Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Bon Voyage!

Sorry I havent been keeping up with either of my blogs... I've been busy.... or more accurately, my mother has been busy getting ready for a trip and I've been helping her not be so busy by trying to help her out as much as I can...

You see, tomorrow my Mom is getting on a jet plane! And flying to a far away land! Not to return for 24 days!!

For the next three weeks she will be cruising the coast of South America, zip trekking across a rain forests (!!!) and lounging by a pool in the hot sun!

And you know what? She totally deserves it! I just love when my Mom gets to do all the things she's always dreamed of doing... but couldnt because she was stuck raising us punks!

So please send my mom some jingles for great trip and a safe return.


Why do I always feel like singing this song?

Saturday, March 28, 2009

If this doesnt make you laugh....

I give up.


(Please excuse the close up on the goat balls)

Oh and who hasnt seen "David after the dentist"

I am SO ordering this T-shirt!!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Why do you ride?

(I like the look this horse has..... The personality in his face and the cute way he wants to stand on that ledge!)

Why do you ride?







I've had to think a lot about this lately.

You see I've have a horse available to me right now to ride. She is a cute little palomino mare named Sugar. She's smooth gated, straight forward and has a lot of miles on her. She's also sour, pissy and has developed a bucking habit. Luckily she's too fat, too round and too lazy to put any power behind her crow hops... she's just telling you to piss off in the only language she has available to her. I'd love to play with her and see if I can get her thinking about things in a more positive fashion. But you see that's not my job. I'm suppose to "just ride".

But I have trouble "just riding" these days.... I have an odd new compulsion to try and help out the horses I ride. I just cant seem to help myself. And more importantly, I'm no longer too interested in just getting on and going.

Do I love to ride? Yes. But if all I wanted to do is sit on a horse and go... I could head on down to the local grocery store and spend my time on a horse that runs on quarters. Heaven knows it'd be cheaper.

But I want to be engaged. I want to be communicating... interacting... invested.

That means I am either helping a horse I dont love....

Or "just riding" one I do.

Dont get me wrong, I'm not complaining. I'm happy and VERY thankful to be able to go to the barn. To feel the soft touch of a muzzle on my cheek and come home with my hair full of sawdust. I love horses and will take them any way I can get em'.... But I miss loving a horse. I miss the bond. I miss the connection. I miss this....


This video is of a clinician named Jonathan Field. He's not my Guru but he sure the hell has taught me a lot about horses. He's not perfect. He sells caps, sticks and expensive halters. He teaches 45 year old housewives how to back their horses up with the shake of a lead rope.... that is when they're not busy ogling over him in his jeans and cowboy hat.... God bless his soul. JF's techniques are not new. Their not his. And their not the only way. But he's the kind of cowboy that makes a horse sigh and melt under his touch. (He has that effect on women too). He's a good hand... great even. One day, I hope I'll be too.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Home Again...

Well, I haven't been around the past few days because I've been away with my Mom helping her with some work things. We had a great little road trip, but then, I always have a great time when I get to hit the road with Mom. I am heading out the door now to go riding! I rode on Monday as well. More to come on that later.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

My New Blog!

Well, I went and did it! I started a new blog!

As many of you may already know, I am a self confessed horse-shopaholic. Most days I will check out at least one or two horse ad sites and inevitably one or two horses will make their way in to my infamous Favorites File.... Never to see the light of day again.... But these horses! They want to come out of the file! They want to be set free! To run and frolic in the land of bloggerdome!.... For all of you other fellow horse lovers to admire and enjoy!

So I have created a second blog where I will post a few links to my daily "finds" and I will also feature one "Favorite Pick of the Day".

Feel free to stop on by! Dont be shy to leave a comment and tell me what you think!

Here is a link....


Friday, March 20, 2009

Heart in my Horse

I found this poem on Ray Hunt's website yesterday.

...says it all....


I talked to a friend just the other day

who’s got lots of opinions and plenty to say.

We discussed what we both like to see in a horse

His requirements and mine were different of course…

He likes a clean throatlatch and a long skinny neck,

and prefers that their hocks are set close to the deck.

Short backs and hard feet and clean slopin’ shoulder,

and a gaskin that looks like it swallered a boulder.

He likes a short face and a big ol’soft eye,

and says these are the horses he’s likely to buy.

And when he’d completed his lengthy discourse,

on all of the attributes of the quality horse.

He asked my opinion, and where do I start?

And I said that I….just want horses with heart.

I said I want heart above all the other.

I don’t care if he’s Smart Little Lena’s full brother.

Or just how much money that his grandmother won,

or whether he’s roan, palomino or dun.

But give me a horse with some grit and some try,

and some heart and some guts and that’s one that I’ll buy.

And I’ve found it’s the same with a woman or man….

the good ones won’t quit you when the shit hits the fan.

by Monte Baker

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

I believe!

Now when you read the title of this post I'd appreciate it you would inject a "southern Baptist preacher calling from his pulpit a declaration of faith with enough force and conviction to shake the window panes!" accent into its enunciation.... for theatrical effect. Throwing your hand up in the air is strictly optional.

What am I talking about? The Gurus. The Gods. The.... HORSE TRAINERS!! *insert scary music from the infamous shower scene in the movie Psycho!* Don't know what I am talking about? Click here)

Last year I was a horse expo called the Mane Event- a collection of horse related trade booths, breed exhibitors, and a forum for local trainers and out of town gurus to strut their stuff in various demos and clinics. I really enjoy Mane Event and have always come away up a few ideas and down a few dollars.

One of the attractions that draws the largest crowds is an event called "The Trainers Challenge". Three professional trainers draw a colt each, (all unbroke geldings or mares off the same ranch, with similar breeding, conformation and temperament) and are allotted an even number of timed one hour sessions over the course of the weekend in which to break out their colts. On Sunday night the expo is closed with a competition to see who has managed to put the best handle on their colt by testing them at various maneuvers (standing quietly to be saddled and mounted, lope both directions, over poles, load in a trailer, etc.) Its all very exciting, very political and the choice of winner is often controversial. The trainers use this forum to demonstrate their techniques and ultimately solicit clients and sell DVDs. They also have to walk a fine line between pushing their colt hard enough to get results (and look good) but not too hard (so they look like a bully!)

The Mane Event has brought many well respect clinicians from around the US and Canada (Van Hargis, Steve Rother, Jay O'Jay etc.) to compete but one of the main stays has been a local trainer named Doug Mills. I'd like to make clear that I have absolutely nothing against Doug Mills, whatsoever. He seems like a nice guy, a good trainer, and his clients all seem very devote. Which brings me to my point. This post isnt about his methods, the Trainers Challenge or how many times he's won the event (3) or if he deserved to (which is open to speculation). This post is about his "believers".
We've all seen it, a local (or not so local) Guru who can do no wrong and who's God like stature in the equine community draws a fervent crowd wherever he goes. That's Doug.

So last year I settled into to watch the trainers challenge, wedged cheek to jowl in the stands around a round pen, when Doug Mills stepped in to begin his session. I wasn't surprised when the rafters shook with frenzied excitement, or that the crowds had swollen to double it's size since the last "outsider" trainer had started his session... or even that the judges had sat up in their chairs with renewed interest. I expected all of that. Because this was Doug Mills, our local hero.

Now part of the trainers score during the "training" sessions actually comes down to how well the clinician manages to communicate his techniques and if he keeps the audience's attention while keeping both his methods and language simple enough for his disciple's to understand. So Doug walks in to the pen and starts working with this colt, all the while chanting away about what he is doing and why, being his usual engaging and charming self when I noticed that a woman in front of me was taking each of his speculative questions and answering them as if he had spoken to her directly.
For example:

Doug: "Now do you see how Dusty clenched his tail there and braced up while I was throwing that there blanket over him?"

Lady in front of me: "Yes! He sure did."

Doug: "What do we want to do about that? Should we keep approaching it the same way or draw back a little?"

Lady: "Draw back! Right?" *nodding her head in wonder*

And so it went. But she wasn't the only one. Oh no! It was then that I noticed how the majority of the crowd was nodding along or calling out answers as well. You might be asking, "Well, whats wrong with that? Clearly he is a good clinician and has engaged his audience?" And I would say you're right....except... you must take into account the zombie like, glass eyed looks on the faces of my fellow horsemen and the sense of zeleous devotion that permeated the air around me with a freaky cult like atmosphere... Somehow I felt that, had Doug asked his "people" to stand up and dance like a chicken, they just might comply. 'Cause these people- they'd drunk Doug's Cool-Aid.

Sounds far fetched, right?

Well let me tell you when I decided to cut tail and run. Doug's colt had a break through! I heard a faint but distinct Hallelujah come from the small, gray haired lady in front of me. Just then Doug the Prophet exclaimed some sentiment of a deep, intellectual, universal truth... something Ray Hunt-esc like "let your idea become the horses idea"....to which the crowd sighed and mumbled words of affirmation. As if they had just become enlightened to some Divine truth. Doug nodded his head solemnly and called to the audience... "Can I get an AMEN to that?"

His believers called back, in perfect harmony, "AAAAAY-MEN!!!"


Ray Hunt

August 31, 1929 - March 12, 2009
One of the founding fathers of natural horsemanship, a God and Guru in his own right, passed away March 12th. Ray Hunt inspired people to change the way they related to horses. I am grateful that he was able to make the impact that he did on our psyche as horsemen, though he was the first to admit that he didn't do it for us. In his own words- "I'm here for the horse- to help him get a better deal."

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Pictures of Poppie and 200 Posts

As women, I think we are all entitled to wake up in the morning feeling nostalgic, sad and emotional for no good reason. Its a hormonal thing, I'm sure. This morning I woke up with a ball of tears at the back of my throat, just waiting for a valid (or not so valid) excuse to break free. And so why I would feel it necessary to go rooting through old pictures on day such as this I really couldn't say- but of course I did and of course it didn't take me long to find something to get teary over. One picture of my Poppie is all it took because a photo of him is not so much a reflection of his physical body, as a snapshot of whatever his thought or feeling was at that given moment in time, when with the flash of a bulb and the click of shutter, there captured forever in the folds and lines of his face, the contemplative, absorbed, mirthful, or tranquil expression of his soul.

Sometimes it is the setting in which my Poppie sits that brings rushing forth a wealth of memories- so that in one moment, with one look at a picture of him on his boat, surrounded by the ocean sound he loved, I am able to step back in time to join him there- to smell the salty water around us, feel the touch of a summer sun on my face and the gentle swell of waves under foot.

Some days my overactive imagination and overabundance of emotion feels more like a burden than a blessing. It is that abundance which most often defines me as a person, both for the good and the bad. But today it is that which has allowed me share in my Poppie's presence again and it is that which allows me to not leave him behind in memory and in time. And so today, for that, I am thankful.


Today Marks my 200th Post!...

July 12th, 2008 I started this blog as a outlet of personal expression and as a forum for creative writing practise. I never imagined how many wonderful people I'd meet or how much your comments would come to mean to me. Through this blog I rediscovered a passion for writing... a passion that has since set me on a course that may one day, if I'm lucky, shape my life. Thank you for coming along for the ride.

Y'all come back, ya hear?

writing a book

I am in the process of writing a book. That very sentence scares the living crap out of me, like there is no way little old me could write a novel... like on paper.... with words.... a plot... and characters! Though "writing" in a present tense verb would be a gross overstatement as I've havent been writing at all in the past month or so. For various reasons I've found myself at hampered in my progress.... But I am still dedicated to the greater project. Its gonna happen. Eventually.

Late last year I decided to write a book, which sounded great, in theory. When I sat down to flesh out a storyline, I found myself a little at a loss for where to begin. What did I want to write about? Where should it be set? Should it be a romance, mystery, sci-fi or adventure, or all of the above? Who was my haroine? How do I write a book? What was I thinking? I'm not a writer!

I was lost before I'd even begun- overwhelmed by the scope of a project I hadnt yet even started. But I knew there was two things I wanted to write about, whether they fit into the project or not- The first was about my Poppie's house. I wanted to capture the sites, sounds and smells of it, lock it forever in words, forever in time, so I'd never forget. The second thing I was really interested in writing was a love scene. You see, I've read a many books of many different genres but I am not embarrassed to admit that my favorite part of any novel is when two characters that you love finally come together to make love. I am a hopeless romantic, afterall.

I hit a bit of a hump in the road so tried writing about events that actually happened as a way to get the juices flowing and as my Poppie has inpsired one of the main characters of my book, I look to him as a sourse of entertainment and inspiration. Many of my memories of my Poppie are ones that where we were in his boat, out on the water where he could share him vast knowledge of whatever was infront of us. Poppie was never short on conversation, but then, he knew when to just sit back and enjoy the moment too.

Monday, March 16, 2009

The 80's- Its baaaaaaaaaack!!

Is it just me, or does it seem that the 80's are pushing for a comeback?

I've seen some alarming fashion trends that are giving me disturbing flashbacks to my childhood. I was born in '82 after all! Though some could be called "early 90's" trends I guess. Think punk rock, Cyndee Lopper, and the ultra unflattering high waisted, tight ankled jeans...oh and even better, the panties that went with them. Heavy, caked on makeup with funky eye shadow colors, colorful madhouse cut hair...
(Supermodel Agyness Deyn in 2009!!)
....leggings, ankle boots, puffed sweaters and heaven forbid... oh dear lord, they're back... shoulder pads!!! *runs from the computer in horror!*

(New York Fashion week 2009!!! Apparently the heroin addicted model look goes hand in hand with shoulder pads!)

A mishmash of florescent colors, patterns, textures and over sized plastic jewellery. Really, are we going to be forced to endure this yet again? Or will it be allowed to pass by us "little people", to stain only the couture jet set with its metallic cinch belts and acid wash?

(Above: Miley Cyrus channeling her inner 80's Billy Ray)

Above: Nikki Reed lookin' "fly" in a Marty McFly (MJ Fox in Back the Future) inspired hightops!

(Above) Scarlet Johanson sporting a head band, skinny jeans, and sneakers (yes, I said sneakers!) and the boat neck over a tank top look that gave me a flashback to Flashdance.... (this look was one of my personal fav's back in the day.)

Rihanna in hot pink pants (I would have killed for a pair of those in 92!)

Let us not forget the Queen of Fashion (and David Becham's balls (soccar balls, that is! Jeeze! What were you thinkin'??) in no less than an off the shoulder jump suit.

And so long as we are bring back the 80's shouldn't the Barenaked Ladies rules apply? (so what if they were big in the 90s! This is my blog and if I say they're from the 80's in order to make some not-so-funny crack about some poor starving actress in a horrible green dress, that's my business!)

"And if I had a million dollars...(if I had a million dollars)... I'd buy you a green dress (but not a real green dress that's cruel!)"

(Michelle Connely at the "He's just not that into you" Premiere)

But there is one fabulous 80's product I was very excited to see reemerge on TV infomercial last night!

Why it's the MINI TRAMPOLINE!!!! YAYAYAH!!!!

*dusting off my Jane Fonda Work out VHS*

Lindsay Lohan clearly saw the infomercial and is ready to hop aboard donning 80's inspired workout wear!

Okay, I dont know about you but I'd like to boycott this latest fashion trend all together... so...

Do me a favor will ya? Smack me if I stop tweezing my eye brows! Please. Just a swift one right upside the head.

Until then...

*she chants*....

"I will not perm my hear! I will not perm my hair! I will not perm my hear..."

Sunday, March 15, 2009

The Pole Dancing Bear...

To lighten things up I thought I'd post some of the neat little links I've been forwarded in my e-mail over the past few months....

Of which, my favorite by far was the Pole Dancing Bear...(MUSIC ON!!)

Here is a link for a photo taken at the inauguration of President Obama. What is crazy about it is the resolution and how close you can zoom into any given person. It looks like nothing but a sea of indistinct people but you can actually zoom in so close as to see the Lincoln's Bible on Michelle's lap!

Click here for the link!

(Zoom using the tool on the upper left hand corner and grab and pull the picture to redirect where you are zooming into.)

Here is video from America's Got Talent featuring a magical act called Quick Change Artists. At first I was impressed but not wowed...magic isn't really my "thing" but in the end I had to begrudgingly admit I was baffled, confused, and in awe.

Another my family and I had fun with was this facial recognition test.

Here is how it works:

Facial recognition test:
There are two parts A and B, and each part will have 12 photos of faces.
You only have a short time, 4 seconds, to see each face before the program
moves to the next face. Part A will begin and when that is finished, they
recommend a 5 minute break. Then, you can start Part B. When Part B is
finished, the actual test will begin. The test will consist of showing 48
faces and below each face you will have a choice of choosing whether you
have seen the face, either in Part A or in Part B, or whether or not you
have seen the face at all. After you have made your selection for face
number 48 your score will appear and you will be able to see how you
scored. Good luck!

Here is the link to the test!

Oh and by the way, I totally found the perfect job...

Have you ever heard of Matt Harding?


"Where in the hell is Matt?"

I want a job as his sidekick!

And last but not least, have any of you ever received one of these freaky little games that seem to read your mind?

Click here for the link!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

"The best things in life are free..."

But you can give them to the birds and bee's cause I want money! That's what I want!

So I had a bit of a reality check last night. And it wasn't a pleasant one either.

I have been trying to choose a career. Just like you shop for a blouse, or select the perfect apple at the grocery store I've been doing my research, looking at courses and trying to project an analysis of what would constitute my best foreseeable future career choice.

And guess what I came up with?

Nothing. SFA. <-- do you know what that means? Nadda. Squat. Zip. Zero. Zilch.

Did you know that hear in Canada we pronounce the letter "Z" "Zed" not "Zee"? True story.

It seems that most of the people I know found their career path by some form of natural progression.... They started as a clerk and worked their way up, upgrading their education as they went....

Or more commonly...

They do what their parents did, their grandparent, or their cousin Fred from Boise who knew a guy, who's girlfriend's sisters kid has an opening.

Or better yet, when you are fresh out of high school with a pure idyllic mind untainted by the stains of society, of the harsh truths of life, money, morals, and business. And you pick something like being a veterinarian with some grand illusion of "helping animals" with no reality check to sway you away from working endless hours, being on-call, dealing with people who wont do right by their animals, having to run a small (or not so small) business, the cost of education, the years spent in school, etc. etc. etc..

But as a 26 year old woman, with a pretty solid grasp of my abilities, aptitude, expectations, and weaknesses, I am finding it near impossible to even decide which direction to look towards.

I have some potential in art, writing, and horses...none of which offer any financial or job security... both of which are REALLY high on my list of NEEDS.

I am pretty much at a loss. I am making an appointment on Monday to meet with a career counselor but I have to say I don't have much hope in their helping me. I also don't have much faith that focusing entirely on education is the right route as these days a degree does hold the same weight as it once did.

I know I should get out there and just do something because that will lead to other areas....

But I feel at a loss.

Any suggestions?

Tuesday, March 10, 2009


I would like to call the following photo series, "Moon Rising over Kitchen Sink"...


Or not.
(I actually took these photos over a 7 minute time period. While standing over my kitchen sink... or in front of my kitchen sink. Like, I wasn't standing on the counter top or anything.)
If you scroll down really fast and you can watch the moon rise!!! Which in my moderately stoned mind (on cold medication) is like totally groovy, man!

It is really cold outside but there is not a cloud in the sky. The sun is shining. It is 6:45pm (or was when I started this post) and still light out! There is a cute little bay gelding named AJ sitting in a field out there... just waiting to be ridden. A beautiful blue dog laying at my feet... just dying to go for a walkabout. And I am stuck inside....miserable. Sad. Lonely. Dejected. My nose is... well, dripping. My bones ache. My head hurts. Did anyone bring some cake to my little pity party? Oh dear, that was nice of you... please do hand me over a slice, will ya? Oh, and please do be sure to give me one with a a nice big rose shaped dollop of oil whipped icing on top? If you may. Thank you.

You know, inside of my is a thin beautiful woman just screaming to be let out.... but I can usually shut the bitch up with cookies. Cheers!

Why yes, I am on some cold medicine. Why do you ask?

Oh, I'm talking to myself again? Well, there is hardly anyone else out'n'about for me to talk to, now is there? Where was I?

Ah yes, I was going to do a post about how I want a horse. But then I remembered that I actually technically DO own a horse- My mare Abby. But then, she doesn't really "count" because I put her out on a breeding lease for nearly two years... after paying for Kari to train her for a year...Which sounded like a great idea...

But then I went out and paid to lease a horse (not Abby) .... which sounds a little nonsensical... when you think about it... but I had good reasons...I cant remember what they were just now, but I am positive that they were very logical and prudent...

but then I went ahead and leased AJ...

Which doesnt make sense, when ya think about. I have to respect the wishes of his owners and cant do what it is I want to do with him.

Which is why I think it'd be great to own my horse, so that I can do whatever I want with her. And I would benefit from the time and effort I invest in her. And I could determine who, what, when and where she is ridden. And what is or is not in her best interest. And I will control the universe within which she resides!!!

But then I remember... Ah, yes... that's right! I ALREADY own a horse. A horse that is SO well trained that I was worried about bringing her home and screwing her up! And I planned on taking lessons the whole time she was gone so that I could be a suppa-star reiner by the time she came back to me. But I haven't taken a lesson... or ridden (except for once)... since NOVEMBER... I think... I really cant remember!! Because LIFE happened in between. My horsey bankroller found other commitments... other money sucking vampires to leach his account dry... things like money making business ventures...investments... and other totally responsible, boring old enterprises like that...

AND, more importantly.... I needed to focus on NON-HORSEY things! Like school. And art. And writing. Building a future. A career. Travelling the world. Figuring out the secret to life. And other such bullshit.

All of which I fully intend on doing in the very near future... if only I could stop thinking about riding, breeding, selling, buying, training, and generally lusting over horses all night and day long.

I need therapy. Oh yah! Horses were my therapy. And oddly, my drug of choice.

Well... besides Tylenol Cold and Flu....

Have I made a total ass of myself yet? I have! Great! My job here is done! Goodnight!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Simple Womans Daybook

I have always really enjoyed Chronicles of a Country Girl's Simple Womans Daybook posts and so I thought I would try doing one today. I hope she doesnt mind....

Here it goes...

Outside my window it is a black and cold, moonless night. The sky is clear and I am sure there are a thousand stars, but I can not see even one of them.... because when I look out the window, I can only see my self, my home, and the warm yellow glow of my living room, reflected back at me.

I am thinking that I might have pushed going to the barn again today in the snow... and I might have made myself sick again.

I am thankful for my Bitty (kitty) who is keeping my lap warm as I write these words.

From the kitchen the chocolate cake I "accidentally" bought last night is calling my name...

I am wearing black yoga pants, a purple cardigan, and a fuzzy warm fleece bath robe... and despite the space heater blowing warm air on my feet, I'm still cold and feel feverish.

I am creating more trouble and anxiety for myself by over thinking things again... as usual?

I am going to resist the call of the chocolate cake. I must. I will. I... Oh who am I kidding?

I am reading Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility...again and trying not to see so much of myself in the insensible Marianne... and trying to be more like the prudent Elinor. Did you know that my great Aunt's name is Elinor?

I am hoping that tomorrow I can go to the barn and I wont be sick. And that the chocolate cake was low in fat and calories... and a major food group.

I am hearing the movie "Step Mom" playing on the TV (with Julia Roberts and Susan Surandon). I'm not going to cry this time. Promise.

Around the house many a creature is stirring... Lu's-a-boo, Halle, Hawky-dog, Hunter-dog, Bitty-Boo... and probably a mouse...or two. (Dont worry Barbie, I'm just kidding! I can hear you squealing from here!)

One of my favorite things is chocolate cake. I am sure that just one little wee piece couldnt hurt a thing, right? My Granny always said "A little bit of a good thing, is always a good thing." Or something like that.

A few plans for the rest of the week will hopefully include many hours at the barn and riding.

Here is a picture thought I am sharing with you...

Is of a portrait I did this Christmas for a nice lady who lost her dear cat. Because I am thankful that my lovely kitties are alive and well... though I miss the lovely cat I lost last year, my Besi girl. (in color below.)

Saturday, March 7, 2009

The Path of Least Resistance

(Pictures are of horses for sale that I have in my favorites!)

Well, today was the first time in over a week that I was able to get out to the barn. It is just Murphy's Law that I would get sick just as soon as I finally had a horse to play with! Unfortunately, I have really bad allergies to horses, hay, sawdust, etc. etc. and so wanted to give this nasty chest infection I have a fighting chance of clearing up before going back. I am still sick but couldn't resist any longer.... AJ was calling my name.
(5 yr old mare, green broke, quiet, $1500)

His owners and I have an understanding that I will work with him on simple ground manners (think showmanship- walk when I walk, stop when I stop, turn on the forehand, etc.) and simple arena riding... none of this fancy dancy, mambo jumbo natural horsemanship hogwash! Fine by me! As I said before, this pony (me) has more than one trick!

(9 yr old, decently bred, trained cutter, $6500)

So today I worked on lunging, voice commands for walk/trot transitions, standing ground tied, standing quietly for tacking, picking up the feet, and leading. He did really quite well... though I have to say that I am shocked at how little he knows considering how well he does for his owners on the trail.

(8 year old mare, trained in cutting in reining)

I am also baffled by the amount of resistance this horse has built up in his head, poll and neck. I have worked on getting his shoulders loose, they can still be sticky (and a little explosive when they get unstuck) but when push comes to shove, he wants to lean on that halter, take his head, and go!

(11 yr old, mare, dead broke, safe, 4500)

Now for those of you who are thinking, "Um... What? In English please!" Here's what I am talkin' 'bout!....

When you lead a horse, you should never feel any amount of tension in the lead rope. Your horse should follow your body's motion with a slack in the line. If I stop, I expect my horse to stop and stand quietly until I walk on. If I walk on, I expect my horse to follow. I do not want my horse to continue standing until the pull of the line drags him forward- I want him to anticipate the pull of the line before it happens and walk with me (unless I have dropped the lead line on the ground and told him to "stand".)

AJ doesn't seem to want to "get" this....

Horses are logical animals that are driven, almost always, by the path of least resistance. Meaning, they tend to avoid pressure, pain, or hard work when you give them an easier alternative.

(8 year old, finished reiner gelding, 6500)

When I walk forward and AJ does not, the line I am holding firmly will become taunt and pull on the end of his halter, causing pressure to be created on the band that runs over his poll (behind his ears). This is a little uncomfortable for a horse and something they should naturally want to avoid. If AJ walks forward when I do, the line between us will not be come taunt and therefor will cause no pressure to his halter. The first few times I ask him to walk with me, I teach him to move off of this pressure by making sure that, as soon as he steps forward and gives to the pressure on his poll, I let the line go loose and give him the relief his actions afforded him.

(7 yr old mare, well broke, $3000)

But AJ is not sold on this idea when it comes to leading. He gets the "move off of pressure" thing it in every other area, (hip, shoulder, standing, driving forward, etc.) but not in his head.

That is not to say he is not getting better. He absolutely has become much more light and 3 times out of 5 he is now walking with me when I go rather than lagging behind. The force of his resistance (pulling back and in to the pressure rather than moving away from it) is 30-40% of what it was... but it is still there....

(5 year old mare, very well broke, hauled, 4500)

Which, IMHO, must be dealt with and worked through or it WILL show up under saddle and in other areas... as it did today on the lunge line....

Because when a horse gets "sticky" like that... (sticky meaning that he'd rather lean into pressure rather than move off of it)... only one of three things usually happen...

They lean into the pressure (pull back) until finally something in their brain triggers them to....

1) step forward and magically the pressure goes away! Bingo! Wasn't that easy?


2) They pull, pull, pull and then ... Check out... "Oh my God! Run!!" Blow forward, run over or through anything in their path...


3) They resist... pull... pull a little more.... a little more... and then they freak out and pull back with all their might, turn on their heal and run! (The trick to stopping this one is to snag that lead on your hip, keep the pressure on their line tight (give them no relief) and go with them as they back up, following them as best as possible and only giving in once the stop and take a step forward.... Oh yah... and this one is easier said that done!)

(9 yr old Chocolate Chic Olena gelding, dead broke, 6500)

So, with AJ, he pulls, pulls, pulls, and then finally takes a step forward. The "pull, pull, pull" has turned into just one light "pull" but it is still there.... which means that when I turned the heat up, that one "pull" turned back into "pull, pull, pull, Blow up!"

Here is what happened...

(Example of how NOT to take a picture of a horse for sale! 5 year old, mare, well broke, $3500)

I asked AJ to move out into a trot on lunge line to the right. At the top of the circle, closest to the gate and where the rest of his herd was hanging out, he wanted to pull on the line of my hand and run off the circle towards his buddies. I bumped him off the line (made it uncomfortable for him to lean into the halter by giving short, abrupt, jerks) and drove him forward. This went on for a circle or two...or three... until finally that little resistance turned into an all out blow up. He threw his head to the side, took his shoulder with him, and blew out of my circle, backing up quickly, hopping and rearing in an attempt to pull the line from my hand.) Thankfully, I was able to hang on (though I wished I had remembered to put on some gloves! Ouch!) and he did not get free.
(7 year old, reining trained, dead broke, $4000)

His next response was to take off in the opposite direction! This "do the opposite of what I've been asked" is a common equine tactic. Usually, when they have tried and failed at one form of resistance, they quickly try doing the opposite and see if that works any better!

So... I pulled him to a stop, drove his shoulder back the way he had come and sent him back around just as if nothing had happened. He tried this twice more in that direction but as it got him no where, he finally relented and made two or three nice circles with the line slack and no resistance. I rewarded him by asking him to halt and letting him stand quietly and blow out for a minute or two. Then we went the opposite direction. Of course he tried the same tactic but found only the same result and so settled quickly into moving along nicely and giving to the line. I again rewarded him but quitting the exercise. I expect that next time I ask him to lunge he will try the same maneuver (and when that fails) will have devised a few more tricks to try on me..... just to keep me on my toes!

I also expect that, so long as I continue to correct even the smallest form of resistance (each and every singe time), eventually the habit of leaning into pressure will give way to the habit of moving off of it!

Or so I'm told.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Life is Like That

I dont know if you'all in the States get Readers Digest or not but let me tell you, this little pocket book magazine is a waiting room staple in doctors and dentist office's across the Great Canadian Nation!

It is a collection of entertaining stories, news, recipes, home projects, money matters, health, fitness and my personal favorites, "Life's like That" and "Laughter is the Best Medicine", two collums that are written and sent in by every day folks like you and me. 'Laughter is the Best Medicine' is usually simple straight forward jokes while "Life's like That" is cute stories about life's little idiosyncrasies and every day ironies.

I have a "Life's Like That" and a"Laughter is the Best Medicine" combo story to share. This actually happened quite a few years ago. I still blush when I think of it....
One miserable winter day I found myself waiting in a walk-in-clinic (a doctors office that requires no appointment, you just walk in, leave your name and then *insert sarcasm* wait an hour or two to see a doctor. Health care in Canada is free but rarely speedy.)

Anyways, there I was, sick with heaven knows what, cooped up with a bunch of other people also sick with God knows what, the lot of us just about as miserable as they come. It seem to remember that I had that kind of body ache that makes your bones throb, a feverish chill and a head that leaded like a sieve. I was tired, irritable and to top it off, I hate, and I do mean hate any kind of waiting room. The only saving grace in this particular office came by way of an endless supply of Readers Digests. I also seem to remember that when I came in to the office there was a line up of people waiting to leave their names- an elderly gray hair lady, a tired looked woman with a fussy and obnoxious toddler at foot and a healthy looking middle aged woman. There were maybe ten people all total waiting to be seen so I settled in and expected an even longer wait than usual.
A half hour passed by quickly, then an hour as I patiently flipped through one Digest after another... more patients pored in and took their seats. Another tired look mom with two kids came in, the kids squealed, cried and fought with each other incessantly, each sound was like a dagger in my head. Then there was this teenage boy who came in and blushed a scarlet red when the receptionist called his name... More people came, and went. After an hour I started to fidget and pay closer attention to who was coming and going. An hour and half later I ran through my last thread of patience and the last copy of Readers Digest. It was right about then that I noticed that same teenage boy coming out from seeing the doctor... For the next 10 minutes I watched...and become increasingly annoyed as each of the people I clearly remembered coming in well after me made there way out the door...

Finally, I had it! I threw my Readers Digest down on the table and stomped up to the receptionist's desk. I imagine that my face would have been flushed with anger....my voice quivered with rage.... I indignantly hissed through my teeth....

"Ex-cuuuuuse ME! But I doooo believe that you must have skipped my name on the list!! I came in before that teenager and WELL before that lady with the two kids! And... and... *insert finger waving, neck bobbing, pissed off female body language* I have been waiting for nearly TWO hours!!! I am sick and I am tired. And I want to see a doctor NOW"

The receptionist looked up at me and simply said....

"Uh... well.... I am sorry but, you never did come up to the desk or give your name. I saw you come in and sit down but I just assumed you were waiting for someone. I am sorry but I have just been so busy, I kept meaning to come over and ask you what you were waiting for..."
I laughed.... because...
Life is like that.

And laughter is the best medicine for a bad case of humiliation!