Mar 31, 2010

Frazzled


It's only Wednesday.
The week is dragging;
It feels like
It should already be Friday.
Driving in to work
I put in the last CD to the audio book
“Chosen by a Horse”.
I knew the end was near
And I couldn’t deal with
What would result in smudged mascara and
A running nose.
I’d cry later and
I switched back to talk radio.
Even that couldn’t hold my attention.

Once at work
I had a cryptic email from a friend
That led me to believe he lost his job.
He had.
Another email from
My son’s teacher.
Another missed assignment
And concern for his grade.
I don’t remember school
Being this hard.
I also learned of another’s pain
Which was, no doubt,
A blow to her gut
Much worse
Than the one
I felt for her.
I needed to ride.


We coast through life
Most days,
Feeling like we are
Raising our kids right
Secure in our job
And loved by our family
And it frazzled me to think
It is all so fragile.
Nothing is a sure thing.
I needed to ride.

On my way home
I listened to the last chapters
Of that audio book
And I mourned the loss
Of Lay Me Down.
And I cried for my friends
And their families
And the losses they were
Tackling today
That will be with them for days on end.
I cried for my own vulnerability.
And what we take for granted
And shouldn’t.
I needed to ride.



At the barn
My mare stood quietly
As I tacked her up.
But once I was in the saddle
She was jittery and impatient
She made me work for it this time
No doubt she felt my anxiousness
Or sadness
Or whatever it was I was feeling
I’d like to think she knew
That I wasn’t right.
And that made us not right
But that I needed to ride.



As we moved further down the road
I could finally loosen her reins.
She snorted
I sighed.
And for that hour or so
My world was right.
Frazzled.
But okay.
And I rode on.

Mar 29, 2010

50/50 Weekend


It was a 50/50 weekend. Saturday was the bad 50. A total bust. It was cold, cloudy, and rainy. A Monday type of day. To make matters worse, I ate the day away. And now I have a fear of the scale. Yes, I'm still dieting. Those dang 10 winter pounds will not go away.

The other 50% of the weekend was sunny, albeit the wind was blowing terribly most of the afternoon. At least it dried things out a bit. I spent the afternoon spring cleaning the living quarters of my horse trailer. How come that is much more pleasant than cleaning the house? Then after a little yard work, I went and changed into my riding gear.

It seemed still. I thought the wind had died down as I left the yard. I moved Windy into a trot as I normally do when we leave our drive. She will give me less resistance leaving the herd if we move out quickly. We passed the neighbor’s farm whose grain bin dryers were going and started to trot up the first hill which must have provided some sort of a windbreak. Just as the wind whistled through my helmet, it dawned on me I wasn’t just hearing wind; but a fast moving vehicle.



No sooner did the thought cross my mind than a big white Chevy truck crested the hill dead center in the road. I was in my lane but the proximity to that dually was too close for comfort. In a less than gentle move, I yanked the rein to the right and dropped down off the incline of the road into the ditch, still moving at a pretty good clip. I lost my stirrup and my seat, but managed to stay on as I circled her to a stop.

The driver slowed. I remember thinking "don't let me fall off in front of him". I didn't. To his credit, I don’t know who he is but he has passed me before when riding and always slows down. As a rule, when the wind is strong, I don’t run the hills. I didn't realize the hill was blocking the wind until I almost crested it. Although our roads are not real high traffic, I won’t wear ear buds or listen to music when riding. Hearing what is going on around me is very important; especially if I can’t see what is coming down the road.

After I pulled my heart back out of my throat, we moved on down the road. The next truck that came upon us slowed way down, the wife and child smiling and waving big as they passed us. Windy evidently didn’t have any ill effects from me yanking her into the ditch earlier as she barely flicked an ear as the truck passed us.



The gate to the small rural cemetery was open as we passed, so I steered Windy in, careful to stay on the gravel road. I am one of those weirdoes who like to explore cemeteries. Some other day I’ll find a post for hitching Windy and check out this small graveyard.

Besides just one crappy day, the sunshine has finally returned. The farmer across the way is now harvesting his corn. Now that is the first time in my lifetime I have seen a corn harvest in March. He’d better hurry before we get another winter storm!


~~

(Check out the moon coming up in the horizon in the shadow pictures!)

Mar 26, 2010

Isn't She Beautiful....


Well, I’ll try this again.

Isn’t she lovely? Isn’t she beautiful? Or were the actual lyrics “wonderful?” Either way, bet that song will be going through your head the for the rest of the day.

As horse people, do you ever tire of watching them? I don’t.



"They just love to watch her strut!" Do you think Bob Segar had a horse in mind when he sang those words? If he ever watched a horse in play, he might have.

Yesterday, I let the herd out in the arena to stretch their legs. I took the camera and set it on "continous" action. When I scanned through the pictures later, songs kept playing my head.



“Every morning at the mine you could see him arrive. He stood 6 foot 6 and weighed 245." Blue wintered well. “When he hauls ass, it takes two loads,” one might say of Blue. Look at the dust fly!




Baby is not my favorite ride, but "she's a smooth operator" when she gets going.



"She's getting ready to fly. Fly away, fly away, fly a-way...." Look at this shot: I laughed when I saw Butter, the horse in the back. It looks like the other horses separated as she is either being rocketed up or was dropped from the sky. If you click on the picture to enlarge it, you will see her right hooves are not touching the ground.



“And the race is on," sings George Jones. Stay out of the way of the big girl!




“Tramps like us, baby we were born to run!” (Isn't Bruce Springsteen's daughter an equestrian?) Ginger joins the fun. And no horse runs faster than Ginger.



Rollin, Rollin, Rollin (by river….. )





Well I've been gone a long time
I really haven't been any place at all
Now two more days the same old ways
Where it really doesn't matter at all
But you could make the difference
About the way I feel today.
We'll have some fun but I gotta run
If Im gonna live I gotta play
But I don't know, where you've been
And I don't know who you've had in
But I know you've got exactly what I need

(Name THAT song & artist.)


If you are still with me, this post was so random…. I had no idea where it was going and I’m not sure if I ever got there!




Isn't She Lovely....



I am very frustrated! When I went on to Blogger, things had changed. It wanted me to upload my pictures from Picasso. So I made an album & did. Then when I published, they were a mess... too big for the screen. So when I went back to edit, the old editor was there.... but the post was so screwed up .... I tried to fix it and frustration mounted.... I am burning daylight sitting at the computer. So, the rest of the blog will be up later... it was kind of corny anyway.

Mar 21, 2010

Expo - The Conclusion


The Mane Challenge consists of five events: Showmanship, Versatile Pleasure, Trail, Driving and Speed. My events were Showmanship, Pleasure and Trail. I had already gotten showmanship out of the way. Pleasure was next. Prinny is the western pleasure king; but his rider wasn’t necessarily the queen.

I typically ride with two hands. Riding with one hand was a challenge. And I didn’t realize until I practiced how busy my hands are. There aren’t any good pictures of my pleasure class and I couldn’t hit delete fast enough on the video that surfaced! My hands were so busy you would think I was crocheting! Right at the end, I found myself behind Deb W’s daughter, Heather. Her horse is a western pleasure deluxe model and Prinny fell quietly in behind him. Had we been behind them the entire time, I might have done better. But too little too late. We didn’t place in this event, but I hadn’t planned on it.

On Saturday morning, the first class and my last one for the team was trail. It’s slow and Prinny does it well. We walked the course on foot before the actual event. Cross a bridge. Check. Get mail from a mailbox. Check. Trot over logs. Yes. Back in an “L”. Yes. Lope. Sidepass. Ground tie and I’m done. This is doable. Not only does Prinny know this stuff, so do I! Windy and I get our mail every time I am out!


We cross the bridge spot on. Beautiful! We pick up the trot to the mailbox. Whoaaaaa. Then the fun begins.



I’m told I leaned left, Prinny went right. It is much funnier to hear Annette tell the story, but evidently my legs and seat were giving Prinny cross messages and I didn’t know it. I'd move him in, he'd move out. I'd move left, he'd back. Wiggle-worming toward the mailbox. I do recall making eye contact with someone in the audience right about the time I whispered an “S-bomb” to myself. I am sure they could read lips. Eventually – after what seemed like forever – I retrieved the mail.



From there we crossed the logs beautifully.




And backed in an “L”.



We loped to the log for a lovely sidepass.



And Prinny ground tied like a pro. We placed 5th in this class and I was thrilled. If only (if only, if only, if only) I hadn’t screwed up the mailbox. Prinny was THAT good in this class.


Overall, the Shoofly Pet Sitting team took 9th out of 12 teams. Not bad for our first show. My team mates did very well in their classes and should be proud of their efforts. And best of all, we had fun!

Mar 19, 2010

My Virtual Ride


As promised, the temperatures hit the mid sixties yesterday. And best of all, the sun was shining most of the day, albeit it was a bit hazy by the time I got home. It was hard to stay at work all day after the crazy winter we have had. We midwesterners are pretty tough, but I think I speak for most when I say we don’t want a winter like this again! It truly was the worst that I remember and I’m not the only one saying that!

I got home shortly after 5:00. It was casual day at work, so didn’t even need to change my clothes – just put on my boots and headed for the barn. Took the halter and lead from the tack room and then looked at my horse standing in the corral looking at me. Nothing but mud between us.

Now horses aren’t like cats. You can’t “here kitty, kitty” them. I do have a grain call that I give them when they are out to pasture, but Windy ain’t no fool. I had a halter, not a grain can. So catch me if you can, she said as she turned away from me! I tippy- toed on the outside of the corral trying to stay out of the mud. Looking for dry areas (unsuccessfully I might add), I hopped across the mud and poop toward my mare, as if on stepping stones. She flagged her tail and ran the other way. But not before she saw me offer one of the other mares (ah, good girl, Butter) something in my pocket. Faked her out! Curiosity got the best of her. I won.



Once saddled, my horse, my dog and I headed down our roads. Wearing just a lightweight jacket, it felt like March in Nebraska should feel. I had a little bit of a “spring” horse underneath me but I expected it and she was nothing I couldn’t handle. A little scary when I thought she broke a rein. She didn't. It unsnapped when she rubbed her leg. Of course it had to happen when I was chatting on the cell phone. Everything bad happens when I'm chatting on the cell phone. Maybe I should stop that.

After the first mile, she no longer thought about going home. We did some long trotting and loped the flat bottoms. The roads were mostly quiet. The terrorist driver in the 1/2 ton silver truck passed us once and wasn't even going full throttle for a change. Every time I see him, I always think of that old movie “Duel” with Dennis Weaver. (Is he still alive, Debi?) Things are looking up.



We rode down to where the sign says the bridge is out. It isn’t. We rode to and across the bridge and didn't fall in. Didn't even worry about falling in. I think the house on the other side of the bridge would be worried about falling in, too, if the bridge really were out. The sign going the other direction says the road is closed. It isn’t. But heck, it gives me a half mile of riding without worrying about Dennis Weaver’s nemesis in the Ram truck.


video

All said I rode just under 7 miles. Not terribly far and not real fast. But a good start in the late season. If we continue to get some nice days, I’ll do the 9 mile loop next. And there is also another section I have been hoping to check out soon. I think it will be awhile before the trails are dry enough for horse traffic.

I thought about all of you when I was riding and hoped you got out to enjoy "our ride". The Big Fat Lying Weatherman told the truth for once about the nice day. He's never wrong when it is bad news, you know. Yep, it’s been snowing all day today. I told the Horsetales group that I think he and Mother Nature are sleeping together. And I don’t like it. Pure evil.


Mar 17, 2010

Take a Virtual Ride with Me!


I have no pictures from my next expo event… but I’m on the look-out for some. I won’t keep you in suspense long… I’ll post the finale of the Mane Challenge soon; pictureless if need be.




Meanwhile, back at the mud ranch, it reached.... (drumroll please).... a big honkin’ 51 degrees today! And best of all, the sun graced us with its presence about 3:00 this afternoon. I could have sworn I heard angels singing! Heck, I was singing! We were literally doing flip flops in the air! And better yet, tomorrow is going to be in the 60’s! Yes, 6-0! Eighty degrees warmer than it was at the coldest part of the winter! It is sooo time to ride!





I’ve challenged the Horsetalers and I’ll challenge you, my blog readers, to take a virtual ride with me. On Thursday, saddle up your favorite horse and ride! Go down the trail, down your gravel road, or in your pasture, arena – wherever! Celebrate the warmest day in eastern Nebraska in 2010! And know there are others miles away doing the same thing. Then report back here how it went.


Where did you go?
What horse did you ride?
How long was your ride?
Was there excitement on your ride?


I’m off work at 4:30. Hope to be home shortly after 5:00. Clothes changed, saddled & ready to ride by 5:30! With daylight saving time (thank you Franklin Roosevelt and Richard Nixon), it is light until almost 7:30 now.




Why all this excitement over 60 degrees? Because mother nature is just toying with us. Seeing what we are made of. Because snow is expected here again on Friday. It’s the only break we are going to catch for awhile. So just do it! Do it now!


~~~~~~~~~


Rosella Lydia Martin

June 16, 1927 - March 17, 2005

I miss you, Mom.

Mar 16, 2010

Expo - Day 2


The Mane Challenge has become a fan favorite at the Nebraska Horse Expo. It's open to any group of two to 4 horses who wish to form a team. Within the team, each horse/rider must compete in a minimum of 2 of the 5 events to demonstrate versatility of that particular horse. Each team may not have more than 2 horses in each event. Clear as mud? Actually, it’s not so complicated.

I participated on the Shoofly Pet Sitting team with my friends, Robyn on her horse, Coda and Jess with Cutter. Originally, I had planned to ride Windy and compete in Showmanship and the speed event. I’ve never shown Windy before and my worry was getting her to set-up correctly for Showmanship. The weather did not give me any breaks to get her ready. So I borrowed Joni's horse, Prinny, instead. A few weeks before Expo, we re-evaluated the horses we had on our team and changed my events to Trail, Western Pleasure and Showmanship.

Ali Johnson, Prinny’s usual girl, was my “horse show Mom”. We practiced showmanship as we waited in line to bathe Prinny. On Friday morning, we got some arena time to practice western pleasure. Prinny knew what he was doing. It was me who needed to learn the right buttons to press. I’m sure 21-year-old Prinny was thinking to himself “here we go again – another amateur!”

Showmanship was the first event on Friday. There were 22 participants in the class. Ali advised me to try to show in the first dozen. Other “moms” coached me from the sidelines. “Stay away from those cones,” they warned. Especially when pivoting.

My turn came. Walk to cone 1. Trot to cone 2. Pivot at cone 3. I swore I had given myself enough room for the pivot. But no! As we circled around, there was that damn cone underneath us! I kept a smile on my face as the voice in my head said “Oh, sh….!” Luckily neither Prinny nor I touched the cone.

We proceeded to the judge & then were asked to back up 5 steps and then stop and set-up. Prinny was perfect, as usual. The judge did her 15 second look/see as I followed her around the horse in exaggerated steps. It reminded me a little of when I was on the drill team. I kept wanting to point one toe in a pose when I stopped, but I didn’t. After being dismissed, we lined up with the other participants along the rail and waited until all entries were shown.

The judge made one more pass by our horses. As part of Showmanship, we followed the judge, changing sides as she passed, huge smiles in place and butterflies in my stomach. Six horses would place in this event. We waited patiently as the judge passed the results to the announcer.

I wasn't sure if the winners would be called first or if they would dismiss those who didn't place. Then it dawned on me that I didn't even know what my number was! I asked the girl next to me to read the number on my back. It was #139.


The announcer then said that he would read the numbers of those who placed, beginning with 6th place. Okay, good. Now I knew. And the next thing I heard was: “Sixth place goes to #139." Oh my God, that was us! Prinny and me! Number 139!

I had just placed 6th in my first horse show!

Mar 15, 2010

Expo - Day 1

Expo started last Wednesday evening for me. Case and I loaded up Windy and took off to Lincoln. I had a nice dinner with my son, settled my mare into a stall at the Event Center and plugged in my trailer to warm up the living quarters. After a quick trip to the Wal-Mart, Case and I “camped” for the first time in 2010! I can’t think of a better way to spend my birthday on a cold March day.

We woke up Thursday morning to a couple of inches of snow on the ground and big flakes coming down. If it weren’t March and Expo weekend and if we weren’t still recovering from the winter of snow hell, it would have been lovely. Instead it was cold and damp and miserable. But the show must go on.

The Nebraska Horse Expo didn’t officially start until noon that Friday, but Expo staff and volunteers report early to help move in vendors and equine and set up booths and activities. I met with the sound guy early and turned him over to our sound experts. Next I delegated volunteers to set up the photo contest display for the judges who were arriving later that afternoon. It was old home week visiting with our vendors. Small talk of a trying winter and a nasty weather day, but everyone was excited for Expo. It was good to be out with horse people again.

Our school is on spring break, so after track practice McCain came to town with his friends to set up the t-shirt booth. After an early supper, we started bathing and grooming the horse I was competing with in the Mane Challenge. My friend Joni and her daughter brought horse show veteran, Prinny, for me to ride in what would be my first horse show.

More to come....

Mar 10, 2010

Unstuck


I rode on Sunday! Yep, saddled up my Windy mare and rode about 8 miles with my friend, Tammy M. and my good dog, Ritz. It was cloudy and only in the 40’s, but there was no wind. The gravel roads had halfway decent footing and we never met a single car the entire ride. So relatively speaking, after a winter like this, it was a heck of a good day for a ride!

I’m thinking Windy has put on a few pounds during her forced hiatus. I had to loosen the off-billet a notch. She felt rounder, too. And she puffed a little bit when we loped up that last hill! My horse probably thinks I felt a little heavier, too. And that I puffed a bit. I am and I did. We both have work to do to get back into riding shape!



Yesterday I pulled out my 2 horse trailer, put air in three of the four tires and took Windy to my farrier’s house for a trim. Our yard is so muddy right now that there is just no where dry for him to trim. He has a nice indoor barn to do the trimming. If nothing else, her feet are ready for expo. Blue's feet (above)? Not so much.



This morning we pulled our gooseneck trailer out of its winter spot and through the muddiest part of our driveway. It made it without getting stuck. We parked it near the house so I can begin packing for Expo. Anyone want to bathe a horse for me?

Mar 5, 2010

Short Post


I always envy those bloggers who write short, witty posts. I tend to get windy. My stories are usually more long and drawn out. You would think with the lack of horse activity going on around here, short would be easy for me. Since I am short on time today, here is my shot at a condensed version.

Of Expo Interest: I could not catch a break in the weather to start working with Windy for the Mane Challenge, so I am borrowing a friend’s show horse. I am taking a crash course in western pleasure and trail today. Windy will still go to expo. She gets to be the NECTRA demo horse. I hope she behaves herself.

Of Blog Interest: Rhode Island has checked in. I have finally had visitors to this blog from every state.


The Remodel Project: Still no curtains in the dining room or office. Half bath remains under construction.

Weather: We’ve had an incredible sunny week with highs in the mid-forties. The snow is melting. The place looks like a mud-hole. Paw prints are much easier to clean on wood floors than they were on carpeting.

That's all I got today.....

Mar 2, 2010

The Horses are Loose!


The snow has started to thaw pretty well. Although the pasture is still snow covered for the most part, the corrals are getting muddy. There was about an hour of daylight left when I got home yesterday. I thought I would give the horses a break and let them stretch their legs in the pasture for a few minutes. I wasn’t worried about bringing them back in again. They know the sound of the grain can.

They trotted out when I opened the gate but even though Ritz was right on their heels urging them on, they never really took off like I thought they might. They would charge at the dog occasionally, but mostly they ignored him as they rolled and pawed for grass. Really, I was quite disappointed they hadn’t given me any show for good picture opportunities. Three of them had even gone back into the corral.



Windy and Butter were still in the pasture near the corral gate as I made my way around the barn to help John with the calves. I was well aware that about 10 foot of fence on the other side of this 10 acre pasture was down. John had to get through it to get to the hay bales as they were drifted from the other side. But most of the horses have been in the pasture for ten years, the youngest for almost 6 years. They know the boundaries. Even when I open a fence to let them through, if it isn’t one they are familiar with, I have a hard time getting them to cross. They respect electric wire very much.

Not five minutes later, I peeked around the barn to check on them. I saw all five at the far end of the pasture: the end with the downed fence. I hollered at them in my “get food” voice. It was then I realized they were on the other side of the drifts. They’d gone through the downed fence. But even so, I wasn’t panicked. They had heard my voice and I saw them trotting around the house coming back toward the barn.



Something (Ritz?) made them change direction and I first heard their thundering hooves going down the driveway and it was seconds later I saw them galloping down our county road, full speed toward the highway a quarter of a mile away. I screamed at John that the horses were out and to come help. I was torn for a moment between running for the tack room for halters and ropes or my truck. Without much hesitation, I ran to the Durango. I grabbed some twine in the garage, jumped in and sped down the road.

A neighbor must have just passed our driveway or was coming up this direction. I found them stopped at the highway, criss-crossing the road. Another car had stopped on the other side. There is about a mile of flat highway so I knew we were spared from any traffic. As the horses were standing not 25 feet from me, I opened the highway gate to our pasture, but before I could move them in, they got spooked again and trotted away.





My neighbor’s wife got out of the passenger side of the car and approached Baby and she stopped. I was within 10 feet of her when the other horses went around their car and took off further down the highway. I ran back to my Durango as the neighbor took his car after the horses. Not speeding after, but alongside to try to get in front of them or to push them off the highway. There was only a ½ mile of highway left until it crested a hill. Luckily, the horses darted off the highway and onto a field road.

It was dusk now. I watched them as they galloped across the field and continued heading north. By now, John had passed me in his truck and he headed to the next mile road. I called the kids and told them to get halters, leads and come down here with the ATV. Our neighbor on the corner joined us in his truck and he and John stood guard as I drove back to the nearest farm to get closer to the field. I saw the horses had stopped in the driveway of the next farm and got out of my truck and started walking toward them, talking softly as I walked so they could recognize my voice. When Windy approached me, I slipped some twine around her neck.

Case arrived on the ATV and McCain in the truck. I was disappointed to find the only halter they brought was a nylon halter that was slightly bigger than yearling sized. The other tack? A rope rein (not "roping reins" – ONE rope rein), an old rope and another rope that looked to be an untied rope halter or a dog leash. I barked at McCain about not bringing the right halters and he said it was all he could find. I later found out he went to the tack room of the living quarter trailer which has been pretty much cleaned out for the winter. He could have found a dozen halters and leads in the tack room of the barn. Definitely does not have my horse genes.

I slipped the tight halter on Windy. John and McCain put the ropes around Ginger's and Blue’s neck. With Case using the ATV to keep Butter and Baby with our herd and the neighbor escorting us in his truck to keep traffic slow and at bay, we walked our little herd home. Three quarters of a mile down the highway and another quarter mile up our road.

It was really about as much excitement as my brittle winter heart and bones could endure.

Mar 1, 2010

Warmer Days & Free Underwear!

The above picture taken by The Pioneer Woman represents how I feel today. I am doing the Happy Dance! No reason other than it’s March 1st! Almost the end of the longest winter of my life! Time stood still in January and barely moved in February. And now that those months are over, I sit and wonder where time has gone? The older you get the more that happens, you know. The kids say everything "takes forever" and when I blink, time is gone!

I am closing in on one of those ends of decade birthdays. (No happy dance there.) It doesn't seem possible when I don’t feel a day over 33. I can do all the things I could do then except one: stay up late. I start to fade about 10:00 pm. Any later than 11:00, I become incoherent. I am a terrible mother because I can't even stay awake long enough to make sure my teenager makes it home okay. (Please don't tell him that.)

I got a coupon in the mail for a free pair of Victoria Secret underwear. Now that’s a new marketing gimmick. I can’t help wonder what the demographics were and why I was on the list. Now is not the time in my life when I worry about what kind of underwear I have on or what they look like other than ensuring I won't be embarrassed should I get into an accident, and I won't. I have to admit I got more excited about the recent $5 off Nutrena feed coupon . But I am slightly amused over the opportunity to get free underwear. I would definitely use it if the nearest VS store was at least in my neighborhood but doubt I’ll drive over 40 miles for a free pair of undies. But I did put it in my purse just in case.


The last few days has it started to warm up to the 30’s. It’s been a welcome relief from the single digit temperatures we had for most of February. It seems that after the last storm in January, we just all hunkered down and went about our business in the coldest winter of our generation. Not like we had any choice in the matter. The drifts around our home are still huge. I’m curious how long it will take to melt and wonder where all the water will go. It’s going to get messy! I can't imagine when the trails will be dry enough to ride. But can't imagine going much longer not riding.

The Big Fat Lying Weatherman has teased me with the possibility of temperatures in the 50’s this weekend. Wow! That's tank top weather! Maybe I'll get a new bra at VS, too!

Twelve days to go until Nebraska Horse Expo….