Tuesday, June 30, 2009

walk into splintered sunlight

Brian and I had another lovely ride last evening. Maizie was so nice to photograph us again. You can click on any image to enlarge. I really like this one of us in the newly cut hay field.

What a great shot of our trails! It looks like "The Secret Garden".

Pie's face is really cute!

Brian must be relaxed on the Sovey boy!

Here is a close-up of the bitless bridle we use. I am going to talk about it on a future post.

And here is our sweet little photographer, Maizie Jane, posing with the Pie.

A snap of the whole group and the ubiquitous blue jug of iced tea! Gotta love Mom's white socks!

Brian and Sovey joining forces against a pink sky.
What a great ride we had. We started in the pastures and made sure Brian and Sovey were walking together safely. Then we headed out a back gate to the hay field and trails. We saw a fluffy red fox run out in front of us on the one trail and Pie was having none of that! He started backing and snorting because he was scared. Brian and Sovey had to lead the way for a few minutes! They did so well together. Early in our ride, Sovereign abruptly bent down to itch his leg and Brian almost went over the top. This sounds crazy, but after that near tumble, Brian rode like a pro. I have noticed this before. It takes a small "incident" and you quickly find your seat and agility. Brian is a runner and very athletic and as I said before, he has had riding lessons. I wouldn't just pop anyone up on Sovereign. After his "wake-up call" he sat deeply and allowed his hips to relax and move with the saddle. It was amazing really to watch the change in his riding. We rode over to the houses and our apple-on-the-fencepost-friend greeted us with his 2 year old son. The father fed Pie and Sovey treats and the son watched in delight! Pie and Sovereign are the happiest of boys, I think. Then, we headed home for a thorough hosing and grazing.
Mom and I also had a great ride on Sunday morning. Right at the beginning there were 11 ugly Turkey Vultures in the field. They flew out of a tree grove near us and Pie almost fainted! He was understandably very frightened because they were so big and loud and out of nowhere came swooping down on us. Sovey watched quietly as Pie jumped and darted and folded up under me. Pie was doing anything to get away from those scary birds. Sovereign doesn't let too much frighten him. After that, Pie settled and we walked around the field and found our friendly apples to munch. Mom phoned later and kept saying how much she loves Sovereign. He looks at her so lovingly all the time and she just can't get enough of his bunny rabbit face. We are so fortunate to be able to ride and love up these two horses!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

everything promised is delivered to you

Early this morning Pie and Sovereign got to investigate their new shed for the first time. They were so funny! (click any of these photos to enlarge)

They reminded me of two kids in a brand new "clubhouse". They could not get enough of it! They smelled every single inch of the shed - more like dogs than horses.

They have large, lovely stalls in a cool bank barn and lush pastures, but this new space must be exciting...

...they played in and around the shelter all morning!

What funny boys they are!
Mom and I rode through the woods and all over the farm on Thursday morning. My neighbor that leaves the apple on the fence post also put a barstool in a shrub for me! That way, if there is a difficulty with the apples, I can dismount even if I am bareback and mount again. Isn't that great? I ended up trying it out on Thursday and it worked perfectly. Pie and Sovey enjoyed munching their apples and I was able to get back on after "assisting" in the apple distribution. Today we had a yard sale in the driveway at the farm so no riding. It was the most beautiful morning and I was cranky because I really wanted to ride. I am glad, though, that the boys had fun with their new shed. Tonight is the Art of the State opening at the State Museum, so no riding again this evening. I know I am not the only one who misses riding on these days. One day recently, when Mom had just returned to our normal riding schedule after the illness we all had, she and I were bringing the horses in. She was leading Sovereign and he started nuzzling her all over the back of her head and shoulders. She was messing around with the gate and didn't realize what he was doing. It was like he had missed her and was saying, "Hi friend, where have you been? Let's go riding!" I don't know why, but Sovey reminds me of the cutest, most innocent bunny rabbit ever.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Honest Scrap Award

Paint Girl from Adventures of the Painted Creek Farm gave me this Honest Scrap Award! Thank you Paint Girl! Paint Girl lives with a lively and lovely collection of sweet animals including two horses, dogs, kitties, goats...deer! She and her OH (other half) ride gorgeous horses on gorgeous trails in the Northwest "rain forest".

The Honest Scrap Award requires that I tell my readers 10 things about me that they might not know. I also must give the award to 10 people and let them know that they have won the award. Also, you must link back to the person who gave you the award. Thanks again, Paint Girl!

Not sure what you all don't know about me. I prattle on so...I can't believe I have ever left anything out! Hmm...let me see...

1. I am addicted to unsweetened Blueberry Iced Tea with fresh lemon. I make a huge jug of it every morning and carry it around in this stupid (slightly dirty) construction worker-looking blue thermos. I used to be addicted to Coke in the glass bottles, so actually, this is an improvement.

2. I am obsessed with showering in hot water. I love day hiking, but I wouldn't be such a great long distance hiker because I need hot showers frequently. In spite of this, my mother says I always look dirty (thanks Mom!).

3. I really like harder rock music. Not metal, but heavy on the guitar. Sometimes this can be embarrassing.

4. This is a little deep, but I spend a lot of time wondering if I am in heaven already. This started when I was fairly young. Life has been magical - I am not sure I would want something different in the next go-round.

5. I have a photographic memory for dates and numbers. I remember every person's birthday and phone number that I ever learned. When I flip the page-a-day calendar each day I see a date and I immediately picture the person I know with that birthday. It is really weird like Rain Man or something. I once told a girl at my class reunion, that I had this memory. She asked me if I remembered her birthday from when we were friends in 3rd grade. I said, "yes, it is January 6th." She slowly moved away from me!

6. I don't like tack. I ride bareback as often as I can and I use a bitless bridle, but really I wish I could ride with nothing. I am not sure if it will ever work out for me, but that is a crazy goal I dream about.

7. I say a silent little prayer every time I see any kind of animal killed on the road. Around here, sadly, that is often. I don't look at the animal so I am probably saying prayers for shoes, tire treads, trash, etc.

8. I am afraid to fly. I do fly and I never say anything about it while I am flying, but I hate every second of it. I especially get annoyed when everyone else looks so calm. It is like they think they are on a bus and that "bump" was a pothole. It is life and death, People! I have actually taken flying lessons and flew a plane, but it still scares me.

9. When I was in college I had the unbelievable opportunity to hang out with Jimmy Page for a whole week and I am not a groupie. At one point he rode in my car and I wouldn't let him smoke! I was 20 years old and so goofy!

10. Brian and I were married on the last Friday in October at 7:45pm. Our dear little Maizie was born one year later on the last Friday in October at 7:45pm. I think that is so cool!

Well, that is my list. It reads like I am a weirdo.

Here is the list of people I pick for the Honest Scrap Award:

1. Bay State Brumby (just enjoy - don't do twice!)
2. A Year With Horses (just enjoy - don't do twice!)
6. Pony Girl Rides Again (just enjoy - don't do if you are tired of everyone picking you!)
7. Mustang Diaries (I'm sure you already won this - just enjoy - don't do again)
10. Print and Pattern (surely won a zillion times already!)

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

where have all Papa's heroes gone?

Here is a snap of me with my mother's Thoroughbred, Riboccan. We called her Abby. This picture was taken in the summer between my 7th and 8th grade years (1980). She had eight starts and placed, but was mostly used as a broodmare before my mom bought her. She was a handful to ride. I never fell off of her exactly but I have vivid memories of landing on her neck and hanging on for dear life. Once she ran me into a standard, but I managed to stay on - not because of any expert riding - just luck. She tossed my mom off quite a few times. She was a buck-twister. She would buck to unseat you and then twist to finish you off. My fear of chestnut Thoroughbred mares can be traced back to Abby. Fortunately, Red, the sweetie pie I rode in Florida this past Christmas, changed all that. I think this picture of Abby is hysterical because it shows our previous "fencing" that we used for our horses. We had the pasture surrounded in split-rail with only two rails! As that fence aged, it became so dilapidated that you could blow on it and it would fall over, yet our horses stayed inside. What were we thinking?! They could have stepped over it! I guess they aged too so it worked out ok. Abby lived until she was 27 years old. She really never mellowed too much but we loved her anyway.
Another Thoroughbred friend who is mellowing nicely, is one Pie-Pie boy. I rode him on Sunday morning and he was a delight. He had the new, partially built run-in shelter to think about, but he kept it together superbly. I decided that he was ready for a full seat and firmer leg, so I pulled it in a little more and sat "tighter". He collected at the walk for me when I asked. Then, we circled full and round, repeating all over the property. He never cuts in, but listens to me and bends like a much older horse. He did not seem to lose focus, even when he was frightened of the shed. He came right back and was paying attention to me, which I thought was amazing, honestly. He is such a good boy.
I rode Sovereign on Monday at lunchtime. The workers were taking a break and it seemed like a good time to sneak in some riding. Sovereign doesn't bend as fluidly as Pie, but he makes up for it in these early stages with his bravery. He not only wasn't frightened of the shelters, he walked right up and tried to walk in one. It isn't finished yet, and I was afraid there might be stray nails, but I am impressed with his calm sensibility. His back is stiffer than Pie's so the flexibility will take a little more time. He doesn't have a bit to pull against which helps. If he had a bit it would be a lost cause. He would just lift that giraffe head of his and bully forward. He still tries that maneuver, but he does come back around my leg when I focus on sitting deep and asking. It is hard for me to think that much when I am laughing so hard at his determination to investigate. I plead guilty to being relaxed sometimes. I have so much fun experiencing their innocence that I don't always ask as I should. There is time for that. Why hurry them when they are doing so well?
Below is a picture of my father on a "Picture Pony". From what I understand, these ponies would make the rounds in towns and children would have their pictures taken on them. So cute!!!I baked Dad his annual cherry pie for Father's Day, but I forgot to mention him in my blog. Hopefully this adorable black and white memory will make up for that!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

all I can do is just pour some tea for two

Here is Pie, the Sly Pioneer, spying something new in his pasture. Whatever could it be with such a startled look and high tail? It is the skeleton for one of the two run-in shelters we are having built at Honeysuckle Faire. With our constant rain they can't be completed too soon. Below, Sovereign is inspecting the new muddy tracks made by the skid loader and Pie is wondering what things have come to when a horse has to walk out and find this in his pasture! I have to admit, it does look rather tall and intimidating. I believe that they still have to cut the posts down to the correct size. Right now it looks too big, like the frame for a stage...like we might be hosting Woodstock in our pasture next week! (We have enough mud.)

A small army of sweet Amish men descended on us yesterday morning for the shed raising. Pie and Sovey were in one of the pastures where the men needed to work and I had a doctor's appointment at 10am for a nagging cough and sinus infection that has had us all down for a few weeks. The men assured me that they would be careful not to let the boys out of the pasture! Well, I could just imagine that whole debacle unfolding...Pie "helping" with the lumber...Pie escaping out the gate...Sovey and Pie attending church across the street. No way! I had to put them inside the barn on the loveliest day in recent history. When I returned at noon, Pie was wound tight. He didn't like being stuck in his stall, of course, but more than that, he wanted to see what all the noise was about. I started to walk him out to a shed-free pasture, but the equipment and new faces had him worked up. He started rearing and bucking and racing around me. The workers were on their lunch break near the barn and they got very quiet and were staring at the wild sight before them. I had on shorts and my crazy tall Wellies I wear everywhere nowadays with our wet weather (I even wore this get-up to the doctor because I didn't have time to change). Pie was walking on two feet and I am 5'3" tall so he was towering over me. My head was pounding so hard from the sinus infection and I was positive that I was going to throw up any second from the pain. I do believe in remaining calm when a horse is scared like that, but this was more than calm. I barely noticed what Pie was doing because I was just trying not to get sick in front of all these people eating their lunch! Anyway, we made it out safely and the boys had a fun afternoon of watching the building activity.
I have noticed a pattern with Pie and Sovereign's (mostly) good behavior and their (very occasional) naughty behavior. I try to be very consistent with doing some "human" bonding daily. I ride, or groom, or, at the very least, hand graze most days. If I miss one day I notice a slight regression. For example, when I groom in the evenings I notice a closer "bond" with the boys the next morning when I lead them out. They are affectionate and loving. Riding is the same. I know it isn't from getting "worked down" because we are only walking at this point. But we are a "team" if I ride, and their subsequent behavior is excellent. On Thursday, Maizie, Brian and I (and our sinus infections) went to Jubilee Day, our town's street fair. I turned the boys out and loved them up, and fed them, of course, but no riding and no grooming. Friday morning, even before the shed builders arrived, the boys were not as interested in me as they usually are. We need our normal rapport in order to have calm behavior. Hmmm. Not surprising, really.

And now...for something completely different! I have been asked to be a guest poster on the blog of a very new friend. Her name is Andi and her blog is about living the simple life with her family and her Thoroughbred in farmland near Gettysburg. Her blog is called Civil Girl: My Not So Historic Life In A Small Town Near Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Here is the link: www.civilgirl.blogspot.com and below is the amazing photograph from her blog header.

This photo could easily come from the archives of street photographer, Garry Winogrand. Actually, it is Andi's Nana! How wonderful!!! I knew as soon as I saw this picture that I would love her blog! I will be guest posting Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. On her blog tomorrow, I will tell the funny tale of how we met (blame it on those Wellies again!) and other horse related fare. Pop on over and say hello if you get a chance!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

with a thousand smiles they give to me free

Pie and Sovereign have had very full dance cards recently. Mom and I rode on Friday around our farm. The trails and honeysuckle were magical in the woods. We have wild roses that smell heavenly and mingle with the honeysuckle scent. There is also a Chinese Chestnut tree blooming, which is stinky up close, but from a distance creates a heady mix with the other two. When we were riding, honeysuckle blooms fell off and covered our boys rumps! I saw this white and yellow confetti all over Sovereign when they were walking in front and I realized that it must be honeysuckle. I turned around and Pie had the blooms all over his rump too. When we popped out into the field the bugs were awful - probably extra bad because of our honeysuckle "perfume".
On Saturday afternoon and evening Pie and Sovereign attended a graduation picnic! Our friends who live in the farmhouse on our property held a huge party for their daughter to celebrate her high school graduation. Pie and Sovereign's pasture fence is directly beside their lawn. The boys inspected the tent raising and entire pre-party set-up. The festivities started at 1pm and Pie and Sovereign were the biggest black ants at the picnic. They never left their post just in case a stray apple or carrot might come their way. They are so funny with no tact - they don't realize that they are staring. They just stand and stare at all the people and food and tiki torches and games - everything. Brian, Maizie, Mom and I went over to play tennis in the evening. Our tennis court is very close to an adjacent pasture, but Pie and Sovereign could not be coerced into coming into our pasture and leaving the party. They were so mesmerized by the music and laughter down at the farmhouse. What characters!
On Sunday morning Mom and I went for an early morning ride. It was cool and sunny and just perfect. We rode through our woods and then off our property and out to an adjacent woodland trail. We had to cut across a printing press business and Sovey left a manure present in their grass - we went back and cleaned it up later! We had another great ride.
Last evening I hopped on Pie bareback for a quick walkabout. I used a tall ladder to mount. Pie was sort of antsy so I ended up mounting from the off side. I have always heard that it is good to teach your horse to stand for you to mount from either side so we tried that and it worked well. He was so good even though Sovey was cantering around in the pasture trying to stir up trouble. Mom and Maizie were playing a Parcheesi game in the yard and Brian was milling about. Pie was so interested in the human activities that he couldn't be swayed into jumping around with Sovereign. Good thing for me!
Yesterday afternoon I was so tired from all our recent horse adventures that I came home for a nap. The breeze was blowing through our soft blue bedroom and it was so inviting - but some little Noodlebug beat me to it!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

upon us all a little rain must fall

Just a little rain! Hardly! We have had our share and then some. I did just plant trees for shade for our pastures so, really, I am not complaining, Hammer of the Rain Gods. (Please don't punish me with a drought!) Anyway, I do so love to go on and on about England...I think we must have moved there when I wasn't looking...or else I am joining my Northwest blogging friends, Paint Girl and Pony Girl. I know Kate at A Year With Horses has been having trouble with the rain and rich grass. I am being challenged with consistency. Pie and Sovereign need slow and quiet repetition. We have the slow and quiet, but repetition has been a struggle. So far they have made such fabulous progress, and I do believe that everything happens for a reason. Maybe this rain delay is nature's way of slowing our lessons down. That way I will be sure they truly have understood. We certainly have had plenty of time for grooming! Sovereign can use all the practice he can get in that department. He is honestly the most thinned-skinned Thoroughbred on the planet. He did so well in the beginning with grooming because he had a winter coat. Now he is a ticklish 1000 pound wiggle worm. He can not stand any of my grooming tools. He loves water, and most days splashes in the fresh water trough (ugh!) until I hose him down. I know at the track that they are routinely hosed off in any normal day so it is not surprising that he enjoys that. Still, it is important to learn not to wiggle so much when groomed, so we are working on that. Pie is another kettle of fish entirely. He LOVES being groomed because he is so itchy from the gnat bites. He gets in all sorts of contorted positions in order to get the full grooming treatment. They are both leading well and both are a joy to ride - when the weather cooperates! I rode Pie in a skort the other day because I hadn't planned on riding, but it was not raining for a few minutes so I tacked up. I sure had good contact! Talk about half-chaps! The skin on my legs did not get rubbed because we were only walking, but I wouldn't have liked that if we were doing anything else. Janet, my friend in Florida, has special fleece to cover her stirrup leathers because with their hot Florida temperatures they ride in shorts often. I need to get something like that. Pie went very well considering all he was faced with that afternoon. He wanted to trudge out through the high hay field rather than on the nice paths I mowed for him. There was some flat spots in the hay where deer had slept or else the rain had mushed and Pie was very scared of them. He side-stepped and acted like it was not solid ground. Next, we came to an apple on a fence post that our neighbor left for us. The grass was waving madly between us and the apple so Pie was having none of that. In addition, all the rainy "together time" has re-bonded Pie and Sovereign to be two tight peas in a pod again so Sovereign was back in the pastures screaming for us to return. Through it all, Pie responded to my leg cues and voice reassurance. I asked a lot of him that afternoon (which makes me mad at myself), but he was a good boy and spoiled me. I rode Sovereign yesterday afternoon and took my time with our cross-country departure, like I should have done with Pie. Sovereign and I walked around outside of the pastures so he and Pie could separate slowly and calmly. Just as we started out "for real" a clap of thunder boomed overhead. Sovey wanted to keep going, but I made us go back. My husband, Brian, was struck by lightning when I was pregnant with Maizie. Miraculously, he was ok (it blew his shoes off his feet and threw him to the ground), but I know not to mess around with storms. Pie and Sovereign never get upset when it storms. Years ago, our mares would always get hyper long before a storm actually hit. They just seemed to sense it. Pie and Sovey don't get too upset about much, fortunately!

Monday, June 8, 2009

philosophy is the talk on a cereal box

Here is a photo I took this evening of our garden. I planted this garden when Maizie was tiny and we were in the "in between years" without horses. Now that we are fostering Pie and Sovereign, my poor garden is very weedy - (I took the photo from far away - trust me - VERY weedy!). Below is a photo I took tonight of the unused hammock. I have a fabulous book that I would love to read in this hammock, but I can't seem to find the time! This is my first post in a week - the longest I have ever gone without blogging. (To be fair, I think that I might have just liked that picture of Brian loving up Sovey so much that I didn't want to bump it off with a new post!)
Still, I have been thinking about time and where it goes. Life is so fun and wonderful and it goes so fast anyway, but with horses in the picture - forget it - it flies by! In one week, Maizie finished school for the year so there were tons of activities for her and me, the room mother. It poured rain for a couple of days, so Pie and Sovey were mudballs and then, inside boys. Next, the sun came out with extra gnats and mosquitoes so Pie and Sovey were getting eaten alive. I tried to maintain a "normal" schedule with them, but I only got to ride Pie one evening. I was feeling very frustrated and then I started to read the posts of all my favorite blogging friends and I realized that with horses in our lives, it just is an amazing, unpredictable roller coaster ride! It never goes exactly like we planned. It seems like all of us wrestle with "regular" life and finding time to fit in our necessary "horse time". I am wondering about Summer, the season, as being the real culprit behind my current rushed feeling at the barn. The honeysuckle is so pungent and the days are long and I feel like I have to rush because if I don't I might miss something! I have to ride tonight because the trails are lovely now, I have to groom multiple times because the boys are so itchy, I have to cut the grass because it rained so much and it is a jungle, I have to plant the trees because the ground will get too hard later, I have to play tennis, I have to run, I have to picnic, I have to...I have to...whew! It is all Summer's fault!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

people smile and tell me I'm the lucky one

Pie and Sovereign live on the farm "Honeysuckle Faire" with my parents. Brian, my husband, and Maizie, our daughter, and I live 3 miles away in the adorable little Nutmeg Cottage that Brian restored to look like a quaint English cottage for us! I drive over to see the horses a zillion times a day, but Brian and Maizie don't always get as much horse time as they require. Fortunately, we are all equally crazy in love with animals! Last evening we all came over to groove about and enjoy the sweeties. Above is a photo of Brian bonding with Sovereign.

Here we are riding the boys. (Maizie was our photographer last evening.) Somewhere along the line in our 11 years of marriage I convinced Brian to take riding lessons. He did very well! He learned to walk, trot (posting too), and canter. He had a nice seat and soft hands. I ride Pie and Sovereign almost entirely with my seat and legs, and of course they don't have bits in their mouths, so it was a little tricky for Brian last evening. Sovereign took care of him, like I knew he would.
Our whole ride was perfumed with the fragrant honeysuckle. Maizie got a close-up shot of some.

We walked in the pastures. Next time, we might venture out onto the bridle paths. Pie and Sovereign were the very best of boys! I love them so! Maizie was a helpful horse assistant and talented photographer. She patiently waited while Mommy and Daddy rode. Brian is the calmest, kindest man in the whole world. Sovereign sensed this and was very good to him. We had a lovely evening ride! Oh, what joy!