Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Full of Themselves

Say, Kiva, if you don't want that grain,
we'll be glad to help you out.

We might step in that trailer
if there's grain involved.

Dang it!
Missed our chance.

Ma! Give with the cookies!
Apple? Carrots? Gatorade?

FINE then.
A good roll in the mud
always makes me feel better.
What's that? You just got done
grooming me?
Oops, my bad.

Ha! You're not the boss of me, Jazu!
I'm not even 7 months old and
I'm almost as tall as you!

Oh, oh, another one!
Say Sweetie,
if you don't want that grain ...

I'm a growing boy!
I can't wait all day,
nom, nom, nom!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

In Which I am Drawn to Antiquity and the Dragon Horse in Chinese Mythology

The corporation that employs me relocated its headquarters from Birmingham, AL to the McKinney, TX location where I've worked for the last 14 years. The interior of our two connected campus buildings is an open, neo-industrial style where you can see all the duct work, etc. It's a maze of cubicles interspersed with large expanses of empty space for "future acquisitions."

When they sold the building in Birmingham, they shipped all the furnishings and decor from the executive offices to Texas. Those offices were considered lavishly appointed back in the day. Semis delivered antique and antique reproduction furniture and accessories in varying styles: Chippendale, Queen Anne, Federal, Sheraton, etc., mixed with Oriental tapestries and sculptures. It's a mish-mash of styles, periods, and cultures.

They spread this stuff around the common areas of the buildings. Imagine the oddity of walking past a modern, open terrazzo stairwell beneath a massive geometric skylight, and finding one or more quasi-intimate seating areas from eclectic times past. It's surreal, to say the least.

I changed jobs a few weeks back and am now in the newer building. The IT department takes up approximately half of the second floor, and the affiliate for which I now work takes up perhaps an eighth of it, with a huge empty space separating us. As I explored my new surroundings, I happened across this on a pedestal in the otherwise empty area (click on pix to enlarge):

I was mesmerized by the beauty and artistry.

Longma (long = dragon, ma = horse) was a fabled winged horse with dragon scales in Chinese mythology. In addition to naming a creature, longma can be used to describe an eminent person. Its symbol or character is also part of a four-character idiom for "vigorous spirit in old age."

Many classic Chinese texts refer to the dragon horse. A 2nd century BC book, the Rites of Zhou, illustrates the way in which beliefs about horses and dragons are interconnected by differentiating names for horses of different heights, measured in the chi "Chinese foot." In antiquity, horses up to 8 feet tall were called long (dragon), those up to 7 feet were called lai (tall horse), and those up to 6 feet were called ma (horse).

The Shūjīng (Classic of History) describes the longma like this:
A dragon horse is the vital spirit of Heaven and Earth. As a being, its shape consists of a horse's body, yet it has dragon scales. Therefore it is called 'dragon horse'. Its height is eight ch'ih (feet) five ts'un (width of a person's thumb at the knuckle). A true dragon horse has wings at its sides and walks upon the water without sinking. If a holy man is on the throne, it comes out of the midst of the Ming river, carrying a map on its back.

Modern-day Tang Dynasty scholar, William Schafer observed that the dragon-horse myth is widespread:
The legend of water-born horses was known in various parts of Turkestan. In Kucha, for instance, when that city was visited by Hsüan-tsang in the seventh century, there was a lake of dragons in front of one of its temples. "The dragons, changing their form, couple with mares. The offspring is a wild species of horse (dragon-horse) difficult to tame and of a fierce nature. The breed of these dragon-horses became docile." This story must have had its origin farther west in Iranian lands, where winged horses were familiar in art and myth. Even the long-legged small-bellied horses of the "Tajik," that is, of the Arabs, were said to have been born of the conjunction of dragons with mares on the shores of the "Western Sea."

I'm no connoisseur of Oriental art, but I am inexplicably drawn to this. I think it's a combination of the colors, the varied textures of the clay, and the whole idea of the dragon horse.

But appearances are deceiving and how weird is this: it's not a full, free-standing sculpture. It's mounted on an acrylic stand.

The artist's signature?

I took a large hand-painted Oriental platter I found atop a file cabinet of unused items and placed it on the pedestal. Longma now lives in my cubicle.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Catching Up

“If everything seems to be under control,
you’re just not going fast enough.”
Mario Andretti

If what Mario says is true, then I am, indeed, not going fast enough. The nature of learning is that when we get to that point, it's time to push our personal envelope to a new threshold. For me, that means tentatively attempting the canter a few wobbly steps at a time. Considering how long it's taken me to feel relatively secure at the trot, I'll be eligible for Medicare by the time I get the canter.

Both Poco and Jaz have been giving me really sweet, perfectly paced trots. I haven't asked Jaz for the canter, nor has he volunteered it. Poco seems to understand what I'm trying to do, and transitions to the canter without increasing his speed. As soon as he feels me start to bobble, he picks up the trot again.

Lest you think he's turned over a new leaf, he still makes me work for it. It wouldn't be Poco if there wasn't some Appytude.

When he thinks we're done, Poco veers closer and closer to the gate, refusing to turn, as we're rounding that end of the arena. When that starts, I have to turn him before we get to that end (in other words, using only 3/4 of the length of the arena) in order to keep him going. I think he's becoming bored and impatient, because for weeks now, we've done nothing but circles while I practice W-T-C. Every once in awhile while we're riding, he does this little high pitched squeal thing that reminds me of a noise a frustrated child might make. Maybe next time, we'll play with the barrels and ground poles for a change. The Boyz will be coming home soon, and we'll start going down the road again. I'm also planning on getting barrels for out back.

Baby D became a gelding last Friday. I was prepared to lavish lots of TLC and sympathy, but the little booger hasn't missed a beat. Besides the fact that his sheath is swollen, he's perfectly fine. He also got his wolf teeth removed and his rabies vaccine. By all accounts, he should have already been a pretty unhappy little guy, but he seemed to not be phased. Then, he and his nannies got dewormed and all their other vaccines. Aside from a little loose poo, everybody's fine. Only thing they all lack now is a current Coggins.

On a non horse-related note, I started a new job that's been keeping me busy, excited, and tired. That's one reason I haven't been blogging as much. Another is that I've been out there actually doing stuff, rather than sitting at the computer writing about it. And, finally, not much terribly newsworthy has been happening, or if it has, it's not my news to tell; it's Heather's. I haven't been diligent in keeping up with everyone else's blog, but you can only do what you can do.

Have a great week, and don't forget to smooch your ponies.

Sunday, September 12, 2010


Had a great day today. When I pulled in the driveway at Iron Ridge, my 3 Boyz were in the outside stalls. I rolled down my window and sweet Jazu had a verbal greeting for me. Well, that clinched it. He got ridden first. Kris and Sarah couldn't make it today, so it was just Nita, Heather and me.

Both horses gave me good rides — lots of walk-trot and a few steps of canter on Poco. I'm finally comfortable at the trot because I now know how to ask them for the trot I want. For Jaz, that means collect and extend. For Poco, that means, collect and slow down. Heather and Sarah worked with me last week on the position of my hands, which has also helped tremendously.

My only issue with Poco today was that when everyone else left the arena, he thought he should, too. Every time we came past the gate, it was, "What about NOW?" I worked that fat boy hard. I have never seen him so dripping with sweat. He was more than happy to be hosed down.

We're working on getting Daltrey to stand tied (not really tied, we just loop the lead rope), but his attention span is all of about 5 minutes. He's shedding like crazy, so he got brushed and that's all. I lost his attention and was unable to pick up his feet. If we're able to schedule the vet, Daltrey will be gelded this week.

I hope you all had as great a time this weekend with your ponies. Cheers (lifts beer) and have a good week.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Once You Go Big

Like so many other horse crazy little girls,
I once dreamed of owning this
(Zarife El Mansour).

Over the years, my head was turned
by the likes of this (A Special Clu)

and this (Hollywood Dun It).

Then real life happened,
and I got Poco and Jaz,
neither of which were "my type."
Poco may not be much to look at
to the rest of the world
(I, of course, think he's gorgeous)
but he's a super cushy ride.

And then I met this guy (Annandale's Love Story).

Love Story, a Tigre Horse, and a big boy,
was a guest at Heather's for awhile.
This is a painting of him.
Yes, he is all that.
He's still one of the most
beautiful animals I've ever met.

I watched this guy
(Rohrschachs Slow Burn aka Scorch) be born.
I've had tons of interaction with him,
including being the first person to sit on him.
He stayed here last winter
as a 2-year old stallion
and was as easy to handle as Jaz.
He is what really started to turn me
toward the draft crosses.

I'm not a mare person,
but here's Scorch's half sister (Jinxed Diva).
Sweet from the moment she hit the ground.

Scorch's full brother
(Rohrschach Hextatic aka Rico)
is every bit as docile
and beautiful
as the previous two.

They're not just pretty faces either.
They practically float.

And then there's O (Sugarbush Harleys Classic O)
who found a place in my heart
because his temperament and way of going
are so like Poco's.

We were sitting around after our Labor Day ride,
talking about — what else — and I heard myself say,
"Jaz is great, but I'll never own another Arabian,
or another light (as in weight) horse, for that matter."

Yes, it's true.
I'm sold on the draft crosses.
They are not too tall,
and have that strong, substantial build
I have come to love.
Their temperaments are to die for.
I've met very few
(and they've all been mares)
that weren't totally sweet.

O's son (O Stop Looking aka Streaker Daltrey)
that also carries Sig's amazing
Knightcreek Appaloosa bloodlines?

I didn't stand a chance.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Photo Shoot with Baby D

Poco and me after our arena ride.
But you don't care.
I know what you want.

How many ridiculously cute
baby pix can you stand?
Let's find out.

Pay no attention to that
unphotogenic middle-aged woman.
Look how tall he is at 6 months old.
For reference, I am 5'4".

You can easily see in this photo
that Daltrey is not skinny.
I sure hope I don't end up
with a "concerned party"
like Heather's stalker woman
that keeps reporting her to
animal control because
"the horses are skinny".
No, they're not.

Stripes on his withers

Stripes on his ribs

He seems to get taller
each time I see him.

I hope he keeps the tipped ears.

Auntie Kris, his halter's twisted.
Bad auntie!

Paying respects to his maternal grandsire,
Q (JKS Regal Quagga)

Mrs. Mom has Jo the Wonder Nanny Dog.
I have Poco, the Wonder Nanny Pony,
and let me tell you:
he takes that job very seriously.
"My baby! Mine, mine, mine!
Move along, boy, don't dawdle."

Not sick of baby pix yet?
Just wait.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Midnight & Daylight

In 2008, Mr. Fry hired a guy to do some dirt work for us, mainly setting the culvert pipe across the dry creek bed that divides our long, narrow property in half. As a birthday present, he also paid to have an area leveled and tilled for my round pen. Pix and the original story here.

The dirt guy (Dave) was a real Texas character with a twangy drawl as thick as guacamole. A conversation ensued in which he insulted my sweet little Jazu, saying
Arabians were about the "ugliest, most worthless breed there is". About Poco, he said, "I wuz gonna ask yew if ya only rode THAT one at night." My reply: "Mister, you can insult my husband; he can defend himself. But if you're going to insult a lady's horse, the NEXT time I see you, it better be with your hat in one hand and a lead rope attached to a mighty nice pony that you intend on handing over to me in the other!" I was only half kidding. Apparently, he raises paints and QHs.

That story has made the rounds, and to this day, Mike calls Poco my "midnight pony" or just "Midnight". One day earlier this Spring, I returned home from having ventured down the road solo on Poco, and heard a truck slow behind me as I was opening the gate. I turned around to see Dave grinning at me.

"I see you been ridin' Midnight."

"Yeah," I said weakly, as he continued on his way.

Meanwhile, they needed some dirt work at Iron Ridge, and asked for a recommendation. I gave them Dave's contact info, and then forgot all about it.

Fast forward to last weekend, when I sold some stuff that's been laying around. After the people left, Mike and I were talking, and he said, with that twinkle in his eye that I adore, "Ya know, it looks to me like somebody is saving up for a daylight pony."

"And what would you say to that?"

(eyeroll) "Now what the hell am I gonna say?"

Woohoo, green light!

So last Sunday, I put some money down on Streaker Daltrey. Heather let it slip in conversation that Dave had been there, seen my Boyz, made the connection, and picked up where he left off trashing my Pokey pony to her and Jason! So now all my barn buddies know the story, too.

I suspect Mr. Fry will be dubbing the baby "Daylight".
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