Sunday, August 21, 2011

As Good As It Gets Today

 "A man's got to know his limitations."
— Clint Eastwood as "Dirty Harry" Callahan in "Magnum Force" (1973)

A woman, too.

I don't canter yet. Oh, I've taken a few strides here and there. Quaker was the first. We were playing, doing a fast trot in the pasture at Iron Ridge with Nita and Keeley. Quaker picked up speed for a few wonderful seconds until I barely hinted that he bring it back down, which he did immediately. I've also taken a few steps on Poco, and probably on Jaz, too.

Why I haven't kicked it up into 3rd gear is no secret: fear. I'm not talking about a deep, dark fear. Not at all. I am certain that I will do it at some point, but I haven't felt comfortable enough yet. The few times I thought I felt comfortable enough and actually asked Jaz or Heather's mare Ash for the canter, model lesson horses that they are, both refused. I trust them both.

For the longest time, whenever I trotted, I felt completely out of control. And I was. I could stay on, and we didn't crash into stuff mostly because the horses know you're supposed to turn when you get to the corner of the arena, and to avoid other riders. But if it came down to actually steering, navigating among obstacles, I felt like I was at the mercy of the horse. Now, if we're talking about Jaz, that's not a terrible thing, again, because he's a caretaker; he wouldn't take anyone into harm's way. However, when you pick up speed on a horse like, say, Poco, you can't count on him to look out for you or anyone else. In the right frame of mind, he'd plow into another horse or even into a fence in a New York minute.

I've been able to afford a couple lessons in the last few months. When Heather asked what I wanted to accomplish, I said I wanted to work on communicating with my horse with my legs and seat while learning to keep my hands quiet. In order for Jaz to pick up speed when I ask, I must feel completely comfortable and confident, or he won't do it. In order for that to happen, I need to be able to communicate with him without having to think about it — including what direction I want us to go — so I can concentrate on other important things, like maintaining proper balance and learning the new gait.

We're not there yet, but we're getting closer.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Hanging With All the Boys

Didn't work with Baby D today. Too lazy. I just hung out with the geldings, who were all being complete suck-ups. They shared an apple. Jaz and Poko begged for grape Gatorade, so I shared.
  Poko, Jaz, Boo (Jaz's brother), Daltrey.
I got to know Boo a little.
He was quite sweet, much like his brother.
I have never ridden him, and may ride him Sunday,
if Jaz is not rideable.

 Look how tall my baby is!
There's still nothing to eat.
They're pretending.

 Poor Jaz. Always a mess.
Healing sweet itch/rain rot.

 These two are sensitive to the touch,
or he may be being a drama queen.
He pissed somebody off.

 This doesn't look like anything, but see the darker area?
It's sweet itch/rain rot right before it gets ugly.
As soon as we treat it, it will be pink and hairless.

This one's for Lisa and Sylvia.
This is in Scorch, the Stonewall stallion's, pen.
She was just standing there, cooling her jets.
She might be the smartest critter at the farm.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

It's 5:00 Somewhere

I found this cool old bronze clock at a resale shop in St. Marys, Pennsylvania almost 20 years ago. I had to replace the electric mechanism with a battery one, but the battery corroded the contacts about 6 months ago and it stopped at 1:05. I decided it wasn't worth doing anything about it, but I still like the clock.

Yesterday, I had this brilliant idea.

The next time someone says to you that it's 5:00 somewhere, you can tell them you know where, because it's always 5:00 at Casa Fry.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

At Long Last


Wednesday, August 10, 2011

D Day Walkabout

Iron Ridge is located in an otherwise typical residential neighborhood. The plan was simple: Heather or Nita would lead Jaz while I led Daltrey on a short walkabout down the less busy of their roads. Since they were both there, Heather led Jaz, Nita brought Ishka, and off we went.

I keep thinking that one of these days I'm going to come up with something that freaks Daltrey out, but that has yet to happen. No loose dogs, bicycles, wayward balloons, or other typical horse-eating suburban denizens crossed our paths. There was light traffic, and it had been trash day, so the street was lined with wheeled plastic trash bins. We investigated the trash bins, opened and closed mailboxes, etc. Not even a wide-eyed look.

We stopped at an overgrown easement and let the horses graze, then headed back, this time with Daltrey and I in the lead. What a big boy! He looked over his shoulder a few times to make sure his herd was still there, but he did well. Of course, the big test will be getting him out by himself. He still gets anxious when he's alone, but we'll build his confidence with little outings like this so setting out on his own is no big deal.

I'm taking suggestions for easy and fun things to do with him. Ideas?

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Dry Bones: Drought in Texas

As of this writing, the Dallas/Fort Worth area is experiencing its 37th consecutive day of triple digit heat. On this day last week, it was 93° at 6:30 a.m., and you can see what it was when I left work. This is our "hell to pay" for those wonderful days of riding in jeans and a tee shirt while y'all are freezing your hoo-hoos off in the winter.
 Poco and Jaz mowing the dog yard in August 2008
The dog yard this morning
 Poco (front pasture) expressing his displeasure
that Jaz and I have left him
for a ride down the road in August 2008
Front pasture today
  Back pasture August 2008
 Back pasture summer 2011

As you can see, the land is beyond parched; we can only imagine what it would look like if the horses were here. I sent them to Iron Ridge to let the land recover, but without rain, it has gone from bad to worse. Not that it's any better at the farm. Heather is facing the same challenges on a larger scale. There is no hay locally. So far, most of the horses are holding their weight on a diet of Complete Assurance, beet pulp, and minerals.

The heat is another story. Daltrey is moving even slower than he normally does. Jaz has been off for the last couple days. He usually doesn't like being stalled, but he hasn't even had the motivation to complain. He plays with his food and isn't drinking as much as he should. I took two box fans up there and bought him 20 quarts of his favorite flavor of Gatorade, Blueberry Pomegranate. Heather said he drank 5 of them last night. When Jason set up the fans (wired to the outside of the stall), Jaz backed his butt up to one of them. Heather said he ate last night with a bit more gusto than he has been, so it's working, at least a little.

The weather is not fit for woman or beast. No riding until it breaks.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Bringing up Baby

Wednesday afternoons after work now officially belong to Daltrey. This works well, since I don't have much energy and he has an attention span to match. The one thing I like about the heat is that the horses have little inclination to be stupid and jumpy, not that he normally is.

I tied Daltrey, ostensibly to groom him, but in fact it was more to gauge his mood and attention span. He stood well (for a baby), even for brushing his mane and tail, which aren't his favorite things. He's still a little heavy and wobbly when you pick up his feet.

Daltrey was more concerned about being in the arena by himself than anything I asked him to do. I led him around from both sides. We stopped, started, turned, and backed. I led him through a narrow channel someone had built from ground poles. His turns were sloppy, but he wasn't bothered by it. I did the whole "carrot stick" thing all over. Didn't even flinch, no matter how wildly I flailed it over his head, wrapped it round his legs, etc. Tried terrorizing him with a plastic grocery bag, and although he gave me a few wide-eyed looks (his startling eye color makes all his looks seem wide-eyed), he didn't move his feet. Then I brought out a black trash bag and about wore myself out shaking it, filling it with air, etc. Nada. Laid it on the ground and he sniffed and pawed, then walked right over it. I guarantee Jazu the Wonder Pony would have had no part of that!

My now 17-month old baby has entered that stage in draft baby development where he is conformationally an unholy mess — a Frankenhorse. He shot up again, and the last time Heather sticked him, he measured 14.2, but that was a month ago, so no telling now. He's ribby, butt high, hollow hipped, cow-hocked, his neck's too short, and his head's too big. Regardless of how much food you pump into him, he'll likely be gangly and out of proportion until he's at least three. All that is easy to overlook because of that wonderful drafty temperament.

We've discovered that his hearing is not impaired to the degree we once thought it was. It seems to be only lower-range sounds he can't hear. Even if he's at the far end of the pasture, he comes a-running when I call him.

Daltrey still doesn't understand that every being is not a horse. He's a bit of a cookie monster, and he likes to get in your space. So far, this is the worst I have to deal with, so you'll get no complaints here.

Caught a few minutes of a show on RFD where some guy (prolly a BNT) was out in a large pasture with mares and near weanlings. He was talking about herd dynamics and casually mentioned that all the babies were born in the pasture and didn't get haltered for the first time until they were weaned. I don't know nuthin' about nuthin', but that sure seems to me like the hard way to do things for both owner and baby. When you're talking drafts and draft crosses, they're frikken' huge by the time they're weanlings! They're too darn big NOT to start working with them from Day One. Besides, I think that's a lot of stress on a baby to be taken away from its mama, a strange thing put on its face, and being yanked around by the two-leggeds.

How do you feel about it? Leave them be or stick a halter on them as soon as you can? When do you start messing with them, teaching them to lead, yield, etc.?

Monday, August 1, 2011

Bad Love

"It's like you're a drug
It's like you're a demon I can't face down
It's like I'm stuck
It's like I'm running from you all the time
And I know I let you have all the power"
"Addicted" by Kelly Clarkson
from her 2004 album "Breakaway"

Prior to hooking up with Mr. Fry, I had a penchant for falling in love with men who were emotionally unavailable at best; flawed, broken, and dangerous at worst.

Like many women, I thought that if I loved them enough, stuck around long enough, put up with their shit long enough, surely they would see the light and love me the way normal human beings love each other. In short, I thought my efforts could fix them. The more they misbehaved, the more I thought they needed me and the more determined I was to hang on. I was the poster child for codependence and enablement.

It took many years and a near-death experience, but I finally outgrew bad boys.

Human ones, anyway.

If you want a laugh at my expense, go back to the beginning of my archives for the story of how I got my first horse, Poco. Nearly every other post in the archives is about our love/hate relationship. Although I swore he'd always have a home with me — a promise I was willing to keep — I finally realized we would both be better off if we parted ways. He now lives at Iron Ridge, has his butt worked hard at least 5 days a week, is buff, and thriving. He's even carrying select beginners, which I admit is a huge blow to my self esteem.

For awhile he blew me off when I went up to the farm, but then again, he was blowing everybody off. He reverted to his charming, suck-up self when they got him away from the mares, his drug of choice. He is now pastured with his old buddies Jaz and Daltrey, and the last couple times I've visited, Poko has come to me, sweet and affectionate. The old thought processes kicked in and  ... well, read paragraph 2 (above) again. I found myself with a case of the "what ifs" the "maybes."
I had the honor of roaching him.

I shared my feelings with Heather, who reminded me that the only reason he's gotten with the program is that he's being ridden hard and often, which I can't do. Work, such an inconvenience ...  Poko is flourishing under the discipline and routine at Iron Ridge. Still, it's not a matter of if, but when Poko has his next meltdown. And I'll still be pushing 60 years old, and don't need to be the one on him when that happens. I do hope that at some point, I'm a confident, competent enough rider to ride him again. He's such a rush to ride.

Like any other intense, passionate relationship, remnants of this pony love linger in my psyche, and apparently in his as well. It tugs at my heartstrings every time he lays that big ole head in my arms. He will always have a piece of my heart, but my head tells me things are best left the way they are.
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