Archive | December, 2012

Katie demonstrates proper ear-pinning technique

31 Dec


This is very important if you are not an alpha mare but want to be one.  Practice this daily and soon you will get all the food.  If this doesn’t work, ask me for more tips.  I have many, including something called the mare stomp.  This involves your front leg.  –Katie

Katie gives advice on food

31 Dec


Dear Katie, there are other horse advice columnists but they are all big horses and don’t understand the unique challenges of being a miniature horse.  I can get into the feed shed, but once I’m in, I can’t get out.  It’s too small to turn around, and if I back out I step on my buddy who is standing right behind me trying to get in.  Signed, Stuck in Paradise

Dear Stuck in Paradise, there is no reason to get out of a feed shed once you are in.  It is the best place to be.  Just keep eating until you have eaten a space large enough for yourself to turn around.  Then, bite your buddy who is blocking the door and he will move and you can jump out.  –Katie

Two types of horse people

30 Dec


There are two types of horse people.  Those who love to ride their horses and those who love the farm lifestyle.  Then there is a third type, the Renaissance horse woman who does everything well, but I’m not going to speak much about her.

Among these types you will find many “alpha mares” who truly believe they can rise to become leader by biting and kicking people.  These are found among both types.  Usually if a scathing look doesn’t subdue you, it is followed by a biting email.  Most horse people, however, are the mares, stallions, foals and geldings (fixed males) of the herd who mostly mind their own business, eat grass and stay out of the way of the alphas.

Amid the first group of horse people are the horse sports men and women.  They may board (keep) their horse at a nice barn and have someone clean the stalls so they can achieve their riding goals, which for many working people involve simply riding at all.  They may do stable chores to save money, but the chores are not their true passion.

The second type takes great pride in watching their compost pile (aka stall cleanings mounded up several stories high) steam.  They may even have a special thermometer to monitor the temperature of the compost pile and record it in a book.  They think of the microbes hard at work decomposing the poop and sigh.

After cleaning the stalls, paddocks, pastures and rearranging the compost pile into an attractive and functional shape, this horsewoman will check over her horses and turn them out to the pasture and watch them play.

During this time, the first horsewoman will have ridden 20 meter circles in an arena, participated in a barrel race, competitive trail ride, steeplechase or won the Kentucky Derby.  She may also have been fox hunting, skijoring, combined driving or jumping her horse bridleless over a picnic table.

The Renaissance horsewoman, of which we won’t speak much, will have done all of this before work.

Magazines are fun

30 Dec


I love magazines.  Especially horse magazines.  One of my favorites is Horse Illustrated.  It has lovely photoshopped posters of Gypsy Vanners and Arabians.  We first discovered this magazine while trapped for 7 hours in the Denver airport.  We had eaten all the ice cream, popcorn and junk food we could, slept, walked and finally wandered into the bookstore.

A beautiful Hackney pranced across the cover.  It had a horse poster!  My daughter was overjoyed.  She liked it so much we subscribed.  Soon she began to notice many of the articles were recycled.  The same horse poster reappeared.  The articles seemed to imply the only real horse you’ve handled is a Breyer.  Those things hanging from the saddle?  Those are stirrups.

So we moved on to the Horse, a more advanced horse magazine.  It was a little too advanced, as in it was geared toward those who were interested in how to reattach a horse’s severed leg and look inside their intestines in search of parasites. After giving the magazine a decent burial in the recycle bin we moved on to Equus.

Equus is a less intense version of the Horse.  It has enough suitably gross photos and articles on hoof abscesses and parasite life cycles to please a vet, but also has informative articles on conformation and even a human interest piece about deep human-horse bonds and struggles.

Now that horse diseases and parasites had been covered, a magazine about actual riding was in order.  What could be more appropriate than one called Horse and Rider?  When it arrived, we realized it was a Western magazine and my daughter rode English.  She didn’t own a western saddle.

But it has a lovely section where a smiling judge (wearing a cowboy hat) asks you to place aged quarter horse mares or Appaloosa geldings.  Once there were even Tennessee walkers.  Western ones, of course.

Nothing new under the sun

30 Dec


There is nothing new under the sun.

That implies you have sun.  Or have seen the sun within the past week.  You can try singing in the rain, but here in Seattle people look at you funny if you do.  The appropriate manner of ambulation in the rain is bent forward, moving briskly with your raincoat zipped or clutched against your throat.

If you are holding an inside-out umbrella, you are a newcomer.

Shadows of Rain

29 Dec

The Eskimos have 80 names for snow.  In the Northwest we have 63 names for rain.  Drizzle, more drizzle, heavy drops, splatter and deluge.  The remnants of tropical storms love to roar in from the south and give us such memorable events as the Inauguration Day Storm.  I only remember that one because I took the turtle to bed.  The power was out and the turtle had no heat lamp, so I tucked him in a box under the covers.  He froze with the rest of us in the 40 degree chill that feels like sub zero and freezes everything except water.
The result is endless green fields, evergreens and lawns that need to be mowed on Christmas day.  In waders.  This used to be a rain forest.   Red Cedars as wide as tool sheds gave way to asphalt, farmland, espresso huts, tree stumps and mud.  I-5 cuts through the trashed rainforest, straight into the Convergence Zone.  It sounds like something really cool should be happening there, such as the Enterprise re-materializing or gravity weakening so we could fly.  Instead, rain squalls create mile-long traffic jams.  Convergence zones happen to form, due to a wicked sense of rain- cloud humor, right at the King-Snohomish County line in the thick of the metro area.   They also enjoy dumping inches of snow on unsuspecting commuters at times when it isn’t supposed to snow much.  This results in events such as the infamous 11 hour commute through Seattle during the last big snow storm.
After living for years within the convergence zone’s favorite spot to form, a mold- infested land where “green roof” means someone didn’t pressure wash and trees sprout from rain gutters, we moved closer to  what’s known as a rain shadow.  Rain shadow=good.  Convergence zone=bad.  In the rain shadow, rain stops and dumps on someone else instead of you.  We are at the edge of one, and the sunny disposition of the rain shadow is a welcome change.  Things are straightforward here.  Especially the wind, which can easily gust to 60 mph without breaking a sweat.  This is not a good place to put your boat in a Costco tarp garage unless you enjoy finding a tattered mangled mess around your boat in the morning.  I don’t have a boat, but have witnessed just such a shelter rebuilt three times with duct tape following run-of-the-mill windstorms.
The good thing is that the wind blows the clouds away.  Sometimes we see the stars at night and glorious sunsets.  There’s usually a clearing in the afternoon that doesn’t happen a mere five miles to the east.  We are on the coattails of sunshine,  tag alongs to the rain shadow without quite being in it.
If you have ever survived a Seattle winter, you will know why that is good.