Yup, Horses Make You Feel Good

I had a pretty free Saturday, so I split it between fun with yarn and fun with horses. The yarn post will be tomorrow. Today is my day to bask in my relationship with the horses.

I’ve spent a lot of time with Apache this week, mostly just hanging out with him. It really pays off, I think, because he’s so much more relaxed, yet interested in doing things lately.

Looking at his friends, but happy with me.

He seems to look forward to jumping and cantering. He seems practically athletic when we do groundwork. He looks strong and fit, not chubby and weak. I’m so happy for that.

Let’s go!!

Riding was fun. He informed me in his horsey way that my new square setup is too close to the trailer. When he stopped, I saw that he had noticed our reflection in the shiny part of the trailer front. Well, I had to agree he had a point. That looked weird.

That other horse and human look funny.

I finally, finally can relax when I ride and just focus on what we’re doing. It makes such a difference! My legs are relaxed. My arms are relaxed. I’m giving easy signals and Apache responds. He’s also relaxed, as you can see.

A relaxed horse and his cone. He stopped right there and didn’t move.

After we rode, I must have spent ten minutes just petting and talking to him, and he seemed to want to stay. Eventually Fiona indicated she was hungry, so we went in.

I got to hang out with the calves!

Drew hinted that he wanted to do something so I lunged him. He wasn’t at all into it. That was odd. I think he’s in some discomfort from playing too hard with Fiona and Dusty. Fiona had blood on a cut and Drew had some (of hers) on his neck. There is much kicking going on. So I relaxed and just spent time doing what he wanted to do, which was get his itchy head scratched. It was quite cute.

These guys wanted attention, too. It’s a new batch of young cattle.

I was all warm and fuzzy by the time we had some visitors. It was fun watching Sara’s granddaughter enjoy Fiona and Vlassic while we discussed hooves. Then the guest got to see all the dogs, which delighted her. What an animal lover she is!

I’m sure glad I had the chance to follow the leads of my horses and relax today. Oh, and by the way, no one has touched yesterday’s scary hay. I love my equine buddies.

Happiness Is Birds and Beasts

This is an interesting part of my life. Outside of me, things are challenging. Inside of me, I’m feeling better than I ever have. I wish I’d learned to focus on what I can influence and let other stuff go much earlier in life. But I think only experience teaches us how important this is and helps us do it.

Vlassic is a great role model. Really lives in the moment!

I had a lovely day. Birds made me so happy, just watching them. I watched the resident great blue heron looking for food in the new pond and wondered if there are fish in there now.

Then I just watched our sparrows traveling from tree to tree, and was really impressed at how many bugs a mockingbird got while I was getting the mail. That bird was busy, and it seemed very pleased with itself.

The beast that made my day happy was Apache. We had quite a productive day. We’ve been working on cantering after jumping and in the round pen. He’s really improved since our last lesson. He was a jumping fiend today and did his cantering exercise in the round pen the best he’s done so far. He has figured out what I want him to do, and he actually seems proud of himself.

I’ve got skills.

And we had a fun ride, too, with improved skills and encouraging calmness when we went out to ride around. Things that used to be hard are getting easier, and his demeanor is so much calmer. Y’all, I keep saying this, but I’m still blown away at how much better things are getting between us. We’re a team!

See how calm I am. I’m tired from all that cantering.

I know I’m feeling good when I get goofy. For the past few days I’ve been doing arts and crafts at the horse pens. I’m making a decorative weaving with the strings that hold hay bales together. Well, that’s re-using a waste product, right?

So far, it’s mostly warp.

I’ll need more string soon, but that’s okay, since they need more hay.

Sure, some grass is here, but it’s winter, Mom!

You know, having a calm and peaceful part of my life took a lot of work. So I’m going to enjoy the heck out of it.

Humid Winter Days and Hairy Horses Don’t Mix

This was the second day in a row that I mostly did horse stuff. That sure is a fun way to spend a day. But there was a lot of sweat involved. It was extra humid and quite warm today, which was hard on us all, especially Apache.

Horses sweat so much between their butt cheeks that it lathers up. Thanks to Tarrin for this priceless memory.

I do enjoy just hanging out with these guys, even when shoveling poop. But the lessons are even more fun. It’s so educational to work with two such different animals.

This is his beauty before all the sweat.

Drew is making so much progress. The body work seems to have helped, though we think he pulled a muscle something. Probably from all that literal horseplay with Dusty or slipping in mud. He cantered well for Tarrin, though! And I’m really feeling better riding him. We even did a great job walking to the trailer!

I’m different but also pretty. I do like my hay wagon!

Apache then worked and worked. He’s gonna canter under saddle some day, but he has lots of ground work to do. Here’s Tarrin working with him on transitions.

I’m trying!

I have riding exercises to do, too, with both horses. Drew needs to walk while Apache trots the double slalom. This means Drew and I get to leave the round pen! Graduation! Here’s me and Apache doing the exercise.

Concentrating.

I’m impressed that you can’t see all his sweat here, but these are screenshots from video as, which may blur the sweat.

Stopping. We look pretty good.

I was impressed that, even though he was tired and getting cranky, Apache kept trying and working. He seemed to enjoy himself.

This is us trotting happily because we were done!

He even did his very best walking around all the scary spots. I’m so proud of us! As a reward Apache got a bath, which he liked. He liked rolling in the dirt when we got home even more!

Before rolling. My beauties.

I hope you got to do something fun today! My fun continues tomorrow, too. We’re breaking in the mobile office!

At Least SOMEONE Got Body Work Today

Whew, I’m sore today! And of course I did all the things I needed to do, which did not help with my bruises and aches. But no, I didn’t get worked on, nor did I remember to fire up the hot tub tonight.

I did remember to enjoy the sunset.

But I’ll live. The fall yesterday was minor, it’s just combined with a couple of Apache bruises, so I’ve had enough. Yes, this sweet spotted fellow had squished my hand in a gate and smooshed my leg into a different gate. And today he conked my jaw with his bony ole head because I’d had the nerve to tie him to the Evil Trailer. It’s good he’s been FINE when I’m riding!

And hey, I enjoyed the first full moon of the year.

So, who got body work? My horses, of course. This has been so good for Drew and Apache, by the way. I credit a lot of Apache’s new capabilities with the work Jackie does.

But wait, before that happened, I had to tidy up the area around the pond.

I don’t see anything that needs tidying.

Mabel was wrong, though, there were two barrels that had blown into the front pond in the recent storms. There was concern that in another storm one would get caught in the culvert and cause the dam to overflow. That would be bad. So I went to move them.

Mabel still doesn’t care.

I forgot to take off my good shoes, but getting the first one out with just a little slipping and sliding in the mud. But the second one was challenging.

What are you doing down there? Do you need any help?

Yes, all the horses and Fiona watched me struggle in what turned out to be borderline quicksand to get the last barrel. My feet kept going down and down. It made a cool sucking sound when I got them out. At one point I lost a shoe. It was messy.

Barrel covered in mud. Horses still not helping.

I tossed those barrels in the utility vehicle and took my shoes over to get washed. I pushed on and then groomed and rode Drew. I sure noticed my hurt elbows doing that! But he needs his daily workout. Apache was filthy so he got groomed as well. He only did a few jumps, though. My arms were too tired.

Made me tired just watching her.

Finally Jackie arrived and I could relax. Well, I’m not sure how relaxing it was, but I sure enjoyed watching her work. And Drew was just the sweetest boy. He truly enjoys his massages and let us know with gently rubbing our faces and so many relaxed sounds.

The wind made my hair and eyelashes look good, too.

He’s doing a lot better, by the way, and continuing with the chiropractic and therapeutic massage will keep his body able to do what we ask it to. Now, as for Apache…

I eventually relaxed.

…he didn’t want to be worked on by the Evil Trailer, so after he got my attention with the above-mentioned blow to the jaw we moved over to the pens. He was so calm even with all the poking and prodding. And that was important, because right next to him was Mabel. Watching.

Hmm. He seems to like human touch?

Mabel watched what Jackie did intently. She pointed out that when Mabel wasn’t watching Apache (and nuzzling him), she watched me. I sat in the lawn chair, and she did not take her eyes off me. How interesting. While she doesn’t let you touch her much, she cares.

I’m a watcher

Jackie thinks that watching Apache might make Mabel more open to body work next time. I thought more about Mabel’s recent progress, and realized that she is now often the first or second horse to approach me. And she seems glad to see me. Plus, she and Apache now are actual friends. They eat and nap together and groom each other. Apache will NOT tolerate that from the other two. This is all such gratifying progress.

I like mares.

I learned so much watching the horses today that it was worth the sore back and elbows. There’s always something you can learn by just watching.

These guys are such good buddies that when they aren’t play-fighting, they can eat touching each other’s muzzles. Apache would have none of that!

Thanks for your concern yesterday. As usual, a sad blog got lots of hits. Have a good weekend!

Moon over Dusty butt!

Turn That Calendar Page

I did so. I don’t even have a good calendar this year. That’s what happens when you only have free ones. So, Whee.

Apache and I are looking into the future.

Actually it was about as perfect of a day as a person could want. If retirement could be this pleasant I’d be more ready than I think I am now. The weather was beautiful and I just enjoyed working on projects and hanging out with the horses.

I’m practicing my hill work. I also found grass.

Drew was making me laugh, but not making Dusty too happy. I watched Drew poke and prod his buddy endlessly. It was mostly playful, judging from how horses typically play and show affection, but I wish Drew would stop chomping Dusty’s tail.

Kid, leave me alone!

I tried to use up some teen horse energy by riding Drew for a while and exercising him. He was in a great mood, so it was a lot of fun.

I like doing stuff with you!

I also rode Apache more than on most days. Why? Because I had time. That’s so wonderful. I’d love to be able to spend this much time every day. When I just have an hour, I’m lucky to do groundwork on one horse, since feeding takes so long. Anyway, we had a blast doing all our schooling and riding around the property.

I had fun. Now to nap.

See how he looks in that picture? He ended up so relaxed and calm. He even went on the road briefly and showed no concern. Only Lee’s new mobile office gave him pause, but we got through it. Drew was the same. Walking with calm horses is nice.

We’re calm, too. Maybe if you retired, you could ride us.

Of course I also cooked traditional Southern food. Even Anita the Northerner liked the collard greens! Yep.

So far 2023 is fine, peaceful, and hermit-like. The only issue was that our water went out. Then it got fixed. It doesn’t make for exciting blogging, but I’m fine with that.

Now enjoy happy horses.

Sharing a Skill in a Soggy Field

Right after I wrote last night, we had the most intense rainstorm we’ve had since before the drought started. Around 2.55 inches fell quickly as a narrow band passed over. The water came up high enough to require the backup culvert to kick in so our driveway/dam wouldn’t be breached. Whew. The new pond flooded for the first time!

When morning dawned, we were inside a thick cloud of fog. It was ethereal and made everything around here look better! I especially loved to look at the horses sort of looming in the distance.

There were puddles everywhere, and I had a hard time enticing the chickens out of the hen house. Leftover bean soup did the trick and allowed me to gather the egg of the day, which I believe came from Star. You just have to wonder sometimes what goes on inside chickens. Or, maybe it’s better just to not think about those things.

It’s sorta like a space capsule

A few puddles didn’t stop me from working with the horses, who dodged the threat of getting bodywork, because the direction the rain came in made even their covered area full of puddles. It was weird having big wind coming in from the south!

I know the bluebonnets appreciated the rain.

The best part was that my son joined me today and brought his new Christmas-gift helmet with him. He’s helped me groom and worked a lot on the tack room, but not ridden with me before. I lengthened the stirrups on Apache’s previous saddle so he could use it. Finally I figured out how to do that myself!

After practicing some groundwork skills, I showed my son how to mount and turn by demonstrating on Drew, which conveniently gave Droodles and me some time to practice our newest skills. We turned on the forehand and did some mighty fine side passes. Even my son could tell he was going sideways. I was so proud.

Apache was NOT stressed out about this. They both enjoyed each other.

Drew then had to stand petulantly as he was ignored in favor of Apache. He was a very good boy and patiently carried my son around and paid attention to his cues. First, I led them and practiced stopping and starting. Then we put the bridle on, and my son walked Apache in the round pen, trying to get the stopping thing correct. He did well with turning, though. When you’re on your first ride, I’d think it would be hard to relax and say, “Whoa” calmly. Saying, “Easy,” in a calm voice also takes practice.

We will do more practice next week! Now, of course, Apache had to test my son. He ignored the request to turn, and just marched out of the round pen. I got to channel Tarrin and tell my son to shorten his reins, spread them wider and get Apache to stop. And he did!

Thinking about nature helps deal with horse shenanigans.

Then I got to pretend to be Tarrin and take him back in that round pen and do some work. We did the square exercise and a lot of side passing and leg yielding. It was fun for me, because I didn’t have stirrups due to having much shorter legs than a 6’3″ person. I discovered I was leaning forward but fixed that and did well. Hooray, I got to practice something new, too!

I deserve more food.

I really had a lot of fun, even without being able to let the horses trot. I don’t think they wanted to, anyway. They’d been slipping a lot in their pens. Speaking of slipping, Fiona slipped into Drew’s pen as we were getting ready to feed. They began a mud fight, where Drew would go nip at Fifi and she’d kick him. I’m sure it was a ton of fun for Drew, but Fiona looked annoyed, so we got her out of there.

Later, when Lee and I took a walk, there were Fiona and Drew, still picking at each other, but voluntarily, since they had the whole pasture at their command. I do enjoy watching the animals interacting. Thanks to watching them, our walk lasted until the sun (which had barely come out from the foggy clouds all day) started to go down. We got rewarded by some beautiful clouds, which helped me feel better after finding out how much my car repair was going to cost (YOW).

Rural Excitement

Lots of excitement here in rural Milam County today. Mostly good! This morning I got ingredients and made bean soup to use leftover Christmas ham. It was great. No photos. We ate it.

It made me feel on top of the world, like this hill climbing muddy-hooves guy.

I then ran into the mobile office bedroom where I laid out the squares of the blanket or rug I made for my son’s partner’s Christmas gift. I almost got it done in time!

One possible arrangement

The squares are very thick because it’s mosaic crochet. I enjoyed making the squares! I may do a mosaic border, too.

Happy mosaic star.

After a delicious sopapilla coffee and gossip with my friend at Cloud 9 Coffee, I got the horses ready and went for lessons. What’s exciting about that? I DROVE! I successfully pulled the horse trailer to lessons. I wasn’t even nervous, just cautious. I’m so proud of myself becoming more independent.

I was your precious cargo!

The lesson was just as successful. I’m making so much progress, even with Drew and his teen angst. Today I got to deal with his decision that he was done, and I lived! There were also moments of calm and learning. We made a square, turning on the forehand or something like that. It was hard. I DID IT.

When I was done, Tarrin explained how he should be acting. He’s getting there.

My big excitement was riding Apache today. He had us laughing as he tried to avoid trotting over poles. He had us gasping in amazement when he did the corner thing at a trot just like he’d always done it for years. We both were coordinated! I used my aids! I moved him around. It felt good.

I kissed him.

His reward for good work was getting to go through the cowboy curtain, which doesn’t intimidate him one bit. In fact, he seems to like draping the hanging cords across his face when he went through, like it felt good. It made me laugh.

Tarrin said he deserves a blue ribbon

It was just a great day for the spotted one. He even dealt with a scary new trash container like a pro. (It’s behind me.) We are becoming a real team.

What’s this?

More excitement happened on the way home. On our way out we saw a water leak. On the way back it was still blasting away. I wonder if people lost water pressure?

Boom

The final excitement of the day was the sunset. Gee whiz it was a spectacular way to end the day. Colors were everywhere in every direction.

Happy exciting Tuesday from rural Texas.

I Could Do Whatever I Wanted to Today

Whee! I’m not supposed to work this week or next Monday (Dell employees get the week off paid plus a year-end bonus, contractors get six days of no pay…well, it’s a job at a good rate so I’m just stating facts, not complaining).

So, what did I do on a day with no mandatory activities? I cleaned my closet and hung clothes up, then cleaned the leftover dishes from last night, even though the house cleaner came today. I guess I don’t want her to clean bonus mess. I’m a wild and crazy kinda gal!

This gift tag from Lee shows I’m the wild and cheery one with a rainbow-farting reindeer!

Then I paid some bills. Whoa, responsible.

Okay. I then spent the entire afternoon having fun! I enjoyed cleaning my saddles and writing in my horse journal. Then I played with Drew for a long time. I made him all beautiful and had a nice time exercising him. We had our best solo ride ever. We are improving!

I’m pretty and so is my tack.

Since I was in no hurry, I took him for a walk around the property that ended with a chance to graze where there is still some green grass (frozen but still green). He seemed pleased with the treat and walked back happily.

I’m shiny!

Then I took Apache out. I won’t say I got him clean, but he certainly looks better. He was itchy where some of the mud was, so he got a lot of bonus rubbing. We had lots of fun, and then had fun exercising. His lateral movement is so much better.

Sara and I decided to ride around, so I bravely rode Apache off to her place. We did just great! We went into her wooded area, which is yet another of his scary places, and he did indeed get antsy. But we got up and down the hill there, and did some tree circles. I was proud of him.

I got to see my beloved Spice. I just wanted to go see her.

On the way back, along the exact same trail we took to get to Sara’s, he kept breaking into a jog and acting like he forgot I was there. So I repeatedly reminded him, just like I’d been practicing. By gosh, he settled down and walked to the gate and was calm once I got off to walk back. He’s making great strides.

I hope he didn’t do too much today, but I happen to know the horses have been running and playing a lot the past few days, so it’s not like he was confined to a stall the whole time it was cold.

I hope to get to do horse stuff every day this week. I think the weather will hold out. Today was great! All I needed was a long-sleeved sweatshirt!

I’m still cold.

Happy Boxing Day and first day of Kwanzaa or whatever you’re celebrating!

Not Too Bleak Midwinter

Ooh doggies, it was nippy today. It wasn’t that cold, really, but the wind was fierce. And it kept drizzling all day. What a great day for horse lessons, right?

That’s a big NO from both Apache and super-bundled Tarrin.

It hadn’t felt too bad in the morning, but it got worse and worse. By the time Tarrin got to my house, I think she was glad to go in the tack room and warm up a bit. I needed to defrost from scraping the layers of mud off Apache. He literally had mud balls hanging from his mane and scattered across his coat.

But look, I’m a magnificent steed, he says. There is still mud on him; don’t be fooled.

That was the least pleasant grooming session I can remember. And he was not a happy guy at first. As you can see, he was physically great. But mentally he appeared to be elsewhere.

Magnificent steed, magnificent steed, going where I please…

It was pretty hilarious when I rode him. The wind was whipping through my layers and my teeth were chattering, but I soldiered on asking him to walk briskly then stop, a thing he is normally fine with. Nope.

No one said it would always be fun. Here he’s backing up. Again.

He got to do it a lot until he deigned to stop like he should. Then he got to do something else. Hooray. Funny boy.

Drew would like it to be his turn. Note that I, too, am bundled. The wind whipped through even my heat-reflecting layer.

That’s Drew in his new fancy rope hackamore that Tarrin re-tied after I botched it. Knots are not either of our strong suits. It’s pretty, though! I now know how to loop it and stuff. What a cowgirl.

You HAD to buy a bit, Suna?

It was not ideal to learn to use the new bridle and two pairs of reins with frozen hands, but now I figure it will feel great when it’s nicer outside. Drew was very patient getting his chin strap put on (it came from my surplus collection from when I got the trailer, so it doesn’t match yet), then with me putting the bridle on and off repeatedly.

I’m tired of the fiddling, says Drew. I’m jealous of those mittens, says Suna.

Drew was way more cooperative than Apache, since he’s used to riding in bad weather. We even side passed better. I’m working on reins, but getting there. It’s fun learning with him. He tries and so do I!

The picture of endurance. Thanks for the photographic proof, Tarrin!

After Tarrin got to go home, we took a road trip to look at yet another potential mobile office for Lee. The weather was spooky. That’s what got “In the Bleak Midwinter” going through my mind. It was gray on gray.

Nonetheless the day was saved by the treat of going to dinner at the famous German restaurant in Wahlberg. We hadn’t been in years. I sure enjoyed my Hefeweizen and the sauerkraut. Ahh.

Yum.

The place wasn’t too crowded, so it didn’t feel all germy and they had a huge fire in the fireplace. I even enjoyed the Wahlberg Band, which featured much excellent yodeling. No, honest, it was good! What a pleasant change of pace.

Time to yodel!

Tomorrow should be sunny, so it won’t be so bad riding and exercising. Maybe Apache will act like his mature self! If not, I’ve always got crochet and football.

PS: hi to my step-sister and spouse. Loved your card.

Life and Goodness Return

Hey, I got through one of my extra-long days and I’m not totally wiped out! I have my life back! Yep, I even woke up for my 7 am meeting at 6:45, having forgotten to save my alarm clock setting, and made it in time. Woo!

I wish I could say I spent all day watching Apache run around in circles with Camina at my side. But I enjoyed a few minutes!

I got all my work done, then had two hours of horse lessons, then a Zoom meeting. Whew. That’s a long day, but it was full of goodness. Even the weather is pleasant.

Moon over Mabel after my last meeting.

I’m so relieved to feel well enough to get all this done and enjoy myself. Apache was so much fun in our lesson, too. We are making progress and having a good time. He tries to do whatever I ask, which is fine with me. Poor guy is hot, though. He has his thick winter coat on, which makes trotting faster and slower and faster and slower a sweaty activity.

Here Tarrin is checking his muscles. You should have seen him jump! What a guy.

I’m so glad our hard work is paying off and we’re getting skills! On the other hand, Drew and I are very obviously at the beginning of our journey. We both have so much to learn, but I’m willing! There’s a lot of patience involved, but it’s ok.

Both of us look resigned.

Tarrin kept telling me it’s all normal and not to be upset. I really felt fine the whole lesson; I was just thinking about all the things I had to do. You know, learning overload! And Drew did reward me by walking like a true gentleman back to the trailer. This was down the path that scared Apache so much, and in the dark!

I did not mean to write another boring horse blog, I just wanted to say how great it is to be able to do things and enjoy them again! Maybe by tomorrow I’ll stop needing to blow my nose!

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