Monday, August 31, 2009

Cool Weather

First of all, Lady is still here, for now. I'm trying to figure out what I can do with her. I hate all of my options, and I have to do what's best for both of us in the long run.

But, on better subjects, the kids are great - Larry is reading up a storm, and is becoming more and more confident with his reading. He read his first story in the 2nd grade level phonics, and had to share it by reading it to his brother, my mom, my gramma, my dad, and Larry Sr. Each individually. So, 'Blake the Snake' got some good distance. He read his 2nd story today, as we are trying to get our school schedule going. We do reading, handwriting, and creative writing every day, with weekends off. We're adding in science, math, and geography. We'll be adding in other subjects as the year goes on, we're just starting slowly. We'll be doing some sort of field trip every week, starting this week, where we will take everything in, and try to have good experiences every day. Right off the bat, for the month of September, we will be going to a fish hatchery, the beach, a forest walk, and an apple orchard. May be more to do too! The fish hatchery day will be a good long one, because we'll go salmon fishing on the river either that afternoon, or the saturday after.

David has been pulling himself up for quite some time now. He walks along the edge of his crib, and is eating like a little machine. He loves peaches and bananas best of all, but sure didn't mind chowin' on some of my pea soup once it had gone through the food mill.

On the horsey front, Trixie will have to wait a little until I know what to do with Lady. The decision is there, but I don't like my options. Something will happen, but I just want peace at the barn for the moment, so little is going on. Once the dust settles, I will work the snot out of Trixie to see if she's a keeper or not, and Rosie gets a trail crash course. If time permits, I hope for Velvet and I can find the time for a little work for our Halloween costume. :D Big plans, hope they work this year!!!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Lady Part 5 - the moment of truth approaches

I had been riding Lady a few times a week this summer. But she wasn't picking up from where we left off too well. When invited to trail ride with friends, I always took Velvet, since my time with Lady was still reinforcing some basics, and trying to get her cooperation. Not fun or easy to do on the trail. Don't miss read me here. We didn't do the same thing over and over. We took our work out of the round pen every time we worked, and did something different every time, but her comfort zone is very small. She likes some things, and hates everything else. Oh, how I can relate to that. As far as the kind of ride she's been capable of: She can be fine one minute, then go into her rodeo bronc impersonation. All these years, I was sure that with enough love, compassion, and training, she would come around.
It turns out, I was wrong.
I've had her isolated from the herd for nearly a month. She always rides better when she's been alone. She'd been showing me she was almost ready to go out on the trail from the work we'd been doing. Our rides were somewhat normal. No big shows of attitude yet this summer. I should have known something was up.
Last Saturday, I went to take her out. I wasn't planning on anything stressful, or even anything she didn't like. We were going to do some ground work, and ride a little in the round pen. Maybe walk over some ground poles before it was over with. Nothing she didn't excel at, and even enjoy. I had her in the crossties that I had used hundreds of times before with her. I used the same saddle and pad that I have used for the past year and a half. She stood for the pad, saddle, cinch, and breastcollar - none of which she ever was afraid of, and none of which we hadn't been using all summer. I took one step towards her with the headstall, and she blew up. I barely got out of the way. She threw herself backwards, full force, tossing her head as hard as she could, digging in with all 4 hooves, pulling for all she's worth. When that didn't work, she blasted forward (a new addition to a particularly nasty temper tantrum) through the cross ties in an effort to break them that way. When that didn't work, she twisted herself in the ties until I was sure the ropes, or her halter would break. She'd gotten cuts on her face - I'm still not sure from where. I could NOT get her to take one step forward to untie her. I had to cut her loose. I've never had a problem getting her to take a step, even on her worst day. I've never had to cut her loose from anything. Then, I had to calm her enough to get the other tie off. I walked her, and calmed her, then took off my tack - throwing it into the wheelbarrow. She was fine - as if nothing had happened. She could have broken something on herself, or killed me. Had one of the kids or one of my young riders been nearby she could have easily crushed or kicked them. Keep in mind, my older son is almost always around when I work the horses - he was in the round pen for this episode. What could have happened had he been by us? God forbid what could have happened if a rope had broken with him nearby.
I talked to some horsetrainer friends for advice. I called my vet for consultation - then I called a second vet just to see what was likely. When I didn't want to hear what they had to say, I called MSU, and 6 local/semilocal vets and had a phone consult with a vet at every office, giving them the lowdown, and relating what the other vets had assessed. It appears, by professional consultation that the most likely culprit for Lady's increasingly nasty disposition, and increasingly violent outbursts & unpredictability is a tumor in her brain. I thought it might be on her ovary, causing wild surges in hormones, but more likely is a tumor in her brain, the symptoms fit perfectly : Loss of training, banging or rubbing her head, rearing, sudden bolting under saddle for no reason, or throwing herself around, it may be putting pressure in the wrong places literally causing her to black out - and what visually related animal wouldn't freak out when it suddenly couldn't see? To sum it up: inoperable. And, if it were operable, unlikely to happen anyhow, and the costs of a hysterectomy is in the thousands, with a 50% chance of death due to complications anyhow. That would only do her good if it was an ovarian issue. Nothing could be done if it is a brain issue - which, as I said before was the more likely culprit. The decision was made for me even though by the time the vets had given me the bad news, I had made up my mind. She has to go.
As much as I hate the mere idea of it, I cannot have a horse like that around my children. I can't have a horse around that is a danger to itself, and everyone around it with it's wild unpredictability. I can't have a horse I can never train, or trust, or ride. I've tried the best trainers around - with limited results, long term, she slipped back to her comfortable groove, or physically could not retain the knowledge. I've done Join-Up, used every natural horsemanship method under the sun, and some I've concocted myself. All with limited results. But at least now, I can understand WHY it never stuck very well with her.
Bottom line - I know now, after 5 years of work, unconditional love, and training, attention, and trust - there is nothing else I can do. There is nothing I could have done differently that would have helped her. There is no training method in the world that can counteract a tumor. I've pointed the finger everywhere but where I should have.
If I just hold her here, I endanger not only myself, and my kids, but also the young horses that I hope to train. As I train them, she will train them too - or she could injure or kill them while she was playing alpha mare. That coupled with the fact that I cannot afford a pasture ornament, has forced this issue. I am broken, depressed, and hurting as badly as I ever have. It's the same to my heart as if it were a family member that has died, or an ill fated romance gone sour. She brought me back to horsemanship, and it kills me that I cannot see her through to be an old worn out nag.
It's heartbreaking, but it's also a needed thing. I can't trust her, so I can't have a relationship with her anymore. I'm sorry, but in a way, I'm not. I know I did all that I could, and I know that I have kept trying with her long after most horsemen would have given up. I have explored every avenue, looked into everything possible,and there is nothing I can do. I love her, but I don't anymore. No, that's not true. I will always love her. I just can't have her. I'm sorry my lovely Lady, but it seems like it just wasn't meant to be. I tried. I really tried. We were not meant for each other after all. So I will spend our last bit of time together, loving you as I always have, waiting in dread for the day to come when I give you one last kiss goodbye, and snuggle the velvety nose you have so often nuzzled me with. I will miss you until my last breath, but I hope we will meet up again and ride through heaven, or nirvana or whatever you may call eternity together.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Lady Part 4

Occasionally she would be a real pill. For one, she disliked men. She disliked most people in fact, but would come to me whenever I called. She would let 3 people ride her - Me, Dona, and Jim. Everyone else would just be pushing their luck. She'd fight in the cross ties for no good reason, pulling like hell until either a rope broke, the halter broke, or I calmed her down. There was never really a reason. Even though I always made an excuse, or picked some tiny insignificant thing to blame her actions on - a sudden stiff breeze, a bird swooping too closely, one of the horses nickered at just that moment.... but the truth is that's just how she rolled.
She was impossible to give shots to. I could medicate or vaccinate every one of the other horses, but Lady. I had to have a pro do her.
The last time she got shots from the vet, we had to put her in makeshift stocks, tie her head to a post with a lariat, and blindfold her - and she still fought.
The next time, I just got some sedatives and doped her a little before the vaccinations. That helped a little, but even with meds in her, I suspected that she would pull some giant pain in the rear trick, so I made sure that the first shots were the most important ones. Smart move on my part. I only got in 2. She would have had to have been knocked out cold to get the rest of them in her. She fought like hell for what I did give her, even with sedation.
But, we carried on. We needed to train more, I thought. We needed more time to work. We just needed ... more. More what? More training? No, that we'd beaten to death. We couldn't move forward with different stuff because she wouldn't do ANYthing on the haunches.
Some she would do on the ground for me, but she still fought like a devil with the other horses. Her picking on them went beyond basic herd heirarchy. She would get bored, and start baiting the other horses to get close so she could give them both barrels. She would stand in such a way that the only way for any of them to get past her was to go past her rear end, and she would kick them as they passed or try to. This was not new. But it was starting to wear on me. She hadn't threatened a person - yet but she started picking on Velvet especially. Anyone who thinks horses don't get jealous, needed to see her. If I rode Velvet more than her, she would beat up on Velvet more. When she got this way, I would separate her from the other horses, and within a few days, she'd be the most mellow thing in the paddock.
That was how I could calm her down easiest. Just keep her alone.
That's how I finally got my final clue. The one that was staring me in the face the entire time I had her. The clue that had been flashing at me in neon, screaming at me from the depths. The one I was trying so desperately to ignore. The one I kept wishing would just go away. But, like all things that are so blatantly obvious , it is not to be ignored forever. To ignore this one is to ignore not only the nature of Lady, but to ignore what my ultimate goals are with horses. The time is drawing near for me to choose. On one hand, I could choose the dreams I've had since I was a little girl - to raise and train horses, to teach people how to ride, and to trail ride often, maybe even compete in reining, or cutting one day. On the other hand, I could keep spending hours on top of hours beating my head against the proverbial wall trying to change a force of nature that clearly was not intended to be around beginners or children - which is just polar opposite of what I want to do. There is no middle ground. Whenever it comes around, it's going to hurt like hell. Life long dreams that have haunted my subconscious for years or an unpredictable, and often dangerous horse, whom, in spite of all her faults, still has my heart braided into her mane. Just thinking about the choice makes my soul ache. But the time was drawing nearer, and like an out of control freight train, I was totally powerless to stop it, or even slow it down.

Lady Part 3

I called up Dona right after I got a good chance to try out Lady, freshly back from the stallion's pen. It was not encouraging for me. She didn't know any leg cues, and was very reluctant to turn to the left. Or the right. I didn't realize it earlier, since we had never gone out alone. It was always Lady & Me with Molly & Jenny. WOW. She was hardly green. A hardly green 5 year old. YIKES!
Dona had an opening in her training schedule, and came and got her - she was gone for a month, but I saw her nearly every day, travelling to her house just so I could groom her.
I was told she gave Dona's friend/colleauge Jim a real ride, and tossed him once or twice pretty good. He told me later he's used to horses that have one 'trick', turns out Lady had several. lol. Not to mention - she wasn't really 5 as we had thought. Jim put her at 7.
After nearly a month, Dona told me I could come and start taking lessons with my horse. She had gotten to a point that she could be worked. I couldn't wait. I loaded up my monster roper and headed out. When they were showing me how far she'd come, she couldn't take her eyes off me. She nickered to me while they were trying to talk to me, and even joked about how she wanted to see her mama. She stood stock still for me to mount, and rode so nicely, it was unbelieveable. I loved it. But, they weren't done with her yet. She had to stay a little longer as Dona had confided to my mom that she was nervous about Lady still. That should have been a clue for me. But I was still smitten, and just wanted to ride my Lady love. We rode at Dona's for 2 weeks before I took her home, with Dona telling me there really isn't much that can be done for her training wise clue number 2.
We did fine, we rode nearly every day, as instructed. And the emergency stop that Dona had taught me came into use at least once nearly every time we rode. Get a hint, sweetie.... something is wrong here!
The following June, she foaled a gorgeous palomino filly. Experienced horse breeders told me not to bother trying to catch her having the baby. It's too hard to catch. But, catch it I did - kind of. I came out, and Lady was down in the foaling stall, all I could see in the darkness was her form, and a slightly lighter form ... with a big blaze wobbling away, back legs still in mom, but trying to stand all the same. Welcome, Trixie.
As soon as it was safe to do so, Lady and I rode together, foal at her side. We didn't trail again until Trixie was weaned, but we still rode. All was good in the world - well, all except for her mad fits now and again. She still spooked for little to no reason, and there were several times that I know she did so just to see if she could get me off. All in all, I've only fallen off of Lady 2 or 3 times. But the frequency of her trying was getting much higher.
But, I should back track a little bit. There is big piece of our story I passed by.
While Lady was being bred for Trixie, I took some more lessons from Dona and I fell in love again - this time gradually - with a big black bay mare named Velvet. She was one of Dona's and I rode her for my lessons while Lady was out. She wasn't much to look at - that is to say, she is NOT flashy at all. She was BIG, and kind, and has the prettiest head ever on earth. Big feminine features and the best part - boy, did she ever ride nice. She didn't spook, when I asked for something she DID IT, or at least tried to figure out what I wanted. We learned to jump together. lol. When I found out she was for sale my heart leapt. But I couldn't afford her. A friend helped me get her, and I paid her back by helping her learn to ride, and handle a horse. I learned what a good horse felt like in Velvet, and I needed her for easy rides, for continuing my lessons and for days that I couldn't handle the stress that is Lady. Dona was glad to see Velvet go with me, she had said. I think she knew, even then that Lady and I were not a perfect match, as I thought we were. Besides, I needed a horse to ride while Lady was heavy with foal. It was great. I had two incredible horses, one a firey red head, the other a laid back unassuming brunette - much like myself. Then when Trixie came, I had a palomino to round out the group. Perfect. The more I rode Velvet, the more I wanted to ride Velvet. The more I rode Lady, the more I wanted to make her like Velvet. That would never happen.
But I would try and try and try.
While Lady was nursing, Velvet and I went for a trail ride with Dona and Jim. Jim let slip that the stud that fathered Trixie was to be gelded. They planted the seed in my imagination of an incredible colt from him and Velvet. The prospect was more than I could resist. My incredible, super sweet, sane, calm talented girl with that same sane sweet, talented drop dead gorgeous stud! Velvet went to meet Spirit. But I had second thoughts, and picked her up inside of a week's time. It was too late. Sweet, sophisticated Velvet went and got all trampy when no one was looking. She showed heat all through her pregnancy, though I did figure out she was pregnant right around Thanksgiving while I was weaning Trixie. Velvet foaled a lighter version of herself - a buckskin filly - whom I named after my friend.... Welcome Little Dona.
That summer, while Velvet was nursing Little Dona, I rode Lady mercilessly. She was now doing trails - though never ever alone. She went through water knee deep, climbed hills, past by deer, and turkeys, cars, and dirtbikes. We were doing good. Although, if I remember correctly, she could NOT lead at all on the trail, and hated to be last. She had to be in the middle, and it took at least a mile for her to drop her head enough that I could look straight forward without her head blocking part of my view, and she would spook at a lot.
Her spooks were incredible. The split second before she spooked, every single muscle, tendon, and hair on her body would tense. Then the whole horizon would rise up about 3 feet as she dropped. As soon as she'd dropped, she would jump sideways about 6 feet. If I didn't have her head pulled around by the time her feet hit the ground from the sideways jump, she would bolt, then buck - with her signature twist. I didn't let it get that far most of the time. When I had things under control, she would drop, jump sideways, and as her feet hit, I had her head around, and was making her move her butt - we spun like a top. If she wanted me off, or the spook was just a test (often it was) as soon as she stopped, she'd do it again. Sometimes this went on 4 or 5 times before we could take a step forward.
This was our routine. And, I was alright with it.

Lady Part 2

The first few nights were pretty sleepless for me, with this big beautiful animal home. I could hear her calling for a friend as darkness came, and I was afraid she would break through our meek electric fencing. To avoid any lost horse issues, I put her in the barn over night, so she would know where home was. She was so nervous the whole time in the barn. She paced, and sweated, and was hardly through her hay by morning. I figured she was nervous since this was the first time that she had been pastured alone, with no other horses in sight, so I didn't worry about riding her right off the bat. She was too worked up, and besides, I didn't have a saddle lined up, and I was a little rusty after a few good long years off. I was in no rush. In the mean time, my older sister took an interest, and wanted to get a horse of her own, if, of course, we could house it for her since she lived in the suburbs. I loved the idea. A friend for Lady would give her some company and probably chill her out a little bit. It didn't take long to find Molly, the ex-racehorse. Jenny was in love. She always had a thing for black horses, and loved to run, so the racehorse was a perfect fit. The day Molly showed up is another one etched in my mind. Partly because I was excited to be able to trail ride with my sister again after both of us had a long break in suburbia, but mostly because Lady would have company when I could NOT be at the barn. This was so important to me. They seemed to make nice to start with. Lady was excited to see another horse - her ears were bright, and she was downright friendly with her, she came over and they sniffed each other, and she trotted around the old girl - all was well until, Molly decided she didn't want a friend just yet. She kicked Lady squarely in the flank, badly enough to make a perfect hoof print of Lady's blood. From that day forward, Lady had nothing to do with a new horse. I can't be sure she wouldn't kick the crap out of them anyhow, but until Molly kicked her, she had not shown any aggression. Irregardless, she made it a point to be the head of the herd come hell or high water.
A little time passed before Jenny got a hold of a saddle, and I dug out my old saddle. The seat was too small, but it was a pleasure saddle, so as far as I was concerned, it would work for now.
We went out, and brushed them, tacked them up. All was fine. I went to mount her, and she started dancing. Not badly, she just didn't want to hold still as I got on. I had to have someone else hold her so I could mount. Not a big deal, plenty of horses have issues with mounting. Once I was up, we were kosher. We rode in the pasture, in the bigger field (that is now a pasture) and we were headed to the woods. Jenny wanted to go fast, but I was not yet comfortable in the too small saddle, and after all, Lady and I had not gotten much of a chance to get to know each other under saddle. I have always been a somewhat cautious rider, having grown up with tales from my parents and the troubles they had with famous horses in our family - Sugar & Charlie, amongst others. Mom's stories still ring in the back of my conciousness when I come on a new horse, unfamiliar to me. Caution is always better than broken bones, or worse.
Jenny & Molly trotted off, Lady and I fell back, not intentionally, but she only wanted to be by Molly. When I tried to tell her no, and called out to Jen to wait up, she went full on rodeo. Started with the twisted buck that is her trademark. As soon as her feet hit the ground again, she went into a tiny bucking/rearing/crowhop/spin combo that I couldn't sit out in the small, ill fitting saddle. I hit the ground flat on my back. Knocked the wind out of me. Jenny watched me fall in slow motion, she said later. She came to my aid, and asked if I wanted help back up, but I knew the saddle was insufficient, and besides, I needed a block to get on her, so I walked Lady back, Jen walked with me, afraid I'd injured myself. This scenario did not repeat itself, but what little confidence I had at the time was pretty well squished. But, winter was coming, and riding time quickly disappeared before I knew it.
I knew something was off, and after working with her some more, I was sure her training was lax. Far more green of a horse than I had originally thought. Not a problem, I knew we'd have work to do together.
I spent the next few months looking into natural horsemanship, watching RFD-TV and exploring her past.
I found out that she had been from somewhere out west - the foal of some pretty heavy duty halter horses (that explains the nervousness I thought). Her 2nd owner brought her to SW Michigan/Northwest Indiana area and put her to pasture as a 2 year old. Her family had some illness and the horses went by the wayside. She didn't bother pulling the colts to geld, and before you know it, Lady was pregnant by 3 or 4. She was sold to the woman I got her from, and she foaled there. She said it was a gorgeous palomino colt, and that she was sure that Lady had kicked it in the chest - why the foal was never given veterinary care until the wound was protruding, and the colt could not breathe was not explained, but the blame was set squarely on her shoulders. The colt died, and was immediately removed, Lady didn't get to see it before they pulled it out. She never got to say her goodbye, or acknowledge his death. (Yes, I do think it's important for even a horse to get that chance.)
She was immediately sent to training with a back woods jackass that beat the hell out of her with a 2x4 to get her to cooperate. When she got wild from that, he drugged her with bute so that she would be calm enough for him to ride, and possibly more submissive when he beat her.
My husband signed me up to do a clinic in Cummings, GA with Hannah Campbell, a certified Monty Roberts/Join-Up instructor. What a wonderful experience. I came home from the clinic inspired and itching for the ground to thaw enough to put up a round pen. Our first Join-Up was magical, and immediate. That spring, I also decided to breed her. I wanted to see if it helped her disposition(it did) and if she would calm a little seeing a foal to fruition (she did). I started taking lessons from Dona Sherman, to regain my confidence, and learn a little more finesse. I picked up a second hand roper saddle, and we went to work on my 'lessons' at home between lessons from Dona. It wasn't long before I realized the extent of Lady's training was about as deep as a teaspoon.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Lady Part one.

written on August 23, 2009
Today, I took a moment to work with my Lady Love. I have loved her from the moment I laid eyes on her. She has loved me too, I think.
I will never forget the first time I laid eyes on that horse. Mom and I had been looking for the right horse for literally, years. We had gone on countless excursions, examining horse after horse, test rides, and conformation critiques. We'd met some wonderful horses with unrealistic owners, and some insanely hopeful owners with some seriously untrained or damaged horses that they said were 'great for the whole family'. On that fateful day in August, 5 years back, we were working on a hot tip about a horse that wasn't even advertised yet. We HAD to get that first look. We went to Dowagiac together, ready to go through our well worn routine. Mom talking up the owner, asking lots of questions, me eyeballing it's behavior and conformation trying to judge soundness, build, and whether or not the animal was drug free. When we walked towards the barn, there was one lone window out of a stall - and sticking out of it was the most gorgeous equine head I have ever seen. My thought at that moment was 'oh, it can't be that horse - it's gorgeous.' After a minute or two of chatting with the owner, she led us into the barn, and brought out what was, and is still, hands down the most breathtaking specimen of horse flesh I had ever laid eyes on. She was muscled, tall, pretty straight, and just breathtaking. I was in love. Please, God, just tell me she can ride. Even if she's rough, I can work it out, God willing!!! When the woman went to show her, *gasp* she brought her to the mounting block and hopped on her bareback (oh!! my heart!! She rides bareback!!) She kicked her forward, and tried to take her around a very badly placed pile of lumber. The horse bumped her hindquarters HARD on part of the l-shaped barrier, and leapt over the lumber. The woman tried an emergency stop (not easy bareback) and promptly slid off her, apoligizing as her feet hit the ground, while she went to get a saddle. Mom was spooked, but she didn't see the horse hit the posts. I showed her where - it hit her hard enough, she had a fresh cut. I know, because I watched it. She didn't scare me, because I knew she had been hurt. Any horse would react that way. I sure would.
When the lady came back, she saddled her without incident that I can recall, and she rode beautifully. I tried to get myself back into critique mode, but clearly, my heart was already stolen. Mom rode the horse, as usual, while I looked at her legs as she walked away, and back to me. This horse wanted nothing to do with the woman, and was fairly friendly with mom, but was snuggling me. Whatever I may have held back from her was gone at that moment. We had an instant connection. And I was gone. Gone, gone gone. We talked it over in the car on the way home. Mom had reservations because of the spook, but I was totally smitten. We took her home a week later.
She was the first horse in years to be on the farm, so the week before we brought her home was filled with fixing the horse barn up again, securing fencing and hay, buying a new water trough .. the hundreds of things needed to house a horse. We didn't have a trailer, so we called an old friend to see if she could help us out - she was happy to, and even she was happy to see such a pretty horse when we picked her up. 'You girls got a real good deal on her - she's awful pretty... how does she ride?' Truth is, she rode ... ok. Not great, but not bad either. When we got home with her, my husband was still putting the finishing touches on the pasture where Lady would live. I put a rope on her, led her out of Dona's trailer, and walked her over to the pasture. I tried to let her graze a little before hand, but she was too nervous. Her head was high, snorting, and very nervy. She stuck to me like glue. We got into the pasture, and I walked her all along the perimeter, stopping when she wanted to. After we went all the way around the other way, I gave her a pet and let her go. Cautiously, she took a few steps away, then came back, and nudged me. I petted her again, and motioned for her to go on. She trotted off a ways, then she ran. Not a little. I mean, she dropped down, and barrelled up and down the length of the pasture. She ran so hard, I could hear her every breath as she pushed as hard as she could. When that wasn't hard enough for her, she started to buck, and bolt, and just show how big she was. Larry came by me, and we watched her in her pasture as she ran. I was in love and awestuck at her grace. She ran like hell, and half way across the pasture, she stopped, and walked to me. I petted her and sent her off again. She ran & ran, then headed for me again, running a little closer this time. She did this over and over. Larry was shaken after a little while, but I let her keep it up until she was running within 20 feet of us. Then I stopped her. She got the picture, and never did it again. She just walked up and I petted her. When we started to walk towards the gate to leave, she followed me every step, and when we left, she trotted off, found a good spot and rolled. She was fine after that, and her first few months here were pretty uneventful. I didn't have any tack, so I didn't push riding her right off. We worked on manners, and bonded. That was enough for then.
It wasn't until later that I figured out that she was from an abusive home. I didn't know that she'd been beaten with a 2x4 as part of her 'training', or that when she continued to act up, her original trainer simply drugged her. I couldn't have seen that she had ulcers from too much bute. Or, that she had some sort of hormonal imbalance. Since she was the first horse here, how could I know that she was far worse than 'mareish'? I did know that she could be sweet, loving, and downright snuggly. She was/is the perfect equine example of the girl with the curl in the middle of her forhead - when she was good, she was very very good, but when she was bad, she was horrid. (more to come)

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Another Horsey Morning

Every morning, I get up with the sun (or before) and try to sneak past Davey who's sleeping in his crib so I can pull on my boots and head out to the barn to feed, water, and pasture my mares & mom's mares. I go out, throw a little hay and open the gate to the main pasture so my girls can go graze in the tall grass of the big pasture. There is all kinds of Timothy, Brohm, and Alfalfa along with orchard grass, and blue grass out there. There are also a couple of short wild blueberry bushes, wild strawberries, and dew berries all over out there, and an apple tree that they nibble the fruit from in the fall. The majority of the grasses out there is as tall as I am right now. Sure, there are spots that are nibbled down, but for the most part, they could eat out there all day & night and still not eat it all down. But, I digress.
Every morning, I trek through the back yard, past the pony staked out in the clover, towards the barn where I am greeted with cheerful and warm nickers from (in order) Trixie, Lady, Dona & Velvet. Rosie & Wheezy call to me too, but it's my mares I'm focused on. They are usually grouped up near Rose & Wheeze (who stay seperate from them 90% of the time) until they see me. Then they ramble on up to me because they know I'm going to pet them, then let them loose. They all need snuggles. So I am happy to oblige them. I finally took a camera with me.
They were in a good mood, and happy together. What more could I want from them?
Well, maybe a ride later. We'll see how the day shapes up.

Monday, August 10, 2009


My sister has this darling little girl - well, she has two, but this one makes me laugh much more than her big sister.
Kayleigh is 2. Whoever said they were terrible just didn't have an appreciation for a very small child's outlook on life. How can you take up issue with such big innocent eyes when they look at you and say 'WHY?'. I will never know. Yes, it gets irritating around the 40th time, and it doesn't get any better around time #463, but you got to admire that insistence that there must be more to ... whatever it is.
She adores her cousins. Loves to spend time with Larry even if he says 'I just can't take her anymore!! She makin' me crazy!!!' Which, makes me laugh a little every time.
Every time she sees me without David, her first words to me are not the usual 'Hi, Kimi'. Oh no, it's - 'Baby up-tairs? Why? Where baby?' She will sit there, and watch him and say 'Hi, baby' about a gazillion times.
She keeps up with even the biggest kids most of the time, and she can kick her big sister's butt. I've seen it happen. Of course, Hannah likes to pick on her - as most big sisters will do.
There was an instance a few weeks ago that, I'm sorry, I had to laugh.
Hannah snuck something out of the refrigerator, so of course, Kayleigh wanted one of whatever it was too. Only, Hannah blocked her, and wouldn't let her get in. Kayleigh said 'Want. One. ... WANT ONE TOO!!!' but Hannah just looked at her like 'ha ha, can't make me move, and I don't want you to have one'. Kayleigh punched her square in the face. Maybe it shouldn't have but it cracked me up right on the spot.
I bring her up because she is hanging with me & the little boys for a little bit this morning, and she always ends up doing something very uniquely Kayleigh. I look forward to whatever silliness she comes up with.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

The Campfire

After the birthday bash week, Larry rekindled his friendship with his ol' buddy ol' pal, Kathleen. They have spent the night together at her house, and now, they've had a campfire, with her little sister, Kyra in tow. It was a fun evening. They had burgers for dinner then played while I got Champ ready to give them pony rides. Larry was showing off his horsemanship by leading his pony for the girls to take a ride. Then, they headed up to cool off, and play in his room while I put Champ away, and then we got to have a campfire to roast some marshmallows & make some smores. They seemed to have a pretty good time, running around like little maniacs, screaming, throwing a hackey sack at each other, and falling into fits of giggles. They caught lightning bugs, and had races up and down the gravel road. Before it was all over, they didn't want to leave. Even Kyra wanted to stay. They played balloon volleyball, so to speak, and when it hit the ceiling fan, holy wow. You'd think there was never a funnier thing in the world.
Makes me remember being a looney kiddo myself, and doing the same things.
This is one of the best parts of summer ... well, that, and riding the horses, thunderstorms, fresh produce by the ton, and swimming in the lake. Yeah. That's about it.

The BIRTHDAY week.

I swear, I am going to start keeping this up regularly. I swear. Any day now, I will get my chit together and start writing daily ... well, maybe weekly to start. Or, when something cool happens. Eh, Guess I'll keep playing it by ear, but try to up date more often.

There is a week in July that is pure birthday extravaganza around here. It kicks off on the 25th when we celebrate my hubby's birthday - not anything huge usually, just a nice quiet dinner is usually in order, and a cake of course - this year it was peanut butter cup cheesecake.
Then I get a day off to wash the pans. Then it's my little boy's birthday - that I will write more about below. Another day off, and then Mom's birthday. She got a blueberry pie and potato sausage. Silly me didn't take pics of the process.
On with the kiddo party!

It's been about 2 weeks since Larry's 7th birthday. It was a BLAST. It went far better than I had anticipated. A dear friend and mentor offered to let me borrow a couple ponies to ease the Old Man's load, and bless her heart - she brought four. FOUR. There were a total of 5 ponies of various shapes and sizes all tacked up (except for Mr. Huggs) giving rides to nearly every kid there. And, there were about 14 kids. There was very little wait time. We had some games in mind, but the ponies proved to be so much fun that we skipped over some of that other stuff :D
He had a blast with his friends, and cousins, and my friends' kids too.
We did it old school - kids, and hot dogs, and ice cream cake. And pony rides. The pony riders got ribbons for participation. We all had a nice lunch together, of course, presents, and then, a nice water fight in the back yard. There was much merriment, and all the kids went away with some bubble gum & tootsie rolls too.

Thanks AGAIN and SO MUCH to Dona, Sarah, Piper and Riley for bringing the ponies, presents, and partying with us - (a big thanks to their ponies too - Mr. Huggs, Midnight, Dreamer, and Cookie). Thanks, also to all the kids that came - Reagan, Cooper, Lillian, Scotty, Joey, Kathleen, Kyra, Hannah, Kayleigh, Lex, & Josh. Parents, it was great to see you - love you like family Jeana, and Valerie. Love you cause you ARE family Jess, Jimmer and Steph!

And, of course, it goes without saying, but I'll say it anyhow : Thanks Mom & Dad for all the effort you put into making Larry's party a success. It was afterall what he REALLY wanted for his birthday. More than any presents, or cake or balloons. He wanted to enjoy some time with his friends and the people he loves. And that's just what he got.