the mistake of thinking that everything that has happened to you is interesting." I have to remind myself that what happens (or doesn't) on this blog is not a reflection of who I am, the quality of my life, my skills as a writer or a horse person, or my value in any way whatsoever.

I hope the reality is something other than a statement of popularity, possibly borne out in my own habits.
I work 40 hours a week, and commute an hour each way. I still have a home, 5 acres, a husband, 3 dogs, 2 cats, and 2 horses to keep, and all the chores that go with that like laundry, cooking, grocery shopping, and as little cleaning as I can get away with. During the week, I only get to spend a few minutes a day with my horses to feed them. I live for weekends. I don't even try to keep up with my blogroll every day. I may glance at a few each morning and evening, but normally, I try to read and comment on every blog on my list (at least once) on the weekend. I don't hang out on the computer for too long. I only post 2-3 times a week. If I hope to have something even semi-interesting (to me, anyway) to blog about, I have to get out there and actually DO stuff, not veg online all say.

I'm no mugs. My adventures can't begin to compare with Mikey (heck, nobody's can), Lisa, or Esther. Most of you have forgotten more than I'll ever know about horses. Still, like everyone else, my life is what it is. Some days it's more engaging than others. Mr. Fry and I often joke that 'boring is good," because that means no drama, no crises, no vet or medical emergencies, no money we have to pull out of our butts. But it also means vanilla blog fodder.

I love the connection with other horse people that I get from this blog. Aside from Heather's family and my friend Kristen, I don't have that in real life. I learn from those more experienced than myself and on a rare occasion, I'm able to contribute useful advice from my own limited experience. I also like that this blog is a chronicle of my non-adventures that I use to remind myself of how far I've come. Besides that, I crack myself up sometimes. I'm such a goober.

Will I continue? I will make that decision Bird by Bird.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Saturday, April 17, 2010


Yup, I'm channeling the Queen of Soul today.
(Hey Nineteen, that's Aretha Franklin.)

I'm still high from
last Saturday's ride on Poco, accompanied by my friend Kristen on Jazu the Wonder Horse. Poco surprised and delighted me with his willingness and attention. The big chicken trusted Jaz and me to keep him from being eaten on the road. I needed the quality of that ride. We'll continue to work on the buddy-bound behavior another day. For now, I pronounce it bueno.

Mare owners, don't get your chaps in a wad here, but sometimes Poco reminds me of the more hormonal, bitchy mares I've met (I know nice ones, too.) We can argue all day about the emotional capacity of horses, but the best way to describe Poco is that he's moody and brooding. Thinks too much. You never know if you're gonna get the sweet, tell-me-again-what-a-good-boy-I-am pony, or the head case, although
I have improved in my ability to predict how he'll behave based on his attitude when I catch him and tack him up. Admittedly, Psycho Gelding's appearances have become less frequent, but every once in awhile, his ugly head still pops up (literally).

I've had respect issues with Poco since the day he got here. Without going into the 'why' details
, he respected and feared men, but had no regard for women or children. Obviously, I've had to work on the latter, but to this day, he is distrustful (if not downright fearful) of strange men. I would have been embarrassed for you to have seen him the first time he met the farrier, Jason (Heather's BF), or the vet. Those were the days when I heard a lot that I should get rid of this horse before he killed me.

Because Poco was too much horse for this newbie to just jump on, Heather gave me a regimen of ground work, starting with the basics: respect my space, walk on a loose lead, stand still, pick up your feet, move over, take a step forward, and my default win when nothing else was going right, BACK THE HELL UP. At some point, I assume he knew all this stuff, but he had been allowed to revert to rudeness. The ground work was as much for me as for him.
It helped build my confidence by giving me a safe way to interact with my horse other than grooming him.

Bringing Jaz home in January of 2007 made a big difference. Jaz's manners are impeccable, and Poco seemed to rise to a new level of expectation. Poco is the dominant horse, but without fuss or fanfare, I began to defer to Jaz: I greet him first, he gets treats or dinner first. If I'm riding, he gets ridden first. If Poco is pushy or ill-mannered in any way, he'll find himself ignored while Jaz gets all the treats, praise, and attention. If I'm grooming or tacking up Jaz, I don't look at or speak to Poco unless it's to make him move.

Kristen's comment about how well-mannered my horses are made me stop again and realize how far Poco and I have come since 2006.
  • I can make him step back with a look, subtle body language, or pointing at his chest.
  • He stands respectfully by his feed pan instead of trying to grab the bucket out of my hand. Even then, I make him take at least two steps back from me before dumping the feed.
  • I can lay a finger on his hip or shoulder and he'll move, or he'll respond to me pointing in the direction I want him to go with the verbal 'over'.
  • He understands the difference between 'stand' (we're going to be here awhile) and 'wait' (we'll move when I say so in a moment.)
  • He will freeze at a darkly uttered 'uh-UHH!'
  • When tacked up, he will walk with me and mirror my movements. Look ma, no hands.
Winter commented after last Saturday's ride that maybe Poco was tired of being left, and I think there's a good bit of truth there. He hates not being the center of attention and HATES (as in hissy fit) being alone, both of which I use to get what I want. If I have any energy left after taking Jaz down the road, I'll ask Pokey if it's his turn. I swear he about dives into the bridle. It's as if he can't wait to show me that he's a much better horse and why am I wasting my time with than that scrawny lil Arabian?

The point here is that even if you are not a highly-skilled horse person — which I absolutely am not — you can still accomplish a great deal by getting into their heads and using it to your advantage.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

How the Richer Half Lives

My friend, Nita and her husband, Jim (Heather's parents) are house sitting. They invited us up for a cookout to celebrate her birthday. Mr. Fry was unable to go because of his crazy work schedule (slept through the whole thing), but I made the beautiful drive north to Pottsboro, TX.
I SO covet this barn! If I had known then what I know now, I'd have built less house and some sort of barn instead. Who needs a guest room anyway? Doubt I could have afforded a setup this nice. No pix of the interior. I forgot my camera when we did the tour, and snapped these as I left. Love the pristine tack room and the feeding doors on the stalls that pivot outward. It even has an indoor wash bay.
Three of Nita's horses are there. From left: Diesel (nee Stevie, OTTB), Ishka (Red roan Appy, Nita's replacement for her aging mare), and Amber (Champagne QH), who was here last summer.

Other friends and family were in attendance at the small gathering, including 4 older children. The youngest, a boy of about 10, hung out with us horse crazies, hanging on every word, asking questions. Super nice kid.

The two older girls and the boyfriend of the oldest girl kept to themselves. We walked the horses over to the fence, thinking perhaps they might have been intimidated. As a group, the three hastily backed away from the fence. We asked if they wanted to give the horses a cookie. The younger of the two girls — you know the type: too much makeup (including glitter lip gloss), overdressed, crudely streaked highlights — sneered, "Eww, I don't want to smell like a f**king horse." First of all, little girl, you are way too young to have a mouth on you like that. I suppressed the urge to swing around and backhand her. Not my kid, after all. Instead, not missing a beat, I said, "That's the best smell in the world. I've waited my whole life for this." Nita and Heather agreed. The girl sneered again, "Eww. It is NOT. It's disgusting."
She acted the same way around Nita's Rotties.

The love and appreciation of species other than your own is either a part of your soul or it isn't. I saw this quote over at (Not Quite) Home on the Range, which I think says it best: "Until one has loved an animal, part of their soul remains unawakened." Your soul is asleep, you silly, vain, vapid child. I predict pregnancy by the time you're 16.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Itchy and Bitchy

Dear Boyz,

We talked about this last year, but recent events indicate you need a refresher lesson.

The following are photos of poison ivy. Please study them.

Now, Boyz, I know sometimes you are not keen on me hugging and smooching you. It's a Mom thing — I can't resist. Since you are spoiled rotten, I feel you should be a bit more tolerant, if not entirely indulgent of my PDAs.

Please avoid these plants so that I can avoid looking like this:

Any questions?



Saturday, April 10, 2010

Totally Perfect Day

I stopped by Paul Taylor's earlier this week and picked up a replacement Blevins slider and a spare. They had a big bin of them, so apparently it isn't as weird to break or lose one as I thought. And at $2.95, the price was right!

My new friend at work, Kristen, came and rode with me today. She recently moved from Oklahoma to Texas, bringing her four horses. She opted to come here and ride Jaz rather than trailer one of hers, since her BF took the truck with the hitch. I don't mind telling you, I was a bit apprehensive: I haven't ridden Poco in 2 months and haven't taken him on a major outing in probably a year.

A BIG brag on both my Boyz
Kristen and Jaz were in the lead. All these outings with Jaz have given him lots of confidence. He knows where the dogs are and he was calm and relaxed. Because he was, so was Poco. As a matter of fact, Poco was PERFECT. He didn't resist in any way. He would have liked to go faster, but he was paying attention and listening. He had only one teensy spook in place, and kept right on going. Kristen commented that none of her horses are as well-mannered as mine. I was proud of both my horses today.

Kristen & Jazu

No mistaking that rockstar mane

When I downloaded my pictures, this one confused me at first.
I guess this is what it would look like if you were
in my horn bag looking out.

After our ride, I took Kristen to Paul Taylor's.
Of course, she loved it.
Then we headed up to Heather's
for introductions.

The baby (read about him here and here)
finally has a name:
O Stop Looking
Barn name: Streaker

A stop at Dennard's Western Wear
rounded out the day.
Tired and sunburned,
we headed back to Casa Fry for
a bit of sustenance before
Kristen headed home.

A lengthy shower,
more food,
a couple Corona Lights ...
it don't get no better'nat!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Sharing a Good Thing

Click here or on the image to be taken to the
order page of their website.
If you order, use the order code TRYFREE.

Give it a shot — it's free!

Although it's early in the season, I'm already a satisfied Arbico customer. I can't speak highly enough about their customer service. The day after I spread my first shipment, a freak snowstorm came through. I called and asked if the critters would make it. She said probably not and they sent me another shipment at no charge. If you call them, you talk to a real person. If you email them, they answer quickly.

Please note: I am not affiliated with Arbico Organics in any way and I receive no compensation of any sort.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Happy Easter!

My bunny is bigger than your bunny.

Jaz and I went walkabout down our boring old road, which is never boring to Jaz. He always seems to find any multitude of horse-eating things to keep it lively. We had several "conversations" about which direction we were going.

I had planned on riding Poco, too, but 'twas not to be. While riding Jaz, I discovered that I somehow lost a Blevins slider from my right stirrup leather. For you English folks, the Blevins is how you shorten or lengthen your stirrups on (most) Western saddles. The slide is like the keeper on a belt that holds it in position. Without that piece, the stirrup won't stay in position. I was already well down the road when I realized it was gone. I mean, how does that even happen? The way they are designed, it would have had to break in order for me to lose it. It's impossible for it to fall off. I had to get off several times to adjust the stirrup length, and I finally just rode without stirrups. A trip to Paul Taylor is on my list this week.

A horse-eating porta-potty.
Gotta watch them; they're sneaky.

Horse-eating Golden Retriever.

Sorry for the blur.
We were moving
and they were moving.

Horse-eating Labrador.

When we came back by the dogs,
Jaz was like "ho-hum-so-what".
We stopped in front
of the fence while they
carried on furiously.
He got a cookie for that.

Grass-eating horse.

The honey hole across the road.

Wienie Boy having a conniption.

I finally finished the clip.
He fought the whole time.

Can you see all the hair?

Cleaned the water tank.

Let's stay as far away from her as possible.
She might make us do something.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Yet Another Jaz Update

Jeez, I seem to have a lot of posts with that same general title. I think this horse is out to bankrupt me a few hundred bucks at a time.

Mr. Fry took Jaz to the vet on Monday. I spoke briefly with Dr. G and he said he was going to be ready for anything so as not to have to put Jaz under twice. Kudos to non-horsey Mr. Fry for getting Jaz in the trailer by himself.

The appointment was set for 11 a.m. They arrived to find they had been bumped indefinitely by a mare that had foaled at midnight and was in distress. We didn't find out until the following day, but she didn't make it. Say a little prayer for the foal. Rough start.

Mr. Fry left him there and went about his business. Hours later, he stopped back at Casa Fry and called me as he was pulling up to the gate. I could hear Wienie Boy carrying on in the background, calling for his buddy. Mike said he was looking down the road, as if he thought Jaz and I had gone for a ride.

This day had more stories attached to it featuring miscommunication, arguments, pissiness, but I'll spare you those. The good news is: They found nothing other than Jaz needed his teeth floated. He was home and looking for chow by the time I got home from work. I've been watching him, trying to ascertain that the float did in fact fix the issue. I haven't seen any of the slobbering, and he is not reluctant to chew. He wasn't touching the round bale prior to the float, but neither of them are now anyway, opting instead for the fresh new grass shoots. I'll continue to watch him. I would not put it past the Million Dollar Pony to be harboring a secret abscess or something — you know, a tooth growing in his eye socket or some other rare, bizarre condition that will end up costing hundreds of dollars.

The reason this update is so long in coming is —another long story abbreviated — when Mr. Fry picked him up, he did just that. He didn't talk to the vet or pick up the discharge papers. It was the end of the next day until I even knew what they had done to him or what it cost.

Anyway, I hope Jaz is feeling good enough for an Easter Sunday morning 'Sermon on the Mount'.
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