Sunday, May 23, 2010

A Little Peek at Paradice

The first few days in Maui have been absolutely spectacular. I thought I'd post a few pictures from our daily road trips with but the briefest description of whereabouts they were taken...

All photos are straight out of the camera (unedited)....

My first sunrise in Maui taken from out Lanai (balcony)...

This afternoon we drove from Kahului to Lahaina. There will be a few hundred more photos to follow of this amazing drive! But for now...

Clear blue waters of Kapalua Bay...(we think)... it was one of a dozen or so sheltered little bays with crystal clear turquoise waters....

We bought a deliciously ripe pineapple from this fruit stand....

The Olivine Pools on the Northeastern shores.... (note the man standing in the mid left hand side of the photo for some perspective on the size of the pools and lava rocks.)...

Yesterday we drove up the Haleakala Crater....

Summit of the Haleakaka Crater at 10,000 feet. Consider that we left our condo at approx 20 feet above sea level and drove to this elevation in a just over two hours (which included many stops) you can appreciate how steep the drive must have been.

So... there is just a little sneak peek at a few of the over 200 pictures I've taken in the past five days:)
I'll leave you with the sunset from our lanai...

Hope you all have had a wonderful week! Aloha!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Aloha from Maui!!!

Aloha!!! I write this now from a beautiful condo over looking the gorgeous blue waters off the coast of Kihei, Maui. My Mom, sister and I decided to give our trip a second go. We've rented a place and will be soaking up the sun for the next two weeks! I just got back from getting my feet wet and sandy and cant wait for tomorrow when I'll be able to get out and about on the island... and yes, of course, I'll be lookin' for horses:)


Saturday, May 15, 2010

Meet John Wayne

There's someone I'd like you to meet....

I took these photos this morning after getting a call from my dear friend Barb saying that she was away at a rodeo but her husband had just called to say that this little one had finally arrived...

Only THREE WEEKS OVERDUE!!! But better late than never, right...

Having arrived so late there was more than a little anticipation as to what she was going to have. My friend was hoping for a palomino filly. "Hoping" is a huge understatement. She hoped. She prayed. She begged...
So when she called early this morning I awoke and seeing her number on the call display I didn't even wait to say good morning I simply answered with "WHAT DID SHE HAVE!!!"

Barb replied, "A Filly! A filly!!!"
"No way!!

I shouted in a whisper (DB was still trying to sleep). "What color!!?!?!"

"I DON'T KNOW!!" Barb cried.

Poor Barb, after waiting three weeks for this foal she finally had to go away to ride a rodeo leaving only her husband home on foal watch. Wayne has plenty of calving experience but not much with foals... the best he was able to do in describing the color was to say it was a "brownish filly"...

Barb was so thrilled to hear the filly part she temporarily forgot she was also praying for a palomino.
And so I jumped in the car and drove over with camera and cell phone in hand.

As I walked into the barn I called Barb and said, "OMG it's SOOOOOO cute!!! That eye! Those legs! That blaze!"

What color!!! What color!!!"
Barb cried.

... Oh Barb I'm pretty sure it's a sorrel

What! Nooo.... palomino's can be pretty red at birth...? Right? Right

"Yah.... ummm... No I'm pretty sure...." I replied hesitantly.

"Oh but it's a filly right?.... right?" Barb said... a sneaky suspicion creeping in to her voice.

I lifted the tail. I looked under the belly. I didnt want to say it. Oh please dont let me have to say it.... and so I said, "Umm... I dont know. I see a bum... but... ahh...."

A long discussion of how to identify basic anatomy ensued.

"Well does it have balls?" She asked. "Ummm... well.. there's some flappies there but they could bee teats... (lol)...."

"Well does it have a vulva?" she cried...

"I cant see one!... " Her retort...."Well it can be really small at first...." Sadly this conversation went on for more than a few minutes as we both tried to deny the obvious....

And so I'd like you all to meet.....

John Wayne....

Friday, May 14, 2010

Your Horse, In Training- Abby Part 2

Sending a horse out for training is much like sending a child off to school. Elementary school is all about learning the basics and practicing those skills until they become second hand. A child learns to read, write, do simple math, accept structure and develops social skills and discipline. A horse learns to accept a rider, to give over control of his feet, to accept discipline, manners and to re-channel his flight instinct and consistently respond to basic commands in the saddle on the ground.

Equine High School, much like the human version, is where everything learned in Elementary becomes more specific, faster, and harder. Horses learn not to just go, but how to go... on the right lead, in frame, balanced and all-pretty-like:)

Equine Collage is where the finishing happens, where all that learning- body control, lightness, frame, cadence, balance, and supple cues- gets put to work in a specific direction and to a specific dicipline.
Finishing that training and taking it to the show pen is like getting your Masters....and actually winning in the show pen...well that's just the equine equivalent of finally putting all that education to work.

In my opinion, every physically and mentally able horse should have at least finished Elementary school. That is where a horse becomes broke and safe- where a rider gains control and where a horse learns to give it up. Just as with a child, if one part of his early learning was skipped over or not fully grasped, that hole will continue to show up in every part of his future education.

When Abby came to me she had been rushed through Elementary. She was a naturally sweet, willing and gentle tempered mare and so those holes were not as apparent as they might have been in another horse. On top of that she had her lessons brow beaten into her and as a result her attitude towards learning was defensive... she'd rather clam up and shut down than risk getting the answer wrong.

When I first agreed to send Abby for 90 days my intent was to see how much schooling she had and if she was something I wanted to keep (after a series of "mistakes".) After 30 days I could have taken her home and called her "broke". But there was more to Abby under that hard shell of distrust. Every week I'd come down to watch her ride and find that Kari had managed to put another fracture in that mental wall. Abby had the scars to prove that she'd the right to her armour. Not a square inch of her side lacked for a rowel scar and two grape sized lumps of scar tissue on either side of her mouth explained her advertion to having the reins picked up. It took the better part of three months to get Abby to drop that wall and reopen her mind for business. Once she accepted that schooling could be fun and easy and that no one was going to beat her up, ask her for too much too soon or tune on her, Abby bloomed.... she gobbled up everything Kari threw at her! She went from barely passing fifth grade to whizzing Junior highs in just a few months. Her progress was awesome to watch.

My initial commitment had turned to six months in the bat of an eye. It was so easy to get caught up in the excitement of watching a horse who constantly progressed, who showed no sign of plateauing. To go back to my school kid analogy, Abby was the kind who, while posessing a bright and able mind, was no genius. She wasnt exceptionally athletic or talented but what she lacked for in natural ability she made up for ten times over by having a willing heart and an infinite amount of try. When a horse keeps getting better and better it is impossible to not want to keep going, and going. Only, when "going" was costing me roughly a grand a month, I knew the "going" would have to eventually stop. And it wasnt just a matter of affordability.

It is a matter of simple math.

To buy a finished reining horse that a non-professional could show and place with at a "state" level would run you... my guess, twelve thousand. They come cheaper and a for a lot more money than that but at $12,000 you can get something decent.

A year of training, plus what I paid for Abby in the first place ads up to a hell of a lot more than $12,000. And to top it off show purses in reining, at any level but the top, barely cover entry fees.

It would take at least another six months to get Abby consistently showing at the same level as what that $12,000 reiner would... and a year to get her to her masters. o... if I'd invested $1000 x 24 months of training = $24,000 plus the cost of the initial purchase price.

Here is what you can buy for over $30,000.

Dreamhorse ad

A horse that's finished. Shown. Earned money. A mare with an exceptional pedigree, out of the best bloodlines in the industry and one eligible to be shown in the "big time" where there is actually (a little) money to be won.

Logic's a bitch.

"But there is no greater pride than watching a horse you "grew" yourself show and win!... right?"

Sure there is! Saving $20,000 and buying MYSELF an education, just for instance!

And to top it off I had created a horse that was at the "collage" level while I was still riding in fifth grade. A fifth grader can ride a horse with a masters degree...afterall you cant "screw up" a master! A master is virtually unbreakable! They're schooling is so deeply engrained in their psyche that they can hold up to the bumps and bruises of a child-like rider and even teach them a thing or two. But a collage student, Abby, she was still learning... her training was solid it wasnt quite cemented. And I knew that with someone like me on board was bound to knock a few things loose. And so I stayed off as long as I could, I took lessons on a master and just counted on the fact that the longer I gave Kari to ride the longer I was giving the glue to set.

I stayed off Abby for eight months with the hope that I could learn enough, fast enough, that by the time I took her home she'd be that much closer to being a master and I'd be that much closer to being competent.

While I wanted nothing more than to have Abby finished as a reiner and to put (dare I hoped) NRHA performance earnings on record, the dollar's and cents of it all- that blasted logic- had to win out. And a single, solid year of training had a nice ring to it. Except for one thing....

I had never truely felt that Abby was my horse. In spirit, she was all Kari's.

The last part in this series, next.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Your Horse, In Training- Abby Part 1

(Abby- Photo property of Marcy McBride)

I've started this post three times now but each time I've come out with a long and boring chronological list of Abby and our time together. I was attempted to answer Leah's question of "How much time have you actually spent with Abby?" but found that there was no short way to explain the relationship an owner has, or does not have, with their horse while it is in training. I finally gave in to the idea that I needed to write a few posts on the subject and that it really is a topic worth exploring. First, the story of Abby.

Abby- Part 1

Abby and I first met exactly one week after I purchased her. And yes, against all reason I bought a horse sight-unseen. Within two days she began training at a barn located an hour and half drive and one border crossing away from my home. From the first week of 2008 until the last week of 2008 Abby was in training full time. During that year I made the trip once a week to watch her be ridden and to take a lesson (on a lesson horse) with my trainer, Kari. On December 31st 2008 Abby stepped on a trailer and headed off to McBrides Quarter Horses on a breeding lease that is scheduled to end after weaning in the fall of 2010. I haven't seen her since.

So, to answer Leah's question... How much time have I actually spent with Abby? Very little in the grand scheme of things. However, there is a great dichotomy between the amount of time, energy and thought I've put in to that mare vs. that actual amount of time I've spent in her presence. Some people send their horses off to training and don't look back. I actually did just that with two horses in the past. But with Abby I was there pretty much every step of the way. Even when I wasn't in the barn with her I was thinking about what I had seen in the week before and trying to decide what I'd like to see from her in the week to come. I'd also spend time with Abby when I was at the barn, tacking, brushing and taking her out for a graze. I fell in love with her from the first but I really came to respect and appreciate her qualities over that year in 08.

And there was plenty to apprecaite. I learned to recognize the way her mouth pinches when she's stressed, the grunt in every stride when she's in season, and the glazed over look to her eye at feeding time. I've experienced pride of ownership, seeing her blossom and improve every single week, watching her walk so calm and cool in to the arena at her first show, and hearing her being admired and cooed over by everyone who came to know her. I've laughed at her attempts to look light and graceful as she deer hops through the field, (a ridiculous sight for a for a mare of her short stature and compact build) and puzzled over her quirky habit of putting her back feet in any available bucket when standing in the cross ties. Since I bought Abby there has not been a single day where I haven't spent some thinking about her care and future, not an hour where I haven't felt ultimately responsible for her long term well being. I think that qualifies me as more than just a name on her papers.

However, when Abby was in training I often felt that she was not my horse. And, through no fault of my trainer, I forgot that it was suppose to be our future that we were training and working towards. The bond between Abby and Kari was mutual and obvious even to casual observer. Abby came to me quiet, sweet and safe to handle and ride but she had heaps of baggage under saddle. Completely locked up in body and mind, she'd thunder around the arena, her feet hitting the ground so hard you could hear it anywhere in the barn. She's huff and grunted and refused to hidge her joints. If you picked up the reins she'd mentally shut down.

It would have been impossible to get Abby past the hurdles she came to me with if it hadn't been for the compassion, patience and persistence of Kari. To a horseman who was unwilling to look deep, Abby lacked talent, athleticism and try but Kari saw a mare who's talents were locked up inside a hard shell of distrust. If it were not for bond that Kari forged with Abby I wouldn't have the horse I do today. Kari cracked my mare open by riding her everyday without ever giving her a single thing to worry about. She earned her trust and with every week Abby became softer, smoother, more settled in mind and body.

The first week I had Abby in training I was told (not by my trainer but by her boss) that Abby wasn't ever going to make it as a reiner. After three months we were all convinced Abby would make a talented reiner but that she was more of a trainers horse as she required mental babysitting (though she'd be plenty safe for me to ride.) I spent six months completely absorbed and frankly obsessed with watching and facilitating Abby bloom without having any hope that she could be a horse I would eventually show. The more talent she showed the less I felt enabled to ride her. The more my trainer fell in love with her, and the more people told me how nice of a mare she was the less I felt I had a right to ride her. After eight months of owning her and dispute the fact that she was perfectly safe for me to ride from the first, I had yet to step on my own horse.

I grew increasingly anxious over the prospect of getting on her, let alone the idea that one day I'd have to bring her home.

More to come...

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Keeping a horse, now and forever.

Miss Abigail and her filly.

Have you ever dreamed of raising a foal from birth and keeping that horse for it's whole life through? Or have you already lived that dream, many times over?

I have never owned a single horse for more than five years. I can imagine what it would be like to have one horse for ten, fifteen or twenty years or more. I was simply shocked at the results of my poll question "What is the longest you've ever owned a horse?"

Check out the results!

under 1 year 2 (5%)

1-2 years 3 (7%)

3-5 years 6 (15%)

6-9 years 9 (22%)

10-13 years 6 (15%)

14-18 years 4 (10%)

19-22 years 4 (10%)

22+ years 6 (15%)

Six people have owned a single horse for over 22 years! My goodness! I would have guessed that less than two could claim to have. 35% of those who responded have owned a single horse for more than 14 years!

I have owned Abby for over two years now but oddly enough I've never actually had her at "home"... she hasnt even stepped foot on Canadian soil as of yet! On one had I cant wait to begin our life together and at the same time I feel like she's been apart of my daily life since she stepped off that trailer on a cold January day in '08. I love my little Miss Abigail but also cant imagine what it would be like to have her in my immediate care. I only hope that one day soon, this year even, she'll come home to stay, for good.... and maybe even forever. She's a keeper, that mare. And as hard as it may be to remember at times, she's mine:)

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Black & Tattoo


That would be my new hair color.

Not dark brown. Not brunette. Not mahogany. Black.

I feel like I need to start wearing leather. And get a nose piercing. Maybe even a tattoo! Oh! Oh! I like that idea!....

I'm totally going to find a magic marker and make myself a (semi-permanent) bad ass!

Okay okay... no tattoo.

Do you have a tat?

If getting a tattoo were painless... and having a tattoo removed were painless, scar-less and inexpensive would get one?

If so, what of?

If not, why not?

If you already do, what is it of?

And yes, I am hoping it will fade out some... or a lot.

Monday, May 3, 2010

A Plethora of Updates....

I love the word plethora. It sounds so... anatomical when really it's anything's like a word in disguise...

*blank stare*

So I have a spattering of updates for you. Where to start?


That big move I told you about? It's not happening.

But that is not necessarily a bad thing. The reason why we're staying put is because my DB has an amazing business opportunity that will hopefully equate to more horsey $$ for me (That is how I measure our finances- by how much expendable horse dollars it creates:). But most importantly this new job has inspired him and filled his mind and heart with a new verve for life... it's piqued his innate creativity and rekindled his passion for business.

You know that expression, "If Momma aint happy, aint nobody happy?" well... the truth is that goes both ways. "If Daddy aint happy, aint nobody happy either!" He's happier and so am I.


I've put on a bunch of weight. Weight I could ill afford to gain. Two months. For two whole months (since my sisters accident) I've been pretty much sittin' on my derriere and eating like I aint got nothin' to loose. My Buddha belly would but Buddha to shame. I just have to get my bodatiously bubbly butt moving again and get ready for summer. I plan on starting immediately... just as soon as the weather clears... next month some time.


Horses. Where are the horses? I have not taken a lesson or gone for a ride in two months. Why? Well my mind was filled with little else but my sister's health for the entire month of March. The month of April I found I had regressed back into the Great Depression of 09! I only realized just how depressed I was in 09 after I'd come out the other side. I swore to myself I wouldnt get back to that state. But the stress of our disastrous trip, facing a move, and trying to reorganize (pretty much) my entire life (and feeling ill equipt to do so) brought on a new dose of the blues. I plan on hitchin' up my big girl panties and getting out of this hump immediately.... just as soon as the weather clears... next month sometime.


A new plan. I need to make a new plan!!! *she says like the manically stressed White Rabbit in Alice In Wonderland* I need to figure out a new work plan! School Plan! Horse Plan! Life Plan! Travel Plan! Dog Plan! A new plan! I need a new plan!!! I plan on starting a new plan month sometime...when the weather clears.


I went to the Brooks n Dunn Last Rodeo concert last night! It was awesome! In case you didnt know these guys are parting ways at the end of this tour! I cant begin to understand why but I guess they have their reasons. Boot Scoot n Boogie, Cowgirls Dont Cry, Rock My World Little Country Girl, Believe, My Maria... these guys have so many classics it's not even funny. We had a great night. Oh and did I mention that while DB was in the washroom a couple of cops came in to use the facilities and discovered a couple... copulating in one of the stalls? The cops forced open the door and the fornicating freaks tumbled out all in a tangle.

That was the highlight of DB's night! Let me tell you!


Hawky-dog has my number. So last month I spent $518 on a half dozen x-rays in an effort to diagnose Hawk's mystery no good effect. The mystery lameness remained a mystery. The vet recommended $600 pulse therapy. I decided that I'd rather spend $24 on a weeks worth of anti-inflammatory drugs just to give him some immediate relief and then go from there. One week and $24 later...he was sound. He still has a bad day now and then but nothing even close to how bad he was. I hope he'll continues to improve.


Hmmm... you know... I think that's all I got! And you wont believe it but the weather actually is clearing! I swear! When I wrote "when the weather clears... next month sometime" the windows were speckled with raindrops, the wind was howling and the sky was leaden gray. As I finish this post the rain has stopped. The wind has calmed and I see a patch of blue on the horizon. I think it's a sign. Dont believe me? See for yourself!!!

Time to get movin'.