Sunday, January 30, 2011

NOT the manners of a Princess

There are two things I've discovered about my (otherwise ladylike) mare Princess- she has a shockingly baritone nicker and she has absolutely no table manners to speak of... in other words, when she eats her grain she sounds like a pig nose deep in a trough full of slurry. Dont believe me? Listen for yourself (volume up)....

Most decidedly not the manners of a Princess.

Friday, January 28, 2011


And I'm not talking about the game! My sweet man HS had an operation on Wednesday to repair a inguinal hernia in his hip (often called a sportsman hernia it is most likely from the time he spent running marathons). So for the past few days I've been playing nurse! I've told him that if he's a good boy I'll go rent that sexy little white frock (joking! I'd look freakin' ridiculous! *shudders at the thought*) But if he's not a good patient then he'll discover that Nurse Ratchet aint got nothin' on me! So far I've had to be a little bit of both:)

This kind of operation, we were told, causes very intense pain for a few days after the surgery (even with the "good stuff" pain medication) followed by a very quick recovery.... so, as hard as it has been in the past few days it is nice to know that he'll be on his feet soon. And that there is hope for a full nights sleep soon too... I'm tired. Veeeery tired. Three nights of barely any sleep and I'm done... which leads me to wonder... How, HOW on God's green Earth do you mothers with babies do it!?! For MONTHS!!! (or years) With other children and a household to look after!

I am in awe... just in awe.

*shakes head in wonder*

Monday, January 24, 2011

Hey Good Lookin'! Whatchya Got Cookin'?

This morning, (at 8am I might add which is eeeearly for me) I found myself sitting in the dentist's chair trying to prepare myself for my first ever root canal. The procedure went fine (it will be finished next week) and it wasnt too painful whereas the bill, on the other hand... OUCH! Having no dental coverage blows! My root canal alone will end up costing around seven or eight hundred. *groan*

Anyways, as I was waiting for the freezing to take effect I was listening to the hygienist and the dentist chit chat and one of the topics was how the dentist's sixteen-year-old daughter doesn't know how to cook anything more than Kraft Dinner and does a poor job of it at that! The hygienist (who looked to be in her mid-twenties) then commented that she didnt know how to cook a thing when she got married and still isnt great in the kitchen. I was a little surprised. My Mom had my sister and I baking at a young age and helping with dinner by our teens. While I was a little more keen in the kitchen than my sister we both were able to prepare basic meals by the time we left home. Remember that old expression, "The way to a man's heart is through his stomach"? Well, I believe that is, at least in part, true. Mind you my evil stepmother used to say "If you think the way to a man's heart is through his stomach than you're aiming too high!" ... but we'll leave that discussion for another day, yah? :D

Call me old fashioned but I take pride in and enjoy providing my man with good home cooked meals and am fortunate that I had a mother who was also a good cook and who took the time to teach us how to prepare some good meals. The time she invested early on is paying off in spades now as my sister and I (being 28 and 31) have slowly begun to do more and more of the cooking at our big family suppers leaving my Mom and my Aunt free to do more important things... like sip paralyzers and "supervise" from the comfort of the sofa. Okay, I'm lying, they still do a lot but Fel and I are both happy to be able to do a lot more of the cooking and so far everything we've produced has been pretty dang tasty.

I do wonder if the heart warming pride and satisfaction that comes from putting good old fashion home cookin' on the table will survive in future generations of women. I guess time will tell.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Every Rider MUST do This!!

A few years back I was participating in a clinic in which my guru (trainer) gave the group an exercise that I think is one of the most valuable I’ve ever come across… the only problem with the damn thing is that it requires a somewhat reserved and conscientious person, such as my self, to put themselves in a high socially awkward position.... okay it isnt that bad but trust me, it feels a little odd to straddle a complete stranger and ride them like they are a pony! Let me tell you! So get this- there were ten people in the clinic and, naturally, I was paired with a sweet (though somewhat dimwitted) 50-something year-old woman we’ll call Twiggy as she had about as much weight and substance as my left thigh. Twiggy and I were instructed to have one partner kneel on all fours on the ground and the other to sit on their back (as one would sit on a horse)… you might say I had an image pass before my eyes of the poor wee woman squished flat beneath me like that guy who got steamrollered in Who Framed Roger Rabbit. Thus, I quickly dropped to my hands and knees and assumed the position. Twiggy, with no reserve at all, hopped on my back and the exercise began.

The idea was to have the “rider” move in various ways in an attempt to demonstrate to the “horse” (me) just how acutely a horse can feel our body position, weight and movements. The Guru wanted us to appreciate how easily “feel” can be communicated and how affective even a light cue can be.

Personally it was one of the most "ah-ha" (the sound of the proverbial light bulb turning on in my head) moments in my horsey life. When it came time for my partner to have a turn I was able to destribute much of my weight into my feet... though I really only perched myself lightly on her tiny frame I did continue to fear that at any moment she might go"splat". In any event, poor Twiggy survived and we both walked away much the wiser.

I would highly recommend that every single horseman try this exercise. Find someone (of the appropriate weight and size) to sit on your back. It helps if that person is a rider so that they can demonstrate real life examples of how we move as horsemen. Have them turn their head (only) left, then right… have them turn their shoulders, twist their hips, rock forward as if to create impulsion, sit back in their seat, look over their shoulder, all of the things that we do as riders. Have them put their outside leg “on” and open their inside leg and feel how naturally the “horses” body wants to move in to the space created. I think you’ll be surprised by how easily you can feel a motion as little as the “rider” turning their head in one direction or the other.

Let me know what you think!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Gettin' Them Rode

As with cleaning stalls, grooming, pony rides, and braiding tails, the excitement of all things novel are often short lived. I feel the need to preface my upcoming comment with that admission because I know that while this is fun for me now it is a lot of damn hard work to keep horses conditioned. With that being said, I've secretly (oh who am I kidding, it's no secret) wanted to have two riding horses, and I should qualify that I've wanted two sound, functioning riding horses in the same barn that I can ride and work on the same day. I dont know why exactly... or maybe I do....the truth is that having more than one horse that needs work (not just a horse you ride recreationally) is something that in mind is reserved for the hardcore horseman. Or maybe it is that I just love being at the barn so much and having another horse to get rode gives me an excuse to stay longer.

Anyways, this week I've been getting lots or riding in on both my own Princess as well as her pasture mate Marm. Marm is a 12-year-old QH mare with a lot of past training in her but she hasnt seen hard work in years and is a lttle rusty. Marm's Mom would like to see her get back in shape and asked me to help out. My own girl also needs miles and some foundation work. How qualified I am to be doing foundation training is questionable but I cant afford a trainer and she's all mine so I guess that makes me the girl for the job. I'm going to do my best by her which means arena time and lots of wet saddle pads. So this afternoon I headed to the barn with the plan to get both horses rode. And I did:) I took Princess out first and she was just a gem, leaving the barn and Marm (who was freaking right out) behind without so much as a backwards glance. Marm on the other hand... not so much. She is a sensible mare with a good mind and heart but she's so attached to Princess it isnt even funny and today she just about lost her noodle at the idea of being away from P. I was a little proud of myself for dealing with her antics with measured patience and calm nerves. I just ignored her bulging eyes, got on and got her rode. She really is a good girl, she just needs to get a few more rides out on her own to get back in the swing of things. More on that later. For now here is a little video from the other day. I am on Marm and Princess is standing tied in the barn waiting her turn.

...and yes, that would be my abnoxious voice in the background talking nonsense again.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Horse Blanket System

Only horse people could have multiple points of view on how to do something as simple as putting a blanket on a horse. On this I think we can agree- a horse blanket usually has two buckles together at the front, two belly straps and two straps and a specific end for the head and tail. That is about where our ability to universally agree comes to an end.

What size of blanket (a little too small vs a little too big), the length of straps (loose or tight), to cross or not to cross (the back straps), not to mention other variables like blanket type, material, weight or whether to blanket at all etc. are just a few of the many subjects that are left to personal opinion.

Do you have a system for how take on and off a blanket?...which buckles to do up or undo first? I do. I even have a system to how I fold the blanket as I take it off so that I'll be able to put it back on with ease.

Personally, to take off a blanket, I start with the back straps, then the belly, then the front. My theory is that if things go wrong (my horse blows up) while I'm taking off the blanket I'd rather the blanket stay on in the front than dangle off the rear where it will set my horse off further by "chasing" her as it trails behind. When putting on a blanket I start at the front and work my way back.

Once the blanket if fully unbuckled I take the front piece and fold it back over the withers, then flip that over so that it is a folded section sitting on the rear, then I take it off... when i put it back on I place the blanket over the rear and unfold it as I pull it up towards the front.

I prefer very short belly straps, my theory being that the closer the strap is to the belly the less likely it is that my horse can get her foot stuck in it. I cross the back straps and prefer them short as well, so that the loop falls just a few inches below where the buttocks meet. In the front I pull the lower chest strap fairly snug but leave the top strap (that closes the neck) three or so holes longer... I figure the bottom buckle will keep the blanket forward while the top buckle will allow plenty of neck room.

As I've mentioned before I think it is really important that when I blanket I constantly monitor that the weight of the blanket is appropriate for the temperature. Most importantly I think it is critical that if a horse is going to be outside in the rain the blanket must be absolutely waterproof, not just water resistant. There is nothing worse than having a wet horse under a wet blanket.

But then that is just MHO (my humble opinion). I'd love to hear yours!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Equine Shock Collars?!?!

You heard me! An equine shock collar! Why do I feel like I'm the last one to hear of these things?

So this afternoon I am browsing through some e-bay items when I saw a link and a little picture that, at first blush, appeared to be a cribbing collar. Even the name, "Vice Breaker" didn't immediately draw my eye but just as I was about to skip on past I noticed what looked like a little remote control device in the picture. Curious, I hit the link and then stared in awe and wonder (I was gobsmacked!) at the larger picture before my eyes! Why, it wasn't a cribbing caller at all! The collar, with little box and prongs and a hand held remote clearly indicated a shock collar! I quickly scanned the ad for conformation but it seemed they very pointedly avoided using the word "shock" (using "correction", "stimulation levels", and "trainer" in it's place) however, sure enough, there towards the end a larger picture read, "SHOCKING- only in how effective it can be in stopping vices and bad habits" and shockingly, to me anyways, was that the product was endorsed by none other than Clinton Anderson.

I have to admit that I didn't quite know what to think. I googled the product and read some of the hoop-dee-law and there were some valid points to the argument for using a shock collar to correct self destructive or dangerous behavior. I found myself humming and hawing trying to decide if I really believe that a shock collar was in the best interest of the horse as they claimed (protecting the horse from itself or others). My first impression was that it was a "cheater" product designed to eliminate the kind of problems that only exist in the first place because of the stressful environments, demands and misuse we impose on our horses. For every argument I could come up with for the use of a shock collar I could find one to counter it.

For example, a cribber. We all know the safety issues not to mention costly damage created by a cribber. However, most of the time those behaviors are created by stress, confinement or boredom. Is it our right to expect that every horse should stand in a stall happily or at least uncomplaining? Should we prevent him from venting his frustration or boredom? I'm not suggesting that you should let a horse crib but I am suggesting that maybe a horse should be removed from a stall if he is beginning to crib. Note my use of the word "beginning". I have known many horses that have continued to crib long after they were removed from the environment that started them on that path (my understanding is that they become addicted to the endorphins that are released during the cribbing action.) So what then? I guess using a shock collar to create a negative response to the behavior might be, at that point, justified?

The gray area of any such device or negative correction is where I find the biggest cause for concern. There are plenty of credible reasons to use negative correction (something that creates discomfort or pain) but I think that too often when we correct the behavior rather than the underlying problem and in doing so we just divert that problem elsewhere- like bopping the gopher head at a fair, it'll just pop up another hole. My concern with the idea of using this collar stems not from all the ways in which it could be effectively, safely and humanely used but in all the ways it could punish the horse for our own mistakes. For example, if my horse tries to nip me when I am cinching him I need to look to see that the saddle fits, there is no girth sores, pinched spots, that I am not over tightening the girth etc... if I used a shock collar to keep him from nipping me I'd probably just end up with a bucking horse instead!

Do I agree with the use of shock collars on horses? *shrugs shoulders* Maybe. Sometimes. Depends...

My real concern lies with the people behind the remote control. I've seen a person yield a stud chain and spurs in ways that hurt a horse ten times more than what any shock collar ever could. It's a little like the use and ownership of firearms... but we'll leave that for another day!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Good Bye Sweet Saddle-oh-mine.

Yesterday afternoon my Mom and I headed "across the line" (from Canada in to the US) in order to...

*chokes back tears*

...drop off my boxed saddle at a Fedex outlet.

*stifles a cry*

No seriously, I know it sounds crazy and a little materialistic but...

When I walked in to the office with my saddle in a big white box and I realized that at any moment I was going to have to hand it over and I'd never again in my life see that beautiful piece of leather, I got pretty choked up about it. So much so that, when it came my turn at the counter, I found I couldnt let the box go! The big sweaty fat man behind the counter looked at me funny when I became all flushed and wet eyed and told him I needed to say good-bye "just one last time"... and he didnt look too impressed when I opened up the box to steal one last tender stroke of that soft cream leather seat. So what if I clasped my hand around that worn-smooth horn and gripped it tight in a final embrace! That wee horn hand saved my hide a time or two! Maybe I went a little far when, blinking back tears, I traced the lines of that beautiful acorn and floral tooling with my fingertips, pausing over those rough patches- each blemish a chapter in the story of a saddle well used. Finally I nodded my head as a graveside widow would to que the casket to be lowered. And he began to seal up the box. With every pull of the tape I could feel the memories of my time in that saddle unwind... the good and the bad.... Lundbom, Shaunti. Abby, Kari, my first ride on Princess... of those lonely horseless days where I would slip into the garage, pull out my Bob's and find my lost cowgirl self in it's plush deep seat.

So why did I sell it?

Because I am a fool. A fool to have ever thought I could let it go as if it were nothing but a tool. A fool to think it could be replaced. A fool to, when I realized my mistake, not refund the buyers money and cancel the sale....just because "it does feel like the right thing to do"....damn those morals shmorals. So what the saddle didnt fit Princess! It wasnt going to kill her!

It is just a saddle. But I really did love it. So, I've decided that rather than buy another saddle as I had planned, I am going take that money and fulfill a lifelong dream of mine...

I am going to Europe this spring.

Italy. France. Spain. Maybe even Egypt.

I tried to keep that in mind as I walked out of the post office empty handed.

As we drove away my Mom said, "When you are standing on the shores of Santorini you'll look back at this moment and you wont regret that you sold the saddle."

I looked her, burst in the tears and said, "I sure the hell hope so!"

Reba says cowgirls dont cry. But.... as right now all I've got is a big paint horse named Princess and an black English saddle, I think I'm pretty much exempt from that rule.

Farewell my friend! Thanks for the good rides.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

The Bee Gees

Sorry for the lack of posts lately (she says as if someone cares:) I've been both a little bit busy and a little bit uninspired...

Hence the post about being uninspired.

Who wants to hear that dribble, right? Right.

So.... How'bout em' Dodgers? They are a basketball team right? Or was it baseball? Baseball!

DB and I are of two very different schools of thought when it comes to sports. He thinks sports matter. I dont. Ever so often he'll say, "Quick, what team does ____ play for? (fill in blank with some universally recognized athlete) My answer, (said immediately and as if the answer was obvious, which it would be to some) goes something like, "The Denver Wild Cats!" or "The Winnipeg Brown Bawlers!"

He likes to play the same game with songs on the radio that (in his mind) are classics and thus (in his mind) should be universally recognized. He says, "Quick! Who sings this song!" and I say (my patented answer), "Engelbert Humperdink!" And he says, "No seriously, you have to know this!" To which I reply, "No seriously, this song sucks! And... AND, just so you know, last got air play in about the same era as acid wash jeans and mullets...which, by the way, was shortly before I was born so I'm terribly sorry if this isnt exactly in my freakin' repertoire." This is about when he shakes his head in wonder and mumbles something about "Nights on Broadway and Bee Gees...

Arent you glad I posted something for you today?

(I would write *crickets* here if it weren't so self deprecating)

So... how'bout em' Dodgers?

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Stupid Video of Stupid Questions I Ask My Horse

Warning: watching this video is guaranteed to waste exactly one minute thirty two seconds of your life. I just thought you'd like to know...

(make sure your VOLUME is ON to view)

Monday, January 3, 2011

The Hobbit Story...

The week before Christmas I was told a story by my sister that she heard from a co-worker who claimed to have heard this story first hand from the very people who had experienced this very unfortunate (and abashedly funny) situation. Did any of that make sense? Basically it is a story about a foster child with some developmental problems.... and a hobbit. Not exactly the kind of story I generally find funny (I'm not one to push the politically or ethically correct boundaries) but the fact that it was suppose to be true made it so very tempting to repeat. But then this afternoon my sister was talking to her sister-in-law in Ontario and they discovered that they had both heard this story as a first-person account. They were surprised (and a little disappointed) to hear that it was a new and unknown (to us) urban myth.

So, my question to you is...

Have you heard the "Hobbit" story?