Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Pet Peeve Day

pet peeve-noun. Particular and often continual annoyance.


An extended definition from easily accessed Wikipedia:

Pet Peeve is a minor annoyance that an individual identifies as particularly annoying to him or her, to a greater degree than others may find it. First usage around 1919. The term is a back-formation from the 14th century word peevish, meaning "ornery or ill tempered".

Everyone has these. What bothers me, may not bother you. Things that annoy my husband, do not annoy me and vise versa. When I become annoyed by my own pet peeves, I try to remind myself that in all actuality, it's probably ONLY bothering me. However, there are some situations where I'm not alone in my pet peevishness. But, I'll start with my own personal pp's just because I feel like it today.

Recently I commented on a friend's Facebook post. We'd been going back and forth about the weather. That particular day, the morning temperature in my area was at 10 degrees. I posted, trying to be humorous, that when I went out to feed my horses that morning, they had icicles on their face whiskers. One of my Facebook friend's other friend,who I do not know and is not my friend anyway, posted, "Should horses be outside in this kind of weather?"  When I read that, my eyes rolled. I was going to post a response, but in Facebook's limited wall space, I just didn't want to get into details of the why it was not necessary for my horses to be inside during cold weather. That is, I don't barn my horses, they have a run-in shelter. A very nice one I might add. But, it did peeve me that this person didn't know enough about horses to realize, they can weather the weather if they're acclimated to it, well fed and watered.  I doubt all the people who own horses up in Canada have nice heated barns for their horses. I'm sure they have barns and run-ins but the horses get acclimated to the weather.

The post reminded be that these days people seem so wimpy to me sometimes! What do they think people did with horses a hundred or more years ago? Their barns sure weren't heated. They kept their horses fed with hay, hopefully inside some kind of shelter but not always, and did the best they could. Why would horses be any different these days, unless we made them that way? OK, so not all people are horse people or know facts about horses. But it seemed like an odd question that could have been answered by simple common sense observation.

More PP's: People who take in cats and dogs but refuse to have the neutered. I still hear of people locally who say the didn't want to do that to their cat or dog. Even if you can't afford it, there are shelters and vet clinics who advertise reduced or free spaying and neutering for people who may not otherwise be able to afford it.There really is no excuse for the attitude of not having your animals "fixed". Now, I don't think there should be laws about it because I've heard of that coming up in a couple of states, it's all about personal responsibility which seems entirely in the toilet these days.

Personal responsibility. Yeah, where is it? Seems our population wants the government to take care of us. I prefer to take care of myself, thank you very much!

Kids in restaurants. While naturally I would never think of considering the idea of banning children under the age of ....oh, I don't know, just children in general, in restaurants, and that would be silly anyway, I would really be super pleased if parents would take on some of that personal responsibility to keep their kids from running around the restaurant and screaming at the top of their lungs while I'm trying to enjoy a meal out with my husband. This happens more times than I can even count anymore and feels to me like it's an epidemic. I don't blame the child. They can only get away with what their parents ALLOW them to get away with. I've come to the conclusion that there is a generation of parents out there who have no clue how to raise their kids. I can guarantee, when our boys were little and we took the special occasion to go to a sit down restaurant, they SAT in their chairs. They did not scream. They did not cry. They were instructed how we all behaved at a restaurant. We all had a great time.

Two examples in the past two weeks. I witnessed one little girl running around the tables, picking up salt shakers, moving things around on empty tables, while the parents watched, or didn't. Then, when the little girl was finally "asked" to come sit down she started screaming. The mother tried to talk to her, but the girl knew what she could get away with. You could see it on her face.Well, that was a fun dinner for us. When my husband went to get a pizza box to put our left overs in, the girl at the counter apologized. Well, not like it was her fault. Then yesterday, at yet another restaurant where I was having lunch with my mom, I noticed a little boy, about four, running up and down along side the booths. The mother just watched, said something to him but then never once made him stop while people were trying to walk through to get to their seats. I just don't get it! These are not isolated incidents. Watch around you how parents no longer seem to be parenting. It's scary to me.

Only two check outs open at a Walmart, at 9:30am when I have a basketful of items and the two check out lanes are for 20 items or less AND they both have lines four people long in each. What is wrong with this picture? That's one reason I detest Walmart these days.

And this PP which I know I've mentioned before, non return of phone messages, voice mails, and emails. That's just rude and I think more than just a pet peeve.

All right, I think I've done enough pet peeving for today! I feel better. It was good to get those off my chest! Now, if something could just be done about them so that I don't have to be annoyed!

Enjoy this life, it's the only one we've got right now!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Encouragement=New Saddle

This time of year horse people start itching for the real Spring, not the pseudo-Spring we're getting at the moment teasing with 60 degree daytime temperatures. While the warm Spring-like temps we're experiencing this week are encouraging, I needed another kind of encouragement. Last week I ordered myself a new saddle.

The first saddle I bought for my big Spotted Saddle Horse (16.3h), Bo, was a typical heavy black leather Western saddle. I found it on ebay from an upstart saddle company. They specialized at the time in gaited, draft and mule saddles. I decided on a gaited saddle, though at the time, I wasn't really sure what I was doing. I had gaited horses, so the gaited saddle seemed appropriate. Reading a few sources, and with the saddle company's sizing help, the sizing seemed right. The price was right, in my opinion, for a first saddle at $500.

It's a very nice saddle for the price. But over the past seven years, some things have changed and my opinion on leather vs. synthetic has changed. I'm one of those "older" riders now. On my birthday next month, I'll be the big 5-0. I want things to be less work for me and a lighter saddle seems right.

This time around I studied up on sizing, bars, trees, leather vs synthetic, gaited vs QH vs trail. I really liked the synthetics we used at the riding stable, but had been told they wouldn't hold up. Mind you, this was back in '04 when the synthetics were becoming much more popular. My boss was a strictly leather saddle fan. She didn't really like the synthetics we used, but the price was right for the budget of the riding stable. She could purchase 4 new synthetics for the price of one new leather Western saddle. As staff, we appreciated the lighter synthetics when tacking and untacking ten to twelve horses. I don't recall ever having a problem with fit on the variety of horse backs we had there and those synthetics would clean up quickly.

Well, time proved my boss was a little off on her opinion that the synthetics wouldn't hold up to the leathers. They did. When I left that job, I decided I'd be going synthetic. The previous year I'd purchased a half synthetic/half leather saddle for my other horse anyway. Ended up using it on Bo, but just didn't feel it fit him right. He's is simply a big Walker. The leather saddle fit him well, but when I rode in it, or used it on him, I never felt comfortable. My husband seemed to like it but he's never ridden in different saddles so he really can't compare apples to oranges.

I looked over saddles in the horse supply catalogs the past month. I narrowed my choices down to the popular Wintec synthetics, which I had experience with at the riding stable and an Abetta Cordura Saddle. The Abetta had excellent reviews from people who owned them and is available in a wide tree sizing for the horse, which I have decided would be better for Bo. As for me, I can do either a 16 or 17 seat, depends on the saddle. I went for the 17 figuring that would cover both my husband and me nicely, rather, I'm pretty sure I can cover it with no problem.

One of my hold ups in ordering was the fact that a saddle is something very personal. I don't have saddle retailers close by, I'm buying sight unseen. Took me a few days to build up the nerve to make the decision. There is a return policy, but who wants to box up a saddle and send it back? I wasn't looking forward to that if it turns out to be completely wrong. But, I took the leap of faith and ordered it. Should be here any day now. 

That's how I'm encouraging myself in these teasing pre-Spring days before the real Spring sets in.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011


I am all about the phrase "Knowledge is Power!". I used it a lot when I was a librarian. I had a t-shirt with the slogan on the back. However, in my horse-life I've decided, Too Much Information, aka TMI, can be confusing and unproductive especially when it comes to figuring out what you want, or need, to do with your horse. Kind of sounds contradictory, I realize, but the past six years, I've been through tons of information and lately, I've decided I need to glean what is useful to me and my horses. Yeah, took me that long to figure it out for myself.

There comes a point where TMI can hurt your progress more than it helps. There comes a point when TMI leads to confusion. Most of the time this is in the areas of training techniques, clinicians and horse health, to name the most common concerns.

Back in 2004 I left a librarian/branch manager position at our local branch library. Too stressful. Imagine that! A library.Turned out I'm not a public oriented type. If you ever get a chance to talk to a librarian, I'm sure you'll hear similar stories. My son is working for a community college library. I have to laugh at his tales. They are similar to my experiences. Anyway, after I left that job, I decided I was going to take the time I had to make my dream come true, the one I'd had since I was a child, horses. My husband was all for it, our sons were grown, and we were in a position where one income would work for us. 

We prepared the property. Learned the best fencing to put in, built a run-in type shed area, and all the other amenities needed to make a couple of horses comfortable. I took riding lessons which led to a part time job at a summer camp helping with their riding program. There I was, a 45 year old woman working with teenagers, but it was probably one of the best summers I ever spent! I learned so much about horse behavior that year. I was happy to have the opportunity. After the summer, the stable needed another assistant so I stayed on. It was a hands-on opportunity to learn more about horses and riding. 

That fall I bought my two horses, brought them home and worried I wasn't doing things right for about the next 5 years. I watched clinicians. Ordered books. Watched videos. Observed one clinician (on RFDtv or video) I really liked for a couple of months then switched to another which ended up being a pattern. Finally, about a year ago I had an epiphany. I needed to find what exactly worked for me and stick to it. Not necessarily one clinician although that's a help if you can be particularly loyal, but your own consistent techniques. Since I decided I wasn't doing a cookie cutter type of training I've been more relaxed and my horses are responding in kind.

What am I getting at here? Well, you need to have all the knowledge you can acquire to pursue any goal in life. But in the getting there, don't get caught up in the right or wrong of who or what. Some people will flourish following the exact techniques of a clinician. Others will find that too restricted and will discover their own talents in following their horse's particular character and talents. We are in an age where we are extremely fortunate to have tons of information available to us. Don't allow TMI to cloud your goals. Knowledge is POWER but TMI can overwhelm.

Enjoy the journey!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Winter Fat

Much of the year I concern myself with the obvious fact, my horses are on the plump side. I've heard it from two different vets. I've had people tell me "He's really big", referring to the bigger of my two Spotted Saddle Horses, Bo. He is actually big, but I admit, he's also fat. I think my farrier is just being nice by telling me he's seen fatter horses. Over the years I've used the justification that Bo is simply big boned. He is the old style Tennessee Walker frame. But, since Spirit, my smaller SSH, has grown out of his youth, I can see, both of my horses are indeed, fat.

This year though, I am glad of it. We've had one rough winter. I am comforted in the knowledge that under their shaggy winter fur, they have insulation to withstand February's winter blow. One reason my horses are fat all year is because like me, they haven't been getting extra activity. This year will be different. Or at least, that is my plan.

Right now though I've decided no more worrying about fat horses. They're fattened up for this very rough winter and I'm OK with that. I'll let you know around June how my plan has worked out...