Monday, November 29, 2010

Ticking away the moments

Here is my little Sovey looking like a sweet reindeer. Does your horse remind you of other animals? Sovereign has always reminded me of a deer. Sometimes he also looks like a bunny rabbit, especially in the summer, but at this time of the year, he reminds me of a sweet, silly reindeer. Last night, Maizie and I were shopping and we just kept seeing little Soveys on wrapping paper and gift cards...everywhere we looked, there was Sovey.
Here is a stamp I purchased this year. It is from Expressionery and it is called "Aspen Deer". It has our return address too, but I bought it because it really makes me smile and think of my Sovey-boy.

Sovereign looks very unhappy in both photos posing as a reindeer, but he really was happy, I think. Sovey is a horse who loves attention, although he is only learning how to reciprocate in a loving way. We joke that he is always saying, "I love you. Don't touch me! I love you. Don't touch me!" I put my winter gloves on his ears and he was happy, then mad, happy, then mad.
Back in the days when I showed, my pony, Penny Lane, would fall asleep at the "In" gate waiting for our classes. Once someone took my riding gloves and stuck them on Penny Lane's ears. Then, everyone else started doing the same thing and all the horses were looking at each other with gloves on their ears. It was the most hysterical thing I had ever seen.
My rides this holiday have been incredible. Both horses spoiled me by not worrying too much about the wind. Then, yesterday and today, the wind left! Hooray. Subdued sunshine in Raw Sienna and long shadows, and late November rides with no wind. Happy, light-hearted trotting through the fields from both horses. Pie, yesterday, and Sovereign today. Sigh. Both boys are so loving too, while we ride and after. Even Sovey today. It is as if they know I am leaving soon for our trip to Florida. I ache with sadness about leaving them. I know they enjoy the break, and have excellent care, but I still wish they could come with me.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

I dig a pony

Here is a fun picture of me on Pie and my friend Kathy Savory on Sovereign taken Saturday.
In 1980, my parents bought me an adorable dark bay pony, Penny Lane. I posted about her before here and here. Penny Lane, aka "Star" had been owned by Kathy Savory (isn't Kathy's last name lovely?). Kathy needed a bigger horse to show and event so she sold the sweet and impish Penny Lane to us. (Coincidentally, Pie REALLY resembles Penny Lane. He has her same gorgeous almond-shaped eyes, as you can see, above.) Kathy was a few years older than me, and I remember idolizing her teenager lifestyle (she could drive!) and her courage as a rider. I groomed for her at a week-long show in Middleburg and at an event in New Jersey. Both instances taught me that I did not have the guts to ever attempt the riding Kathy did. The fences that she took in the woods on these crazy inclines while being timed looked nuts to me. I remember grooming and riding all the horses around for cooldown and thinking that I had the better end of the deal! The last time I saw Kathy I was 13 years old, but I always wondered where she was and if she was still riding.
Well, Kathy is still riding - she owns and events 3 horses in Maryland! Thanks to the wonder of the internet we reconnected after not seeing each other for 30 years and she drove up to ride with me on Saturday!

Last Christmas when we were in Florida I got an email from Kathy wondering if I had ever owned a pony named Penny Lane. She had stumbled upon my blog apparently because she recognized my photo on my post about Walton's Mountain!

Sovey loved Kathy and was a perfect boy for our entire outing.

The morning sun gave way to dark skies and wind, but we didn't care. The horses seemed to sense that this was an extra special ride and they had wonderfully willing attitudes the whole time. One neighbor had 3 sets of sheets on the clothes line. The wind got hold of the fitted ones and lifted them like sails. Pie was having none of that, but Sovey and Kathy pushed us on in such a confident manner that Pie had no choice but to act like a good boy.

Maizie, the photographer, captured the beauty of two Tbreds in late autumn light.

Pie and Sovey gobble the last bits of their barstool apples, above. While we rode, Kathy told me about her horses and eventing. She is in the heart of serious horse country in Maryland and trains with some of the best. She had the opportunity to take her horses to Ocala a few years ago and we both talked of our dreams of living part-time in Aiken or Ocala.
We had a hysterical mix-up in our conversation at one point. I was telling her about our trip to the track to see Found in the Fog. I said that Brian had been such a patient husband this week by taking me there and listening to all my horsey ramblings. Kathy asked, "How old is he?" I answered, "Forty-seven." Shocked, she asked, "Really, and he is still racing?" And, I said that he runs the mile now. Then, we started cracking up - she was asking about Found in the Fog and I thought she was talking about Brian!!!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

and I bet on another to show

Here is Sovereign's FULL brother, Found in the Fog.

Obvious by my round moon face with a deliriously goofy smile in every photo, I was in love with this horse!

Brian and I made our way to the racetrack yesterday to meet Sovey's former owner/trainer who is Found in the Fog's owner/trainer too. I liked this man immediately. He was slight, and quiet and kind. Sovereign's real name is Suave Lord. We call him Sovey. His former owner calls him "Suavey" (Swauv-ee) which is absolutely endearing when he says it.

The entire time I was with Found in the Fog I was smiling and shaking. I couldn't help myself. I had such mixed emotions - good and worried. I felt completely overflowing with emotion. Brian was snapping all these photos and I kept thinking about one of my favorite blogging friends, dear Kacy, from allhorsestuff. She has this hysterical gadget on the side of her blog that says, "Two fatties meet" taken on the day she met her sweet Wa mare. (By the way, I don't think they look like two fatties in that photo. They look great.) Kacy's quote was running through my mind because let's just say that yesterday one fatty met one horse in need of good hay and sunshine and grass. Don't get me wrong Found in the Fog's owner is very good to him - especially by trying to find a good home for him. It is the industry.

I am not able to take Found in the Fog now.

I wrote a very difficult email last evening explaining why we can't take Found in the Fog now. We are just about to leave on an extended trip (4 weeks) and I don't think it would be fair to this horse or our own horses to rush an introduction. That just isn't how I do things. When I got Pie and Sovey in 2009 I asked that they arrive in February immediately after our return from Florida. That gave me 11 months to get them relaxed and happy in their new environment with daily groomings and attention before I left them. I would want that same amount of time to introduce a new horse. Found in the Fog's owners are interested in finding this horse a good home soon and can't afford to wait until I return and decide if I want him. I don't blame them in the least. In addition, I haven't even had the time to process whether I really want another horse. We have never sold a horse and we have had horses since 1957 so a decision to get another horse has 20 - 30 year implications.
I am very happy with the dynamics at our farm right now. I do not know much about the herd dynamics of 3 horses. If anyone has thoughts about that, please comment. I would love to know more. This Saturday a friend who sold me my sweet Penny Lane is coming to ride with me. She currently owns three horses so I will be interested to talk to her. It seems like I am still scrambling to get information about a decision I already made. I felt pressured to make a quick decision because I want Found in the Fog to end up in the best home he can get to quickly. If my ambivalence in anyway caused delay and a possible worse outcome for this horse I would not be able to handle it. I think the best thing is to step aside now and let his owner find him a good home. I will still gather information and think and pray that it all works out for this horse. If I change my mind in January maybe it will all work out for me too if it is supposed to. That is all I know to do right now.

UPDATE!!!  We brought Found in the Fog home to us in January 2011.  Click here for that story.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Found in the Fog!

These photos, taken today when I was riding Sovereign bareback, give a hint of how gorgeous our weather and light have been. Today was easily 60 degrees and the yellows and greens are amazing!!! These shots were taken with my beat up cell phone - the one that takes the mystical, foggy photos, but at least it captured some of what we were seeing. The ride on Pie yesterday was equally beautiful. The boys are sleepy and calm in our warm, yellow snowglobe with leaves falling around us like snowflakes.

Ha! This picture makes me crack up laughing out loud (so much so, that I just woke Noodlebug from a snuggly catnap!). This looks like Sovey is wearing a hat (a goofy hat) but actually it is my mom standing in front of Sovereign feeding him carrots and she is wearing the (goofy) hat!!! This reminds me of a photo we have of me on my pony Dimples and my mother is holding Dimples and the angle it was taken makes my mom look like she has a tail! I will have to post that sometime.

Here is Pie, back in the small paddock looking for us. Of course, we are in plain view, but dear, slow, Pie is mixed-up about our location.

Sovey's adorable ears in the woods.

Our shadow on the driveway. (Pie had a big gash on him and I had put Neosporin on it earlier and had the tube still in my pocket. I whipped it out on the driveway and didn't see it there when I snapped the photo of Sovey. Oops. Of course, my crazy cell camera puts that in perfect focus!)

After this lovely dash through the woods, we tumbled out into the hayfield. One neighbor was using a leaf blower and Sovey didn't care, but I was on bareback so I quietly gave the universal symbol for "cut". He kindly stopped and waited until we passed. Comically, two houses down we came upon a whole army of lawncare workers. There must have been 5 or 6 using leaf blowers, lawn mowers, rakes - it was crazy. Sovey did nothing - good boy.
After my ride, I was out in our far pastures picking up manure and the boys wondered up there. They were so sleepy and quiet, following me around in the sunshine. I would pick up a pile and Pie would walk up and softly push his head into my hands for some scratching. I would stop and love him up and walk on and get back to work. He would follow me and ask for more loving. This went on all the rest of the afternoon. I can't tell you how perfect this day was for me.
And, then, this evening, we had some very exciting news! Awhile ago, I posted about the possibility of seeing Sovereign's full brother. Sovey's racing name is Suave Lord and one night in July I was on my computer looking up his pedigree and watching replays of his races. Somehow, I stumbled on a site that lists Thoroughbred Dams and all their foals and I found Sovey's mother, Western Groom and saw her babies. I realized that one of them, Found in the Fog, was sired by Suave Prospect, just like Sovey! They were full brothers! Then, I searched for the whereabouts of Found in the Fog and saw that he was racing at Philadelphia Park - 3 hours from here! We just couldn't seem to coordinate a visit, but I kept it in the back of my mind as something to sort out soon.
On Sunday evening our whole family went to see the movie Secretariat. This was a big deal for me because: 1. I don't see animal movies because I cry too much and 2. I don't watch horse races unless it is a replay and I know that all the horses survived without injury. Like, for example, I have never seen The Horse Whisperer or Seabiscuit because I couldn't physically take the headache from crying. I know the Secretariat story so I chanced it and did end up crying through the whole movie because it was beautiful. With the visions of the night before dancing in my head, I read my emails the next morning and found one from Found in the Fog's owners asking me if I was interested in owning him because they are ready to retire him!!!!!!!!!!!!! Talk about a loaded deck! I was definitely "on tilt" (as in, not thinking straight).
I am practical about animal ownership and motherhood. I can only handle one. One cat, one child...and in the case of horses, one would be cruel, so two. Really, seriously, I do not want or need a third horse. I like to do things well, not hurried, or halfway, and my horse time allotment per day is perfect at two. If I do not take him, they will retire him to the Thoroughbred rescue organization, Turning For Home. not see this horse would be we are heading down/over to Philadelphia on Wednesday. Honestly, I am freaking out!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

lyin' to the races

Yesterday my mom and I headed out for a gorgeous November ride on Pie and Sovey. Our temperatures have been in the 30's overnight, but warm up to the 50's by noon. The boys are a fuzzy black color (the photo above is from October) and love the cooler temperatures. It was so pretty around the farm with the yellow leaves and mellow sunshine. This was my mother's third ride since her fall in July. Unfortunately, we both almost fell off yesterday!
Our near catastrophe was probably due to my lack of riding for a few days. Maizie had off school on Monday so Brian and I took her hiking. On Tuesday, I took a day trip to Virginia with a girlfriend to buy benches for our farm. Both days were fun, but horse-less. Pie was feeling festive and fiesty because of this break in our routine. Mom and I started out in the pastures to make sure we were safe. Pie was indignant about riding inside the pastures and he was not listening to me. As soon as we got on the trails in the woods, though, he calmed down and acted like a good boy. He, like all horses, feels confident in his routine, and any changes to it, upsets his apple cart. The woods were amazing in color. The angle of the sun just makes everything golden. Sovereign is the best boy, riding behind Pie most of the way, and occasionally leads when Pie is unsure of something. We made our way around the trails and out to the field. I was so happy that my mom was having a good, safe ride. As we headed back to the barn we had to walk by a line of high trees. A flock of birds flew out of the trees and Pie bolted out from under me and Sovey did the same to mom. I saw her flying to my right and I said "Hang on!" I realized that Pie was still skittering around and I really needed to concentrate on getting him back together first, and then worry about her. Neither of us fell off, but it was only because we got lucky! Our reins were flying and we were both caught behind the motion. As we finished the ride, we talked about what is going on now. When the horses first came to us, and for about a year after that, Sovey was not really bonded to Pie. They lived together, but Sovereign never put much credence into Pie's reactions. Pie would buck, bolt, shy, wiggle, fold-up, and half-rear with me on him and Sovereign, with my mom on him, would spoil her by not reacting at all. I know I had remarked about this in an earlier post. It was uncanny, because usually horses do what the other guy is doing. Not Sovey. I don't think he actually trusted Pie back then. Now, though, they are bonded. Sovey does pretty much whatever Pie does, albeit with less fervor than the baby Pie-Pie. When Pie shies now, Sovey shies. I can ride Sovereign out alone and he hardly does anything. But, together with Pie, he reacts like a normal horse now. I have to be more consistent about riding Pie every other day if I want anyone else to join me on rides!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Leaves are falling all around

I took this picture of Sovereign yesterday before I started grooming him (you can see mud on his head under his ear!). I love how he closes his eyes when he is munching. I took about 7 pictures all in a row and he has his eyes shut in every one. That is the cutest trait, I think. He is not a super relaxed horse (except under saddle) and it is nice that he can let down his guard and close his eyes when he is eating.

Here is a shot of his poochy legs. Not too great for confirmation, but adorable, just the same!

Post-ride grazing with more eye shutting.
Both horses have been perfect this week. The temperatures have warmed up to high 50's around noon. I have been eating lunch at 9:30 am (!) so that I can have the best part of the day to groom and ride and graze. When I get to the barn at 11, the boys are curled up sleeping in the shade. My favorite part of having horses, is watching their behaviours and personalities in action. I think I could write a children's book about the adventures of Pie and Sovey. I already mentioned that they are like the odd couple. Pie (Oscar Madison) is a chubby, messy boy. He shakes his mane out as soon as I brush it, so that it falls all over the place. He loves the mud. He groans (merrily) when he rolls, pees or poops! He is relaxed and large and spread out and happy. He eats heartily and grazes without inhibition. Sovey (Felix Unger) is persnickety and neat as a pin. When he rolls, he is anxious and stiff. He hardly ever gets any mud on him. He doesn't like to be curried. I have to brush him in a softer manner than any other horse I have ever met. He nibbles grass, but takes frequent breaks to look around. He watches the neighbors, not like he is worried, but more like a Nosey Parker. It is difficult to be on the property without Sovey finding me. I try to refill buckets without him seeing me (because his only "messy" trait is that he likes to swim in fresh buckets) but he knows where I am at all times.
Their sleeping routine is enough to crack me up. You can see Sovey "saying" to Pie, "Ok, I am going to curl up here, and you keep watch." Then, Sovey circles and down he goes, slowly and carefully. As soon as Pie sees him doing that, you can see him completely forgetting that he is supposed to keep watch. His eyes get sleepy and he flops down and snuggles into a tight circle beside Sovereign. Sovey, annoyed, stands back up to keep watch. Pie is like a big Labrador puppy who is bigger in size, but actually, the younger "brother" (not really brothers). He just can't listen to Sovey's directions. I do worry that Sovereign really never gets to rest fully. Hopefully, as Pie ages, he will take on a little more responsibility and give Sovey a chance to sleep better. I know they sleep standing up, but my human brain loves to see horses sleeping like little deer in the pasture.
It is pouring rain right now, so I am sure they are snoozing in their shed. It is a sleepy kind of day.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Little girls Double-Dutch on the concrete

Our trip to NYC was super fun (albeit horse-less). The closest we got to a horse was this photo of Maizie and Brian in Greenwich Village in front of a former boarding stable. The Village was home to many a livery yard in the 19th and early 20th centuries and this property still has the sign to prove it. Thanks Kristen of sweet horse's breath, for your tip about Claremont. I have followed the sad fate of Claremont Riding Academy, the last riding stable in Manhattan, since before it closed in 2007. There are amazing videos of indoor riding at Claremont online.

So, without horses, we found chess in Washington Square Park...

and views of the Empire State Building.

We drooled over mint green Vespas...

and were awed by the lights of Radio City Music Hall and Times Square.
It was a perfect trip in every way. Still, a much needed bareback ride on Sovey-Boy was the very thing as soon as we got back! Manhattan is a great place to visit, but without horses...well, let's just say that I understand why all the upside down smiles!