Sunday, January 31, 2010

Getting organized (got any secrets to share?)

Okay, enough with the metaphors. Let's get organized.

Now that I'm... ahem... CANTERING, I think it's high time I get my trailer organized.

Don't you?

So I'm going to show you my largely blank canvas and see what you think.

I need advice. And since there are so many experience folks here... Bring it on!!

For example - this is my door.

It's got a window, so I've got a half space to work with. I've seen those trailer pocket things, but they seem to require a full door. Still if I can find one, I think this is the place for it. Usually I see brushes and hoof picks and such. I'm going to buy a set for the trailer, so I can stop packing for every trip.

Cuz I plan to do more traveling, ya know.

Then I have a modest set of hooks.

Inside I've got six hooks - two holding a manure fork, one holding a shovel, and the rest for helmets and bridles.

Then I bought this to carry hay in. I fill hay bags from this, because I found hay bags to be a big leaking mess. This way I fill hay at the location. There's still hay everywhere, but it's not as bad.

This is my assistant.

She seems unclear on how to properly stow the girth.

She is persistent, though. I appreciate that in an assistant. To a point.

I think she's trying to fold it. Good girl, Roxie.

Okay, back to work. I tried the haybags here, but they didn't really work.

I only have two saddle racks, because one broke. I definitely need to replace that.

The single most useful tool in my trailer (next to the manure fork). I think I need to expand my tool box a bit, though.

Found a safe place for my paperwork - coggins, emergency info, etc. And this shoe holder will do to hold things for now.

On my list:

I need an emergency trail kit (what should go in there?), a set of brushes, an emergency boot. Tools to change a tire (something to roll the trailer on if I get a flat, for example.).

What do you carry in your trailer? Any tips (like the shoe holder) to make the most of a modest budget?

Friday, January 29, 2010

Horizons and riding toward them

I was driving home after a long day in the office, and was watching the sun make its way over to the other side of the world.

A thick band of cloud formed a hard ridge in the sky, and it created a false horizon line, creating the effect of an earlier sunset.

There is something poetic about a horizon caused by a cloud bank, clouds rising up to form a solid bit of land in the sky.

Riding towards a horizon means, of course, that you never reach it. and yet this horizon you could reach. You could drive under those clouds and be within the horizon itself.

(yes, this is about horses. stick with me for a moment.)

The next day I was flying to a meeting. I do many one day trips, which I don't mind, really, as long as I don't have to spend the night away from home very often. Flying is a drag, but often the sky makes up for it.

Again, there was a cloud created horizon as we flew between layers of clouds. A wave of a cloud bank above us cast a shadow on the clouds below us, another horizon in reach.

That's what it's been to face this fear. As I thought of riding, thought of facing this, it was as if I was riding toward a horizon. A place so impossibly far that I could never reach it.

And then, suddenly, I had the horizon under my feet.

Today was another test - both of determination and of facing my fear. The weather was lousy. Cold and wet. (Okay, you snow bound people, it would have had you all running around in flip flops, but you're made of sterner stuff than me.) I set about trying to find an indoor arena we could ride in since I had mentioned to Stephanie that we could ride today. I had half a day off coming from all my long days and I was determined to take it.

The sky cleared up at a late lunch, I found a place that allows you to come by and ride for a modest fee. I went out to lunch with DH to go get the horses while Stephanie finished up some computer work.

Then I walked out side. It was 42. That is waaaay too cold. I called Stephanie.

Me: "You know, I think it's too cold."

Steph: "We'll be fine. We'll be in an arena."

Me: "It's an outdoor arena."

Steph: "The wind will be blocked and we'll do fine."

So I sucked it up. This is why it's good to have a Stephanie in your life. You'll ride even when sensible people would stay indoors.

So DH and I loaded horses and I went home and added more layers of clothes and we went over to Cibolo Livery. It's a great facility on a lot of levels. Here's a picture of the place. They hold a rodeo there every Saturday from March to November.

I prefer the more personal feel of our barn, I like knowing everyone and all the horses. I like that horses are always turned out, that they don't live in stalls. Sure the paddocks are small, but they are paddocks.

But there are serious riders at this place.

But none so serious that they'll come out in 40 degree weather, apparently.

When we first got there, I was feeling that nervousness again. Cibolo exited the trailer with some snorting and high head. Lily was as calm as could be. We walked over to the arena - they'd been here three weeks ago for shoeing. We wandered in to the empty place. The outdoor round pen was too much of a mess, so I tried to work Cibolo on his lead. It was fine, but I didn't have him with me. I urged Stephanie to ride while I tried to get my courage up. I had him just tied to the rail and he started dancing around, looking around. Flashes of Conception, frankly.

Another lightbulb off in my head..

Don't let him try to figure this out. Help him.

I untied him and we went for a walk all the way around the arena. I didn't get irritated (as I had been when I was lunging him, trying to keep his attention on me). Instead I just introduced him to this place. We checked out the flappy banners, the weird shetland pony, the cow chutes, the big yellow barrels. He calmed down dramatically. I got on and we walked it again, this time with me on board, keeping his attention the entire time.

I'd called my friend Rudy to let him know we were there (he lives nearby) and offered to let him "ride the snot out" of my horse. I had just worked up to my second canter run when he arrived.

He rode Cibolo for a bit (after expressing amazement that we were out there) and commented on how solid he was. He also told me that he never doubted I could do it. That makes one of us! LOL

There were two head checks in our ride which I caught and corrected. I cantered all around without a lick. As you can see, Cibolo found the entire experience quite relaxing, and Lily too. We are a bit worried about Lily who seems to be heavy on the forehand and tender in the front. I'm going to check her over the next few days. I hope she won't need another injection.

Another goal met. I figured out how to bring my horse back down, how to understand what he needed, how to keep pushing him through to keep him in the canter.

It was crazy fun.

Two other riders did join us in the arena. One was a young girl working on her barrel pattern. The other was a man working with a paint he had rescued.

The mare was an emotional mess. He was riding her hard, trying to get her to calm down. It was like she was in a state of desperation. She was a whirling derbish. She would run and run. People told him to run it out of her but he told us - this horse will run herself to death and not stop along the way. She was panting afterward, nudging him hard. The mare was scared, she was over anxious.

He asked for advice and Rudy told him to start over. He had similar (though not as dramatic) issues with his Paso Fino. He had to teach his Paso to relax and learn to relax himself as a rider.

"I hate to give advice," he said as we were walking back to the trailer.

"Well, he needs to do something different. That horse is not going to respond to what he's doing," I said.

"She's so scared," said Stephanie. We all agreed.

It made me think. Sometimes it's only people outside you that can help you see what is right before you, clear as day...

And sometimes the horizon is within your grasp. You just have to reach up and take a hold of a few clouds of dust. And you're there.

A note from my horse

Lookie at the sweet note Cibolo left me:

Dear Mom,

When you are tense, let me teach you to relax.
When you are short sighted, let me teach you to see.
When you are short tempered, let me teach you to be patient.
When you are quick to react, let me teach you to be thoughtful.
When you are angry, let me teach you to be serene.
When you feel superior, let me teach you to be respectful.
When you are self-absorbed, let me teach you to think of greater things.
When you are arrogant, let me teach you humility.
When you are lonely, let me be your companion.
When you are tired, let me carry the load.
When you need to learn, let me teach you.
After all, I am your horse.

THEN I found this, apparently his first draft:

When you are tense, let me teach you that there are dragons in the forest and we need to leave NOW!

When you are short-sighted, let me teach you to figure out where exactly in the 40 acres I am hiding.

When you are short-tempered, let me teach you how to slog around the pasture for an hour before you can catch me.

When you are quick to react, let me teach you that herbivores kick MUCH faster than omnivores.

When you are angry, let me teach you how well I can stand on my hind feet, because I don't FEEL like cantering on my right lead today, that's why.

When you are worried, let me entertain you with my mystery lameness, GI complaint and skin disease.

When you feel superior, let me teach you that, mostly, you are the maid service.

When you are self-absorbed, let me teach you to PAY ATTENTION. I told you about those dragons in the forest.

When you are arrogant, let me teach you what 1000 lbs. of yipee-yahoo-gotta-go horse can do when suitably inspired.

When you are lonely, let me be your companion. Let's do lunch. Breakfast and dinner sound good, too.

When you are tired, don't forget about the 300 lbs of grain that needs to be unloaded.

When you are feeling financially secure, let me teach you the meaning of "veterinary services".

When you need to learn, hang around the barn, I'll learn ya.

Your Horse

(Just kidding - got this from our trainer. LOL)

Thursday, January 28, 2010

OT: When I Retire From the Nutrition Police…

I had just picked up the kids from a sugar laden, carbo filled day at Grammy’s and was listening to the menu of the day.

I sighed at the long list. “Did you eat anything green? Anything at all?” I asked, herding them toward the car.

They laughed, bouncing slightly on their sugar high. Then Sierra became serious, something she does a great deal now that she’s an old lady of 11. “Mom,” she said. “When my kids come over to visit are you going to feed them all healthy food?”

She asked this with a sense of horror. I was also horrified, but more at the idea of her thinking of having her own family. Luckily, I quickly recovered.

“You mean after you finish graduate school and work for a few years? Those kids?”

She rolled her eyes. “Yes, mom.”

“No way,” I answered.

“Really?” she asked.

“When your kids come over they are going to eat nothing but donuts and candy bars, French fries and ice cream,” I said. “And you are going to be appalled and you’re going to tell them that you never got to eat that stuff with me when you were a kid!”

“Donuts?” she was shocked because I don’t buy donuts casually. They have that double bad rep with me – fried and sugar covered.

“Absolutely. Maybe I’ll just keep cans of icing on hand so they can eat right out of them with a spoon. It’s going to be great!”

She was visibly relieved.

And then we went home and had brocolli and rice.

Yes, it’ll be nice when I don’t have to be the nutrition police. When I don’t read every label, fight off the check out lane candy bars, and restrict soda to once a week.

It’ll be positively heaven to have on hand all the ingredients for an endless parade of colored desserts, colors that only occur in cartoons. My shelves will be stocked full of cookies of every variety. And there will be marshmallows, especially those multi-colored mini marshmallows.

And, at the end of their visit, I will pack off my little darlings to bounce off the walls when they arrive home, understanding that at some fundamental level being a grandparent is a parent’s best revenge.

In the meantime, anybody want a grape?

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Hello, Pepe

So far, Pepe is doing well.

Isn't he just adorable? Even when he's rejecting me?

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Old me, new me

I found pictures of the old me. I was 13. This was my mare, Star.
My Dad took these pictures and he's still my favorite photographer.

As you can see, at one time I had no problem with speed.


Not bad form for a girl who never had a riding lesson.

I've been thinking about what to do next on this journey to make sure I continue to move forward. If you've stuck with me through the ups and downs, you know I had gotten the courage to canter before, but it just seemed to erode.

I want to avoid that this time, because I do feel so much happier. I didn't feel afraid this go round and I want to keep that feeling (the last time when worked back up to cantering I still had the anxiety. I think that's why it didn't "stick". I knew I was still getting too much guff in the saddle from Cibolo but had no clue what I was doing wrong).

Maybe it's a little like riding. If you look at the ground, that's where you'll be, they say.

So I want to look ahead.

The clinic is really pushing me, because I want to be able to do the basics before get there, to be over some fear issues so I can "hear" what the clinician has to teach me. And to do that, I need to move forward a bit more.

I don't think I'll be doing this before April...

(yesh. I'm not even wearing boots. And look at that loose rein!
We should NEVER have sold that mare.)

But I want to accomplish at least one more thing. I want to canter with a group. Last Sunday the trainer was headed out for a trail ride at the lake. During an awkward pause when she mentioned it, she said "I'd invite you, but we're going to be going pretty fast. Trotting and cantering."

Ouch. That smarted. Truth's like that, isn't it? Boy, talk about feeling like the lame little sister all over again.

In two months, I don't want to be the girl you can't invite cuz she can't go fast.

I want to be the girl in front of you, going too fast for you to keep up with.


Okay, maybe not.

But at least cantering with a group of riders. At least that. So, I'm setting that as my next goal. First step towards it is more cantering, more consistent riding (starting Friday, I'm having to travel for the next couple of days), some arena time. Then, I need some riders to help me make the next jump - cantering in a group.

I'm shooting for mid February (I have a long trip at the end of the month). If not, it'll have to wait until mid March.

There. I typed it. That makes it official, right?

Monday, January 25, 2010

Today, something was missing

Today I went out to the barn, determined to have my fourth day in a row working on myself and my horses. The weather was stunning, a preview of spring without the flies who still haven't quite made it back yet from the hard freezes. The sky was the blue you think of when you think of Texas, ridiculously clear, full of promise.

When I got there, Lily was waiting at the gate when I walked in. I get the sense she's enjoying getting out. Maybe she wants a break from Armador, maybe she just looks forward to the extra hay and cookies that come with a riding session. Either way, it's a change from her usual attitude and I'm glad for it.

I feel a connection with her growing, she's giving me less attitude as I become clearer in my requests.

But the most interesting thing was when I went to get Cibolo out of the herd.

Usually I'm chasing off the other three horses with a wave of hand and rope, wanting to get to my horse. I might say hello, but mostly I'm focused on getting in and out, making sure no one is pushing me around.

Today I felt different. I read a few posts on this thing called the "water hole ritual". I actually have no idea what it is because I'm not buying a DVD training set, but the gist I picked up was about herd dynamics. And a mutual respect. And speaking horse. A little new agey, maybe. I can't really say. But interesting.

So I decided to change my approach. Enter quietly. Stand.

After a moment, the herd leader of the little group of geldings came up to me. It's QH Amigo, who looks alot like Cibolo. I greeted him, and we had a brief conversation. I asked him, politely, to step back. He did, dropping his head to my hand slightly. We stood there in silence for a bit. I told him I was going to take Cibolo out for a ride and he'd be back pretty quickly. Right then Cibolo came over, and hung back a bit behind QH Amigo, while the other horses hung back further. The herd leader dropped his head even lower, and I stepped in and haltered Cibolo with no problem. In fact he dropped his head into the halter and kept it low for me to tie it (we've been working on this and nothing was really working). Then we walked out, the herd leader walking beside us quietly until I went through the gate.

I felt calm. Confident. Happy.

I saddled both horses up and began working with Lily. It's amazing the difference between our round pen session four days ago and today. Today was effortless. And when I got on her back and we rode, it was easy. I had no anxiety going into the canter. None. She started to get a little "rushy" and I worked the reins lightly and she stopped. And we loped and loped.

I then switched out with Cibolo. There was one very minor head toss in the round pen, and I turned him and we had a few quick turns while that was worked out. Then, I rode him and kissed him into a canter.

It was gone. The anxiousness was gone. I felt light and yet deep in the rythmn of the canter. My seat was back. I drove him forward, keeping him in the canter when he thought of dropping off. I found that one slight head check which I fixed with a clear, consistent no.

We loped and loped, going each way, then walked it off.

I laughed as we walked back into the middle of the circle.

And I wasn't afraid.


I don't think this is over. But I do think this was an important day and that I've gotten somewhere, I've got a foot hold.

Horse and Rider has a quote from a woman this month who talks about her journey with horses, how she kept getting all these horses and how they'd all start out great, and then they'd just become a wreck. And how she figured out, finally, that it was her. That she had given up the reins, literally. She worked with Clinton Anderson training and found her way back.

And how she fixed it with a horse she had let become a wreck.

I have seen that woman in my mirror, and I was determined not to be caught in the same loop.

The article is part of a series that has been all about ground work. I don't agree with the theory that if you have respect on the ground you have it in the saddle. I had it on the ground. But you have to keep the reins, too. You have to know what to do in saddle, know the signs of unraveling from on top, not just on the ground.

Today I know just a tiny bit more. And that feels like a whole lot.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

On Fear, and in the Round Pen

I read another really thoughtful post on mugwump chronicles (you can read it here) on fear.

She talks about her idea of addressing fear has changed. She's more patient with it, more willing to take time to really get it resolved.

So many of us are dealing with fear. We're older, we've had our run ins, we are trying.

I was thinking about dealing with a horse's fear. Cibolo, for example, is afraid of standing on the cement area of the wash rack. For a time he was moving off the cement onto the dirt. I let him.

That's a bad idea. Not because he needs to learn to stand on the cement, but because I have to help him defang the cement.

Like Mireya. She's seven and is going through this bug thing. Bugs are scary. But I don't run in and smash the bug. My mother does, but I don't. I calmly catch the bug and send it on it's way.

Scorpions are a whole different story, but hey, nobody's perfect.

Anyway, my point is that if I allow her to constantly avoid bugs, it's going to get worse, not better. If I let Cibolo avoid the cement it's not only going to get worse, but it's going to transfer to other cemented areas.

And if no one pushes me to canter on my horse, it's going to get worse. Putting it off makes it bigger and bigger.

Today, it was very windy, so I did round pen work, then rode Lily briefly in the round pen. I've been hesitant (AKA SCARED) to canter in there because it seems really small. And you're turning the entire time. And Lily is fast. And I was alone, the trainer was gone. And my husband was watching and that's nerve wracking sometimes. And, and, and...

I could justify not riding anywhere, really. I'm creative. I'm in my late 40s. I'm the mom. It's a trifecta of mad self righteous justification skills.

But, after a smooth round of trotting, I did it. I kissed her into a canter. And we made our way around in a collected and smooth canter.

And my fear shrunk, just a little more.

Three days in a row has helped and I'm going to ride a bit tomorrow too. You know the theory with horses is it's best to do things several days in a row?

Like most horse things, it seems to apply to people too.

Here's a video of Lily and I at the end of our round penning. I hope you've had a great weekend!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

New face at the barn

Before I introduce our new face at the barn, I think it's good idea to go read this very cool old post by mugwump chronicle on a Bonanza style training/riding tip.

Check it out, I'll wait here.

*humming the theme from Bonanza*


Do you think you could do it?

Wouldn't it be empowering to try?

Arroyo, anyone?


OK, enough of that. Come on over and meet Pepe.

Nice butt, Pepe.
Can you turn around for the nice people at the blog?

He's a little shy. Or miffed. It took hours for them to round him up at his old place. It was, in the words of one participant, a cluster .... well, you know.

Pepe meets the boys, Cibolo and his BFF Amigo.

He's Nancy's burro - she also owns Shiloh (the one going to the dentist tomorrow) and Armador, Lily's boy friend. She had him staying at a friend's house, but the friend couldn't keep him anymore.

Nancy had him halter trained
at one time, but he's "reverted" she said.
He said "I was doing just fine until
you people came along."

He seems quite sweet and very burro, especially during the worming process. But I have a feeling he'll do well after he's had more handling.

Pepe, checking out the other equines in the area.

Pepe, multi-tasking.

BTW, thanks for all the great comments on the last post!

Now "git" out there and ride! Or pet a horse! Or read 5 more blogs! LOL

Testing and Tested part 2

So, to continue:

Yesterday, our BO/trainer took Cibolo out and in no time he did exactly what he had done to me - crow hop to the side and a dance step I call the hindend boogie.

He didn't buck, but she said that was because she was ready for him. After she took him cantering around, correcting him about 5 more times, she and I met up. Lily was pretty barn sour, so I was just coming up to the barn and turning, going up the hill, trying to stay out of the way.

She showed me what she was doing. Basically he was keeping Cibolo's head, not riding on a loose rein at all. That way she was stopping trouble before it got rolling.

I trotted around on Lily and we committed to another ride today.

This morning I got to the barn and finished my rounds, with only one incident. Shanti.

Shanti is only 20 and she has cushings. I took these pictures of her ears the other day. She was the BO/trainer's primary mount and had been going downhill so she retired her. This morning she didn't come up to eat, I hiked down and urged her up from the lower pasture.

She seems to have dropped a good deal of weight, and the BO is going to reassess her feed. She was trying to keep her from getting overweight, but something is going wrong. She's going to take Shiloh (who I mentioned is dropping in herd status) on Monday to the vet and may load Shanti as well. Both may have teeth issues (Shiloh is getting a tooth pulled).

I saddled both horses, put my saddle on Cibolo and BO's saddle on Lily. She said she was going to see how he was doing and put me on him, maybe.

I was fine with that. I'm actually not scared of Cibolo, believe it or not. I'm scared to canter, scared of keeping him contained in a trot.

We did the same thing, although this time, Lily was completely cured of her barn sourness. She was fired up and wanted to run around (mental note - round pen this girl for a few weeks). We trotted while BO put Cibolo through the exercises. Then we met up.

"He did much better," she said. "He just started to pull his head to the side and I got on him and that was it."

Then, a large floodlight went off in my head.

I know that move. He does it. I didn't realize he was testing me at that moment. And every friggin' time I let him get away with it. This isn't a big huge head toss. It's this check to the side. Not tiny, but about a two feet move to the side.

And in that moment, I said, basically "Whatever."

He does it in the round pen too. And I just let it go. Now I know. I know his precursor.

I recalled that "first five minutes" rule - a horse decides if you're the boss in the first five minutes of a ride. I had been failing. And I didn't even know it.

And then we went on a ride through the neighborhood ... and I cantered. On Lily first, in an area that felt safe. I cried, I laughed. Lily is crazy fast. She was on fire and ready to run. The BO cantered next to me and we left her in the dust, big time. I can't collect Lily's canter, so it's very "rushy" and I actually dread it more than Cibolo's. But I sucked it up and rode faster and faster.

Then, after another half hour of moseying around, we switched horses, and, nearly back at the barn, the BO pushed me.

"Let's canter up the hill."

"Nooo, we've been doing great. Can't we just stop?"

"Let's canter."

And we did.


Friday, January 22, 2010

Testing and being tested

Today I headed out to the barn to ride Lily, while the BO rode Cibolo. She wanted to recreate the
problem and evaluate it.

In the meantime I've back slid a bit.

But let's start at the beginning. Once again I arrived before anyone at the barn, so I went ahead and fed everyone. No sense in standing around.

Then I took Lily and Cibolo over for a round penning session. Lily hasn't been ridden in weeks and I figures I'd just check how she was doing.

She had gotten a little pushy on the ground and I noticed she was no longer low horse. Shiloh, our old and somewhat sickly arabian at the barn. I suspect he's weakened somehow and Lily, having been pushed around for some time, is now pushing him around. Usually she doesn't dare come out to be put in her stall for eating before Shiloh. Today, she did.

So I figured this rather dramatic change in her world would affect her sense of herself in the greater herd as well.

Sure enough, she bucked up a storm in the round pen. Remembering the advice I've been given here, at every evidence of ... insolence (that term seems a little harsh...) or disrespect, I turned her. A buck, an unasked for change in gait, an attempt to come in before invited, I turned her on her haunches.

It's something like when we first bought her, except this time she didn't seem nervous. She seemed... irritated to be put back down a rung.

Once I got licking and chewing in both directions, I invited her in. She was lovely and giving. Followed me perfectly.

Then it was Cibolo's turn. He did pretty well, no bucking, but there was some gait issues, some attempts to come in. Nothing compared to the Lily session. Ironically.

On the trail, though, it was as it has been. Lily, at most barn sour and turning for the barn twice, Cibolo showing the BO his testing behavior. I'll write a bit more about it tomorrow. It's been a long day.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

OT - Thinking Outside the Box

"Mommy! I'm a box person!"

Mireya had taken the box from the recently unpacked printer, and of course, put it on her head.

"Ask me to do something," she said.

I was having trouble coming up with something that required a box person. So we spent 30 minutes rearranging items upstairs, delivering things that should have been put away. Just think, all this time all I needed to do to get some help around here was to put a box on her head.

This is the child who claims to have a complete physical breakdown when asked to put her shoes away. She turns into a total invalid when the 50 plastic ponies have to be put back in their little boxes. She collapses in a heap when called for dishwasher unloading duty.

Eventually we force the issue, but everyone is so worn out, it's like we not only put away the shoes, ponies and dishes, but also scrubbed the floors by hand with toothbrushes. Twice.

Lately, though, she's been adjusting her tactics. She turns on the charm. Those big dark eyes go onto full adorable setting and she bounds over with big smiles and lovey words and before you know it you've put away her shoes and ENJOYED it.

Here's the most frightening thing – most people don't even see it happening. After a few weeks of being Velcro mommy (you know, when you pick up everything), I suddenly realized what was going on and stepped away from the little ponies.

This ability worries me since she's only four. What will we be unleashing on the world?

I pity her future supervisor, customer, or head of state. If she doesn't mow him down with incredible stalling tactics, he'll be charmed into doing not only her work, but also the work of anyone she deems worthy.

Before you know it there will be a tiny productivity vacuum in America and my daughter will be at the center, convincing everyone around her to do all the work.

As her mother, it's up to me to try my best to help her become a generous and compassionate human being. Believe me, I'm working on it.

But just between you and me, I'm keeping a box on hand. Just in case.

I wrote this about 3 years ago about my daughter. Nothing has changed. I'll be picking up socks in her room if anyone needs me.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Just want you to know

I deeply appreciate the considerate and thoughtful comments over the last several days (and weeks before). I think we all fear being chastised for our choices when we do talk honestly about the trials and tribulations of this journey with horses. Instead I've gotten so much support, I feel like I can "hear" myself and be rational.

Thanks for being here and helping me through.


On the Appy - apparently not as polished and ready for beginners as thought. TR checked him out and was not impressed. Now TR is tough to please, but calls them like he sees them. Just fyi.


We are going to NM in search of snow next month. NM bloggers, you have been warned.

Let's have Lunch!!!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Decisions, decisions

I called Cibolo's former owner and we talked for a time.

She said that if he was cooped up he definitely needed to be round penned, and round penned hard. "He was one of my high spirit horses, so I wouldn't pick him to ride if they'd been cooped up."

Hmmm.Well, doesn't quite sound like a quiet one.

I talked to my farrier. Talked to my friends. Read the comments on here.

The truth is I need a horse to rebuild my confidence. It seems to me that this is just getting worse with Cibolo. We've gone from the meltdown in Conception, to a few issues on the trail, and now we've escalated to bucking.

I just can't rebuild on a bucking horse. And yes, maybe he was just hot. But 5 times of blowing me off? And seriously, how am I, in my current state, going to handle getting through this? I'm no trainer. Donna said she considers me an intermediate rider, but given my struggles with fear, this is not helping. I concur. Granted, I didn't get thrown, I rode it out, but he kept doing it, so clearly I'm not getting my point across even if I stay in the saddle.

At the farrier appointment Cibolo nuzzled me and loved on me. But I couldn't bring myself to ride him in the nice sandy arena.

This is not good.

We're talking about one option.

Find him a new home (even in this market it should be easy since I got him so cheap and he has some reining training. He's young, really is broke, just has my number and it'll be a fight to get it back from him). I'll ride Lily, who is my daughter's horse. She doesn't ride much. We'll replace Cibolo with a gaited horse for my husband (who has a terrible back) and the few times my daughter wants to ride, I can ride the gaited horse.

But in this scenario I don't really have my own horse.

Which... feels lousy.

But maybe I need a little emotional distance, just to get back on my feet. Maybe my emotions are keeping me from being more factual about this situation. From being fair to the horse. Does that even make sense?

Lily is a great, safe horse. She's perfectly sound now, thanks to all the money we've put into shoeing and proper vet care. I trust her.

But she's Sierra's horse.


I'm a mess. I'm going to drive myself insane.

FYI: On the Appy - looks like Donna has 6 inquiries already! One from a friend here who would give him a good home and kids to ride him on occasion. The TB looks like it could be selling too.

Monday, January 18, 2010

For our Appy fans: Domino

Here's more info on the Appy:

He is a really nice horse. I do know his history, and yes, he could be considered beginner safe. I got to ride him yesterday on trail, by himself and he was great. I rode both of these horses several weeks ago, and have ridden them on occasion in the past. Here is some information that I put together for an ad, I do have some folks who are interested in him, just have not taken the time to show them yet. I wanted to get to know them a little better so i could represent them and place them well. They both deserve good homes.

Here's the ad:

Gorgeous appaloosa gelding, lots of color, approx 14.2 hands. He is very sane and calm and easy going with good manners, he loves people and is easy to ride. Stands for mounting, saddling, rides in a snaffle, and stands tied up for hours. He is a great horse to have around and is great for the blacksmith and vet. No vices, does not kick, bite, crib, etc. He been well cared for, and is an easy keeper, is in good flesh. This is a horse you will have fun with, he is very sane, does not get nervous, buck or bolt, and a fun ride. He gets right in the trailer, rides out on the trail in a group or by himself, and rides along calmly on the trail w a dog running in and out of bushes. He currently is barefoot and seems to be fine w no shoes! He is great on the trail , not spooky and a lot of fun. This horse gets along w other horses, and your going to love him. He is sweet , and will follow you around, is easy to catch , and loves people. He is located in Canyon Lake area, reply to Donna at 830-906-4315

PLEASE DO NOT REPLY IF YOU ARE A HORSE TRADER.... TO GOOD HOME ONLY!!!! Serious inquiries only please. This is really a nice horse!

I can attest that this horse is over the top pocket pony and so fuzzy!

Anyway, he's just a little doll.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Not a confidence building day

We went on a trail ride - I on Cibolo, the BO on the black TB - one of the two horses she's tuning up to sell.

My horse bucked. Five times. (clarification - just one buck, but on 5 separate occassions)

We were trotting and he wanted to canter. I said no. Buck

Didn't matter if we were in the front or the back, way ahead or far behind.

I know why he did it the first few times. He's been cooped up and wanted to run.

But that doesn't really explain the last 3 times. After I say no, that should be enough.

So my question is -- what the hell am I doing on the back of a bucking horse again?

And, more frightening, is it me? Am I turning a horse that was perfectly broke into a bucking horse because I don't want to canter? Can I just not do this? Again?

Husband wants the horse - actually all horses - gone. He thinks this is a lot of money to spend on something that isn't working out for the second time.

I'm pretty low. I don't know what I want anymore.

Here's my comfy, but ugly , saddle.

Here's a a picture of the appaloosa. More on him another time.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Feeding and planning

Today is the first day for two weeks that I've been able to meet my feeding turn at the barn - one weekend I was given the day off by the BO, the next weekend I was sick. I'm still coughing like a maniac, but other than that, I feel fine. And am I building abs! LOL

I was excited to be going back out. My husband hates me going out, but I relish the time in the company of only horses. Being a little weak is not ideal, though.

With all the rain and cold weather I knew it would be easy, all the horses that could fit in the runs would be in already. They all greeted me with their usual impatience, although I think I must have been out there earlier than they usually get fed, because they were quite patient.

There are two new horses at the barn, older ones, there to be refreshed and sold. One is an appie, the other is a black TB. I hate to see older horses being sold. Even though I'm one of those people who bought one. Both horses called out nervously to me as I came out with grain, as if they feared I'd miss them.

Here, no one goes hungry. Our BO always feeds every horse - even if they've been abandoned by their owners (which one little arab mare was).

I feel for these two older horses, feel for them being removed from a herd, having to make their way through uncertainty of the next few months. Horses are creatures of habit, and I don't think I'm projecting human emotions when I observe that herd changes are tough on them.

That said, life changes, and horses and humans have to adapt. But changes impact our view of the world. Is it reasonable to presume that it colors how horses see the world?

I have gotten "In the Company of Horses." I'm devouring it. I'm going to have to read it twice, at least. It's already given me a good deal to think about, including what it is I hope to learn at the clinic.

But that's another post. Hopefully the weather will be beautiful tomorrow and I'll be riding.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Well so much for that idea

Well, I was going to take pictures of saddles on Cibolo, but when I got to the stables, my horse was out in this.


I tucked him into a run, but he was a muddy mess.

Everyone else was out in it - the weather had cleared and the BO let them all out to stretch their legs. They weren't doing much stretching, though. They all stood there in one spot, looking miserable.

We worked on a little targeting, but that was about it.

Lily disapproves of my cursing of the weather.

Bleah. I'll be glad when this wet winter is over.

OT On sale in the produce aisle

The other day at the grocery store, a man offered me his child.

And I completely understood.

It was one of those moments when you size up what's been going on between a parent and child in .05 seconds and think, thank goodness I left mine at home.

I'd walked into the store without my children, for once. And like every time I'm without them, I get this silly, almost nostalgic attitude toward all other children. Children I never even notice since I'm usually busy trying to keep mine from knocking over the huge soda display or tossing six toys into the cart and covering them with the bread so I won't see them until we're in the checkout.

There she was, with the cutest pair of ponytails sticking straight up. She was maybe two years old, and was not sitting in her seat in the cart, but slightly above it, her father keeping her safe.

"She's so adorable," I said as I headed toward the broccoli.

He took one look at me, lifted her up, and pretended to hand her over. That's when I saw it. This child had just completed a full-blown melt down.

She had all the classic post melt down signs. Glistening eyes. Ruddy cheeks. Calm behavior.

And he had the classic survivor signs. Stiff back. Throbbing temple. Expressionless face.

I wanted to say, I have so been there, Mister. I feel your pain.

Instead, I just laughed as he cracked a slight, weary smile.

Yes, I've been to melt down land, to that moment when you wonder about not only your child but the entire human race. Is this any way to populate a planet? Fill it with crazed people who at any given moment will have a total cow in the grocery store and refuse to sit in the cart with their seatbelt fasten as is CLEARLY indicated on the illustrations?

Frankly my children modeled for the illustrations of what NOT to do on the grocery cart.

So I turned down the little girl with the ponytails that day. Cute or not, I know now what I'd be getting into. Plus I finally got mine to sit down!

Okay, just for a minute, but, hey, it's progress.


Thursday, January 14, 2010

Fretting over fashion

In April I'll be going to a clinic, my first multi-day clinic. I'm hoping to get some long rides in, read some books by the clinician, and outline what it is I hope to get from this experience. All in two and a half months.

But first, I have to solve a sort of embarrassing situation. Which saddle to use.

I have four saddles. Tomorrow I'm going to get them all set up on Cibolo and take some pictures to post.

There's the Circle Y Flex Tree Trail Saddle that is my husband's saddle and too big for me (17.5). But it's a lovely, well made saddle.

There's the Aussie saddle that I am selling because I can't feel my horse when I ride.

There's the pretty barrel saddle, Circle Y, but I bought it for my daughter and it's 14.5 - just a smidge too small.

Then there's my not much to look at but comfy to ride in 15" Fabtron synthetic saddle that I ride in most of the time.

I feel shallow saying this, but I don't really want to ride in my ... ugly saddle.

Silly, right? Someone talk me off the ledge here... I can't afford another saddle (at least not until I get rid of the Aussie). And it takes me forever to find a saddle.

Stop by for a picture parade tomorrow sometime...

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

OT -- On speaking in Spanish

Why do mexicans who can speak english, speak spanish?

I hear this question a great deal - from people at work, friends. Often they are pretty ticked off about it. I don't know why they bring it up to me. Maybe its because I'm only half Mexican and people feel like I might be a bit safer to talk to about it. Like my loyalties are divided or maybe I'm just one of those approachable people in life.

So, as a public service, I'm here to do a little conversation on it. I'm inspired to do so by something I watched while I was sick.

It was a documentary my mother gave me for Christmas. She never gives me movies, she knows I'm not a big TV watcher. But she was insistent. It was about a Supreme Court case I'd never heard of. It's a pretty big case, but I'll bet most people here have never heard of it.

It's basically a case that had the same ramifications for Hispanics (a term I use here to refer to people of latin descent who are US citizens) as Brown v. the Board of Education.

You can actually watch the film on line, or just read the description here. Hernandez v. Texas was attempting to address this:

I think most people, at least I want to think most people are unaware of how rampant these signs were in Texas. They were so common that the Texas Restaurant Association had some printed as a courtesy for their members.

It wasn't about immigrants either. If you were hispanic your kid couldn't go to the white school, and you couldn't use the white bathroom in the court house.

Anyway, after watching this film I realized that many people don't know about these things because we don't talk about it. Maybe we're ashamed of it, as if we caused it. Maybe we just want to forget.

But it leads, I think, to a sort of cultural blindness. I think there is power in memory.

A year ago an essay I wrote called Mother Tongue ran in the Texas Co-op Magazine. I tried to explain why I speak Spanish on occasion.

I realize this may ruffle some feathers. But to me, the worthwhile conversations always do.

Mother Tongue

“Speak in English,” my mother tells me. I barely realize I’d slipped into Spanish with my grandmother. We’re out shopping, and my grandmother, who at 93 is fully bilingual but hard of hearing, is in need of new bifocals.

Somehow, as I was nearly shouting the information to my grandmother from the soft-spoken technician, I went from “She says they need to measure the width” to “tus ojos, por que estos son muy grande.”

My mother’s admonishment has nothing to do with speaking English because this is the U.S. and we speak English here. I’m fifth generation Texan, thanks to my Grandmother’s people. They were working the land here long before my “Anglo” grandfather had arrived on Ellis Island. My Hispanic side of the family has been fully bilingual for generations. We speak in English as a matter of courtesy to those who know only one language. It’s considered rude in our family to speak Spanish in front of people who may not understand what we’re saying.

Still, speaking Spanish feels completely different than speaking English – and I’m not even fluent in Spanish. I know border Spanish, granddaughter Spanish. It’s just enough to get by in family gatherings and excursions across the border for corn tortillas.

For me English has been the way I express everything from poetry to irony. I’d be hard pressed to tell a joke in Spanish, let alone manage a clever play on words. My mother was a stickler for correct word usage and I owe her a debt I can never repay for a great vocabulary and my ability to speak in clear, accent free English.

So why does Spanish feel like warm chocolate coating my vocal chords, sweet and smooth? Especially when my command of the language is so bad?

When I’m speaking Spanish and specific words are lost to my brain, when I can’t figure out how to say “frames” or “purple,” I am forced to toss in the English words like rocks in the flowing stream. They land with a thump in the middle of my Spanish sentence, the water of words rushing around it. If my sister (who is fluent in both languages) talks too quickly, or when I try to keep up with an announcer on Spanish language TV, I fall hopelessly behind, grasping at the few key words for purchase.

Yet with my grandmother, even my broken Spanish seems so much more loving that it slips out instinctively. Spanish is forever the language of family and it’s a bond that won’t break. In our family we call our children “mi vida” – my life. It’s much more common to say “mija” - a slurring of the words “my” and “daughter “– than “hija” –which is merely “daughter.” The diminutive is sweeter too, with the word “chiquitita” meaning little girl, but from my grandmother’s and mother’s lips an intense love forms like a wave on their tongue, and instead the word has always meant “my precious, precious, little one.” To this day if I hear this word I expect a hug at any moment.

Out of respect for the technician, I nearly shout, in English this time, to my hard of hearing grandmother. I explain how long it will take for them to make the changes she needs in her new glasses. She nods and thanks the technician for her help – in English, of course – and notes that she’ll be happy not to have the headaches the old pair was giving her.

We leave and, as I help her into the car, I slip into the embrace of Spanish again. This time there is no one to feel left out.

Aqui, estamos agusto. Here, we are at home.


Tuesday, January 12, 2010


Sunrise and reflections.

This is the view off our balcony.

On other news:

Today I am vertical!

I even hope to visit a horse or two and address that fungus.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Reading the past

Since I'm sick and gave up TV as one of my new years goals, I've been reading blogs.

Unfortunately, ya'll aren't keeping up with my needs. So I've had to go deeper.

I've spent some time reading some of the old posts from 1, 2 and 3 years ago by some of my favorite equine bloggers.

If you're relatively new to equine blogging, or just haven't read enough to keep you happy, here are a few older posts I enjoyed reading. There's no rhyme or reason to these choices. I've been reading for day and just decided to do this today. AND remember, I have a cold. I have no rhyme, reason, or unclogged sinus cavities:

  • 7MSN On Loco weed (I love all the burro posts, and Lyle, but combing 80 acres for plants? Yikes)

There. That should keep you busy. LOL! If this goes another day, I'll add to the list. I'm taking a nap for now.

A Visit with Cibolo - Picture Parade

(in the spirit of positive thinking, I've added spring to my blog. Hope it helps)

I'm still sick. But I really, really wanted to see my horse.

So on Sunday the kids went to Grammy's and I bundled up, chopped some carrots and my wonderful husband took me over to the barn.

Cibolo left his hay and his BFF and came over to greet me. We walked out into the alley way.

I love that my horse will leave his buddies. It feels like a big deal.

I gave him a carrot slice and we headed over to the arena to hang out.

Next to arena are the BO's horses. Shanti has the most fuzzy ears of any horse I've ever seen. She's retired because she has Cushings.

This is Treasure, the lesson horse. She was in the parade. She's the alpha of the herd.

She does not suffer fools (or really large white horses like Cloud) AT ALL. He was two millimeters too close to her hay. Oh yeah. He's leaving.

I proceeded to examine my horse. He's gotten very fuzzy. His brand is tough to read here.

I'm increasingly concerned about this patch on his back. It's been flaking and the skin underneath almost looks like fish skin, shiny and gray. I can't figure out where it's come from. It doesn't look like a bite. And I've never seen a bite get ashen like this.

We got onto some targeting, but mostly I was just looking for an excuse to hang out. He did fine, I was too tired to do anything complicated, we just did a few clicks. Touch the barrel. Touch the bag. Touch your side. Now the other side.

His arrow points to his favorite scritching spot. And there's his double swirlly.

I got worn out pretty quickly and I remember the old training saw: always leave them wanting more.

I love horse noses...

Then it was time to visit Lily. I'm trying to get her to come with me too. You gotta earn your carrots around here. She started fishing, but I backed her up.

She's got the cutest ears.

And then, I passed out. Well, not right THERE. I mean when I got home. Darn cold.

It feels like I'm not getting better AT ALL. Ah well. At least I got to pet some horses.

I ordered a book written by Kathleen Lindley on her time with Mark Rashid. I have so much to do to get ready! April will be here quick!

I can't wait to ride again.