Monday, August 31, 2009
Sunday, August 30, 2009
On another note I was very impressed with the quality of riders at this completion. Many of the horses, with their elastic movement and beautiful frames, were absolutely mesmerizing to watch. While the air of the competition was very serous, if not dower, I was forced to begrudging admit that such seriousness probably contributed to the well practiced and methodical ability of the young riders, their control over their mounts and the consistency with which I saw beautifully conditioned, sound and very well broke horses...and ones that seemed well matched to the ability of their rider.
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
While my heart hurts at the loss of such an individual, my focus these past weeks has been to be a source of strength for my DB as he navigated his way through the logistics of arranging a funeral, holding his family together, writing obituaries and eulogies, and on top of it all trying to find a balance between the pain of knowing he'll never see his brother again and the acute relief of knowing that his friend, at last, had been set free…. Free from the suffering, free of having to stoically and bravely endure horrible pain and having to stare death in the face, every, single day.
I have never been so proud of my DB as I have been this week. He was gracious, firm, resilient, and compassionate, he pulled the world together when it seemed bent on falling apart and in end sent his brother out with as much class and dignity as was befitting of such a man. The funeral was absolutely beautiful. Loads of white flowers, green ferns and candles filled a stage, a mahogany casket fitted in gold at its centre- within, a man wearing a dark blue Armani suit, crisp white shirt, and a gold striped tie...a live violin and harpist…hundreds came to pay their respects and listen to my DB graciously thank each and every single nurse and doctor, image tech and administrator by name- all the people that helped his brother outlive his original prognosis by more than seven years.
My DB happily and proudly did his duty to his brother, and I did mine by him.
Through it all I had to try and keep my own emotions, opinions and reactions firmly in hand, which is something of a superhuman quality in my books...and one which I’ve never quite mastered. I played host, baked cookies and even wore high heels five days straight....lipstick too. My DB's job has essentially ended but mine has just begun. Behind every great man is a great woman, they say. I hope I am good enough to help my man heal and to support him as he picks up the pieces and clears off his desk to begin this new path of his life... the new normal.... whatever that may be.
Monday, August 24, 2009
I love old horses because they have withstood the test of time...because they have paid dues and beat the odds. I also really get a kick out meeting those who are direct descendants of the old time sires that shaped modern bloodlines.
Like check out this old guy...
He is a 28 year old stallion by Doc O'Lena (1967)
How about this guy, a 26 year old stallion by the Doc Quixote (1970)....
Or this 22 year old daughter of Boon Bar (1972)
Here is a 22 year old stallion by Zippo Pine Bar (1969)....
Even this 26 year old son of Mr. San Peppy (1968)....
I'd be really excited to meet any of these horses, as I was excited to meet the grandson of King.
Why? Because touching a son of Freckles Playboy or Hollywood Jac 86 would be for me like touching a living, breathing piece of history and creating a direct link between myself and the great sires that shaped the Quarter Horses I love and know today.
I might be weird that way...
But I love old things, horses included.
Anyone with me?
Thursday, August 20, 2009
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Downhill Granny's Lemon Pound Cake
(I called my Mom's Mom Downhill Granny because I had two Grannies that lived in the same small town- one at the top of a very long hill and one at the bottom.)
1 Betty Crocker White Cake mix
1 package Jello Pudding powder
3/4 cups of water
1/2 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup oil
In a large mixing bowl empty cake mix (dry) and add Jello pudding powder, water, lemon juice, eggs and oil. Stir for two minutes or until very well combined. Pour into a well greased cake pan and bake at 350F for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Do not over bake.
Lets stand for 10 minutes and then turn out of pan on to a plate. Profusely perforate top with a toothpick. Ice while still warm with:
Give it a try! I think you'll like it!
Monday, August 17, 2009
I met a gelding today who touched my heart and who reminded me just how much we should cherish those horses who have travelled a thousand miles of trails; who's manes have caught a hundred tears of heartache; and who's once graceful and fleet limbs still would, if able, faithfully and nobly carry anyone so willing to come along for the ride.
To King... Nice to have known you, sweet man.
Friday, August 14, 2009
I received these pictures of Abby last night. Arent they amazing? The lady who has her sure does have one hell of a touch when it comes to photographing horses! Abby's not hard on the eyes either. The idea of bringing her home next year is terrifying but I'm also looking forward to the day that we can start our jouney together. I couldnt be happier with the good people who have her and cant wait to see what she produces!
Thursday, August 13, 2009
Here in the Pacific Northwest there lives the gladiator of all brumble bushes! One that dominates the roadsides, ditches, banks, fields and forests clear across our great nation-...The cursed (or blessed) Blackberry Bush!
But for a few weeks ever summer I must admit a certain appreciation for the delicious, scrumptious, beautifully-bluish- purply-black-burst-of-juicy-flavor that they produce... Oh, yes! The BLACKBERRY!!!
Did you know that Blackberries are actually not berries at all? They are actually considered an aggregate fruit!
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
While technically I do own a horse, I have not been immediately responsible for one for over eight months. I HATE not having a horse at home and some days I MISS having one so bad it hurts.
What I don’t miss is boarding.
I absolutely loathed having to board out my horse. I hated worrying about all the people and potential hazards my horse was being subjected to and stressing over such things as: facilities not being maintained, what kind and quantity of hay and grain was being fed (with or without my permission or against my specific direction), not to mention unsafe herd management and stallion handling practices (such as sending a 14 year old girl (your barn help) out to saddle a stallion up right next to the mares.)
I also found it exceedingly difficult to watch people make stupid, unsafe, or ignorant decisions .... My post on that green girl with Flicka Syndrome was not case specific. I used to see it all the time… and worse! I’d walk around the barn having to turn a blind eye, my stomach turning in knots as I watched a toddler walk under the legs of his mother's horse... or 3-year-olds leading his grandfather's horse with the lead rope wrapped around his hand and dangling around between his legs. I hated watching ignorant people feed their horses hay so dusty and moldy that it had to be "shaken" out before being fed...Horses who, while not starving, were used like pack mules and fed the bare minimum. I found it difficult to watch a mare with wounds left to fester or a stall left un-cleaned for a week, waters left unfilled and feet left to grow long. Sometimes, (or most of the time), I couldn’t turn a blind eye and I’d end up mucking that stall, filling that water, or washing out that wound and more often than not I’d catch nothing but shit for it. I am far from a perfect horsewoman…but I think most of good animal husbandry comes down to employing a little common sense and a good dose of compassion.
Some barns are better than others. The small and private tend to be better but they also generally lack facilities. The larger, fancier barns don’t have as much neglect but are not immune to ignorance or abuse.... The "high class" barns are filled with their own sort...barn managers that refuse to feed your 14.2HH cutting horse anything but rolled oats and alfalfa (which only made her mental) and the same young children left unattended, ignored, or uneducated on safe handling practices. I’d still have to watching dead-lame horses being schooled on, dumbloods be beaten on and horses who sit for months staring at the four walls of their stall.
Sure I've had some good times at the barn and met some fantastic people. But I've boarded since I was twelve years old and I've had enough. I've been in small barns, big barns, fancy, private... full board, self board, semi… I've done it all.
And I don’t want to do it anymore. Right now the excitement of buying a new horse is actually OUTWEIGHED by the stress of having to find a barn where I will have to deal with the least amount of drama, neglect, abuse, and ignorance…and somewhere that will actually feed, clean and water my horse in a caring and consistent fashion (and within a half hour drive of home.)
What do I expect from a barn? What’s reasonable?
Monday, August 10, 2009
And notice how fabulously tanned they are? I'm as pink as a spring piglet next to these bronzed beauties!
When the three of us get together we always just have a ball.... my Mom and sister have the most lovely, boyant, and beautiful spirits...
Sunday, August 9, 2009
While I certainly can not understand why it is some horse savvy parents (who should know better) are willing to put their children on mounts that not even an adult professional would ride, I find it equally baffling why two, reasonable, caring parents would disregard the concern of an experienced horseman to appease the ego of a daughter who, blinded by the beauty of a pretty horse and full of youthful bravado, is sorely lacking for a mature voice of reason. What were they thinking? Well, I think I found the answer….
As in the classic movie “My Friend Flicka” about a young boy who tamed a bright sorrel filly his father determined to be “wild”. You could also call it, “Black Stallion Syndrome” for much the same reason- Hollywood’s version of a young child who magically captures the heart of a wild stead. Even Seabiscuit has an element of such a comeback, though at least in his case they were all experienced horsemen. The story of a bad or lame horse turned good and whole through the love and care of a child runs through some of the greatest horse stores of all time- including the oldest (Bucephalus and Alexander the Great.)
And so is it any wonder why this girl’s father stood proudly by and watched his daughter angrily attempt to lunge her horse with nothing but determination, (though no actual skill) and no coach to guide her or offer practical advice?
The problem is that this mare is a bully! A sticky, pushy, dominant, bitchy mare by nature. She has not been abused. She's not scared or wild eyed. She's a young, untrained brat of a horse who needs a very firm handler and the occasional ass kicking. This is coming from a NHer! What she does not need is a 90-pound, 16 year old girl with love in her heart. Do I sound like a cynical bitch yet? Good! Because I know that we, as horsemen, are largely a romantic minded and wistful lot who are prone towards unrealistic boughts of hope and faith….
I "get" it...really, I do! I guess this situation strikes a nerve in me because I feel this girl is being set up for failure and to have her dreams decimated…. I feel that way because for so many years I beat my head against the wall believing that determination and love was all I needed to train or ride a horse. When I learned that one actually needs tools, techniques, and to THINK through a horses training or behavior issue, (that the “try” in a rider is not enough) I felt as though I'd been set free! Subconsciously I thought that my failure to “become one” and have my horse do my “bidding” (by pure love alone) was as a result of my lack of effort and determination, rather than a simple lack of practical knowledge or skill.
Yes, there are kids out there who ride wild horses without getting hurt... Yes, we all want to be that girl in National Velvet, Sylvester or that boy in the Black Stallion. Yes, riding and training a horse takes a lot of heart and effort and some kids have a touch... we all know a story or two, (or five) about those horses or people who managed to overcome seemingly unconquerable odds. I do think there is a possibility that this girl and this horse will work things out....
*big gasping breathe*
Okay...I'll calm down.
I too have felt the pull of Flicka Syndrome. I've rescued horses. I've seen miracles. I've watched the angry, abused and violent become passive, sweet and happy... It can happen....
But for heavens sake for every one troubled horse successfully trained by an inexperienced rider there are a probably a hundred people out there who were left with broken bones, concussions, torn tendons, blood wounds or worse, dead! Parents, "horsey" or not, need to get their heads out of their asses and put the safety of their children before romantic notions best left to the movies.
Friday, August 7, 2009
I was able to play with a horse today! It was just awesome! Chester is a 5 year old Tennessee Walker gelding.... A bay tobiano with long legs and body, big bones, tall (16.1HH), and the sweetest eye you ever saw on a horse. My good friend purchased this gelding a little over a week ago and has fallen hard for him...and I can see why. It was wonderful to work with a horse who is so light and willing, so eager to please.
Thank for letting me play with your new boy, Jules! Congrats on getting a good one!
Unfortunately, I know that there is a 16 year old girl out there today who should, like my friend Julie, be glowing with the pride and joy of falling in love with her new horse but instead has spent nearly all her time at the barn fighting tears. She was sold a mare that no responsible horseman would hand over to a girl that age, or anyone besides a professional. It is really sad and makes me really angry. Everyone makes their own mistakes or decisions but it is really disappointing how often people in the horse community disregard the safety of a child to earn a buck. This is the second time this week that I have heard of a horse being sold to a child or teen who was clearly not able to handle it.
Monday, August 3, 2009
Lately I've been having a hard time focusing on my writing and art...or any other responsibilities... like housework and cooking.... What have I been doing instead? Why spending an inordinate amount of time looking at horses for sale online of course!.... (and I don't think I'm the only one who's been having this problem *COUGH Melanie COUGH* )
It has been almost 10 months since I've had a horse at home and in those ten months I've only ridden a handful of times. I cant believe it has been that long! Where does the time go? Needless to say I am getting crazy, itchy, obsessive about riding again.
But I find myself in the same position I have so many times before. Coming back after a "layoff".
Like going from a little wee cutting horse to a huge, round Warmblood, it can feel a little funky...like when you are used to being in a low sports car and all the sudden you're driving a big jacked up truck... (there I go with my car/horse analogies again ;-)
Well when you haven't been riding, at all, it is really hard to just jump right back in to the swing of things again and be able to get a good feel for some strange horse. To compound the problem after a lay-off I am always really rusty...mentally I know where my feet/hands should be but they just dont go there subconsciously anymore.
And then the double whammy....
The owner/seller/leaser of that strange horse (that I really dont trust because I never trust horse sellers ...especially when they say "Oh no! He never bucks/spooks/bolts/rears!".... which I think is a fair position for me to take because I've been on plenty of so-called-horses that have in fact, bucked/spooked/bolted/reared much to the "surprise" of the seller who "cant believe he/she did that!" )....where was I? Oh yes, this seller is watching me...judging me...or worst of all, instructing me!
Which is great! I'm are riding some strange horse around some strange field, worried that the owner is thinking "this girl cant ride worth a shit" and all the while I'm muttering to myself, "damn, I cant ride worth a shit" and then I'm suppose to be trying to figure out whether I want to fork over my hard earned cash (okay, maybe I didn't work hard for it but DB did!) to buy this horse.... who at that moment I really don't feel comfortable on because he like totally feels weird...
And while I am busy trying to not look like an ass, keeping my heels down- hands up, ass in the saddle, "sit back!", get a feel, watch where I am going, catch signs of lameness, keep an eye on potential hazards/horse-eating monsters, I cant stop thinking...."Oh my God, if she tells me "just pick up the reins and he'll drop his head" one more time I'm going to scream because I'm picking up the reins and he's not dropping his head.... you freakin' weirdo with the weird horse! And now she wants me to school her horse? Just get after him she says? Yah, and he wont blow right? I'll just go ahead and take your word for it!"
Did anyone fallow that?!?! Bless your heart if you did.
The bottom line is...
Buying horses is fun when you do it online... but it's really stressful to do in real life. Especially when you've been off for so long that your confidence/ sub-conscience skills, balance, and feel are more than a little rusty....
Which is why I've been looking for a lease horse. Something I can get out on a few days a week to ride and get back into the rhythm of things before actually looking to buy (maybe). I miss and love horses. I miss and love riding. But I hate trying to find the right horse to buy or lease.
*whew* Thanks for that. I feel much better.