Thursday, January 29, 2009

Winter Lessons and Goals

Last year my friends and I took what we call "Western Dressage" lessons, and loved them. It was a great way to get some riding in during the winter, rehab Cowboy, and get ready for the trail riding season.

Some of my other, "English", friends had a laugh about that phrase, though. They were like Western is Western and Dressage is well, Dressage--and the two ne'er shall meet--or something like that. (They were just kidding).

Of course, there are real differences in the two, as we all know--like I spent $2,000 for my trail horse and the Grand Prix Level Dressage rider down the road spent $200,000 for hers. And other differences as well--such as our saddles, stirrups, bits, reins, and riding techniques. Maybe the biggest difference in technique is that I use what we call neck reining--I lay the rein on the side of my horses neck and he feels that small amount of pressure and turns his body away. Whereas, a dressage rider has contact with the horses mouth by use of a snaffle bit.

But the principles of dressage--the least amount of pressure for maximum result, are the same in any discipline. We want to keep our horses eager and responsive, not dull and hard-mouthed.

The emphasis in dressage is on you, the rider. I found out on day one that I have a slouchy back. I spent many hours against the wall and on the floor trying to bring the small of my back level.

And you use your body in ways it's not used to being used--the shift of your torso, the balance of your center (as one English friend compared it to a gyroscope), the pressure of your legs, the weight of your body when you sit back to ask for a stop, the movement of your hips forward to signal gait changes, and the circle you make with your hips to keep them in a smoothe lope--all of these seemingly little things your horse can pick up, but that he/she has begun to ignore because they are either NOT used, or used incorrectly.

However, after I stopped the lessons for the season and went back out on the trail, I rarely used any of my new found skills. I think it's time to start up again and get a refresher--and I want to work on jumping.

Last year on the trail Cowboy put me in a couple of uncomfortable situations when he, at the last moment, decided to jump, once, a log, and once, water. Oh, and he also leapt over a rock and onto a ledge. This is a tough thing to figure out with your horse--how much to hold them back (which sometimes makes them back up) and how much to let them go (which sometimes they take advantage of and use the head way you give them to leap.) This hasn't gone away 100 percent in the 6 years I've had Cowboy. Ninety-nine percent of the time he does what's right, but one percent of the time he doesn't. And, it's up to me to sit it correctly.

If you've ever had your horse jump when you're not ready, you will remember the POWER it takes for them to thrust their 1200 pound bodies into the air over an object. The power, the forward thrust they use, requires a push off, which instead of sending you forward, will send you off the back. However, if you sit forward, like you expect them to jump, it's also asking them to do so. Hmmmmm....

This is what you should look like when you're prepared:

So, these are things I want to work on. Cowboy is a backer--a bad, bad backer. Because he's a spooky horse I always have to go forward, forward, forward or he'll back up to China. His mental conformation doesn't allow much time to think about things--you have to keep it moving. The more he moves, the better he does. If you try to hold him back too much he will do the jig, and let me tell you, he can jig for hours. It's quite pretty, but personally, I hate it.

Every Spring, we start out with the jig until I've had some trail time on him and worked it off. The Fishtrap Poker ride last year? He jigged the whole way. I'd probably need to get out there early and run him through it once and then start the ride again. All the horses, the good weather, he gets nutty---and he forgets that he's a dumpy old Paint and thinks that he's Secretariat instead.

My goal this year is to work on his going forward, walking over objects, standing in water (which he hates), and standing patiently when I hold him back.

My goals for me are getting my jump seat, so that I'm prepared for anything, learning to communicate more confidence to Cowboy, and spending more time in the saddle with him, even if it's just lolly-gagging around the house here for hours.

Hey, I just had an idea--I should have my husband build me a hitching post in my yard. I could ride him back and forth from the barn all day. He'd get lots of practice being an obedient tied up boy and lots of time in the saddle. Hmmmm....

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

When to Put a Horse Down

Cowboy's Story

Boy, this is a topic I would never presume to answer for anyone--it's hard enough to answer for myself. But Cowboy, my horse, is the only one in my herd I ever made the decision to put down. My thinking has always been--when a horse can't be a horse anymore, it's time to let them go--(not to the auction)--but put them down--and stand by their side while it happens.

I bought Cowboy about six years ago from a friend. She'd picked him up in a trade from another friend, who'd picked him as a trade from another friend....and on and on.

Cowboy had a tough start. When he was one month old his mother got her head stuck in a feeder and broke her neck trying to get out. From that day forward, Cowboy had to be bottle fed by humans.

Because of that, he has always been a real character--but not very good with his own kind--which has guarunteed him a spot as the lowest man on the totem pole no matter which herd he's in.

But he's a sweetheart--a BIG baby. He's also a chicken. When I got him, he'd spook at anything--and he was stubborn as all get out. If you tried to soothe him by rubbing his mane and talking sweet, he'd really go beserk! Obviously, that had been tried on him enough times that he figured anyone talking sweet must be covering up something SCARY!!

So, I had my work cut out for me with Cowboy, and I still do really. But working through these trust issues has brought us closer together.

As for the decision to put him down--two years ago this February, I came out for the evening feed--around 4:00, and found Cowboy all alone in the paddock, shaking and in a great deal of pain.

I called the vet and had them out immediately, but they misdiagnosed him with an abscessed hoof. They dug it out until they found blood, packed, and wrapped it. However, instead of instant relief, Cowboy was still dead lame even with Bute (an equine pain reliever).

They came out again and took x-rays, dug the hoof deeper for the abscess and rewrapped. Another week passed, no improvement--more x-rays, more Bute--eventually a special plate was made for his hoof.

Fast forward three months--we get a second opinion--they read the original x-rays and find a fractured P-3--right down the middle of the coffin bone up to the coffin joint.

After consulting with WSU, his prognosis for recovery was poor and it was too late to do a surgery. So, I decided to do the "practical" thing and have him put down.

However, before the day came--we were out in the evening saying goodbye and I thought--hey, it's his last night here on earth, I should let him have one last run. Poor guy had been locked up for three months--what kind of ending was that?!?

Hmmmm...shall I say STUPID?!? We let him out, all right, but Cowboy took off in an all out run across the rocky pastures--fourteen acres--spinning at the borders, bucking, it was CRRRAAAAAZZZZYYYYY!!! My husband and I jumped on the 4-wheeler and took off after him with a halter, to try to get him calmed down before he further injured himself. But we couldn't catch him for some time.

Now all of that got us to thinking--if he can run like that on a broken foot--maybe he has a high tolerance for pain--and maybe, just maybe he has a shot at living.

We called the farrier and canceled the vet. The farrier put Cowboy into a bar shoe with a special pad and 12x12 stall for 6 months. The first day he came, he looked at Cowboy and said, you did the right thing, I can save this horse. Wow! We were kind of happy about that--but skeptical, of course.

So, then began the waiting and we waited and waited, wondering if Cowboy could keep it together mentally. I kept a stall buddy next to him at all times, to give him company. I'd rotate the stall buddy in and out--each horse in the herd taking their turn. The whole family pitched in going out and seeing him, and his makeshift stall was close to the house.

Last Spring was the first time I could ride him again---and I was holding my breath--but Cowboy stayed sound. In fact, he stayed sound the entire Spring, Summer and Fall, and I rode him all over the place. He's out there right now, still sound. What a miracle--I'm still surprised by it.

So, the question of when to put a horse down has yet to really be answered by me. I guess in the future, I'd err on the side of life, as I did with Cowboy. I don't believe in allowing them to suffer, but short of that, if they have the will, I say give them the chance.

Cowboy is not the horse Red is, not in conformation or his mind--but he has been good in other ways. There's never a dull moment with him, and because of his insecurity, he challenges you more to be a real herd leader--no false bravado or he'll expose it. I've learned more about horses because of him, and I value every day after having come so close to losing him.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Value of An Older Horse

Since the weather isn't the greatest, and I'm not out working with Beautiful as much, I thought it would be fun to write about each of the horses in our herd and the themes that each brings up.

I'll start with Red--our 28 or 29 year old Quarter Horse.

We bought Red for our daughter when she was learning to ride. He'd been recommended by our farrier and our trainer as a rock solid, awesome horse. Of course, he was 21 at the time--but they assured us that this horse would do everything we needed and give Shiloh the confidence and horsemanship skills she could take with her to the next horse.

We went to see Red--he was for sale for $1,200 at the time. The woman who owned him couldn't speak highly enough of all he'd done--both in 4-H and helping the handicapped with therapeutic rides. She saddled him and we tested him out--bought him immediately.

Red's quirky history: He was a ranch horse for most of his life--owned by a "playboy" rancher from Lewiston, ID--whatever that means. He would take his dates to the ranch--and he'd let them ride Red--who, even at a young age, was always safe and obedient.

That part of his history, as it was told to us, has always made me sad--although maybe it should be funny--but it implies a certain amount of disrespect to both horse and rider. I've never had anything except respect for this horse.

Now, other people, some friends of ours, had looked at him and passed, and one friend in particular teased us that their young ones would be around long after old Red was in the grave....hmmmm...

I've watched many a kid go saillllllling through the air on their green horses, but Shiloh, in all these years, through Red, Shadow and a green filly, has never hit the ground!

Trail ride after trail ride--4-H--parades--Shiloh built up her confidence and love of horses, and eventually moved over to Red's white twin, Shadow in the picture with him here last week--and then on to her green filly, Cowgirl.

Another quirky part of Red's history: He was a horse who did what he was told--and that was it. Where some horses showed curiosity--playfulness--this wasn't a characteristic of Red. He had a natural inclination to protect Shiloh, but he was a horse who had been trained to do a job--obviously by a man who didn't believe in horses as "pets." (We were his third owners.)

When we bought him--I always felt it was like we'd bought a slave. He'd stand out at the end of his run and look back up the road toward the property where we'd purchased him. I never felt good about it. I'd talk to him--stand with him--pet on him--but he'd stand looking away--obediently.

When his second owner had left after dropping him off--he whinnied out for her for a long time--but she cried all the way back to the truck and quickly pulled out--before she changed her mind. Selling him broke her heart.

Years later, I raised a colt--Sonny--full of personality and life--he was a twin to my Cowboy--and a nephew. But it was Red who did the caretaking of Sonny--Cowboy just wanted to beat him up (He's an insecure Omega). Red and Sonny bonded like father and son (Red is a nurturer of younger horses).

About a year and half ago, when we moved up here, Sonny coliced and died. I was broken-hearted about it. At night, I'd go and stand out in the dark where Sonny had stood--and look and smell and see what he saw---and miss him.

During one of those nights, Red came to me--for the first time ever on his own--and he allowed me to pet him--and he sniffed me (a sign of acceptance for a horse) and nudged at me. It was the first bit of affection he'd ever shown to me in the many years we'd "owned" him. We've remained real friends ever since that night.

Red is my example of loyalty and survival.

All of which leads me to ponder the value of the older horses. I think every herd should have one. They are a safe and steady mount for visitors, grandchildren (in our case), and the best babysitters ever.

Also, I think the well-conformed ones with the good minds, like Red, live longer. Everyone's always said, one day we'll go out and find him dead--and sure enough, many of the old horses we know have passed on. But not Red....not yet!

We've gotten all of these years of solid riding out of him and he has never had ONE injury or sickness. Not one. He's an easy keeper, even at his age--just alfalfa and a scoop of Allegra in the winter.

So, here's my list of why you should consider older horses:

1. They set the mood for your herd.
2. They train the young ones.
3. They're good to learn on.
4. They're dependable with green riders.

I imagine there are some honery ones--or ones whose arthritis and other health issues would make it difficult to ride them--but if they're sound and well-trained--they're worth their weight in gold.

What does everyone else think about the value of an older horse?

Monday, January 26, 2009

Farrier Update

The day I stop blogging about Beautiful's farrier visits will be the day she is PERFECT! So, short of that, I'm going to keep blogging about the visits.

I had her go first today, and she haltered right up and was real sweet. I groomed and petted her until the farrier arrived.

Now, Beautiful has been a feisty thing all winter--a bit on the grumpy, bucky, rearing side--if you know what I mean. I used to be out there a lot during the Spring, Summer, Fall, but slowed down in the Winter--we've been getting back on a schedule of "being together." It has worked out well.

However, the farrier is not me, nor anyone she wants to "be" with. (Insert a big ha ha here.) It's not his fault--after all, she didn't even want to be with me much a couple weeks ago--why would she want to be with this big old guy with a box and a knife--nippers and a file?!? (Insert--Danger Will Robinson).

But he went to work with the usual confidence farriers have--that confidence that confounds all the rest of us. (Insert--um, excuse me, are you afraid of getting kicked down there?!?)

Now, I know my horse, and I know she did think about kicking him....but not seriously. And, mama was ready to bend her away at the slightest sign, but it went off without a major problem. My farrier did ask if she'd ever kicked me--she hasn't. Um, she kicked a friend of mine--does that count? (I wasn't there.) And, Beautiful's a smart girl--I don't think she really wants to kick a guy twice her size--that would be picking a fight she can't win.

He had a tough time getting her left back--last time it was the right back--so we've decided she's a one back only type horse--right or left doesn't matter--just ONE back hoof, if you please.

My farrier is happy with her progress--especially her hard-to-get backs. He thinks she's doing GREAT. Fronts are coming around quite nicely--with a little time they'll be looking good, too. He doesn't foresee any clubiness in that front right like we had previously.

And that, as they, is that--til next time!

Do You Know Mustangs?

I saw this ad on Craigs List this morning--Do You Know Mustangs?

We have an exceptional mustang mare that needs to be placed with someone who knows these horses. She has "show stopping" beauty. She is taller than average and built like a brick house. She needs to be gentled by someone who knows what they are doing. She has had some handling and doesn't seem to have a mean bone, just uncertain and afraid. She seems to want to be with people but isn't sure how. Something holds her back. She could become a devoted partner for the person that she can bond with. If you think you are that person (or perhaps, know that person) email me for details.

Does anyone know which Mustang this is, and from where?

Off the subject, we had a relaxing weekend around here. We had my little sister, her husband, and my dog Maggie's full brother come for a visit. That was fun. Then, my husband came down with Bronchitis and I came down with a cold. So, we spent the rest of the weekend watching movies and reading.

Which brings me to my next recommendations: The first, a recommendation from my mom which we took her up on---Broken Trail. This is a Robert Duvall Western about a couple of men, uncle and nephew, who take a group of Oregon Mustangs to Wyoming to sell. Along the way they rescue a group of Chinese women who have been sold into slavery. For all of us Mustang people, you'll find especially interesting that they start around Burns!

When I was out piano shopping, one of the women selling a grand was the author Louise Freeman-Toole. I didn't recognize her name, but it sounded familiar--so I googled her and found her memoir about working on a cattle ranch in Hells Canyon--which just happens to be my favorite subject, having spent the last twenty-five years of my life there.

She writes about so many of the same things I've experienced--it's a beautiful memoir--which I'm only half way done with. I'll write more after I finish.

And lastly, I'm usually not much of a tv watcher. We have them in our house, but not in the main living areas. I find them mostly obnoxious-time-sucking-life-wasters. Though, in moderation, they are quite entertaining, and when you're sick, they're especially useful.

This weekend we watched, on the internet, ABC's True Beauty. The reason it caught our attention is because there is a contestant from my old hometown of Lewiston, ID competing. I don't know him, but just the fact that he's from there--and there aren't many people on television who are or ever would be, is intriguing.

So, the kids and I watched the last three episodes to catch up and plan to watch the 4th tonight at 10:00. It really was FUNNY and the underlying message of the show, "true" beauty, is great.

In case you haven't heard of it or watched it--they take ten "beautiful" people and tell them they're going to be in a beauty contest--but they don't tell them how they are really judging it--by inner beauty. They bring in actors throughout the show to be in need of kindness, help, forgiveness--then with hidden cameras, they film the contestants to discover if they do what is right.

At the end of each show they kick out the one in the group who was the least kind, gracious, helpful--but they do it in a private room so that no one else in the group knows why or how they were removed--they keep assuming it is all about outer beauty.

And finally this morning--I have a farrier appointment in about an hour and Beautiful is on the docket for a trim. Wish me luck!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Mustangs on You Tube and CBS--Thanks!

From a blogger married to one of the Border Patrol Agents (reference comments section):

The mustangs looked beautiful in the parade! My husband, a Border Patrol Agent, trains and works with some of these mustangs everyday. He was riding Buck, the buckskin just behind Okanogan (at the front). We are very proud of the mustangs and the agents! For those who missed the B.P. Noble Mustangs in the parade, here are links to some footage:

U S Border Patrol in Obama Inaugural Parade
YouTube - U S Border Patrol in Obama Inaugural Parade

Border Patrol agents ride in inaugural parade
YouTube - Border Patrol agents ride in inaugural parade

Here is another link to a CBS story on Project Noble Mustang:


Thursday, January 22, 2009

Being With Our Horses

I did my thing today--though it wasn't what I did yesterday at all. My "thing" today, after reading Pony Girl's blog was to just go be with Beautiful.

I started to reevaluate my life with Beautiful Girl compared to my other horses, and I realized that with Beautiful, I've always had "goals". Whereas, my others are allowed to just be horses most of the time.

With her it has been all about getting her used to humans--picking up her feet--getting her to lead--taking lots of pictures. I noticed about two weeks ago when she saw me pull out my camera, she ran out of her stall and kicked up at me.

Did I imagine that?!? Hmmmm...if not, that's not a good sign.

So, today I went out and walked into her stall.....

She left her stall.

I followed her out into her run and scratched her hind.

She backed up for more.

Then, I moved forward and scratched her withers.

She relaxed and moved closer, and sniffed my jacket.

Then I saw those three coyotes not far out in the field, running for the woods, and I didn't see my Lab, Maggie. So, I darted to the fence and yelled at them to get out of here. Sheez, it's 3:00 in the afternoon and those coyotes are that close to the barn?!?!? Three of them together could take on my little Maggie.

(Luckily, Maggie hadn't seen and followed them into the woods.)

When I turned back to Beautiful--

There she was, in my back pocket, so to speak.

I continued petting her for a few minutes, then fed them all and came back in.

I hope to backtrack and start "being" with her at least once a day (along with the "training", too)--like I did in the beginning when I was getting her used to seeing humans. It actaully takes stress off of me, as well, to go out there sometimes with no expectations. It's easier to pull my muck boots on, my parka, my black Kerrits hat I've had for years and years and still love, my black gloves with the holes in the index fingers--all of which smell like manure most of the time. It's just easier to get in my stinky barn garb knowing I'm going out with no other reason than to LOVE on them.

Pony Girl, a link to her blog is at the side, mentioned that she has to drive 45 minutes to see her boy. I remember the days when I had to do that, too--20 minutes. Whenever I went to the barn it was to RIDE!! Well, unless they were sick and I had to spend time giving them antibiotics--then they got the TLC--and I really enjoyed doing it.

Back then I so, so, so wished I had them home so I could just go be with them whenever I wanted. There was such a sense of peace at the barn--of being "home" for me. Home is where the heart is, right? When I actually did get them home, I found I enjoyed being with them as much as I did riding them, if not MORE. (However, I still miss the indoor arena and daily companionship of horse friends--and someone to feed--and free woodchips--and, and, and...)

Having them home with us deeply changed the dymanics of my relationships with my horses. I am more a part of their herd now. They have developed ways of communicating with me--like looking into the Family Room window and staring me down when they're hungry.

They can actually see me moving around in here and I can watch their heads follow my actions--from the comfort of my chair, to the coffee pot, back to my chair. (I remember the day I realized they could actually see me--DARN!) You can also clearly see their disappointment turn to being PISSED off when I don't get out there. They're not subtle!! It's like--
Hello!! We're doing the stare down--that's one step before we break this pathetic little fence and charge the place!

I learn a lot about them from this window. I see Cowgirl, Shiloh's mare, go to Beautiful's side of the pasture and get as close to Beautiful, my yearling Mustang, as she can through the fence. (Cowgirl has a mothering heart, like Red). I see Beautiful move as close as she can through the fence then run into the barn when Cowgirl enters--a mutual friendship developing between them. I see Cowboy, my boy, teasing the rest of the horses, then getting run off (no wonder he's the Omega). I see gentle Red, 29 years old, caretaking all the rest of them, except Shadow, the leader. And, I see Shadow, the leader, turn to Red for friendship.

Living with my horses is a luxury. I guess it's good to remind myself of that on winter days like these--when getting to the barn seems a chore. I believe our relationships with our horses are formed more in moments of "being" then any other time. Some old Cowboys would probably disagree with me on that--as I've heard many a one say HORSES ARE NOT PETS!!

I agree with the idea that horses are not pets in the sense that dogs and cats are. Horses have a different set of herd dynamics that we must adopt and enforce or be kicked, bit and run over. But just look at them with each other--mutually grooming--playing--almost laughing with each other sometimes--and you have to believe that being with them--being their leader even in quiet times when you're petting them--is developing trust, respect, and loyalty.

I know I'm rambling--and I know I'm not writing anything that all you horse lovers don't already know yourselves--but I just needed a little reminder about what my ultimate goal is with my horse, Beautiful Girl--and all the rest. I want a friendship and not just an obedient horse for the farrier.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

What a Great Support Group!

Your encouragement earlier got me out there--plus, I was worried after I asked you to kick my butt if I didn't make it out there--someone actually would!

Arlene, you're correct, the ice does make it a little dangerous for them acting up, so I modified my plans.

Lucky me, she didn't give me hell when I went out to halter her. She walked away, but I kept right with her and calmly haltered her.

She then led to the barn and around that area--but slipped a bit on the ice--not much--but enough to make her insecure and pull back. Not wanting to end on a negative note, I stayed with her again, calmed her, and walked some more.

Then, I ended it with a grooming session where she patiently allowed me to work on those dirt tangles and pick her feet.

Do you remember where she rubbed off her mane last summer after I got her home? That is growing back--hog wild! And, I do mean WILD. I didn't crop off her entire mane when it happened, so it does look funky--but I'll even it out when it grows in enough to lie down. She will have a BUSHY mane some day--and it's double-sided.

Ice is not our friend. I hate it.

So, my plan is to do the same tomorrow, the next day and the next--all so that we have a pleasant experience with Mr. Farrier. Otherwise, if it wasn't for those feet, I would let her be until Spring--but she's not like other yearlings--she really reverts back to WILD if you don't get out there consistently.

Mustang Training Support Group

I need help--motivation--accountability!!! I have a confession: I barely went to the barn this weekend. I sent my husband--my daughter--anyone who would go. Why? Because I was lazy, cold, preoccupied, sick of looking at messy stalls.

But the farrier is coming yet again and I need to get out there and make sure Beautiful is ready for him. Lately, she has been sour on getting caught and with all the ice, I got discouraged. I don't want to run her around an icey enclosure and have her slip!!

So, my goal today is to get out there and get her with no confrontation. I want to halter her with no effort. Then, I want to lead her on a long line around the barn and down the road a bit where it's not icey. I want to work on all of her bending, backing and possibly standing "tied". Also, I need to groom all the mud off her. Eeek!

She has been good with her feet--our issue is more about being caught and leading out of her enclosure. Our farrier has always worked on her in her area--but this time I want her out in the breezeway like the other horses. I predict she'll be distracted by the other horses--so I need to work on keeping her attention and not letting her fight with the others through the gates.

If you don't see a post that I accomplished all my goals by tomorrow, please kick my butt.

It was cold out there this morning. Below are some pictures of the horses eating. I've taken to feeding them outside of the barn. I'm trying to encourage them to stay out of the barn and move around as much as possible. There's less fighting this way. As it is now, some of the back run gates are frozen open--so there are three horses who can always come and go--and they kick the crap out of each other during feeding time. It scares me to death. So, this way works better.

These were taken by our new pocket camera--I acquired it to take with me to the barn and on rides so I always have one around. My other camera--the Panasonic Lumix Z18--is great, but bulky.

The new one is a Canon Powershot--and while I was at it I took a picture of my cool Equine necklace--retro-pottery--1970's. I hang it around this glass bowl.

Here's my two old guys--Red--29--Shadow 19.

I also wanted to thank Froglander at Mustang Dressage for the Lemonade award (Great Attitude/Gratitude) and Argo's Journey for passing along the Butterfly Award. Both have wonderful blogs about gentling Mustangs--one for dressage, the other for friendship--as Argo is an old stallion recently captured. I thoroughly enjoy reading both of their adventures as they travel life with their new Mustang companions--I think you all will, too! Thank you.

I'd like to nominate the following for these awards--and if you already have them--that's okay, too. This is just a list of blogs I love to follow--besides the ones I've already mentioned above:

Andrea at Mustang Saga--the one who really encouraged and inspired me to blog Beautiful's journey.
Tracey at Mustang Diaries--who's training of Steve Holt! should be an encouragement to all.
Kara at Must Love Mustangs--who has a passion for training and riding.
Nikki at Spidersweb--The Heart of A Horse Blogspot--also a big inspiration in my original gentling of Beautiful
Lea and her Mustangs--the 70 year old Mustang gentler, as I've referred to her previously on the site.
Desert Horses--a real inspiration and encouragement
Leslie at Hoofbeats & Pawprints--a down-to-earth animal lover.
Arlene at My Mustangs:Wildairo & Echo Who also has a big heart for the Mustangs--as you will see immediately when reading her posts about the two she has adopted this year.
Tina at Hayburner Acres--a friend and support with all the horses.
Debbie at Mustang Prairie Ranch--Debbie is the one who helped me adopt Beautiful at Ride the West.
Jessie at Jessie and Remington

There are so many more blogs I love--like the my non-mustang reads--The Serenity Room (my mom's inspirational blog), Whole Latte Life--Joanne--a horse lover and writer--and Pony Girl, who I've started reading recently--lots of fun. Actually, I've probably forgotten a few--but if you look to the side, my blogs--that is the list of blogs I check into at least weekly, if not daily. Enjoy!

KXLY Clip of Mustangs in Inaugural Parade

Follow this link and in the stories section you'll find the Mustang clip. KXLY TV. It's short, but you'll enjoy it if you didn't see it yesterday.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Mustangs at Inauguration

Here are some pictures I took from the television during the parade today. I hope more footage is released in the near future. The coverage was spotty on the station I had tuned into. I think these horses are Bullet and Okanogen of the Border Patrol, but I'll post more when I can confirm it.

Here's a picture of the Nez Perce Tribe marching in the Parade--the Nez Perce are world famous for the Appaloosa horses, and they are a local tribe.

#42, my cat, watched the first ten minutes of the Inaugural Address--completely tuned in. She twitched her ear over to the sound of my camera, but otherwise her eyes and ears were locked on to President Obama.

Happy Inauguration Day

Here on the Pacific Coast the schedule says 8:30 am the Swearing-In Ceremony will start--9:00 will be the actual swearing in. Then, President Obama will go to lunch, and after he's finished, the parade will start around 11:30-12:00 our time.

It took the Mustangs 7 days to get there--but all are safe and ready to go.

My husband and I read Lincoln's Inaugural addresses Sunday morning--and, from what I understand, President Obama read from Lincoln's own bible this weekend. His second Inaugural is much stronger (and shorter) than his first. This is how he concludes it:

With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.

Here's to peace and healing the nation's wounds--here's to President Obama--my hope is that he leads our country with wisdom and justice.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Picture of the Day

I love this quote today from Jim Kershner of the Spokesman Review:

"Now that our roofs are no longer collapsing, our snow berms are receding, and those white lumps in Browne's Addition have revealed themselves as Mini Coopers, it's finally safe to utter the following words:

Snow is fun."

And, so it is--we're back out going to plays, movies, coffee, skiing--basically, life. Now, we just need it to stay clear like today and we can start riding our horses again!!

Here's my picture of the day, taken moments ago from our back deck--3 coyotes hunting together. I've seen two during the day, but never 3.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Countdown Inauguration

However you voted in the election, and at this point, I don't think it's important--you are probably excited about Inauguration Day this Tuesday.

I'm excited for a number of reasons, but at the top of those is the Inauguration Day Parade. I will be watching to see our Mustangs strut their stuff in front of the entire nation. I hope President-elect Obama will also be impressed.

Here is Tuesday's schedule, I believe in Eastern Time--I left out most of the balls and luncheons:

Swearing-In Ceremony
Gates open: 8:00 AM
Location: US Capitol, West Front

No tickets are required to view the Inaugural Ceremony on the National Mall west of 4th Street.

2009 Inaugural Parade
Gates open: 7:00 AM

Event begins: approximately 2:30 PM
Location: Pennsylvania Avenue, NW

The majority of the parade route will be free and open to the public for standing room access. Viewing spots on the parade route are available on a first come, first serve basis.

If you'd like to see the pictures and bios of the horses and riders who were selected for the Inauguration Parade, click here.

Past Parades: The black and white is President Taft's.

Frost and Fog

I feel like I live on the English Moors. It's a great setting for The Hound of the Baskervilles or Wuthering Heights.

Some days, it's hard to believe I really have horses--or a barn.

Here are some pictures of the frost on the trees--blown sideways.

And, if you will, a toast to my son, Brook--who has followed his passion and been true to his calling. My hope for him is that he is able to do this until his last day--however many those will be--it will be a life well lived. Congratulations!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Pics of the New Piano & My Son Gets A Record Deal

Here are the pics of my new piano. Wow, what you can get for a grand--a Grand for a grand.

At the same time it was being delivered, my son who I pictured in earlier posts with his guitar, called to let me know he got a record deal. So far, they've agreed to produce and distribute their bands (two-man) CD. I think I was more excited about that than my piano!!!