Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Hope and Possibilities

Yesterday, as I was walking Bee to the barn next door, Cowboy saw us leaving and came running , full out, across the East Pasture to me. He was prancing around and trying to rush through the gate.  He'd just had breakfast, and I didn't have anything he would want.  Not to mention, going to the barn next door always scares him.

Why was he running to me? Why this need to be with me?

I thought, What is this all about?  Is it some harbinger from above? Some warning to be careful with Bee today?  That wasn't too much of a stretch, since I was alone at the barn, should anything happen, and a friend of a friends is in a coma right now from a brain bleed after a horse accident.

After an hour working Bee, where I was very cautious and all went most excellent, I started to walk back home.  While I was still on the neighbor's property, but almost to the gate, Cowboy, who was grazing at the end of the pasture, saw me and again came running, full bore, to the gate!

He was prancing, even dancing, by my side, like I'd been gone for 3 days, he was starving, and I was bringing him food.  Cowboy, I said, what is it with you.  You're acting so weird.  As I lead Bee, he walked with me, through the east pasture, through the turn out, all the way to the gate in front of my tack room.

Bee had  her ears back, as if she was annoyed, but not dangerously so.  She seemed to be saying, Hey, get out of here, bud, this is my time.

I praised her for not kicking out at him.

I unsaddled her as fast as I could, as Cowboy watched us with his head hung over the rail of the fence. Then, I walked back into the turnout, switched Bee for Cowboy, took him over to the overturned trough, stood on the precarious, slick trough asking Cowboy to come closer and closer so that I could swing my leg over his bare back without falling.

He did.

Inch by inch.

I jumped on and we went off on our daily ride through the pastures: walking, trotting, loping.

It was an amazing day with Cowboy, and I couldn't get it out of my heart or mind.  I was tossing and turning in bed last night, and it came to me--how I always say, I think in heaven the horses we loved will come running to greet us.

It’s true.


You can imagine, living in "heaven," with a horse like Cowboy calling my name, how difficult it is for me to go to work nowadays.  It's getting harder and harder and harder.  My spirit is home with my horses.  An hour away from them feels like 10 hours.  It's driving me crazy.

My husband has noticed it because we work together--which, of course, is the upside of my work.  He and I have been talking a lot about how to fix it, and we think we have a solution.

I won't know for a few weeks, but we may have found a way to work from home together.


The other thing that kept me up last night was wondering if that crazy behavior of Cowboy's was some final goodbye.  Is he going to colic tonight?  Did he have some sense it would be our last together?  (I tend to overthink everything).

I ran out to the barn this morning to see Cowboy, the orphan, the outcast, my heart-horse, before work.  He was healthy and happy.

Bee came to see me, too.

Leah did her best imitation of an ostrich sticking its head in the sand, but for her it was the round bale.

Now, I'm off to work.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Walking Away the Herd-Bound-Barn-Sour

The last week I've ridden Beautiful several times at home, but I've also worked on her "going away" tolerance.  It seems to be working because she stands when I approach with halter and lead (check), she is relaxed at the walk (check), she stands ground tied away from the house (check), she tunes into me around other horses and places (check).

On days where I have to go to work, like today, I'm limited on my time both with the horses and exercising--so I combine the two.  I mean, why get on a treadmill when you have a HORSE to walk the herd bound-barn sour off?  If there's time for the treadmill, there's time to walk Beautiful around the 20 acres and, possibly, over to the next door barn. (Exercise and training all in one!!)  A walk is easy. I'm not starting something I can't finish, and I can do it in almost any weather.

We had a lovely walk today and yesterday.

Yesterday, we walked to the barn next door and checked out the new SCARY round pen we set up on Saturday.

I let Bee explore.

After she got comfortable, I asked her to follow me into the round pen at liberty.  She did it!

Then, we worked on her whoa and facing up--eventually, joining up and walking with me at liberty in the round pen.

When we'd done that both ways, we stopped and just hung out together--visited a couple of other boarders--then walked home.

The day before that day, I rode her.  But you can see my heart horse, Cowboy, begging to be the one out there with me.

I finished the ride on Bee, then I grabbed Cowboy and rode him bareback.  My husband came out later to join me and I slid off to give him Cowboy so that I could go get Leah.  As he was leading Cowboy in, I took their picture, and I noticed Bee had been in the East pasture with us the whole time. See her behind Loki?

Now, the round bale, and all the other horses, were in the North pasture--but Bee followed us over there on her own and stayed by herself.  That is independence and some real joining up starting to form. 

Oh, and there's that darn goat I got.  He's always in the picture, isn't he? He's kind of growing on me after twelve years.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Meditation on Horse Ears

As I was waking up and reading my phone, Facebook to be exact, I realized I was being fed a drip, drip, drip of negativity. It wasn’t the posts by my friends, whom I feel blessed to have been invited into the intimacy of their everyday lives on Facebook, but the news clips that mingled with it.

I had this thought that I should try to guard against negative media this year by choosing to meditate on something beautiful every morning.

The thing that came to mind today?

Horse ears.

We spend so much time seeing the world through these two sites. A world that is made more wonderful and magical by aiming our thoughts through them.

And no two ears are the same. They’re like snowflakes and fingerprints. Some are small and round, like Cowboy.

Some are more pointy and long, like Leah.

Some are more wild, the color of an elk or deer, like Beautiful Girl.

And since they register the thoughts and feelings of our horses, they are even more unique: their fears, excitement, joy, anticipation, peace, worries, love.

It’s all there in their ears.

(The picture from Beautiful's back is the first time EVER I was able to feel comfortable and pull my phone out for a picture. All the photos were taken yesterday.) 

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

I Reached My Goal, but What a Year

I knew Sunday was the 1-5-0, so I wanted to reach my goal with Beautiful Girl.  I started the year with a plan for her, and a helluva lot of determination, and it's fitting that she be THE. ONE.

Our day started out crappy--not at all like the 150th SHOULD have been.  She was tuned into her herd and bucking, kicking, changing directions on the line.  None of that bothered me, but when I'd tell her "whoa" she wouldn't listen, and that did bother me.  I started to jump in front of her path like a wild-ass woman: half cougar--half wildling--half crazy.  My reactions were not out of the normal playbook.  They were primal.  But you know, some days are just raw like that.  We know when we're being challenged--and sometimes, you just gotta fight back and defend yourself.

When I went to throw a leg over, I actually told her, "This is your chance to get even and buck me off, Bee."  (The day had that kind of feel to it.)  Surprisingly, she didn't take me up on the offer, and I stayed planted safely in the saddle.

Afterward, I dismounted, attached the long lines to her halter, and drove her around the 20-odd acres next door and at our place.  I want her to get used to walking out in the open.  There was a freak out moment--when Cowboy came running.  Beautiful bolted away.  I kept hold of one line and got her turned back around.  She was a little wound up in the lines, but very calm.   I unwound her and we proceeded with our driving ride.  (That is why it is best to drive in HALTER).

This year has been full of happiness and tragedy--

*I lost Old Red as I was flying to Hawaii. You can read about my "Terrible Landing in Paradise."  I still miss him.  Cowboy misses him even more.  Since his death, Cowboy has been ostracized from the herd and has only me and, sometimes, the pony, to keep him company.

*We added two horses to our herd around the 1st of March.  I hadn't intended to do that so fast, but a friend approached me with Little Joe and my son-in-law got the itch to become a horseman--thus adding Foxy. Both additions were a god-send: Foxy bonded hard with Cowgirl (who was grieving her horse husband) and Little Joe became the heart-horse for my granddaughter, Catherine.

*I introduced Leah to lots of new trails.  She did pretty well.  I don't think, however, she's going to be THE horse for me.  She's a sweetheart, and I love her, but she doesn't have that umph that I'm looking for.  I'll continue working with her, and riding her on trails, but when Cowboy is fully retired, I'll be wanting a true heart-horse.  (I think part of her issues are just bad conformation. You can't do much about that.  But she is a sweetheart, and she'll always have a home, and lots of love, with me.  And, I'll always ride her because she needs to keep moving!)

*I rode Beautiful for the first time ever this year and, although, I am scared of getting bucked off, I truly believe that if I build a relationship on heeding/partnership/unity/at liberty/being chosen--I won't ever be.  I am carefully building each step of our journey.  Even after our little spat the other day, on day 151 she came right up to me when she saw me approaching with the halter.  She has a heart for me, and I for her.

It remains to be seen if she'll be "the one" that I bond with for the trails, but she has been "the one" in my heart for ten years.  She's my baby.  I'm her mama.  We will never part.

My goal for next year is to have more days in saddle or training, than not.  That means, I will need at least to reach.....

183 Days!!

It's too late to get there this year with December only having 25 days left.  But, if I want to get to where I plan to be with BEE, I need all the days I can get: trailering her off the property, ponying her on the trails, training her away from home, taking lessons away from home, and generally building her confidence in herself and me.  And, our partnership together.

A lot of things can get in the way of these plans--health problems (for her or me), work obligations, family and travel, but if I follow through and do what I say I'm going to do....

this time next year.....

I hope I can say.....

I have found  my next trail riding heart horse.

Wish us luck!

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Day 149: The Goat I Got

Once upon a time, I was thirty-five and hoping to have one more child.  It didn't happen for me, but I was able to pour a lot of that need for care-giving into two little wethers I adopted. I bottle fed them from two weeks old on up, and we bonded hard together.

In those days, my husband and I lived at the edge of farm fields. We could exit our back gate and ride forever.  Or, we could take off hiking through the canyons and creeks.  It was quite beautiful up on that plateau.  Most of the time, you could see three states--Washington, Idaho, and Oregon.  Pretty breathtaking.

The baby goats would see me coming, and they'd start bouncing into the air, kicking their back legs behind them.  My husband and I took them on our hikes with the plan that we would teach them to one day pack our picnic goods.  They loved and trusted us so much, they'd stay right at our feet.  When we'd come to the creek, we'd pick them up, cradle them in our arms, and cross it, placing them gently on the ground on the other side.

But when they were about a year old, they died.

Urinary Calculi.


The vet tried to operate on them--it didn't work.  So, we returned home empty, their little house, next to ours, quiet.

Enter a three week period of mourning. Guilt. Regret. Mixing up many losses into that one loss.

It turned out, I'd fed them too rich a diet.  I thought I was doing something good, but in fact, I was killing them.

My farrier told me, "The next time you get a goat, go out and kick it every day."  He was joking, trying to make me feel better, but his point was--goats aren't meant to be spoiled like that.

Not long after, we got the goat you see in the photo.  Scotty.

Ornery thing.  100% piss and vinegar.  Instead of me kicking the goat every day, like my farrier suggested, it's Scotty that kicks me every day, instead.  He bucks me, too, with those big old horns. And, he walks in my path to trip me.

But he's 12 years old and healthy as a....goat.

He thinks he's the head of our horse herd, and he guards over them like he'll kick whatever coyote or cougar butt comes their way.

Now that we're riding at home, he accompanies us on rides.  Getting in the way of our path and creating whatever bedlam he can.

I don't even know how to end this post--or where I was going with it.  The story of our different goats is one of my life's little ironies.

There's a meaning in it--but I haven't learned it yet.