Saturday, January 31, 2009

It's the LAW...

Quick! Someone get this woman a club (see below)

Here's your weekend fix of Laws of the Horse (actual laws regarding horses and the community)

A Wyoming community passed this one: "No female shall ride a horse while attired in a bathing suit within the boundaries of Riverton, unless she be escorted by at least two officers of the law or unless she be armed with a club." (A club? Oh yea, that'll work.)

Apparently there were problems, so the good people of Riverton got back together.

They they added an amendment to the original: "The provisions of this statue shall not apply to females weighing less than ninety pounds nor exceeding two hundred pounds."
(hmmm. What do you supposed happened to call for an AMENDMENT? I wish I was at that city council meeting. By the way the Riverton Wyoming motto: "getting things done, behind the scenes" I could not make this up. I'm simply not that funny.)

A misworded ordinance in Wolf Point, Montana: "No horse shall be allowed in public without its owner wearing a halter." (But I look terrible in halter tops!)

A Fort Collins, Colorado Municipal Code: "It is unlawful for any male rider, within the limits of this community, to wink at any female rider with whom he is acquainted." (No winks? Well that takes all the fun out of it, doesn't it?)

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Keep your laws off my Horse!

An email list I'm on had this great list of Horse Laws. Every weekend I'm going to include a few from the list...

FYI: No one knows how they got there and no one living has a memory of anyone arrested under them.

In Omega, New Mexico, every woman must "be found to be wearing a corset" when riding a horse in public. A physician is required to inspect each female on horseback. The doctor must ascertain whether or not the woman is, in fact, complying with this law! (I have a feeling there were some very serious physicians lobbying for that one.)

In Hartsville, Illinois, you can be arrested for riding an ugly horse. (oh boy, do I have some suggestions...Do you suppose Fugly was around back then?)

In Pattonsburg, Missouri, according to the Revised Ordinances (well, at least they revised it), 1884: "No person shall hallo, shout, bawl, scream, use profane language, dance, sing, whoop, quarrel, or make any unusual noise or sound in such manner as to disturb a horse." (Well, that leaves out most trainers, doesn't it?)

As far as I know, drawing a full skeleton on a horse is not illegal. But maybe it should be...

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Camel Dressage - the rest of the story

I love the YouTube video of the camel doing dressage (you can see it on you tube, but just head over to Vacquero Girl, because it's more fun over there in general).

So, being the geek, I googled it. And here's the rest of the story. The camel belongs to Lady Chichester (no kidding, now tell me you are not surprised that this camel belongs to someone who is English) and the camel's name is Therese. And she LOVES to mug for the camera.

And Therese doesn't just do dressage - she also jumps.

The BBC has an amusing video and interview here, in which Lady Chichester says it's not particularly eccentric to have a dressage/hunter jumper with two humps and a propensity to spit...

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Tarp That Almost Killed Me - Part 2 By Canyon

(If you missed the first part, go here)

Hi, it's Canyon again. Sorry for the delay in this post. I guess it was the trauma, I guess I have PTSHD (post traumatic stress horse disorder) and needed some time to process.

Where were we? Oh yes. Having narrowly escaped the python that was about to completely wrap itself about our entire riding party, we headed back to the relative saftey of the barn.

I say relative because when a hungry wind is blowing through no place is really safe. I was plodding back, which is necessary because if you start to trot back, which any rational horse would do, then you get turned around and have to go BACK, resulting in significant cookie delay.

We had to make two turns thanks to Mr Ants-in-my-horseshoes Woody. He always starts trotting. Then we have to stop and wit for him to calm down. I really did try to help him out.

"Woody, you have to just think mellow thoughts."

"Woo Hoo! We're going BACK! We're done!"

"Woody, I've been here before. We might go right back in the pasture filled with the tiny rocks and have to run in all these circles and ..."

"Not a chance! We're done! I can tell... Oh, wait... What? Back up? Again? When we are so CLOSE?"

Sigh. He must have had to do 20 circles and 45 back steps.

Anyway we were pretty close to the barn when suddenly it happened! Out of the little square building a LION LUNGED BEHIND ME! No kidding! You could tell because the door on the little building flew open with so much force that it swung.

It had to be a darn fast lion, because I didn't quite see it. Just the little building there, with the door opening and closing a few times.

I was on edge then. I'd scooted my but away from those claws and then, with complete disregard for our safety, was forced to look at the little building and the door.

Where was the lion, you might ask. I was about to find out.

We turned away from the Lion's ... den and took maybe three steps when it happened. The lion leaped off the stack of hay on the other side of the road! Once again I managed to scoot away, lifting my hooves high, preparing to strike the horrible beast.

It had disappeared again.

I asked Woody, who finally arrived at the wash rack if he saw the lion, which I was sure was still lurking around.

"Canyon. There are no lions. Zero. Zip. And I told you we were done!"

"We would have been done 20 minutes ago if you hadn't been trotting! Because of you we had to circle over and over. And if we'd been done I wouldn't have very nearly been KILLED BY LIONS!"

"I was right next to you. There was no lion."

I snorted. "You should thank your lucky stars you've got me around. If I wasn't watching out for your big behind you would have been served up as lunch today. Three times!"

Woody gave a great big shake, which I've learned is his way of expressing gratitude. He has a tough time with showing his emotions. It's a gelding thing.

We headed back to our pasture, almost to safety when I saw it.

The lion was back. It was coiled ready to spring, to satisfy it's desire for Arabian/Paint horsemeat, which had been too often denied. I stood there frozen as I watched mom walk straight towards the lion. I tried to warn her, but she just made those weird soft sounds while right there at her feet...

At her feet...

Was the lion! It flicked its tail and she took it's paw and shook it!

Okay, I know what you're thinking. Mom had obviously become a traitor, a Benedict Arnold, a Brutus to her Ceasar!

Yes, I would have thought the same thing a few months ago. But I've come to accept that she's not an agent of evil.

I think.

Anyway, she kept shaking the paw of the lion until it ever so slowly transformed into a YELLOW CANVAS TARP! Remarkably like the one they cover the hay with so horses can't just grab a bite when they walk by because these poor horses are starving on this 4 flakes at a sitting thing... It was an incredible act of magic, actually. Not many moms can manage it.

So, after I was convinced, thoroughly convinced, that the transformation to tarp was complete, I STEPPED OVER THE LION TARP.

Okay, it took two tries and she had to yank on the rope, just a little. But still.

Needless to say, I got TWO cookies and the colt was very, very, impressed.

Let this be a lesson. When a hungry wind rises and threatens everyone around you...
keep your Arabian/Paint horse inside the barn. It's far too dangerous for most of us... er, them.

Monday, January 19, 2009

The Tarp That Almost Killed Me By Canyon

Part one: You have got to be kidding me... Ride in this?

I asked my "mom" (I call her that, she seems to like it and it does result in additional cookie delivery...) to bring the laptop out to the stables to give me an opportunity to tell, in first person, the incredible story of my survival on Monday.

After realizing that the keyboard is way too delicate for even my tiny and highly accurate hoof placements, we've opted for dictation instead (sorry about that, mom. But wasn't the inside of that white thing really interesting?). So if there are any misspellings in this story, please keep in mind that I'm relying on others to transcribe my tale.

Ahem. Okay, let's get started.

The day started out with a dangerous tinge to it. We horses are highly attuned to tinges, and I was tinged out. Frankly I knew that we were headed out into a situation fraught with peril as soon as I felt that hungry wind flutter through my mane. Surely she was joking about riding that day. Everyone knows how ridiculously dangerous it is to ride on a day when the wind stirs up every possible thing with teeth, claws, and an unhealthy hankering for nice, fresh horsemeat. Especially the exceedingly rare Arabian/Paint horsemeat, which is well known among predators as a delicacy.

I prayed that mom would come to her senses, deliver my long over due cookie ration and go on her merry way in the red thing that she rides inside of.

But it was not to be. My second in command, Woody, was standing by the wash rack as I tried to alert him to the danger.

"Can you believe this? They are taking us out in these dangerous conditions? We have to talk some sense into them!"

Woody blinked and sighed. "Let's just go. I need a break from that colt. I had to run him all around the pasture today. And where were you? Couldn't you get your head out of the hay for just a minute?"

I snorted. "I'm a finely tuned animal who requires precise amounts of sustenance or I'll come apart right when the lion makes it's final lunge."

"Canyon. There are no lions."

"Ha! Well, I'll remind you of that ridiculous theory when you are trying to buck off those carnivores as they sink their teeth into that big fat hindquarter of yours. I'll be safe at the barn, writing your epitaph!"

He laughed, or something, I was ignoring him by that point since he was clearly of no help whatsoever. In no time we were saddled up and it was time to go.

As we were headed out I hoped that we'd just stop and keep it at a quick fifteen minute work out in the tiny round pasture with the silver things and dirt floor. We did that once. All dressed up, around in circles, then woo hoo! Cookie Time! I loved that day. I think about it every time we go out.

But noooo. We had to go where ALL the lions are.

A trail ride.

I tried to keep an eye peeled for danger, but mom just kept turning me and having me do these complex hoof movements like we were in some sort of weird mating ritual. How's a horse supposed to watch for predators if all you do is "go left. now right. now stop. now trot. let's spin"?

It's impossible. The woman is obsessed with these moves. Ah well, sometimes you just have to let the reins take you where you will, you know?

Fortunately all the lions remained in hiding, held at bay, no doubt, by my fancy footwork and commanding presence. But I must have let my guard drop on our way back from the woods and that's when they sensed it. (They know when you are easy pickin's. It's uncanny.)

It was the first of three attacks and came as we were weaving through the trees (another recent obsession she's picked up from some stupid horse magazine).

That's where it was. The snake. Carefully camouflaged to look a lot like a piece long piece of wood. But how would you explain how it jumped onto my leg! Impossible! Wood does not jump! Snakes jump! Especially at Arabian/Paint horses!

I high stepped a couple times until the snake was dead, resisting the desire to do what any lesser horse would have done, like bolting for the hills. After accepting the compliments from mom for my considerable courage which saved us all from the dangers of the deadly snake cleverly hidden in the trees, I returned to safer ground to meet with Woody.

And of course Woody, the big oaf, hadn't even noticed the snake. Claims he saw a "branch" that I kicked up as I was walking around. Yesh. I tell you, that horse is as blind as a bat.

And that was just the beginning.

Tomorrow: Part two: Courage under fire

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Here's my Poster Child

I'd say he deserves the "Progress" title, don't you?

You can Obamasize yourself (or your horse) right here...

Calmness comes from focus...

I spent some serious time on this website, examining some very straight talk on training and bucking.

A few entries down there's a description of the focus exercise. You know, the one where you make sure your horse keeps its attention on you for a full five minutes. I did that exercise a few months ago, when I got a cell call I couldn't avoid answering.

Then, as I was looking for something to read and wandered back to this site, I realized that the focus exercise has been very effective with Canyon. The last time I was out at the stables I noticed how consistent he focused on me as we were walking.

One of the key instructions in the exercise is to reward and pet - without saying a word.

Silence. It's a great thing about being with horses. The quiet. I find that if I'm alone with Canyon after a while I stop talking. (It helps that he never answers, verbally, anyway)

It's hard to stop talking in this world, actually. At work talking is a big part of my job. Parenting is filled with talking, non stop responses to "Mommy! Mommy! Mommy!"

But in the round pen, in the arena, in the pasture, it's quiet. Like nowhere else in my world.

And calm.

The world needs more calm, quiet places. So we can all focus.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

20 Reasons Horseback riding is better than sex

I found this on an email list I'm on and just had to share (and add a few of my own, natch).

Feel free to add your own ideas... Somehow I think there will be many...

20. No one looks at you strange if you wear spurs and carry a crop.

19. You can wear your riding clothes in public.

18. You don't have to sneak your riding magazines into the house.

17. If you have trouble with riding, it is perfectly acceptable to pay a professional to show you how to improve your technique.

16. The Ten Commandments don't say anything about riding.

15. If your trainer takes videotapes of you riding, you don't have to worry about them showing up on the internet if you become famous.

14. Your horse won't keep asking questions about other horses you've ridden.

13. If is perfectly acceptable to ride a horse you have never met before, just once, or to ride many horses in the same day, whether you know them or not.

12. When you see a really good looking horse, you don't have to feel guilty about imagining riding him/her.

11. If your regular horse isn't available, no one objects if you ride another horse.

10. Noone can ever tell you that you can go blind if you ride by yourself.

9. When dealing with a riding professional, you never have to wonder if they are really an undercover cop.

8. You don't have to go to a sleazy shop in a seedy neighbor to buy riding stuff.

7. You can have a riding calendar on your wall in the office, tell riding jokes, and invite co-workers to ride with you without getting sued for harassment.

6. There is no such thing as a Riding Transmitted Disease.

5. If you have to watch horses on television, you don't have to subscribe to a premium cable channel.

4. Nobody expects you to promise to ride the same horse for the rest of your life.

3. Nobody expects you to give up riding if your equine partner loses interest in the sport.

2. You don't have to be a newlywed to plan a vacation primarily for the enjoyment of riding.

1. Your horse will never say, "WHAT? You just rode me last week! Is that all you ever think about?"

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Party game

(Seriously, who are these people who come up with these things?)

Okay, I have had zero horse time this week but I was inspired by Jewel at 20 meter to recall a game I used to love.

See I used to pretend to be a superhero. Actually years and years ago I used to play this RPG (role playing game) called Champions. It was all about pretending to be a super hero. I also collected comic books, all of which I still have in darn good condition. I collected Wonder Woman, for one. That woman had some gorgeous horses.

I was (and in many ways remain) such a GEEK.

Any way, I've stopped both hobbies, but still love playing this one game. More of a quiz really, perfect for learning something about folks. So here it goes...

If you could have one of these two super powers, which would you choose and why:

invisibility or flight

Hmmm? Post on, I'll put mine in at the end...

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Cold winds blow

It's 46 and for a thin skinned Texas girl who ran from Chicago after two icy winters (where I learned it can be too cold to snow - how insane is that?!), it's too cold to ride.

But I snuck in a ride anyway. No one was at the stables (because, hey, we're all thin skinned Texans), light was fading fast, wind blowing in from the North with an icy bite. All the horses were bouncing off the fences, thinking I was there to feed.

We're like a family at the stables (with our occassional dsyfunctional moments, as any family should have), and so I'm torn about feeding everyone.

First it's a little complex. Of course these aren't my horses - except for one. Then some horses come in, some stay out, some get this, some get that... I sometimes mix up who is who, although it's gotten easier now that there are fewer horses around.

So then I think "Well, I'll just feed these guys" because I know them and know what they get. But then the other horses get really ticked off and it seems to cause more trouble than if I let them run around.

Then I feel guilty for not feeding because clearly I could be helping. And they are all LOOKING at me saying "you know, miz 'alpha mare,' you're the one with the opposable thumbs..."

The wind was cutting in, manes were lifting in the air, the moon light was dimmed behind thin high clouds. I hesitated before the feeding buckets in the barn, then turned out the light and headed to the car. Pete and Sharon would be there later, and I knew they'd feed. You can count on them like you can count on cold Texas breezes in January.

As I walked to my car, the horses were all standing at their gates expectantly, seeming to be stunned that I was leaving without the payout.

I felt like a waitress getting off her shift right before the lunch rush, passing the crowd of people at the hostess stand, waiting to get in. You know you are right to leave, but still...

Man, this is definitely going to impact my karma.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Stress buster, thy name is horse

I left the office today with a headache, a pissy attitude, and a desire to forget that I do not have a trust fund to live off of.

I've got an ongoing feud going on with this ... extremely unpleasant* woman in our headquarter office. I'm sure she considers me unpleasant too.

(Here's Canyon, who knows all about office feuds... well, pasture feuds anyway. His advice - BITE. Ah, if only...)

One difference. Most everyone thinks of her as .... unpleasant and most people actually like me.

Whine, whine, whine. Some day I'll rant on the whole thing. It'll be a very long post. You might want to wear asbestos goggles when you read it.

Anyway, after a whole lot... unpleasantness I have felt ready to just kick the you know what out of something. And since I really don't have anything I can kick, I got worn down and unhappy instead.

Today was the first day I could get to the stables in a week. I headed over directly after work, wondering if it was a good idea to even go given my cruddy mood.

Four hours later, I was kicking myself for not making time to go during the week. I feel positively healed. My spirit is back, my headache is gone, I'm clear headed.

Just from being with my horse.

Sure, he was a pill at moments, but it didn't matter. Not one bit (no pun intended).

Because in those moment together, everything else was gone.

*I sure as hell don't mean unpleasant. But I'm too pleasant and clever to use the REAL WORD I MEAN.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009


Okay, so we are looking at this land where we could live and build our little horse paradise. It's ideal in lots of ways - location, size, price...

Today I drive by it on the way home and this land, which has been sitting for six months, now someone is there! They are pulled over and they are looking at it!

We've been waiting to put an offer until we can firm up financing (before instead of after), but now I'm freaking out. We can afford the payment, no problem, but our credit is not great and I wanted to be sure...

Now I'm just not sure what to do. Do I put an offer then just shrug if we don't get financing?

What if we lose it? I'm already... very attached.

Shoot. Maybe they were just tire kickers... Bleah.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Boo says the Donkey

(Canyon: I was not scared. Was NOT.)

It was a beautiful day for a ride. I was the only one who could get away and I decided to work on something that Jewell described on her blog - it's now a private blog, so I'm copying a bit of her comments on it instead of linking.

Basically she described a method of round penning that involved, among other things, round penning without any type of ropes - anywhere.

I think the change is the fact that the horse is at Liberty. You are working with them with no halter or lunge line. To get them to respect you without halter or lead you must change you personal power.

So I said, what the heck, let's give it a shot.

Into the round pen we go. Naked.

Calm down folks. Canyon was naked, not me. After all, you can see the round pen from the highway. :) And I was wearing considerable personal power.

Well, after a few minutes I learned one thing. Canyon has apparently considered himself naked all along.

Nice to know. Actually I think its one of two things : a sign that we've got the round pen thing down, or we don't and I can't tell.

We left the naked round pen session. Then after a few turns around the arena I decided to head out on our "test the boundaries" walk. He did great until Boo.

We had stopped to talk to Sharon (who owns the stables) who had just driven up and turned our back to Boo, the donkey who lives at the next farm. Apparently behind my back (and canyon's, more importantly), Boo charged the fence.

Um, did I mention I was only on a bareback pad in hopes of improving my seat?

And I was only riding in a halter because I'm very fond of my new halter and rein combination.

Suddenly Canyon pranced in place, arching slightly. I thought we were in for a bolt, buck and bad day.

I leaned in, held him slightly and got ready. Then he settled down! He settled down!

"What was that about?"

"It's the donkey," said Sharon. "He charged the fence."

We turned to confront Boo. Canyon gave him the biggest snort I've ever heard and I laughed all the way back to the barn.

So folks, my horse freak out was only a 6. PROGRESS! LOL

I got a few pictures to share. One of Canyon being insulted as his pack mule role.

Here's cute little Hoot

and here's Canyon giving his best "Hey baby, got a cookie?" bit...

Yes. He got his cookie. :)

Friday, January 2, 2009

Horse time

What is it about horse time? I love to be with other riders, love to be on a big trail ride, but I embrace love those moments when I'm completely alone with a horse.

I think it's because most of my life I'm multi tasking. If I don't have to be doing multiple things, I can stop from thinking on multiple tracks.

But that disappears when I'm in horse time. I am present, only present. Everything outside the circle recedes, sounds get muted, my thoughts streamline.

It's a ridiculous luxury in this world, an extravagance of time and place and spirit. For hours afterwards the joy of the indulgence lingers and I count the time until it'll be horse time again.

I'm beginning, slowly, to bring the lessons of horse time into my time. But I still have these things to learn:

  1. Ease back on the self imposed pressure. Take it easy on yourself.
  2. Be here, now. With kids, with my loving husband, with my work. Stop thinking ahead at the cost of this moment. And stop rehashing the past.
  3. Let go. The lesson is in the release.
  4. Respect is earned everyday and easily lost.

For the next few weeks I'm going to try to take each one of these lessons one at a time and find a way to bring horse time into my life.

Wish me luck.

Canyon, contemplating the empty hay rack in a very zen sort of way. With that hay belly, all you should do is contemplate, little buddha...

Thursday, January 1, 2009


Rain? What's that?

It's been dry as a dusty bunny's martini around here.

We live at Canyon Lake in the Texas Hill Country and here you can see the bones of this drought. There's an unsightly ring around the lake (where is that cleaning lady?).

The public docks are so low that it's incredible to think we ever launched from so far away.

Since we moved here 11 years ago I've seen a different extreme. We've been here for the 2002 flood that sent water over the spillway for the first time, creating a gorge by removing 80 tons of limestone in three days.

We've launched from the parking lot of the boat ramp, worried that we'd hit the pipe rail with our propeller.

You can see the rail in this picture... No one's going to hit it with anything other than a truck bumper right now.

We've mucked around in summer of mud, wondering if we moved to Seattle by accident since it wouldn't stop raining. We were constantly fighting thrush and I learned just how foul a horse's hoof can smell.


And now, it has stopped. Utterly. Here's the index that tells you how bad it is.

That's us in the dark red, like the eye of an angry, thirsty bull.

Here's what our average rainfall should be (look between Austin and San Antonio. See me waving?)

That's what it should look like. Really green. In 2007 we had a foot of rain in July alone.

But we're a long way from 2007. I don't think we've had more than 12 inches this year - at least that's what it feels like.

Here's Mireya walking in an area that should be filled with water. And there's the aforementioned rail.

Our deer here don't show signs of stress, but I wonder about wildlife that don't happen to live near a large water source. When we see such severe swings in weather I wonder if this is why this area was only somewhat settled by native populations, if the severe weather swings were discouraging.

I'm from the desert and while I miss the rain (as the song goes), I don't mind the dry conditions personally. I am used to yellowed grasses, and parched, cracked earth. I have a healthy dislike for living in mud.

But all along our area are places who have seen their wells go dry and they are having to truck in water for their horses. There's no relief in sight.

And we'll pay the price in March and April in another way too. I'm already mourning the spring flowers that will be absent from the sides of the roads. They are fed by winter rains, and this year they'll have to sleep for another year, waiting for the soaking rains to bring them out, when they will hopefully, be a riot of water fed color.

Let 2009 see some return to rain...