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Competition: the Rhubarb Connection

13 Jan

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In a book I read awhile ago by Gary Zukav (“The Seat of the Soul”), he suggested competition was the root of violence.   I didn’t understand this when I read it, so it stuck with me.  We compete in horse shows and fairs, and I wasn’t sure how that related to violence.   Our competition involves prancing horses or growing vegetables that compete against other people’s vegetables.  Last year I grew leeks that outdid all other members of the onion family to win the Big Rainbow Ribbon of onions at our community fair.  But I suffered humiliation at the hands of my rhubarb, which received a red danish.

I woke up today finally getting the competition/onion family/prancing horse/violence/rhubarb connection.  It is strange to perform and rank other humans against each other and give some a big prize and put them in descending order.  Or put their work or vegetables in descending order.  No human being is more important or less important than any other.

Do animals compete in nature?  Sure they fight and battle and have dominance and territory.  But they don’t  wreak the violence that humans have done on a large scale across the planet.  They don’t accumulate power beyond what is necessary for survival.

I am not going to stop taking part in shows or putting my rhubarb on the spot at the fair, but I will stop competing.  I am going to work on participating with a different frame of mind.  Maybe I’ll stop competing entirely in the future.  I’m pondering and still not sure where this will lead.  There’s something bigger at work in the world and a change of consciousness is pretty much the only thing capable of saving our world.

A Big Napoleon Complex

6 Jan

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We finally started some serious work with the Dukester.  The pictures are unfortunately still in the camera.  Dukie has a small Napoleon complex.  Or is that a big Napoleon complex?

To help with that, he was forced to wear Katie’s fuzzy pink harness pad for ground driving.  I discovered he also takes a smaller bit that I have, so I had to order a new bit.  And thanks to our trainer, his bridle now fits since his head is extremely small even for a mini.  He also likes to bite people so some ground work is in order to build respect.

But he is an athletic little guy.  He is show ring rather than dressage trained, so we are working to have him become more responsive to half halts.   I’m looking forward to working with him more.   Macho is doing really well so he is going to get out and start getting into driving condition again, too.  It is a big challenge to go from a well-trained schoolmaster type driving horse like Macho to a greener, younger horse.   There’s also a bond with the old horse that needs time to form with a new horse.

The Beauty of Imperfection

28 Dec

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When people start shopping for a horse (or a house), they are looking for perfection.  The horse must be between 5 and 15 years old, at least 15.2 hands tall, tie, clip, load, bathe, pass a vet exam and be safe on trails, good in the arena, not buddy sour, and have a rocking chair canter.  They must be a gelding and have no vices.  The horse must respect fences, get along with other horses, not be too alpha and ride well in the surf and on the beach.  They must also highline and overnight camp and not need shoes.  If they also are patterned on barrels, work cows, jump and do Western pleasure that would be good.  They must be schooling at least first level dressage.  Four white socks and a blaze would be a nice touch, as would a show record.

Reality drops like a ten ton brick.  It’s like when you want to buy your first house.  Every flaw seems monumental.  That spot of mold in the drywall under the sink could be a deal breaker.  I wouldn’t look at 1 1/2 car garages, only 2 car garages.

Slowly the search expands.  The great house with a 1 1/2 car garage starts to look appealing.  As does the horse with a few quirks.  That is because no horse and no house is perfect.  They all need work.  And will need work later.  Downspouts rust through.  Horses get older and have issues.  Nothing ever achieves the perfection of the original list of “must haves.”

The more houses and horses you own, the more you become willing to look at a great animal or house with a small problem or two.  Big structural problems like building in a flood plain or having a termite colony in the basement are deal breakers.  So is a lame horse, a horse with major psychological or physical problems.

But little quirks become acceptable.  A house with an ugly bathroom is OK.  The silver and pink cupid wallpaper in the dining room can be steamed off.  A horse that needs shoes in front is OK.  An 18 year old pony maybe isn’t so bad.  Forget the four white socks- plain bays are cute, too.  Horse doesn’t clip well- that can be worked on.

If a horse has a sound mind and relatively sound body, it is like a house with good bones in a nice neighborhood.  You can work with it.  Often the perfect house or perfect- appearing horse has hidden problems.  If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

Now that I have a pony for sale, I fell compelled to reveal all her shortcomings first.  It’s like being a parent- you live with them, so you know all their quirks and want to be honest.  So I haven’t had any luck yet selling.  I have a great pony, but people want a 13.1 pony, not an 11.3 pony.  They want a pony who is perfect in every way and not one with a mind of her own.  The truth is, every pony has a mind of her own.  Or else they are 30 years old and deaf.  Then they need senior feed.  My pony has perfect teeth and vacuums up hay and every form of organic matter that resembles food.

Being on the buying or selling end of anything is no fun.  I prefer to not buy or sell anything ever.  But somehow I keep ending up buying and selling things.  Like houses.  We’re on our third house.  But it has been 25 years so we haven’t bought that many houses.  I dread selling the pony.  I want the perfect home to appear, the same way every buyer wants the perfect dream pony.  Somehow, we all need to accept the beauty of imperfection.

How To Be A Grand Prix Parent

20 Dec

I hang around some very advanced parents.  Their parenting skills are at the Grand Prix level (to use a dressage analogy) and they get scores of 93.976 on their Parenting Freestyles and set world records.


I am still at Intro A (walk trot), though I am about to move myself up to Training Level 1.  That may be a mistake considering I am still getting 4s (“Marginal”) at Intro A.  Sometimes I get a 2 when I throw a big tantrum instead of moving forward.

My major fails include everything from Santa Claus to my inability to convey the inherent unfairness of life to a pre-teen.  If I were a Grand Prix parent, my kids would realize that if another child uses up the eraser on their pencil, they can just get another pencil out and use up that eraser as an act of revenge.  Oops, major parenting fail there.  Revenge is not good.  Back to Intro A.

If I were a Grand Prix parent, the kids would not spend lots of work getting out of less work.  They would willingly do their chores and even sing while they did them, like Fraulein Maria in the Sound of Music.   A Grand Prix parent would have a nice teaching story for the kids.  They hate my teaching stories.  Mine usually involve, “When I was your age…”  This type of teaching story gets a 1.  Or a zero.

If I were a Grand Prix parent, my kids would smile and hold the doors for each other instead of holding the door shut and not letting the other kid in.  They would eat stir-fried bok choy.

Yes, sometimes they can be sweet and loving.  That’s when I take pictures and post them on FaceBook so it looks like I am a Grand Prix parent.  Actually, I don’t.  Because I would have to use photoshop.  If I did that, I would just photoshop myself on the beach with a cool drink.

I would also not say things like, “I am not trimming a chicken’s beak!” when they ask if Henny’s beak is too long.  I would say, “Let me look, dear.  Oh, yes, that beak is looking in need of a trim.  Let me get my dremmel.”

The real problem with my parenting is the same problem most dressage riders have.  I just don’t have the right horse.  I have a miniature horse with no work ethic named Katie and need a large, well-trained horse.  One at least 13.3 hands tall.  I would be a great parent if someone would buy me a nice horse. Then I would ride off into the sunset.  I would be a Grand Prix parent.

How (Not) to Start a Blog

20 Dec

When I started a blog, I had no plan.  I had woken up with the brilliant idea that I wanted to blog.  I went to WordPress and typed in a blog address.  It was rejected.  I typed in about 25 more and they were all taken.  With a deep sigh, I looked out my window, and my eyes settled on this:

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So with absolutely no foresight (which is my modus operendi),  I typed in my horse’s name.  Voila!  A user name not taken!  Absolutely no one wants to call their blog Macho Mojave!   I have won!

So I began typing about the weather.  Soon I realized that the weather was good for about two posts.

I went out and fed the horses.  I looked at my shaggy yak-like miniature horse Katie who had ruined her chances of being a cart horse by flipping my cart and leaving it with a bent shaft that haunts it to this day.  Katie made her usual cute face at me.

I went back inside and started typing.  The next thing I knew, Katie was giving advice.  So it became her blog.  With a Macho name.  I should start a new blog with a nice name.  But that would require planning.

The Fable of the Frozen Dog Poop

19 Dec

I am sorry I do not have a picture.   You will have to use your imagination.

As new parents, we were were walking in the park with my firstborn, a toddler of about 15 months.  She liked to pick up rocks and eat them.  On one crisp winter day I turned to see her raising something towards her her mouth.

It looked like a rock at first glance, but I registered some non-rocklike traits about it.  It was a little lumpy for a rock. Horror settled over me and and my breath stopped.

“That is not a rock!”  I screamed, and snatched it out of her hand and flung it.

I looked at the chunk of frozen dog poop she had found and we ran all the way back home and I scrubbed her tiny fingers.

If this had happened to my second child, I would have pulled the chunk out of his hands and wiped his hand off on the grass and kept walking.  Since I have no more than two children, I pondered what would have happened to the third, fourth and fifth children.

The third child picks up frozen chunk of dog poop.  I pull it out of their hand and keep walking.

The fourth child picks up dog poop and eats it.  I wipe off their mouth on their coat and keep walking.

Fifth child is back there eating dog poop somewhere.  I figure if it tastes bad enough, he will stop eating it.

Sixth child?  Sixth child is back there somewhere doing something.

The Beauty of Winter

12 Dec

 

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Winter offers some amazing sights in the Northwest.   At sunrise this morning, clouds in all shades of pink drifted across a vast cerulean sky.  The blue and pink faded quickly, like all beautiful things, making it an even more treasured event.

I headed to town along the back roads. The sunrise now had turned the Olympic mountains to the west a glowing pink.  Every crag and snowy edge was crisp against the sky.  White swans flew low in the space between me and the sea.  Then the traffic light changed and I had to turn into town, away from the beauty.

The chilly gloom of the northwest can wear a person down, but this is truly one of the most beautiful places on earth.   I still can’t believe it when I sit at stoplight watching the migrating snow geese and swans against a backdrop of green farmland and distant mountains.  That sure beats what I used to see at stoplights down in Seattle.  A rare break in the clouds helps us remember how beautiful this place really is.