Cowboy Inspiration

Work: day off. Again.

I spent the day at my state’s Horse Fair, a winter festival of lectures, demonstrations, and association booths. I learned:
1) There is a whole parallel western world of which I know nothing.
2) Western riding is looking more and more like dressage: balanced seat, legs underneath the body, legs in contact with the horse, knees and ankles at English angles. Not a lot of Sit Your Pockets anymore.
3) Riders are less likely to fall off a western saddle and western horses are less likely to suffer freak accidents, judging by the lack of helmets.
4) Drill teams are awesome. However, I will not be able to ride in one with a horse this far from the center of the bell curve in height, unless I find a squadron of giraffes.
I was inspired to go back to groundwork exercises with Rodney, mainly by counter-example. I have no use for most of the clinicians I have seen to date, including some Very Big Names, but that is a conversation for another day, in private, over a glass of your favorite amber-colored liquid.

Truck Shopping

Work: unclear. Rain.

Gloomy weather to match my gloomy mood. I’m feeling old, unproductive, purposeless, and all those other doom clouds that travel in packs. One obvious reason is that this is the longest I’ve gone without riding since I was 14. One obvious answer is to be grateful for all that I have, bloom where I am planted, live in the moment, etc, etc. As this enlightened attitude has yet to take hold in my life, I don’t see it happening by this afternoon. Another obvious, if more concrete, answer would be to get a third horse. This has been the plan all along: one fancy show horse for me & a husband horse that could double as my second horse, not as talented but fun. A sports car & a truck if you will.

When one goes horse shopping, sellers want to know preferred age, size, breed, training, budget. My answer is, it depends. Age and cost are linear functions. The higher the number, the more I better like the horse. A non-Thoroughbred might be fun. Get a Morgan or an Arabian to cross-show in jumper classes at breed shows (do they even have these?). I used to show with a woman who did this with a Quarter Horse and earned herself a big-time belt buckle. Finally, I’m not as interested in specific training as in talent & mental outlook. These attributes are hard to list in a classified ad or see on a video.

What is your best tip for horse shopping?

Caution Feral Horse

Work: none. Heat therapy already. Will groom later.

Rodney has had 7 out of last 8 days off, with little more than meals & a pat on the nose. My first horse developed complicated stable management diseases if I gave him even one day off. I hired a barn rat to love on him for days when I worked late. Previous Horse reverted to Wild Stallion of the Plains when he wasn’t in work. Since this was a horse who would happily bite or kick if he got a clear opportunity, we had a few behind-the-barn, attitude adjustment sessions. Rodney’s default is to be afraid of the universe. On Monday, he was shivering and pulling away if I even thought about touching him during the heating session. Unfortunately I have no patience with wimps. In truth, I have little enough patience to begin with, but beta behavior in cats, dogs, horses, or people puts me right out of countenance. Saying ‘Get over yourself’ comes more naturally to me than saying ‘There, there’. So, we are taking the path of least resistance for the rest of the week. It’s not like a delay is going to throw off our show schedule.

How does your horse react to time off?

Guest Blogger: Keeping Secrets

Work: day off.

Book Review of Keeping Secrets by Maggie Dana [rerelease Kindle 2011]
by Ellen Broadhurst, The Blithe Traveler

I know Maggie Dana through my mother. So I asked Ellen Broadhurst to do the honors as she has no dog in the hunt. Plus, she has experience with horses and books as the author of The Chronicles of The $700 Pony & The Further Adventures of the $700 Pony [Half Halt, 2006 & 2008, illustrated by Patricia Naegeli]. The story continues in The Adventures of The $700 Pony, a blog by her new rider, Marisa Goode. Ellen, who now lives overseas, writes about her adventures as a blithe traveler. Welcome Ellen:

Keeping Secrets  is an engaging read for the young horse enthusiast. Kate McGregor is a high school girl with a secret; one that has kept her from pursuing the passion of her life, riding horses. Running from her own life, Kate takes a job as an assistant to Holly Chapman, a feisty, wheelchair bound girl her own age. Holly suffers from “hysterical paralysis” due to a riding accident; she cannot feel her legs although doctors assure her there is no nerve or spine damage. Through her developing friendship with Holly, Kate rediscovers her passion for horses, and together, the girls uncover the truth behind Kate’s secret.

The realistic setting and descriptions of horse care and showing in Keeping Secrets are welcome in a genre where authors often skimp on detail. The story is compelling, face paced and has the requisite set of characters that younger readers love to root for and against. The anti-hero of the story, Angela Dean, is a typical “rich girl, poor horseman” sort of character, but one who I can believe has the potential to develop further as a character in future books.

[Spoiler removed. Happy reading. KTW] For the horse loving young reader, this book will deliver a terrific story, a good dose of “horse,” and a hope for a sequel.

As a child, I read every horse book I could get my hands on. If you had a young horse fan in your life right now, which of your favorite childhood books would you pass along to them?

The Barefoot Boy

Work: house rules stipulate that farrier = day off. What can I say, Previous Horse trained me well.

We deweaponized Rodney’s hind feet early on. At the end of last year, I had the blacksmith remove his front shoes as well. He’ll probably need them back in the summer for stomping flies. Meanwhile this will give him a chance to grow foot. Taking his fronts off has also completed his transformation from fancy stall-bound show horse to redneck yard art.

I’ve seen horses being ridden immediately after being shod. Do yours or do they get the day off?

The Things We Do For Love

Work: None. Heat therapy.

In high school, my friends would call on a Friday evening,
“Hey, we’re going to a party. Want to come?”
To which I would say,
“No. I have to get up for a horse show tomorrow morning.”

In college, I looked into the Peace Corps. I got as far as a form that said ‘If you sign this & we assign you, you have to go’. Granted this was fairly early in the process, but it made me realize I wasn’t going to leave my horse nor stop riding for two years.

These days, we have not gotten the current arrangement of horses settled to the point that we can both leave the property overnight. No impromptu mini-honeymoons in New Orleans for us.

Mostly, I haven’t minded. However, this weekend, they cost me bricks!

On Saturday, BrickFair held a basket auction (Chinese raffle for the unPC) of free LEGO sets. You had to be present to win. When I woke up Saturday, Rodney was on full alert over hunters in the woods. In his defense, black powder season is LOUD. So, I had to wait for him to calm down enough to feed. Good-bye auction. On Saturday evening after the public hours, my LEGO club (go ahead & snark – it’s a blast) held a parts draft (splitting a set among ourselves). When the draft was delayed, I decided I couldn’t wait, sold my share, & came home to check the horses. They were fine. Waiting in my email was a notice that one of my MOCs (my own creation) was nominated for an award. Yeah! However, I had not posted a picture and nominees with pictures tended to get more votes. It would have been a piece of cake to find someone to take and upload a photo. You can always count on geeks to be technology-enabled. However the MOC was 30 miles away because, all together now, I had come home early to check the horses. It didn’t win.

I realize that my raffle tickets might not have been drawn had I been there. That the person who bought my place to had just as much fun as I would have had. That my MOC might not have won with a photo. Plus, I know that there are plenty worse things that happen every day, even right on my own road. But. Still. It would be one thing if Rodney was winning, or even entertaining. All this for a horse who is already a source of epic frustration. On the upside, the horses are fine. I enjoyed the rest of BrickFair. And, I got a blog post out of it.

What have you given up for horses?

BrickFair: day 4

[Theme change because, after an embarrassingly long time, I noticed that my choice was the same as that of Writing From the Right Side of the Stall. I am a journalist. I notice these details. Eventually.]

Work: day off.

Last day of Brickfair. In the LEGO world, horses are either medieval or for girls. (Horse Jumping set discontinued. Try this instead. 1/16/13)

What was your favorite childhood horse toy?