Saturday, March 5, 2011

freshly ground and fully packed

My sweet Pie is a little chubby this spring.  I was grateful for the extra layer he acquired because it helped me worry less on cold nights this winter.  Now is the time to begin a tiny, little exercise program to lift that belly before our spring grasses sprout their lush heads.

Thursday, I went to the barn in the morning with every intention of riding Pie, but I wasn't dressed right. It had been 40 degrees on Wednesday when I rode Sovey, so on Thursday morning I wore the same amount of layers. After grooming and grazing Foggy, followed by some animated manure cleanup, it became apparent that I was freezing.  

I went home and tried to get inspired to come back in the afternoon to ride my chubby boy.  It was sunny with very little wind, but it was 25 degrees and not supposed to get much warmer. What tricks do you use to get yourself up and moving and riding when all you really want to do is climb under a blanket and read blogs?  Sometimes I go running, but then I have to ride fairly soon after or my body temperature drops back to normal.  Sometimes I take a bath. Thursday, Brian had just got back from his run so we sat down to yummy cups of hot, creamy coffee.

I never drank coffee until 2007.  I had grown up drinking Carnation Instant Breakfast and kept that sugary habit well into my 40th year.  I loved their eggnog and coffee flavors back in the day, but they were bought out by Nestle and flavors were changed and dropped and ruined, so in the fall of 2007 I started experimenting with coffee.  Brian drank it every morning and it smelled so good when he would grind it, so I gave it a whirl.  

My dear friend, Susie, says that my coffee shouldn't be called coffee.  It is something else - a little more decadent.  Whatever it is, it gets me out the door on cold mornings and sometimes a second lunchtime cup can get me back out again if I need the extra push.  That is exactly what I needed on Thursday.

I use a French press with one tablespoon of coffee to one (8 oz) cup of boiling water. I press it right away without letting it wait for the recommended time.  My coffee isn't strong, obviously, but it does the trick!

UPDATE: WE ARE VEGAN NOW but this sadly was written before I was enlightened. I am so sorry to all the dairy cow mamas and babies because of my use of cream and other dairy products. Thank goodness I am enlightened now. 

I add 1 to 2 tablespoons of cream. I use real cream. I do not believe in our country's fear of fat (sugar scares me more), but I do make sure my cream just says "cream" in the ingredients.  I don't like other junk in my cream.  Each delicious cup of hot, perfectness has 50 or 100 calories depending on whether I use 1 tablespoon of cream or two. Coffee tastes better in my favorite cup from Anthropologie.  

So, I was finally warmed up and ready to ride!  I went back to the barn and Pie and I headed out around the trails and fields bareback.  He was just wonderful and I encouraged him to walk out with a little more energy. I knew that I wanted to make him push, but I rode bareback to keep it light and interesting for him.

Then, yesterday, I gave Sovereign a break from riding and only groomed him and grazed him and loved him up. I decided to ride Pie again, this time with a saddle and mixing in a tiny bit of trotting to help pull that belly up. I don't trot Pie all that often.  Pie is a lovely mover.  His trot is fluid and easy to ride, with a saddle or bareback, sitting or posting.  He looks amazing from the side when he trots, but straight-on, you can see that he wings with his right front. He was apparently born with some sort of anatomical problem on that right front.  The hoof grows out with a pronounced flare.  He was never raced because he bowed that tendon early in his training. He just isn't put together correctly there, which probably caused the bow.  My barefoot trimmer has tried a different method to prevent that flare from growing out so quickly.  It is working because the hoof looks pretty normal right now, six weeks out.

Pie always breaks into a canter when playing with the brothers long before they do. We joke that Pie is so lazy and cantering is the easier gate.  I think there is some truth to that with Pie, but I also think his right foot/tendon bothers him while trotting. Because of this, I gave him a long walking warm-up, and only planned to trot a tiny bit. 

Just as we were really getting started at the trot, a low flying plane began circling us. The plane was noisy and scary, but Pie kept it together.  The plane's shadow, which followed a few moments after every pass, scared Pie the most. I was really annoyed, but proud of Pie for not freaking out.  I called it a day and walked him around our property.  He was like a docile teddy bear, which tells me just how out of shape he is because we didn't trot all that long. I will continue to keep his trotting sessions very short, even without that annoying plane.

I don't know who rode or trained Pie before I got him. All I can say is that I have never ridden a horse as responsive as Pie.  Because the trot is a little faster than the walk, I am surprised and in constant awe of how quickly he listens to even a slight signal.  He circles full and round. Actually, he is amazing. I notice this when I open gates to lead him through. He moves his back end out of the way instinctively, calmly and round, not nervously. That is how he moves at the trot in circles and figure eights. Could he have these responses naturally or did someone teach him?


  1. Simply stated, coffee is my lifeblood. I'm a runner too and my biggest challenge, when running, is skipping my cup of coffee. I know some who recommend you drink a little before a long run or a race BUT I can't just dink a little... I know I'm pathetic. Perhaps a 12 step program.

    We had a big scary visit on our farm yesterday too. Apparently before I got there, the Co. bushhog came through, eating the bushes on the side of the road! Even, after they were long gone... Rosie was very suspicious of the naked bank they left behind. Lots of jumping around and spinning, mercifully without anyone on her back, but still... very dramatic!

  2. I drink coffee before running. I can keep myself to one cup but I can see an increase coming in my future. I like it WAY too much!

  3. I love hearing of the Pie Pie! He is definaetly one that is mindful of you and maybe he was taught that or maybe he just wants to make things easier, keeping you from asking.
    My'll laugh...when I take her through the gate from the field-facing the stable, she walks through and stands there- I would have to "ask her" to move around. UNPIE like!! I usually walk to the end of the lead and close the gate behind her(SHHH!)

    I like the "Anthrologie" cup- in Red. It seems to me, what ever you drank from it woud be a treat! Yesss, "White" Coffee w the real stuff.
    I live so far from my stable that if the warming my blood up in the bath doesn't work, I do stay home. But I trust my new place so much...that it doesn't freak me out anymore to miss a day.
    Good work with the Pie, he is just dreamy~

  4. allhorsestuff - That makes me laugh about you leading Wa through the gate. That is how I had to do it with my mare years ago. These boys are good about gates but Pie is the best!

    I want to get every color of the Anthropologie cup. I should have bought them all when we were in Florida - we don't have a store near us.

    I am glad you have your Wa at a great place now!

  5. I started resorting to an afternoon cup this winter as well - gives me gumption to accomplish more instead of lingering over blogs or snuggling with the canines :)

    Pie - what a good boy to be brave about the out of nowhere airplane shadow. He's not the only one who needs to attend to his midsection this spring lol ;)

    Val is super good about turning around at the gate. I think the (come to Jesus) sessions with my cowboy farrier a while back helped... I like being able to disengage his hindquarters - it seems to have repercussions under saddle as well.

  6. Story - You crack me up with the bucket-o-coffee comment! I am trying to cut back because I think my cup is too big. We bought the most adorable 1950's cup at Krispy Kreme this winter in Florida. I want to use it but it only holds 3/4 a cup or less and it messes up my system and my cream amounts. I think if I cut back in portion sizes, even liquid, I will look like a jockey!!! Not sure if it will work but I am going to try so I can ride my tiny Foggy soon!

  7. Since I work in a barn environment every day and freeze my butt off, I can't get myself to go outside when it is cold out on my days off. I just can't do it! Kudos to you for going out in the freezing temps!
    I am not a coffee drinker, the only time I drink it is on a Sunday morning with Bailey's! I also will drink a Caramel Frappuchino a few times a year.

  8. I'm totally addicted to black dark roast coffee. If it isn't black though, I go for cream only. Why add milk and water it down?
    Pie is so amazing. You are lucky to have one another. Of course I can't help thinking he'd make a great dressage horse :), but he's a great horse for whatever you want to do.
    I'd be kind of pissed at the pilot of that airplane. Some people are just so ... stunned?

  9. Carol - I almost wrote that Pie would be a great dressage horse this morning on my post. I feel bad that I am "wasting" all his power and beauty for my little rides around the farm.

    I was really irked at the pilot - how would he have reacted if I would have been dumped? I don't think it registers how dangerous horses can be. I've noticed that before...people think we are just sitting up there on a carousel horse.

  10. I love my coffee too...I have taken to bringing a full flask with about 4 shots of illy espresso up the the stables for my son's weekly riding lesson, stops the cold biting through just as bad. And the fact that I am a complete caffine junkie, for sure.

    I little extra fat, is it a bad thing? Something to hang on to if ever the plane incident goes the other way!

  11. Juliette, So interesting to hear about Pie's strengths as you mentioned. And congratulations to him for not getting upset about the plane and the shadows. Very good boy! You are so thoughtful and observant about your horses. And he sounds like a dream to ride. Love your recipe for coffee - now I want a French roast press! And that lovely coffee cup! And real cream in it!

  12. I have a tough time getting out to ride when it is in the 30s and below. I need to get better clothing for winter riding. Good for you for getting back out there and riding. Your coffee cup is very pretty.

  13. Oh my goodness, I can imagine exactly that scary plane and the even scarier shadow! Lilly doesn't like her own shadow, I cannot imagine what she'd do with a giant plane shadow floating near her feet! If it ever happens, I will have to think fast! So cute to see your fuzzy ,chunky Pie! He looks great! He's got a big ole belly just like Lilly! I'll bet he smells really good too. Sometimes I say to Bill and Brandon, SMELL LILLY'S BACK SMELL IT! IT SMELLS SO GOOD!!! and Brandon will always refuse because he has allergies and smelling Lilly could kill him! And Bill will walk up and sniff and say: She smells like a horse! like it is no big deal. But it is a big deal to me. It makes my heart fill with joy.
    I don't drink coffee but I do love the smell!! (speaking of yummy smells!) I also like that delicate cup!

  14. I was going to comment on how much I love that coffee cup, and then you said it was from Anthropologie and I figured out why--I love that store!

    Some days I just cannot get warmed up--coffee, running, a warm shower--nothing does it. Glad to see you conquered the chill and got out to ride!

    I love a responsive horse. I think it does have a lot to do with the trainer and also the current rider. If a person is heavy handed, a horse will soon lose its responsiveness. So, you should give yourself a little credit, too :)

  15. omg i love this post.
    First off, I've been drinking coffee daily since I was 15. I love coffee. Greek coffee, american, turkish, etc etc anyway I can get it-gas station, at home, but oddly starbucks is my least favorite. I agree with the use of cream although I drink my BLACK, but I think our bodies know what to do with cream vs chemicals in so many creamers.
    Also, I could move right into an Athro store...I just love everything everything everything about the decor, etc. Wish it was more affordable but eh, its ok.
    Pie is a gentle boy and this post reminded me SO much of my Laz boy. I think there are horses that are soooo intuned with body/mind that they are light as a feather. Given the right rider, they will stay that way. Enjoy that trait, which I know you do b/c you've kept it in him. I'm going to be setting up my cavelleti poles again to help with Laz's belly. He isn't pudgie but needs to work on the his lift and help strength his back too. Try that with Pie and see if you spot a difference. Also hill work is great too at the walk/trot for tummies..we are not there yet.
    He looks as adorbale as a Teddy bear.
    Dont you wish they could cuddle in bed with us.
    I do. :)

  16. It was fun reading about Pie. It reminds me of Seabiscuit, who threw a front foot out like that while running!

    Last year I started having a cup of coffee before I go out to horsey-time. Coffee and horses just seem to go together, like cowboys and their coffee, or the constant pots at the track tack rooms.

    I like our Green Mountain Breakfast Blend, but I do not have it until lunchtime. I like to add a couple of drops of almond extract. Sometimes I add cocoa mix and get ALL my needs met.

    I am really a green tea drinker: 1 cup organic regular in the morning, and a decaf cup of green lemon at 'tea time' later afternoon, when I come inside to cook dinner.

    I would love a nutritious breakfast drink every morning~! My kids made yogurt in a huge jar and kept bringing me wonderful drinks made with bananas and strawberry preserves. I'd rather drink my breakfast if I could (in the healthy sense!)

  17. to me coffee is a social drink and it is sad when i drink it alone, so i don't drink it very often anymore. (back home in seattle i was a twice per day card carrying espresso cafe customer (not starbucks).) my husband doesn't drink coffee, he prefers tea. the coffee in germany is actually really good. plenty dark. and since we live in shinola, an espresso is a rare thing.

    oma makes a french press for me each visit and we usually have to fill it twice.

    tomorrow is opa's birthday and i look forward to more coffee culture - in germany you drink coffee and have cake at 4 pm, and later you have dinner in a long drawn out visit. i should mention the culture is very specific-- the coffee cups are tiny and delicate. half the size of yours. "to-go" is considered an affront to the culture, these travel mugs and paper cups are considered american. the young people love it though.

    i thought of you yesterday as i cleaned out the outdoor feeding area of soggy uneaten hay. at least my horse doesn't lay in it. i filled three garden sacks full!


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