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.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Life's Too Short Not to Dance Every Damn Day

"When we come to a horse, we have to take into account the physiological impression of our affect on her."

Alexander Nevzorov 


 
 (Unsaddling Leah after our morning ride. Ha!)

Today was a better day with Leah.  I had to ride before work again, and I had an even smaller window, so we worked on standing still while mounting, walking out, and side-passing.  Altogether, it was 15-20 minutes in saddle, but they were 15-20 positive minutes.  Her side-passing had especially improved...like 100 percent!  I was so proud of her that we ended on that note.

Annette, over at Aspen Meadows, watched the documentary, Path of the Horse, (free on YouTube) and wrote about it.  I decided to watch it again today, in between patients here at the office, and I was so happy I did.  I saw some glaring mistakes I had slipped back into with Leah.

I think it was Mark Rashid who said in the video, "Through our training, we take out all the softness in the horse and then we have to spend all our time trying to put it back in."  He said that softness comes from the inside and lightness comes from the outside.  Softness is that stillness they have grazing at peace in the pasture, and they should take that with them whenever they're with us.

It was also Rashid who said we have to be like the leader in the herd, not the alpha.  In my case, that's Old Red.  I have to be Old Red!  And, Have a mind like still water.

Alexander Nevzorov: "When we come to a horse, we have to take into account the physiological impression of our affect on her. (This reminds me of indirect pressure--Dorrance) We are mammals, we are all physiological beings. You're listening to me with very big interest, but if right now I put in your pocket some burning coal, no matter how interesting I am, you will be running and screaming and jumping around your camera, but not listening to me. Everything in us mammals has a great dependency on physiological feelings and the art of speaking horse language is first a skill to not cause her physiological discomfort or pain."

Klaus Hemfling: "We wonder why they are not dancing anymore."

A quote from me:

I want to dance, and I want my horses to dance.  Life's too short not to dance every damn day!

Monday, May 2, 2016

Halfway to a Hundred!

As long as we are persistent in our pursuit of our deepest destiny, we will continue to grow. We cannot choose the day or time when we will fully bloom. It happens in its own time. 


Denis Waitley

Leah, peaking into my dream trailer--my instructor's new ride!


Who would have thought getting to 100 days of working with horses, however small, would be so difficult.  When my kids were growing up, I always told them that the people who are really good at things are the people who stick to it, kind of like the tortoise and the hare.  I'm definitely the tortoise, the "race" is a true partnership with Leah, and the race is still on.

But getting to 50 Days is something to celebrate!  

Last week, day 47, I had another trotting lesson with Leah, and it went much better than the previous (video) one.  We worked on being able to turn her with just a squeeze of the fist on the rein.  

Day 48, I worked with a trainer who rode Leah for me at the lope.  She also evaluated her for me and told me what I need to work on.  

Day 49, I met the same rider/trainer and she worked again with Leah on the lope, but my instructor, Regina, was also there, and we all talked about where Leah was at and what we need to do.

Basically, Leah was decent at the lope and good with her whoa, but needs more work on being able to bend on the line, but still keep the same line.  

Day 50 was today at home.  Since I had to go to work, my ride was early, but it was a beautiful morning, and I didn't want to miss out.  

One of the things we worked on was side-passing.  It was i-n-t-e-r-e-s-t-i-n-g.  When I asked her to take one step over, she took maybe five.  So, I dismounted and worked on it from the ground.  I had her place her front feet over a pole, and then side-pass along the line over the pole.  The pole worried her, but it was good practice.

I also had to work on getting her to stand still when mounting.  She started moving away a couple of weeks ago, and did it for the rider/trainer, too.  It appears she likes that little delay before every ride.  I'm hoping, with time, she'll give that up if I'm consistent.

The ride itself was far from perfect.  She was tuned into the herd, but I worked hard at keeping her on the circle with the outside rein, and she finally complied.  We did better at the walk than the trot.

It was an easy ride because I didn't want her to get too hot with so little time to cool her off before I had to get ready.  Maybe an easy ride now and then is a good thing.

In truth, I would rather that our 50th ride had been better, so that I could sit here and write about how wonderful it was and how hard work really pays off.  Instead, I'm trying to talk myself out of discouragement, if you couldn't tell.

I guess you've gotta have the faith.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

The Possibility of a New Family Member


“The greatest problem with Irish Wolfhounds, though, is that they don't live very long: their great hearts give out. A good deal of this is genetic, of course, but I think it is in part that they worry so for us, care so much.”

--Edward Albee

Saturday was a busy day for us. It was the annual Palisades Park Cleanup and Wildflower Hike. As many of you know, I volunteer stewarding the park by maintaining the kiosks and other things. The cleanup is our day to join together and remove all the filthy garbage.






After the cleanup, before the wildflower hike, we have lunch together and laugh about all the crazy things we found. Yesterday, during lunch, I got a text message from a friend. She knew I was thinking about getting another Irish Wolfhound and she had just been contacted by a friend, (who is also a breeder of IWs) who was considering finding a home for one that had been returned to her. My friend told her friend that we would make an amazing home. Her recommendation of us was so glowing, her friend was willing to pursue it.

My husband was sitting next to me, and, excited, I told him about it. He was excited to hear more, too.

But first we had the wildflower hike. The hike is held about every two years and led by Dr. Rebecca Brown, a professor of Botany and Riparian Vegetation at Eastern Washington University. She is passionate about wild flora!! So am I. My only question is, why isn't everyone else??? These hikes are free, but we have the hardest time getting anyone to come to them. I don't get it!!! It's like the mysteries of the universe are opened up to us in those hikes....really private, intimate details of creation.



The Balsamroot was profuse in the park.  You can see Spokane in the background.



The "Fragile Wood Fern"-- It's a poem in itself.





Doesn't this Prairie Smoke look like a human body?









Just looking at these pictures gives me goose bumps.



After the hike, we went home and I was able to learn more about Loki.



He's almost 2 (in May), his owner was a woman who thought she'd be able to take him with her to school, where she works, but instead had to take him to doggy daycare, and realized, eventually, she didn't have the time for him.

Irish Wolfhounds are not for everyone, many people can't handle their needs, but I grew up with one who lived until she was 10 years old--very long for an IW whose average lifespan is 6.5 years.


Mish didn't get anything special, like expensive dog foods and such, but she got a big family who loved her more than anything, and I think that's what kept her alive so long.  Irish Wolfhounds feast on love, and there are tales of them passing away directly after their owners pass away, simply from a broken heart.

Six years ago (with my dad's help--he's pictured above with Mish), we were able to bring Riagan home. My first IW as an adult.





I'm officially an Irish Wolfhound person. (And, a Lab person, as well!)

So, this is how it's going to happen. The breeder is a woman who LOVES her pups. She commits to them for life, even after they go to their new homes. She is willing to keep Loki herself, but IF, after meeting him and spending time with him, we find that we'd like to open our home and commit to him for LIFE, she is willing to let us. This is not a "rescue", but rather a possible adoption.

Our first date is May 6th. From everything I've heard about him so far, I'm optimistic.