Sunday, July 25, 2010

The auctioneer is bidding for a box of fading years

Sovey is trying to figure out where all that junk came from. So are we. We are having an auction on Monday evening here at the farm. We have cleaned out my grandmother's house and the chicken coop and corn crib and the upstairs of the barn. Our yard sales last summer just grazed the surface so we moved up to the big leagues by calling in a professional. I don't know what the horses are going to think of the tent and all the people and the auctioneer's microphone. Last summer, the farmhouse tenants had a huge party and the horses LOVED it. You can read about their funny antics that night here. They are very sad that the farmhouse is empty now - no activity for them to watch anymore.

Sovey says, "Hmm, what do we have here?" This photo was taken on Saturday night - he wasn't nearly this brave on Friday evening!
Can I just say that I adore these two horses and I have enjoyed watching their different reactions these past few days? Sometimes I feel divided having two horses because one is always left out. I imagine it might be easier to only own one horse because everything thing I do involves two times the work. The up side of more work, though, is the lovely juxtaposition of their different personalities. I get to enjoy each horse's temperament in new situations. They are sooooo different!!!

Sovey was first out of the pasture on Friday evening after a whole day of watching us assemble all our auction items on the grass. He snorted and stared, but still cautiously made his way forward to the apple tree. He was electric, ready to spring up at any moment. I am not as confident on the ground as I am on a horse's back, but it was 95 degrees at 6:30pm so I opted out of riding. I reassured Sovereign that it was ok and that the junk would not get him. He slowly calmed and by the time I put him back in the pasture, he was completely bored with the auction.
Next, it was Pie's turn to investigate. Let me just preface this part by saying that Pie is scary looking in the pasture. He pushes and shoves behind the gate and he looks and acts like a giant, aggressive woolly mammoth. Pie's presentation is actually a mirage and it has taken me almost a year to figure this all out. His "look" is partly because of his huge size, but mostly because I do not like to cut manes and foretops. To be honest, he is absolutely wild looking now and it is a shame and all my fault. He has an expressive intelligent, even refined, face under all that foretop and mane hair. But, I like the protection it offers him against bugs and the sun. It seems to me to be Nature's insulation. His behaviour is immediately subdued the second I enter the pasture and put his halter over his head. I am always amazed at how responsive Pie is to the slightest pressure on the halter. He is able to maneuver his big body with slow grace and softness through gates and in the barn and around me. (He is also this soft under saddle too, quickly yielding to gentle leg pressure.) I think of Pie like I do Zoe, the Gentle Giant Bernese Mountain Dog we petsit. Both are huge and yet careful not to crush smaller creatures (like me in Pie's case!). Ok, so you get the picture - behind the fence Pie looked like he might breathe fire on the auction items and freak out and break loose from me and run for the hills, but I knew that he would be the well-behaved sweet puppy that he is. He was unbelievably calm. Below he is in the twilight, munching apples and taking it all in. No worries for him! Sovey, tried his old trick of racing and whinnying to get Pie away from the apple tree, but it didn't work. Pie wasn't phased. Then, Sovey tried something new, which cracked me up and illustrates how smart Sovey really is. He found out that he can position himself in the pasture exactly in line with the tennis court backboard and Pie and I can't see him at all. He stands there and squeals and whinnies and it sounds like he might be far off. Pie doesn't fall for it, so Sovey pops out and looks at Pie to see if it worked. When he sees Pie still eating apples under the tree, Sovey hides behind the backboard and tries it again!!!! Can you believe it? I wish I had a videographer with me at all times!

This basket, below, offered some excitement. The auction men had found it in the corn crib and tossed it out by the apple tree. It was new to both horses and they each investigated it. Sovey made sure it was safe by snorting on his approach to scare off anything dangerous, but Pie smelled it thoroughly. In fact, Pie smelled every inch of the ground where the auction men had walked thoroughly. It was hysterical. I call him "The Bloodhound" and he lived up to his name. He pushed his nose into the grass and walked around the whole property like a equine vacuum cleaner. He looked exactly like a search and rescue dog! I have never seen anything like it. When he came to the back of the barn, his nose went up the barn to the door handle on the corn crib that the men had apparently touched!

On Friday night's investigation, Pie would sniff an item and then toss it down in the grass like he was finished inspecting it. You can see flower stand that was tossed by Pie in the background of this photo.
I am anxious to see what the horses think of the carnival atmosphere on Monday night. I will turn the electric fence on - probably more to keep human hands out than the horses in! I think the horses are going to enjoy watching it all unfold!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

a horse of a different color

Pie and Sovereign aren't the only fast Thoroughbreds in our family! Last evening Brian won the 44-49 age group in the Harrisburg Mile!

He ran a 4:57 earlier this summer in the mile so he knew he might have a chance to win. (A sub-5:00 mile is amazing for any age, but Brian is 47!)

Brian collapses after every race and he is fine and we know this. Last night I was taking this photo and an EMT lady came over and looked at me like I was a heartless wife for not helping him! I had to assure her that he was fine...he just likes to get himself together this way!

Maizie is hearing all the exciting details of the race. My mom and Brian's dad were able to come to watch the race too, so it was a great time!

Here Brian is with Nick Berra. Nick is one of the fastest 800m runners over 40 in the world! Brian follows Nick's world races on the internet and Nick is from our area and a high school and graduate school friend of mine. I haven't seen him since 1994 and I was hoping Brian might get to meet him someday. Nick has a huge championship race today in Sacramento, but he ran the Harrisburg Mile last night and crushed the Master's Elite record with a 4:25!!! We all had a perfect evening!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

And you know that it's right

Here is Miss Maizie trying not to get covered in the applesauce slobbers that Pie has all over his face!

He found another apple!

Slobber lips!

Maizie, loving up Pie and attempting not to get her feet crushed in her FLIP FLOPS!!! (Insert me yelling at her about flip flops at the barn here.) She and Brian stopped over last night after I rode Sovey. They were just in time for grooming and grazing of Pie. Most evenings this summer they were at the track practicing for her Standing Broad Jump competitions. Last year, Maizie jumped 7'2" for her school record so Brian found a local meet for her to compete in this summer. At the local level she jumped 7'8" (!!!!) and won that meet. She moved on to Districts and jumped 7'1" and won that meet and qualified for the State meet last weekend. She jumped 7'2" and got third in the entire state for 11-12 year old girls! She is our little Mexican Jumping Bean.

We are still all standing under the apple tree and you can see Sovey racing around whinnying PRETENDING that he doesn't know where we are. He knows perfectly well that Pie is having a turn grazing under the apple tree. Sovey just had his turn, but when it is Pie's turn, Sovey races around and screams like we are very far away. He wants Pie to get upset and STOP EATING APPLES! Pie does not fall for Sovey's trick. Pie keeps at his important task of gobbling and slobbering apples.

Here they are after riding and grooming and grazing is finished. I had a lovely ride on Sovey. He had one upset in the woods. A scary pile of manure on the trail caused quick backing. Sovey doesn't back too well, so I was impressed with his fancy footwork! We circled, but he just would not walk past it. He snorted and backed up some more. It was dark in the woods in the evening light so I dismounted and we carefully investigated together. When he was secure that Pie's poop wasn't going to get him, we walked past. I got him to stand beside my mom's bench and re-mounted. I am already covered in poison ivy from head to toe so what is a little more? Then we resumed our ride with some energetic trotting and yummy barstool apples. When the entire barstool-apple-friends-family came out Sovey was in heaven. He adores human contact and conversation. I could not get him to leave!!! They had to walk inside their house for me to get him to move. Ugh! Embarrassing. I say, "Bye!" and we just stand still. Funny boy, Sovey.
A gorgeous pink thunderhead at 9pm.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Pie Golightly

Holly Golightly: You know those days when you get the mean reds?
Paul Varjak: The mean reds. You mean like the blues?
Holly Golightly: No. The blues are because you're getting fat, and maybe it's been raining too long. You're just sad, that's all. The mean reds are horrible. Suddenly you're afraid, and you don't know what you're afraid of. Do you ever get that feeling?

I love Capote's description in Breakfast at Tiffany's of that icky, ginchy feeling you get for no apparent reason. Pie and I both had the mean reds on our Wednesday evening ride. I had had a perfect ride on Sovey on Tuesday evening. It was cool and he was a wonderful boy - I hated to dismount. On Wednesday morning the rain was pouring buckets outside and I was so grateful. We needed the rain. By noon, though, it was unbearably humid and sunny and horrid. I was so angry at absolutely nothing. My poor Maizie and mom bore the brunt of my tirades. I was certain that my evening ride on Pie would lift the dread. Unfortunately, he was a cranky pants too, from the moment I got him out of the pasture. He grazed angrily, ripping the grass and shying at nothing. He swung around his head this way and that, swatting flies. Usually, when I groom him in the cross-ties he relaxes, but this evening he was too mad to settle. I could just tell that he didn't want to do anything. I thought a small jaunt out might help both of us. I wanted to use the saddle for my own safety, but I knew that might be worse for his mood, so I hopped on bareback. (The photo above is from another day.) We walked around the perimeter of the farm. He twirled his head and squealed in protest of any decision I would make - (like "let's go this way"). My neighbors told me they saw that I was having trouble with him. I started singing to ease his annoyance and it helped very little. Apples on the barstool were crunched angrily and quickly. Walking through the woods was a series of little tantrums. I loudly and heartily rewarded any willingness on his part. He likes to hear, "Good Boy", thankfully. I made him walk back to the barn and then leave again, which he did well and I loved him up for it. Then we stopped. He still wasn't with me. Apple tree grazing and grooming was distant and angry. Quick chomping and foot stamping at flies. I brought him back into the barn. Connecting with a horse reminds me of the account of drawing the "W" on Helen Keller's hand to pull out the memory of "water". By this point, my own mean reds were dwarfed by the mean reds of my big boy, Pie. What could I do? Should I just put him back outside and start again tomorrow? Absent-mindedly I started scratching his foretop. He put his head low and his lips out like a camel. I continued down his mane, withers, neck, chest and legs. Pie was back! He was calm and present and completely into the full body massage. By the time I put him back out with Sovey (about 30 minutes later) Pie was one happy puppy!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Tell me something good

Yesterday was cool and beautiful. Perfect for a much needed ride. Sovey is tired of waiting! He and Pie enjoy the diversion of their daily rides and the recent heat messed up their schedule.

I rode bareback which was, in my mother's opinion, crazy. I am not sure why. Pie is a delightful boy who always behaves himself. We hadn't been out in a while, but he didn't forget his manners. Here he is, scarfing down some treats that I put in a feed bin. I do this so I can launch myself up on him bareback. We still don't have a mounting block tall enough for the big boy.

Above is Mom and Sovey, pre-ride. This is my mother's "C.H.I.P's" outfit. Do you remember that TV show? Sometimes with her white helmet and half-chaps she looks like a cop. Earlier in the spring, she had an even more C.H.I.P.'s-like get-up. We could not stop laughing. Look, Sovey matches her in his blue, quilted saddle pad.

Oh, she will be mad that I put this mounting-action shot up. There are never any pictures of me riding because she can't work the camera and she hates the ones I put up of her. I don't take a lot of photos because it is difficult to mess around with the camera and stay on, so I just put up any that I get!

Sovey and Mom in front of the chicken coop. (We don't have chickens in there, just tools.)

My shadow on the lovely, sweet Pie-Pie boy.

Two happy riders who both look mad. They really are happy though! I just caught them off-guard.

Our shadow again.

Sovey heading out to his 1976 Wimbledon Final Match. Ha!
We ended up riding all over the farm and both horses were wonderful. The apple trees are dropping early treats so our after-ride grazing has taken on new excitement for the horses. Much slobbering and applesauce making is going on. Sovey eats merrily with his eyes closed. I love that about him. Last evening I went over to mow the pastures and Pie was extra lovey-dovey for some reason. He wanted me to scratch his ears and face and neck and if I stopped he would follow me around until I would start again.
I have exciting news about finding Sovereign's (Suave Lord) full brother! I will post about it soon.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Take my line, go fishin' for a Tuesday

Crunchy. That is all I can think about when I walk across the grass in the pastures. Our temperatures, like other parts of the country, are miserable. Unbelievably hot with the heat index above 100 degrees. The grass is crunchy, the sun is right out of a Camus novel. Actually, at noon today, I thought I was Meursault. I put the horses in the barn for the first time since March 16th. I prepared the barn last evening. Fresh shavings in the stalls, scrubbed buckets, yummy hay. I am keeping them in from noon to 6pm today, and probably the rest of the week too. Sovey is smiling. Pie is one pissed-off pony. He is mad. He grunts and squeals and practically speaks English to tell me that he wants back out. He is an outside boy and Sovey would like to move into our house. Wasn't I just exalting the joys of summer in my last post? Fickle me.
So what else is there to do, but play around with Photoshop? I took last summer's photo, below, and made it look like it was from 1974. Sigh. I admit it. I love the 70's.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Can you dig it (yes, I can)

Here is a photo of Mom and Sovey yesterday right at the beginning of our ride. We had to ride in the afternoon, but our temperatures have cooled off to something from September! It has been fabulous for riding. Sovey and I went out alone a few nights ago and we encountered a new inflatable swimming pool at the home of our barstool-apple-friends. We trotted up for our apples and then...STOP...EARS UP...NECK UP LIKE A GIRAFFE...Sovey did not like the new pool!!! Quiet circles and singing and neck massage and, of course, two juicy apples put it all right. But, then...LOW FLYING HELICOPTER! Oh, no, I was a little panicked after reading dear blogging friend, Once Upon an Equine's helicopter ordeal. The turnpike is on the other side of the woods and I imagined that there was an accident and the helicopter was an emergency vehicle. I decided that if it got any lower and had to land in our field, I would just dismount and hang on to Sovey's reins as long as I could. Sovey was completely fine with the helicopter even though it was low and loud. Fortunately it did not land.
The next morning, Mom and I headed out on the boys and Pie was leading as we approached the new pool. I was on bareback and I thought he would react, but I gave him all the reins and just grabbed a handful of mane. He looked at it, but nothing else. What a brave, good boy!

This photo is of Mom with Sovey and Pie. They are grazing (I am holding Pie's lead) under an apple tree. Right after I took this shot, I told Mom to give me Sovey so I could hose him off (you can see his saddle mark). As I handed her Pie I said, "He is nice and quiet." HA! Famous last words! A few seconds later something must have stung the poor sweetie and he did a half-rear hop and then I saw his hind feet high over his head in the most amazing stand-still buck! Mom took him away from that spot and he was fine, but we could not stop laughing at how fast things can change in the world of horses.

Here is a poster I designed for the 4th of July. I hope you have a great holiday!

A recent rainbow over the donkey's field. Summer is just grand!