Archive | October, 2013

Horse Drama, Part 2

30 Oct

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I am trying to figure out if horse drama is a West Coast thing, or if there is also cow drama.  Or maybe I attract drama.  But I never attracted any sort of drama at all until I got back into horses, so I can only assume that horses bring out the crazies in people.

Maybe if I were wealthy and at a big boarding barn there would be no drama.  Maybe it’s that I am in a low- budget price range and get what I pay for.

Or it’s possible that more money buys more drama.  I wouldn’t know, since I don’t have more money to find out.

I think the crazy people selling horses and lessons don’t realize they’re crazy.  Being an introspective person, I immediately question if I am the crazy one and see all my flaws, imperfections and inconsistencies.   I see the times I inadvertently hurt someone or failed to be the person I wished I could be and acted badly.  The times I took the easy way out rather than confronting someone.

As a last resort, I ask someone if I am crazy.  Then I bring up the name of the person I suspect is crazy.  Most of the time (well, all of the time) I get a response that says something like “I should have warned you about her.”

So, from now on every time I encounter a new horse person, it seems I must check their references and check if they are crazy.  Why is it like that in the horse world?   A horse is an animal, a pet, a companion, a working partner– but also  seems to be a power trip and an ego boost for some people, or a crutch used to prop up a fragile sense of self.

Or maybe I’m reading too much into it.   Maybe it’s so simple that horses just attract some crazy people.  And some great people, too.

Katie Gets Some Exercise

28 Oct

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Katie is finally back, since this is her blog.  I took her out of the pasture to ground drive her and found out she is so fat her harness won’t fit.   So I lunged her (made her trot around the round pen) and had her jump a few jumps.  Then we went for a walk up the road for the first time in months.

She turned into a snorting, prancing little fireball.  Things that she walked past two months ago without batting an eye now required hyperventilating.  This is one reason why Katie did not become my driving horse.

In contrast, I took Macho the mini gelding down the road and he walked past tall grass, decaying tomato plants and a shrub without fear.  He even ignored the goat.  Katie bumped her nose on my hand and calmed down enough to walk with energy and snorting but no really bad behavior.

Katie needs to lose about 25 lbs in order to fit into her harness.  She has been eating more than her share of the hay since Macho eats slower due to his senior teeth.

Katie Knows That Photographers are Easy To Outrun

24 Oct

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

Dear Katie, I am a 12 hand Welsh pony.  Tomorrow I’m getting my picture taken.  The picture is for the girl who rides me.  They said I am a “prop.”  What does that mean?  Signed, Photogenic but Confused

Dear Photogenic,  they want you to prop her up so she has something to lean on. But she can stand up by herself.   They’ll have you stand somewhere scenic, like in a tasty meadow.  When they are done arranging you as the prop, make a run for it and eat grass.  Photographers are easy to outrun.  Good luck- Katie

The Blog of Unrideable Things

23 Oct

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First it was my bike.  The gears locked up an unpedalable position and the front wheel threatened to fall off.  So I couldn’t ride it.  Then my kids got a pony that was too small for me to ride.  Slowly I ended up with a farm full of unridable things.

It was a source of secret shame.  I had horses but nothing to ride.  And I liked to ride.  Soon I realized I was not alone.  Tannia’s grandma has six evil ponies and she said she’d trade them all for one ridable horse.

Then a friend confessed she was horse shopping because she had 7 lame horses at home.  Two of them belonged to a boarder who had disappeared, but still.  Seven lame horses lived in her pasture.

As time went on, I discovered people who had unrideable pasture pets of every persuasion.  It is amazing how many ways there are for a horse to be unrideable.  One horse has a mystery lameness.  Another has early arthritis, navicular, neurologic problems, is a chronic spooker, has back problems, ringbone, is partially blind, was abused as a yearling, rears, etc.

If you think you have problems, try being a horse.  In my past, most horses I knew were rideable.  In that state of affairs, a lame or dangerous horse went on the slaughter truck. I am not condoning the way it was done.  As a teen my dream was to have a retirement farm and save them all.  I wonder if that karma has come back to get me.

I do only have three.  Two are minis and one is a pony, so that is technically only 1 unrideable horse if you add them up.  And the pony is drivable.  Kind of.  Needs work.  But they’re cute and bring me a lot of joy.

I got the gears on my bike fixed.  It still kind of squeaks and rattles, but it’s a 25 year old bike. It rides great and is a lot less fickle than a horse.

Why I Moved To The Country

22 Oct

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I always felt a little too close to our neighbors when we lived in town.  One day I thought their house was on fire and peered over the fence to see them chain smoking on the back deck.

They also enjoyed burning all their trash in their fireplace.  The prevailing winds sent this eye-watering haze into our yard.

I approached them and they said they were just burning caterpillars.  That was a lot of caterpillars.  Finally I called the city.  The city made them buy trash pick up, which they hadn’t had since 1952.   Even though they now owned a snazzy blue plastic trash can, they still burned trash in their fireplace.  They tried to do it when we wouldn’t notice.  Like when it was 90 degrees and the kids were out in the wading pool.

I went over to their house, braving the toxic cloud and asked if they could please stop.  Mr. Neighbor came to the door eating a plate of spaghetti, his brow sweaty and  furrowed.    Silently he stared me down.  His wife came up behind him and said they were just burning old checks.  You know how important it is to burn those.

This went on for 16 years.  Though they got more stealthy and sometimes tried to burn it after 9 pm.

I should add that our houses were mere feet apart, separated by a geriatric fence that had been built in 1970 something.  We shared a small ice cube tray on top of the fence where they put peanuts for the squirrels.

They also had a large RV.  Think the largest RV you have ever seen- the size of a small bus.  They had a small driveway so they parked the RV on the road in front of our house.  The tall RV came just in front of our dining room window and we looked at it instead of our territorial view of other neighbors’ yards.

They parked it there for months at a time.  When they moved it,  their friends with RVs would come visit and camp out on the parking strip in front of our house.  They were all retired so they were there all the time.  They had a large slide out that stuck out into the road so we couldn’t see to back out of our driveway.  They played loud country music and had a poodle who barked incessantly.

When they ate dinner, we were usually eating dinner.  Our windows lined up so we had to watch them and their little poodle eat dinner and listen to country music.  They were entirely oblivious to being mere feet way from our kitchen and dining room windows and the fact that they were practically camping in our yard. They never introduced themselves, waved or acknowledged that we existed.

They stayed for weeks.

Meanwhile the neighbors, who had the standard juniper, rhodie and fir landscape, had a tree service come every few weeks and spray every bush and shrub in the yard with pesticides.  Because our yards were so close, spraying their trees meant half of our yard, including my veggie garden and lawn furniture got doused with spray.

So that was one motivation to move back to the country.  People warned me that in the country, people burn their trash and farmers spray their fields.  I said, it couldn’t possibly be any worse.

I am not a Dressage Queen

20 Oct

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I am not a dressage queen, as you can see from my snazzy T-shirt over blue long underwear took.  You, too, can have this look at your next show.  I will explain how.

If you don’t know what a dressage test is, it’s a driven or ridden pattern in arena marked with letters.  You trot, circle, halt (or fall off) at various letters.  The test is approved and published by a prestigious horse committee of some sort.  They reached into a jar of letters, pulled them out randomly, put on blindfolds and stuck them on a prototype arena.  These letters are not alphabetical.  You enter at A, but the next letter is K.  There’s an M and a C and an E and a B  and an F all sitting there in no logical order for you to memorize.

Then you need to look at a test and memorize what to to between or at various illogical and memorized letters.  If you have a reader reading your test out loud you can only hope they don’t suffer from any form of dyslexia or happen to sneeze and lose their place and cue you to the wrong letter.

Then there’s a thing called a judge’s stand.  It’s a fancy table, sometimes with a scary canopy, at the end of the arena where the judge sits. The committee spent long hours figuring out how to make this table as scary as possible for a horse.  As your horse rounds the corner towards the judge’s stand they must pass the scary object and not spook.

So I decided to memorize ADT training test 1 (which I had already memorized since I never have advanced beyond this level) and take the outgrown riding pony to the show for a dressage test.

I packed a nice wool hunt coat to wear over my long underwear shirt.  I got to the show and put on the hunt coat and it was several sizes too small.  I had grabbed my kid’s hunt coat.  Every hunt coat looks pretty much the same until you put it on.  The sleeves were just below my elbow and it wouldn’t button.   Then they called me to go warm up.  I had to wear the long underwear shirt with my number on the back.  Not the classy impression I was hoping to make.

Pony entered the arena for some ground driving warm up and proceeded to whinny and  act like a giraffe with her head up.  This is not a spooky pony, but horses were whinnying in the stalls attached to the arena.  She calmed down in a few minutes and I hitched her up.  Off we went.  I should also admit that I had only driven pony three times this fall.  At a walk, mostly.  So I wasn’t sure what would happen when I asked her to trot.

I got a trot briefly, then an unauthorized walk.  I got her going again with my whip and was looking for the mystical letter X which lays in an ancient vortex in the center of the arena between the letters B and E, which are glued on opposite walls.  The holy grail of X was there somewhere, but apparently not where I was, as I stopped short.  But it was a nice stop.

So I saluted with my whip.  The judge looked at me with no response.  Oops.  I gave a big nod.  The judge nodded back and  we took off at the working trot.  We had to do an arena-wide circle.  I knew this could be bad.  But I had no idea how bad until I saw my own tire tracks.  The circle had an extra bulge like a a solar flare ready to shoot off the sun and decimate humanity.  The second circle lacked the bulge but was reminiscent of the Hindenburg before its fateful demise.

As I headed back to K or was it F the working trot had no momentum, except during a brief canter and lurch after I tapped her with the whip.  Pony generally doesn’t have momentum unless there is food involved.

But her trot was pretty.  This trot earned her many blues as a riding pony and when she collected today she was lovely.  I remembered to nod with my salute at x before exiting the arena and took a deep breath.  I had survived my test with the green pony who just needs better steering and conditioning.  We got a score of 64 which seemed generous, but I will take it.

More Horse Shopping

5 Oct

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We’re going to look at another horse tomorrow, the second one this week.  He is not fancy.  I’ve gotten into trouble with fancy.   Maybe he’ll turn out to be our next  riding horse.  My criteria has been downgraded to safe, sane and sound.   I know he will not be a Bwert;  this one is definitely gelded.