Sunday, February 28, 2010

The Goat, the Raffle and Community

I was sent this by someone in my horse community, sent by volunteers at the SA Rodeo. Tissue Warning.

We are home to the largest Junior Livestock Auction in the world. The barns overflow with thousands of animals brought by children from around the state, hoping to qualify for a place at the auction... . The buyers are the business leader “Who’s Who” of San Antonio, wealthy individuals, and representatives of the various committees which raise funds and who believe in and want to support the youth of Texas.

. ..The San Antonio Livestock Exhibition website describes our historic contributions to educating the youth of Texas, but stories such as this one, about Lot 44 from Mills County, Texas, usually don’t make the local paper.

On Saturday afternoon, February 20, 2010, a young boy brought his goat to the auction. Dustin Mangus drew Lot #44, slightly less than halfway through the 100 Lots going to auction that night. It was not a particularly advantageous or unlucky draw, but ordinarily might have been a place in the program that wouldn’t have commanded much attention, much less a record purchase price. The auctioneer, however, took time to reign in the frenzied crowd and tell Dustin’s story:

Early in the morning on December 8, 2009, Dustin, his younger brother and sister, and their father, David Mangus, were in a rollover accident near their home in Mullin, Texas. Their truck’s roof was crushed when it crashed into a tree, and David Mangus was killed at the scene. Dustin’s brother and sister suffered minor injuries and were treated and released from the hospital. Dustin, though, was in critical condition from his injuries, and underwent several surgeries to save his life and reconstruct his face. The first surgery was to remove a part of the truck’s dashboard that had lodged in his head, and to reconstruct the eye socket that was damaged as a result.

The little boy who stood before us on the auction block, holding his goat while we heard this story, smiled at us from a beautiful, innocent face that showed little sign of his tragedy or his loss. Had someone not shared his story we never would have been allowed to ponder this young man’s ability to overcome adversity. We never would have had the privilege of comprehending his incredible achievement. To have been able to continue to raise that animal and be ready for a stock show in February, he had to have gotten right back up and kept on living the minute they let him out of the hospital.

The auctioneer asked every bidder who had already pledged funds to this boy to stand, and every top buyer in the room stood. When the bidding opened, the price for Lot #44 was already at $20,000. Then, a true miracle began as the people of San Antonio opened their hearts for Dustin and his family. Corporation after corporation added on another thousand here, another two thousand there, another $5,000, and the price went to $60,000 at record speed. Leaders of San Antonio businesses started making personal contributions out of their own money, and the price kept climbing. Individual spectators and those in the audience began coming down one, by one, giving personal contributions and pledges to this family. It was one heck of an altar call, and the only thing flowing faster than the money was the tears.

Dustin’s little brother joined him on the block and the two of them smiled their sweet smiles while the money kept coming in, and we feel certain they had no idea what those numbers meant. Dustin’s grandpa came down from the audience to stand with the boys and choked back tears, while people in the room who weren’t registered bidders started coming forward to make personal contributions. When the price hit $110,000, one of the top buyers announced he had partnered with another to add on to make it an even $150,000 for Dustin. The gavel came down on the highest priced goat at this year’s Junior Livestock Auction while everyone cheered and cried at the same time. Dustin’s grandpa was openly crying when he took the microphone to thank the crowd in a shaky voice, with no real ability to impart his gratitude more than his tears communicated…. He simply said “Thank you. I don’t know what else to say. Thank you.”

We all know there is no amount of money that heals the pain of losing your Dad. Not one of us gave to this cause imagining there was any way it could ever make up for what Dustin and his family lost. This was our way of reaching out to a family in need, in tragedy, in suffering, and offering them something shining and positive and good to help them on the road that lies ahead. Dustin has already had to overcome more adversity at the age of 10 than some of us will ever face. What the people of San Antonio did for Dustin and his family was truly amazing, but even more amazing is the spirit Dustin embodies, in showing up with his goat to do what he set out to do. With a smile on his face and with his family by his side.

This demonstration of generosity, kindness and support is what the San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo is really about. We are investing in the future of our country by investing in the lives of our country’s children. We are raising money to help provide educational opportunities for as many children as we can reach. And sometimes, we are witnessing miracles.

You had a part in Dustin’s story, and every other story that came through the auction this year. We hope one day very soon, you will come see it for yourself. Thank you for your contribution to our efforts. You and Dustin are our heroes.

From the bottom our hearts,

The Raffle Committee

(this was in our local paper, you can read it here)

This is why I'm proud to be from this part of the state. Hearts are big in San Antonio. Real big.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

The best thing about an award

The best thing about an award is it give you an opportunity to discover new blogs.

I received this one twice (thanks Kate and Mrs Mom!) and I have to say... WOO HOO! :)

It comes with three conditions. Links back where they come from (Here's one, here's the other), 7 things about me and 15 new blogs to pass it on to.

Here are 7 things about me.

1. I worked in a planetarium in college. It was the best job ever, but everyone I knew was a bit vampire like in complexion, so I opted to move on to a job that might entail occasional contact with sunlight.

2. I don't eat pork, bacon, or anything made from pigs. This comes from encountering photos of how pigs are butchered. That, and too much exposure to talking pigs in literature.

3. I majored in political science not because I'm particularly political, but because I switched from engineering and just looked in the catalog for all the classes I was interested in taking. Then I retrofitted a major based on the classes.

4. I'm the most talkative introvert you'll ever meet.

5. It's virtually impossible to embarrass me in public. I went from being thin skinned as a child to being practically bullet proof as an adult. I do, however, love figureing out how to mortify a few individuals who have needed it for a very long time.

6. I have only broken one bone in my life. My thumb. I still can't snap my fingers on that hand.

7. I'm the tallest woman in my family and I'm only 5' 5". Seriously. I'm like the Amazon around here. Now my daughter looks poised to swipe the crown off my head. Fine with me, I'm tired of being the only one who can reach anything. :)

Now for 12 amazing blogs that I've take to recently (this award is making the rounds, so coming up with 15 that aren't on other lists has been tough). These are in no particular order:

1 Sweet Horses Breath is a heart filled blog about a woman with her first horse, a sweet OTTB. She's had a tough journey, particularly of late, and we are all pulling for Laz these days.

2. Haiku Farm is filled with stories, philosophy and insight. And there are horses too. :)

3. Boring Red Horse is a fun and thoughtful blog with a beautiful sorrel and a cute chihuahua. What's not to love?

4. Equestrian Vagabond is where we learned about the Amazing Amigo. But it's also where Merri lets her herd run into a canyon to get in shape for endurance rides.

5. Heroes and Dragons chronicles life after loss and amazing work with horses in the process - including Helen trying Vaulting!

6. Great story telling at MugWump Chronicles - not a new blog, but new to me. Meg is a trainer, retired now, but how does one ever really retire horse training (you stop getting paid).

7. There's a Horse in my Bubblebath is a new one for me, RedDunAppy not only has a... red dun appy, but is working with Dublin, a puppy under training to be a service dog.

8. Two Mares' Veronica hasn't been blogging enough in my opinion. She's got two slightly crazy mares she's working with... One does the limbo.

9. Literary Horse is so well written, then it's so funny, then it's incredibly informative. Love it, Jane.

10. Mikael's Arabians is all about breeding arabians.

11. Tammy in TX is a fun read since Tammy is getting into team penning on her beautiful TWH, Summer..

12. Wolfie's What Was I Thinking is honest, funny, and a great blog about Wolfie and the new man in her life, Gem.

Go now and discover new blogs!!

Friday, February 26, 2010

Home and on a horse (or two)

I'm home.

And I got to ride my horse.

And now, I can barely walk.

Okay, I can walk, but it's really funny looking when I do.

But I don't care. Even if all I did was work them out in the round pen and "go through the gears" it was so good to be on a horse.

My horse.

Lily was a bit of a princess, Cibolo was in a good, quiet space with just a touch of testy-ness.

I'm going to ride tomorrow, Sunday and Monday. Which is nice since the closest I'd been to a horse for three weeks was an old pile of manure on the sidewalk on the Mall in DC.

Give me orange sand over the halls of Congress ANYTIME.

I've got to finish up a writing assignment, more next time.


I got an award! Twice! I'll post on that tomorrow...

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Sailing without mommy - an update

(For this to make sense, read yesterday's post)

Yes. Well. Now they missed the MEETING AT THE SCHOOL last night!!! The big huge important meeting! The one I canceled music lessons so they would go!

*head slap*

And there's a possibility I could be snowed in in Baltimore.


I'd like to point out that I did not give them a carefully mapped out list of activities past Thursday. Which means they'll have to WING IT.

Of course, that's what they've been doing all along.


Hug a horse for me, would ya?

Sailing without mommy

This week I've had to go out of town and I've learned precisely how long it takes for things to break down in my careful “while mommy's gone” plan.

It's about two hours.

Like most moms, I'm pretty sure my family can do without me for a few days without any major damage. But I also know the ship lists just a bit.

The first major leak with the carefully planned list of weekend activities. I had planned these activities without realizing I was going to be out of town. I had carefully spent hours printing out detailed maps and agendas of the activities scheduled. What was I thinking? That I was dealing with a tour operator?

Needless to say, instead of the host of educational activities I had planned for over a month ago, the first few hours I was gone (I hadn't even landed at my destination for goodness sake) the plan unraveled into a mass of cupcakes, spontaneous playdates, sleepovers, and shopping.

The next leak was when I discovered how long it takes for my children to notice that I'm actually gone. Of course they said goodbye, and knew I was leaving, but it all hit home the second night. I picked up the phone as I headed to my hotel room, expecting a cheery "So how's it going? do you want to talk to the kids?" kind of call. Instead there's a long wail.


At least that's what I think she was saying. Frankly my ears still ringing.

There's not much that's as bittersweet as having your child, the one who was too busy on a computer game to even acknowledge your departure, call you from hundreds of miles away in a complete meltdown because it has finally occurred to her that you are actually not there.

When are you coming back?" she wailed.

Thursday. Remember?"I said.

She sniffled. "How far is it to your hotel?”

I suddenly had a vision of Mireya attempting to hitchhike across country, stuffed animal in one hand and four changes of clothes in the other.

Oh, it's very, very far. But you can always call me.”

Okay" she said.

Having dodged the complete meltdown bullet, we read a book over the phone, and then Sierra got on the line to recount all the trials and tribulations of big sister land. I sympathized, and slowly, slowly, said good night.

I know the ship will manage over the next few days to sail fine without me, but it's nice to know that as captain, I'm missed.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

In our barn - musings

It's been a difficult and sad week here in our barn.

I don't mean our barn in the Texas Hill Country, I mean the barn here. In the blogland community.

The loss of Lyle and the terrible diagnosis of Laz, along with the sad unfolding of Miranda has made tears flow and a wish that the "enter" key really worked on our computers and we could do more than leave pixels, but could deliver what is beyond words.

Hugs. Laughs at shared memories of these horses. Shoulders to lean on.

I realized yesterday that these horses, are so different. For me they've moved beyond the places I thought they'd be - like where the Black lives in my mind, or Black Beauty. That's a place of dreams, wishes, and ideals.

Instead these horses, along with their owners/rider/minions have entered a barn of the heart. And when they pass, or struggle, we all grieve...

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Help Amigo


There's an incredible story on Equestrian Vagabond about Amigo - a horse the owner refused to give up on. Despite this:

His 9-year-old Arabian endurance horse was standing apart from his herdmates with a tree branch impaled imbedded in his side.

"I couldn't talk," Gary said. He did manage to call his veterinarian, Dr Martin, and his girlfriend Kara Disbrow. "He was incoherent," Kara said.

Though they still don't know what happened, Gary and Kara surmise Amigo either slid in the mud into a tree, or a tree fell on him in the 110 acres where Amigo and his two buddies roam. One veterinarian later deduced that Amigo had had the stick lodged in him for 10-12 hours before Gary discovered him.
Visit the blog for the entire AMAZING story of a horse and owner who kept up the fight against the odds.

I made a donation (click here to learn how you can help) to the fund to help pay some of the vet bills. Not much, but I'm a big believer that even $10 can matter - if you can get others to help.

How about it? Can you take lunch to work one day next week? Skip a few lattes? Rent an old movie instead of a new release?

I'm in DC, where cynicism is high, politicians break your heart, and monuments can seem empty.

But love still reigns in this world. It makes me determined to keep up the good fight.

Ride those horses - or at least give them a big hug today!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Meet up in New Mexico

Val (Fantasyk Voyage) and I (and the sudden addition of my entire family) got to meet up in New Mexico! Schedules, weather and injury conspired against some other bloggers.

We got together at Monroe's in town, and completely geeked out talking about horses. It was great fun, especially since Val's so much more knowledgeable than I am and gave me great ideas on working with Cibolo (I should be able to start riding again next Friday, after I get back from DC... I hope. Darn work!).

She also reminded me that it should be fun to be with your horse, and to not lose sight of that.

And then we dropped by to visit her herd. Annie was something else. Beautiful and quite a sight running out to inspect us before letting the others come near.

Val assured her we were worthy.

Then the incredibly furry Yalla! Even Mireya petted her, her little hand sinking deep into Yalla's shoulder. I've never seen a yearling so friendly!

She loved Adam's soul patch. I swear all horses love Adam.

(Unfortunately my pictures of the other members of the herd were not so great - you'll have to take my word for it, they were wonderful too!)

Next time I'm up we're riding (right Val?). It won't be until October though!

Miss everybody. "See" you in a week...

Monday, February 15, 2010

While we were gone

While we were gone, Stephanie rode Cibolo. I beg her to ride my horses because she's great and she loves it. Today I got an email with an interesting attachment...

Here's the report:

I found this today before I left the stable and I told Cibolo I'd get it to you. He told me not to read it, but I did anyways.

Here's the note from Cibolo:

And further explanation from Stephanie:

He was correct a little bit...It did seem to get dark right when I got there. The weather was perfect when I left for the stables, then clouds came in and it got super windy. I think the wind is what he's talking about with the monsters.

Anyway...I rode him despite the wind because I thought it would be a good training, which it really was. It took a while for me to get and -keep- his attention. He was crow hopping all over the place, snorting, side stepping...But then we got into a really nice groove and we were cantering like pros. He did really well, actually. And if we can do that when the weather is craaaaazy, we might be getting somewhere!

Thank you Stephanie, for riding through the monsters.

Cibolo, hate to tell ya, but facing monsters is just the start.

More about our trip to beautiful NM a little later. I've got to get ready to get back to reality (seriously, I KNOW I was supposed to be a trust fund baby. this work thing is just crazy).

Thursday, February 11, 2010

On the road for a few days

The weather's been lousy, work's been crazy, and now, I'm leaving town.

Actually we are all leaving so that my daughter can experience snow.

Sure, everyone across the country is sick of it, but one little seven year old is so excited she may just bust before morning.

So ya'll stay safe. We'll be back from the trip on Monday night, hopefully with photos of snow angels, snowmen, and maybe some sledding.

(but unfortunately, no horses)

Monday, February 8, 2010

Shopping and other dangerous activities

I hopped on line to do a little shopping, prior to Mr. Cibolo's meltdown, and found some riding pants. Since I've been riding more, I've started to find my jeans are not as comfortable - the seams really do start to feel uncomfortable, particularly when you are being more active in your riding - asking for diagonals on the trail and such to keep your horse's mind on the job.

So I splurged on a pair of riding pants. I ordered a pair of blue, boot cut Irideon. I always thought it was silly to buy riding pants because jean are just fine. Then I realized how distracting it is too feel the seam rubbing a trench on your thigh.

Let me tell you, they better be tough. I can't afford two pair of these.

Then I found this:

What do you think? Anyone have one of these? It holds 30 gallons! And it's a saddle rack (I'm missing one).

It would have to wait for next month's budget, though.

As for other dangerous activities, I'm looking at saddles again. I know, I know. I'm crazy. I was even online looking at horses!

But, if our rumored bonus comes through, then I may finally get myself a nice saddle. Doesn't hurt to be prepared.

Unfortunately I always find the beautiful saddles and horses when I'm not in the market.

They don't call it temptation for nothing...


Lisa from Laughing Orca suggested I should ride Lily. I wanted to clarify - I do ride her. Unless I'm riding with someone who doesn't have a horse. Lily is Sierra's and DH's ride, so when we go out, they ride her. I haven't been able to ride her lately because there is someone riding with me. And I'm still trying to work with Cibolo.

He has, as my barn owner says, many wonderful qualities. Maybe it's asking too much to have another horse, younger and a gelding, with the same attitude as Lily - because I'd like to try some modest endurance riding in the near future.

Maybe the things I'm dealing with are relatively minor and can be solved over time with concerted effort. Like Cactus Jack suggested. Miles of activities to stay engaged.

Or maybe these issues are a hard wired aspect of this horse's personality. As Trail Rider said, he might not be the solid trail horse I'm looking for. (Trail Rider, look out, you may have a quarter horse to freak out - how fun will that be?)

I honestly don't know. But I'm going to ride Lily when I have the chance. Because it is fun to have a good, level headed horse in your life.

And by working through some of this with Cibolo, I'm also convincing myself that I'm not just being a person who is "blowing" it with this horse, and would blow it with any horse. I have gotten rid of a good deal of fear in dealing with this situation, and while I did dismount, I did so with presence of mind, not in a panic, not with fear.

I recognized, responded, and repaired. I cantered down the road and up the hill. I rode off alone. I focused on riding a line. I'm becoming a better horseman in the process, and that's probably what fate has in mind for me.

Wolfie, Susan, Kate, and Lytha, you're right. I did make some serious progress by pushing through that mess. Maybe that's what helps a horse like Cibolo.

Cibolo may be better suited to arenas, or he may be better suited to trail riding only with his set herd. Or it may just be about mud. I have no idea. It really will take more time, more riding to make a final determination. Leah, it seems, has a similar dilemma with Poco.

It's funny, both Poco and Cibolo got all the tools they need to be great trail horses - except, perhaps the one between the ears.

Still, I'm definitely learning a thing or three. I'm learning what it is I want from my horse partner and what I can bring to the partnership. I don't want to be a bump on the saddle rider. I want to trail ride, to work together, to be a supportive partner. Ride long and hard, listen, and learn.

For now, I have to continue to explore this. And, as long as I can keep both my wits about me and myself safe, being pushed to be better at reading and handling a horse like this is not a bad thing.

But boy, does it have some moments.

BTW: Head over to to sign a petition to stop the abusive practice of rollkur in dressage... The folks in charge of this need to understand that the practice has no place in professional horse work.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Cibolo, the meltdown king and riding a line

Well, after a rather promising trail ride with Sierra and Lily yesterday, today was a setback day.

Ironically I had recently left a comment over at Kate's blog that I was the Mayor of Set Back City. I was hoping that my term was almost up, but today, I was RE-ELECTED!

The opportunity to make a
"I felt like an Jack---" comment is just too easy.
So here's your gratuitous Pepe pic.

So let's start with the good part. I led Sierra on a trail ride on Saturday, she on Lily and me on Cibolo. It was great, after about 15 minutes of stopping and bending I had Cibolo's mind. We had a great ride through the trails around the barn and it was a fantastic day.

See Sierra? Post ride glow. :)

Then today - fegeddabottit.

I've been re-reading a few horse books, one of which is Tom Moates' A Horse's Thought. On page 79 begins a passage that really seems to speak to the issue I have with Cibolo.

Tom was talking about his horse nemisis (although he doesn't call him that) Niji. He describes his horse melting down to a point where he has to dismount and walk him back for safety. And repeated pressure and release doesn't work.

Tom understood that the issue was he didn't see the build up to the meltdown, much like the head check with Cibolo. He asked a trainer to "call out when she saw the horse's though leave me."

He said the answer shocked him (italics are my clarifications).

It shocked me how far before the noticeable trouble area she (the trainer) spoke up. Hardly two steps into moving at all, let alone near the spot where Niji pushed left (the precursor to the meltdown), Terrie called out.

She indicated he left the scene mentally while we were still straight, so I asked for a bend to the left (his favorite direction) and disengaged the hind quarters to check on his mental status. It didn't go very well. Then Terrie (the trainer) suggested I hold that rein until I see his though come throuh to the direction I asked for...

I grew completely agahst to find out that with every step or two, Neiji left me menatly. I knew I lost the mental trail earlier than when we reached the big trouble, but I never guessed just how much support it required to keep this horse on board with me mentally!

...his mind was long gone elsewhere, and he wasn't real happy about changing it. In truth, I lost him nine steps ago and possessed no idea that the horse really was on his own all that time. Talk about being delusional.

Ah yes. Delusional. That does describe our ride today.

We went out to the barn with Brother in law (BIL) to ride and saddled up horses. We borrowed one from the BO and began our ride, warming up in the hills behind the barn.

I worked to warm up Cibolo, but didn't feel like I had him yet. But I'd stop, bend him, wait for him to soften, then move on. Then we went up the hill.

Cibolo has a thing about mud. We've been working on it, but he has a big thing about it. The hillside was muddy and his left hind started to sink in the mud. He yanked it out in a panic (it was a very, very mild crow hop) but then he was a mess. Jigging like crazy, his neck tight, over reacting to everything. I eventually dismounted and sent them off to ride so I could lunge the sense back into him.

He was snorting and carrying on like a lunatic. Being soft was not working, so I pushed back, hard, and raised my intensity to get his focus.

I became a witch. With a capital B.

Every time he snorted, I turned him. Over and over. I backed him hard. It took 15 minutes of being extremely intense to get the first licking and chewing, and another 15 minutes to get him to the point where he was re-engaged. Hubby and BIL were long gone, so I did the one thing I have yet to do with this horse..

I took him out on a trail ride by myself.

I did have to dismount twice to get him back on me, but in general we pushed through two scary moments. One when the darting chickens behind the bushes looked precisely like mountain lions, and once when we were by the road and I got a sense that he was past a point where I could gather his thoughts in the saddle - I'd missed the early cue. I didn't want to risk his safety, so I got off and bend him on the ground and calmed him down.

As Tom goes on to describe the advice he got, it's advice I used to work through today (after melt down):

Harry (Whitney) works hard to get the point across that to a horse, a sudden unsupported moment creates a mental vacuum that can at times even seem life threatening.

That horse, in his mind, lacks any choice but to make decisions when he feels the human drop out. It is his survival instinct. In a horse like Niji (and Cibolo, I think), it is very strong. If he notices lack of guidance, he needs to take care of number one, and he does so by making his own decisions. If you missed the point when that change occurred, it's not the horse's fault. It's the human's. (damn. It's ALWAYS my fault. Why couldn't I get involved in politics where it's always someone ELSE's fault?)
(Harry Whitney describes to Tom riding a line as a way to work with this issue)

Harry rides a line, I remembered. A line is unbroken. Ride a line with a horse and there's not a single point at which the support breaks from the human, or it wouldn't be a line. (emphasis mine)

So that's what I worked on during our trail ride.

I never felt that I had Cibolo completely - it was as if his meltdown couldn't completely fade.

You know when you go to a scary movie and you can't sleep (or at least I can't, which is why I don't go to them anymore)? I think it's a bit like that. Cibolo just couldn't/wouldn't move on, but became stable enough to get through. Don't get me wrong, he was a safe ride, but now I know when he doesn't have it completely together.

When I talked to the BO about it briefly afterwards, we agreed that it's like he has these little panic attacks. Mud is his panic attack (this happened in the arena too, in one really bad muddy spot).

I'm satisfied that I did work through it in a way that was safe and productive, but it drives home a point I realized when I was riding with Sierra.

She asked me "How's Cibolo doing these days?"

I said, flatly, "He's OK."

She was taken aback. I gush over Lily, shoot, over horses period. So this understated comment is out of character. "Just OK?"

I laughed. "Yup. Just OK."

I'm in a matter of fact place with Cibolo. I guess it'll have to do for now.

To buy Tom's book, which I highly recommend click here.

Contest announcement: Congratulations to Wolfie! Send me your snail mail winter (at) winterdprosapio (dot) com and I'll send you your book and your surprise! Thanks to everyone for participating...

One bonus trivia fact about Texas:
The pink and purple pearls of Concho River mussels, found along the banks of the Concho River near San Angelo, TX, are among the world's most rare pearls.

If for any reason you want to order the book, you can do so on line at amazon, or I can order you one (they are just $14 and I'll toss in shipping) and will sign it before I ship it out. I don't make anything from sales of these, I was paid a flat rate to write it. I used to have a ton, but in the two years since I've gone through my stock...

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Sad news

Shanti is gone.

She's the mare that had cushings, and the horse that was the BO personal horse. When we dropped off the horses on Friday evening I saw her in a stall and she was a mess, lying down in a spot that was filled with urine and manure.

I checked her water, made sure she had hay. The BO was on her way back, having cut her trip short due to other bad news - a close friend died in a low water crossing accident.

(Low water crossings are terribly dangerous here, and at night you can't see how deep water is across the road. There is a host of problems with officials barricading them. You can read the news story the accident here.)

Shanti hadn't been doing well, and a week ago we were all pretty worried. She'd dropped weight and wouldn't eat a week ago when I went out to feed. But this morning she was much, much worse.

I wet down her food as the note left for me said, and made sure she was drinking. She was drinking - in fact she was just standing over her water, drinking, sometimes zoned out. I rubbed her, and fretted. She ate everything, but she looked awful. The BO thinks she dropped 100 pounds in a week (basically, while the BO was gone).

The feeding crew that helps when the BO is gone tried all kinds of things to help Shanti. None of it was enough.

Shanti ate everything I gave her and I rubbed her head gently. She closed her eyes and stood here. Just a few years ago she was an endurance horse. She won top prizes in competitive trail. Now she was a shell of her former self, too emaciated to move from her one spot in the stall.

Sierra joined me at the barn and we went for a trail ride (which will be another blog post). When we came back Shanti was gone. The BO trailered her to the vet and let her go so she could at last run the trails in a place where there is no cushings, plenty of sweet grass, and blue ribbons for her lovely mane.

Rest in peace, Shanti.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Finally, riding.

It has been a week and a half since we've gotten out and had a ride. You'll note Cibolo's "not amused" face above...

He was, indeed, not amused. He was reluctant to get in the trailer, practically dragged his hooves as we headed over to the arena and was heavy on his bit. He was even trying to grab the bottom of his bridle (which would render it basically useless). I felt like I was riding a horse with the brakes on.

There were also several head tosses and pill like behavior. But nothing I couldn't handle. Still, I suspect I missed the boat a bit. I think he needed a stronger line from me.

By the end, though, we were back in sync. Cantering on the correct lead, turning, backing, all of it was working. This despite the heeler mix that was running around the arena like a maniac.

Lily, on the other and, just wants to RUN. She loves the arena and she has a need for speed, which suits Stephanie just fine. Back before we loaded Lily had shown a touch of tenderness in her back and I did a few lifting exercises and the tenderness went away. We checked her over before saddleing and she was fine.

After two hours of hard riding, she began to get heavy on the forehand again, so Stephanie stopped riding. She had observed Cibolo and remarked that he seemed lazy.

I don't know if I think he was lazy, more like out of the mode to work for his hay. Cibolo is not one of those horses that needs a job to be happy. He'd be perfectly content to be a trust fund baby, checking out mares at the disco.

So he was quite surprised to have Stephanie step up for a brief ride. She rode the snot out of Cibolo. (ok, it was like 15 minutes of cantering) She got him sweaty and tired. And she got tired too.

"He's a lot more work than Lily."

yep. Especially today.

And Cibolo expressed his opinion of being ridden until he was winded.

And, just in case you missed it...

I'll be back out tomorrow. My goal is to do 4 days in a row because after Monday, my travel schedule will have me booked until MARCH!


Tonight's your last shot in the contest... Tomorrow Roxie will pick a winner.

I hope you had a wonderful day with a horse!

PS New Mexico blogger sisters! Will brunch in Alb. next Saturday will work for a meet up? Email me at winter (at) winterdprosapio (dot) com We'll figure out some details...

Thursday, February 4, 2010

OT Princesses and Laundry

(don't forget to enter the contest, if you haven't already!)

Princess of the Laundromat

It’s really wonderful to still have my grandmother here to remind me that the princess crown hasn’t fallen far from the throne in our family.

Yes, at one time, I was the princess.

I was the tomboy version, not much into fashion, but certainly in charge of my own little fiefdom. And my throne was: the laundry cart.

When I was growing up, my grandparents owned a Laundromat. It was the best place in the world. It always smelled like a cross between powdered detergent and freshly dried clothes. When I get to heaven (presuming a fairly forgiving criteria for entry), I imagine the entire place will smell like that.

There were so many great things for a kid in the Laundromat. First there was my grandfather’s rolling padded board. It was what he used to roll around on the floor to get the money out of the machines and to do work on them when they needed it.

I was a holy terror on that thing, zooming up and down the linoleum, barely missing running down half a dozen people every lap. Yes, it was a precursor to my injury filled days on skateboards.

I also had the coolest job in the place – giving change. I remember standing on my tiptoes behind the counter with four fingers each holding down a quarter. I’d take the dollars then carefully slide the quarters across the counter.

But nothing was as fun as the laundry cart. My grandmother would dump in a nest of warm, dry towels and blankets and put me right in the middle of them. I’d play in this royal chariot for hours, periodically being rolled from place to place. Sometimes I’d just fall asleep in there, the hum of driers all around as a sort of lullaby.

When customers would inquire about wresting away the cart to do their own laundry, my grandmother taught me a very important lesson about life’s priorities.

Grandparent first, small business owner second.

Yes, I got to keep my cart. My grandmother would help them fold clothes, soothing any irritation at a spoiled young granddaughter hogging up a laundry cart.

My grandmother reminds me to keep this in mind when my daughters are hogging up the TV, the couch, and the attention at Grammy’s.

After all, they are really just continuing a family tradition.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Contest Time!

I'm tired of complaining about the weather, (and people are tired of hearing it too) so I think it's time for a contest here at Horsecentric.

I'm inspired by a sweet pay it forward I just recievedfrom Lisa at Laughing Orca (thanks Lisa!!). I'll be posting pictures of it soon!

I've mentioned once or twice that I'm a writer, and a few years ago I co-authored a book on Texas Trivia:

Yes, a bathroom book. I like to tell people I'm with you during those special moments...

It's funny, it's weird, it's really all about Texas. It was a blast to write, too. I've written for a few other trivia books, and am working on a NEW YORK book right now.

I've been there twice. Thank goodness for the Internet.

Anyway, I thought it would be fun to offer up an autographed copy along with an additional surprise (to be identified later).

To enter the contest, all you have to do is leave a comment. That's it. Say anything you want (well, unless you're going to say something in chinese, cuz I'm thinking those comments are not from people reading this blog) and you're in!

You've got till Friday. Then Saturday, Roxie will draw a winner.

She wanted me to mention that she is accepting bribes.


Monday, February 1, 2010

Freezing alternatives

Riding? Riding?

Well, that WAS the plan. Then I looked outside at this.

I may be determined, but I do draw the line at 35 degrees. Or in the case of today, 20.

This is the weirdest winter. With all due respect, I'd like to ask all the northerners to please get a little tighter hold on their weather pattern because it's definitely leaking all over us southerners.

So, with some reluctance I packed up the trailer and headed over to the barn to drop it off.

I did, however, decide to bring my assistants for entertainment.

Because I'm crazy, that's why.

Roxie, after she gave me a heart attack by nearly running into stalls and getting killed, ran like a little maniac through the hills.

Fortunately she had her good friend, Bella, to run with. She's the one that DOESN'T bark at the abandoned boats, the horses, the donkey, or the pallet. Roxie, on the other hand, is... well, she's a puppy. We'll cut her some slack.

I eventually convinced her the boats weren't going to eat her but the horses might dismember her.

Someone explain to me why she acted scared of the boats, which don't move, but wanted to run under the wire and commune with the hooves?

Bella has been feeling her age lately (she's always had bad hips, but lately she really seems to be feeling it), but she lost all sense of time in the hills. She ran like a puppy, dashing through cedar and live oak, up hills, splashing through the mud.

With her little friend by her side.

I hope it gets back to normal Texas winter soon. Fifties, sunshine, and lots and lots of riding.