Tag Archives: farm

Katie Is All Ears

5 Sep

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Dear Katie, I am a 9.2 hand pony.  I have not gotten a reply to the question I asked in 2014.  I hope you are well and I am still am waiting to hear if it is better to clip your ear hair before a show or leave it long.  Signed, Shetland Pony Problems.

Dear SPP,  thank you for your patience.  I have been trapped in a gravel paddock because my owner wanted me to lose weight.  I was not allowed to eat any grass or go near computers.  My only food was dry hay and vitamins.  The computer is in the kitchen and she was afraid I’d eat grapes or corn chips.  I have finally lost a tiny amount of weight and gotten back to type a reply.

Your ear hair is an important part of your identity.  Do not clip your ear hair or your whiskers.  Or anything.  Look as shaggy and unkempt as possible.  This will keep your owner from taking you to more shows.  – Katie

Autocorrect Nightmare: Curse of the Smartphone

23 Jan

Yesterday I was texting our trainer on my new (refurbished cheap) smartphone, proud that I had entered the 21st century.

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After two successful sentences, complete with punctuation, I got too cocky.  I had finally learned to hit the space bar instead of “send” after each word.  Or so I thought.

As I was typing “Duke didn’t bite” (he has a slight biting problem), autocorrect turned “Duke didn’t” into “Duke DIED” and I hit send instead of space.

In a panic of bad typing I attempted to text an explanation that Duke did not die.

I hope I didn’t give her a heart attack!   I am going to turn autocorrect off today after I have the courage to face my dastardly phone again.

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.

Katie Advises Against Weighty Thoughts

3 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.  My New Year’s resolution is to lose 50 lbs.  I already eat a high fiber vegetarian diet.  What else can I do?  Signed, Heavy Thoughts

Dear Heavy, the first question you need to ask is why you want to lose weight.  If you can’t come up with a good reason, keep eating.  It also might be all hair.  Wait until you shed out in Spring and see if you look smaller.  Good luck!  – Katie

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.

The Saga of the Outgrown Pony

26 Dec

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I am terrible at letting go of things.  I get very attached to my animals.  I’ve struggled over the past year with letting go of our outgrown pony.   I’ve gotten very attached to her but the kids have outgrown her in size and ability.

So, this coming year am going to find a good home for her.  She is a perfect starter pony – kids can pick her feet, saddle and bridle her and we trained her far more than the usual pony under 12 hands– she moves off the leg and sidepasses.  She has finesse and knows voice commands.

But being a smart pony mare, she can be stubborn.  That is, in my opinion, preferable to evil ponies that run off with their kids.  She has been in numerous large show classes and just did her job and didn’t get involved in any horse nonsense.

The first year we had her, when she was 6 years old, someone came up to me at a show and asked, “where did you find a trusty old packer pony?”

I explained she was a 6 year old pony at her first overnight show and had never been to the fairgrounds before.  She was just born a good pony.  I think she placed in every class.

At one show, Gypsy was not wanting to go and was being lazy.  The trainer next to me said that ponies teach kids so much- she could put a pony rider on any horse and they could ride, but you could not put just any horse rider on a pony.  She said to keep the kids on a pony as long as possible.

Which we did.  One day the pony said enough.  She said I am not cantering with this giant kid on my back.  She planted her feet and refused to move.

So wish me luck that Gypsy finds a home that loves her as much as we do and that I can let go.