It was a horsey day yesterday, which is good, because we are now quarantined other than outdoor stuff. I’m so glad the horse work is outdoors!
Right. As I was saying the horse day started early. I’d asked Lee to put the bale of hay that was on the tractor out, since the horses need it and he’s the only healthy person who can drive the tractor. Well, he went in through Drew’s paddock but didn’t realize Drew was there (because no one knows my horse schedule but me).
Drew made his escape, but didn’t go far, since he found green grass. All I had to do is put his pretty new halter on him and lead him back. He was curious about the “this is an equine facility and you might get hurt” sign. But then he said bye and headed to the hay, where T chased him around.
Back to work I went until late afternoon when Trixie was due to work on Apache and his body issues. I spent quite a while grooming the filthy Apache, which took longer due to Fiona also wanting grooming.
She also had lots of those giant burs on her front legs and was trying to get them out with her teeth. I found the hoof pick was a great tool for getting those out. She now has nice, smooth, hairy legs.
Apache did great with his body work. He seemed really happy with his head and neck treatment, and made such cute faces!
He was less thrilled with the work on his adhesions near his hips, but wow, it made a difference. I’m hoping this will make our training easier on him and help him develop good posture. Enjoy some fun faces now!
This morning I went out to let Drew back into the big pasture. It’s cool but sunny out, so I shouldn’t have been surprised to find him napping in the sun. But of course, I thought he was dead.
Of course, he’s fine and in a playful mood.
He happily walked with me to the gate, but not without stopping to play with Vlassic. He wanted the squeaky toy, but not enough to fight the dog over it! That just made my morning.
It’s good to have these sweet animal friends to bond with while you’re confined. And writing about them gives you something to do in an endless line to get a COVID test.
Try to stay safe, friends. It’s hard, but we can get through this!
Another day of horse lessons has come and gone. And while my lesson with this innocent student was enlightening, I would have come away happy just having watched Sara.
Apache was very frisky this morning, probably because a front came through.
We started out sweaty at 9 am and ended up shivering by 1! I did round pen with him before we left, and ooh he was jumpy. And once we got to the training ranch, he was not interested in human agendas.
He did ok until the trainer got on, at which point he decided he didn’t want to do anything. It was so fascinating to watch her work through his stubbornness. There was lots of backing and angry horse faces. I didn’t take pictures, because I was watching so hard. She did stuff I am not capable of yet. And eventually he did fine. I even rode him better than last time and dealt with his issues.
He’s not easy. He hurts and has been ridden poorly. By me. But we are progressing. I ended my essay with a smile on my face, happy with all my progress and the support I got.
We were all glad for the lesson to end. But Apache was still antsy. I was glad to leave him to eat some hay and deal with calmer animals. That included Christmas the bull. Sure, he looks intimidating.
I had no idea he was tame, but he came up to me and licked my hand clean, then requested that he get some pets on his forehead and between his horns. Then, his cow companion came up and wanted a turn. This love fest was just what I needed.
As always, I enjoyed Sara’s lesson as much as mine. She learned some really complicated bending stuff and I was proud of how well she did. And Aragorn, too.
Aragorn didn’t even notice the fake bull that had startled Apache earlier. He was concentrating and throwing in fancy dressage moves so he wouldn’t have to bend the opposite way from how he was turning.
I was distracted by two things: a biting wind and cute animals. Between the dogs, the baby horses, and the donkey, I had a lot of entertainment! Who cares about the cold when you have ranch entertainment?
It was beautiful this morning, with spectacular fog over the creek.
The fog had cleared by the time I got out to feed the chickens. Of course, I checked the horses. Wait, one was missing. Drew was not in his pen. The gate was open! Someone busted him out. My guess is that their name both started and ended with T.
Yep. Drew was out and interacting. I watched the horses interacting, and it was quite interesting. T chased Drew all over the place, pinning her ears back in classic mare mode. My guess is she is responsible for this.
The buckskin buddies ignore Drew, as does Mabel. They tend to cluster away from him, like the cool clique in high school, while T is the bully.
Now, Apache and Fiona have been taking good care of Drew. This morning I enjoyed watching Fiona and Drew really playing. She created up and flailed her legs, but I quickly realized they were having fun. A minute later this was them.
In the afternoon, I came out to check on them, I found Drew alone and forlorn and everyone else together. I went out to him and he came up for love, poor guy. But then, up came Apache and Fiona.
Each of them said hello nicely. Apache and Drew exchanged friendly nose touches and neck nips. Then came Fiona. There was a whole lot of mutual head flinging.
Then my heart melted. Drew proceeded to groom Fiona from head to tail, gently nibbling her, inch by inch, as Fiona patiently waited.
It was so dang sweet. Indulge my large collection of pictures.
Eventually the love fest ended, because Drew is still a kid. Vlassic distracted him and those two started playing! I got two pictures, though Vlassic is invisible in one. I’m glad Drew is used to dogs.
After work, I was able to work with both Apache and Drew, and all was well. These guys truly make my life better. No foreboding joy here, just happiness. I’ll keep focusing on what is good in my life, not endless contagious diseases and such.
It’s a big day! Drew is home from Colt College and ready to be a productive member of society. Well, actually he’s going to get a nice sabbatical while he eats, plays, grows, and practices what he’s learned so far.
I managed to collect everything for both Apache and Drew and be ready to go on time this morning, then we got in a really good lesson, in which I succeeded in all kinds of trotting here and there outside of the round pen. The secret was that the trainer rode him first and dealt with his initial disinclination to follow instructions.
I did fine after that and learned a lot about keeping him straight and paying attention. Such good progress! (Next there will be another struggle, because that’s how it goes).
Next I did all of Drew’s exercises myself, which gave me much confidence. I even rode him with much more success than last time. When we start back up, it should be easier. I won’t ride him at home, just do his exercises.
The final pre-departure requirement was trailer loading. He sure is better at THAT now. It’s a miracle! I learned how to load him from the outside using a long lead rope. That was a good trick. He entered and exited three times, which made Apache impatient!
We made it home and everyone exited nicely. Drew is installed in the small fenced-in area as he gets used to the other horses. It all seemed to be going well.
So, we went off to Cameron in search of Timothy alfalfa pellets, which they did not have, so I got a little Timothy hay to tide Drew over. Oops. Lee is allergic to all grass, so I ruined his car and his breathing. But that was only part of it.
When we got home I looked to be sure all the horses were okay, as usual. That’s when I spotted T way down the fence, holding her left front leg up. That looked odd. I quickly guessed that she had somehow gotten her leg stuck in the fence, which I thought was a safer kind for horses.
I ran down there to find that, sure enough, she’d gotten a hoof through a square of fence. The poor dear must have been messing with Drew and gotten caught. She was dripping with sweat. I did not panic and squeal, since I learned my lesson from the dog fight.
I tried to call Lee, but no answer. So I texted him to bring wire cutters, and ran back to fetch some myself. He met me with the cutters and I rushed back to T. I was a little concerned she’d hurt herself on the wire, but nope, it took one snip and she removed her leg.
She stood there a second, while I looked for blood. Then she walked off a little stiffly, but fine!
T went straight to the hay, while I fetched a rope to take her for first aid. Well, she had a cut on her head, which I predict a young gray horse may have inflicted, but her leg is fine! It was very sweaty, but fine. WHEW.
I blocked off the second small pasture so there can be no more interaction across the fence. They can all still get to know each other at the pens. I’ll see what trouble Drew can initiate there.
All in all I feel lucky everyone is fine, other than Lee and his sinuses, and proud of my horse progress. Onward to the next phase. Back to work tomorrow!
Well, I had to tell our beautiful Easter Egger hen, Betsy, that I was sorry I’d been putting her down for so long. I was telling everyone what a useless hen she was, because she hadn’t laid an egg yet, and I’d had her a long time. I mean, even little Billie Idyl was finally laying.
But today when I went to look for eggs, she was in the box, sitting like she was going to lay! And she kept making those noises hens make when they’re working on an egg. I was all excited that finally I’d get a beautiful green egg. Nearly all of these hybrid chickens lay eggs of some interesting color or another.
An hour or two later, I checked back in and found a gorgeous blue egg…which I knew was from Blanca, the Whiting True Blue hen. And there beside it, was this little darling.
That is a light brown egg. In fact, I’d gotten a light brown egg every day for the past three days, thinking it was one of Billie Idyll’s that was just a little darker than usual. Betsy HAD finally started to produce, along with the rest of the newer chickens, who think it’s now spring.
I’m sorry, Betsy. Now all four of last year’s hens have laid eggs, and good ole Star is also laying. They are going to be all surprised when it gets cold this weekend. But I’m happy to be getting enough eggs again that I can share them with Lee’s brother, who loves eggs almost as much as I do.
In other news, we still have interesting bugs, not only a wheel bug (I love those), but also one of these guys, a painted hickory borer (or a mesquite borer, but it matches the hickory one better on iNaturalist).
And in just a bit of horse news, Sara and I are feeling good about our horses. She and Aragorn came over today, and he was so calm and centered! He has made a lot of progress in his ability to come here to visit. He even trotted calmly and collected. What a guy. And Apache did extremely well today in the round pen. Sara was impressed and just smiled so much at me. I felt good. He’s still not good outside the pen, but he was doing his stopping and backing so well. I just wanted to acknowledge that improvement.
Our animals are such a source of joy, and we really need it right now. Everyone seems to be getting sick, no matter how hard they try to stay safe. Traveling friends are faring the worst, and it makes me so concerned. The flu is also going around here now. Great. But all my family and friends who are struggling are finding support from their communities. I’ve had some good reminders of that lately and am very grateful.
I’ve been putting off writing about this for a day, hoping to get some insight into how my little brain works. One thing I know for sure, or think I know, as Lucy Barton in the books I’m reading would say, is that once I lose my confidence in one thing, I start screwing up other things. That’s how it’s been the last 24 hours or so. I’ve had lots of time to ruminate, however, so maybe I’ll find that I’ve had a good learning experience.
Yesterday was, for the most part, a pretty rough day for me and horses. The challenges just kept building and building all day. First, I went to get Apache ready to go to a training lesson. He just seemed to be in a very uncharacteristic bad mood. He didn’t seem to want me near, and kept coming at me with his teeth. He has only bitten me once, and that’s when I stuck my hand in his mouth quite foolishly. But, he acted like he didn’t want me around. Too bad, we had to do this stuff. Yep.
He was all shifty and stompy when I groomed him. This is a horse who usually stands still and enjoys the grooming experience. He didn’t like being tied, no matter where I took him, either. At least he got into the trailer nicely and was not too hard to tie up, though the teeth came at me again. What the heck?
Once we got to the training place, he was fine, though, and other than truly not being interested in trotting, did well in the round pen. The trainer said she could see improvement in our relationship, which cheered me up some. She got on him to work on straightness and walk-trot transitions. Apache was not thrilled and was really not thrilled when he was asked to do shoulder-in walking, which makes sense, due to his internal issues, which I’d hoped to resolve a bit today, but that’s another part of the story.
I even got on him and practiced walking, trotting, then backing. I had some trouble at first, but in the end, I had an aha moment, and now that is really a nice thing to do, and we both seemed happy. This was the highlight of the day. The video below is what I was doing. Thanks to Sara for taking it.
Sara’s videos and photos really made me sad, though, because I can see what a little, old lump I look like in the saddle. Even when I’m doing well, I look pretty awful. No wonder I have to start over.
Next, we took Apache back to the trailer to hang out while I did a lesson with Drew. This is where I did another thing that messed with my confidence. I tied Apache next to Aragorn with a hay bag between them. I guess my knot that Chris insists I use doesn’t tighten well enough, so Apache was too loose. It enabled him to show what a bad mood he was in by kicking poor Aragorn. We got a call from the trainer’s son saying the paint was kicking the white horse.
I was mortified and afraid the expensive horse had been hurt and I’d never be able to apologize enough. Sara went to move Apache and was upset about my knot, which she didn’t know how to untie it (it just unties itself once you undo the last pull, but I obviously suck at knots). I also feel awful about that.
Yesterday was already not a great day for me emotionally, since I was still pretty shaken up about Ted dying and the five or six other deaths I’d heard about that day (really, SO many people lost their mothers!). The Apache thing got me shaky.
Then, when I was asked to longe Drew over his hill, I just could not do it. Yes, I was unable to guide a horse going in a circle. I completely lost my ability to do this thing that I thought I knew how to do in my sleep. Well, I need to do it differently now, and hold the rope a certain way, move my feet a certain way, never nod my head, put my elbow into my stomach, and keep level with the horse’s rump. I did none of those things correctly.
I asked Drew to speed up too violently (I did it the way I’d been told to do with Apache) and was told I’d traumatized him. Then I went into a downward spiral of doubting everything I was doing, and being afraid to hold the rope. When Drew got out of control, I was told to draw him in, draw him in, and I blanked on what that meant I was supposed to do. It meant to shorten the rope and bring him closer. Makes sense NOW.
It was a total cluster of insecurity, loss of confidence, and incompetency. I have no idea how I will ever do anything with Drew other than pet him when I get home. He is so sensitive, yet so boisterous. It’s great, and he is wonderful, but I only have experience with a horse that is slow and ignores me. Versatility eludes me. I have lost my positive outlook. Where did it go?
I ended up pretty damned weepy and wondering what the heck happened to my carefully nurtured equanimity I’ve worked so hard on this year. I’m glad my step-mother called so I had to force myself to be cheerful for a few minutes. It’s always good to hear a few stories from Flo.
Of course, the trainer had kind words for me, and pointed out that all training is peaks and valleys rather than a straight incline, and that we all have our bad days, both people and horses. I know she’s gone through her own bouts of feeling incompetent and judged, so I appreciate her insight, even if it will take a while to set in.
I did eventually get able to watch Sara’s lesson and see how she and Aragorn (who didn’t seem too badly injured and was happy to do his lesson) deal with straightness and transition issues, just at a higher level. Those folks who say the problems stay the same no matter what gait you’re working on are right about that.
We decided that Apache will go in for some training next month when I go on my next condo sabbatical. He will get worked and I will get to stare at my favorite beach. It should do us both some good. The trips are truly helping to keep me on an even keel.
What I suspect is actually bothering me is my regrets about my family and people who were once close to me. They really build up during the winter solstice period. Most of the year I am at peace with the fact that so many people I love and care deeply for do not reciprocate the feelings. This year I am down to ONE person biologically related to me for Christmas, now that my sister also no longer cares for me. Not all of this stuff is my fault. Or their fault. It’s all gray. I just miss them.
So, I will hug Lee, Anita, Declan, and Rollie on Christmas and thank the Universe for the larger community of caring folks who do surround me, even if I’m grumpy, sarcastic, negative, harbor unpopular opinions, and am just hard to live with. Most people are, to some extent. I’m smiling as I write this, so I’m not feeling too sorry for myself. What would that help, anyway?
Back on Topic
On the horse front, I’d expected to spend most of the day with them again, but Trixie forgot about our bodywork appointment. It’s all for the best, though, because I finished a secret Christmas gift, and Sara also got some work done. That’s the attitude we need. Sure, there are setbacks, but there are good things that can come from them.
Merry Christmas to all of you out there. You are a true gift to me! My gift to you is this pink evening primrose I found blooming in the pasture this afternoon. I took it as a sign of hope.
Today seemed to last way longer than your average day. It is always that way when I think I have something all planned out, only it actually isn’t. I thought the pool people were coming this morning, but nope, that got postponed again due to rain…somewhere.
Then I thought a technician was coming to repair my dead laptop. They said it was scheduled (they being some disembodied text bot). But next, I got the message that the part was delayed, so I would have to wait until Monday. I got annoyed, to say the least. Then, boom, the technician drove up.
Erica, the technician, was a fun woman, and we had a reasonably good time working on my system. She had about a five minute task to do (replacing the brains of the thing), but she could not get the cover off. Three of the screws would not completely unscrew. Now, Erica didn’t want to break my new computer, so she called tech support. That went about as well as when I called them earlier this week.
The woman she talked to seemed to have no clue what Erica was asking. I realize she was talking through a mask, but she kept saying that the screw would not unscrew. The call went through several levels of support until they finally said I’d have to send the laptop in for a replacement, which would take even more time than I’d already taken.
Nope, I said, let’s figure this out. So, Erica called a guy from where she worked. Sure enough, this random guy, knew what the Dell Technical Support team did not, which is that those three screws do not come undone. You have to pop the case open with them still partially in. ARGH.
Once we had that down, it did indeed take five minutes to fix the computer. Naturally, one of the teeny screws fell off the desk. We spend another twenty minutes looking for that. Even the magnet couldn’t find it. All I found were dead bugs and places where Carlton had peed. He is having an issue this week, probably due to the Harvey episode.
But the afternoon got so much better. As Erica was getting ready to go, she looked into the main room of the house. She asked if she could please look at it. She ran into the room, just beaming, twirling around and exclaiming that is was Christmas! She said my decorations were just so cheerful. I can hardly express how happy that made me. No one here cares at all about decorations, so I felt very happy to know I cheered someone else up. My smiling muscles were hurting.
By the way, the laptop works and is almost set back up.
The other thing that got me all cheerful today was watching the dogs play with the mama cows and babies behind the house. The cattle are so curious and keep coming up as close as they can, until a dog moves and scares them into backing off.
I must have spent a half hour this morning just watching the calves and their antics and how hard Goldie tried to get them to play with her. Unfortunately, Carlton and Vlassic can’t help but bark at them.
I hope you enjoy these sweet bovine faces as much as I did!
The companionship I’ve been experiencing over the past couple of days has been with two horses. One is not a surprise, and it’s Apache. Wow, has that boy settled down since his lesson last weekend. I’ve been trying to do at least something with him every day, and that has helped. He has paid so much attention to me in the round pen that it’s not like the same horse. And we have been doing the thing where he needs to walk straight along the edge of the round pen, and by golly, that head has not curved ONCE in two days. Today we even sped up a little! As well, he has been walking with me practically glued in the correct position. I can feel him breathing at my elbow almost all the time.
Last night the trainer said what she wants more than anything is for us to be able to enjoy our time with our horses. Success!
The other horse that’s been a wonderful companion is Kathleen’s horse, Miss T. After Trixie looked at her and said she was in pretty good shape, I thought, well, why not pay her some attention? She sure seems to want it. Yesterday I gave her a nice grooming, and she was pretty patient while I worked on the issue she has with her tail (a big scab is growing out). We went for a nice walk, and Mandi checked her soundness. She stumbles a bit, on occasion, but it may be because she needs her feet trimmed (which will happen next week).
I put her in the round pen, just to see if she would trot for me. Did she ever. Everything I asked of her, she did, including turning, stopping, and showing a lovely balanced trot. I told Mandi it was sort of like driving a Jaguar car, so responsive and elegant.
Today I did that again, after going on a walk. She had never been in the front field before, but she followed me nicely, and the couple of times she got concerned, I just told her it was okay and we walked on. Hey, this is what I’ve been reading about horses doing. I guess it can actually happen! And when I put her in the round pen, she was so attentive that I decided to see what would happen if I took the lead rope off.
Wow. She did everything I asked, walking and trotting, turning and stopping. I tell you what, if you tell T, “Whoa,” you’d better be prepared for that horse to stop. She stops on a dime, and looks ready for her next instruction. She’s like the horses in videos of fancy quarter horses.
I hope we can do more with her as time goes on. T is a darned good horse. Maybe I will ride her this weekend, if there is any time at all. I wonder if the things planned for the weekend will go as scheduled or be absolutely unpredictable like today’s events?
I’m just glad we can sit on the porch and watch the happy lights on the fence turn on as the moon rises each evening. That brings a little bit of predictability.
Today was simply heartwarming. This is why I love horses so much.
Trixie was coming today to work on Apache’s feet, which I’d forgotten to have done on schedule. So, she rushed over during my lunch hour to take care of it.
Trixie started working on Apache and his issues. There was T, watching so closely. She really wanted a turn. So we went over just to look at her beauty. Trixie says she looks very well bred.
Since she wanted attention, T got her neck adjusted, which made her extra happy. She kept turning her head, licking and chewing, and even yawning. All signs of a happy horse.
Apache has his feet in their best shape ever, too. His abscess has completely grown out, too. He’s still in attachment mode, too, very affectionate and loving.
One more cute story from today features Fiona. As Trixie was working, she asked if Fiona needed a trim. I said I didn’t think so. Then, I looked over at her. She was on the other side of the gate, also demanding attention. She looked at me and picked up her foot, banging it on the gate, twice.
Yes, she wanted a trim, please. And she showed me the foot that needed trimming most! She’s a genius ass! I hope that made you smile, too.
Being around happy, relaxed animals is the greatest therapy there is for me.
Today, Sara came with Aragorn in her trailer and picked up me and Apache. I was so grateful to be able to get in a much-needed lesson. We ended up having such a good and educational time, we decided to do it again next week.
We had no trouble at all getting Apache in or out of the trailer. I have memories of it being quite a struggle when he was younger. It helps me see that he HAS improved in many ways.
My lesson was first, and went really well. We did the round pen test, and he was judged much improved. He acted like his old self. His feet need to be trimmed, which might cause some odd behavior, so that gets fixed tomorrow.
Next we did really interesting work on walking straight next to the fence without pushing into me or curving his neck. The neck curving is the bad habit he’s developed when he tries to take control.
I’m learning so much! Eventually I got to try it and was beginning to figure out his cues and correct him before he tried to get in front of me. This is something I can easily practice that will improve riding.
Sara and Aragorn worked on straightness and bending necks too, just at a different level. Thus, our lessons were helpful for each other.
She was also doing practice in transition to canter with correct positions. That was fascinating to watch. And sometimes Aragorn looked all fancy, even if he was trying to figure things out.
I think Aragorn got tired. I know Sara did, but they made good progress. He looks much, much calmer, too. We are all getting better, even if I had to go backwards.
Sometimes the dogs wanted my attention so much that I got distracted, but that’s just fine. They remind me of our guys. The little corgi-like one, Maximus, reminds me of my corgi, Gwynneth, who ran fast and low like a heat-seeking missile.
So, it was a fine Sunday. I enjoyed football, cooked boudin dirty rice, and patted our animals. Harvey is much less swollen.
It’s 30 degrees cooler today, and even though it made training a bit chilly, it was all good. Everything is a little better.
Drew is doing so well. And he is so sweet. He has the best Alfalfa breath. I love watching how hard he tries to learn.
Back at home, Harvey is improving. He walks better and is less swollen. An he stopped dripping. Whew. It’s a mess here.
In the afternoon I took Apache out again, after a real disaster working with him yesterday. Today there was no bucking, snorting, or kicking. He did so well! And he was loving and friendly. Maybe yesterday when I was boss mare impressed him?
It’s not all perfect. It never is. One of the chickens died last night, and I couldn’t figure out why. And while we just got a lot of wind, other parts of the country had dangerous tornados. But, that’s life. Never perfect.
I’m grateful for the good, like this deep winter sunset afterglow. Enjoy.
Getting in touch with your emotional truth, by processing feelings to improve the human condition in the 21st century. Living out loud by my motto,"Triumphing over Trauma" 🌈
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