Sunday Musings: It’s a Good Life, All Things Considered

Today, I’m being more explicit about what I’m grateful for than my usual gratitude practice, which is more like, “Thank goodness X is in my life, or I can do Y, or Z happened.” I want to say how grateful I am to Lee for deciding to get our retirement property early, build a house on it, and start with the rural fun and learning experiment we call the Hermits’ Rest Ranch. It’s saving my butt, that’s for sure.

Every Sunday morning, I wake up, make coffee, and hang around with Lee and the dogs up in our bedroom. It’s a huge room, so it has a loveseat, chairs, a little dining table (now Lee’s desk), and coffee fixings. Usually the dogs take turns wanting to sit by me and get petted. It’s such a gentle way to ease into the day. Weekends are the best.

This morning I had Carlton for a long time, and he was not about to let me do anything with my left hand except pet his long neck while he stretched his head straight up. Then big ole Harvey wanted some time with me. I’ve mentioned before that he thinks he’s a lapdog now, and sure enough, he managed to drape himself over my entire lap. We had a nice snuggle (I originally wrote “struggle,” which may, in fact, be accurate), though that bulky dog sure is heavy.

Not pretty, but fresh!

It is nice to review your previous day up in the bedroom, so I thought back on how happy I was to find out that all the guinea eggs from yesterday were still good, and wondered what to do with them, since I’m not heading into Austin for a few weeks, I can’t get them to my coworker who’s allergic to chicken eggs, but not guinea eggs. I guess we eat them.

Here, Apache has just picked up a clod or grass and declared round pen time was over. Typical scene with Sara working with Ace and Fiona eating grass like there’s no tomorrow.

I also reminded myself how good I am at being patient in difficult situations, which yesterday’s time with Apache once again proved. Both he and Ace were antsy, like there was something going on around them that put them on alert. I never did figure out what it was, but it led to more dancing around and trying to do what HE wanted to from Apache. He just wasn’t thinking. But, we stopped, had a little chat, and eventually went on to have a nice ride. He really likes it when I talk to him calmly.

And for those of you suggesting lessons, I’m actually signed up for some with a local trainer. That’s why I got a Coggins test for Apache when the vet was here. Sara will take Ace and I will take Apache. That means we get to practice trailer loading, because it’s been a long time since we’ve gone anywhere out of town. He used to love going to Kerri April’s to learn Parelli stuff.

This is a cool brown skink that was in the hay feeder yesterday!

I roused myself from all my musings and went out to see what’s going on with the chickens and such. Every single step I took, Bertie Lee was right with me. She’s the Big Red of my main flock. That hen just likes me. When I checked the chicks, they’d knocked their little feeder over and messed up the water, so I fixed all that and gave Star more adult chicken food (the kind they don’t like, but my shipment of Grubbly feed has not arrived yet, due to high order volumes).

They are not starving, anyway, since every time I look in they are eating away at the plant growth in and around their little coop. I’m sure no bug stands a chance in there, either!

Here’s a pretty buckeye I saw yesterday.

Then I just sat around, watched the chicks preen their feathers (it appears that they are trying to get the fluff off, so their fine new feathers can grow out), and enjoying the pond, trees, and butterflies. I got to watch the little ones go up and down the ramp, and it’s clear they are way faster at it than their mom, who carefully steps down the ramp. They also jump up and down off the small tree branch I put in their area and flap their little wings when they go to land. They will be strong! I wonder how old they will be before they can fly?

Naturally, I looked up the answer on the Googles and found they start testing their wings at around a week (check), but they don’t get their flight feathers until around 5 weeks, so we have something to look forward to!

Just looking around the ranch keeps me focused and gives me perspective. My challenges are just small bumps in the road compared to all that goes on around me every day in nature. And, like my friend Vicki has been reminding me lately:

I’ve survived all those previous hard times,
so I will probably survive this one, too.

I don’t want to just survive, I want to thrive! So I’m going to keep focused on the fact that life is good, I’m surrounded by supportive friends and family, and the new events we’ll go through will make us stronger and wiser. This is what I hope for all you out there, too.

And don’t forget to visit the podcast if you need something to listen to that’s fairly uplifting and pleasant. For me, it’s a nice break between some of my more intense podcasts! And if you want to help out with my blogging fees, consider visiting the support link at the top of the page.

My Horse Is My Toughest Teacher

I’ve always contended that I plan to keep learning new things until I die. I often think of my friend, Marian, who, well into her 90s gets all excited about the new topics she’s reading about, new technology she’s mastered, and new ideas she’s heard. I hope that’s me in 30 years!

And you certainly never know where you’ll find teachers and mentors, or where you’ll find your education. For sure, my neighbor, Sara, who you hear about a lot in my musings, is a great teacher and mentor in many ways. We’re very different, but have similar interests, which makes us a good team.

We are so proud of how Ace is progressing!

I’m sure glad I have her with me when I’m out with my Paint/Arabian mix horse, Apache. Sara has a lot more training and experience, which helps her figure out my problems. I’m also learning a lot watching her work with Ace, the Black Beauty she’s working with. I read this in Western Horseman (SUCH a great magazine) last night:

…when you ride by yourself you perfect your mistakes.

Chuck Reid, quoted in “All-Around Horseman,” by Jennifer Dennison, Western Horseman May 2021, p. 21.

But, are you really alone when you’re riding? No. You always have your equine partner with you! And Apache is one intense task-master. I mentioned last week that his back was hurting. Maybe this had something to do with the fact that the last few times I’d ridden him, he has been pretty scary. Whatever I asked him to do, he reacted by trotting nervously wherever HE wanted to go. He had absolutely no interest in turning right (making me think he was hurting). His head would either be tossing around or down frantically gulping grass. It was not a fun experience, and I even got a bit scared when he started backing and turning sideways.

Big Red says she wasn’t scared. I took this when she and I went on a walk. Yes. We did.

And on the ground, he was patently uninterested in doing his warm ups. He’d walk a couple of steps, then eat grass. It would take a lot of effort to get him to move, back, or pay attention to me. And when he WAS paying attention, he’d stop in the middle of doing something, face me, move his head up and down, and paw the ground, as if to say he was DONE with whatever we were doing. He was trying to tell me something, but what?

Continue reading “My Horse Is My Toughest Teacher”

Mowing, Controversy, and More Horse Stuff

I was trying to create a funny essay yesterday when I wrote about our property not being mowed yet, but it sparked some Facebook controversy. Some people were thrilled and others were appalled that we were doing it. I don’t know why I was surprised, since mowing is always controversial! Like so many things out here in the country, you have to sometimes decide who is a priority and who needs to sacrifice for the greater good. In this case, the safety of our elderly residents and visitors has to come before some flowers, mice, and such.

Shredder, attached to tractor! We can ranch now!

We need to have the area by the house mowed short enough that we can see snakes and holes that pop up randomly. I don’t want my sister or brother-in-law falling or getting bitten. We let things go a lot longer farther out, and luckily they can’t get to ALL my dewberries, ha ha.

In any case, we are really grateful to our young neighbor, Tyler, who is quite mechanically inclined and strong for getting the riding mower belt back on so the brother-in-law can mow. Jim’s happy about that, and is all decked out in his hat, mask, and other protection.

Goodbye sunflower jungle

Meanwhile, Lee’s in the tractor shredding. He’s shredding high, just to knock the tops off the thistles and their kin (don’t worry, there is PLENTY on the roadside for many, many birds). Speaking of birds, the hawks and eagles are quite happy he’s shredding. He had a caracara (Mexican eagle) watching quite intently yesterday. I see a couple of hawks have joined in, too. Buffet time!

Shredding away. Don’t worry the flowers will not die. Next week they’ll be blooming like the dickens.

But honestly, we don’t have too many mammals that don’t live underground in the area we’re mowing, because the rabbits have learned to go elsewhere to avoid the dogs, and we have mouse predators up the wazoo, both flying and barking. Plus, they will come back, believe me.

The area will look nice for the dinner we’re having tonight, where I hope my son and partner will join us!

The Horse Part of the Story

Have you noticed it’s always something with the horses, especially Apache? I have. Sigh. Yesterday afternoon, I headed out to try riding again, took him out of his paddock, and started grooming him. I got to his back, and he startled. I thought maybe he saw something or was surprised by Ace arriving. I started again, and he moved away. That was odd. He was acting like the curry comb was hurting his back. Just the day before yesterday I could groom him just fine there.

I’m always having trouble, but I’m a great friend!

I called Sara over and demonstrated on the other side. This time he curved his back downward to avoid the brush. So, Sara, who knows a lot more horse stuff than I do, did a test with her hands going down his spine, and whoa, did he react right at his withers (shoulder area). Obviously, I was NOT going to ride him. Poor guy!

Instead, I took him into the round pen where he patently ignored me, not at all like his usual self. He sort of moped around and tried to eat. We walked around together, and he was fine. Next, I took him out and put a long rope on him, something I don’t do often because, clumsy as I am, I always trip on the rope and get tangled. But, I wanted to try him in big circles, to see if he’d walk better that way.

As soon as I asked him to walk, he started out really close, so I waved my carrot stick thingie at him to encourage him to walk further out. Yow! Instead he took off like some kind of green colt. He launched into a canter, bucked and farted numerous times, bucked, started to gallop, and generally acted most unlike his usual self. He stopped when I asked him to, though, but when I signaled to walk in the other direction, he reared and went off like a race horse.

Both Sara and I were thinking it was a bit dangerous, but I just waited until he settled down into a trot and stopped him. He was quite wound up, and blowing through his nose. I honestly had never seen him like this since I met him, unless he was out playing!

Sara suggested I give him something to do to make him think and not wallow in his emotions, so I had him walk over telephone poles on the long lead, walk up and down the poles with me on the other side of them, go over our little jumps, and eventually walk calmly down the driveway. He seemed to be having a lot of fun with all those activities, so I considered that a win and we went back.

I do this because someone trained me to. I think it makes me look cool.

I’m going to have to ask Trixie, our farrier and horse body work expert, what could be wrong with him. Maybe he twisted his back rolling (they are all rolling a lot right now, due to flies)? Maybe he has worms, again (can’t wait to move him out of that paddock and all the old poop)? Maybe he’s a diva? Sigh.

On to the next horse, how about it? Sara has been working with Ace, who has a very interesting personality. When he knows what he’s doing, he’s amazingly cooperative and follows instructions like a dream. But, when he gets confused and doesn’t know what to do, his go-to response is to buck and run. That doesn’t sound like riding would be fun, to me.

But, yesterday he made great progress, and Sara decided to get him used to someone on his back. I was the photographer, and got good pictures of her putting weight on his back, stepping up, and finally getting on. He was quite fine with the whole person sitting on his back concept. Way to go, Ace!

I like standing here and not moving.

He’s not as fine with reins and bits, and whenever Sara asked him to move forward, he’d back up. My uneducated theory was that he was trying to get away from the pressure by moving backwards, not realizing the pressure would stop if he just went forward. Horse brains are very interesting. I think she got him to take one step forward. But, on the other hand, there was no bucking, spinning, leaping or running off! I declare it to be quite successful for a first try! I’m sure she’ll make a lot more progress today!

See, I did move. In circles, backward! It’s a start!

Chicken News

Believe it or not, someone asked me what I was going to do with the baby chicks when they arrive on Wednesday. I had a couple of ideas, which I want to run by the nephew, but my current one is to make them a little area that includes the white nest boxes. That would provide shelter and a roosting space, plus room for chick food that the older chickens can’t get to. Star would be able to eat grown-up hen food, too, and I can easily give them water.

The idea is to use the door as a chick guard, but Star could get out and wander if she wanted to.

Soon enough, I’ll be able to let them all out. I do have another idea involving the cage we used for the guineas, but it needs some rain shelter. We’ll see, as Lee’s dad always said.

And, the moving egg laying saga continues. Springsteen has decided she likes the corner where Bertie Lee is laying. I found two eggs there yesterday, definitely not from the same hen. Oh, chickens.

Bertie at left, Springsteen at right (her eggs have a pink tinge)

I’m looking forward to another nice day at the Hermits’ Rest, plus the Zoom wedding. How pleasant it is to have positive plans! Hope your plans are positive as well.

Summertime Is Coming and the Chickens Are Laying

I hear y’all like my ranchy stories, so here’s what excitement greeted me when I got back to the ranch today. Since no one had picked up eggs, the first thing I did was check the top of the garage fridge. There were at least three eggs per hen, but 5 white ones. Little Henley had gone into overdrive! I’m guessing she laid two in one day. Wow. One was tiny compared to her usual eggs.

One of these eggs is teeny!

Then I went to find Bertie Lee’s eggs. But there were NONE where I found the last bunch. So I looked under everything. Voila! There were 7 eggs, one broken, in the original corner where she first started hiding her eggs, on an old mop. Let’s hope she keeps this location up.

All 19 eggs I found.

That just left Big Red. The little darling had laid two while I was in Austin. Oddly, they were two different colors. That led me and Sara to wonder if she’s really two hens, but they never appear in public together. That’s plausible, right?

So many shades of brown!

Now I am about ready to sell or give away some of the eggs. We have lots now!

There are other signs summer’s coming around here! I’ve seen scissor tail flycatchers already. Another summer of watching their beauty has commenced! And the intensely fuchsia wine cups on our property showed up. I’m relieved.

My favorite jewel of a flower. Look at all the pollen!

I’ve saved the best for last, though. My favorite violent murderer bird is back! I really missed the loggerhead shrike when it left last year. I haven’t seen it. But it’s handiwork is easy to see.

Loggerhead shrikes impale insects and save them for later. This is a female grasshopper, because you can see her wings.

I was never so happy to see two dead bugs in my life!

Beautiful scarab on barbed wire.

Yeah, it’s hot already. But I’ve got my two red buddies, Apache and Big Red, to entertain me. After my long week, I just sat and watched them this afternoon while Sara worked with Ace. As always, being with them helped. It’s yet another way I can maintain my equilibrium.

My buddies in peace.

Hope you have a peaceful or fun weekend. I have a Zoom wedding to look forward to.

Pet News, Some Good, Some Not

There’s been a lot going on in the pet department around our ranch community. The first is good news, which is that right now there are two puppies to enjoy over at the neighbors’ house. They use Australian cattle dogs as working animals, and the elderly matriarch (Tess) is no longer able to do much. So, they decided to allow their breeder friend to get puppies from their youngest female (Jess) and one of the breeders’ unrelated males. The two female pups and Jess came home from the breeder’s house this weekend, and I got to enjoy them. They are so soft at this age!

Bess is the one with brown on her, who’s on the go. The other one’s a real snuggler, so her new family will enjoy her!

One of the little cuties has another home, where she’s going in a week or so, but we get to enjoy the other one (Bess) and watch her grow. Nothing like a bunch of rhyming cattle dogs to brighten the neighborhood! They now have 5 generations of the same maternal line at their house.

Other nice pet news is seeing how well Ace is fitting in with the other equines. We caught him touching noses with Fiona yesterday, which was so sweet. Immediately afterwards, though Apache broke up the love fest. I guess Fiona is HIS lady.

Hello, little buddy.

The amusement we’re getting out of the paint horses shedding continues. There are interesting areas of white in the pastures. When you get up close, you can see they are horse shaped, if that horse happened to be rolling on the ground. Spice left one where you can actually see her brown spots and her white ones, like a map of her coat. I couldn’t photograph that, since we were wrangling three horses, but I did get a picture of one from Apache, which is all white. Poor Spice will get brushed out next time I’m back at the ranch, since she looks like Apache did last week (since Sara hasn’t been riding her, she hasn’t had her usual amount of grooming).

It’s like Apache made a snow angel with is hair.

The sad pet news is that we appear to have lost Gracie Lou, Kathleen’s little white dog, and Vlassic’s favorite companion out here. She just never came in Saturday. We can’t keep her fenced in, because she’s so little that she slips through the gates, but she always has come in and asked to go nap in her bed in Kathleen’s room, and of course, to eat.

Gracie joined us last April.

We put a notice on Milam Touch of Love and asked all the neighbors (all four of them!), but no one has seen her. I went up and down the road and didn’t see any evidence of foul play, either. She just vanished. Maybe she encountered a hawk or a coyote, or a big cat, but only the hawk makes sense, because she disappeared in daylight, AND the harrier’s been around. Lee’s favorite theory is that she was sniffing on the side of the road and someone picked her up, thinking she was lost of something. She is very friendly and will jump into cars.

So, we’re hoping someone realizes we are looking for her and brings her back. She’s always been such a tough ranch dog, and more of an outdoor animal than indoor. It seems weird for something to get her after she survived the farm in Yorktown for so long, as well as our place for over a year! Keep your fingers crossed she turns up again.

A New Supporter!

Let’s end this on a happy note, though. I’m going to have to get those knitting needles warmed up again, because The Hermits’ Rest blog and podcast have a new supporter! Thank you to Kathleen Caso of Hearts, Homes and Hands for becoming a monthly supporter! She’s hoping to share podcasts about the ranch with our home-bound clients, who enjoy listening to stories. I enjoy telling stories, so THAT all works out. And then, if they want to see pictures, they can look at the blog. Great idea, right?

You, too can support us for as little as dollar a month by signing up at https://anchor.fm/sue-ann-suna-kendall/support – or just keep reading and listening. I’m happy to have all of you around!

Still Working on Horse Feet

I’m working on horse feet in more ways than one these days. Animals have a lot to teach us, both scientifically and intuitively.

In science news, we learned a lot about horse feet (hooves) with Trixie’s latest visit, and we learned that Fiona loves Sara more than we ever realized. She spent a long time leaning on Sara and asking for hugs.

My feet are fine, I’m just spreading love — Fiona

Trixie has most of the damaged area of Apache’s feet trimmed off, but we were all shocked to see how much hoof separation he suffered. It’s scary. Laminitis can be deadly. We’re lucky we still have him.

The black crack shows damage.

We also talked about how he always does a little buck and stumble when transitioning to a canter (which explains my lack of cantering experience). Trixie did more chiropractic work in his spleen area. As always, Apache was a trooper and relaxed happily when it was over.

Whoa, I feel better.

I got to watch a little of the work Trixie did on Ace. He wasn’t used to what she did, but he got a pretty funny look when he realized he felt better!

What are you doing?
Sara listens to Trixie explaining what good shape Ace is in.

Trimming his feet was a bit difficult, because it had been a while since his last trim, and I heard Ace’s feet were a bit sore yesterday. Today he was walking fine, but I didn’t see him run. it just shows how important horse feet are!

Apache has never had such fine looking feet before!

So, yesterday I went off and rode Apache alone again. He was feeling okay, but didn’t want to walk on the hard driveway. I don’t blame him. It was pretty challenging for a number of reasons.

First, it was really windy, which often gets the horses on edge. Second, our dogs were out, barking and chasing cows, which puts me on edge. And third, Fiona was in a mood. A really annoying mood.

Once we got near the front cattle tank, she acted like she was full of beans. She ran up and down the sides of the tank, ran back and forth in front of me and Apache, while braying endlessly, and kept doing sudden turns and pivots. Once or twice would have been fine, but she kept it up for ten minutes or more.

I tried to be good. But I love grass.

Apache had already been a bit of a handful, focused on grass and not me. I was a little worried she’d spook him. So, I stopped him and breathed deeply. He just watched Fiona acting like she had a bee up her butt. I counted that as a win.

It was still a challenge to get Apache to pay attention to me. He would duck his head, spin his feet, and do what he could to avoid my instruction. I kept asking, then resting, then asking, and finally, I could feel him settle down. He walked back to the barn calmly, like nothing had happened out in that windy pasture. I learned a lot. I can trust Apache even when he’s antsy, and we can get through weird days. Whew.

All’s well as long as us horses and people keep learning from each other and moving those feet.

The Student Becomes the Teacher

I remember, in my youth, the first time I became a teacher of linguistics in addition to being a student. It was a gentle introduction, since I co-taught with one of my professors, but it really did me a lot of good. They say that you really start to master a subject once you teach it, and “they” (whoever they are) are telling the truth! The stuff I learned when teaching interested college students about linguistics, as well as teaching grumpy engineering students about rhetoric for engineers sticks with me today.

Here’s a shameful admission: the ONLY writing class I ever took after high school English was reading the textbook for engineering rhetoric a chapter ahead of the students the first time I taught it. Yep, I taught myself technical writing. That seems to have worked out.

What? I can’t believe you never took a class. Also, I still don’t love this food.

I watched this phenomenon of the student becoming the teacher play out yesterday, when we went out to play with the horses. Sara had already worked with Ace in the morning, so today she saddled him and put a bridle on him. The bit was a new surprise for him, but by the end of the day, he could eat grass with it. He’s no fool!

What the heck is going on here? Does this saddle make my butt look big? Photo by Sara.

So, I brushed tons of hair off Apache, then got him all saddled up, while Sara took Ace to the round pen for some groundwork (that’s when you teach a horse to follow your instructions while running around). I started groundwork using a rope, but she was doing it “at liberty,” which means you’re in the pen with a horse who can do whatever it wants to (including, one hopes, what you ask it to).

It was quite an active scene, with Ace running and bucking and doing the kinds of things a horse who’s learning will do. Meanwhile, I decided it would be a good opportunity to help Apache keep focused on doing what I ask him to do, no matter what’s going on around him. We did patterns and turns, and different ways of approaching obstacles, and he did an impressive job of not paying much attention to Sara and Ace.

Ace was making progress, but not finding it easy to settle down, being burdened with all this new paraphernalia on him. He truly did not want to calmly walk in a circle. So, we tried having Apache be his role model. We walked calmly around the outside of the round pen, while Ace and Sara walked on the inside. Sure enough, Ace matched Apache’s mood and pace, and we walked in both directions just fine. That was the perfect time to stop the lesson, while success was happening.

I also stopped to look at flowers. These two types of verbena look very different right next to each other!

I was proud of Apache for being a good teacher. Both horses got their reward when we walked to the end of the driveway again, me mounted and Sara alongside of Ace. Then we enjoyed a grazing break again. That was also good practice. It’s nice that these two get along so well.

We’re friends, so we don’t bother each other.

I know it’s really good for Apache to be the calm, reasonable role model for the first time in his life. I can tell he enjoyed doing it, and he didn’t even realize that yesterday was the second time we ever rode without another person riding with us. Score!

Plus we had a big ole full Passover moon! Photo by Lee.

That’s it for today’s horse report. Don’t worry, I won’t be writing about Ace progress every day, even though his owner says this makes him “famous.” But, Trixie comes today, so we may need a foot report!

Apache Has a New Buddy

I’m pretty wiped out, but I have to share the fun and work that happened today in the horse department. Sara has been wanting a horse to work with while Spice isn’t rideable, so she talked to our friend, Sheila, who owns a horse Sara worked with 7 years ago, when I first was hanging out here. Sheila said she’d be happy to send the gelding over for some fun.

Our old pal, Ace.

Ace is a huge, black solid paint gelding (that means he has the pain gene, but isn’t all spotty). He’s so tall Sara has trouble putting his halter on. He has one blue eye and tiny bits of white on him. Not only is he gorgeous, but he has a great personality.

Big and beefy!

Sara said he was happy to see her, like he remembered her. And he wasn’t too hard to load, either.

There he is in the trailer! Photo by Sheila Sager

Once he got to our horse area, Sara called me so I could see him. He was so calm and nice.

See his blue eye?

I wonder if he remembered being here before? He and Apache still seem to be buddies, that’s for sure.

Hello old friend! Photo by Sara Faivre.

Later, Sara and Ralph brought a lot of square bales they’d bought nearby. This will keep us in hay for a good while. But, we had to get it off the trailer! Oh my.

Half the hay is off.

I’m not the strongest city girl in the world, and it was not easy to move it all. Plus it’s the first hot day of the year. We reminded ourselves we weren’t racing and let ourselves rest.

She is a lot stronger than me! But tired!

We did it! We had another challenge, because some of the bales came apart. But Sara had great ideas, did some skillful trailer maneuvering, and we got all the broken ones safely over by the horses.

Lots of hay.

As tired and hot as we were, we were going to do some fun activities with our new friend! We are taking it slow, since Ace is gentle, but doesn’t have much experience under saddle. So, we took Ace and Apache on a nice walk down the driveway.

Excellent grass over here!!

It was fun, but both Apache and I were sweaty. He’s losing his winter coat, so every time he bumped into me, more white hair got on my arms, my shirt, and my watch. It was pretty filthy.

I got a snack! Yummy sow thistle!

He’s had these extra-long winter hairs, and today they got all tangled up and coming right off if I pulled them. They resemble a dish scrubbie or something. I must say I’ll be glad when all the hair is shed.

In any case, the horses had a nice time grazing, while Sara and I rested. Ralph even brought us some cold beverages to enjoy. What a great way to bond with horses and enjoy a Saturday!

Such a fun guest!

As we were leaving, we fed the horses their grain and supplements. We of course gave Ace some, to make up for the wormer he got earlier. Well, he didn’t think much of our beet pulp and toppings. We think he didn’t like the garlic. It was really funny watching him dig through the bowl trying to find something palatable. He ended up dumping the bowl upside down and looking very disappointed.

The food at this establishment does not meet my standards.

I can’t wait to watch as Ace learns new things with my ranch buddy, Sara. I always have liked him, and am amazed at his gentle spirit. Sheila has done a good job with him!

A Lifetime Milestone, and Why It Matters

Yesterday, I achieved a milestone that was a long time coming. In fact, it was one of my “life goals” since I was a small child, and something I never thought I’d be able to do. On the surface, going over to the barn, saddling up my horse, and going for a nice ride doesn’t sound like a big deal. But it was. A huge deal. The amount of personal growth, courage, emotional maturity, and understanding of another living being required to get to this milestone was huge, and I’m just going to say it – I’m really proud of myself.

I’ve been riding Apache for a good number of years now, at least five. One of my life’s dreams came true when Sara generously gave me Apache (and his expenses, ha ha) when she realized that his health challenges meant he’d never be the hard-driving athlete she needed to fulfil her own dreams. It was obvious that I loved that generously rounded horse, regardless of his rideability, and I’d be just fine hanging out with him and doing things on the ground, if it came to that. It also helped that he seemed fond of me, too.

We took some Parelli lessons (a natural horsemanship style) back when I had money to do that kind of thing, and we got a pretty good foundation from it, though being in crowds with people barking orders at us made both of us nervous. That is an important insight.

I’m the happiest horse on the ranch. My human and I make a great team.

Since then, we have worked at our own pace, getting better at various horse/human activities, and understanding each other more and more. I am sort of glad I didn’t have the money for more lessons, because it was good to work things out on my own, with Sara providing guidance. The progress was slowed down by the fact that Apache has metabolic issues, so sometimes his feet hurt and I can’t ride him…like much of last year, right when we’d been making really good progress going out in the ranch with Sara and Spice, exploring. I learned that Apache is as curious as I am about seeing new things, as long as he can take his time.

Continue reading “A Lifetime Milestone, and Why It Matters”

Three Horses Plus Two People Equals Springtime Fun

Apache, my beautiful Arabian/Quarter Horse cross, had a pretty crappy 2020, just like us people did. He ate too much fresh green grass this time last year and he went lame (foundered). Since then, he has spent a long time recovering, as I’ve documented in my blog (just search for Apache).

Still with plenty of winter coat but curious!

Since he’s declared better by Trixie the horse foot expert, we’ve been working with him. He’s so trim and fit that I hardly recognize him. Really, he’s lost weight in his face and looks more Arabian now. And Sara and I have both been working gently and carefully, and sure enough, he’s back to his old self!

Apache
Looking spiffy and sorta Arabian dish, faced, even with winter coat!

Sara rode him for three days this week, then I rode him yesterday with her on Lakota. It went very well, so today we tried adding another element, Spice (who has back issues and isn’t rideable now) following with us, ponied alongside good ole Lakota. What a fun idea, or maybe not, if it makes a mess.

Saddled up and ready to ride!

Luckily, it worked great! Sara tested her skills leading two horses, and I got to practice being calm when Apache had other ideas from me.

Sara looks like she’s having fun.

It was fun seeing how well he’s behaving and how relaxed and curious he was today. It was like we were in 2019. We all went all over the bottom land and up hills. Apache wanted to go ahead of the others (Lakota is not speedy).

Hey, it’s the creek!

We looked at stuff like ponds and the creek. Then we spent the whole way back going over every limb and log we encountered. What fun!

Ooh, a pond.

There’s still stuff to work on, of course, but today was fun for all. It’s all I ever wanted most of my life, a horse to have fun on and learn with. And one who is sweet and loving to me.

At the gate, everybody being good.

And smells like horse sweat. Mmm. Sara’s and my favorite perfume.

Happy Suna.