Thursday, October 28, 2010

Everyone knows it's Windy

Don't I look full of myself in this photo? I am laughing at the chubb-y-licious Pie gobbling carrots from my mother. It has been very windy lately, but Pie doesn't mind as long as the carrots find their way into the carrot hole.

Here is Sovey, in need of a tissue. He doesn't like getting his nose cleaned out. I have to sneak it everyday and he isn't too pleased, no matter how softly I do it.

Nice photo of me hanging on while Pie gobbles apples that he tossed off the barstool. (I grab mane usually in case of a sudden bolt!) Both horses have been amazingly good through the recent extreme wind. I do some figure eights and circles in the ring with Pie for a few minutes to make sure that he knows I am up there, and then we head out. Sovey doesn't require such preparation. He is quiet right out of the pasture. Today the leaves were like little missiles flying into Pie's face and mane, yet he held it together. It was nice and sunny so I didn't want to miss out on a ride, even with the wind. I am afraid that today might have been my last warm riding day. Brian just came inside and I put my hands on his face and his skin was chilly!
Saturday we are taking Maizie to New York City. Below is the "Surprise Ticket" we gave her for her birthday. We had hoped to ride horses in Central Park, but apparently the one place that still rents horses has let their permit expire. Therefore, we will be riding metal ponies, the kind with two wheels. Oh well. You know me and my crazy imagination...I will pretend that I am on the regal Pie or silly Sovey. Someday!
Here is my favorite clip (3:48) from Hair of horses in Central Park. I especially love how the (trumpets?) sound like a whinny at the very beginning. Now, if I could only teach Pie and Sovey such fancy footwork! Have a great horsey weekend!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Oh, what fun it all would be

Today is Maizie's 12th birthday! I have been busy with the annual baking and party preparations.

Here is the birthday girl picking apples for the horses with our antique apple-picking tool.
Even though I didn't get to ride yesterday, I do have some exciting riding news. On Thursday, Maizie and I rode an ELEPHANT!!!! Can you believe it? Maizie had a school field trip to the Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire and I was a chaperone. I heard someone talking about the elephant rides and I couldn't believe it. We found the elephant, Lady Wrinkles, and got in line. I am not able to attend circuses or zoos because I am not much for caged/performing animals. I learned while sizing up the whole situation, that Lady Wrinkles lives at a nearby farm in the afternoons and evenings and she has many dog friends. The area where we rode her had good footing and many trees. She looked very well cared for and her trainer seemed concerned about her and kind, so I decided that I should take the opportunity. After all, Brian spent 7 months in Africa and he never rode an elephant -(Lady Wrinkles was obviously an Asian elephant). I adore elephants almost as much as horses. We sat on a thick, soft blanket that was right on her back. Her trainer cautioned us to not touch her, which was impossible. Her sweet, giant ear draped over our legs and I just had to touch it! He frowned and Maizie apologized for me, saying that I just couldn't help it! Who could? What a view from up there. Pie is tall, but this was something else again. Her eyes were soft and sweet peeking out from very long eyelashes.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Across the evening sky all the birds are leaving

Maizie kindly captured Sunday's perfect ride on Pie. (Ignore my horrid equitation pinky in every photo - too many ballet years!)

Sunshine dappled shadows and a big, sweet horse. Does it get any better? No.

Why are these horses so good?

I am grateful beyond words that both horses allow me to ride them without much fuss. Sometimes I laugh at myself thinking that I am not asking for much. I am not asking them to compete or jump huge fences or perform intricate patterns. Actually, though, I am asking an enormous amount when you think about it. Every single day, I pluck one of them from the pasture and groom him and tack him up and ride around the perimeter, woods, and fields of our farm in all wind and weather. These photos are from Sunday on Pie, but yesterday was Sovey - bareback. I am 43 years old (and they are 5 and 6!) and I find it incredible that these two horses allow me to just hop on everyday and ride without any sort of ring work. I enjoy seeing the trees and birds and fields and light on horseback and they don't mind!!!! In fact, I think they like it too. Mom calls them our backyard ponies.

That is exactly what they are in Thoroughbred clothing!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

apples of the valley hold the seeds of happiness

If I fully describe the rides and weather that we have been having here, you wouldn't believe me! I am so spoiled. The light in our woods is golden and the horses act as if they know that these days are special. Cool temperatures, no bugs, yellow and red leaves, happy, sweet horses. It doesn't get any better. Yesterday, Sovey was the best he has ever been. I was supposed to ride him on Monday, but Maizie had off school and Brian and I took her canoeing. Sovey knows if he misses a day, and he is very eager to go when it is finally his turn again. I groomed him while he munched hay. Munching helps him forget how much the curry comb tickles. He closed his eyes and allowed me to get off every speck of mud. It was a very peaceful grooming session. Pie was happily munching hay in the small paddock nearby. Before tacking up, I walked Sovey out with me to the far field to turn off the electic fence out there. Both horses lead nicely now, with zero grass diving like we had last fall. Back under the forebay, I put the lead over Sovey's neck and he stood perfectly still for me to tack up. He doesn't move even when I go into the tackroom to get things. We rode out and around the entire farm. He was quiet and not rushed for the whole ride. Pie screamed a few times for us, but Sovey pretends he doesn't hear it. Sovey jumped once at a tree that a neighbor cut down. Pie jumped at this too, the other day. I wonder if that tree gives off a "death" color or something, because both horses jumped not like they were shying, but like they were distressed. Weird. Then, onward we went for the rest of our perfect ride. After untacking, I walked Sovey around the property. He really liked that, I think. He investigated some new groundhog holes and different areas that we don't ride near. We finished with him gobbling some of our luscious apples.
Later in the evening, Brian, Maizie and I all went back to the barn to play tennis. Mom joined us and - hooray - so did Pie and Sovey! They were grazing right near the court. I put some hay and apples there to encourage them to stay. They were with us the whole time we played. The sun was setting and our town's Halloween parade was getting under way with marching bands. Two dark horses grazing and leaves rustling over the tennis court. Sigh. What a life!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

When sundown pales the sky

Yesterday I rode the Sovey in the gorgeous light ochre of our woods. The colors are just beginning to turn and the Locust leaves fluttered down around us like snowflakes. I know Sovey likes riding as much as I do. He is the funniest horse. He really likes humans. He doesn't want to be hugged or touched, but he wants to be with you. Riding him is a joy. And, special bonus, I only heard Pie whinny for us 4 times, which is a huge improvement. He is learning that we leave, but we do come back. Sovey did not want to go into the woods near the Frisbee golf stand. I circled him and didn't force him and turned him a different way. We ran into a neighbor and talked to him for a long while. Sovey enjoys these visits. Then, I turned him back toward the Frisbee golf stand and squeezed him forward and he went into the woods and by the scary thing. Good boy, Sovey! Today I didn't have time to ride, but I did spend some time with the boys this morning in their pasture. I attempted to pick up manure in the pastures, but it is difficult because Pie comes up every second to be hugged and massaged. He is so loving.
I never got to measure Sovey this week with the stick I borrowed from Maizie's instructor. She has a lesson tomorrow and I have to return it so I needed to measure him this evening after dark. I really don't like to do quick, unusual things to horses when it changes their routine unnecessarily. I think it is a recipe for accidents. I had faith in Sovey, that he might enjoy some special attention, though, and not mind at all. I slipped his halter on and walked him into the barn. My mom was waiting there with some apples and snacks in a bucket. Sovey munched happily while I measured him and then walked him out and put him back with Pie. These horses are so good natured and willing! Oh, and Sovereign is 16.1. He seems so small compared to the big boy, Pie.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Can I handle the seasons of my life?

Here is a shadow shot I took with my cell phone this morning on my ride back to the barn on dear Pie. I broke my rule about no cameras for a quick few seconds because he was such an angel today and loved every single second of our ride. You can see how wet the court is with puddles. We have had a few dreary rainy days and I think Pie was in a good mood with the sunshine and milder temperatures. My bareback ride on him on Tuesday was pleasant, but I did not attempt introducing him to the barstool-apple-friends' new playground. Today he was so good and I had a saddle, so I decided to go for it. First, I walked him out and around the field and cleared my mind of any preconceived notions that he would react badly. Our last closeup view of the playground was on the day of our crazy bad ride when Pie was snorting like a dragon. I know that we humans invite trouble by anticipating bad behaviours and I think even picturing them can be dangerous. I had to relax my posture and drop the reins and forget that horrid day. I pretended that I was seeing the playground for the first time and I could also see two yummy apples on the barstool! Hooray! But, I have to admit that I was slightly distracted when I heard the recycling truck approaching. I couldn't believe my timing, but the truck arrived exactly as Pie arrived at the barstool. The truck's air brakes hissed loudly and then the driver whipped glass bottles into the truck. The flags and swings on the new playground were waving and Pie...did absolutely NOTHING! He happily munched his apples and softly sighed. Ho Hum. Hooray for the good boy!

Here is another shot of the very best boy.

Yesterday, my Sovey was also the very best boy, just when I needed him most. All morning the rain drizzled down and made the prospects of riding, slim. After I returned from taking Maizie to the bus at 7am, I heard a scuffle around our house and saw Noodlebug fly into one of our back windows. I called to her and saw a stray cat run off and poor Noodle was bloody and beat up. Her little white paws were a mess. I cleaned her up and Brian and I tried to help her get comfortable on her window seat pillow/bed. The cuts were superficial, but I think it was her first experience with meanness. Maybe I am assigning human traits to her reaction, but it looked like she was shaken in her trust - even of us. I get worked up about these kinds of things and to top it all, I had a dentist appointment at noon to fix a broken filling. Ugh. Talk about depressing. I left Brian with our little kitty patient and the rain continued to pour. Happily, the dentist fixed my tooth quickly (and practically painlessly) and then, when I snuck in a quick visit to the horses at 2pm the rain stopped and the sun came out! I quickly groomed and tacked up the Sovey-boy and he spoiled me with a perfect ride around the trails in the woods and back. I gave him apples and grass and stuck him back out in the pasture by 3:15pm just as the sky opened up into another pouring rain. It rained the rest of the night! Our dear little Noodlebug was scared and sore all evening, but she is doing very well today, I am relieved to say.

Just now when I was getting Pie's photos off my cell phone, I found the above photo. I took this picture one day after my mom and I rode together. This is how she throws her saddle and saddle pad and girth in the grass when she is untacking. Every time I see this, it cracks me up. She is almost 67 years old and it looks like some kid was riding and just untacked and threw everything everywhere. After we ride, it always looks like a bomb went off in our barn and tack room and forebay. She will kill me if I don't tell the whole story - to be fair - Sovey isn't the easiest boy to untack. He can get very ouchy and sensitive to the untacking process. You have to be very gentle with him. He is getting better, and we are working on it, but she just whips everything off in a pile. (No need to caution us about what we are doing to the saddle - we know!) I so welcome these funny moments at the barn lately - this fall has been tough on me with my little girl, Maizie, heading off to middle school in the middle of the night. What will happen when she goes to college? I better get a whole herd of Thoroughbreds by then to help me through it. Just kidding, Mom and Brian!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Here Come the Nice

Today was dreary and gray. It was the kind of cold day that spritzes rain and makes you feel like climbing back into bed. I over-dressed in two sweaters so that it seemed like I was at the beach on a hot day. This helps me pretend that winter isn't really coming any time soon. I groomed Pie in the cross-ties and carefully introduced him to the stick I borrowed from Maizie's riding instructor. After a few minutes of rubbing it all over his muzzle and neck and withers, I was able to measure him. Pie is officially 16.3. His croup seems much higher, which I know isn't too good for confirmation, but, oh well, he is round and adorable all at the same time. I slipped on his bridle for a bareback ride - (I was really taking this summer day thing a bit far because Pie has been feeling pretty good with our chilly nights!) We headed out across the field to my mom's house. I figured I could bribe him with some carrots from her. I saw her television was on through her sliding glass doors on the second floor and I spied Eby's black donut tail, but no matter how loud I yelled, neither Eby or my mom could hear me. I could see that she was watching Good Morning America and it looked like she was on the phone. Pie pawed the ground demanding his carrots, but we just weren't loud enough. I found out later that my mom was on the phone talking to Brian, asking him where I was!!! I get the giggles every time I imagine big ol' Pie outside her window looking in, pawing for his carrots, and me yelling, and my mom asking Brian where I am! Our life is a circus - but it is a good one anyway!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Will the wind ever remember the names it has blown in the past?

I call this picture "Sovey without a Christmas tree" because it reminds me of the Christmas show "The House Without a Christmas Tree". Do you remember that show? Jason Robards was the grumpy old father and every time they went to a commercial they would make the scene into a graphic just like Sovey looks, above. Sovey should never be without a Christmas tree because he is the best boy in the whole world. (Well, he shares that title with Pie!) I don't know why I am talking about Christmas on October 1st! Ok, back to autumn...I rode Sovey this morning all over the farm. It was extremely windy following our flood yesterday. There was zero reason for Sovereign to be good other than he is good. We even rode out to the new wooden playland/swing set at our apple barstool friends' house, and Sovey didn't bat an eyelash at the flags and swings in the wind. He munched his apples and stared at the new contraption. I love him so much! After our ride, mom and I grazed the horses under an apple tree. Sovey closed his eyes as he quietly and neatly chewed his apples. Of course, Pie chomped madly, grinding the apples into applesauce and apple cider and flung apple mush in all directions while he swatted at flies. They are so different and very funny. Talk about the odd couple - Pie definitely is Oscar Madison to Sovey's Felix Unger!