Sunday, May 3, 2015

Black Buckets

The dreaded Black Buckets

Lily HATES black buckets.

Now before you start thinking I've gone off the deep end and become one of those horse ladies (which I may be), let me assure you that I know this because Lily has very clearly told me she hates black buckets.

And when I say she told me, I don't mean we have some sort of psychic connection or she is painstakingly spelling out words with grain in her stall. I mean she told me because she has told me as clearly as any horse can that she really, really hates black buckets.

Early last year I'd come to the barn and discovered that Lily had pooped in her water bucket.  She has two water buckets in her stall, one red and one black, and she had very specifically pooped in the black bucket. I cleaned out the bucket and refilled it thinking "She probably had a bad day." 

Then over the next week I'd noticed she never drank out of the black bucket and pooped in it by the end of the week. I decided to buy her another bucket, a red one to match the one she had.

And she stopped pooping in the bucket.  I pretty much forgot about it. Until recently.

Last week I went to the barn - this time of year is so busy I only get by once a week. Her grain bin was gone and had been replaced with a black bucket. I didn't think too much about it because her grain bin was similar in color, but it wasn't the same material. The black bucket is one of those made out of a thick rubber, almost like a tire. 

The next time I came out I noticed she had pooped in it. I washed it out, but for some reason I thought "that was weird, I'll have to check on what's going on." When I came back a few days later, she was out in the field already, and her bucket was pooped in again. I went to the feed store and bought her a little present. I cut off the old black bucket and tossed it in the feed room corner and tied up the new red feed bucket. I wanted to be there to talk to the guy who feeds, but I figured he probably wouldn't care.


Lily and her new feed bucket.

When I came in to ride the next day, on Sunday, Lily turned in her stall to greet me.   She usually just stands there a bit stoic, and I reach out to her to say hello. This time it was different. Lily came over to me and put her head on my shoulder.

Lily is not that kind of horse. She doesn't hug.  But she did.

We stood there for a minute, reasting in our funny little embrace. I looked over to check on her feed bin. It had flipped a little so I adjusted the tie. There was no poop in it.

We had a wonderful ride, headed out on the street and walked around the block for the first time. She was amazing. I tossed a few cookies in her bin and she chowed down. Then she posed for the picture above, beaming.

I tell you, sometimes when you get it right with your horse it's the best thing in the entire world.


Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Lily's Retirement Village

Lily and I have been enjoying retirement.

Okay, I'm not retired, but my riding has taken on a decidely different flavor. Maybe this will sound weird, but I feel like I'm out of the rat race of riding. Riding is now, really, a relaxing part of my life.

I bring Lily out of the pasture. Sometimes she says "meh" and I have to come to her. Sometimes she says "Girlfriend!" and she jogs over to me.

I don't hold her hot and cold nature against her. Because we have an understanding. She accepts my quirks, I accept hers.

Once out, sometimes we ride. Sometimes I brush her and inhale her scent. I think she finds that a little embarrassing, like when all the people in the restaurant cave to societal pressure and sing you happy birthday despite the fact that you are MORTIFIED. But she puts up with it because she really does like me.

I think.

Sometimes we ride in the arena. Sometimes we ride in the gelding's pasture and make fun of them behind their backs. Sometimes we go out on the street and ride around the block.

I bring in my own hay because I want to have the smell of hay on me. I have a sign on her stall so everyone knows she's loved, because I can't get by every day.

I buy her a new water bucket because she HATES black buckets and poops in them.

Horse life is good life, even if I don't have the time I'd like on horseback. But I'm writing, creating, and time in the saddle gets me unstuck.

Which is a wonderful place to be.



PS: I've created a little newsletter filled with some of my other writing, if you're interested click here to sign up.

PPS: I also FINALLY finished my novel. Has nothing to do with horses. But I think you'd like it. Click here for an excerpt.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Simplified

That's the word for my horse life these days. Simplified.

When Lily got her last float, my friend said that the change in her was remarkable. A year of natural farrier care (no more shoes), changing her diet to just oats and hay, all the work we did to get her teeth back in order, it's given Lily a whole new life.

She is sound. Her coat glows like a brand new penny. I ride her in a halter, we do simple things in the arena, just enough for both of us to keep in touch. She's out with a group of mares, they all get along.

"It took four years, but just look at her," my friend remarked, marveling at this 19 year old horse everyone thinks is 10.



It's funny, I was pouring over a horse magazine the other day and realized the articles that used to grab my attention no longer held any interest. I didn't need to know how to get my horse to respect me, how to stop her from jigging, how to get her sound.

That part of the journey is done. We are now on a long, quiet stretch, where we kick up some sand in the arena, dash through the poles, round the barrels that the other, more serious riders, work out on. We take them at a trot, sometimes a light canter, then run for the gate. Just for kicks.



Stephanie is coming out to ride Lily. She sold Cibolo to a good horse family. She needs to concentrate on college and work, and just wasn't having fun anymore.

It's supposed to be fun - that was something I had to be reminded of.

So now Stephanie will help me keep Lily ridden, she'll get her horse fix, I'll get a fitter mare. It takes a village to ride a horse these busy days.




I ride about once a week. I no longer worry that I can't ride more often. I've got kids, and right now they need me more than my horse. My horse doesn't need me to ride her 4-5 times a week, we aren't working on a goal. Our time together has no real purpose, it's just good for us. For me it gives me that place where I turn off my busy brain and remember to be in the present. For Lily it turns on her brain, she focuses in ways that are simultaneously unnatural and second nature.

I miss trail rides, long weekends with friends, all of that. But I have awakened to the realization that now is not that time. Maybe it will in 5 years. Maybe not.

But for now, it's just simple. Which is much more fun.