Monday, June 29, 2009

Selling Canyon - A letter to the woman who sold me my horse

I remember telling someone that I'd never buy a horse from a trader, because at least with a person you had a chance.

When you listed "Prince" you noted on your ad that he was okay for a novice. And we were novices, this would be our first horse.

Novice. This was a horse that hospitalized you on numerous occasions.

A horse you wouldn't ride, couldn't ride, when you brought him out. That struck me as odd, but I trusted you because you knew I was looking for a horse for my daughter.

A ten year old.

You wouldn't sell a dangerous horse for a ten year old. What woman would?

The answer: YOU.

When I called you within our 30 day trail you LIED to me over and over. He was spooking because of me, you said. He bucked because I was in his mouth.

You lied and lied and when I took him to a clinic I learned just how badly you lied to me when I met trainers that knew you and knew this horse.

You'd sell a horse that you knew would buck, because he had bucked the last time you had ridden him in that trainer's arena to try to sell him. And he threw you off. He didn't sell there.

This was a horse that threw you and broke your hip.

A horse that couldn't be ridden on a trail, which was what we told you was the only thing we wanted to do, because he would spook at everything.

A horse you had for seven years, and you knew inside and out.

My daughter fell off him when he blew sideways, spooking at a pole. He's bucked with me so much that riding with me is just a plain old drag as I ask folks to take it slow around us.

When, on a big trail ride, a young green horse went on a bucking fit, "Prince" did the same - and NO OTHER HORSE (there were 30 there) DID - I started to get the idea that this horse was not broke.

So I worked with him, have most of the spook out of him after a year and a half. Now he'll spook in place, wait for me to walk him up to the offending object and give it a sniff. But try as I might, I can't get past the random buck in the saddle. After all the work we've done, the buck remains, although most everything else is solved.

I've come to realize that riding a bucking horse when I go out with my daughter is selfish. If I were to fall, then my daughter, who is just gaining her confidence with horses again, she would be in a predicament that is not fair to either one of us. Particularly since we already have someone with a level of disability in our home. We can't afford another.

My husband and friends have said to move on ages ago, but by nature I'm no quitter. I get attached, to boot. But I have to admit, this is beyond my ability.

I'm out of my depth with Prince, aka Canyon, and you knew it. I have to list him for sale because I truly can't get him past this issue. While I haven't been hurt, the angels can't hold me in the saddle forever. And increasingly I'm dreading going out for a ride.

Which isn't the point of owning a horse.

I know I'm no trainer. I've worked as hard as I can, but after talking to my trainer I'm taking her advice...

Canyon, as much as it breaks my heart, is for sale.

Because, as they say, a green horse and a green rider (which I consider myself - and him) is a bad combo.

I'm trying to be responsible. I'll keep working him. When he sells, the next person will be experienced, will know that he bucks on occasion, will know the limits I've reached. He'll probably go cheap, a lot cheaper than you sold him to me. That's okay, though.

Because I'm not you. Greed will never force me to compromise the safety of someone, especially their child (I've already turned two people away who wanted him for their child). I'd give him away to a trainer (not an amateur like me) before I'd sell him for a family horse.

And another thing. You bought a green horse on purpose, girl. I didn't.

I bought a green horse because of one woman's greed.

I decided to repost this. I had taken it off because the woman did end up buying Canyon back - on her own, I didn't call her (I had called her about 3 months in and offered to sell him back to her, but she declined then).

But I realized that this letter is very accurate and maybe even a good warning to horse buyers. FYI, Canyon was evaluated by a trainer and a vet. They had detected nothing wrong.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Head in the clouds

I've been flying a lot lately instead of riding. Which is why I saw this guy.

Who reminded me of this guy.

But I digress.

I fly Southwest Airlines, which I love, because they have open seating. It means if you know the system, you can sit where ever you want.

I always opt for seat in front of the wings by the window. Sometimes I don't look out the window, usually because I love reading the airline magazine, Spirit (where one of my essays ran), sometimes because I have chatty seat companions (which I enjoy too, because it's a great bit of randomness that helps me as a writer - beware, if you sit next to me you could be in my next novel), or because I have to work like a dog before my one hour flight is up.

But lately I've flown so often that I've read the whole magazine, had silent people in the row, and been done with work.

So I've been looking out the window...

Friday we were flying back at the best time of the day. The sun was hitting every patch of water and making it look like shiny pennies had been dropped by a careless giant.

Then, as we got closer to the Hill Country, lakes lit up like molten gold.

There were dragons, golden and shimmering in the late afternoon of summer,

Spikey in places, smooth in the middle, golden everywhere.

Fat golden geckos, maybe horn toads, sunned themselves under us.

Cloud islands filtered the sunlight down, but in the distance was another golden lake. These pictures from my phone don't capture how bright the gold was - as bright as your child's smile, as luminescent as a lovers gaze. Gold at the end of the rainbow would be dull by comparison.

It was a game, after a while, trying to find the moment when the gold made the most interesting leaps across the water,

Tangles of river catching the light and tossing it back into the sky, beauty unseen most of the time,

because most people are chatting, reading books, working, sitting on the other side of the plane, missing this incredible dance of light on water, gold spilled, there for the taking.

Then, we got here. This is the lake where I live. We fly over it on the way home sometimes, not every time. But I've never seen it golden like this.

(this post was inspired by Lisa's cloud pictures and Carmon's roses.)

Next post: A letter to Leslie.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Somebody 'esplain dis to me.

Spotted at Love Field on Monday.


Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Baby's fall

It was the worst day ever.

Okay, I take that back. When we found out our eldest daughter (who was two days old) had a birth defect that would require open heart surgery when she was seven months old - THAT was the worst day ever.

But this was damn close.

Mireya fell off Canyon. And it was all my fault.

First of all, she's fine. I mean, she got a few bruises and scrapes, but she's fine.

But the fact she fell, that was all my fault. I didn't have Canyon's rope (he had been latched on and I was letting her "steer") and he took off in the little arena. As she got scared, so did he, and he cantered. She stayed on for two beats then hit the ground.

The only things I did right was she had her helmet, boots and jeans on and we were in a sandy arena.

Stupid, stupid, stupid.

She's come around, we've all told her she's joined the club since we've all fallen off a horse a time or two. Her new nick name is Rodeo Princess. Injured Rodeo Princess. She loves that.


But I never, ever wanted her to fall.

I also never want:

  • Her heart to be broken.
  • Someone to yell at her.
  • Her to get a fever.
  • Twist her ankle.
  • To be scared.
  • to be sad.

Okay, I know, I'm going too far with the last one. But that's what mothering is in my world. The world biggest physical and emotional bubblewrap.

And what happened was completely preventable. The moment I looked at Canyon and felt that shift, that sense that he wasn't listening, I knew. But I thought, one more.

Stupid, stupid, stupid.

God cut me some slack, and she came away very nearly unscathed. She came back to the stables, but doesn't want to ride. I'm not pushing it, although I did tell her the reason Canyon took off was because he is a big old chicken and he didn't know that she'd fall off and that he wasn't trying to buck her off.

Which is the only good part of the whole damn thing. Canyon was freaked out (since we all started yelling at him to stop and our group fear normally would have triggered a buck in the old days).

Afterwards my husband took Mireya home and I worked Canyon. I ran him around the round pen, both of us terribly upset. He bucked and ran like he was being chased, I cried and snapped my carrot stick. When I put him up he was listening to everything I said, watching me carefully, warily.

I sat there with Sierra, finally crying, and my big girl said it wasn't my fault. She was wrong, of course, but it was nice anyway. And she said she'd share her horse with Mireya, which made me proud.

Adam came back (having dropped Mireya off with grammy) and I broke down the rest of the way. Hell, I'm breaking down now, just writing about it.

Stupid, stupid, stupid.


I went back the next day and Canyon and I did some despooking, trail riding, and relationship repair.

It'll take a few more sessions, but he came around a bit. Today we did some work and I could see we'll need more time to heal up and move on.

I'm still upset. So is he. But neither one of us meant any harm.

I have to remember that. And cut us both some slack.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Lessons at Dusk

Mireya decides to take pictures
With my phone.
This is now my favorite photo.
She's got a gift.

Mireya waits for her turn to ride
Like a good cowgirl.
She gets lessons from mommy.
Which mostly consist of
Stop and go riding.

Which is most kinds of riding, I guess

Sierra's lesson on Lily goes well
Lily is a bit stiff,
needs turning exercises.
All those years on barrels

Mireya's turn, stopped on the "bridge"

Canyon, a willing lesson horse.

Who would have thought it?

Horse girl.

Look at that smile.

Writing is going well, thanks for the supportive words! My novel is a mystery of sorts. But here's an example of my writing (that's not horse related) that's been published ( in Christian Science Monitor a few years ago)

Embrace the Boredom

It's not enough for it to be an electronic leash, now there are a plethora of "content" you can get on your cell phone. A young man was relating how instead of having to read old magazines in the doctor's office he can now play a game – Tetris, online role playing, whatever. Now, he said, you don't have to get bored.

This is, of course, a huge loss.

When my daughter whined about being bored, I told her it was a wonderful thing. "Just think," I said in a conspiratory whisper, "of all the wonderful things that happen when you're bored..."
"Like what?" she asked, taken aback.

"You'll see.."

I live most of my own life busy. Rushing here, running there. When a chance to be bored comes – a chance to sit in a non-stimulating environment and be with just myself – it starts out very uncomfortable. First I look for something, anything, to read. Labels. Signs. Fine print. But as time stretches out, beyond the available distractions, I sit with myself.

And I learn things.

Small things connect in my mind. Long gone ideas resurface, surprised at the silence, then scurry about in the quiet, leaving idle thoughts in their wake.

Fragments of songs. Ideas for stories. Scents of food for dinner. Visions of solutions where none were a few minutes before.

Boredom is a gift, really. Like a seedling suddenly free of the shadow of an ancient oak, boredom becomes the open sky that lets our inner self stretch and reach beyond our mental shadows. We rarely let ourselves get past the initial anxiety. The anxiety of having nothing to do.

Nothing to do but think.

With a generation growing up with no opportunity to be bored, I realize they are being robbed by distraction. Robbed of the gifts that only arise when you turn that corner of boredom and run into yourself.

All we can wish for, I suppose, is spotty cell coverage.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Lily and Sierra hit the trail

Sorry I've been gone so long. It's not going to get better, I'm afraid. I've recommitted to my writing (I have one novel with an agent and am working on a second I just figured out the plot for) and have to redirect my energy there.

So I'm going to go for quick, brief, entries.

Horse Haiku, if you will.

(Not true Haiku, for all you purists out there.)

Saturday Sierra had her first trail ride on Lily
Lily is the horse I dreamed she would be.
Level headed. Responsive. Spook free. Patient.
My daughter glows.

We rode with our friend Rudy at his house
with his daughter too.
She's starting to become... horsey.
Dad's pumped.

Saturday I rode alongside Sierra, riding Canyon.
Charged by horses on the other side of the fence,
He had to canter in concern for 20 yards or so.
He did not buck. I did not freak. I let him canter a bit.
We got through safely.

Despooking is starting to pay off.
Scary sheets bear carrots.
Green balls are squishy.
Courage is a long road.
A road worth riding.

Trust is a long road too.