Thursday, January 28, 2010

Early morning sunshine, tell me all I need to know

Here is the funny face of one Pie Pie with hay strewn about. Sorry about the quality - cellphone camera. The grass looks so green and pretty, but don't be deceived - like the Everglades, it isn't solid ground. You can tell in this picture that Pie is an imp of the first order, but I am happy to post that he is a calmer imp than he was a few days ago. On Tuesday I had hoped to steal a ride on both boys. However, as I groomed Pie it became obvious that Mr. Wiggle-Worm wasn't too interested in standing still for the curry. I knew mounting would be an event. I tacked him up anyway. "You aren't actually going to ride, are you?" my mom chirped from the tack room. "Probably not," I answered, but I knew that Pie needed exercise. Although he and Sovereign had been turned out all day every day for the entire time I was away, they had not been ridden. Together they came up with the plan to pretend that they were wild horses on the plains and that humans were around only to serve them. I walked Pie out to the ring and began our exercise. I was on the ground beside him and together we walked many different routes and circles and figure eights. The wind was whipping and Pie was wound tight. He was nervously chomping on the bit he didn't have (bitless bridle) and head-butting me hard to explain that he had reached the limit of his attention span. I tried to move and use the reins like I would if I were up top. It is no secret that I am much better on a horse's back than on the ground. Pie was so crazy nervous, though, and it seemed foolish to die on my 43rd birthday so I stayed on the ground and kept calmly changing direction and walking. Slowly, I could sense that he calmed too. He lowered his head and gave his tell-tale relaxed sneeze/snort. He stopped grinding his teeth and stopped pushing me with his big head. I allowed the reins to go long and although the wind was still pounding us, Pie was content. I untacked him and grazed him. Well done, Pie-Pie.

Next, it was Sovey's turn. He is the wonderful boy that does everything right. I tacked him up without any problem and rode him in the wind without a flutter or jump. Thank you sweet Sovey for a lovely birthday ride! Most important, though, my mom saw how quiet and good the Sovey Boy was, which set the stage for today!

This morning started out calm and sunny. It was cold, but with little wind so I convinced mom to ride with me. The boys had been trimmed yesterday and both stood well for the farrier. I knew Pie might throw a few bucks my way, but I sensed that he was no longer confused or nervous. We started out around the forsythia bushes and 6 or 7 Eastern Bluebirds flew around us! I adore Bluebirds! They are so vivid blue and orange and they fly so playfully, I think. Pie watched them like he really understood their magic. Next, we headed out through the fields. Pie was intently watching the woods to our left, and mom said that Sovey was too. Just that quick, 3 VERY LARGE deer jumped up from their naps and took off in huge leaps over the brush. Pie and Sovey also took off in huge leaps!!!! I really couldn't think about my mom because it all happened so fast. Pie was wheeling around this way and that. Mom said that Sovey sprung forward and took off but stopped like the good boy that he is when she gathered her reins. Both horses were antsy for a few minutes, but a happy barstool filled with apples came into view just in time to change the subject. After that snack, we ran into another neighbor and talked for a few minutes. Pie pawed the ground to show his frustration about stopping and Sovey stood until he had had enough talking. He turned abruptly and walked away. Neighborly conversations probably are better during the summer months! The clouds started to roll in and a wind picked up as we walked north. We headed toward the woods which would give us a windbreak, but might be harboring some homeless deer. Fortunately, we didn't see our deer friends again. Pie and I got into a tangle with an unruly rose bush, but we made it home with cold feet and warm, happy smiles! Oh hooray for Pie and Sovey and my mom's last ride before she heads to Florida for a much needed vacation.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Guess who just got back today?

Them wild-eyed boys who had been away.

Well, that is how the song goes, but, actually, we got back to our wild-eyed boys yesterday. They aren't too wild, but MUDDY! Wow, I can't believe how muddy they are. It rained enough to turn Sovereign's "Miracle" into a small lake. The horses have had so much fun splashing and pawing and playing in the water. I am not enjoying it as much as I did in the summer, because the water seems to have no interest in receding this time. I told Brian at lunch yesterday that I love the boys so much, but I can't show it by hugging or kissing them because they are so wet and muddy! I gingerly took them out and in, but grooming would be impossible. I thought about hosing them off because it was 61 degrees (!) outside, but where would the water from the hose go? The ground is saturated. I am so glad this didn't happen to my mom while we were away and she was taking care of the boys. It is treacherous footing out there. Today is my 43rd birthday and I did hope to ride. Not sure that the ground would support me and a horsey. We might get sucked up by the muddy earth and go missing!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

you bring a tear of joy to my eyes

Goodbye retro Coppertone sign.

Goodbye funny orange 1970's kitchen.

Goodbye Orange Blossom. See you next year.

Hello sweet boys. I can't wait to give you kisses.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


Our family's theme song for our annual Florida vacation is Shambala by Three Dog Night. Every year, as we get close to St. Petersburg, we flip in the cd and start unwinding to the words:

Wash away my troubles, wash away my pain...everyone is lucky, everyone is so kind, on the road to Shambala.

Our "pain" is usually the cold we are leaving behind in Pennsylvania. And we always feel so lucky to be down here again. This year, Old Man Winter thought he could play with our Shambala by giving us record cold in Florida. Our early morning temperatures have been hovering in the upper 20's! There was a time in my life when this would have been very depressing, but I must have finally matured somewhere along the way because I can honestly say that we are having a blast anyway. Here are some photos of what we are finding to do:

The photo above and below is of our favorite beach, Pass-a-Grille. We spent an afternoon in the sun and sand. We usually swim in the water, but it was too chilly this year! Still, we were able to get comfortable in the sun. Here is Maizie building a sand castle.

Next, a wonderful surprise and blogging dream - I actually met one of my favorite blogging friends, - Michelle from From the Horse's Back! Michelle is from Pennsylvania originally and now lives in Florida. She was in Tampa for the Gold Coast Quarter Horse Show , and popped over to our condo to meet and visit with us. Below is a picture of Maizie and Michelle.

And here I am, below, with Michelle and Noodlebug. Michelle is as sweet and kind as her blog leads you to believe! She is just wonderful and we didn't want her to leave. Sometimes, in Pennsylvania, when I am cleaning stalls and my mind is wandering, I think about how I could organize a riding vacation with all my blogging friends. I never imagined I would meet one such friend so soon!!! We talked about horses all evening! I think I almost have her convinced to move back to Pennsylvania and ride with me! And, we brainstormed a screenplay idea about her adorable puppy, Grady. If you don't know Grady, you have to go to her blog straightaway and see him. He is IT!!! Click here for the all-time cutest picture I have ever seen on any blog - something about it just cracks me up - it is like the bunny is evil and Grady is oblivious because he is so full of kindness.

In addition to Michelle's visit, we had another special guest appearance by...Lake!! Maizie's sister and brother, Sage and Lake, haven't been able to come to Florida with us for a few years because of their college schedules. Sage graduated last year and now has work commitments, but Lake had time off between semesters and was able to fly down to spend some time with us. Here Maizie and Lake are by the (heated) pool!

When it got too cold for swimming, Maizie and Lake got bit by the geocache bug and spent their days biking to caches around the area. Below, Maizie is heading out on her bike.

Maizie, holding her first cache, below.

Here is the loot in one cache.

At another location, Lake found some 80's sunglasses in the cache. He took the photo op to model them! What a character! Lake goes to the college where I am a professor and his classes start before mine, so he had to head back today. We are missing him already.
There has been no riding here this year, but there has been some adorable comparisons of "catpaw" seashells with that of Noodlebug's real cat paws.

That is all for now. I have some exciting art/horse news that I will post about soon. I hope your January days are filled with horses and warmer temperatures!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

no one sings like you anymore

These spring lovelies are from a trail ride my mother and I took on May 7th, Pie's fourth birthday. The photos are all of my mom on her Sovey boy. Together this year, Sovey and Mom rode on the trails in spring, summer and fall. Now it is wicked cold and icy, and snow is on the way. My mom, who is AMAZING at 66 years old, is taking great care of the horses completely by herself.

I have documented my mother's riding abilities in this blog before. You can see her jumping here and here. Now, though, she is doing the thing that is often taken for granted in the horse world - EXCELLENT HORSEKEEPING. While I am away, each morning my mom has been feeding, turning out, cleaning stalls, scrubbing inside buckets, breaking the thick ice and scrubbing outside buckets and then doing it all over again in the evenings. As all of you know, these tasks are difficult in nice weather. She has been doing this in the bitter cold of our Pennsylvania winter.

The thing that is often forgotten in a horsekeeping story like this is the subtleties of horsemanship that is necessary to do this job well. Not only do you have to have the physical stamina to clean stalls and buckets, but you have to have the quiet, calm horse knowledge to lead hot Thoroughbreds safely around the barn and pastures. My mother has both. Pie and Sovereign have been perfect angels for her because she knows how to finesse them into being good. This is something that you can only learn over many years with horses. I pray that horses are still part of my life when I am 66 years old and that I am as able, then, as my mother is now. She is my inspiration.