Monday, March 18, 2013

Steep hills and barefoot

Something happened to my farrier. He disappeared. I'm not sure what happened, or if he got hurt, or what. But after two weeks I realized I needed to get someone else out to see Lily.

Since we have been trying to get her sound, I was nervous. I didn't want to go back to someone who might take her back down a bad road. So I took a leap. I contacted a barefoot trimmer.

Lily has never been barefoot on the front, she has always seemed too ouchy. But this is a good time to try. I don't have a lot of time to ride, so she'd have time to toughen up. And it didn't make sense to me that she could be barefoot on the back, but not the front. I mean I know there is more weight in the front, but its not that light in the hind end either. Besides given I lost my farrier to the wind I felt it was time to try.

Lily has been barefoot for three weeks. Sunday we took a ride up the rocky ridge line.

No ouchy ness. Zero. She had beelined it up there. Something I've learned about Lily is she is very curious about her environment, she likes to explore more than I realized. When I looked at that ridge she headed right to it, as if she had been wondering what was up there too. We were riding alone, something we do often now, and she is continually expanding the rubber band of comfort. She's not very barn sour, but I do hesitate riding too far because I don't want to be alone in places I haven't ridden before. I guess I'm working on my rubber band too.

Then if course, we had to ride back down.

I usually don't like riding down steep inclines, but I got us into a narrow path where I couldn't dismount. So while it was not scene out of "Man from Snowy River," it was steep - way past my comfort zone.

But she was as sure footed as a goat, I could feel her confidence as she picked her way down. I don't know how to explain it without getting all "zen," as trailrider would say, but I sensed that she felt different about her steps, as if she could feel her way down differently than she had before.

And we did it bit less too.

It was a good ride after a very long and draining work time (job is great, no worries, just some tough things to work on). We both grew on that ride. The farrier/trimmer will be out to recheck her, and while she is still not sound at the clock wise trot, she is better. I wonder if this approach will give her relief.

I hope so. But if nothing else, we can walk up hillsides. And back down.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

OT: Crib Notes - for the irish in all of us

More horse news soon, but in the meantime:

Erin Go Bragh and Pass The Green Salsa

There are not too many places on earth where the sound of bagpipes mixes with the roar of low riders and smell of fresh tortillas.

My neighborhood was one of those places.

We lived across the street from Bel Air high school stadium in El Paso, Texas. El Paso is a border town, ninety percent Hispanic (in our neighborhood, it was closer to 98%), making the high school's choice of the Highland er as a mascot so bizarre; I can't quite fathom how it could ever have occurred. Did a rogue Scott take over the school board at an opportune moment? Were the distant mountains an inspiration of "high land"? Were darts involved?

Whatever the reason, the Highlanders had become a formidable football team, and at every game, in addition to the huge marching band, were a dozen bagpipes in full regalia. A dedicated and gifted band director (what else would you call a guy who could teach Sousa AND Irish battle songs?) held practice for the bagpipers at six in the morning. Since there is no volume control on a bagpipe, no one learns this instrument indoors.

On the cool desert mornings every fall, the bagpipe division of girls (because in those days no Hispanic boy would be caught DEAD in a kilt) would fill their plaid bags with air and the cry of the bagpipes would climb above the desert floor. The sound would bounce off the concrete stadium and enter with full intensity into my bedroom.

I'd feel the strain of the notes; at first interrupted so often that it was more like a chorus of demented car horns than music. But slowly the band director would coax the songs free from the breath of the girls who'd listen to rock music on the way home from school, cruising in low and slow Chevys and Fords.

I'd wake up from my confused dreams, trying to figure out why in my sleep I was bounding through rolling green hills when I lived my waking life amid yucca and sand. The bagpipes would pull a yearning from me for a place I'd never seen, yet who's music slipped into my childhood like a lost leprechaun wandering into a circle of mariachis.

In a few days I'll be scrambling for green shirts and hats for my kids. I wonder about the bagpipe band alumni. Are those bagpipers now mommies with little leprechauns of their own? Do they have the same misplaced sense of nostalgia every St. Patrick's Day? Do they tell their children about the days with the warm bag at their side, the pipes in their fingers? Are there bagpipes tucked into the attic, waiting for the next generation of players?

Do they secretly consider themselves descendants of a lost tribe of Celtic warrior princesses?

Okay, that was probably just me.

So this St. Patty's Day we'll wear green bowler hats complete with shiny foil shamrock and reminisce about the days of bagpipes and yucca plants. Erin Go Bragh and pass the green salsa!