Saturday, December 31, 2011

Take a cup of kindness

Happy New Year!  Here is Max out on the trail. I ended up bareback on my Thursday ride and Max was unflappable.  What a sweetie boy.

The barn operators and boarders at the stable where Max lives are simply amazing.  They are unbelievably kind and welcoming to me and my family and to others. Yesterday afternoon they did something very special.  A woman named Barb started leasing a horse at this barn shortly before I arrived at Thanksgiving.  Barb has become a great friend to all of us and she has been on many trail rides with me. Sadly, her soulmate/boyfriend died suddenly last week. The owners of the barn and all the boarders held a benefit yesterday afternoon with pony rides and a picnic for Barb. Brian, Maizie and I were there and the energy was so positive. Everyone turned up to support Barb and sincerely help her by sharing laughter, and of course, horses. I know she appreciated their kindness and we were very lucky to witness such good will.

We took Max out to the church for grazing during the festivities and Brian also had a "pony ride" on Norton. Later we reflected on the great community in that horse barn. Horses can bring out the best in all of us. 
May your 2012 be horsey and kind!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

I was born in the sign of water, and it's there that I feel my best

The albatross and the whales they are my brothers.

And just like that song, I really was born in the sign of water (Aquarian) and I do feel my best here, but who wouldn't? Warm temperatures, quiet waves and...a few miles inland...

trail rides with good friends!  This one is of me on Max heading out with Jolayne on Summer. 

And here is a shot of Summer and Jolayne in front of us as we walk around the lake trail. 

In the photo, above, I am on a new little blue Roan mare, Cheyenne. Cheyenne is owned by my friends, Janet and Ted. Janet invited me up to ride with her last week and we had a great ride around her horsey neighborhood. Cheyenne is so very sweet and kind. She was a good girl even with all the Christmas decorations!

What a horsey vacation this has turned out to be!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

got my chips "cached" in

This morning I was on a trail ride with some friends and as we were weaving in and out of the woods I told them that Maizie and Brian AND MAX and I cached here yesterday!  They didn't know what I was talking about so I thought I would post about geocaching and specifically the fun I had geocaching on Max.
I know lytha of the blog A Horse Crazy American in Germany geocaches too. I am sure she has probably cached from horseback. Usually, though, geocaching is done on foot.

The site defines geocaching as:

a real-world outdoor treasure hunting game. Players try to locate hidden containers, called geocaches, using GPS-enabled devices and then share their experience online. 

Maizie started caching in Florida a few years ago and just found her 100th cache on this trip. She is only 13 so she has to coerce an adult to drive her around in order to cache. Brian and I and my mom are her usual caching partners but yesterday the sweet and wonderful Max got in on the geocaching action!

Here we are just inside the horse park. Max adored Brian and was continually nudging him for head scratches and loving him up! Needless to say, Brian was in love too. Max wins your heart in about one second.

We found out online that there were four caches in the park to find. Three of the caches were hidden in areas where Max was permitted to go!  

Max stood statue still while Brian and Maizie went to find the first one in the non-horse area. He was very patient. My own horses are good, but I don't think they would have been this good!

Then, using Maizie's GPS, we found the next three caches hidden in the woods. Two were micros and Max couldn't investigate them because I thought he might try to eat them, but this one, above, was a small ammo can container and Max helped Maizie open the latch. He jumped back when all the contents were revealed.  I wish there were treats in there for him!

Did I mention that Max is a great horse?  Today, after our ride and grazing he whinnied at me to hurry up with his water bucket. How cute is that?  Oh, my goodness, I am lucky!

Tomorrow I am heading up to ride with my friend, Janet, on her new mare.  I can't wait! And everyone is calling and emailing each other for a fun group ride in the park on Thursday morning. Sigh. This is a great horse world here.

Friday, December 9, 2011

We're in the promised land

On Wednesday morning I headed over to the barn to ride Max. Here you can see his ears looking at his Palomino friend, Chip, while Meghan gives Chip a bath.

Katie and her Arabian gelding, Reign, took the lead on our ride to the horse park.

We encountered sprinklers in one yard and driveway. It was a hot day and the sprinklers felt good, but the water stinks like sulfur. Reign did not like the sprinklers and Katie dismounted to walk him through - I really liked that! 

At the horse park, Katie cantered Reign. 

Max and I watched.

This is a photo of the bridge on part of our ride.  I rode over this bridge last year on little Lakota.

Here is good boy Max on the bridge.  I love Max. Can you tell?

I hosed Max off and we headed to the church for grazing. Another perfect ride!

On my last post, aurora commented that she didn't know how Max and I got paired up. Actually, I totally lucked out - he is the best! 

Every year we vacation in Florida and I have tried to ride a little bit while I am here. There is a fabulous online network of horse owners and riders in this area. I joined in 2008 and was invited to ride with some of the people when I was in town. A few years ago, I rode a sweet Thoroughbred named Red. Last year I rode a few Appy friends, Lakota and Mac, at a local barn and I also rode with my friend, Janet, on her horse, Danno. 

The weather in Florida wasn't too great last year, though, so I had lots of time in the condo to sit with my computer and read about all the local horses and happenings. One horse in particular, Max, caught my eye. I don't know what it was, but a photo of just his head made me notice him. There was something in the way he tilted his head in that picture that expressed his cute personality. I read posts from the lady who trained him and I knew that I liked her. She shared my philosophy about riding and caring for horses so I emailed her and said that I thought I might like to lease Max this year if he was available. 

I never leased a horse while we were here before, but it seemed like a good plan. A year passed and I contacted the trainer again and then Max's owner phoned me in September. She is actually selling Max, but was willing to lease him to me while we are here. I had never met Max and I can't explain how I knew, but I felt like he would be perfect. He is. 

After two vacations in a row of unusually lousy Florida weather, our activities and weather have been ideal this year. It is unbelievable. I am not sure you would believe me if I told you all the details and I keep pinching myself to make sure I am not dreaming. We have dolphins swimming right up to us while we kayak, and pretty runs on the beach as a family because Maizie's leg is healed. Noodlebug sun bathes on the porch and I am riding a sweet horse. We are in the promised land and I am so very grateful.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

You fill up my senses

Wednesday's ride on Max was cold and cloudy, but still fun and safe.  We only had four riders this time.  Bay State Brumby asked if we had any kickers on the last ride.  We did which is why there are only five horses in front of me in those photos.  Three horses followed me on that ride and one mare was known to kick.  I said to the rider that she could put a red ribbon on her tail and she said that her mare should have a red ribbon all over her body!  

Max is very s-l-o-w so those riders had to be separated from the group.  I trotted that day to keep up with everyone.  On the ride yesterday, there were no kickers and Max could plod along just as slow as he wanted.  I did make him extend his walk at times to catch up, but I like that he is having fun at his pace so I don't want to hurry him.

Chip is the Palomino in front here and he was having a little fuss up about trash bags. Wednesday is trash day and each house had an assortment of cans and bags for the horses to walk past.  Max was so brave and happy to walk out in front.  His friend, Sunny B., was also brave and willing to lead and he was a bit faster than Max at the walk, but I love that Max feels secure enough with me to at least want to lead past the scary trash.  Good boy!  I can tell, Max is very bright.  Look at Max's cute black ear tips!  I love them!

Here is a view of the little yellow mounting blocks that are spaced out along the trail. They are made of concrete and very tiny.  

This funny photo shows just how far back we get behind the group. There is no excuse for the blurriness of this picture.  I had plenty of time to take a good photo of the woods and Palmetto bushes and trees with Spanish moss.  Max was in zero hurry.  He doesn't even care when the horses go out of view.  He is in his own little world back here.  

We finally caught up to them in the big open area.  When I rode through here on Tuesday, this spot was covered with Turkey Vultures. I believe all creatures have their place, but the poor Turkey Vulture is very homely, I think. Ick.

And here is Max's favorite part - post-ride grazing at the church! Yummy! He deserves it for being such a good boy for me. The sun came out which made it nice for both of us.