Apr 28, 2010

In Her Blood

From sire to sire
It’s born in the blood
The fire of a mare
And the strength of a stud

I wish these were better pictures. I don't often get shots of Windy and Ginger side by side. Windy is a taller and leaner, but you can definitely see the resemblance to her mama. I can also see it in their faces. We'll never breed Ginger again and I doubt I'll ever breed Windy. When she is too old to haul me around, I'll be too old to want to ride a young horse.

Apr 25, 2010

Building on the Pieces

On Horsetales the other day, one of the trainers brought up the topic of measuring one's success to that of other people; an unfortunate part of human nature we all seem to explore occasionally. It seems we do a lot of that in the horse world. I imagine people have similar thoughts in other hobbies as well.

I posted the following thoughts on the subject to the group and one of the members suggested my post was a blog-worthy, if for no other reason than to save the thoughts that I articulated about myself. I thanked him for the suggestion and will share it with you. This was my response to a Horsetales thread titled Building the Pieces.

Riding Jugg in 2002

"Thinking about Terri's post about "building the pieces", as a rider, there were times I felt like that when I first started getting active with others in the horse world. I felt like my horses would never do what that person's horse does. It will never be as pretty or as smart. I'll never be as good of a rider as her or him. It wasn't long after that first Cowgirl Weekend and the beginning of Horsetales that I finally figured out that I am putting too much work into trying to find the right horse to do all those things instead of making myself happy with what I want to do. I had a herd of green broke horses at best and there was no way I was doing them any good. I needed to pick a horse and stick with it."

Blue & I - circa 2003

"And I also came to accept the fact that I started this hobby-sport-obsession way too late in life to really worry too much about becoming a superstar. That I really just needed to be happy with what I'm doing and be as safe as I can. I fixed the pretty part. :) And then I took some lesson to try to fix me. Knowing I'll never make up for the decades I missed and knowing also that I have a full-time job and full-time kids and other obligations - I can only do the best I can with the time and horse and knowledge that I have. And if I'm still having fun at the end of the day, that is all that matters. And the last time I checked, as long as it isn't 15 below zero with snow up the butt, I am still having fun."

Riding Jo in 2004

"I have my moments. I have those same kind of moments in unhorse-related things. It is called life. Things aren't always perfect & if you say they are, you are a liar. It's how you deal with them that matters. The girl struggling the other night ended up walking her horse back. I don't know if she considered it a "bad moment" or if she was ready to hang up her spurs. But last year I recall a few rides early in the season where I left the group and walked it off. I wasn't necessarily having fun at that moment and I had reached a point where I knew I wasn't doing myself or my horse any good. And after a half an hour of cooling off, we were able to join the ride again, both of us a lot more level. Goes with the territory. Riding that same horse weeks later, flying down that muddy hill at the CTR with my heart in my throat and tears in my eyes, I never loved her or trusted her more."

My 5th season with Windy - 2009

"Whether we are trainers or riders, we do it because there is a connection to the horse. Some gene we have not unlike those Hobby Lobby ladies and their scrapbook gene, I presume. And we aren't doing it to look good because the horse can make us look like an ass pretty quick. We get dirty, we don't have pretty clothes, we have no extra spending money, and to the rest of the world, we stink. Who could ask for anything more?"

Thank You / Other Blogs

This is so cool! Sunny in SD bestowed upon me this blogging award. Thank you, thank you! Being her neighbor down under (statewise, that is), I’ve enjoyed following Sunny in SD’s blog as we went through the longest winter in history together. Although I have been blogging on the Stable Talk page of my Horsetrailriders.com website for years, before I ever knew what the word “blog” meant, I kind of feel like the new kid on the block in the bigger blogosphere.

By accepting this award, I am to pass it on by recognizing fifteen of my favorite blogs. I am also to provide some items of interest about myself that I may not have previously shared with you. But, I never play by the rules. I know I should and I try… but there are always caveats I need to make.

First, there are more than fifteen blogs that I follow; some daily, others when I have more time. Many of which we are all familiar with because of their popularity. But there are some that may not be in all circles or that are special in other ways so I thought this would give me an opportunity to tip my hat to those bloggers. Whether they want to pass it on to others or not is up to them. Now, I would like to share them with you.

Val at Fantastyk Voyage. When I was planning the Friday Before Mother’s Day Ride last year, Val left a comment about how fun this ride sounds. I told her to find her way up from New Mexico and I would share my horses. And you know what? She did! It was so fun to meet Val, her mother and her daughter, Sheila, and share my crazy horses with them! Someday I am going to show up in her neck of the woods, just you wait!

Mindee at Our Front Door probably thinks I am recognizing her because she just recognized me. Purely coincidence, my friend! I think Mindee stumbled onto my blog first and left a comment and I’ve been reading hers ever since. She has a horse crazy daughter (which is one tie that binds us) and our respective diets (she is better about it than I am) and the challenges of raising teenagers (they are going to kill us both)! But it is her wonderful sense of humor translated into the written word that keeps me coming back each day.

Trot on Hank: Jonni was one of my inspirations when I started distance riding last year. She brought her horse, Hank, back from surgery to not only compete again, but to win. I am in awe of her knowledge of the sport and her discipline to achieving her goals while making sure her horse’s health was the first priority. As I followed her travels last year, I admired her independence and strengths both as a woman and horsewoman.

Debi at Greener Pastures: What can I say? She makes me laugh out loud. A very witty writer who recently took us along as she recanted her search for the perfect horse (again and again). And most recently, laughing and crying with her as she attempts to quit smoking. Debi is also tackling a personal crisis with her mother’s illness and I think of her often and hope she is doing okay.

Maery Rose is a Cowgirl By Proxy. When I first stumbled across her blog, I could feel her heartbreak. But as months passed, Maery, with her dog, Java, has picked up the pieces and moved on. She shares her love of her dog, her horses, and her new life with us. I can’t help but think if she lived nearby, she would fit in nicely with my circle of horse friends.

The Barbed Wire: I found Tamara of In the Night Farm’s blog shortly after she posted about an accident she had with the neighbor’s dog. The reality is that could happen to any of us who ride alone. I checked back often to see if she was riding again and followed her through her recovery and the first 50 miler on Consolation. She sets a wonderful example of not only keeping her horse, but herself fit for riding. Another inspiration.

I knew "Lulu" of All Things Horse through my list serv, Horsetales. We lost touch for about a year on Horsetales but I found her blog and kept up with the progress of her and Violet. It’s been a pleasure to see her beautiful filly become what she is today and glad to be back in touch with Lulu. And she said she will teach me Showmanship!

And not to confuse the two, Kacy with All Horse Stuff gets out and trail rides for pleasure more than I do! It’s a good thing we don’t live near each other or we would never get any work done. We’d just ride, ride, ride. I enjoy not only reading about her rides but the photos she shares of her gorgeous trails. And she rides the prettiest bay horse in Oregon!

And finally, I'd like to promote a new blogger and animal photographer, Sarah Zemunski and her Fine Arts Animal Portaits! Perhaps Windy can be her first equine subject! (May you take Lincoln by storm, Sarah!) Be sure to check out her portfolio at on her website here.

Thanks to all of you for sharing a piece of your life with me. And if you haven't checked out their blogs, take a peek. You won't be disappointed.

Okay, now a few things about myself that you may not know…

1. I am an orphan. Isn't that what you call a child with no dad or mom? It doesn't matter that I was 32 & 44 years old respectively when I lost them or how old or young you are. It still sucks. I am a middle child. I have an older sister and a younger brother. My dad was chief of police in our little hometown for over 30 years. My mom was a laundress at the nursing home. My dad was previously married when stationed in Australia and I have two half-brothers who still live in Australia. When dad was dying, they came to Nebraska and we met for the first time. It was like we knew each other all of our lives.

2. My maternal grandfather, Frederick Hornbussel, came from Germany when he was 18 years old and settled in Nebraska. He spoke no English but learned the language. Although my mom was born in the United States, she spoke little English early on, but as she got older, never had so much as a German accent nor did she remember any German words. A true example of the desire to be an American in every sense of the word.

3. I met my future husband at a street dance in Touhy, Nebraska. Someone pinched me on the butt and I turned to toss my Coke at the culprit and missed and hit John instead. John is very shy and I am sure we would not have met had my aim been better.

4. I thought perhaps I could be a vet when I grew up because of my love of animals (never mind the fact that I sucked at science and biology)! During a career week in high school, I shadowed the local vet. I had to sit down and put my head between my legs to keep from passing out when they dehorned the cattle. While watching a dog spayed, I sank to the floor in a cold sweat once again. If I wanted to work in a vet office, cleaning kennels would be my best bet.

5. Ten years ago, I was reading the Sunday paper and saw a For Sale ad for a pony. I told John that we should get the boys a pony. That afternoon, we went out and looked at the pony but didn’t buy it. Instead we came home with Ginger (a quarter horse, then 3-year old) and Baby (who was a belgian weanling) and the rest is history.

Sunday Stills ~ Barns

Those of us participating in Sunday Stills were asked this week to photograph a barn or barns. Living in rural Nebraska, that is not a stretch for me. I have one outside my door. These photos are of our barn.

And just to add some variety, you might recall we just came out of the winter from hell. There were some shots of the same barn just a few mere months ago.

Although the snow makes for a pretty backdrop and interesting pictures, I do not want to go back in time.

Brrr! What a nightmare.

Apr 24, 2010

A Morning Ride

My bedroom windows face the east. Usually I am up before the crack of dawn but I slept in today. I felt the room getting warmer as the sun was coming up and thought to myself that I am “burning daylight”. My dad used to say that whenever we were leaving for vacation. He always wanted to be up and on the road early. “Get up, girls, we’re burnin’ daylight!” We’d roll our eyes and wish he’d go away for another hour or two. But he was relentless.

It has been raining off and on all week and the sun was enticing. I had a cup of coffee while I checked my email, dressed & fetched my horse. We had a few “come to Jesus” moments over her desire to eat grass verses my plan to head on down the road. I won that round. So just shy of the two mile mark, I gave her a break and let her graze for a bit.

The 2 spots on the road up yonder were wild turkeys. Windy saw them first & we stopped & watched.

I just wore a windbreaker. My phone in one packet and my point & shoot camera in the other. Sunday Stills challenge is “barns” and I knew we would come across some, but wasn’t sure if they would be post worthy or not taken from the back of a fresh horse.

It was one of the quickest rides I’ve had in a while. We did a lot of trotting; finished up just under 8 miles in a little over 1-1/2 hours. I got a new GPS that I can upload to Garmin Connect. I am a geek with stuff like this and couldn’t wait to check it out.

The trees have really started to bloom this week. Remember some of the winter scenes? What a difference a few months make.

Apr 23, 2010

A View from Below

The other day
I meandered out to the corral
I didn’t plan to ride
Just hang out for a bit

I plopped down on the edge of the bale feeder
And leaned back in the hay
Harvested last summer
It still smells so fresh

I though perhaps I could nap for a bit
But it wasn’t long before I was spotted
Blue was a little unsure of the situation
But that is just Blue

It must have been lunch or snack time
Because they all started eating around me
Kind of a fascinating view
From below

I remembered then
That I had my camera in my pocket
So snapped a few shots
With this blog in mind.

Eventually each of the horses
Made their way around the bale
To get a closer look
At what I was doing

I didn’t get a nap like I had hoped
But horse time
Just doesn’t get any better
Than this.

Apr 18, 2010

Sunday Stills ~ Potluck

Admittedly, I have been lax on my submissions to Sunday Stills. I try to keep my blog horse related and fit the theme of Sunday Stills into this horse life. While most of the time that works, this past winter sometimes the pieces just wouldn’t fit. With the snow, then the continuing cold temperatures and finally the mud from the big melt, I couldn’t get good horse pictures to save my soul. But we are almost there....

And now, here it is April. The snow is melted. The mud is gone. And am I out there riding? Not as much as I’d like to be. And it is making me extremely cranky! But winter was hard on our little farm and I try to spend at least a day a weekend on the clean-up process. Things are coming around.

So here are my contributions to today’s Sunday Stills. Certainly nothing to write home about, they are simply a "potluck" of scenes from the saddle.

Apr 15, 2010

Dr. Doolittle

Being a mother of teenage boys, I wonder at times when I’ll experience a quiet calm again. If we aren’t running 100 mph to some event or function, I am trying to explain why we aren’t going to drive to Wisconsin to buy a used car that he found on eBay which was “just what I have been wanting!” Or praying desperately they will just simply do the chore without a fight. Seriously, do I have to use “approach and retreat” tactics with kids? I know I speak English and I know my boys speak English, but why do we have such a hard time understanding each other?

For as long as I can remember, I’ve always had that “quiet calm” around animals; a way of understanding with few words. I'm not bragging. It is just the way it is. I’ve always had a dog and I’ve never really had to communicate with them verbally to understand what they were thinking or me to them. My Springer Spaniel, Maddie, is aging. She can no longer hear and cries when I get out of her site. I use different body language when I leave for work than if I’m going outside for a few moments. And she knows the difference. I also know when she needs an extra boost to get up the stairs and we have developed a sign language of sorts for meeting our other communication needs.

Bo, the St. Bernard, is John’s “buddy”. He feeds him dog food and from his plate. He calls him, hugs him, and roughs him up. But when evening comes, it is my feet he lays next to. In the winter, Ritz sleeps in Case’s room behind closed doors. But I’m the one he watches and follows until time for bed. And I only have to ask once and they will both pile on my bed. Ritz knows by watching me when we are just going to the barn and when we are going riding. His whole body language changes when he knows we are heading down the road.

I’ve never been a cat person really, but the cats have all claimed me. Pretty Kitty, who was wild as could be as a young cat, became a house cat over the winter. He is very mindful to always use the litter box and I really think out of graciousness for being brought in, keeps a respectful distance from me but is always nearby. Mickey, the one-eyed kitty, was rescued by the boys, but I’m his human. He rides on my shoulders in the barn and has even jumped into the saddle with me once while I was riding. And in the house at night, he cuddles next to my neck. And Tom, the oldest of them all, will only come out of the shed and into the house if I go to fetch him.

The two roosters and Henny Penny see me heading to the barn and they follow. Once I made of mistake of trying to pet one of the roosters. He was right next to me… so close. I didn’t think about whether it would be a good idea or not – just reached for him & boy-howdy, scared him – scared me! I am pretty sure we both said “WTF?” And now we are both on-guard. He is still nearby, but I can tell he is checking me out. Worried about what I will try next.

And the dumb cows? Only one was a bottle calf and tame, but they all let me touch their heads. Even the bull.

The horses; my glorious little herd. When out in the yard, I can feel their eyes on me. I can sense their impatience right now being held up in the drylot when spring grass is so green and visible. I know who to catch first and the order always changes. Pick the wrong one and they may all decide to play the catch me if you can game. And I know when the game is over. I know how to cinch up each horse – all of them different and with varying tolerances. I know that Blue loved his winter blanket this past year. I know that Windy knows she is special. And at any given time, I know at least one of them will lock the bottom of their jowls over my shoulder in a makeshift hug while I breathe in their scents.

All of this communication - this talk with the animals - is done for the most part, without words. Why, when I have the entire dictionary at my disposal is it so hard to find those words to reach that level of understanding with my children. I can formulate the right sentence and say all the right words. I can insert gestures – good and bad - but still can’t reach the same quiet understanding as I do with my animals. As I reach the end of this post, I wonder if perhaps, I should try using fewer words.

(Too tired to proofread tonight... it is what it is....)

Apr 12, 2010

Two For the Show

Yesterday was show time! Loaded Windy up about noon to head for the Capital City Horse and Pony Club. Although we have done some casual games at fund raisers, this was our first “real” show. I’d been told that Cap City runs a good show and that it is not only fun and friendly, but newbies are always welcome. And I found this to be true.

I had determined what classes I wanted to participate in before I left home and had completed and printed out the necessary registration form. We got there just as the English events were starting. My friend and CTR mentor, Shari, was already there. I saddled and together we rode the grounds to acclimate the horses to the unfamiliar surroundings. Windy wasn’t real interested in what was going on; more taken with all the green grass underfoot.

The Trail Class was set up outside of the arena and we could pass through it at our leisure. Not sure how long it would be “open”, we made our way over to the judge. Shari went first. She and her horse, Wiley, are CTR veterans and really shine at obstacles. It was no surprise they did the trail course easily.

I watched and wondered. The gate should be okay. We do gates at home, although this one was free standing and resembled a divider bar in a trailer. If I can get her sidled up to it, we should be good. The bridge was narrow with rails. It seemed doubtful. Then there was the mailbox. You all remember my mailbox incident at Expo. I try to forget. Jog over logs should be fine… sidepass a large pole – we’ve done that before. Back in an “L”. We can back, but the turn might be tricky and then take a slicker from pole to pole.

Well. For one, there are no photos, thank goodness. We didn’t sidle up to the gate. She saw no need to sidle up to the gate. I’d move her left, she’d move right… Yeah, you get the picture. Next! The bridge. Ah, we worked it. Got 2 feet on it. Then 2 feet in the air. I didn’t give up quickly, but eventually passed. May as well get the mailbox embarrassment over. But to my surprise, she stopped; I reached, retrieved, waved the flag & put it back… Who'd of thunk? The rest of the course was half hits and half misses. But it was our first time and we did it. Found out later the class was open for several hours. So we'll warm up next time longer than 15 minutes.

Our first arena event was Walk/Trot Open. I had decided not to do western pleasure because we are still learning leads. And her lope, though not fast for what I do on the trails, is fast for showing. The Walk/Trot sounded like a perfect first start. You know, for us beginners.

Oh. My. God! It was the largest class of the day. Forty-three entrants. Probably made up of half chickens like me and half seasoned riders entering an easy class! I went in the first heat (do they call them heats at horse shows?)

We walked and trotted. Although she was not in the best frame, she did what I asked; and only pinned her ears a couple of times. A friend along the rail reminded me to sit back (thank you) and we got through it without dying. And it was fun!

I signed up for three speed events. Barrels, poles and figure 8. I decided I would see how we do in barrels and then decide if I wanted to proceed with the other two speed classes. I had no intention of running; thought I would trot the barrels just to get through it.

When the gate opened, we moved toward the first barrel. She seemed pretty level, so I moved her into a lope. We did okay on that barrel. The second one we kind of fell apart a bit, but moved onto the third at a lope. After turning that barrel, I let her run back. Looked like we were ready to run into the gate as she stopped a few inches from it. The gate guy reminded me to turn her. Well hell, I hadn’t planned on running. Had I planned on running, I might have thought about how it would end. Our time was 43.something seconds. I’ll set a goal of 40 seconds next time! And I’ll practice turning!

It was after 6:00 by this time. It had been a long day and they had two age classes to go through before I would be up again on poles. I decided to call it a day. I really enjoyed myself and although I doubt I’ll leave the trails to become a show girl, it is something else I can do with my horse and I am sure I will again.

I can't say enough about the Capital City Horse & Pony group! What a class act! As promised, it is beginner friendly, a fun atmosphere and they have the most awesome nachos in their concession stand! We'll be back....

Apr 11, 2010

Playing Games

Guess what Windy & I are up to today? Playing games!

The Capital City Horse & Pony Club's first playday is this afternoon. The sun is shining, the wind is mild (for now) and I've done enough work around this farm to warrant me some time off for good behavior. So we are going.

We practiced a little in our arena last evening. I have determined we need a LOT more practice. But hey, if I can do Expo on an unfamiliar horse, my little mare and I should be able to at least attempt a couple of classes here, huh? If nothing else, any time on my horse and with friends is a good time, right? (I'll keep reminding myself of that!)

Apr 8, 2010

Nickers and Noses

It's true. Thirteen year old boys can drive their mother out of the house.... The horses provide refuge....

Got some nickers because the round bale is about toast. I slipped through the gate into the pen. Blue stood quietly in the middle of the dry lot (and it is pretty dry considering. ..) while I knelt down and picked up his back foot to inspect the wrap job I did a few days ago. As I started to remove the duct tape, I felt a lot of noses and horse breath in my hair and on my neck. Sweet nothings in my ear.

Note: To cure frustrations brought on by 13-year-old son, tear off 3-day-old duct tape & vet wrap with bare hands! I know, I should have changed it yesterday but it was drizzling & I was cold...

I looked closely at where the abscess had been oozing. It looked okay and I declared Blue "good to go." He thanked me and then motioned to the empty round bale feeder.

"I can't get you one of those, Big Boy, but I can get you some bales."

On the way through the barn, I glanced into the adjacent pen at the cows. I really do dislike having cows. How did we end up with five? It was suppose to be just two. We need to do something about this bovine over-population. I climbed the ladder to the hayloft and dropped down some alfalfa for the horses.

I wondered over to John's latest "find". Yes, the grain bin was neat, but this? The building that he moved here on Monday is not photoworthy yet. Not without some "after" pictures or at least an explanation to accompany it. I walked through "the-building- soon-to-be- a-tack-room". I didn't expect a staircase, but it's there. I guess if it is suppose to be 1-1/2 floors, there has to be a stairway. Right now there is no roof at the top of the stairs... so you have to use your imagination.

I mentioned to John that it needs "a lot of work" and he said "If I could just get an uninterrupted day over the weekend, I could get a lot done." Hmmm. That is just what I wanted to hear! I can UN-interrupt him all day. Heck, for several days! It's ride time!

Nickers, soft noses, the scent of a horse, barnyard sounds... all good for a mother's soul.

Apr 7, 2010

Comments to the Comments

Just so you know, I read each and every one of your comments. I love getting comments to my posts. I write because I want to – it gives me a release to the jibber jabber that goes on in my head 24/7. The comments are icing on the cake. Someone really is out there!

And when I read your comments, if I were to reply to each one, I would, no doubt, strike up a dialogue. In case you haven't figured it out, I am a bit long winded! ;) So what is the proper protocol? I've commented back in the comments section, I've replied by private email & I've also commented on your blog about your comments on mine! But I've done none of this consistently. And I still don’t know what I’ll do in the future. For today, I thought I would reply to some of the most recent comments; if nothing else, it will make me feel better. I hate loose ends. So it is time to clean house.

Food & Fur: My recap of Easter. Cheyenne, yes, we had a beautiful day on Sunday. I would say it was one of the best so far this year. High 80’s, sunshine and no wind. Believe me; those days are hard to come by. And to the rest of you who sympathized with me saddling 5 horses… yeah, what a job. But it can somewhat therapeutic, too. And I’m not surprised there are others out there who are Peep fans, too! Yes, GHM – they are best when slightly crispy! And Mindee is doing much better with her dieting than I am.

More Spring Cleaning: Isn’t that grain bin cool? It is pretty big on the inside… I don’t recall the dimensions for sure. I know if I were a kid, it would make an awesome playhouse. Yes, with imagination it could work for a guest house – small, but fun!

Frazzled: Thank you for your compliments on my pictures – the sepia tones which matched the mood I was in when I wrote that post. I love long trotting or loping down the roads. It really clears the head. The problems are still there, but it lightens the load. Lisa – Chosen by a Horse quickly became a favorite of mine, as well. It warmed my heart that Lay Me Down loved the sunshine. I can so relate. I am going to blog about that book someday. I experienced a lot of emotions as I listened to it.

50/50 Weekend: The cemetery post. I knew I was the weird one in my fascination with cemeteries! Guess none of you will ride there with me! Kacy awarded me with her Intrepid Rider Award. My first one! Thank you, Kacy. (And I am.)

And finally,

Isn’t She Beautiful: Lisa was right! The song at the end was by the 70’s band, Head East, off the album Flat as a Pancake.

Okay, enough already. I think I just convinced myself to comment to the comments in the comments section! Before it all piles up....