Tag Archives: musing

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.

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.

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 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.

Life in a Herd

9 Dec

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Living with a small herd of horses can teach you things you would never learn otherwise.

With a herd, you see the relationship between the horses and realize that this interaction is crucial to their well-being.  We kept a pony alone for awhile, and she was fine with us as her herd.  So people can be a substitute for the “horse herd.”  But you do miss out on seeing some amazing things.

Last night, Gypsy the pony entangled her back legs in the electric fence.  She was probably being a mare and kicking at the gelding on the other side.  She had been trapped in the fence tape for some time when I found her at morning chores.  She could not move, but didn’t fight the fence.  The gelding stood behind her, a vigilant guard in the next paddock and refused to move until I had freed Gypsy.

Gypsy stood quietly while I got a scissors and cut the strands.  She looked at me with complete trust.  I unwound her back legs and she walked off, unscathed, to eat hay.  She did stop to take a treat and bump me with her nose.

I shudder to think what Katie would have done if she had trapped her legs in the fence.  Katie spooks at her own shadow.

But then again, Katie surprises me sometimes by being sensible.  She is not as ditzy as she looks.  She would probably have evaluated the situation and waited, too.  At least, I hope she would have.

Back to the herd.  They all have their place and they look out for each other.  The geldings play rough- the other day Duke and Macho were kicking at each other with their back legs as they grazed, then stopped kicking and continued grazing.  They may have a mock battle, flailing front legs like wild stallions, then drop to graze nose to nose.

The mares have to kick and run and then graze together and stick together like glue against the geldings.  But put Katie back in with her long-term gelding buddy after a few hours and they immediately groom each others’ withers like long-lost friends.

The herd is a place of endless fascination and reveals the depth of the relationships that horses forge.

Holiday Alienation

7 Dec

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I have learned the most from not getting what I want.  Often what I want is colored by what I want in terms of what I think is possible.   I’ve always felt out of synch with the modern world’s ideals.  Not that I am old-fashioned, as in churning my own butter.  It’s that I don’t value what society says I should value.

I found myself in a crowd, yet again, feeling like an alien.  I should have a lot in common with horse people, since I love horses and always have.  And I really enjoy being around some horse people.  But most of the time I find that I really don’t.   I feel more at home with artists.  Every city I’ve ever lived in, I’ve gone to an art class and felt at home.  I’ve felt accepted.  When I attended a large college of 40,000 students, I felt lost until I took drawing 101 and felt like I had landed back on my home planet.  No longer an alien!  Or else, we were all aliens and OK with that.  Most of the time, a group will ignore you if you’re different.  A group of artists loves you if you’re different!  The more different, the better.  But being just a tiny bit different is good, too.  Artists care about what is below the surface.  Anyone who creates is humbled by the process.

So, decades later, it seems if I really end up feeling at home with someone, it turns out they have an interest in the arts. This is my tribe.

Oh, back to the subject at hand about not getting what you want.  When I got my property, I wanted to own a riding horse again.  I went through a few bad experiences, ending with our perfect riding horse dying of a sudden and incurable colic.  During our future attempts to buy or lease another riding horse, I felt like I was in a bad movie.  Who writes this stuff?  It can’t be real.  But in the horse world, yes, it can.

A few months later, I tentatively pulled up Dreamhorse (a horse sales website) to kill time and forgot to limit my search to 150 miles from my zip code.  So I pulled up horses so far away I could not drive to see them.  One was an eye-catching miniature horse.  My daughter begged me to inquire about him.  That seemed ridiculous since I could not go see him, so I put off emailing for a couple of days.  A half-hearted inquiry led to one thing after another and the process ended up with a new horse on my property.  There was no drama in the purchase.  I had to do a few things I never do and I listened more to my intuition than what was possible.  I had to trust.  Sometimes you need to give up before things work out.

But back to alienation.  I still don’t know if I will ever feel at home in a group of horse people.  I connect with a few individuals here and there.  And I connect with my horses.  It’s dark and the stars are shining over a frozen landscape.  The crescent moon hangs in the western sky.  I went out and gave my ponies some treats- feeling their warm breath on my hand.  And I felt connected at last.

The Horse World

1 Nov

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After posting about the craziness of the horse world, I realize this could be taken wrong.  So I will dig an even bigger hole by writing more.

I also realize 98.9% of the population does not care about the horse world.  Therefore in order to make this interesting, I need to relate it to something people do care about.

Such as chocolate.  To some people horses are like chocolate.  Or coffee.

But horses are more expensive, and they require tack and supplies and cost money every place you turn.  I think some horse people don’t mind telling a few white lies like, “no, that is not a Hershey bar.  It’s Organic Free Range Chocolate with pure vanilla.  None of that fake vanillin stuff.”

And they hand you a half-eaten Hershey bar.

“No, that isn’t eaten on,” they say, “the end broke off.”

And so it goes, down the slippery slope.  If someone needs to lease or sell a horse, the horse is perfect and can win the Kentucky Derby, never bucks and loves children.

So always make sure your chocolate bar has a wrapper and isn’t half eaten.  Unfortunately horses don’t have a wrapper and you are at the mercy of the horse person and can only hope they are upstanding.

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.