Thursday, June 30, 2011

Training Video

I've always said that training Beautiful has been fun and it is. She's got her own personality.

Hope you enjoy the video and the music.

Training & Tickets for Buck

It has been a week since I started, or restarted, Beautiful's training. So far I've continued to work on leading, basic groundwork and grooming. We took two days off. I know she could be a lot further if I just sped it all up, but I don't feel in any hurry. One day, grooming day, she did so well with the electric clippers I just released her right after and called it good.

I do need to get out with her today and introduce the curcingle and saddle again. I purchased a tripod for my camcorder, so I hope to have some video of it afterward. Unfortunately, it's windy today, which will affect the audio quality.

We lost another barn kitty a few days ago. It had been getting weaker and weaker, but initially I felt like leaving it with its mama was the best thing to do. When it didn't improve, but only got worse, I decided to bring it inside and give it replacement formula. I made it a little bed in a box with blankets and a heating pad, but it was so weak it could hardly open its mouth for the bottle. I noticed, too, that it wasn't peeing, a sign, my husband said, that its kidneys had shut down. The poor thing passed away.

My daughter and I are going to see the movie, Buck, tomorrow. I think he's a trainer who brings a lot of grace to his work with horses. We've prepurchased our tickets and are ready to go after we get off a long, pack-your-lunch type trail ride.

I do need to go buy my Washington state Discovery Pass today. Starting July 1, 2011 you need one of these passes to enter the state parks. I don't have any problem with it. In fact, I think it's a good idea. It's only $30.00 a year--a small price to pay for access to our amazing equestrian areas.

***Note***Bought my discovery pass.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Thoughts on Energy

She's still my Girl!

Day #3 of training I decided to mix-it-up and do something different. Since our problems mostly started yesterday leaving the herd, I thought it would be the exact place we should do our training today. I don't want her to think, arena bad, herd good; I want her to think it's all seamless.

I went to get her, she stood for me and let me pet and halter her. I led her toward the barn at her withers (she's not leading behind at this point). She balked twice at the beginning, but a simple flip of the lead behind me got her going again and we were able to go back and forth to the barn and all around the pasture.

I "cinched" her with the rope all the way along her belly, roped her legs, picked up her feet with the rope, had her disengage her hind and front, and did the low-energy neck bends while putting pressure on her back as if mounting. Then we stood for a while and I unhaltered her. Instead of rejoining the herd, she followed me back to the barn.

She's my girl again.

Thoughts on Energy:

The last few days working with BG, I've really been thinking about energy and how it affects horses...humans, too. Horses are very sensitive to environmental energy, human energy and the energy of the herd.

When Beautiful was first released with the herd, her energy was out-of-sync with theirs and she was chastised a lot. She was hyper-sensitive to environmental energy, wind, thunder, rain, hail, to the point of ignoring the overall energy the herd leaders were trying to maintain. We'd look outside some nights and see her running all over the turnout while some of the others grazed happily on the round bale. Then, of course, we'd see Cowgirl, the alpha mare, chasing her around with her ears pinned back trying to get her to calm down.

The herd won and finally trained Beautiful to respect the energy and mimic it, even if she felt like being reactive. Now we'll look out on a stormy day and see Beautiful grazing, seemingly peacefully, with the others. In fact, if you look close, you will see her muscles still reacting, which gives you the impression that for her it hasn't entirely been achieved yet, but she does stand her ground and mimic them, and that is good enough to keep the peace. She's brought this quality, emotional regulation, to our training sessions.

This is homeostasis at work. Our bodies do it. Their bodies do it. Human beings appreciate an emotional living environment that is "stable and constant" and horses appreciate it even more.

Humans can't really teach this quality to horses, and that's why putting them in the herd is so important. Most horses come out better from being with other horses after they get past the initial stages of introduction. It's hard for us humans to watch, but it almost always, eventually, has positive results that we just couldn't get ourselves since we're not out there with them all day and all night every day.

When we go to work with them we have to guard our own inner energy so that it does not cause them to fight and flight but encourages them to pick up the tempo and work. As I found out yesterday, we have to watch what we think. Our actions and our energy will follow our thoughts.

It's a balance and, really, it's a gift to be trained in this way (them training us, that is).

If you think about it, good human leaders have the same qualities of controlled energy--not too much, not too little. Basically, enough to motivate but not so much they overpower. And no one wants to be around people with angry and bitter energy or low-energy.

When you find that perfect spot between the two, you find peace, and horses are constantly training us to find that perfect spot.

Any more thoughts on energy and horses?

Friday, June 24, 2011

I Lost My Cool & Hey, Take a Ride On Cowboy!

Free rides. Step right up. Join me on the trails with my human and horse buddies. What a wonderful day down Wonderful Rd. You can just jump right up on Cowboy's back and ride along.

After you're all relaxed from your ride, let's sit and talk about Beautiful's training, Day #2. She let me get her out of the pasture--as usual at the back 20. But that's about where the good left off.

The Girl wouldn't lead away from her herd! I tried to get her moving forward with no success, so finally I decided to do something either really stupid or really smart, only time will tell. Since she wanted to back up, I backed her up through all three pasture gates--the whole way, yep, about ten acres, all the way to the barn.

In honesty, I think it was stupid, but my thinking was that if she was going to back up or balk, I might as well be directing her feet for her.

Believe it or not, that's not where I lost my cool.

We got to the barn with Old Red whinnying at us and running behind which scared BG as we left the barn to go to the arena. Once at the arena we worked on leading with the same issues--balking and backing. This time I had my lunge whip and I could fling it behind her and get her moving forward. But in the fifteen minutes of work to get her moving out smoothly and consistently, I lost my cool. My energy level had gone from 0 to 60 without me even knowing it. I finally caught myself and brought it back down. And, how I caught myself was that I saw the look in her eye change to a kind of startled expression. Oops. Horses really are mirrors.

I had to finish what I started, but with the lowered energy and consistency she started doing nice controlled circles both ways.

Time to practice leading. Again, I used the whip to tap her hind, if she balked, and keep her going forward. I was wishing I had one of those flags that Kitty Lauman uses--but the hard end of the whip served its purpose. With the other horses I can fling the end of the lead around (15' lead), but she needed a little more. We walked and trotted together around the arena and around barrels.

Time to bring the energy further down. Last, we worked on bending, but not moving the feet, as if I was getting ready to mount. I put pressure against her withers and brought her head in, giving her line each time she came all the way around. What I discovered is that BG is better on her left than right.

By the end of the lesson I had thoroughly regained my cool, she was partnering with me and seemed to be enjoying herself, and we ended on a good note, releasing her once again back to the herd. However, she didn't run off. She stood by me. I had to shoo off the other horses, but we stood and relaxed together.

Every day is a surprise, isn't it--both about her and about me. Can't wait for day #3.

What is the "Least" Amount

Yesterday was the start of Beautiful's summer training. It was a windy day, lots of clanging and banging, which made it a perfect time to kind of see where she's at right now after having been released with the herd for the last few months. Quite honestly, I didn't know how she'd take being separated from them or even if she'd let me catch her. I went out to the pasture with a completely blank slate.

Of course, she was on the farthest end of the 20 acres with our herd and the neighbor's herd when I decided to get her. Cowboy saw me coming and started walking away; I passed him. (He looked shocked and later that evening came running to me when I went out for evening barn lock-down. I've got to shun him more often.)

Beautiful looked shocked, too. She didn't know what I was there for, but she didn't want to leave the herd, so she walked away from me as well. In my mind I'm thinking, Least amount. Least amount. If it came to chasing her around 20 acres, I'd lose. So, I got as quiet (inwardly) as I can get, spoke to her and raised my hand to her, and she stopped and let me approach and pet her all over with the rope. I took my time, but I didn't hide the lead and halter. I let her see it so she'd know my intention, no tricks or bribes, and I used it to rub all over and under her.

This almost always works for me. I think it's better than going right to their face with the halter which seems to shock them a bit and can make them move those feet. If the feet start to move before they're haltered, you pretty much lose your horse.

She relaxed and let me halter her and then she followed me nicely through the pasture gates, into the barn, and out to the arena with the others whinnying behind her.

Her mind was with the herd, which she couldn't see from the arena. Her ears were tuned into them and, as you know, where they're tuned in, their head and bodies will follow. I asked her for some yielding, then some moving out, and she did pretty good, but at some point decided the game was over and came to a stop. As I tried to get her to move out again, she started backing up--not out of any confusion, but as a way of communicating to me that she was done.

One thing I have to say for her is that she is a good-tempered horse. Nothing she does is mean-spirited. She had a nice eye and was real gentle and pretty calm considering it was loud and windy and she couldn't see her family. She really was trying to communicate with me, and you could see she was plainly invested in our relationship, even though the herd relationship was more vital to her.

I shortened the rope and had her move out in tighter circles and we continued on as normal until we were done. I also roped around her as she stood, "cinched" her up, threw about %25 of my weight on her from both sides and led her around some barrels. When I was done, I took her back and released her into the pasture.


Beautiful is more confident than she used to be. She's also more mature. Being with the herd has done her good. She didn't rear up once, kick out or buck. There was a difference in her eye, too. Used to, she would get a glassy eye where you had a hard time telling where she was mentally. When we adopted her and she was scared to death, it was the first thing I noticed. Whenever she was scared, I'd see it again, but not yesterday. Her eyes were always open and thinking--you could see "her" there. I can't tell you how much more confidence that gives me in moving forward from here. She's at a good point.

Week One Goal:

My goal for this week is simple. She's herd-bound, as she should be considering she's been running with them for months and doing little else. I want to see her move comfortably in and out of the herd, though, and do her work. I want her attention fully on me.

There are several ways to accomplish this goal, but I'm looking for the least amount to get the desired result. I could separate her from them from here on out and take her in and out for training. Lots of people do that, I've done that, and it works--although it does cause her to be pretty stressed for about three days, and I really don't want to stress her if I don't have to.

So, I'm going to try something new. I'm going to separate her from them for work each day and gradually increase the time she's away from them and see if I don't get the same result with less stress--maybe even in the same amount of time. I guess you could say it's an experiment to find out what is the least amount.

The things I want to do while she's separated are the same things I did last night plus getting her comfortable with the curcingle, blanket and saddle, my weight, ropes around her feet and all over her body, trailering, more work with the clippers and giving her a good bath. That will be a good start to our week.

Today I'm heading out on the trails. It's windy again, but I have several friends and my daughter who are ready to explore, so we'll be doing that in the morning, working BG in the afternoon. Hey, I get to try out my new Cashel riding mask! Pictures later.

Another note on Buck Brannaman, as he makes his rounds to promote the movie, he appeared on The David Letterman Show last night. Here's a link. You have to fast forward to about 26 minutes in to see his interview, but it's wonderful. A nice guy who understands horses and humans and the whole concept of doing the least amount and not getting emotional. And, of course, since it's David Letterman, there are a few laughs, too.

This is a horse hair bracelet which was made for me. It's from the hair of my colt (Cowboy's nephew who I'd raised and trained) who died from colic four years ago. I saved his hair for just this thing and finally got it done. It was only $30.00. If you want her information, let me know. I had her keep the hair unseparated like it was in real life. When I saw it, I couldn't believe how much it looks like his tail. A sad memory, but at least I get to carry him next to me in some physical way now.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

When You Can Do Less, You'll Do More

Buck Brannaman said that in his interview on NPR. (click link to hear it.) Although he was referring to horses, and it is so, so true with horses, I realized it could apply to all of life as well.

Life should not be complicated.

When life is compicated, it's usually life's way of saying something needs to change.

As you all know, this has been a busy spring for me--lots of entertaining, traveling, and major milestones. What I found out through them all is that doing less really does get you more. Of all the events we hosted for the wedding, the one that was most fun was the simplest. We took the family to a restaurant for pizza and drinks--the kids could color on the tables and play with dough--the adults could go back and forth and serve themselves as much as they wanted. It was low-key and laid-back and it was FUN. That's all they wanted--a little food and an opportunity to visit and relax.

From this, I come back with wedding advice for all. Three words:

Keep. It. Simple.

I'm going to talk my daughter into having her wedding here at our house, riding in on her horse, and having a big 'ol BBQ and country western band afterward. Does that sound like fun? Uh, YEAH! I can't wait. (Need to get on that boyfriend thing though.)

The best answers are always simple answers. They might be hard choices, but still, simple answers. Trust your gut. Live life your way (You only get one chance). Love much. Laugh Often. Change what you need to and can change, and let go of what you can't change.

Family milestones over, it's time to catch up with our old friend, Beautiful Girl, who has been living the simple life at pasture, but now is being called to horse-human training once again.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Four Kittens and a Wedding

We had a great time at the wedding this weekend. Lots of family came to town and it was fun to catch-up.

Before the wedding we had some family here at the mini-farm to enjoy a little time before we drove down. The highlight for everyone was the kittens. Originally, we had five left, but the little white siamese was getting weaker and weaker. I was nervous about leaving her for the whole weekend, so I called my brother and his wife and daughter (who love kittens) and asked if they'd take her and bottle-feed her for a while. They did, they grew attached, and now they are keeping her.

So, at this point, we are down to four sweet little barn kittens and a little video I took this morning to introduce you to them.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

I'd Rather Be On Horseback

If all your comments were votes, I'd say biking was voted down 10-1.

As I was pedaling (then pushing) up a very long, steep hill last weekend, being passed by younger, fitter, men and women, your words were screaming in my head.

What am I doing on a GD* bike??!!?? (*gosh.darned)

It didn't help that we ran into some of our buddies--fellow land conservationists and president and former VP of our Palisades Park non-profit--Robbi and Vic--on horseback! (As they should have been.) It didn't seem natural to be propped up on my bike talking to them as their horses plucked away at the grass. I even found myself making excuses for being on a bike rather than on my horse--as if I was somehow cheating on my horse.

We said good-bye to them, pedaled something that I'm pretty sure is the equivalent of the Tour de France, and ascended the bluff overlooking the river only to be met by two more women on horseback enjoying the view. The wind was blowing their horses manes gently and they were smiling from ear to ear--all relaxed and happy. I was huffing and puffing--sucking air into my stinging, under worked lungs and experiencing leg fatigue. I wanted to say--hey, I have horses, too. I love horses. Can I pet your horse? This is just an anomaly--I'm a really a horse person not one of those obnoxious bike people who come screaming down toward us on the narrow, cliff trails.

Alas, I was not a horse person that day; I was an out-of-shape bike person who, btw, bikers, I'm sure, would not claim as their own. I'm one of those newbies they hope will give up and clear off their bike trails. One of those that struggles with the rules--Do I pass on the left or right? Are those 15 mph speed signs for real? I need to go like 50 mph to get enough speed coasting to make it up the next hill. We can be sued if we hit a pedestrian? Really???

But the out-of-shape part of this equation is exactly why I am out there huffing it. The good news: I'm already starting to see its benefits. I'm not getting any younger (as last month's back pain proved) and if I'm going to be enjoying a long life with horses I have to be conditioning myself as much as I condition them. This is why I chose biking:

1. I have to be outside.

2. I have to be on the trails.

3. I have to have variety.

4. I have to go fast.

For the record, however, I'd much rather (and this will always be true) be on horseback!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Review: Samsung Charge and 4G WiFi Hotspot

Update: Beautiful Mustang

I haven't written about little Beautiful Girl in a while and for a reason. When you blog about progress it usually helps to be making some. Yet, after I introduced BG to the herd, my instincts told me to slow it down and give her some time.

Those of you who have followed through Winter/Spring probably remember her first release--it was a little dramatic. The thing that increased the drama was that she over-reacted to everything. Each horse is unique and it would be impossible to figure out why one does something the way they do, but she definitely struggled to find her place in the herd. Long after they were chasing her around, she would still avoid all stalls, dart out of their way when they turned toward her, and do whatever they bid, even if it meant shunning me. And, don't forget the time she scaled the run to get back to them.

I didn't get overly excited about any of that because I've always felt she's a little late maturing, physically and emotionally. I've had the feeling the round up was a bit dramatic for her and that she was separated from her mother too young. She has that huge, gnarly scar down her hind that speaks to some accident. My choice was to give her time to adjust before moving forward. My only other option would have been to separate her again, but that would be like taking two steps back. I'm not in any hurry, so why push her?

Lately I've been getting some signs that she's relaxing. 1.) I was in the barn with the kitties, and she entered a stall to see me and stood to be petted even though the other horses were around. She was relaxed and using her full brain, 2.) She approaches me in the pasture now, leaving the herd. 3.) She's gained weight and put on muscle. Ultimately, she's got to be able to go into the herd and come out of the herd seamlessly. After the wedding we'll find out if that's now the case.

I have a couple of reviews to share today, too. The first is on my new Verizon Samsung Charge 4G phone and second, our Verizon 4G wi/fi Mobile hotspot (I know others who follow the blog have this service and will be happy to find out it is super FAST!).

Droid Samsung Charge 4G:

It's like having an iPad, a smart phone, high def camera/video, video conferencer and a color Kindle all in one.

First, the camera. It is superb. There are actually two. There is a 1.3 megapixel on the front for video-conferencing and an 8 megapixel super-camera on the back. Here are some pictures I took with it as I was figuring it out. (There is still much to learn--like all the different modes you can choose and the finger-focus. The video is not shown, but I took a lot and it was all excellent as well.)


This next picture was taken when it was almost pitch dark out--the outer-edge of dusk. You can't even tell.

Here's a river you've seen a few times, but this picture was taken on the camera phone.

Second, the display. I've never seen such a vibrant display on a phone. It has a 4.3-inch, 480x800-pixel Super AMOLED Plus touch screen. The colors appear to shimmer, giving you super-high-quality video and images. I wanted a large screen so I could read my Kindle books and newspapers (which transfer easily from your Kindle account). I got more than I bargained for with this one. The touch-screen is quick to respond making navigation and viewing an enjoyable, rather than frustrating experience. I put my Samsung up to my sister's iPhone and the screen was much larger. Some people make not like this, but I think it's the perfect combo of all the technology I want in one place.

I don't know if these pictures capture it, but it gives you some idea of the color and size. Click here for more.

It came with 2 Gigs on board and a 32 gig card for a grand total of 34 gigs. You can plug the phone right into your computer to recharge it and download your video and pictures. It works like a storage card.

It was the most expensive phone they had there, but I love it. I think we paid $245 by the time it was over, but it came with a huge bundle: a case, bluetooth ear piece, car charger, home charger, screen protector, and a coupon for $25 of free video.

As for the 4G--what can I say? It has made me love the internet again. They told us that 4G signals go through things, whereas, 3G signals have to go around. Which leads me to my next review--

Verizon 4G Mobile Hotspot:

We live in the boonies, and when you live in the boonies, you get slow, decrepit internet service. Not anymore. We've had Verizon 3G Mobile Hotspots for years now, but they were kind of slow and if more than one person got on at a time it dragged the speed down to about null. When we were upgrading my phone (I had waited over a year to cash in on my upgrade--wanting to get the latest and greatest before I did)--we went ahead and upgraded our Mobile HotSpots at the same time.

What a difference! You have no idea how painful it used to be to wait for picture-heavy webpages to come up. Sometimes I just gave up and viewed half-loaded images. Video? No way! It could take me an hour to watch a two minute clip. The online watercolor course I took had a lot of video and I so, so, so wish I'd had these cards during that time. It would take me all day to download a fifteen minute clip.

I hope it stays this way now that I've gotten used to it. I'd be so sad to have to go back to slow internet. We're going to have to be careful though because we only get a 5 Gig allowance per card. It would be so easy to go over our limit now. (I believe my phone has unlimited data useage.)

Sidenote: Does anyone know how much data is transferred with XBox and Wii?

So far, I don't have a bad thing to say about either the 4G Hotspot or Samsung Charge. The more I use my phone, the more I love it.

Have any of you upgraded your blogs for the Droid? I haven't yet, but I'm going to do it right now. I really appreciate being able to read them on my phone, so why not make it easier for everyone to do so?

Do any of you have 4G? I hear they're coming out with a 5G somewhere (not here). Thoughts?

Friday, June 10, 2011

Iron Cowgirl

I have an idea for a new competition--maybe someone's already thought of it:

1. Catch, load, trailer, saddle your horse and ride three hours, then haul back.

2. Jump on a mountain bike and ride fifteen miles to and along the same trails you just rode your horse on--miss all the landmines you deposited while there with said horse, and ride back home--pushing your bike up the steep hills as your son patiently waits for you at the top.

3. To finish off the race, do three loads of laundry, make dinner, water all the plants, feed all the animals, groom a couple of horses and pour yourself a glass of whiskey.

If you can do all this, you're an IRON COWGIRL!

And yes, I AM an Iron Cowgirl, too.

Bad Start, Good Ending

I was getting ready to meet a friend for a trail ride today and when I went to get Cowboy, after having been off for a week, he walked away from me. What? Cowboy walk away?

I got ahead of him and he stopped, I haltered and led him to a stall. He went to the end of the run and stared at his herd. What? Cowboy herd bound?

I had to walk back to the house to get the pickup and hook up the trailer. On my way back to the barn, I spotted Cowboy charging the gate (the one Beautiful had scaled and bent) like he was going to jump. What? Cowboy crazy?

I hooked up the trailer, pulled it around, got Cowboy, led him to the trailer and he JUMPED in. this point I was starting to think my theory--the theory of doing very little or as little as necessary--was a stupid theory after all. I started to wonder if I should have been working with him more often and what it was going to look like out on the trail. Was this going to be my Dumping Day--the day I got dumped. (Having never been dumped, I know I'm up for it, so I'm just waiting for my day.)

When I pulled up to the trail head I warned my friend that my horse was not acting like himself. (When people talk like I did, it usually makes me nervous--like they're going to be making excuses for their horse's bad behavior the whole trip. Still, I couldn't stop myself. Is it the weather? Something in the air? Memories of a bad experience from the last time out? It can't be my horse--it MUST be something else. Right?) She made me feel a bit better when she let me know her horse was also acting crazy.

Okay, it's the weather. (wink, wink)

So, not knowing what kind of horse I had today, I saddled up and climbed on, and despite a loose, barking growling dog, getting lost, turning around on a dead-end trail so narrow Cowboy had to climb up a steep embankment and navigate himself back around, a tight water-crossing, a new horse (who was AWESOME, by the way), mosquito bites and swampy, deep mud--Cowboy did GREAT!

Which leads me to the same conclusion I've come to so often--you can't always judge how the day is going to go by the first five or ten minutes.

As to my other conclusion I've come to so often, doing the least amount to get the desired result, it stays least until I meet my Dumping Day.

Happy Trails! Hang on tight and stay in your saddles!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

On a Bicycle Built for Two

Daisy, Daisy,
Give me your answer do!
I'm half crazy,
All for the love of you!
It won't be a stylish marriage,
I can't afford a carriage
But you'll look sweet upon the seat
Of a bicycle built for two.

This was the song my grandfather always sang to our grandmother, substituting the Daisy for Thelma. They had matching his and hers cruisers and rode them on the beaches of San Diego, later giving them to us grandchildren who spray painted and rode them down the very steep Iroquois Way. What fun--like riding a horse at full gallop!

So, my husband and I got bit by the same bug my grandparents did--the next best thing to riding a horse, but much more of a workout (for us)--a bicycle built for two and matching Hybrids.

Yes, I've been self-propelling on the same trails I ride my horses on. Weird? Yes. I see it all from a different perspective now. People, please remove the manure from the asphalt!! (Hope that wasn't Cowboy's pile.)

Whoa Nelly, we're out of shape! Doing the push.

Afterward. Does this view look familiar? I've posted many a shot with Cowboy and me above this river.

Today we were at the bike shop and saw this tandem--the Hell Betty! Oh yeah. Now that's a stylin' tandem. Someone please buy this bike!

As I was pedaling today I was thinking--will this last? Will we keep up the bike riding? Is this going to be fun or is this going to be too much work? And I realized how much I'm like my horses.

#1--If we do too much on our first time out, I won't want to go again!

Take your horse out for an all day ride on their first ride out and I can pretty much guaruntee he'll be walking the other way the next day when you go to get him. Well, I'm like my horse. Push me too far on that bike the first day and I'll be making myself scarce when it comes time to ride again. I'm out of shape and it's going to take a bit of time to get back into shape.

#2--Be nice to me, don't fight, don't stress or I'll associate bike riding with bad vibes.

Uh-huh, just like my horse. He doesn't want to fight with me on the trail, he wants to explore and have fun. Today we had a mini-meltdown trying to secure our bikes in the bed of the truck. We need to fix that little glitch or else....

#3--End on a positive note!!

On our first ride out we made the almost-fatal mistake of parking up hill. Why could this be fatal? Well, you coast down-hill at the beginning when you have lots of energy and really want to pedal, then you work super hard pedalling up hill to get back to your car and are exhausted when you get there. It's all you can do to throw your bike back on the rack and walk to your door with jelly-legs and drive home.

Same with horses! They have lots of energy at the get-go so what better time to take that hill or mountain? They want to give it 100 percent and let loose--it's fun for them. My rule is that I'll run them away from the trailer, but we always walk back. It works on many different levels.

Today we parked down-hill with the bikes and rode the first part up and the last part coasting to the car. Now that's what I call fun, and I'm much more likely to want to go again.

Here we are:

In other news:

My husband's book--Blowing Smoke: Rethinking the Drug War, was picked up by a publisher. Congratulations to him for his many years of hard work in research and writing--it paid off and his ideas will now get a hearing.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Love Remains, Despite Divorce

(Our daughter's little feet on the day she was born--one of the happiest of my life.)

"And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love."

The graduation and party went off well, and I got to be with all three of my kids at the same time, which does not often happen. It was a beautiful weekend.

Divorce adds an interesting dynamic to these get-togethers--old family and new family converge to celebrate a shared love of the child you're there for--in this case, my daughter.

I've been lucky that we all get along so well and aunts, uncles, grandparents, cousins and parents can enjoy themselves together and enjoy each other. No one is left out. Because of that, my kids get to feel the huge amount of love that comes from having that many people who care about them all together at the same time.

I was impressed with how blessed my kids have been to be able to enjoy the love and seamlessness of a large family. They're all good people, and as I surveyed everyone there I was amazed at the big-heartedness of all present.

In ten days we have another wedding and family get-together on my husband's side. His youngest is marrying. We're getting really excited for this gathering as well. Lots of extended family coming to town and some of our out-of-town kids. It's going to be a wonderful celebration.

This will be his last wedding for his kids--the next ones will be for mine. When they do get married, if the graduation was a taste of it, I think they're going to be full of joy and love--a shared love for our kids that transcends everything else.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Graduation 2011!

What a Spring! Busy, Busy, as I'm sure everyone else's is, too. This week my BIG event is my daughter's high school graduation. Yes, it's that time--my second child will be moving into the bigger, adult world. I'll only have one left in school now and that just seems weird.

All week I've been preparing for her graduation party since it will be here at the house and all her family and friends are coming to town to for it. There could be as many as 100 and no less than 60 come through on Saturday. We've planted, cleaned the barn inside and out, the house inside and out and now all that is left is the baking--a bazillion Thai Chicken Pizzas--her favorite.

My other big project today, while I bake, is scanning all her childhood photos onto the computer and making a movie of her life that will play during the party. Bitter sweet moment.

There isn't a lot going on with the horses this week. They're enjoying the green grass and running the fenceline with the neighbor's brood mares and babies. I never did receive my Cashel fly mask, which makes me think I messed up the order in some way. I need to go back over my emails and see what happened. Maybe I didn't complete the order.

Here are some pictures from our projects of the last week.

See you all after the graduation!