Friday, August 30, 2019

Tumbleweed Progress, A UPF 50+ Shirt, A Screwed up Back, and Amazing Panties

As we enter September (I can't believe the year has passed so fast!) I started to wonder how many days I have trained or ridden my horses. (I didn't feel like it was very much)  Luckily, I started keeping a 5 year journal in January.  You write a little about each day in 2019, and then there are 4 other empty spaces for the same day underneath that.  In 2020, I'll be able to reflect on any given day, and and see what was happening the year before--and so on for 2021-2024.  Pretty cool. 

So, I counted up the days riding and/or training, and it's a whopping 70.  Not as good as last year, but not bad either.  I beat the heat by riding trails in the mornings, rotating between Cowboy and Leah.  And, I did a clinic and a couple of lessons with Tumbleweed.  I've also trailered him to the obstacle course a few times.

I'm really not sweating it with T'weed because I know I'm sending him to my trainer next summer and then the following summer from that. I feel like my only real objective is to bond and earn his respect.  The winter clinics will be happening next door, so I'll be taking him to those with, probably Leah.  He'll have plenty to do.

In truth, the real work is being done by Foxy, who is teaching him how to stay safe and be brave and smart.  She is the BEST role model and protector for him.  I owe her big.  She is a horse who does her job and loves people, too.

And Tweed is really starting to emulate her. Hooray!

He's starting to be an in-your-pocket kind of guy.  Not real emotional, but more people-seeking than  he used to be. 

Sweet Penny.  Such a lover girl.  

Back to Tumbleweed.  My farrier always assesses him when he's here trimming.  He likes his high pasterns, his steep hip, the shape of his hooves, and even that he's just a wee bit cow-hocked--which will change as he fills out.   His body is all over the place growing, but for a man who doesn't get impressed very often, he seems impressed with Tumbleweed.  Shirley can pat herself on the back for that one.

Not much else going on here.  I hurt my back sleeping on my husband's chest. He woke up suddenly and tweaked my neck.  It pulled something all the way down my back.  I was rather crippled for a few days and in such pain.  On the fourth day, I was pissed as hell, thinking what BS, ONE that my "injury" was from sleeping, rather than riding horses, and TWO, that resting was helping ZERO percent.  So, I asked my husband to saddle Cowboy, and a friend met me for an easy ride.  I felt almost back to normal afterward!!  But I wasn't out of the woods.  I'm still not, but it's much, much better than a week ago.  My brother is a PT, and he showed me some yoga stretches that have helped. 

Another item I want to blog about is sun protection on the trail.  We're out there for hours and that is not good for my/our skin. I wear a large brimmed hat, lots of sunscreen, and I've added a UPF 50+ Eddie Bauer "Departure" Long-sleeved shirt. 

I'm really impressed with the way it breathes--even on hot days. It's a slim fitting, tailored shirt with sturdy metal buttons.  I liked it so much, I bought three--and they're almost sold out.  But then I found more of them, in new colors, and I ordered four more.  UNFORTUNATELY, like my previous panty peeve--they changed this shirt up!!  It is no longer slim fit and they have plastic buttons!  So I may send the last four shirts back.

Why do companies do this??  To save money?

Well, anyway, I have my three that I like, and they are a great riding and hiking shirt.

Speaking of panties, I finally found a panty I like at Nordstrom.  They're not cheap, but they are pretty awesome. Chantelle, a French, stretchy, no-seam wonder.  3/$48.  They're a one size fits all, which I was skeptical about, but to my surprise, they are comfy.  I'm sure they'll do something to ruin these, too.  LOL.  So, you better hurry if you want any. 

Well, that's about all that's going on here.  Sorry to be so darn boring!  Happy trails!!

Friday, August 16, 2019

Reacquainting Myself With Wonder & Deep, Deep Gratitude

Ah, yes,
it is still in me to wonder
at the sound of wind through ferns,
a great symphony, a song,
not much different than grace.
Hear it play notes, like words.
Hear it say, 
             love, love,
like this perfect day, perfect moment
to see our world alive, and singing.

I know some of you have experienced extreme, record-breaking heat this summer, but here in the great NW, we have had one of our loveliest summers, and our forests have had a reprieve from the ravages of fire, thanks to sporadic rainfall.  I've seen more life in our mountains than ever before.  More pine-cones.  More morel mushrooms. More flowers.  More huckleberries.

My husband and I love to ride horses AND we also love to hike together.  Picking huckleberries along our path is an extra bonus.  And what's better, we get to share them with family and friends.  But being out in nature...oh my, what a gift.

"I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived." Henry David Thoreau
I remember reading that in college when I was 19, taking a class called "Wilderness Studies."  It was probably the most life-changing quote for me.  It has inspired many uncharted paths because I did not want to live with regrets, or find that "I had not lived." 

the sound of wind through ferns is not much different than grace.

That's what I feel when I'm out in nature--either trail riding or hiking. My dad used to look out over it all and say he saw God there.  I look out at it all and see grace.

a : unmerited divine assistance given to humans for their regeneration or sanctification
We went to see Les Miserable last week, for the upteenth time, and I cried and cried, yet again.  I especially wept at the last scene where Jean Valjean dies.  It's that last song where he's called home.  That's how I feel when I look at the beauty of the world.  My heart swells with gratitude and the feeling of that divine element of grace for all creation.  And, a oneness with it all.

I'm not a religious person, but last winter I told a dear friend of mine, a devout Catholic, that I would like to have a rosary of  my own.  I've often searched for one in my travels, but oddly, never found one I wanted to buy. Two days later, being the wonderful person that she is, ....I had my rosary.  Handmade, by her.

Last week I thanked her again and told her that I use it everyday, and give thanks for something at every bead.  That made her happy, and she heartily approved.  I do this before my yoga, and it has become my favorite part of the day.  I can't wait to pick up those beads and start giving thanks!

Ah, yes,
it is still in me to wonder
at the sound of wind through ferns,...

Running a busy clinic had really taken a toll on my spirit.  Dealing with insurance companies and payments and difficult people--it was making it harder to feel that sense of awe.  I was starting to believe it was gone forever--just another casualty of aging.  Cynicism. But no, it wasn't gone, it was just latent and malnourished.

There is a whole lot in this world to be in awe about.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Non-Horse People Are Pretty Much Clueless

I don't mean my title in a bad way, it's just the truth.  As I would be "clueless" about what many sports entail, so are non-horse people clueless about what a horse person accomplishes.

I credit that ignorance to pony rides and paid trail rides where the horses/ponies are taught to repeat a task over and over until they're on auto-pilot.

A twenty year relationship with a horse does begin to create a similar dynamic, but we all know what it takes to get to that point.

There's so much that goes into horsemanship: feed, water, cleaning stalls, wound care, vitamins, medicine, bathing, training, riding, ...teaching manners...comforting, when they're frightened. Being a detective.

When I take new riders out, I always ask them to be detectives.  What did you notice about your horse while you were saddling up and grooming?  What do you notice now? They'll tell me about what their horses were doing and acting like, if they may have been favoring a leg, where their ears are, how they're walking out, who they're paying attention to, whether they want to follow or lead....and on and on.

So much of what we do is honing our skills of observation.

And we do that with the environment, too.  Is there a jogger coming up behind?  A biker ahead? A deer laying in the trees, ready to spring up and surprise us?  A down log?  A washed out trail?  We have to survey the world around us and prepare our horses for whatever may come.  And, if we both miss it, we have to be able to comfort and/or control our horse's fear response.

Being out on the trail is a culmination of everything we do in the training ring.  We walk, trot, lope--maybe even gallop. We keep our heads up and look where we're going, rather than on our horse's feet ("Look down, fall down," I say to the trainees), we listen to our partners and give them a little pat of understanding here and there, a little thanks and praise at other times, and we keep ourselves balanced so that our horses can balance themselves.

There's a lot that goes on as a new rider learns to understand, communicate with, and trust their horse, and I don't think kids get enough credit for it.

So, this is a shout-out to those who do this--kids and adults both.  Non-horse people may not understand what monumental feat you just accomplished,...

but we, horse people, do.

and BRAVO!

OH, and we also have to know how to haul a trailer...and fix a this.

Monday, August 12, 2019

The Final Photo Shoot & a Bunch of First Rides

The final photos are here, and we think they turned out quite special. 

When a horse and human are connected, it's easy to bring that out in photos.  There's just a softness and a tenderness between the two.

But also...

my daughter knew what she wanted.  She had examples to give the photographer, her friend Britt Harvey.  She knew what she wanted to wear...and for her husband to wear.  LOL.

And about that smoke bomb...

Believe it or not, I am holding Cowgirl.  I was about five feet out in front of her and asking her to stand quietly.

I'm in the process of scheduling my own photo-shoot, and I'm thinking it will be more towards the beginning of September, because I love fall.


There has been another theme this summer, and it's "First Trail Rides."  I've had the pleasure of going on three "first trail rides" with three different 11 year olds. When I say "first," I mean in two cases a true first time on actual trails, and one who had done a (one) short trail ride before that, so in many ways, it was also like her first as there was so much to learn about sitting back, leaning forward, staying centered, and trusting your horse not to fall off steep hills.

It is a bit scary leading kids on "first trail rides" because there's so much responsibility to keep them safe, and I'm the only adult there to make that happen.  I want it to be fun for them, but also a little bit challenging--but not too challenging.  All three had clinics and lessons and lots of arena riding time ahead of this.

All three rides worked out very well with only one mishap with a sliding saddle.  Thankfully, I had anticipated that possibility, and I had told the rider ahead of time, if for any reason she felt the saddle slipping, to tell me immediately.  And she did.  It was slipping because she was leaning away from the drop-offs--a very common thing for green riders to do.  Once we figured that out, and talked about it, she knew to stay center to keep her saddle centered, AND to help her horse stay balanced.

The other theme is keeping Cowboy going, as I wrote about before, and today I'm doing a solo ride with him.  We had rain for the last couple of days and a major, much-needed cooling off.  Today, it's sunny and in the 70's.  This has been the greatest summer I can remember for moderate temperatures and healthy pastures.  I'm so thankful for that because it's giving me many opportunities for trail rides with my boy.

So, off I go!

Happy Trails to you all!

Monday, August 5, 2019

A Professional Photo With Your Heart Horse

Do you have a beloved photo with your heart horse?  I have many that I like a lot, but I've never had one taken professionally.  My daughter has told me for years and years that she wanted one taken with her heart-horse, Cowgirl.  She even wanted her senior pictures with her, but it didn't work out.  Her photographer was a bit of a flake.

But recently, her friend, who is just starting out in photography, offered to do the honors.  They all converged here at our little ranch last Saturday.

I guess I should backtrack just a second to say that we had been working with Cowgirl and smoke bombs.  Yes, smoke bombs.  My daughter thought it would be rather magical to have a few photos engulfed in colorful smoke.  No easy feat when horses are scared to death of smoke and fire.  But we did our best to desensitize her beforehand. 

When it came time, Cowgirl didn't do anything crazy when they were let off, but she wanted to turn and face them, whereas the camera was on the opposite side.  I assisted in several photos to hold Cowgirl, and I hope to show you very soon the photos that correspond.

My daughter is very elegant, a quality she got from her grandmother, not me.  Where I am a jeans and boots gal, she is a long and flowing dress gal.

Seeing her and Cowgirl together, though, melted my mama's heart.  My daughter was going through a tough time when she found Cowgirl as a weanling on Dreamhorse in 2004.  She had endured her parent's divorce, the death of her previous horse, and a few other things.

She still had Red, our horse who lived to be 37, but she wanted to raise a baby, and she was very determined.  I wasn't as keen on her raising a baby at that time, but she saved up just enough money to buy the palomino horse she found (all by herself on Dreamhorse) which turned out to be Miss Cowgirl.

I consented and made her a deal that she had to pay for the horse and earn half of the keep--to include training, feed, board, etc.  And, upon graduation from school, she was to assume 100% of her keep.  The other part of my deal was that I'd only pay half of her training IF my daughter participated in all of it with the trainer.

She did it, and here they are still together after all these years.

Cowgirl has such a love for her.  Horses know who their people are.

We don't have the pictures from the photographer yet, the ones above were done on my phone, but she did send her a picture of a picture that she'll be developing.

I'll share the finished photos with you when she gets them.

It has made me think that I need a professional session with my own heart horse before it is too late.  I want to do this same thing with Cowboy.

Of course, I'll be wearing jeans and boots if I do.

Have any of you had professional photos taken with your horses?