Monday, February 27, 2012

Running over the same old ground

Here is a shadow shot of Pie pawing for his carrots. I do not encourage pawing. Pie came to us very demonstrative with his right front and thankfully does his best to avoid humans. My mom cuts the carrots outside for Pie and many days she cuts them way too slow for a Starvin' Marvin like Mr. Pie.

It was a double header today in that I rode Pie and Sovey. Both were superb. I rode Pie in the morning with a saddle and Sovey bareback in the afternoon.

My phone is antiquated, so the quality is horrid, but here are two videos of  Pie. The first one below is funny because Pie is difficult to get moving. I am posting - goofy diagonal mess up at first, but Pie is barely trotting. My mom is cracking up laughing while she films!

And here is another one of me hugging and talking baby talk to Pie. He is the best listener - when I say, "What is Grandma Eby doing to you?" he perks his head and ears up and looks at her like "hey, yeah, what are you doing with that camera?" Cutie boy.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Everybody tag along

Here is a WINDY video from Wednesday of my ride on Foggy. It is short but noisy because of the wind, so turn your sound down first.

This gives you some idea of how fast this little guy walks. We had a great ride around the farm and neighborhood, but he was a little hurried for some reason. He walks slower if I let go of the reins completely which isn't always too smart!  He was full of himself at the beginning of the ride. He lowers his nose playfully and swings it back and forth and bucks a little! His bucks are not like Pie's...but still!  I can't help but laugh at him though. His playfulness is very puppy-like. I don't think it would be mistaken as mean-spirited by any rider, but I still pull his head up and keep him with me. My three boys give me wonderful rides daily. I am fortunate to have them. 

And, it was 62 degrees!  

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

And the wind began to howl

Here is a map of my ride on Pie yesterday morning. Click to enlarge. This is fairly typical of my daily rides. Pie and I added a new spur in the neighborhood. He is amazing for a 6 year old OTTB. He walks down the streets and looks at all the flags and mailboxes and sewer hole covers. He loves to touch things because I "click and treat" him when he touches scary objects. Yesterday he touched a yellow fire hydrant for the first time. In Florida, I used fire hydrants to mount so I am glad to add that to Pie's list of things he can handle. 

Mid-way through our ride on the new loop, loud emergency vehicles whizzed by out on the main road. Pie was a wonderful boy and did nothing. The one thing I don't like about our farm is the noise. There are trucks on the turnpike and loud helicopters and trains and announcers at the auto-auction. There is the constant din of loud traffic and the bouncing of trailers over culverts. We are also near a fire/ambulance hub so there are emergency vehicle sirens all day. It is a noise pollution nightmare for me. But, my three horses are so used to all the noise and commotion. I got my dream of owning a police horse!  All three rarely flinch at any kind of noise. Pie never seemed to notice the fire sirens yesterday even though we were in a spooky new part of the neighborhood. 

I don't want to ride through a neighborhood, but the trails and fields don't last long on our daily rides. Yesterday, Pie kindly waited until we returned to our farm to "use the facilities" so I didn't have to go pick up manure in my Mini. I am sure that is a funny site when I arrive in my car with a muck bucket and shovel and start scraping the street!

The wind picked up on our return and we had a bouncy last straightaway back to the barn. Pie was happy to be home, I think, and he was light and airy and flighty with the gusts. Then, one happy snort and he walked into the wagonshed like a gentle giant. What a good ride!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

How many lives are living strange?

Here I am, yesterday, manually pushing Sovereign's ears forward! What a goofball I am.

Here's one with the alert ears! What do you see, Sovey?

And this is Sovey looking toward the barn with a slightly perturbed glance. I left baby Pie, otherwise known as Old Yeller, in the small paddock and he is screaming his head off. Mostly, I put the left-behind-boys in the barn and Pie keeps quiet, but sometimes I mix it up. Pie doesn't yell the whole time, just periodically when he thinks Sovey is getting a barstool apple and he is missing out. Foggy is there with Pie, but Foggy is happy and quiet. He would never make a peep. Pie is my squeakiest wheel. And, Sovereign is my old soul who has to endure all of our hijinks.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

See, I'm riding my blues away

Me on Sovereign last week

Warning: This post might get philosophical and wordy.

On Valentine's Day I had a super amazing learning experience about trusting yourself and about taking the time to allow your ideas to work. 

All three horses have given me fun, sensible rides recently, even though our temperatures are now seasonally cold and windy. I rode Pie on Sunday wearing the wrong clothes (insert Wallace saying "It's the wrong trousers, Gromit, and they've gone wrong!") because I wore light layers to do farm chores and my mother kindly had already done all the work! Therefore, I had two glorious hours before Maizie's tennis match so I hopped on Pie in a wind storm without my Carhartts. Brr - icy! He was just tricky enough to keep me focused on the ride rather than my frozen extremities. 

Monday was a bareback ride on my Sovey. I left the other two hooligans in the pastures (I usually tuck them safely in the barn.) Sovey and I rode the perimeter outside the fence with our two friends inside the fence toddling along behind us. As I smugly thought to myself that I was able to "ride" three horses at the same time since they were all getting nice, ambling exercise, Sovey spied a dubious pile of frozen manure and wheeled around and started cantering back home with his side-lined herd in tow. Snorting and bucking, Pie and Foggy added to the frenzy while I cursed myself for riding bareback. I don't really want to fall off, but my biggest worry is that our horses will be loose on the road if I get tossed. Our property is not completely fenced which is a big worry as I ride. 

Four more approaches to the evil manure monster and four more quick retreats left me without a plan. So, we stopped and stood there and waited. I just sat there on him and let him look. We sat there for a long time. We did nothing. This exercise would have been more meaningful to him, I think, if Pie, the clowning, nervous lip flipper wasn't to our right frantically flipping his lip, but Sovey was able to reassess the situation and I was able to sit and think. Let me just say that I do not believe Sovereign to have been actually frightened of the pile after his second approach, but, with horses, what is the difference if they are really scared on not? You have to find a way to get them to agree to follow your direction. I asked him to approach again and this time I rode toward the pile like we were going into a fence. I had conviction and we went by it perfectly. I am glad I took the time to stop and think about it.

Tuesday, Valentine's Day, was a morning hour ride on Pie that was a non-event. He was a lovey-cutie boy. I did use a saddle, but probably didn't need it. Then, after post-ride grazing I rushed home at 11 am because Lake, my 22 year old stepson, was coming to have lunch with us and to fix my computer. I didn't realize that the next 10 hours (!) would be spent learning a valuable life lesson that can help my horse life too.

My laptop hinge had cracked and the cover needed replaced. Lake is a quiet, calm, computer savvy kind of guy so he offered to fix it for me. He brought his sweet fiance, Katie, and together with Brian, we all had a great lunch and visit. Lake quickly fixed the cover and restarted the computer to make sure it was working well. The computer started, but Windows would not start.

Lake started sweating and looked shocked. He could not figure out what had gone wrong. He felt confident he did everything right. Two hours turned into four, so I took Katie to her house so she could go to work. When I returned, Maizie was home from school and Lake was still sweating and my computer was still not booting up Windows.

Maizie and I went running and Lake opened the computer again and re-did all his previous work to make sure he didn't inadvertently forget to hook something up. Like he thought, it all was fine and should have worked. At 5 pm, he again checked the connections. No luck. We ate dinner. Lake couldn't eat. He was worried, apologetic, sick to the stomach and mostly, confused. He could not figure this out and was losing confidence in himself and not trusting his computer knowledge with each passing minute.

I was amazingly (uncharacteristically) calm throughout the whole day. This computer holds my writing, my artwork, my life, but it doesn't hold Maizie or Brian or my horses so I tried to keep it all in perspective. I imagined what it would be like for me to work with a difficult horse in my slow, unorthodox, non-lunging, grazing and grooming, bitless-way and how that might look to the owner. Most horse people would never understand that I really do know what I am doing. I told Lake that I had confidence that he really did know what he was doing. He wasn't buying. He was devastated and no longer trusting himself.

At 6 pm Lake and Brian hatched a plan to buy a new hard drive and transfer all my information and files and photos onto it. I asked them for 24 hours. They both were skeptical. What could I do in 24 hours? I had zero ideas, but I knew that I needed 24 hours before I would let my hard drive be transferred.

Lake left at 7 pm and Maizie and Brian went to the library. I was left alone with my Window-less computer. I had Maizie's laptop set up right beside mine so I could research the problem. I usually can fix any jam I get into by researching, but I knew this was a big one and I was unlikely to solve the problem.

Online I read a zillion accounts of how people fixed this problem by doing something. Each account was different and involved changing codes in the Bios. (For perspective on how little I know, I am so old-school that I kept calling the Bios "DOS" because that is what it was called when I learned about computers). I went into the Bios and saw what they did, but I didn't feel good about changing anything.

I just kept reading. Buried in the middle of all the "quick fixes" from fast moving computer guys was one lone account from "Sam" who said that when this happened to his computer, he went to bed and in the morning it worked fine. That sounded right to me!

So, I sat there and just waited. I did nothing. By 8:45 pm when Brian and Maizie returned from the library, my computer booted Windows and was working perfectly. We phoned Lake and told him the amazing news.

Lake had done everything right. The computer "brain" just needed time to process the change. How much time do horse brains and people brains need in order to process new or old ideas? Sure, you can keep changing things and "fixing" them and re-fixing them, but sometimes waiting and doing nothing is the very thing a brain needs.

Also, how many times do we double think what we really KNOW in our hearts to be correct? Lake knew he had hooked up my computer correctly, but he had to trust himself and that is so tough when everyone is waiting for quick results.

I work alone with my horses. If I need to stop and do nothing and look like I don't know what I am doing, I can do that. In Florida this year, I think there were many times when I looked like an idiot because there were people around. They were all so kind and well-meaning, but I rarely share horse training philosophies with anyone I meet. By "share" I mean, I rarely explain them but I also mean, I rarely find anyone who "shares them" - uses my same methods to train horses. My views are unusual, but they work for me and most important, they are what I believe is right for the horse. It took me 40 years to believe that my horse training system might work and it took me that long to have the courage to not care if I look like I don't know what I am doing.

My Valentine's Day lesson - #1 Trust yourself  and  #2 Give it time to work!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Moon rise, thoughtful eyes

We got a lovely snow on Wednesday and it was still clinging to the trees Thursday morning for my ride on Pie. The snow melted and is mostly gone now. I uploaded these two photos and could not figure out what the heck was in the foreground left corner. Then I realized that my mother took her gloves off to snap the photos and they are featured prominently! I spend a lot of time cracking up laughing when I see my day's photos.

Pie's ears with the barn in the distance. Foggy and Sovey are two brown blobs in front of the barn.

Our shadow in the snow. Pie shied right after I snapped this one and I flew forward onto his neck and did a face-plant in his mane. It almost was a face-plant into the snow!

Our trails were so beautiful, but the boughs were heavy and low and Pie and I couldn't fit too well underneath most of them. Tons of snow fell off and landed all over his back, my saddle and me. I had planned to ride Foggy too yesterday, but I had to go home because the snow was wet and melting and my clothes were soaked.

Here is a view of poor Pie's butt after the first bough of snow dropped on us. 

Maizie didn't have school on Wednesday because of an in-service day. It happened to snow so she and I listened to music and baked snowy moon cookies - yum!

Here are the Daddy and baby Mock Orange shrubs at our house during the snow.

And this is a view of our moonlit walk to the bus stop on Thursday morning.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

In a garage by the motorway

Yesterday morning we had an impromptu winter party at our gate that leads to the Webercroft neighborhood. Here neighbor Bill is to the left and neighbor Russ is framed by Sovey's adorable ears. I love meeting up with them and talking in the spring and summer, but winter time usually means no visiting. This winter has been different because of our great temperatures. It makes you realize why people in the south are so friendly - they have more temperate time in the year for chatting. We northerners are usually squirreled away in our warm homes with great big mugs of coffee!

Bill and his wife recently moved to Webercroft and amazingly, coincidentally, we bought my first bike from Bill back in the 1970's. My mom and Bill's mom taught swimming together then, and now, all these years later, we ended up being neighbors. I loved that bike! It had the banana seat and high rise handlebars of the seventies. I stuck the ubiquitous oval STP sticker right in the middle of the seat.

Here I am on my new bike, the cute Sovey as we head out at the beginning of our ride. It was breezy, but I have on my trail running shoes so you know it can't be too cold! Sovey was a perfect boy. We did lots of trotting and I was able to get him to lower his ostrich head and stretch out for a few circles - no easy task!

Brown woods look tangled and dead, but they'll come back green and lush. I sure hope my pastures do too!

Sorry for the delay in posting about the kind Liebster award bestowed on my blog from Kristen at Sweet Horse's Breath. Kristen blogs about her first horse, sweet OTTB, Lazarus. She and Laz have come so far together and are inspirational to all horse lovers. Thanks Kristen!

Liebster means "dearest" in German and is passed on to blogs with fewer than 200 followers. 

Here are the five blogs I would like to pass the award to - I think you all already won - no worries about doing it again - just enjoy. If you haven't won before you can copy and paste my badge or get the real one online. 

I may be absent from commenting on all the blogs. Don't worry - I will still be reading your horsey adventures! I started a new horse writing project in December and it is great fun. I am going to try to keep up with my own blog in order to have a journal of what I am doing with the boys.  

Sunday, February 5, 2012

All the young dudes

Blurry cell phone camera makes a comeback - this is me on Pie this morning. Lately, it is chilly in the mornings (35 degrees) but then it warms up to near 50. Last Tuesday, it was 60!  I have been having great rides on all my young dudes.

With the warmup, I am able to ride bareback and Friday Sovey went in just a halter. Spoiled boys - spoiled me.  How lucky am I to get to ride bareback in a halter in February in Pennsylvania!?! 

Today was the first day I took Foggy for a long ride off the property. I did use a saddle and the bitless bridle just in case. No need to worry - he was amazing. He loved the diversion. My normal rides are often made up of many loops in our woods and fields. Our farm is surrounded by subdivisions - Brian calls it "Little Central Park" - 40 acres in the middle of developments. So after my Pie ride, I hopped on Foggy and took a small trail to one such development, Sunnyland. We walked down their quiet streets and Foggy was adorable - an absolute dream. He never flinched. If he were fatter, I would ride him off the property and just keep going...