Archive | January, 2013

Katie Knows That Sometimes Appearances can be Deceiving

31 Jan

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Katie understands the unique challenges of being a miniature horse.

Dear Katie, I am a 31 inch tall miniature horse.  My neighbor has called me a llama.  How do I convince him that I am a miniature horse?  Signed, Not a Llama

Dear Llama, in our winter coats,  it is often hard to tell which end of a miniature horse is the front, much less what species we are.  You can whinny and bite them and soon they will know you are a horse.  When you shed in summer no one will mistake you for a llama.  – Katie

On Gardens and Horses

30 Jan

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Soon after we moved here, we had a pony and a large vegetable garden.  Then my kids began horse showing.  The garden got weedier.  Then smaller.  We were gone to the Fair for 4 days one August and the weeds overtook the remaining veggies.  I still managed to excavate a lot of veggies from the weeds.  I grew all of our spring and early summer lettuces and quite a bit of corn, peas, beans, potatoes, garlic, onions, tomatoes, and last year I had an abundance of beets and carrots.  The year before I had bumper crops of parsnips and Brussel sprouts in addition to all-you-can eat kale and so much zucchini it was scary.  Then there’s the ubiquitous Swiss Chard which looks impressive throughout the summer.  And a few ventures into red cabbage, kohl rabhi and winter squash.

As the years of horse training, horse showing, horse lessons, horse janitorial work, horse pasture mowing, fence building, tack cleaning, 4-H meetings went on- I began to lose my battle with the weeds in the garden.  The garden has shrunk. This irks me because a garden is part of a farm.  But I see why it is not common on a horse farm.  It’s impossible to do it all.

I can see that any easing of the show schedule will find me re-expanding the garden, growing vegetables that never taste as good from the store.  There’s magic in a garden.  It feeds body and soul.   There’s nothing like weeding rows of young corn by the light of a rising moon.  Or picking fresh, sweet peas and eating them in the garden.

Growing up, we had a large garden and grew most of our veggies.  I took the joy of gardening with me into adulthood- growing huge lettuces, tomatoes, even peas and beans on our tiny apartment balcony, then renting a larger “pea patch” in Seattle- a plot of fertile land along the Duwamish River where we grew corn, tomatoes and lots of other veggies.  I have gardened everywhere I’ve lived.

I always wondered why, when I visited horse properties, there were no gardens.  On dairy farms, you always find a garden.

I think with pasture pet ponies, I could garden.  Or if I had an old puttery trail horse who mostly wanted to stand in the shade.  Katie would be happy to stand around and watch me garden and eat grass nearby.  She and I are very alike.  We’re not show quality.  We like to get out and do stuff, but not be in the spotlight.  That’s why I am glad to have Katie.  She’s happy to go for a hike or goof around, and always gives me a friendly nicker.  She reminds me what’s really important, keeps me honest and fair.

I think a pony and a garden would be pleasant retirement companions. Small enough to not be a burden, big enough to provide a lot of joy.  In America we like things big, flashy, bold and in lights.  I’d rather have a dark night sky and see the stars, a peaceful garden of fresh veggies and nice four legged friend to mow the lawn.  A pony can pull a cart, and that is fun, too.

Katie Understands that Fashion isn’t Everything

29 Jan

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Katie understands the unique challenges of being a miniature horse or pony.

Dear Katie, I am 40 inch Shetland pony.  I want a sweater just like Vitamin and Fivla, the Scottish tourism ponies.  My owner refuses to knit me one.  How can I deal with my disappointment?  Signed, Want to be Fashionable

Dear Fashionable, this is a good thing.  Wool sweaters are scratchy and uncomfortable.   They also make you look fat.  You can’t roll in them or scratch yourself.  Escape and eat some grass and soon you’ll feel better.  – Katie

Katie Explains that it is Important to Treat Miniature Horses Right

29 Jan

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Katie understands the unique challenges of being a miniature horse.

Dear Katie,
I am a 30 inch tall miniature horse.  My owner has started feeding me inexpensive horse treats.  These come in a 50 lb bag.  They taste like sawdust.  How do I get her to feed me tasty horse treats?  Signed, Quantity over Quality

Dear Quantity, your owner does not realize that miniature horses require a large quantity of high quality treats every day.  This will be hard, but you must refuse to eat the low quality treats.  If you can chew on them and spit them out this makes an even bigger impression.  Soon she will realize it costs more to waste a 50 lb bag than to buy lots of expensive and tasty treats for you. – Katie

Katie Understands that Speaking Up is Sometimes Necessary

28 Jan

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Katie understands the unique challenges of  being a miniature horse.

Dear Katie,  I am 28″ tall miniature horse.  When I was out of the fence I left hoof prints in a flower bed and now my owner is mad and has locked me in my stall.   I can’t escape the fence when I’m locked in my stall.  What can I do?  Signed, Locked Up

Dear Locked Up, the only way to get out of your stall is to be either cute or annoying.  You can try both tactics and see which works better.  First make an incredibly cute face.  Tip your nose up and beg.  If that doesn’t work, make the most obnoxious whinny you can muster and start striking the stall door with your front leg.  Soon she will let you out so you can escape and eat her flowers again. – Katie

Katie Demands a Shrubbery

26 Jan

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Katie understands the unique challenges of being a miniature horse or pony.

Dear Katie, I am a 40 inch tall Shetland pony.  My owner is mad because I ate some of the delicious shrubs in the front yard.  How can I get to eat more shrubs? Signed, Craving A Snack

Dear Craving, I know how delicious apple trees and other tasty shrubs can be.  Your best bet is to escape when she isn’t looking and prune the trees into an attractive shape.  Then she won’t think you did it.- Katie

Katie Understands that Sharing Your Hay is For the Birds

26 Jan

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Katie understands the unique challenges of being a miniature horse.

Dear Katie, I am a 29 inch tall miniature horse.  I have a problem with chickens coming into my pen and trying to lay eggs in my hay.  One of them jumped up and sat on my back this morning,  How do I get rid of the chickens?  Signed, Fed Up With Birds

Dear Fed Up, this is easy to fix.  You must channel your inner pony.  When the chicken leaps at you, bite at her.  Stomp your front leg.  If she has the audacity to land on your back, start bucking until she flies off.  Do not give in to the birds- Katie

Katie Knows How To Have a Ball

25 Jan

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Katie understands the unique challenges of being a miniature horse.

Dear Katie, I am a 38” miniature horse.  My owners bought me a red  horse toy ball with a handle.  They keep expecting me to play with it.  What can I do to get the annoying thing out of my paddock?  Signed, Not ready to Play Ball

Dear Not Ready, Oh, yes.  I had one of those.  First walk over to it.  Your owner will toss it around to show you much fun it isn’t.  This will wear them out.  When they drop it, walk over and pee on it.  They won’t want to touch it.  Later roll it on top of some poop.  Soon they will take it out of your pen. – Katie

Note from Katie’s person:  Katie, I think this post was a real stinker!

Be the Change

25 Jan

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The surest way to clear a room is to talk religion or politics.  Another good one is gun control.  Opinions make people uncomfortable.  Faced with someone very different from yourself, how do you respond?  Can you take it or do you leave the room?  Do you say something inflammatory within their earshot or now, social-media shot?

What are our opinions?  Do they define us?  Are they a solid item useful for bludgeoning  others who don’t share them?  Is an opinion a part of your home decor, like a lamp or table?  Can you give it away once it’s no longer useful?

How much discomfort is caused by a difference of opinion?  A lot.  A difference of religious opinion can either set someone squirming or cause them to start a war.  I think we are the only species who is so attached to our definitions and opinions that we are willing to kill for them.  We cease to listen.

So here’s a challenge.  Can you stay present with someone spouting a different opinion?  If you did, what would happen?  Would the opinion dissipate into thin air as the vibrations of words ceased?

In most cases, yes.  If it’s a true injustice, think Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks.  Think new ways.  Because if we don’t, who will?  Speak up from a place that doesn’t throw flames back, but comes from the fire of your soul.  Don’t be afraid to speak your opinion.  Don’t keep quiet.  Is there a paradox here?  Not really, if you think about it.  Can I do this?  Well, sometimes.  I’m working on it.

“Be the change you wish to see in the world” — Mahatma Gandhi  (He got results)

A Little Tao

25 Jan

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“The Tao is like a well:
used but never used up.
It is like the eternal void:
filled with infinite possibilities.

It is hidden but always present.
I don’t know who gave birth to it.
It is older than God.”

Lao tzu, the Tao Te Ching – translated by S. Mitchell