Saturday, February 27, 2010

Beautiful Blogger Award

Kate over at A Year With Horses kindly bestowed this Beautiful Blogger Award to me and my blog. Kate makes blogging look easy. She is a talented writer and often conveys difficult ideas about horses with detail and well-thought out logic. I am very honored to receive this award from Kate. Thanks Kate!
The rules of this award are:
Link back to the person who gave you the award.
Tell 7 things about yourself.
Pass the award to 15 other bloggers.
Please don't feel you have to participate if I choose you. You may have already won this award a zillion times!
Here are my 7 things:
1. I gave up eating meat in January of 1979. I was 11 years old and in 6th grade. I have never had meat since. At that time, vegetarianism in Pennsylvania (Pennsyltucky) was a little difficult. I remember ordering a Single Cheese with Everything except the meat at our local Wendy's. They would charge me 50 cents and had a special "Miscellaneous" button for me. I wish I had given up sugar at the same time (the yin and yang). I spent too many years with too much sugar coursing through my veins and not enough protein to balance it all out. Luckily, I have it all sorted now.
2. I spent my college and graduate school summers, and 9 years after that riding in the truck with a large animal veterinarian. My adventures with "Doc" were amazing, hysterical, horrific, sad, and educational all rolled into one. We treated cows, pigs, horses, goats, sheep, cats, dogs, buffalo, shaped me more than anything else in my entire life. As a large animal assistant, I learned how to clear my mind and slow my breathing so that I could calm terrified horses. We didn't use tranquilizers as much as equine vets do today. Doc would often stay out of sight and send me into stalls to inoculate difficult horses. I draw on that experience daily.
3. I am married to a Renaissance Man. Brian painted tromp l'oeil paintings throughout our house. He plays the guitar, the piano, the sitar, the banjo, and the harmonica. If I hear a song that I like I will ask him to figure it out and he can just start playing it. He reads quantum mechanics books for fun. He listens to audio tapes of the writings of Proust. He is extremely intelligent, which I think is most evident by how humble he is. (For example, I just asked him what instruments he can play and he said, "none".) I am crazy in love with him and grateful to have found him.
4. I love fonts. I drool over the House Industries website. One of my favorite movies is Helvetica.
5. My mother always called me the "Absent-Minded Professor" when I was growing up. Now, I really am a professor and I don't think I am absent-minded in the least!
6. In the early 1990's, I had Room with a View and Howards End put on audio tape. I listened to those tapes so much that I still inadvertently use lines from the movies in everyday speech. Now, my Maizie and her friends have fell hard for A&E's Pride and Prejudice. They are running around quoting and imitating Mrs. Bennet or Mr. Collins!
7. I am bursting with exciting news about a new project that I will be launching sometime next week. I have been working (with the kind help of some fellow bloggers) on this idea since January. I am determined to have all the kinks sorted before I post about stay tuned! It will combine my love of horses, and graphic design, and FONTS, and art. Oh...I just can't wait!
Thanks again, Kate, for choosing me for the Beautiful Blogger Award.
Here are the Beautiful Blogs I selected. All are lovely and worth a visit!
1. Noodles and Noodles - (This is a blog by my daughter, Maizie. At 11 years of age, she amazes us at every turn. She does this blog completely on her own!)
15. Bay State Brumby - I know you already won this! I just had to include you!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

we've got a thing, that's called radar love

I am continually surprised by the amount of understanding Sovereign displays when it comes to my intentions. Without wanting to sound like I am out there where the buses don't go, or at least out there too far, I think Sovereign knows what I am thinking. It isn't too hard to imagine that without speech, a horse might develop other sensory skills to communicate. Sovereign has a truly heightened ability to sense what I am up to, I would pose, in my goofy, human-speech sort of way. I noticed his mind reading tricks even early on when he arrived last year, but we really are getting in sync with each other. Here is an example of his recent intuitive schemes.
I attempt to groom both horses every day and then "work" with one horse. The next day I work with the other horse. Sovey is very aware of whose day it is. He definitely keeps track of the order. I can tell this by his behaviour on "his" day at the gate. He wants out of the pasture when it is his turn. But, Pie always wants to be first. Pie is bigger and slightly bullies Sovereign. On Pie's day, it doesn't matter, but when it is Sovey's day, Pie still pushes and bullies. (Pie doesn't keep track of days. Every day is Pie's day in Pie's mind!) Recently, Sovey was being pushed back at the gate even though it was his day. He knew I was getting frustrated because I couldn't get the big lummox Pie out of my way. Sovey looked at me long and hard like he was trying to tell me something - like "Timmy is in the well" - and then he walked away from the gate and started pawing the ground like he was going to roll. I couldn't believe he was going to roll at a time like this. I almost yelled at him, but something made me shut up. He slowly pawed and turned preparing to roll. Pie caught sight of this. Pie loves to roll at the same time as Sovey and usually practically flops down on Sovey. So Pie lumbered over there and started to fold, and just that quick, Sovey popped up and trotted over to me and literally jumped into the halter I was holding. Out we went with no problems and Pie was completely befuddled!
Today, I planned to ride Pie. I had put a few flakes of alfalfa for the boys to enjoy while I cleaned stalls and buckets, but stupidly, I had put the hay in the far pasture. I knew that in order to ride I was going to have to wade through the knee deep snow to retrieve Pie. I was in the barn thinking really hard about this and I thought, oh, I so wish Sovey would bring Pie around to the barn. You won't believe me if I say that, right that second I looked out the window and saw Sovey lift his head from the hay and start cantering away from the alfalfa toward the barn. I know the horses could not possibly see me. I stood there in disbelief. Pie (chubby, hungry boy) didn't want to leave his beloved alfalfa, but he had to go see where Sovey was cantering off to in such a hurry. Sovereign stopped completely still in front of the gate right beside the barn! How could it be? I loved him up and thanked him profusely. I know it sounds like a coincidence, but you had to see him in action. Sovereign is smart. And, Pie, well...Pie is cute.
I don't have any pictures of our wonderful ride today, mainly because my last three posts all look the same - white snow and two bay horses or white snow and two bay ears so I left the camera at home. I do wish I had a video of our incredible ride today, though. Pie was a very good boy and the sun made an appearance! We headed out through the woods on a path where the snow wasn't so deep. Unfortunately, we ran into tree limbs and brambles that had fallen with the weight of the snow. I led Pie to a different trail and the snow was so deep for him, but he gave it his all. My mom's dog, Eby, was leading the way, which was thoughtful of her, but caused us a bit of an upset. Eby's slow, waddling pace, makes me hold Pie's reins a little too tight to prevent him from stepping on her. He doesn't understand that he could hurt her and she will not yield to us. I have discovered that the only way to ride this horse, (and probably all horses) is without any pressure on the reins at all. I know that sounds crazy, but there it is. He is bitless anyway, but I still have to completely release the head pressure to get Pie to settle and stop hurrying. We finally managed to pass her and then we really had quiet, calm, fun. We investigated all our former (before the deep snow came) haunts. We got to go on a trail that we never went on before. Back in the field, our barstool was empty, and Pie was not pleased. He snorted and stamped his foot! Spoiled horse! He dove his head into the snow at the base of the barstool and came out with something shriveled and red and smooshy. It must have been a frozen relic of an apple because Pie slobbered it up and made his applesauce noises. It was just divine to be out in the deep snow on big boy Pie.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Always smiling, never sad, so fine

Once, I read a book about a woman who brought her horse into the house to live with her and her husband. I thought her husband was very kind to tolerate the whole situation. He made enormous changes to their home to accommodate the mare in the house. As I was leaving the barn this afternoon, I felt the usual pang I feel when I leave the horses behind. I would not go as far as the woman in the book, but I do think it is a shame that, especially in winter, I only get to spend a few hours a day with Pie and Sovereign. I dream about living in a tiny cottage that is plopped down in the middle of a horse pasture. All the outside doors will be Dutch doors so the horses can poke their heads inside if they want to. (I know, I know - what about the flies coming in? This little insect problem has always messed up my dream. How come when I go to England or watch an English movie no one has screens in the windows or doors? They can have Dutch doors to the outside. Are there no bugs in England?) But back to my situation now. I love Pie and Sovereign so much and I really hate when I have to leave them.
I have been riding both horses bareback at the walk on the driveway or in the tiny paths that I made with the snow blower. We got about 24 inches of snow so far and it has probably settled down to 16 inches in most spots. The drifts are still big around the back side of our barn. I rode Pie through some of the deeper snow on Saturday. He was good but I kept worrying that he would fold up at any minute to roll! He was carrying his head low like he was looking for a good rolling spot. That made me nervous.
It seems to me like both horses are getting a little bored with this deep snow cover. Our rides are short and predictable and even their pasture time seems a little tiresome. I put hay out for them, but they just stand around in the snow and look terribly bored. With the shallow snow (when I took these photos) they dug down for grass and mud and roots. They don't seem to burrow down in this deep stuff. Today I decided to try something different to liven up the party. First, I groomed Sovey in the forebay and then together (me on the ground) we walked laps in the driveway. The snow hasn't melted even on the edges, so there is no place at all to graze. I threw some hay down for him so we could pretend like we were out for a grazing walk. I could tell he loved the change. Of course he wanted to cross the road to the church and auto auction. He is certain that it is a racetrack, I think. Next, I repeated the whole routine with Pie. Pie was good, too, but he was very annoyed that there was no grass on this walk. He would periodically dive into snow mounds "just to double check" that there wasn't any grass hiding in there. When Pie and I were walking, Sovereign started racing around and whinnying and bucking and doing the cutest little bunny hops with his front legs that I have ever seen. Pie and I just stopped and stared at him. It was really funny because it didn't seem like Sovey was actually upset. We weren't leaving him - we were in plain view. It was more like he wanted another turn on the driveway again. For some reason, both horses were really affectionate today during their grooming and walks. Grooming Thoroughbreds is usually like grooming a tickly, prickly, wiggly monster. Today, I groomed two quiet, calm, thick-skinned lovebugs. If only I could bring them home with me.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

There ain't no difference between the two

This post looks just like my last post, but we have added FOURTEEN INCHES of snow since last time! Happily, we have kept the sunshine and blue skies - hooray!

Sovey does his impression of a llama.

And Pie sticks out his tongue for the camera.

Here is a drift in one paddock.

The day before all this snow landed on us I had the opportunity to ride Pie bareback. I haven't ridden him bareback since before I went to Florida. He and I headed out through the woods and around the entire farm. He was a perfect angel. He knew he was a good boy too. He kept looking back at me like, "See, I am a good boy, too, just like Sovey." I want to philosophize in a later post about why I think Pie was so well behaved.

Now, I don't know when I will be able to ride again. The snow is fluffy, but it is so deep. I do turn them out in it, but I don't know about riding. Please let me know if anyone has any thoughts about riding in deep snow. I think it seems like it might be bad for their legs, but maybe I am being too overprotective.

I shot this video of the boys playing this morning. Turn down your sound - there is a high pitched noise!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

In the sweet sunshower

Today was beautiful with new snow and seldom seen sunshine!!! I rode Sovey on Monday (perfect) and Pie on Tuesday (not so perfect) and this morning I was eager to get the stalls and buckets cleaned so I could hop on someone for a sunshine snow ride. Above, Sovey is looking toward the deer's hideout.

Here is ol' Pie's snowy whisker face.

Sovey rolling in the snow...

...and Pie chasing him around after the roll.

Sovey came over and said, "Pick me for your ride today, Julie." I did! I slipped on his bitless bridle and rode him bareback. I had many layers and my Carhartt coveralls so I felt safe even if I would get tossed! Sovey is a good boy, though, and I had no trouble.

Here is a blurry cellphone shot of us heading out to the far field.

And, mom took this one of me. I look like a goof in my coveralls - and the red fleece helmet cover - totally "the Great Gazoo" from the Flintstones!!! Later, my mom started talking about me riding Pie today. I told her that I didn't ride Pie!!! She took our photo AND fed Sovey carrots, yet she insisted it was Pie. Our boys are such twins! Me bareback should have been the giveaway - I don't know if I would chance that with Pie Pie in his current state! He is quite a handful. I needed my saddle and stirrups on Tuesday!