Saturday, September 28, 2013

Hilarious tenacity

When I collect Pie each day I wonder where the Burdock burrs will be - mane? tail? Yesterday Little Richard and his pompadour foretop were waiting for me. Fortunately, these tenacious natural barbs are not very sharp, but rather more like velcro. 

Everyone has the burrs in their tails, but only Pie manages a "do" on top like this! After a long, slow, gentle removal process we tacked up and headed out for a glorious fall ride. 

In other tenacious news, Maizie's high school tennis team, above, finished their season undefeated last evening. These girls are in a tough conference and still achieved a 16-0 record. The beauty of this story is how these girls get along so well. They quickly became good friends on and off the court. As parents, Brian and I could not have asked for a better high school tennis experience than this one for Maizie's first season. The sincere, hilarious laughter never stops with this crew.

Our Maizie, third from the left, completed the season undefeated at the #3 singles spot, winning sixteen straight matches. I know she is a tough little customer anyway, but I marvel at how she kept it together every match with wind and after-school stresses. She is kind and quiet and sweet, but don't be fooled - she has sheer determination that will not quit! 

Another tough and tenacious family member, the adorable Noodlebug, makes her way up the barstool last evening to beg at the bar. This is her first rung but she will monkey herself the whole way to the top most days.

And the tenacious backyard groundhog who has been enjoying Brian's chair all summer is still at it. The photo above is from July, the one below is yesterday. Brian restored this 1970's chair and table set a few years ago and has been annoyed with himself because he rarely finds time to use it. One day this past spring he spied the groundhog reclining and smiled and called me to see. "At least someone is enjoying all my hard work," Brian exclaimed with glee. (Smart groundhog picked the right family!) Everyday, the groundhog is out there on the chair, sometimes completely upside, stretched out asleep. Hilarious!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

I can't take the way he sings but I love to hear him talk

I've been living in a golden world recently. Autumn supposedly arrived today, but our latitude has been enjoying fall sunlight angles for a few weeks. Golden light, golden rides, golden apples, fields of goldenrod. In a Charlie Bucket sort of way, because of horses in my life, I spend each day feeling like I've won a Golden Ticket! 

A golden ray of dusty light streams into the barn doors in the early morning and something about it reminds me of traveling as a child in the backseat of my parents car as we made our way through the south listening to (as Mick Jagger puts it) "gospel music on the coloured radio station". Sometimes when I'm cleaning stalls in that light I flip on either the Allman Brothers or a radio preacher. I can't make out the words too well, but the earnest twang in the background combines with the morning light to create the best time machine I've ever found. It is easy to believe in that space that I'm part of a less complicated, AM radio, ditsy-patterned-feedsack time. 

These photos are from midday so the light isn't quite as warm as in the morning, but still shows the gateway to my golden solitude. Entering our barn is something I will always treasure. I've walked through this doorway how many times? I was born in 1967 and probably started enjoying the barn a few years after. The earthy smell in here is a mix of hay and horses and the familiar "our barn" smell. I adore it! I'll never grow tired of that smell and I miss it each winter when nature's fragrances are all stolen by the cold temperatures.

My routine inside is always the same and never a chore:  I clean the stalls first. This is a silly-quick "task" since the horses are only in when I am riding. Therefore, the three stalls can be picked, turned and freshened with new sawdust if needed in about 10 minutes. Next, I throw hay bales from upstairs through a trap door into Foggy's stall. They've only started to get back into eating hay in the last week. My horses quit being interested in hay in late February or early March and restart it again this time of year. I sweep the barn and then the buckets have to be dumped and scrubbed and refilled (not my favorite part). I put grain in their feed tubs - Foggy and Sovey get approximately one cup of grain, Pie gets a tiny handful. 

I try to do all this without the boys noticing that I am on the property. I am sneaky because my absolute favorite thing is to go out to the outer pastures and collect them. If they see me or my car early, they will come running. Today they did not see me and I got to walk out to the highest point on the farm and look for them.

Sometimes I see three Loch Ness Monster humps barely visible above the goldenrod as they graze happily. Other times I can't find them at all which is the very best because it makes me feel like they get to live a truly "natural" life out away from people and man-made structures and objects. Today they were in the far finger pastures and their coats were unbelievably dark brown/black and shiny. When I see them I just squeal that they are MY horses! They are sooo beautiful! They do not run up to me if I walk out in their direction. If I talk to them they will go back to grazing and let me watch them as long as I want, but if they don't hear my voice they will snort and act like I am some sort of horrible predator.

They follow me toward the barn in a long, slow, walking train. Pie walks first behind me because that is the way it is done.

If you click this photo, above, you can see a quick video of a Pie ride through the goldenrod.

And if you click this trail photo above you can see Pie taking me through this part of our woods and then going off on a spur on his own because I wasn't paying attention!

Even cloudy, windy days have been fun this month. The horses are all enjoying the cool nights and breezy, bug-free days. Yesterday, a ride on Foggy got so long and involved and perfect, even though the wind was gusting and the skies were threatening rain, that I forgot my poor Maizie was playing tennis with friends back at the barn court. The guests had to leave and were afraid to leave her there alone since her irresponsible mother had left on a horse never to be seen again!

Of course, Maizie was perfectly fine and she assured our friends that she was used to this type of behavior from her errant, horse-obsessed mama. Later that evening, as if on cue, we found a package in our mailbox from the lovely Kristen and adorable Laz over at sweet horse's breath whose contents confirmed the understandable reason (as if there was any doubt) for my silly ways once and for all - Golden OTTB LOVE!!!!

Yes, it truly has been a golden week. This evening, while I typed this post, the setting sun was blinding me through our west window. This is how my phone captured it. Unbelievable.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

And the papers want to know whose shirts you wear

Yesterday's daily special! A ride on the Pie - with saddle. The whipping wind and farmer's tractor caused a few feisty bucks but the saddle helped keep me aboard.

These burrs were in his tail before our ride. I got them all out but there will be more waiting for me today.

Back out in the middle pasture with goldenrod and best friend. 

And here is my sweet tennis girl on the right with her teammates and friends. The team is undefeated and so is Maizie in singles - 10-0!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Crack a smile and cut your mouth

This horse Sovereign. What am I going to do with him? Earlier this summer the tip of his left ear was missing! Lopped right off and bloody. Needless to say, I was freaking out. I sprayed the Holy Water (Vetericyn) daily and it healed perfectly and the long hairs make it look fairly even with the other ear. We called him Van Gogh for a few days, poor honey. Now, the same size chunk is missing out of his lower lip. The lip is a difficult place to treat with spray.

In the photo above he is showing me his hoof. There is a matching notch out of that too. The farrier thinks that an abscess might have blown through although he was never off at all. His feet are all shiny from the wet grass.

I'm beginning to realize that most of the trouble comes from one impish younger sibling. Pie steers clear of all their hijinks, but the brothers nip and bite in gelding play incessantly. In addition, Little Foggy has wormed his way up the pecking order to where he can now steal apples from anyone without retribution. I've seen him mouth Sovey's ears and tug on his lips. All my searching for an errant nail and the whole time the problem was much bigger. Sovey is a rough, tough cream puff of an alligator who will bite humans in an instant but so gentle with his ear-nipping, lip-ripping baby brother.

Pie, by contrast, is rarely injured. Occasionally I have to put Neosporin on a cut, but not often. Yesterday the rotund boy took me on a long bareback ride through a neighborhood to the local cemetery. He is positively amazing in there. There are colorful, flapping flags and balloons and all kinds of horse-scary items, yet he keeps his cool. 

And in thrilling news - to me at least!!!!!!!!!!!! Pie and I were captured on Google Maps!!!!!! Last year I remember riding out by the road and I saw a car go by who looked to be Bing or Google. It was a tiny white vehicle, traveling super fast by us, but there were cameras way up high on all sides of it. Well, this morning I found the photos they took that day! Pie was good for the first second, but then he started to shy. In the second photo, below, you can see me leaning forward to reassure him. I only put up two pictures but there really is a whole series. I am so happy about this!!!!

Hopefully if you click the images they will enlarge.

The funniest part of this story is that later that day I mentioned it to Brian and he said that he thought he might have been photographed at our house three miles away. Sure enough, I found the photo of him in the van pulling out of our driveway! 

I am not sure why these photos of me riding Pie are a big deal to me, but they are. There are many things that I could be excited and proud about in my life but this series of candid photos are right at the top. I think it is the fact that I ride every single day and, arbitrarily, Pie and I were caught in the moment doing what we do. We have 40 acres and yet, there we were, right when the camera went zooming past. I know Brian wishes he was caught running. How lucky am I to have been captured at that split second doing what I love most in the world? Answer: VERY!!!

Saturday, September 7, 2013

we would go on endlessly

Sweet Sovereign waiting patiently before our ride the other day. This month has been unbelievably gorgeous!!!! Cool temperatures, low humidity, no bugs, and perfect horsey rides. 

Yesterday Foggy took me all over the property and then through the neighborhood beside our farm. We must have stopped and talked to six people and everyone I met said, "Isn't this the best day ever?" It was. Foggy gobbled apples that had fallen off the tree while I ate some warmed by the sun right off the branches. I kept wondering if I was in heaven.

I took this one of Maizie after school and you can see just how blue our skies have been. 

If you click the photo of the boys in the pasture, above, you can see a short video of them trotting up all wiggly with high action to be collected. Foggy and Sovey are not the best movers, but they usually don't look this silly. So funny!