Tuesday, June 28, 2016

The Zen of Summer & Horses

 "Perhaps there's a quirk in the DNA that makes horse people different from everyone else, that instantly divides humanity into those who love horses and the others, who simply don't know.”

Allan J Hamilton, Zen Mind, Zen Horse: The Science & Spirituality of Working with Horses 

Zenning out in the pasture at sundown

With spring fading out and summer fading in, a new calm has come to my herd.  The grass in the pastures has slowly browned up, and their cresty necks are starting to get a little wiggle in them again, as my fear of them foundering is replaced by mild anxiety about sunburn, flies, and hydration.   

But they're calm.  They're sweet.  They're Zen.

Around here, the evenings always cool off, and when they do, the horses gather at the barn to itch each other's withers. If we walk into their turn-out, one or two or more of them will approach us to see if we want to be their itching partner.  There's something magical in that.

Yesterday, I got a 3 hour ride with Cowboy, but it was hot.  When we rode down to the river the horses saw something and went on alert.  We didn't see what surprised them until we got around the corner.  It was a half naked man swimming.  He'd left his bike on the shore and just jumped on in.  So, we let the horses drink and wade--kind of ruining the poor guy's fun.  Then, we decided that next time we ride, we're going to wear our bathing suits underneath our clothes so that we can wade into the water with the horses.  It's hard to picture how that will work, but I'll let you know.

 The Spokane River. Our horse trail back up from the river was half way down that hill on the left.

The farrier came today, and all the horses were their summer-best-selves.  Even the old ones were able to bend and hold their feet up for much longer than usual.  When they treat my farrier good, they make me proud!  My farrier is also a blacksmith and makes his own knives--layer upon layer of hand forged steel--wooden handles--gorgeous.  I want one.

Thursday, I start lessons back up with Leah. We've had this little break while I reconnected with Cowboy, and it has made her miss me, I think.  She's always one of the first to come to see me now.  And, I can detect a bit of sadness in her when I take Cowboy out rather than her, or pet Cowboy, rather than her.  I love Leah, but I haven't missed riding her while I spend time with Cowboy.  I hope that doesn't sound callous, but with her, it's still work, whereas, with Cowboy, it's like an extension of myself.

Speaking of extensions of self, now that I've been playing my guitar, I've realized I want a better one.  Every time I go to the guitar store to pick up an accessory or get new strings, I play them all, and my favorite one is the Taylor 414ce.  One reviewer said it feels like an "extension of her body."  Last week I was there playing it and my husband remarked that I'd gotten much better--my chords sounded clearer--I told him, It's not me--it's the guitar! 

A girl can dream.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Hell for Horses: Take Two

A couple weeks ago we got the privilege of having our grand-daughters over for most of the week.  Yay, for horse-crazy grand-daughters who give us an excuse to ride our horses!

On Saturday of that week, we were wondering what to do. I looked up the local calendar and to my surprise, the Despooking Clinic was happening again.  (I wrote about it last year--Hell for Horses).

You may recall, I decided not to subject Cowboy to anymore of those clinics since, at his age, we've kind of got things down and I think it only makes him more insecure to tinker with the relationship.

But I did want to take my 11 year old grand-daughter again.

I decided to compromise by taking Cowboy, but only walking and riding along the outside of the arena with my grand-daughter, as she navigated the obstacles with the help of the volunteers.

I was the official photographer...with Cowboy in hand.

In between the ground work and riding sections, we took a trail ride.

It worked out pretty sweet for Cowboy.  He was a happy camper having only been moderately exposed to the scary things.  It did make it harder for Sophie and Penny though, since Cowboy and Penny kept calling back and forth to each other.  On the other hand, they would have done that even if I had been participating.

After the clinic was over, we took another trail ride to get them relaxed.  It was an absolutely fantastic day on horseback, and I've concluded that taking a horse to a clinic as a spectator is highly underrated!

(Last photo--you can see me observing on Cowboy.)

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Love, Cowboy Style

A Love Letter Post for Cowboy:

I got a ride in on Sunday (above) and this morning before work (below).  Can you say lucky girl?  I will.  DAMN LUCKY GIRL!

My farrier came by a couple weeks ago and noticed that Cowboy was acting off.  He asked if I'd been riding him and I told him not as much because I've been training Leah.  He said, "I could tell."


So, I made it a point, after we got Loki settled into the house, to ride my boy.

At first, on Sunday, my Cowboy was mad at me.   

How can you say you love me when you neglect me for a month? 
I love you, Cowboy.
No, you don't.
I do.
You don't.

Or something like that.

But today, he was back to his old self, and all was forgiven.  He walked right up to get haltered for the ride.  

During saddling, he did give me the evil eye and brace his neck when I went to tighten his cinch.  I tried something new to see if I could soften him up--basically, I just bent him in over and over until he gave me a good feel.  It took a bit of going in circles because he was bracing his neck so hard, but when he did give me that softness, it was all done and the rest of the saddling went GREAT.  He was a happy boy and we had...

a GLORIOUS ride.

Cowboy is my heart horse. 

I love Cowboy.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Living the Irish Wolfhound Dream

Yep, I'm living the dream. There is nothing more fulfilling than a morning walk with the Hounds....and little, teeny Maggie Mae Moosamus.

I've been so busy integrating Loki, I haven't been working the horses. We also had our well go out last week, and we've been spending all our time off at the house with the well people.  They still haven't figured it out.

I remind myself that life is full of seasons, and I'll be back in the saddle soon enough.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Two Irish Wolfhounds Are Better Than One

Irish Wolfhounds aren't for everyone, but my husband and I are ALL IN with the wolfhounds.  One is better than none, two is better than one, and 10 would be heaven.  Really, heaven, for me, has to have Irish Wolfhounds and horses.

As you all know, I grew up with an IW, Mish of Ballykelly, from the time I was a baby.  She was one of the lucky ones who lived to be 10 years old, so I was about 12 when she passed.  As far as I was concerned, the only dogs to have were Irish Wolfhounds.

I wasn't sure my husband was an IW person though, so I waited to get another one until six years ago.  Turns out, he loves them, too, and now we've decided to never be without a wolfhound.

I introduced you to Loki in another post, and told you that we were going to go meet him before we committed.

He was in Walla Walla, WA with his breeder.  Turns out, we were going to Walla Walla anyway for the Spring Barrel Wine Release, so we chose that day to hang out with Loki.

(Mike and Loki at the breeder's home.  I believe that's his mama in the background.)

Yesterday, the breeder drove up and met us at a park for the first introduction of Riagan and Loki--neutral ground.  It worked out wonderfully.  After the park, she drove him to our house and hung out for a bit, then left for a few hours to the hotel near our house.  He cried a little bit and looked for her.  At 6:00, she came back for dinner and hung out again, and then left for the night.  Loki slept in our bedroom and was really, really good.  This morning, LeeAnn, his breeder, came to breakfast for one last goodbye.

He has a wonderful temperament, just like a Wolfhound should have.  He'll be two years old on Saturday, and he still has that puppyish personality.  The friend who arranged all of this, Janey, was at dinner last night, too, and brought over a bag of squeaky toys.  Loki played and played with them--like a happy 2 year old.  So, he's got the puppy spirit without the chewing and accidents in the house.  Win-Win for us!

We already love him.  He fit right in and it seems, strangely, as if he's always been here.