Thursday, December 31, 2009

So Long, 2009, You Weren't One of my Favorite Years....

I thought about listing all the stuff that went on for me, and my family, in '09, stuff that really tried our stamina and emotions at times. From health issues to weather issues to my dad's passing-but have decided to concentrate in the newness of the upcoming New Year.

Can't change what came to pass and dwelling on it does nothing.

We got through it.

We know it was basically a bad year for us.

Time to march onward.

So, right here and now I am saying GOODBYE to 2009.

Welcome 2010 and all the promise of a much better year.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Seaons Change

Since I last checked in here, some changes have occurred. Change can be good. Not necessarily comfortable for some of us, but good none the less.

The season changed from fall to winter for us here in the Northern Hemisphere. We are definitely feeling winter in Southern Ohio today! Some snow, cold and wind. However, from what I've seen in the news, we have gotten off lucky so far. Probably won't last. Our worst winter months are Mid-January through Mid-February. Seems we started early this year. I am so relieved to finally have a consistent hay supply!

Christmas Eve brought a pleasant and memorable gathering at our house. In the twenty-seven years I've been married, we have always gone to my parents' house for Christmas Eve. This year, after my dad's passing in November, we brought Mom out here for the day. I knew this would be a hard time of year for her, having spent the past 54 years with my dad on Christmas and New Years'. Both my sons were here along with #1's wife and son #2's girlfriend. I can honestly say it was a rewarding and loving evening. 

One moment of my own, I looked up at the top of our Christmas tree and noticed Dad's special ornament sparkling. Imagined or not, I felt his presence and my heart warmed. All the people in that room, were all the people he cared about most in his life and he would be happy we were all together.

Now, that part done, time for me to be on the down-slide. Usually, by Christmas Day, I am ready to be done with it all. Actually, this year, I was done about a week ago, but wanted to be in as good spirits as possible for my sons. I pulled it off, and honestly, I might add. But, by the next day, the old bear in me descended and I've been trying to grumble out of what seems a lengthy bad mood. It's a daily chore.

A positive change for #2 son, he landed a job! That is really the best part of our new beginning, at least that's how I see it.  The past year, 2009, will go down as a tragic and trying year for our family, but I feel a change in the air for us. And, in my end of year post in a few days, I'm going to review 2009, and officially let it go into the wind. I feel a change and I feel it's good.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Days Roll On

I looked at my calendar this past week and nearly fell over realizing Thanksgiving was already upon us. November is drawing to a close. Looking back over the past month,even the past year, the days are hazy. Surreal. We've had alot going on around here this year. But I guess that happens sometimes in our lives.

After my dad's passing on November 3, I seem to have some kind of transformation going on. It's hard to describe. One thing I do know, after the experience, I feel I can handle anything now. Your worst fears are often those you must face head on and when you do, and it's over, you find something in you has changed. At least that's how I feel now.

Through all the events of this past year Bo, Spirit, Maggie, Lucy and Buddy the cat, have all been distractions when times got rough. Distractions in a good way. Our animal buddies give us more than we can ever repay them for, but then, they never think of it that way. They just accept us as we are, and listen when we want to tell our troubles, or need to cry. I am always grateful to have them around even when I grumble sometimes, about going out on these cold mornings. Without them in my life, well, it just wouldn't be the same.

So, the holidays are approaching and will be here and gone before we know it. This year, I will enjoy every moment of time spent with my family. The days roll on and if you don't stop to really feel them, and enjoy those around you, you'll miss the best parts of life.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

One Journey Ends

Tuesday, the ringing of an early morning phone starteled me awake. I'd had very little sleep since Friday evening, when my dad was admitted to the hospital. I knew who was calling. The night nurse from the hospice center quietly, and compassionately told me that Dad had taken a turn for the worse, his breathing was very shallow.

Upon arriving at the hospice center, the night nurse rushed to me, taking my arm, giving me a hug. She was crying, and told me to hurry. I remember running to Dad's room, grasping his hand. He was still with us. Brenda told me she had been with him all night and when she saw he was slipping, she told him to hang in there. She said she kept telling him to hold on, that I was coming. He did. I held his hand and stroked his head as he passed, something I never thought I'd ever do for anyone. I'd never even imagined such a thing. But, it was beautiful, even though his frail body looked nothing like the man he once was. I talked to him, told him it was OK, Mom and I were with him, he could go........we'd be OK. He would be concerned about us, even at the end. In about five minutes, as I talked to him, he quietly, peacefully, slipped away. I held his hand until the warmth of his hand began cooling and I knew his life's journey had ended.

The previous evening, my two sons, and our daughter-in-law, spent the evening at the hospice center with us. My sons were able to visit with Dad. The hospice nurses assured me the sound of a familiar voice, and a familiar touch transcend to the soul. I believe that to be true.

My oldest son had not seen his grandpa for over a month. I warned him before he entered the room that he might be startled by how Grandpa appeared. #1 son bravely stood by his grandpa's bed, talking to him for a few minutes. Then, when he walked out of the room, he broke down. His wife, not having seen him so vulnerable, consoled him. I saw her compassion for his pain in her face. My two sons had always been close to their grandpa. #2 son had been witness to Dad's decline over the weekend, but still, later that evening, I was told he broke down in his girlfriend's arms. How wonderful these two young men had such an abounding love for their Grandpa. It makes me so proud and I know how proud Dad has always been of them. They were his life in his later years.

My mom has been through so much the past five years. She is tired. She is worn out. She never thought she could do the things she did to care for Dad these last years. They've been together for fifty-three years. She has been saying goodbye for along time. This past weekend has been extraordinarily hard for her, yet, the release has come, and I feel a sense of calm from her. I know she'll be lonely at times, but as she has told me, Dad has been leaving for quite some time and she has been ready. We are all going to be around for her.

Mom told me to make the decisions this past weekend, so I did. By Saturday, I simply told God to guide me, help me do the right thing. I opened up, I listened and I was led. In the end, Dad had a dignified and compassionate end to a long, fruitful life. At times over the past couple of years, he's felt useless. The COPD left him housebound. I took him to his doctor's appointments, but it became too hard for him to do much else.

My dad was my first hero, and my biggest fan. Even this weekend, when I would walk into his room he would smile when he saw me, as much as he could muster. The nurses on duty said he always perked up when I was there. A memory I can cherish. We had a wonderful father-daughter bond and I do know how much I meant to him. I can only hope he knew how much he has meant to me. He took care of me when I was sick. He always took me with him on his errands when I was a kid. His unconditional love is always with me. He was the strong one in our family of three when I was growing up. He was involved in my activities when I was a child. He was involved with my sons' soccer teams. He was so happy for me the day my horses came. He was and always will be the most special man in my life. He is what all fathers should be..... a true Dad.

This is how I saw my dad: Anyone can be a father, it takes someone special to be a dad. And so he was.

We are having a small, private, family memorial service and then my sons and I will be scattering his ashes up on our hill overlooking the valley where my horses are pastured. Mom says, Dad would want to be near me and he always knew how I love my horses. I think she's right. Even in his last days he would ask me about "the boys", meaning my horses, because he knew how much they mean to me. He always wanted me to be happy.

Today is our memorial service and looks like we'll have a beautiful weekend. My sons and I are planning to hike up on the hill one last time with Dad, and there, we will release him, and we will say goodbye, until we meet again...................but the Love Remains.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Sad part of the journey...

Lately, my mind has been elsewhere. My dad is very ill. My mom is trying to care for him at home. She is experiencing her own severe stress and depression in trying to be his caregiver. He is still somewhat mobile and can do minor things, but he seems to be deteriorating the past two weeks. He's 81 and has had numerous medical problems since 2001. I feel fortunate to live close to them so I can help when needed, but I often feel inadequate. Just last night Hubby got home from working over-time, and I blubbered for about thirty minutes to him. He is such a sweetheart. A guide during my periods of self involvement. Right now, I need to remember this time is not about me it's about my dad. This is not an easy journey right now, but I keep trying to find the right path.

So, because of this particular part of my life, other areas are pushed aside. I know, as Hubby tells me, I need to remember myself in all of this or I won't be any good to my parents. I hope I can be strong, and I'm always asking for courage. I wanted to keep this blog up. I wanted to share stories about my horses, my dogs, and the things that make me happy. But for now, I may be a little more on the sad side. I know I should keep my mind busy on other things, and I'll try. I am an empathetic type who tends to absorb the feelings and emotions of those around me. This trait makes decisions difficult unless I block the emotions and get back to my logical way of thinking.

So, if you're reading, and you find I've dipped into the well of sadness, this is why.

I am an only child, my dad has always been my rock throughout my life. I want to do what's best for him. Right now, I'm not sure what that is.........I'm praying for guidance each day.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Taking your OWN advice seriously...

Ever since I've had my two horses, Bo and Spirit, I have emphasized the importance of "safety first" when around them, to my family members, who are in contact with them daily. This means my husband, and #2 son, who is still currently living at home.

I've had my geldings for five years. I worked at a riding facility, as an assistant, for almost three years, helping kids learn to ride safely. You'd think I'd be the one to heed my own warnings.

Sometimes, I guess, we think we're not in the same category as our non-horsey family members. We get a little careless.

The other evening I didn't listen to the little voice in my head. Not so much words as a feeling. Isn't that what the little voice is?

I decided to let my two guys out into the front field. It was evening, and time to let them go out to that field for about an hour. It's actually not a big field, but to them, I think it means a different view with a few more sprouts of grass than what the boring back field provides

Spirit, always the eager one, always trying to please, was right at my heels, but politely a few feet behind me. I thought it a little odd he was walking alone. I looked back and saw Bo still standing by the water tank watching us. He thought he was going to go out the gate by the water tank, which is the way to the fresh growing grass near the front of our house. My husband and I do put them out there off and on, but not every evening. Bo was biding his time, evidently thinking Spirit and I were going the wrong way. He had other plans. Bo is always right. Never wrong. One of those types!

So, it apparently dawns on Bo that Spirit and I are continuing to walk toward the front field gate instead of walking back toward him, so he hurries to catch up.

Now, I am not afraid of being between two horses. My guys have always been polite. I usually walk between them, their heads at my shoulders, on our way to the front field gate in the mornings. No lead ropes, no halters, just quietly walking with me. They quietly stand at the gate as I open it. I tell them to wait, they do. Then they quietly walk out into the field.

This time, I didn't take into consideration, didn't even think about it, well, should have listened to my inner voice, that it wasn't a good idea. The feeling was there. I should have made sure Bo was on the right, just like in the mornings. It may seem silly, but he gets a little edgy if he doesn't get his way. Bo is a bossy one though he doesn't get away with the attitude with me, he does with Spirit. I spend alot of time calling him off his reprimands, as in nips, of the little guy when they are in the corral and stall area. Bo stops when I yell at him to "Quit". Spirit usually just tries to avoid him anyway. Bo is a jealous type. I've heard it said horses don't get jealous, well, I think they do and he proves it to me often.

I really am not clear about the series of events. I've tried to piece it together but it was one of those two second episodes that when it's over you're left thinking "WHAT THE HELL JUST HAPPENED?". I'm usually more polite in my language, but that's exactly how I felt.

Somehow, Spirit got between me and the gate, I think he was trying to get away from Bo, who was walking up behind. Then, somehow Bo got in front of me and Spirit, turned his big butt and tried to kick Spirit. Bo's hoof clipped my left hip. Man, did that HURT!!!! I've been kicked in the arm before, by a small horse at the stable I used to work at, but I must say, this was really painful. It was a fuller kick by a much bigger animal.

I had a grooming brush in my hand because I'd been grooming them both in the stall area, and hadn't laid it down. I instantly threw the grooming brush at Bo's big butt. Yes, he has a big butt! He ran away, Spirit following. Of course, I had yelled a few words I honestly don't usually use so the outburst must have made my anger clear to both of them. Probably my body language too. I was hurting and I was mad.

Well, the pain in my hip concerned me that something may have been cracked, like my hip bone. Good thing I have lots of hip padding! I think it would have been much worse if I were a smaller person. I do have middle age, extra padding that's sometimes good for something!

No one was home at the time. Just me. I kept walking around. Tears filling my eyes. I was afraid to sit down. Afraid I wouldn't be able to get back up. My left leg was feeling weak, like it might give out. I was a little frightened. I calmed myself down. Told myself to just keep walking around a little while. As long as I could walk, I told myself, I really wasn't hurt that badly. Finally, after about thirty minutes, I decided I'd better go in the house, get some water, take a couple of ibuprofen and just sit down.

I survived. I have a very large, ugly red and blue bruise on my left hip today. I'm sure it'll be an uglier black and blue in a couple of days. The area is sore. I can feel it when I walk, a little painful. I realize, it could have been worse.

I have reprimanded myself for being so careless. It had been such a simple task, but that's usually when we are caught off guard in the first place. I usually watch for the signs. That evening, I don't know where my mind was, but I wasn't being careful. I knew it as soon as the events unfolded, or rather after the fact. I've always tried to keep safety first. It's more than important, it's essential.

So, for anyone who has encountered a lapse of being in the present when dealing with their horses, I'd like to know how you handled it. What was your lapse of "safety first"? How did it manifest itself? What did you learn from the episode?

I always thought I didn't take things like safety for granted, but all of us can sometimes get careless, especially when it concerns ourselves. Maybe we're being reminded when we are getting too careless. Unfortunately, sometimes the results are much worse. Be safe, not sorry.

Friday, September 11, 2009


The essential joy of being with horses is that it brings us in contact with the rare elements of grace, beauty, spirit, and fire. ~Sharon Ralls Lemon

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Lazy Daze of Summer

Been taking a self-imposed break from some of my responsibilities. Ok, should probably just be called lazy. But, everyone gets that way sometimes.

August seems to have vanished without a trace. I don't remember doing much that would be considered constructive. I did get my son and daughter-in-law's wedding pictures printed, finally, after a year! They've been stored in the computer. I hadn't taken the time to decide which ones I wanted to put in the album. Guess I'll count that as being constructive. Sometimes this computer stuff makes one lazy. I mean, I had the pictures THERE, so why bother putting them in an album. I may not have even done that if it weren't for the fact #1 son and his bride had given us an engraved album last year.

Last week we had gorgeous weather. Hubby took a week's vacation. We hoped it would be less stressful than the vacation he took in July, which actually ended up being a bust. That vacation time we spent cleaning up after a flash flood off of the hills and then poor Hubby got sick with some kind of flu bug. Took him a month to get over that stuff! The doc said it wasn't the dreaded H1N1, just plain old flu/cold. This time, he got to enjoy his time off, just doing some little odds 'n ends he'd wanted to do. We took a couple of day trips, one in the Jeep, one on the motorcycle. I can certainly understand his reluctance to head back to his 8-4:30 routine today. But, as I remind him, be thankful to have that 8-4:30.

The horses wait for me to do something constructive with them. They are so patient. Well, realistically, they have no choice.

At least I'm done with my medical issues, for the time being. Had to have one more body scan to make sure there were no remaining thyroid tissue. Three weeks of the low iodine diet, again, then running to the doctor and hospital the last week of August.

So, time to change things up a little. Get busy and get out of this late summer whatever it is! Life doesn't wait so patiently, it continues on no matter how lazy we get with our personal time.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Horse and Rider Editorial Article

I wanted to take a moment to point out a really great editorial piece in the August issue of Horse and Rider Magazine. I still enjoy getting a few magazines. I don't read everything online. The feel of a new magazine in my hands is still a guilty pleasure. Horse and Rider has been a staple in my mailbox for quite few years. I've downsized my magazine list, but never Horse and Rider!

Sue M. Copeland's editorial "Of Girls & Horses" is superb! I felt every word of it. Sue wrote how I felt growing up. I'm sure many of you who read these various horse blogs felt, or still feel, the same way. I especially loved the part about "horse genes". I believe some people just have it, some don't and if you don't you can never truly understand how a real horse person sees their horses or why we are the way we are about them. We don't even understand it we've just felt it all our lives.

So, if you get Horse and Rider or if you get a chance to pick one up, read Sue M. Copeland's editorial on page 8.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Speckles 'n Shines

Summer camp time so I was thinking about one of the first horses who left some hoof prints in my life.

I don't have a ton of years' worth of horses to remember. I didn't get started in an actual "horse life" until five years ago when I took a job as part-time riding instructor, but more staff, at a Girl Scout summer camp and then working at the year around stable as program staff. This was before I had horses of my own. Since I didn't feel as knowledgeable in the skills of riding beyond beginner level, I focused on the horses. There were some characters!

One fella who became one of my favorites was a little Appaloosa gelding, who I still believe was more POA (Pony of the Americas) than Appy, but, that's what his papers stated. Speckles was all of 14H, if that. Just right for most of the girls we had in our horseback riding classes at summer camp.

When I first met him, Speckles was fifteen years old. Brown with the blanket rump of white spots. His eyes told me something was definitely going on in there. Speckles was for the most part a mellow guy who did have a penchant for stepping on human feet and nipping at arms when his front feet were picked up for cleaning. At first I thought the girls weren't being careful but as time went on, it became apparent to me that Speckles knew what he was doing. He had a mischievous side and, I believe, got some enjoyment from human reactions to his little acts of naughtiness.

In my three years with him, he stepped on my right foot three different times leaving nasty bruises. He nipped my upper arm once when I was working on his front foot, which got him body checked into the side of the stall leaving him to look at me in a "What the......what just happened?" expression. And he kicked my forearm as I turned him out one day. I accept the consequences for that one because I shouldn't have released him like I did, back end closer to me than his front end. He was always a quick little stinker and was excited to be out in the field that winter morning kicking up his heels quicker than I anticipated.

During summer camp trail rides we discovered Speckles didn't like being the lead horse, but he didn't like being at the back either. So, he ended up being number two in the line up when we took girls out on the Friday morning trail rides. He apparently approved of that position.

When we tried him in the front he would balk, he would turn around, he was simply not a leader. When we tried him farther back, he hurried too much often getting right up into the rear of the horse in front of him and once or twice, taking off to get closer to the head of the line. We had a different group of girls every week and they were always beginner riders who'd had at least three summers of the camp program, so it was our job to figure out what was safe. By the third week of camp, we had figured out, Speckles needed to be number two and he was comfortable as well as much more manageable for his inexperienced riders in that position.

Some horses are better leaders, some are better followers, Speckles was a follower who never wanted to be the top horse, but was never the bottom horse either.

Another of Speckles little quirks was that he could unlock certain gates. We had to fix those gates with a chain as well as the regular gate lock. How he figured out the gate lock, only he knows. But there were times when we'd gotten to work and all the horses from his field would be munching grass in the open field. Lee, the manager, said she was sure it was Speckles because every time it happened, it was his field and he was the newest horse in the field. He had the nickname Houdini for a while.

Speckles also liked to entertain by twirling a halter and lead rope around while holding them in his mouth. We discovered this by accident. One day, after a program, a halter and lead rope had been dropped near Speckles. Next thing we notice, Speckles is standing there twirling them in his mouth like a cowboy with a lasso, which is what it looked like. The girls were laughing and giggling. He enjoyed the attention from his little trick, stopping to get a better grip, then twirling again. Unfortunately, we encouraged it and he would try to grab a lead rope just to twirl it. After a while, Lee told us to quit allowing him to do it. But it was so much fun to see him play like that!

For a long time I wasn't that fond of Speckles, that is, until I got to know him better. After summer camp had ended that season, Lee had the opportunity to keep some of the summer horses, with the option to buy the following August, after summer camp concluded. She chose four, Speckles was one of them. The summer camp horses, twenty of them, had been leased for the summer, the other sixteen would go back to Illinois. There were the eight year around horses stabled at the ranch.

After getting settled in for a few weeks that September our Fall weekend programs began. Speckles was always a trooper in the arena, but he had his little quirks. Don't all horses have quirks? You just learn how to deal with them. Speckles was always used in our weekend programs. He was dependable under saddle though he had a problem with walking. That was one of his quirks. He didn't want to walk he wanted to trot all the time, which is not a good thing when working with beginning riders, although gave his rider a challenge.

Before every program we always matched horse with rider experience. We attempted to make sure Speckles would be assigned riders who were a little more authoritative with a little more experience than the riders who were assigned Gloria,or Koko, both the kind of horses who took care of their riders. Gloria and Koko rarely did more or less than was asked of them. Naturally, sometimes, we didn't always get it right. Speckles needed to know he wasn't going to be getting his way. He would always take advantage of his riders if he figured out they weren't going to be firm with him. He'd stop and munch grass. Trot to the rail. Trot towards one of us. Stop in the center of the arena. Keep going instead of stopping. He could figure his rider out quickly too. I watched him do it over and over during summer camp. If he was ridden to his specifications of what a rider should be, he was great!

During out winter months Lee assigned us horses to work with until March. That's how I became better acquainted with Speckles. He was one of my winter project horses. I wanted to work on his walking and his nipping habit. We made alot of progress that winter. We got to a point where he would not even turn his head when I lifted his front feet. He would walk instead of trot when cued.

When weather got better we took the horses on trail rides to get them ready for our spring programs. Some of our horses were great arena horses, others were better at trail. Speckles was an excellent trail horse. I think the fact that he was so smart is why he did so well at trails. The trail offered him a challenge, something different. He preferred to be challenged. He would often become bored with the arena work.

I remember one trail ride where he shined through, and one where.......well, not so much.

On one of our practice trail rides my co-worker and friend, Lori, and I rode a trail that wasn't often used by us or the summer campers. There was an extra steep, rocky hill. Here in Southern Ohio, our beautiful hills are part of the smaller Appalachian Mountain chain and are also known as The Foothills to the Smokys. Smaller versions of the Smoky Mountains.

At first when I looked down from the top, I thought "Nope, we're walking down this one." But then Lori, who is a great horsewoman and natural rider, took her horse down and of course, I figured, well, I could do it on Speckles. The little guy didn't let me down! He was sure footed all the way. He never balked, he didn't refuse when I asked, he just put it in gear and there we went. Now, I will say, on the way back when we had to go up, he looked up the steep incline, actuallyglanced back at me as if to say "I don't think so!" Lori and her horse had already begun climbing so I asked Speckles one more time, with a little more emphasis on my ask and he was off. Picked his way up carefully and quickly, never missing a step. I was proud of the little pony. I had decided he was more pony than horse by then, but it didn't matter, he saw himself as a horse and no doubt, a big horse. Don't all ponies think of themselves that way? I think this was probably the first time I started admiring Speckles.

Now, his less than stellar incident happened during one of our weekend programs. We'd taken a group of girls on a trail ride. Speckles had been acting a little antsy, I thought, but the girl who was on him had ridden him the previous season so I figured she had him under control.

We were getting near the barn, which was in view, but a field away. The line stopped while we all waited for Lori, the last rider, to close the gate to the field we'd just walked through. I was in the middle of the line and walked Ginger back that way. If I couldn't have Speckles on trail rides, Ginger was my ride. She was more of a handful for most of the beginner girls anyway. In the meantime, I heard a commotion up front. I turned Ginger and the only thing I saw was Bailey, a rather temperamental twenty-something Arabian mare, kick Speckles with both barrels. One of the riders on either Bailey or Speckles, screeched, as girls will do. I then saw Speckles rise up on his back legs, dumping the rider and before we knew it he had headed across the field for the barn. The girl was fine, though a bit jolted. She jumped right up from the ground. All our girls wore helmets as well as those of us on staff. I can't really blame Speckles although I was told Speckles had been dancing around and bumped Bailey, which in turn is what caused Bailey to react the way she did, Bailey being Bailey, exciteable and often touchy when other horses invade her space let alone bump into her rump.

Back at the barn, Speckles was happily munching on grass in the front yard. Lee was not happy with Speckles. After the program ended and all the girls had left, Lee said she was going to take Speckles back out and make sure he walked back to the barn a few times. In all honesty, after the lapse of time and the event as it occurred, I didn't really think it would curb Speckles enthusiasm much. I had learned by working with him, he'll gladly work with you if he feels you know what you're doing, guess I had him buffaloed a bit, but he was one to take care of himself and when Bailey kicked him, in an instant, he decided he was heading for greener pastures.

I drove by the ranch a month ago, just to see if Speckles was still around. You never know what can happen with an organization. I was relieved to see him grazing out in the field with the other horses and I remembered, he is now twenty. I am hoping he gets a good retirement at some point. I had even thought, if those horses were ever sold, I wouldn't mind bringing him home, but I'd definitely have to think that through.

In my mind, Speckles will always shine. The little Appy-POA who taught me a few things about horses, and ponies, in my equine journey.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Blink of an Eye

However I decide to think about it, the past week has been either where did the time go, or, my goodness, will it ever end?

Last Friday evening, (July 10th), Hubby started his long awaited vacation week. He and #2 son helped my hay supplier bale hay. Son was paid in cash. Hubby was paid in hay bales. I shouldn't have to worry about hay this year. It's good looking Timothy hay too, which my horses love.

Saturday (July 11) I go to fix my first morning pot of coffee. Sadly, I can't function without my coffee. I turn the cold water on and it's slowly trickling from the faucet. OK, I know what this means. Yep, sure enough, a water main break up the road in the neighbor's field. I was able to dribble enough water in the coffee pot to get a decent brew.

Fortunately, the water company had the line fixed by 1pm. That wasn't the normal routine a few years ago, but I'm happy their service has improved. We are part of a private water company because the county water system wouldn't run lines out here back in the late '70's. In the past, the service has been less than stellar. When a water line broke, we were without water for quite some time especially over a weekend.

Saturday, late afternoon. Storm blows in from the north. Those are always the worst.

We are surrounded by forested hills which offer some protection from the heaviest of winds but that day also brought torrential rain (six inches in 45 minutes I was told) and a flash flood of water and debris off of the hills, through the creek and into the run-in stall, corral, shed and garage.

For the first part of the storm I was keeping an eye on the creek that runs beside the field. Water was pooling in both fields. Heavy downpours and wind. Finally after about 45 minutes of this I peeked out the back door looking over toward the corral area and was horrified to see water raging like a river over the horse bridge, which is the bridge Hubby built over the creek bed for the horses to cross out into their fields. Naturally I throw on rain coat and run out. Shouldn't have wasted time with the rain coat, ended up shedding it anyway. Just as I got out there the "river" ran into the stall, over and through the fence slats, and flooded the area where the tractor is stored and into the garage. No way to stop it. We've never had anything like this in the past.

The horses are walking around in their stall with water up over their pasterns and rising. Naturally I am still horrified and downright mad because Hubby and sons didn't follow me out the door. As if Hubby could have stopped the raging river! He can do alot of things but he can't do that. He knew it but I expected more. I ran back to the house yelling at him and my sons (#1 son had come home for a visit) to get outside. I thought they were ignoring me. Meanwhile, the horses seem to be playing in the water! UGH! The rain had stopped. The flow of the creek-river hadn't.

Hubby finally meandered (that's my version) out after what seemed an extra long time. Reality check, he was waiting until the heaviest rains stopped knowing he couldn't stop a raging creek river. He surveyed the situation as I'm yelling "THE HORSES, THE HORSES!!" as my guys continued to slosh around in their new indoor pool. Hubby calmly tells me the horses would be fine and pointed to the the bigger problem. Debris, tree limbs, dead leaves all caught in the fence line causing the water to be diverted from the tiles under the bridge to the raging river over the bridge. We both started prying the debris away from the fence. I was in creek water up to my waist, not a good thing in any kind of rushing water. Hubby, who is tall, had the good sense to stay at the side of the bank where water was only knee deep. Naturally, I fell in up to my chest! That's why I mentioned I shouldn't have bothered with the rain coat in the first place.

As we were trying to work our way through debris, the horses walked out through the water to check on us. I was worried they'd step over the edge of the bridge because with the running water there was no way to see the edge and the fences along the side bulged out from the force of the water. I finally got the horses out into the field, where they stayed, munching on hay while we worked. I'm glad my guys are curious but sometimes....................

The storm quieted as quickly as it had started. The waters slowed down. We had a mess! Then, as always happens on our little rural road, just as the sun came out, the power went off. #1 son came out of the house saying, "Probably not a good time to tell you this, but the power just went out." I looked at him and said "You ARE kidding, RIGHT?" No, he wasn't.

So, amid all the gully washing water, mud, leaves, horse manure we now had no electricity. I am thankful our house sets up high and is not close to the creeks.There is also a creek in front of our house, near the road. We knew we were in for yet another stretch of "house camping". The third time this year!

The next four days we spent on clean-up. I felt bad for Hubby since it was suppose to be his vacation week.

Now, I've always considered myself the kind of person who keeps on plugging when times get tough, but you know, sometimes, it just gets to you no matter how strong you believe you are. This year has been hard. I know it could be harder. People just over the hill reported an EF 1 tornado touch down and there was tons of damage in different areas of the county. But I'm definitely feeling battered this year, with my health issues and then Mother Nature wanting to knock me off my rocker! I'm just about had. I'm tired. I should take my own advice and enjoy the journey(previous post). Sometimes though, that journey is full of pot holes along the way and you just want to say STOP IT!

As I like to remind myself, which I have often this year, it's not so much the events that happen, as your reaction to them. Yep. I need to plaster that one on my fridge.

So, in the blink of an eye, a storm blew through and put my husband's long awaited week's vacation on hold as we've spent it cleaning up the mess. Our power did come back on Monday afternoon, for that I am very grateful.

The horses, bless their hearts, are fine. The dogs made it too. The cat could probably care less one way or the other, he's been in the house! If only I could recoup so quickly!

In the blink of an eye, plans can change. Life can change. It's how we deal with it that makes or breaks us. I will admit, I've felt a little broken this week but trying to put it all back together and just move on beyond what 2009 seems to keep throwing at us.

We've had an ice storm, brush fires, wind storms and now flash flood. As Hubby said the other day, we haven't seen pestilence....................yet.

Time for the Serenity Prayer
God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
Wisdom to know the difference. Amen

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Joy in the Journey

I recieve these inspiring, often thought provoking, newsletters and want to share the wealth.

Today's message -- JOY IN THE JOURNEY

LIFE SUPPORT SYSTEM, a free newsletter sharing life, love and laughter,

Published by Steve Goodier.


Anonymous did it again. Whoever this person is put it well: "Follow your dream!
Unless it's the one where you're at work in your underwear during a fire drill."

Yes – some dreams should be forgotten as soon as possible. But when it comes to life dreams, rather than sleep dreams, I am coming to believe that it is less important whether you actually reach a goal or achieve a beautiful dream than just to follow. Simply start following and see where it leads.

Let me explain.

Two brothers decided to dig a deep hole behind their house. As they were working, a couple of older boys stopped by to watch.

"What are you doing?" asked one of the visitors.

"We plan to dig a hole all the way through the earth!" one of the brothers volunteered excitedly.

The older boys began to laugh, telling the younger ones that digging a hole all the way through the earth was impossible.

After a long silence, one of the diggers picked up jar full shiny pebbles, worms and a wide assortment of odd insects. He showed it to the scoffing visitors and said quietly and confidently, "Even if we don't dig all the way through the earth, look what we found along the way."

Maybe their goal was too ambitious, but it did get them to dig. And that is what following a dream is about – our best dreams point us where we want to go and then nudge us in that direction.

In other words, they set us to digging.

But you know how it goes – you just won't achieve everything you attempt.

You may shoot for the moon and only hit the neighbor's window.

You may fully intend to be in love for a lifetime. But not every relationship will endure.

Not every hope will come to pass.

Not every endeavor will be completed.

Not every dream will be realized.

But here is the wonder of it all …when you fall short of your aim, perhaps you can say, "Yes, but look at what I found along the way.Look at the wonderful things which have come into my life because I tried to do something." I think those boys got it right.

It is in the digging that life is lived. It's the joy in the journey that matters most.--


Monday, June 29, 2009

Gaited Horses

This is my personal opinion and probably not the opinion of schooled riders or professional trainers.

I feel there is too much emphasis placed on how a gaited horse gaits. I don't understand why people who have gaited horses are so intent on making sure the horse gaits properly, unless of course, you are in the show ring. I don't get why people are so concerned about their gaiting horse if they are using them for trail. It is my opinion, that too many folks turn away from gaited horse breeds because they have been told they HAVE to learn to keep the horse in gait. Why? What is wrong with taking a nice trail ride in a plain old every day ordinary walk?? Gaited horses can do that but for some reason their owners don't expect them to, they expect more.

My older (11 now) Spotted Saddle Horse (aka Tennessee Walker) was obviously trained to get into a running walk as soon as the rider hits the saddle and asks him to move down the trail. I was rather frustrated with this and I wondered why they trained him in this manner. Then, after researching, I've discovered that's how gaited horses are often trained.

I have been spending the last four years, that's right, four years, working to get him to just enjoy a simple walk. A simple, ordinary walk. He's coming around, but he still has moments when he wants to bust into that running walk. All I want is a nice trail walk out of my horses. I'm not concerned with a running walk (maybe sometimes, but not the entire trail ride).

Bo is basically my lazy horse so for him to get into the running walk as soon as I ask more of him, well, that's my verification of how his previous owners rode him. I can see the change in his face as he believes I must want the same thing. When we go at a walk for a while, I can feel his relaxation because he's finally figuring out, I don't want all that other stuff from him.

Spirit is my younger guy and basically a clean slate. So, I haven't experienced this with him. He was entered in halter shows when he was two, before I bought him, but never trained to the specific walker gaits. I'm thankful for that!

Back in the early days of this country, when saddle horses were being bred and used to move people from one town to another comfortably, I doubt very many of those people concerned themselves about what gaits their horse could do. All they really knew was that the horse could move and they could ride comfortably for many miles over uneven trails and roads. It's only in the past 100 years or so, when horses were no longer used for transportation that people have put labels to the gaits. Now, that's fine if you're showing your horse and want to display all the gaits he can do for competition purposes, but in my opinion, if you want a gaited horse for pleasure riding and trail riding, don't get too caught up in whether your horse is gaiting correctly or not. Personally, my gaited horses will be walking down the trail and I'll be enjoying a great scenic ride, not rushing through it.

Monday, June 22, 2009


Unfortunately, my view of Mondays has always been dim. Most of my work-life, which is in the past right now, Monday's were dreaded. It was probably just my issue, I mean, after all, Monday is the start of a new week and prospects of hope for the newness of it!

When I was a substitute teacher, Mondays meant starting over with a new class, a new school, and getting into gear for a week of early morning cold calls.

When I was a lab tech, Mondays were the first midnight or on day-shift, everyone back in the lab and very crowded. I preferred the off shift actually.

When I was a library manager, Mondays meant a long day working from 11:30am until 8pm. That just made it seem longer. The rest of the week was 8:30am-5pm. Since the little branch library was closed on Sundays, all the weekend DVD's were returned. Mondays were ALWAYS a madhouse at the library. Who would have thought??? Just remember your local librarian on Mondays, he/she may feel the same way.

The only job where I never resented Mondays was when I worked at the stable as staff and assistant riding instructor. I enjoyed getting back to the horses. I enjoyed feeding the horses before turning them out. I enjoyed getting the hay out to the field. Mondays on that job were a good thing!

Nowadays, I'm sort of on my own. I don't really have a schedule which I think is hurting me. I do better with schedules in general. That's my goal. Get a schedule set up so I follow it. I'm sure I'll get more accomplished that way.

This week looks like a good weather week, FINALLY! No rain. A little warmer. Sunshine at least until Thursday. I am pumped. I wish I could start today, but I'm taking my mom to her doctor appointment, which, living out here, turns to an entire day because I have to drive in to get her then take her to her appointment on the other side of the county. I don't mind, I want to do it. I'm glad it is on Monday, so that I have the rest of the week to concentrate on my horses.

So this Monday I'm using as a jumping off platform for a more constructive week. I'm feeling better these days, though the heat can make me remember I do have some issues, I'll try to work around that by getting out earlier in the morning. There's always a way to deal, you just need to figure it out and get motivated. Sunshine, dried mud and no rain is a great incentive!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Lives Shared for Twenty Seven Years

Twenty-seven years ago, today, Hubby and I were married. In retrospect, we did everything backwards. Very little money. Low paying jobs, he worked at a grocery store, I worked at a fast food joint. But we had our dreams as young couples do.

In the long term, our life together has sweetened over the years.

In the beginning, we were innocents, oblivious to alot of things in life. We decided we wanted to be together, to build a life and that's all that mattered. At the time I couldn't understand why my parents silently objected to our marriage. It was one of those things where words weren't said, but all you had to do was read between the lines. On my in-laws side, they were thrilled their youngest son had found stability. They liked me! Looking back, I now understand what my parents, especially my mom, were seeing in our decision. Hubby was nineteen, I was twenty-one. I think anyone can get the picture and understand the misgivings of the parents of an only daughter.

After twenty seven years, my parents both love Hubby. I don't really want so say, "See, I knew what I was doing!", because twenty seven years ago, I probably didn't, really. It was a leap of faith for both of us.

But, over the years, Hubby and I have proven we can survive. We depend on each other yet we also find strength as individuals in our union. We are each others' best friend. We have our separate interests but find sharing those interests actually brings us more joy. Hubby has his motorcycle, I have my horses. We have two fantastic adult sons!

I have thoroughly enjoyed our motorcycling hobby. He decided on a touring bike back in 2002, so we could share rides and enjoy weekends traveling the country roads, day trips where we simply let go of ourselves for a few hours. In 2004, when I decided the time for my horse dream to come to life was imminent, and our youngest was heading off to college, Hubby threw himself into making our acres into the best home possible for my dream to become a reality. He and my sons spent the spring and summer dropping posts and putting up fencing. Hubby searched to find the right kind of fencing for my yet to be found dream horses. He has been the driving force in helping my horse dream come true. I hope I have helped his dreams come true too.

What more could you ask for in a life partner? I am blessed. Not much more to say about it other than I am grateful to be sharing my life journey with him, my best friend, my partner, the love of my life. All the heartaches, all the triumphs, all the tears, all the laughter have been sweeter, sharing with him.

The hoofbeats, paw prints and foot steps continue on the shared journey.....

Friday, June 5, 2009

There are friends and then there are friends with horses....

The past few months I've been getting reacquainted with some long lost high school friends. My Best Friend, or BFF, as the kids say today, is one of the main coordinators of our high school class reunion. Still hard to believe it's been THIRTY years. Whew, 1979 seems like a very long time ago! Our class was small, by most standards, having graduated a total of seventy two. Over the years we've lost three classmates. We all pretty much knew each other from elementary school.

In getting reacquainted I have come upon a realization. There are the women friends who are your women friends, then there are the women friends with horses, who are your horse friends. They are two different breeds!

I met up with two of my women friends from high school at a quiet, river-side, pizza place for dinner. We haven't seen each other in many years. One lives in the same area I do, but she has a busy life, married to an oncologist and her own career. The other one, is a busy attorney, living hundreds of miles away with a husband and three kids under the age of ten.

I don't think we've changed all that much. We ate, but talked more than we ate, talked about the reunion, our lives, remembered times from our high school years as friends. The only time horses came up was when I was asked what I was doing now. Other than that, our focus was on what I consider most women friends tend to talk about; life, loves, children, work, other friends. We talked for over three hours as our pizza got cold and the sun melted into the river. It was a beautiful sunset!

My "horse friend" called me a few days ago. She was originally asking about a cookie recipe but as always happens, our discussion turned to our horses and horses in general. We spent over an hour on the phone talking mostly about horses. Horses are our connection and our history. Sure, we wander off to other subjects, but as it is with us horse people, our conversation always flows back to our horses.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Believe it!

New day. New week. New month. Makes you think of starting with a clean slate whatever you may need to start new. My fresh start will be with my horses. I didn't do such a good job with them the past month, but May is done. So, to start this new day, week and month, I was lifted by the following piece. Maybe you will be too.




Writer Norman Cousins tells about a football game at which a doctor
found himself treating five spectators for stomach disorder. Each
complained of nausea, dizziness and cramps. Upon checking, the doctor
learned that all five had previously consumed soft drinks from the
arena's concession stands. In the interest of protecting public
safety, an announcement was made to the crowd that it would be wise to
forego drinks in the stadium because certain people were becoming ill.

By the third quarter of the game, 200 people – all of whom had been
slurping sodas – were reporting the same symptoms. Half of these
hurried off to a nearby hospital. Later in the afternoon the doctor
determined that his five original patients had also eaten potato salad
from the same delicatessen on the way to the game. The potato salad,
not the drinks, was apparently the culprit.

An announcement was made. Almost immediately those who were sick felt
remarkably better. The fans taken to the hospital were sent home as
their symptoms quickly disappeared.

All of this goes to show the tremendous power of belief. What we
believe to be true will often become true.

The power of our beliefs will dramatically affect our future. Like
automaker Henry Ford said, "Whether you think you can or not, you are
right." If you believe you will succeed or fail, you are probably
right. If you believe strongly enough that something good or bad will
surely happen to you, it likely will.

Mahatma Gandhi found this principle to be true in his own experience.
"If I believe I cannot do something, it makes me incapable of doing
it," the Indian leader said. "But when I believe I can, then I acquire
the ability to do it, even if I did not have the ability in the

Where did that ability come from? Was it the sheer power of his belief
that gave him the capacity to do what seemed impossible? He was sure
that was the case.

Great belief is great power. And probably more than any other single
factor, great belief that something just might be possible … can bring
about what we want in life.

Believe it.

-- Steve Goodier

Thursday, May 28, 2009

To Give Advice or Not

I don't beat around the bush, my responses are straight forward and blunt, especially if the welfare of horses, or humans, especially children, are at risk.

Recently one of Hubby's co-workers asked for some advice on buying a horse. He and his wife had decided to buy their eleven year old daughter a horse. Presently, they have nowhere to put the horse, but are working toward building a run-in shed and putting up fencing. Hubby had filled me in beforehand. I was already cringing during the intro chat but........Hubby referred the fella to me. Hubby is still relatively new to the whole horse thing, he usually defers horse questions to me. Hubby's specialty is premise maintenance and construction. He's great at that.

"Bob", not his real name, called me, well, Hubby called, but anyway......Bob asked my advice on buying horses. His first question concerned the age of a horse, as in what's a good age. He said they were looking at a 2 year old. I cringed. I told him for an inexperienced, young rider I would suggest anything between 7-15 years that has been ridden alot. He told me his daughter has been riding the neighbor's horse and knows all about horses. OKEY DOKEY. Has "Janie" taken any lessons in the past? Naturally, the answer was no, but she has learned about some horse care through a group she's in and from the neighbor girl. I am trying to keep my voice calm at this point, figuring I'm talking to a completely inexperienced person when it comes to horses. The family lives out in the country and own property. I thought maybe they'd been around horses in their lifetime. Evidently, only goats.

Though I've not had my fair share of riding lessons in my adult life, a child's parents I will always advise, GET LESSONS. Learn how to ride correctly. Learn about horse care before jumping into horse ownership. At the facility I worked at for a few years, I helped teach kids beginner riding lessons and horse care, I know the importance of safety. To this day I am amazed that parents will simply buy their kid a horse without themselves even knowing much about horses.

My next question concerned gender of the horse. I asked if they were looking at a gelding or mare, and hopefully not a stud colt. Bob hesitated and told me a gelding, he thought. hmmm. I wasn't convinced he was sure that's what the horse was. I told him the difference between a gelding and a stud colt, in case he wasn't sure and just didn't want to admit it to me. I also told him, in no way shape or form, in my opinion, should an eleven year old be trying to deal with a stud colt unless they were going to geld him soon. I could tell from the silence I might have hit on something there.

I also mentioned that if he could find a good trainer for a two year old horse, he would probably be better off to send it there before taking it home. Bob said he felt his daughter would be able to handle it. I feel I'm getting no where now.

Bob asked about saddles which I thought should be the least of his concerns at that point in time, but gave him my insights since he asked about the synthetic vs leather. I thought for a young girl a nice light synthetic would be ideal. We used them for our classes and for the 3 years I was at the facility, they held up well with little maintenance. Not like the leather anyway.

My personal inquiry to him was about a helmet for his daughter. Bob told me she didn't have one. I stressed the importance of getting her a good fitting helmet. He said he'd have to see how SHE felt about that. I was basically deflated at that comment.

OK, so zoom ahead to present time., probably about 2 months from the original phone call. Hubby informed me Bob had purchased a 2 year old mare, which I informed him at two, we're talking filly, but that's probably a mute point. Janie had been riding the filly at it's place of residence since Bob doesn't have their place set up yet. Bob said the horse's main problem was that is wanted to stop and eat grass. I'm getting this picture in my head of this little eleven year old girl, no helmet, pulling on the horse to stop eating grass......................these kinds of stories do make you cringe. It's hard to say how that little filly will act once it leaves it's farm. The man who owns the filly told Bob that she does OK with a group of horses. We all know as horse people, you ofte need to read between the lines when it comes to horse selling. Can't you see all the warning signs here? Hubby told me yesterday Janie was trying to ride the filly but the mare was being moody. I don't know the specifics of what happened, I can only guess. UGH! I'm sure none of them know what to do in that situation, or any of the situations that will probably come up.

I feel bad for the eleven year old girl who has dreams of that perfect horse until it does something not very cute, since it will probably have very little guidance and will act, well, like a horse. I feel bad for the horse. I hope the end result is better than my imagination of events.

I know myself, I have learned SOOO much about horses in the past five years. I was immersed in them through working at a riding facility. I learned things I didn't know, especially about behavior, having witnessed them first hand. I understand why people have problems when they simply bring a horse home or get the daughter a horse for her birthday.

Horses are not like dogs! They are big! They often won't stay when you tell them too, unless properly trained of course. They aren't always ready and willing to take on the day. My biggest concern for Janie and her family is that they get this filly home but she doesn't act "right". They don't know how to deal with her. Someone gets hurt or the horse gets forgotten because things weren't as easy as they thought they would be. Why oh why don't people at least find out what they're really getting into? I cannot imagine an eleven year old girl trying to manage a two year old horse of any kind, unless she's had proper training herself. To me, this situation appears to be a train wreck, one way or another, in the making. I hope I'm dead wrong but right now, things don't look to be on the brighter side.

I've sent my horse magazines to Janie and family. There have been some really good articles lately in Horse and Rider and Trail Rider. Maybe they will take the horse on as a family project. Hopefully they'll get the filly a buddy, if not another horse, then one of their goats. I also sneaked a DVD in the magazines about riding safely.

We all make choices, but as for myself I try to be informed. OK, I bought a 2 year old with very little training, but I was forty four years old and had spent a summer immersed in horses, as well as 3 years after that. I told Hubby to let Bob know I would be glad to help Janie with teaching ground manners to her new horse. I'm not one to teach much more than beginner riding, but I feel I have a good method with ground manners.

I may have overstepped my boundaries with my suggestions and advice anyway. You know, people often hear what they want to hear, and do what they want to do. Hubby mentioned that pricing of the 2 year old had alot to do with the purchase. That saddens me too, especially when an eleven year old child is involved. I remember telling Bob he may have to pay more for a well trained horse, but it would be worth it in the long run for his daughter.

It's times like these you wonder, should I give advice or not? I was asked, so I gave it as I see it. When it comes to the safety and well being of a horse and a child, I will always be blunt and truthful. I hope Janie's dreams of a perfect horse aren't doused. I hope no one gets hurt, including the horse.

Please, please, if you are thinking of buying a horse, but have no background or knowledge of horses, read up, or find someone who can help. A horse is not a dog! It's not that simple.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Detective Work

I'm a straight forward kind of person. I want the facts, straight up. I want to be able to know what's going on, not have to figure things out. Maybe that's called lazy, but at any rate, when you have animals, and especially horses, you'd better be ready to be a detective when it comes to illness or injury.

A week ago, Monday, things were rolling along as they usually do. Fed the horses in the morning. I always eyeball them making sure no one got into anything during the night. Both looked fine. Spirit seemed like himself. I remember a couple of hours later I glanced out the back door, noticed the horses out on the hill near some trees. Everything OK, again.

Around 12:30pm I went out to open the gate to the front field. Both horses were standing in the stall area. Bo standing near the water tank. Spirit partially in the stall with shavings blanketing the left side of this body and mane. I took that in as being a little odd, but then dismissed the thought. Walked straight for the front field gate and both followed though they were hanging back more than usual. Most days, Bo is right up front ready to go through first.

Still not noticing anything amiss, I opened the gate and Bo walked quietly out to the field. Spirit stood right where he was and it was then I noticed he was shaking. His whole body trembling!

Now, I must admit, I sort of went into panic mode. I'd dealt with various injuries and illnesses with the horses in my care at the ranch, from colic, to a slashed leg artery, to hoof abscesses among a few. But, when my own horse was standing there shaking and trembling I became weak in the knees!

Thoughts running through my head "What if he collapses right here? Where will we bury him? Crap! What's my next move? Crap!"

The poor guy tried to walk out into the field to eat some grass. I quickly ran back to building to get his halter and lead rope. I knew I needed to get him back to the stall, at least to see if his vitals were irregular. Then there was the mud he'd have to wade through. My mind simply said CRAP! Although I'm pretty sure I used the other form of the word. "What if he collapsed in the mud? Oh gosh that would be awful." Pushing those thoughts out of my head, I waded in mud up over my boots, and sloshing mud water on my clothes, I gently coaxed him back to the stall. In the mean time I had to close Bo out in the field because if he came in, well, he tends to bully Spirit out of what he deems, his corner.

I get Spirit into the stall. I break out the first aid kit where the thermometer is stored. I check his gums. Capillary refill seems OK. Doesn't look like shock yet. I take his temp. It was up to 102. I try to check his pulse, unfortunately, I am very lacking in that talent and curse myself for not being able to find that darn artery under his jaw. Check respirations, fairly normal, not rapid and not slow. He does not seem in distress except for the shaking. I'm thinking about which vet would be easiest to contact, but, I don't want to jump to that conclusion too quickly.

My next move was to get an old blanket to throw over him for a little while in case it may be some kind of toxic shock. I feel all over his body, his legs, shoulders, ribs, don't see anything out of the ordinary. He's still shaking.

At this point I'm frustrated. I go into the house to find my two horse vet books. I still can find nothing that really fits. Maybe it's wait and see. I spent the afternoon in the stall with Spirit. There was definitely something going on with him. He wouldn't miss an afternoon out in the grass. I gave him some hay. He started nibbling. His manure looked fine and he wasn't dehydrated.

Eventually the shaking subsided. He walked around the stall. He ate some more hay, slowly. He drank the water I offered in a bucket. The only thing that really started standing out was when I ran my hand down his right front leg, he would lift it up. Now, That's not something Spirit does. I mean, he'll give you his foot if you ask, but to just lift it like a dog would lift it's paw, that was odd.

At that point I started pressing on his shoulder and ribs while watching his face. I noticed a bit of a wince on his part and he looked back at me. It was right then and there I decided that Bo had probably kicked Spirit. I found no outward evidence. No hoof prints on the skin. I'd seen that happen with the ranch horses plenty of times. Usually the mares, Kleo or Lena, hauling off and kicking one of the others leaving a dusty hoof imprints.

From this evidence, I deducted that the reason Spirit had shavings all over him was because he had either been down in the stall, lying or rolling, or whatever, and Bo decided he wasn't happy with that, because Spirit was in "his" space. In response, Bo kicked the crap out of Spirit. That's the only thing I can really come up with. Through the rest of the day and evening, Spirit walked gingerly on that leg, dragging it a little as he walked. I'm pretty sure it was a shoulder or rib kick. Bo usually does the double legged kind of kick. Spirit, on the other hand, is more of a cow kicker type.

The next day, Spirit was not dragging that foot. I still had in my mind any type of toxic problems from EPM to Lyme disease, but he didn't fit any of those symptoms. Over the next few days Spirit was back to his almost usual self. The only other evidence of an altercation that I have witnessed is the fact that Spirit appears a little more wary of Bo. I don't like that, but in the horse world, they have their own rules. I don't stand for any kind of aggravating when I'm around, but when I'm not there, well, there isn't much I can do about their disagreements. Most of the time, Bo and Spirit get along fine. I'll never know what sparked the incident, and I'm not even sure if I'm right about it. I'm only going on clues, evidence and gut feelings.

I never did like playing Clue!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Two Book Reviews

Riding With Confidence!
Practical and inspirational advice to help you deal with your fear and enjoy your riding

I originally thought this book was more concerned about breaking through particular fear issues, which it does, but different fear issues than I've actually had. However, the information and format make it an interesting read, nonetheless.

A variety of female contributors from the horse world:
Christina Barlow-instructor and riding school proprietor from South Africa.
Julie Goodnight-instructor and natural horsemanship trainer from the U.S.
Abigail Hogg-author and equine trainer from the UK
Liz Morrison-ICF accredited NLP coach and Level 2 international instructor from the UK
Sharon Shinwell-professional hypnotherapist and counsellor from the UK.

My favorite chapter was chapter 1, Managing Your Fear by Julie Goodnight. Always clear and practical in her teaching she walks the reader through identifying fear, understanding fear, a plan for recovery, making your plan, polish your horsemanship and safety skills, and improve your riding skills. She describes the basis of many fears and how to learn to start dealing with them when they are interfering with your relationship with your horse or simply running your life. The whole fear concept can cover many aspects of life, not just riding or horses. Personally, I have never been afraid of horses themselves but as with anyone who has horses in their lives, there have been times when my own confidence issues with my riding ability have gotten in the way of enjoying my partnership with my horses.

For me, the other chapters weren't quite as interesting, though I did glean some helpful advice in my areas of interest. I think this book is a great read for older women who may be a little intimidated by riding again, or maybe have developed a fear, or lack of confidence in horse skills or riding skills. Very easy to read because it's divided into chunks you can spend as little or as much time as you choose at one sitting.

Chapter topics:
Understanding the Horse-Abigail Hogg
Teaching the Nervous Rider-Christina Barlow
Hypnotherapy and Hypnosis-Sharon Shinwell
The NLP Approach to Confident Riding-Liz Morrison

The forward had some helpful information also as Kelly Marks provides top ten tips for handling fear.

What Your Horse Wants You to Know
What Horses' "Bad" behavior means, and How to Correct It
Gincy Self Bucklin

I'm not sure what I expected from this book, some different insights I suppose. For me, most of the information became "ho hum" and I ended up skimming to the sections I thought might give me some different aspects of common misbehaviors.

Now, not to say this isn't a good book! It's definitely a great insight for people who may never have been around horses at all and have not experienced horse behavior or what their meanings may be. Definitely some great information and insight on horse behavior. If I'd found this book back in '04 (Copyright 2003) I'm sure I would have gobbled it up. It's an excellent source for anyone just getting into horses or who may have questions about some horse behaviors they've been dealing with on their own.

Simple short chapters on topics from Bathing to Tying: won't tie, in alphabetical order. The introduction was an excellent start: What You Need To Know To Help Your Horse. If every new horse owner, who has none to very little understanding or experience around horses, would read this, they'd be giving themselves a gift of knowledge and understanding, as well as their horse.

I appreciated many aspects of this book and believe it is one of the better guides on horse behavior. The importance of learning how to communicate with your horse in the right way and what he's trying to communicate to you can never be underestimated for the loving partnership most people want with their horses. There's an abundance of information in this book from a woman who has tons of experience and years of devotion to horses.

Gincy Self Bucklin has 60+ years of riding and training experience, 50+ years of teaching experience, and 30+ years of managing stables large and small. She is certified as an Expert Instructor by the American Riding Instructor's Association. She is the daughter of of well-known horsewoman and equestrian author Margaret Cabell Self. (excerpt from back cover)

Both of these books are excellent additions to your horse training library though you'll find, as I did, and depending on your own knowledge, you can breeze through some sections while taking in others.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

And do you want some whine with that cheese???

OK, here I go again. I was getting groundwork done with both horses. My guys were responding great, then the rains hit us once again.

I saddled Bo up a couple of Sunday's ago. A beautiful, sunny, spring day! I was impressed and delighted that he stood still while I mounted. We've had to work on that for a long time. He was in the habit of walking off as soon as I lifted my foot to the stirrup. I thought I was going to get some great riding time in that day, alas, Bo decided to be a butt-head. I don't want to talk about the incident in detail right now, but I will later. Let's just say, he had it in his mind he wasn't gonna do one darn thing he didn't want to do that day, except the standing still while mounting part. I was too ticked off to ride him again. I should have, but I didn't. I did make him walk back out to the field on a lead and do some circles, stops, backs and forwards. I was ticked off for a few days over the incident. One thing that happens to me, physically, when I get scared, is that the adrenaline rush makes me shaky and I have to wait to calm down. Result of 13 years of T1 diabetes.

ANYWAY, we have been deluged by rain for almost two weeks now. Mud, once again, up to horse hocks, and my ankles, in the corral area. I'm extremely thankful Hubby extended the roof of the shelter and the mats from the open stall space so the horses have a nice big dry area to spend under roof time, but it's getting out to the field that's like a Florida swamp. There's sloppy mud out in the field. It's really frustrating. I'm not talking mud you can simply work through, if I try to work the guys out in the field, they'll just be slipping. I'll be slipping. It's just not worth it. So, I'm once again back to being behind in my imagined schedule of training and riding. I make a calendar each month to record what I accomplish. April looks pretty sad at the end. May is basically empty so far.

I feel like I'm always whining about this part of my horse life but it's just not something that worked into my "plan". Kind of like the hay problem I couldn't seem to get a hold on. Fortunately the hay problem has subsided a bit. I can turn the guys out into the front field for a few hours of grass grazing now which cuts back on their hay intake. I also have made contact with a very helpful farmer who owns a feed supply store and he's going to try to keep hay for me since we've talked about my need for hay year around.

More rain and storms Friday and Saturday. This too shall pass....................I think I'll go fix a ham and Swiss cheese sandwich while I ponder my predicament for a few more minutes.

Friday, May 1, 2009

My Hummingbirds Have Returned!

Each April I eagerly await the arrival of "our" Ruby Throated Hummingbirds. I can't remember when I first started feeding hummers, but I know there have been a number of generations returning to my feeder every year.

I check a migration map for return dates. This year, they came in last week, though the map stated April 5-15. I had the feeder ready and waiting. I ended up dumping out the original liquid preparing fresh for them. They'd come all the way from Mexico. I heard one expert say it's a non stop flight once they get started.

I noticed one male and one female last weekend. Now, I'm seeing four at a time. By summer, double the number of birds seen flitting around the feeder at any one time, and you'll get an approximation of how many hummingbirds are visiting the feeder.

I enjoy sitting on our deck watching them. Sometimes they'll hover and look at me, seemingly sizing me up. They'll fly away or decide I'm not a threat and land on the feeder to take in the nectar. The females seem to be more timid than their male counterparts.

Sadly, yesterday afternoon, Buddy the cat got lucky. I believe one of the hummers hit my sliding glass door window and fell to the ground. Buddy, being the lazy fellow he usually is, didn't pass up the opportunity. I heard a commotion and went to the door. There sat Buddy with one of my little guys in his mouth. I really don't think Buddy realized what he'd done. He looked up at me, hummingbird in his mouth, and in my moment of anger I told him to "drop it", which he did, surprising me even more. We often refer to Buddy as a cat-dog. I picked up the delicate body but of course, there was no life in it. I felt really guilty having the feeder close to the porch. Buddy hadn't really bothered the birds in the past, which is why I have the feeder hanging on the porch. Now, he lays out there in wait, watching. I may have to move the feeder. Knowing Buddy is really a fairly lazy fella, I'm going to hold out for a while.

Hummingbirds are a wonder. Each spring, upon their arrival, I feel blessed to have a hand in helping them along, at least I always hope that's what I'm doing. They give me my daily dose of "wow, they're really incredible" along with a smile just watching them.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Spring Training

Finally. I can get some consistent days in for what I call Spring Training. We're looking at 3 days of warm, sunny Spring days in these parts!

My two boys are usually always off from December until April. They get to be lazy horses in the back field during the winter months. They get bored. When I start spending more time with them, they look forward to it every day. As a matter of fact, Bo gets grumpy when I haven't been with them for a while. His face shows it. He tends to boss Spirit around more.

I have researched many of the training techniques from various clinicians and trainers. I tried Clinton Anderson for a while, but in my mind, I now feel his techniques are too aggressive for my horses. My guys don't need that kind of training. I realize Anderson's training techniques, and those of other trainers like him, have their place. They just weren't comfortable for me with these two particular horses.

I have decided to follow a lesser known trainer's techniques. I don't like round penning although I have a round pen. I feel round penning is just another scare tactic, I understand "round pen reasoning", but I also believe, it depends on the horse. Ryan Gingerich does not believe in round penning. He has an excellent article on the subject on his website.

I had seen Gingerich at Equine Affaire, Ohio, last year and was impressed with his training techniques. Basic and patient. His training program consists of five elements: Basic control, lightness, rhythm, line and connection.

My boys do better with a one-on-one type training. They are responding positively to the techniques I've been learning, via DVD, from Ryan Gingerich. They are much more relaxed with these training techniques when I'm working with them. I am much more relaxed too so the time spent in the exercise is good for all of us.

If I were to give advice to new horse owners I would say, above all, find what works for YOU and your horses. Enjoying the journey is all a part of the experience.

Ryan Gingerich's website:

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


Need I say more?
Bo & Spirit

Mud, mud, EVERYWHERE! The back field is my sacrifice field where the boys stay December through April.

Don't get me wrong, on one hand I'm happy to have the April showers. The rain means my measely grass pasture will surely green up by May 1, when I allow my guys to get into into it for a few hours a day.

However, I had just gotten back into working with my guys again after the long winter break. We were doing pretty good too. Spirit is so eager this year makes me look forward to working with him! Bo, well, as usual, he just needs saddled and ridden.

I don't have an inside or covered arena. We're completely o'natu-ral, meaning barefoot horses, run-in stall/shed area, 24/7 outside horses, and we try to do the best we can with what we've built. When Hubby and I designed our little farm area, we thought we had things pretty well covered. Some things you just never see the time neither of us saw the disadvantage of putting the corral area at the base of a hill. Live and learn!

Green pasture grass ready for grazing by May 1.

At my next farm I'll remember to have a 60x120 barn with indoor riding arena, stalls AND acres upon acres of lush green pasture grass. Probably have to be in my next life, I deal with this muddy crap every cotton pickn' spring and fall.

Good news, we're looking at sunny skies and warm temps Thursday through Saturday! Just enough to probably get dried out enough to get muddied up again when the rain comes through next week. I need to quit watching the Weather Channel!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Ohio Equine Affaire

I hadn't planned on attending Equine Affaire in Columbus, Ohio, this year. I've attended the event for the past four years, ever since I found out about it. This year there were other things going on around me and it just didn't seem that important to attend. Lo and behold, a friend called me Saturday to say she was going up to EA on Sunday and asked if I wanted to ride along. Opportunity knocked, so I answered.

We went to the Extreme Cowboy Race final at 9:30am. I didn't really think I'd be impressed with the event but it ended up being an enjoyable couple of hours. Watching both pro and amateur riders compete through the course in Cooper Arena was really more thrilling than I expected it to be. I had expected to be bored to tears. I'm glad I was wrong.

The winner of the event was a 57 year old female, non-pro, rider on a grade horse. Now, how much more thrilling can you get! Sally and her horse, Ghost, were up against some pro horses and riders as well as other amatures like herself, though most of the females were 30 years younger than Sally.

I tend to observe the horse more than the riders in these events. I watch their faces, their responses to their riders. Sally and Ghost were definitely partners. Ghost listened and waited for direction and responded. They were tuned in to each other more so than any of the other horse and rider teams I observed.

Probably the most crowd pleasing competitor was 65 year old Larry on his Spotted Saddle Horse. Though definitely not the fastest, his persistence at completing the course got the crowd on it's feet by the end of his run.

Second place went to a gorgeous dark chestnut QH stallion who was all muscle and definitely well trained. I believe they said he was a working cow horse from Michigan.The only problem in the tie breaker actually came from his rider who forgot the pattern to one of the obstacles, otherwise, he probably would have won the tie breaker event.

After ECR we went to Julie Goodnight's clinic on lead changes. Now, I have to admit, I am lost when it comes to lead changes. I've never had training in that area of riding and didn't really understand it. Julie did a great job at explaining the why and how of lead changes, so much so, that someone like me actually understood what she was talking about. Now I wish I was attending Julie's clinic in North Jackson, Ohio, in May. My friend applied early and will be one of the 15 riders in the clinic.

After Julie's clinic we did the shopping thing around the two vendor buildings. As I expected, there seemed to be fewer vendors this year. Enjoyed looking but didn't by a single thing not even a t-shirt!

We then went to the last clinic of the day with Craig Cameron. I was very tired by now, it was 3:30pm we'd gotten there at 9am and left for the event at 7:15am that morning. Craig was tired too, his voice just about gone. His clinic dealt with establishing communication with a horse that is spooky and maybe not well trained. Craig can be entertaining and he does like to talk! Sometimes though, I feel I get lost during his explanations.

At any rate, I do appreciate the fact that for $19.99 ($5 parking fee and $14.99 entrance fee) you can take in horse breeds of all kinds and clinics on various topics for a whole day. It's a bargain and an enjoyable experience. We're fortunate to have an Equine Affaire located in the middle of our state each year. An opportunity not often seen in these parts!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

A little more about me and my horse life....

Over at I found this interesting little survey/questionnaire. I'm one of those people who often likes to answer these kinds of things. I believe they can tell a great deal about someone in short and sometimes long answers. Depends on the question. At any rate, I think GHM had a good idea about adding to the blogs and passing along. So, here are my responses!

1. How old were you when you first started riding? This is one of those longer answers ... I didn't really have the opportunity to ride daily until I started working at a summer camp for girls in '04 at the age of forty-three. I spent that summer helping girls learn beginning riding/horsemanship skills. I had been taking beginner riding lessons from the camp manager. She ended up being short staffed at the camp that summer. I wasn't employed. She took a chance and hired me for the summer. Before that time I had only sporadically ridden. I really didn't know what I was doing when I was "riding", mostly on a few head-tail trail rides at parks and the pony rides at the state fair when I was a kid. One time, when I was about 13, I did hop on the back of a neighbor's horse while she was standing beside the fence in an open field. "Bonnie" took about 10 steps and I jumped off!

2. First horse ridden: I suppose I'll give that credit to Koko and Sheik. Koko was a 30+ year old Standardbred school horse at the facility where I was taking lessons. Not knowing my riding level at that time, which was zilch, that's who my instructor put me on. Sheik was the 20+ year old Arabian step-up horse I started riding at the end of my six week lessons that spring of '04.

3 First horse trotted on: Koko

4. First horse cantered on: Koko

5. First Horse fallen off of: I started working at the year around riding facility after summer camp ended. There were 3 of us as staff,plus the manager and grounds keeper. Kleo, a big (17h), nasty tempered sorrel QH mare who I did not like at all was the first horse I was really dumped off of . Kleo could be a great trail horse but her stall and arena manners were often not pleasant. She bucked me off in an outside arena. I'm pretty sure some of it was my fault. I wasn't balanced and she caught me off guard. I liked riding her out on the trails, but not in the arena. I'll give her credit, as soon as I hit the ground, she simply trotted around, faced me and had the look of "What are you doing down there?" It was the first time I was afraid of falling off or getting bucked off. The manager had left the ranch that day, supposedly for a few hours. I was the only one there. My thoughts as I lay on the ground for a few minutes, checking to see if I still had a hip that worked; "OK, good thing I didn't break a hip. What if no one came back for a while and I couldn't have moved, what could I have done?" Fortunately, my hip was only bruised, but uncomfortable for a very long time. From that time on I petitioned the manager to ALWAYS make sure someone was around when the staff was riding. As far as I'm aware, she never made that a rule, which saddened me. I would no longer ride there alone and it's one of the reasons I decided to leave the job I'd really loved.

6. Most recent horse fallen off of: My saddle slipped on my rather plump Bo as we were trotting down a small hill. Embarrassing, but Hubby was the only one to witness it. I immediately jumped up, arms up over my head waving like those gymnasts I've seen on TV to let him know I was OK.

7. Most terrifying fall: The one on Kleo

8. First horse jumped with: Ginger. She was also one of the school horses, and my favorite. Ginger loved jumping over V-shaped creek beds on the hill sides during our trail rides, but I had to train her not to jump over them because she was a school horse. Once in a while, I'd let her jump, but most of the time I had to slow her down and make her walk over the the creek beds, and the logs, on the trails.

9. First horse who ran away with you: Fortunately, haven't had that happen yet, but if it does happen I'm thinking it'll be my Spirit. Guess I should erase those thoughts so he doesn't get them!

10. First horse that scared the crap out of you: Kleo. Boy, if anyone could scare the crap out of you it was Kleo! One day, before one of our weekend programs I opened her stall door. She'd been eating at her grain feeder. She looked at me then walked to the back of the stall, with her right side facing me, so I didn't really detect any problems. I had her halter in my hand. Kleo is a BIG horse. She snaked that long neck and head with ears flat, teeth bared and I slowly backed out of the stall. I hadn't had a horse do that to me before of all the horses at the ranch and all the camp horses I'd worked with the previous summer. She'd never done that to me before, but I'd heard she'd done it to some of the girls in the past. Well, just so happens, I wasn't in a pleasant mood that morning either. Maybe Kleo picked up on that. I walked over to the staff member who I knew liked Kleo and got along with her, handed her the halter and said, "Here, you deal with Kleo this morning."

11. First horse shown : Never shown and really have no desire to be in shows. I loved going to shows, as a spectator, when I was a kid. Shows were the closest I could get to seeing horses.

12. First horse to win a class with: I think it would be thrilling to win a class and if I were to show, it would be in something like a trail class.

13. Do you/have you taken lessons: I took beginner lessons. I'm sure I could use more. I have lots of gaps in my riding instruction but still manage to enjoy my guys whether I ride or not. I'm always open to advice from my horse riding friends.

14. First horse you ever rode bareback: Koko, the aged Standardbred I took my first lessons on. My instructor wanted me to feel the horse movement and it was a great experience even if Koko was very senior horse. Koko loved doing lessons.

15. First horse trail ridden with: A horse named Abby. I'll never forget her! A strawberry Appaloosa. Abby was one of the summer camp horses that we weren't able to use in the classes because she was having "issues" for the beginning riders. One afternoon the manager told us since we didn't have any classes we were going to take the "issue" horses out on the trail. I let all the "kids" (the other staff members were all 18-21 years old at the camp!) choose their horses and figured I'd just manage what was left. I soon learned why no one chose Abby. The my first long trail ride ended up worst ride of my life and still holds that memory! To this day I don't know how I managed to stay on her over those trails! Abby was barn sour. She jigged all over the place. She was scared of everything. I'm pretty sure it was my sheer will to not be outdone by any of the youngsters that kept me on Abby over all the hills, rocks, trees, and creeks we traveled that afternoon. My neck and shoulders ached for days! We never were able to use Abby for riding that summer. She had dental problems and trouble keeping weight on so she pretty much ended up enjoying a summer of pasture grazing before going back to her home farm. All the summer camp horses were leased from a place somewhere in Illinois. They arrived at the camp in late May and returned to their farm in Mid-August.

16. Current Barn name: When I worked at the summer camp we all had to have nicknames, a tradition this camp had used since it's inception. When asked what name I wanted to use, at first I balked. I don't like nicknames. I then blurted out "Grace" because I felt pressured. I'd been given that nickname in college one year but it was always in reference to my not being very graceful.

17. Do you ride English or western?: Western

18. First Horse to place at a show with: Maybe I'll have grand kids who want to show one day???

19. Ever been to horse camp?: Worked for one summer at a horse camp in 2004.

20. Ever been to a riding clinic? Clinton Anderson, Ryan Gingerich, Julie Goodnight, but all of these were the shorter, abbreviated clinics at the Equine Affaire in Columbus, OH.

21. Ridden sidesaddle? Nope, and have no desire.

22. First horse leased: Never quite understood this concept, but I suppose it's a good idea if you're into showing or don't really want to own??? I'm from a small, rural area and I'm not even sure if people lease around here. They probably do I just don't travel in those circles.

23. Last Horse Leased:

24. Highest ribbon in a show:

25. Ever been to an 'A' rated show?: I wouldn't know an A from any other show.

26. Ever competed in pony games/relay races?: We used to hold relay games during the programs we hosted at camp and at the year-around riding facility. The girls really enjoyed those games and the horses seemed to enjoy them as well.

27. Ever fallen off at a show: I can see it happening to me. That's one of my problems, balance.

28. Do you ride Hunter/Jumpers?: No, but enjoy seeing them perform.

29. Have you ever barrel raced? No,but it sure looks like a blast. I always wonder about the wear and tear on the horses though.

30. Ever done pole bending?: We used pole bending at a walk and trot during our programs. Really helped the girls with their control.

31. Favorite gait: I really just enjoy walking my horses on the trail to enjoy everything around me. Maybe pick up on an up hill or a flat, but for the most part, when I trail ride, I want it to be like a nice leisure stroll and take in all the sights and sounds while I'm out there. No rushing!

32. Ever cantered bareback?: Nope

33. Have you ever done dressage?: No. I don't know that I'd be that patient.

34. Have you ever evented?: No.

35. Have you ever mucked a stall?: Daily

36. Ever been bucked off?: Yep. Good old Kleo. Oh, and there was the little black pony Gloria. Well, she didn't buck me off, but she would often buck when asked for a trot. We discovered her saddle was bothering her. She didn't like heavier riders on her, even the girls. We finally checked out her saddle and found the tree was broken. We fitted her with a different saddle and she quit bucking when asked for a trot.

37. Ever been on a horse that reared: A couple, but not real big rears, wasn't so scary. More like small jump ups.

38. Horses or ponies. Horses, but I've been around a few ponies with great personalities, some not so great. We had Dani at the ranch. She had her lovely pleasant days and her grumpy mare days. Dani was probably a cross between an Icelandic and I don't know what. She was a gorgeous bay with an extra full black mane and tail. The manager called Dani a Halflinger for a long time until I pointed out she looked more Icelandic than Halflinger. She could have been a cross. Speckles looked like a POA (Pony of the Americas). He had the characteristics of a miniature brown, white spots on rump, Appaloosa. He had a fun personality. He could open up the gates like a pro! Which, naturally, made things a little more time consuming for us human caretakers around the place when it came to making sure gates were securely closed and chained. He was a great little trail pony!

39. Do you wear a helmet?: YES!!! I wish I could convince Hubby to do the same. What is it with men????

40. What's the highest you've jumped: Not very, probably only about 4-6ft over a V-Shaped creek bed or a 2ft-4ft high log on the trail.

41. Have you ever ridden at night?: Not yet.

42. Do you watch horsey television shows?: Of course!!

43. Have you ever been seriously hurt/injured from a fall?: Thankfully, no.

44. Most falls in one lesson: Didn't fall during my lessons but then I didn't do much that would have caused a fall, except maybe just getting on at first.

45. Do you ride in an arena/ring?: I don't have an arena, but I do have a round pen out in my field. I use it to start out on my horses, especially this time of year when they've had so much down time. I use it so I can keep them separated when I'm working with them.

46. Have you ever been trampled by a horse?: Thank goodness, no.

47. Have you ever been bitten?: Yep. Speckles.

48. Ever had your foot stepped on by a horse?: Speckles and Spirit. My Spirit used to be kind of gangly when I first got him. He was just a 2 yo. He has since been doing much better at where he's going. Speckles, I often wonder if that was just one of his "tricks" because I wasn't the only one who got their foot stepped on by him.

49: Favorite riding moment: Any time I took a trail ride when I used to work at the ranch. Beautiful landscapes. My friend and I would take a couple of hours and take our pick of horses and then just pick a trail for the day. We were "training". What better kind of job could you ask for?

50. Most fun horse you've ridden: Probably Ginger, from ranch where I worked those 2 years. She and I bonded. She was a good all around horse. I hope she still is! I haven't been back over there since I left. Couldn't bear to see all the "guys" I'd helped care for and work with during the time I was there.

Thanks GHM for getting me to think about some fond memories! And, some other things I need to get busy on!