Monday, August 31, 2009

Teen Heartthrobs of the 90s....

I just got home from seeing the movie 500 Days of Summer starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt who you might remember from the hit 90's television series 3rd Rock from the Sun...

(In the red shirt)

...where he played young Tommy... *sigh* I had a HUGE crush on Tommy when I was a teen...but then DB argues that I say that all the time... far too often than what would seem becoming of a young lady:) ...and he'd be right. Fred Savage (Wonder Years), Devon Sawa (Now and Then), Scott Wolf (Party of Five), Luke Perry (90201), Jered Leto (My So Called Life) and of course...Oh, how I hate to admit it... Jonathan Taylor Thomas (Home Improvement)!

Oh heavens! *smacking head against table*

And oh so many more! Perhaps I did have one or two teen a time! That's normal! Right? What about you? Where you the faithful one-man-kinda-gal or did you spread the love around?

Either way it seems my taste has changed little with age.... Joseph Gordon-Levitt grown into his britches, I must say.... and did a damn fine job of it too!
Actually DB's nephew and I were talking about some of those classic 90's teen icons just last week! The stars and the movies made (however bad) to draw teenager girls in throngs to the cinema, squealing every time one graced the screen (*ehem* Robert Pattinson)
Movies like Varsity Blues! ....

Anyone remember that fine piece of film making? Oh dear! Dawnson Creek star James Van Der Beek with a laughable Texan accent and Paul Walker playing quarter back (hello!)... though the best character was Scott Cann playing Tweeter.

Okay, so maybe I liked them a little rough around the edge at that age....
But then my good friend Barb's main squeeze was David Cassidy.

There's no accounting for taste!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Smart Dressage Boys

Yesterday I unexpectedly found myself at the "Rising Stars Dressage" competition in Chilliwack, BC, where I had the pleasure to watch some truly talented horses and riders of various levels take their dressage tests. This competition was for riders under the age of 21 and seemed to be made up of nothing but rather slim, long legged and self-possessed (and a little hoity toity too I must add) young women.
As a matter of fact I failed to see a single ounce of testosterone ride into the main arena until the last half hour when two rather spindly, slim, and sallow chinned young men made their grand appearance. Both were very accomplished riders and rode particularly "fiery" mounts with confidence and poise.... which left little doubt in my mind that each must be a very dedicated and passionate rider…. however, I did wonder if their involvement was, at least in part, due to a marked discrepancy in the male to female ratio of most dressage events!
I remember once remarking to my younger brother that if he wanted his choice of girls he only need take up riding! Perhaps these particular young men were simply smart enough to deduce that regardless of acne, or a noticeable shortage of chest or chin, taking up a sport like dressage would increase his chance of landing a girlfriend tenfold.

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.
As a matter of fact in the two hours I was there I witnessed only one mild buck, spook and tantrum but not a single horse that made my stomach turn in fear for the child riding it or any that appeared actually dangerously. I really enjoyed watching the dressage competition and would love take a few lessons some day, if for no other reason that get the chance to ride one of those magnificent animals!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

A Brother Lost

These past few weeks have been a whirlwind of activity… of company coming to stay, (and go) and the constant strain of the overly emotional, overly tired and the subsiquent drama that always follows a death in the family. Last Tuesday my DB lost his brother. He was just 47 years old. DB was the daily primary caregiver and closest confidant of his brother- who spent nearly a decade fighting for his life against the horrors of such an insidious disease as Cancer. I decided against posting about this, as it happened, partly due to privacy concerns but primarily because the last thing in the world I wanted to blog about was the real life struggles of my family and I.
However, with the house finally empty and the funeral come and gone, we are faced today with beginning a new chapter... one that we've coined "the new normal"... whatever that may be... and so it is only now, having made it out the other side that I feel the pull to write of what has transpired, as one would stop to look back at the accident they narrowly avoided, or the charred remains of a fire, I want too pause and reflect…

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

The Good Ol' Boys

It is no secret by now that I have a special place in my heart for older horses....(actually for older people too.) I love people or animals with a story.... I love learning about their histories...of what challenges they lived through....the experience, people, places and things that shaped their lives.

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

More on King

You asked for a little more about King's story (previous post) and so I e-mailed his Mom and asked if she'd mind if I wrote a bit more.... I also included a short paragraph suggesting what would say. I was thrilled when the next morning I received a reply from his Mom.... some of which I'd like to share with you now...

"....I've actually had him for 25 years! I can't believe how much a part of my life he has been -- a move from the states - the heartbreak of being told "don't hope for children" (note: she later had two children), the rides, cattle penning, clinics....the kids that came and he babysat them while waiting for me to be able to ride again, the exchange students, the boarded horses (where he knew he always came first), the nickers, games of "tag".....

Any of us that have had the opportunity to have a horse in our lives this long - May '84 to Aug 09 - have been blessed - "

King is a purebred AQHA without papers (because at the time of his birth he was deemed a "crop out" due to excess white.) However, as he does have come from registered stock I can tell you this horse is actually an immediate grandson of the legendary sire, King (his sire was an own son of King).

Having heard more stories of the adventures that King and his Mom have shared, and having met "the big guy" himself, I can tell you that this horse exudes that special, undefinable quality of a horse who immediately inspires your trust. I was told that King presented a few challenges over the years, giving is Mom the ol' what-for..but no matter, he was still a trustworthy mount, a good hand and the kind of horse that you could count on.

King's Mom was blessed with a very special gelding... but then he was also blessed with a loving, caring and compassionate who recognizes that, while it may break her heart, she must soon release King from the pain of an aging body and recent injuries. I so very much respect people that put the welfare of their animals above their own wants and needs.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Downhill Granny's Lemon Pound Cake

Last night I made this Lemon Pound is pretty much (I can never follow a recipe exactly, can you?) the recipe passed down from my grandma... It is very simple to make, super moist and tasty too! So here is the recipe for....

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
4 eggs
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:


1 cup icing sugar
3 tbsp lemon juice
1/4 cup butter zest of one orange or lemon
Combine well. Adjust lemon juice/icing sugar mix for desired consistency.

Give it a try! I think you'll like it!

Monday, August 17, 2009


This afternoon I met a very special ol' who has seen more sunsets than who, despite the ache of his failing body, still seemed to glow from within- resonating with the beauty of his knowing spirit... with every beat of his willing heart. This bright sorrel gelding, with his wide blaze and big soft eye, may have seen his last summer... But I know that even once he is gone the impression he left in this world, each hoof print he stamped in the soil will remain, alive in the memory of those few who were lucky enough to call him friend.

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

New Pics of Abby

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

Blackberries- Blessed or Cursed?

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!

A good lot of time gardening in BC is dedicated to fighting back the unrelenting influx of the most persistent, gregarious and stubborn of prickly vines! 99.9% of the time I wouldn't hesitate to say that blackberry bushes are the most annoying, cursed *&$^ing, plants in the world!

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!!!

And I am not the only one to share in this opinion. Hawky dog has developed quite the taste for the hard-to-get-to/always-just-out-of-reach/oh-so-yummy-berries!!....

Did you know that Blackberries are actually not berries at all? They are actually considered an aggregate fruit!

Blackberries are actually a member of the Rose family?

And they are filled with antioxidants?

And did I mention that they are terribly annoying and a veritable menace....impossible to get rid of and, if left unchecked, they can take over whole acres of land? I did? Sorry... but they do you know!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

My Horse Boarding Rant!

Most of you know how I try to keep this blog positive but I must warn you that this is an overwhelmingly negative post...

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.
But... oh my goodness there is a “but”!

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

I *heart* my Mom and Sister

Is it any wonder why I adore my Mom and sister? Just look at them!! My Mom was once as dark of a brunette as my Sis and I are....

But now she has way more fun being a blond!

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...

Love you both!!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Flicka Syndrome

Last night I mentioned that a friend of mine had some concerns about a young girl who had recently purchased a young, very green, and very obstinate mare that she feels is an accident waiting to happen. It is very clear to both the parents and everyone involved that while this teen has plenty of bravado (and a high opinion of her ability), she has no real tools or skills to deal with such a difficult horse and as such has had a very difficult first few days. My friend felt compelled to speak with the parents (as they are not horseman) and voice her concern about their daughter’s safety. Both my friend and I were raised in essentially non “horsey” families and so understand how even a well meaning parent can be unaware of some of the danger and confidence issues such a horse can present. She also told the parents that even she, with some 30 years experience owning and caring for horses, found this mare a real challenge to work with (and not at all trustworthy). And so it came as a bit of a surprise to find, just the very next day, this girl attempting to work with her mare in the arena…. with a very proud parent looking on. It would seem that they are very “proud of their daughter for sticking with it” and they have every confidence that their daughter will be able to “tame” her soon-to-be best friend.

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….

Flicka Syndrome.

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?
I do believe Pop’s has seen “My Friend Flicka” one to many times and thinks that if his daughter tries hard enough, she will, though grit alone, be able to master this wild beast ....
*cue Free Willy soundtract*
Pop’s is adamant that his lovely little daughter has a special spiritual affinity with horses... a rare talent to communicate with them...and he is confident that they will learn and grow together *butterflies flutter in the air and harps sing* …I don’t know what happens next in his fairy tale… perhaps this mare will turn into a unicorn, sprout wings and fly off into the sunset.

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....

There is a actually a chance that she wont get hurt, loose her confidence, love for horses or life while riding this horse. But just because such a conclusion is possible and maybe you, me or your Granpappy grew up getting bucked off rank horses (and that’s what made them into such great horsemen), doesn’t mean that having such a horse is the fairest, best, safest, or smartest option for this girl. In real life shit happens and having horses isn’t all fairy tales and unicorns. This kids not going to win an Olympic medal or a National Grand Prix because her Pop’s bought her a green broke nag for her 16th birthday!

*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 touched a horse and I liked it!

Sorry... One (not me) could take that post title way out of context! Either way....

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.

*big sigh*

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Evian Babies...

Hope this makes you smile :)

Monday, August 3, 2009

The Buying Game

Or more like The Crying Game ...

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* )

HorseID: 1427731 PROUDEST CHIZEL - PhotoID: 440720 -  2009-10-08 Days Left: 66

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".

HorseID: 1426434 Master Me Mister - PhotoID: 440322 -  2009-10-06 Days Left: 64

How many of you find it really "weird" to ride someone else's horse? Especially a horse that is so much different than the one you usually ride?

Like going from a little wee cutting horse to a huge, round Warmblood, it can feel a little 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!

HorseID: 1434889 Quixotes Pin Ball - PhotoID: 445693 -  2009-10-27 Days Left: 85

(8 yr old cutting mare $5500)

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...

(16 yr old, done a little of everything gelding $3500)

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.

(14 yr. old dead broke gelding $1500)

*whew* Thanks for that. I feel much better.