Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Happiness is on Horseback

Since riding with Teresa-two-hours-is-a-short-ride cowgirl, I found I agree.  My happy place is on my horse.  When I step into the saddle it's like this whoosh of positive energy sweeps over me.  So why quit?  Why get off?  Ever.

The weather forecast for today was upper 50's and sunny, so we packed a lunch of boiled eggs, sandwiches and (unfortunately for the horses) one apple, split three ways, and took off for a six hour ride.

We got to watch Canada geese floating the rapids and honking along at each other, deer running to get clear of us, and lots of gorgeous basalt cliffs, sunshine and pine.  Happiness really is on horseback.  

My daughter left her main horse at home to try Brandie out, and all I can say is everyone needs a Brandie.  There's a lot of them out there and they make trail rides awesome!  

Cowboy is somewhat of a Brandie.  He's been my main horse for over ten years now.  He doesn't have her willingness to go wherever you point her, but he gets the job done....eventually.  He's safe and he walks out fast on trail rides.  Still, everyone needs a Brandie, if for no other reason, they teach the others what they should be doing and how they should be doing it.

I love all my horses.  They take me places I may never have gotten to otherwise.  Every day on horseback is a gift.

Monday, March 31, 2014

A New Horse Worth Gold and Silver

Not a lot changed around our place until this week.  

Cowboy's head shaking started up when the days got brighter, I gave him his anti-seizure meds, and it calmed down.  Shadow, our old gray gelding, is about 25 now and too arthritic to be safe on trails, he remained, and remains, largely retired.  

Old Red, our good ol' boy, go-to horse for the grand-kids seemed to be doing okay, but at age 33/34 he is just about toothless and pretty much entirely on pelleted feed.  We saddled up a couple of weeks ago for a little ride and it became clear pretty quick, his arthritic left shoulder has ended his riding career--even for those under 50 pounds.

The loss of Red and Shadow (loss meaning retired, not dead!) left us without a good horse for the grand-kids and guests we have to our house, so I put feelers out among my friends for a good addition to our herd--one that anyone can ride, but still has some spunk left in them, too.

Within days one of my friends offered us her daughter's horse--a mare that many of my other friends have rode or borrowed and that has a reputation for being an absolute gem.  We were hesitant to bring in another horse, but she made us an offer we couldn't refuse--we could test her out for two weeks, no strings attached.

So, I set a time to go pick her up when we both got off work figuring I'd load her and go. (That's the herd watching  me pull out as I left to get her.) 

My friend had other plans.  She invited me and another friend on a "short" ride to give Brandie a whirl.  It was an offer I couldn't refuse.  And--WOW--Cowboy's saddle and bridle fit perfectly.  

Teresa is the kind of cowgirl everyone needs to ride with--trail smart, fearless, and lots of go.  Turns out, a short ride for her is two hours. She forges her own trails, rides with a flashlight strapped to her cowboy hat (which came in handy since we didn't get back to her house until well after dark), and has a campfire going after every trail ride with lots of wine!  If you ride with her, she even makes you your own street sign!  I'm Linda's Lookout--which may be a "Lookout for Linda!"

Here it was in the low 40's and she just had to go belly-deep through the lake!

Brandie was a lot of fun to ride.  She took the lead on the trail, didn't spook at the herds of deer we encountered running off, ate up rocks barefoot as we traversed those non-paths that Teresa likes to forge so we could enjoy grand cliff-side views--or at least they'd be grand views during daylight hours.  My mind was pretty much made up five minutes into the ride.  I just kept thinking, "Man, am I lucky to get this horse!  I hope she doesn't change her mind before I get her in my trailer!!"

She didn't.  I left like a thief in the night with my grand haul of a horse.  The only hurdle left was to convince my husband.  For that, I had to make a bargain: the new grand piano I'd been shopping for in return for Brandie.  That was an easy decision.

And now Brandie is our newest horse.

Going to the barn to play with her is fun. The nieces couldn't wait to see her.  

Our oldest grand-daughter can't wait to ride her.  She'll be able to do so much more now.  Brandie can take her anywhere she wants to go, safely and at any gait.  Her life with horses will really take off.  

A mare like this is worth gold and silver.  She's a precious gift and I thank my lucky stars she's now part of our family.  

And here's my other little girl--Her Grand Spunkiness.  She's not exactly a kid horse, but her antics make life a little more interesting.  Gotta love that!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Cowboy Joke

From The New Yorker July 8 & 15 2013

Monday, July 8, 2013

Forward is Flying

I had an epiphany this weekend and I think it's because I was schooling my grand-daughter and got to see it from a different perspective.  It's a basic, basic, basic truth our teachers are telling us all the time.

Keep your head up and your eyes on where you're going.

How many times has an instructor told me this, let me count the ways.  Infinite and infinite.

But here I am teaching my 9 year old grand-daughter to lope for the first time and as I'm warming up, Cowboy keeps dropping his shoulder.  I start to think something's wrong with him and then the epiphany--I'm looking at his shoulder!  I'm looking at the ground in front of me, too, as if I'm steering him clear of potential mishaps, and as I look down, of course he goes there.

It hit me--how in the world can I know his feet better than he can?  They're not my feet.  Certainly, the one who can best decide where to put his feet is him!  So, for the first time in all this long time with horses, I finally made a real decision to trust that he knows how to run without falling, and I just looked where I wanted to go and, lo and behold, we went there as easy as that and it was the closest thing to flying I've ever felt.

I was telling my grand-daughter the many things I've been told--when you look at where you want to go, your body directs your horse there...when you look up and move with your horse, he can move freely under you...you're buoyant and you're light and your horse can finally do what he does best.

I wonder which thing makes you get that flying feeling most--the actual loping on your horse or the trust you give him.

I'm thinking maybe the trust.