Monday, August 27, 2012

the autumn moon lights my way

This is me on Sovereign yesterday. I ride him most days in just his halter with two green lead lines attached. He is amazingly good and has such a pretty face.

Today was Maizie's first day of eighth grade.  Here she is at the bus stop in the rain. (I made sure no one on the bus saw me taking pictures of her!) I have to walk with her because we can't see her bus stop from our house anymore. A local farmer planted corn in the field beside our house so I will be walking with her until he cuts the corn.  

Since it was drizzling when I got to the barn I washed the boys' tails -the dust and mud makes them dull. Now they are shiny and soft. The sun came out and the day became humid and very hot so I headed out bareback on the Foggy boy. We went to my mechanic's property where there is a sweet, autumn apple tree with gorgeous yellow apples that taste like pears. Foggy gobbled a few and I marveled how all the horses are good about leaving the apple trees now, whether I am on their backs or on the ground. I did a post way back in October 2009 about my difficulty leading the horses away from the apple trees. That problem, like every I have encountered with these horses, worked itself out with patience and time.

I've been writing about this very concept over at my little philosophical horse side project. I believe that throwing out the clock and calendar allows anyone to do anything with horses. I remember worrying and fretting back then that my horses were balking when I led them over lush grass or juicy apples. Now, all three of them will eat apples or graze when I say it is ok. And, when I ask them to walk on, they do. To be honest, I remember worrying and fretting about many "vices" back then. These horses have taught me so much about just working through each day in tiny, bite-sized steps without a preconceived agenda. And, is all going right!

After Foggy left the apple tree, we ran into two nice men who work at the local printing press. They came out to see little Fog and talk. Foggy was following a butterfly that was flitting around his muzzle. Just then, the butterfly darted behind the one man and Foggy followed, knocking the man right upside his head. I was so startled and apologetic that I reach out and petted the man's tan, bald head with a reflex "oh, I am so sorry" action. How mortifying! What a goof I am. Luckily the man was fine and we all had a good laugh.

Pie was next, and the day had gotten icky hot and sticky humid so I chose to ride him bareback too. Recently, I've been riding Pie in the saddle in order to work our roly-poly boy just a little more than usual. The hot summer days and lush pastures have helped Foggy and Sovereign fill out beautifully. They are round and dappled and look perfect. Unfortunately, I can't say the same about Pie. He too is round and dappled, but he doesn't look perfect. He looks lumpy and a bit cresty. One thing that I've learned is that Thoroughbreds do not share the same qualities when it comes to their conformations and how they are put together. Our Foggy is a little Arab-y Thoroughbred. He has a small, refined head with a svelte body and flags his tail at every turn. Sovereign is the thin, nervous, quintessential  "racehorse" who never looks an ounce too big or small. Dear, sweet, plump Pie is a hunter-type Thoroughbred. He is a gorgeous mover with a voracious appetite. I giggled back in March when fellow blogger Allison over at Adventures with Shyloh proclaimed "Holy cresty neck, Batman!" Allison's sweet Haflinger, Shyloh had to start a reduction plan and I am sad to report, my Pie also can elicit the "Holy cresty neck, Batman" response. In fact, my farrier remarked that he would like to see less crest on that neck and my giggling stopped abruptly. 

Pie's right front foot is put on his leg at a strange angle like a club foot. We know he did not race because he has a bow on that leg, probably caused by the faulty anatomical structure. Extra weight only adds to the difficulty and our leisurely ambles all summer did not help much in the way of true exercise. Already, with the reintroduction of the saddle and more robust extended walking and added trotting, I can see and feel more spring in his step and his tummy is coming up. But, with fitness comes a new awareness of "scary things" out on the trail. It is always easy to ride at the walk a fat, lazy, unfit horse. This week's shies and jumps and semi-bolts reminded me of my early rides on Pie. I have to pay greater attention to what I am doing now when I am riding which is good for Pie's health and my riding skills, but a little sad to see my easy, breezy rides of summer disappear. S-l-o-w-l-y finding that balance of just the right fitness, just the right calm, just the right momentum and the ever-so-slight pressure - it is a daily pursuit without any deadlines.

As always, I am amazed how my horse life mirrors my everyday life, often intermingling with unbelievable similarities. Brian walked through the living room a few minutes ago and asked, "Did you read Nick's blog?" Our friend, and world class Masters runner, Nick Berra, writes a hilarious, intelligent blog chronicling the training and racing he is doing now as an ultra successful over 40 runner. Brian and I recently had the opportunity to run with him on the Appalachian Trail while our daughters ran their cross country workout with the team and Nick's current post tells of our outing. Brian and Nick designated me as "the leader" on the run which was freaky scary leading a world class runner and my uber-fit husband. Feeling a little like fat boy Pie in the lead of Foggy and Sovereign, I headed out trying to keep the pace reasonable. Nick's kind words give me hope that Pie and I might get our little rotund bodies in shape one day!


  1. Thanks for the link! Ha! We cut the sugar and Shy is looking quite dashing these days! Reviews over photos from the winter reveal just how chunky she was. Oops!

    Your rides sound so amazing! I cannot wait until we can get to that point in our riding.Your guys are so sweet!

    1. Sorry Allison for the spelling - I will change in morning!

  2. Jules, I have to say when I was in my first DAYS of owning Laz, I was frantically searching for info/retraining/kindness for OTTB and I couldn't find ANYTHING that I liked. So many side reins, large bits, round pen work, etc etc and then gloriously I found your blog and it literally gave me the gentle whisper of "I CAN DO THIS!!!" and I just want to say, you may think your 'side project writing' goes into the universe un noticed but truly it DOES NOT. You helped us in so many ways, SO many ways. I would re read things you wrote, facing my own fears and then finding the courage to say "NO" to people trying to help me in manners and tactics that I was 100% uncomfortable with, which was no help at all but all about spirit bashing a horse into submission. NO THANKS! You gave me the confidence to try bitless as well when EVERYONE told me "He will kill you and run off with you." I so glad that I listened to sweet Laz, who never disappoints me and to have your resources with your boys and your experience of time, patience, kindness and faith in the OTTB. xoxoxo

  3. I was having similar thoughts the other day as I was riding Harley. There's a lot both of us could work on--bending, flexing, my sorry seat, etc...And then I reminded myself that I wasn't going to any shows, events, etc. There's no pressure to perform, so why not just enjoy our rides and let Harley learn to relax (us much as he can) and have fun. As long as I'm relaxed (and stay in the saddle) all should go well. I've learned to expect startled jumps--it's just his nature and I'll have to live with it. But I think I may keep the bareback riding to the pasture where things can't get too out of hand! :)

  4. Kristen!

    Thank you so very much for the kind comment. I don't think you realize how much your words mean to me. Before blogging, I used to wonder if there was anyone out there that felt as I do about horses and because of blogging I "met" you and all our blogging friends.

    Your sweet Laz is one lucky boy because you are kind enough to know that it isn't just about you and your needs. You always ask what is in it for him too. And like every horse in the world would do, Laz repays you by giving you his very best each day.

    Thanks again for taking the time to say all made my day!


  5. Imel,
    You are SO right - you and Harley are on a fun journey that thankfully has no time constraints. And just look how far you have come already! You will never remember any shies and startled responses because they will all be sorted so quickly. Pie does still jump now and again as I posted about, but either I know him so well, or his jumps are less menacing. Today's ride was full of loud noisy trucks and lineman on poles and Pie barely reacted. He trusts me and I trust him and that trust is from our time together. You and Harley are on your way - you guys are great now and it will only get better!

  6. Hello sweetness!
    Reading your words is like being home~
    I too practice patience over cruel practices. Common senses have served us well. I'm surrounded by folks well meaning in horsecare, that treat them like people. Sad.

    But my little "hunter type", like.your Pie, is happy. The summers high heat has kept us riding smaller, which is not fitness producing.

    These end of summer, cooler nighted times, really bring our local wildlife around. We've had plenty of spooky rides due to her awareness of them. She's ever on the lookout- for that hidden Cougar-!

    Cute about Maisie...once the corn is cut, you'll all be more compy.
    I cat wait to read your friend's blog about your times!! You go girl!


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