Tuesday, May 28, 2013

New Shoes

One of the first things I did when I retired was to gather up all my professional clothes and take them to Goodwill.  The pile of my past filled the back of my 4Runner to the roof, preventing me from using my rear view mirror.  Someone hit gold when they discovered what I dropped off that day.

In the last 3.5 years I can count on one (half) of a hand, how often I've had the need to dress up.  I live in jeans (shorts in summer), t-shirts (add a hooded sweat shirt in winter or a tank top for summer) and tennis shoes (muck shoes for wet barn time and cowboy boots for riding).

I don't buy many clothes these days.  It's usually an annual event to replace jeans, boots and tennis shoes.  I pick up t-shirts whenever I see something I like.  I live in comfort, dressed and ready for the life I love.

Recently I replaced my tennis shoes.  While I was having my morning coffee (with my feet up on the living room table since nobody else was home to see me), I looked at those new shoes and wondered where they'd take me on my travels.

Later that day they took Hank and I to our cabin in the Cascade Mountains.

Now that spring has arrived, Hank and I have been heading up to the old mill town by ourselves during the middle of the week, with family joining us for the weekends.  I love my farm home but there is something so tranquil about being in the quiet of the woods.

Yet as much as I love the cabin, something in "me" is missing.  Like a ticking clock, the longer I'm gone the bigger the hole gets.  The emptiness fills me, causing me to return to lower elevations.

I miss my horses.  They are such a big part of "me".  I miss them so much that I decided to do something about it.

Years ago, when wonderful horses (now gone) blessed our lives, we used to take them with us to the cabin.  They stayed in the old mill corral.  We were able to leave them at the cabin during the summer thanks to the generosity of those who live there full time.

Our lives changed when we moved out to the country.  We didn't go to the cabin as often and the horses remained at home.  Now that we've returned to our home away from home, I want to also return to the days having our horses with us.

Hank and I walked down to the old corral to check it out.

Each fence post should have three hot wire insulators on it.

But with over 5 feet of snow in the winter, almost all of the posts were missing insulators.  I would need to replace over 60 insulators.

The weight of the snow has also broken boards that make up the corners of the corral.  The old 1900 tub will be replaced with a 2013 stock tank (which holds more water).  You can see the old mill train (green caboose) in the background.

The next day, with Hank exploring around me, I got all the insulators up and drug downed limbs and branches into piles.  One more day of pulling and trimming brush along the fence line and I think we'll be able to hang the hot wire.  After that it won't be long before horses once again graze in the corral.

It felt good to work on something that was horse related.  At the end of the day both Hank and I were tired but pleased.  We returned to the cabin, fixed dinner and settled down for the evening.


Thursday, May 23, 2013

Understanding Bob

An article in the April issue of Horse and Rider magazine caught my attention.  The article, taken from a book titled, "Know You, Know Your Horse", describes four possible personality combinations which yield four distinct equine types as a result of right or left brain dominant and being introverted or extroverted.

The article gave a brief synopsis of each of the four personality types, what disciplines the horse would usually be good at and training tips.

You would think that while I boarded Elvis that it would have yielded a discovery of who this new guy is.  But the fact is, until I brought him home all I knew of Elvis was in a controlled environment - in his stall, the indoor arena, etc.

I hoped this article would assist me in discovering more about my new boy, who is getting more Appy spots every day.

But, instead of finding more about Elvis I discovered Bob.

I about fell out of my chair when I read the description of The Actor (Right Brain Introvert (RBI)).  A one person horse, reserved, devoted and intense.  Quiet and intense, can be distrustful, fearful and unpredictable.  Needs a quiet, gentle approach by the rider (I learned that the hard way).

There he was on Page 46 in black and white.  I couldn't believe it!  Every word describing The Actor pegged my little brown cow horse.

I got a bit misty eyed as I read about Bob because this article validated how much Bob had been misunderstood.

My trainer had advised me to sell Bob last year when he exhibited all the behaviors noted about The Actor.  I'd struggled with that guidance and decided to not take her advice.  My decision caused some conflict between us which is still there today.

Bob is such a sensitive horse.  It takes all he can give to walk up to a stranger and not run away.  Someone had misinterpreted his behavior and abused him in his past.  He has the scars of a horrible past both mentally and physically.

Getting Bob to trust me had taught me so much.  I'd never encountered such a skittish horse.  I'd had to totally change the way I approached him, how I moved, the tone and volume of my voice. 

When I first got Bob I recall yelling at Hank one day because he was into something he shouldn't be as I walked up to Bob.  Poor Bob had taken off in a flurry of fright, thinking I was yelling at him.  It had taken days to make amends.

If I sold Bob there was a chance someone might misunderstand him again and treat him badly.  I would not (and I will not) take the chance of someone misunderstanding Bob again.

The journey with Bob prompted me to respond to this article in Horse & Rider magazine.  I have such passion about this journey.  I wanted to share my story about this little brown pony and the wonderful lessons that he's taught me.

I sure didn't expect anything after that.  So I was surprised when my husband was thumbing through the May issue of Horse and Rider Magazine and turned to me and asked me if I knew Bob and I were in the magazine.

Nope, didn't have a clue.  But there's the letter I wrote, given the honor of Letter of The Month, in May's Horse & Rider Magazine.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Elvis Meets Bob and Prince

I left Elvis in the paddock that night after his arrival.  He wasn't happy about being alone and called out.  All...night...long. 

Elvis still has a "baby horse" voice, which is also high pitched. 

All...night...long my family (who had to get up early and go to work) and I could hear him.  This resulted in a sleepless night for all (and some grumbling the next day).  I knew that I had to make some adjustments before the following night.

The look on Bob's face the day Elvis arrived concerned me.

I was concerned about how Bob would accept Elvis.  After the horses had spent about eighteen hours on each side of their gates sniffing and watching each other I felt it was as good as it was going to get and decided to put them all together.

I opened the gate and Elvis slowly meandered through, put his head down and started grazing.

I still have to laugh at Prince and Bob's response.  They'd been grazing at the other end of the pasture and hadn't noticed the new arrival.  Suddenly they sensed a stranger in their midst and both of their head's popped up at the same time.  Within seconds Bob was running over to check Elvis out (while Prince returned to eating). 

Elvis is a horse that has been stalled most of his life.  He was in bliss to be in the (eaten down), green pasture.  With the innocence of his isolated life, he appeared to have no idea there might be a conflict brewing.

Bob immediately got Elvis moving - but only a short distance because all Elvis wanted to do was graze.  A routine developed.  Bob would push Elvis, who would only go so far before returning to graze.  Bob would return ears back and teeth barred.  Elvis would move further away and then return to grazing.  Bob would return.

Eventually things settled down, probably because Bob, out of shape from a year off, was exhausted.  The day ended in blessed silence and a good night's sleep was had by the household.

Yet I discovered the dynamics had gone up a notch the following morning.  Bob could now quickly run Elvis off.  The bite marks on Elvis's rear haunches told the tale.  But what really concerned me was that Bob wouldn't let Elvis near the water trough.  Elvis needed free access to water.

The decision was made.  Picking up Bob's halter I went out to the pasture where he came up to greet me.  Muttering, "Sorry Buddy," I slipped his halter on and led him into the paddock where I had kept Elvis. 

Bob was not pleased with this change of plans.  He only had peak-a-boo view of "his herd".  He ran frantically from one end of the paddock to the other, calling out to the other horses, who had returned to a grazing peacefully.  He physically charged the two gates that separate the paddock, continuing to ram them repeatedly with his chest and requiring me to chain them closed.

I knew if Bob could see the other horses that he'd settle down.  Although I couldn't give Bob full access to the adjacent pasture because the grass is currently too rich, with my husband's help we set up a small area in that pasture with temporary hot wire.

Bob could now see his neighbors and settled down.

Prince became the head of the "herd of two" but since all he wants to do is eat, there is no conflict.

Things have settled down and life is once again peaceful.  Yet changes are in the wind with some of "the guys" heading up to the cabin for the summer. 

Who will go and who will stay?

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Running. Home.

On February 15th I brought Elvis to a barn near my home.
The decision to board Elvis was based on the winter weather.  To be able to get us off in the right direction I needed an indoor arena to be able to ride.  I signed up for three lessons each week and did my best to get to the barn every day to check on Elvis. 
I had no idea how much going to the barn each day would cut into my life.  I soon found I had no quality time for any of the things I loved, like my family, horses at home, my part time job, friends or my blog.
The days got longer and the weather started to warm up.  Yet I found myself running - always running.  Trying to get from Point A to Point C each day was driving me nuts.
The constant running started to take a toll on me (as you can see from the dark circles under my eyes).
Something had to change.  So I made a decision.  With the warmer weather I would bring Elvis home, where I can walk outside and be with him vs driving to the barn.  Where he gets to be a horse and I now have the time to spend doing all the things I've missed since February 15th.

And with that decision made I felt better (and slept like a baby).  :)

So on Tuesday evening Elvis came home.  He spent his first night in the paddock.  Here he is looking at Bob and Prince.

And while Bob looked back at Elvis, Prince did what he always does...continues to eat.  That Prince never misses a beat.

How did they get along when I put them all together?  Ahhhh, that's another story.  But rest assured I can't wait to share our recent adventures. 

It's so nice to be finished running and be home!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

I'm Back and the First Buffalo Baby of 2013

(Thanks Mrs. C for checking in on me.)

Think of barn shavings being blown by the wind...that's pretty much how my life has been for the last few months. 


You have no idea how many times I've held my hands out in front of me and remarked how much I missed having not having time to get on my laptop!

Well the time is coming and it's coming soon...and I'll write all about what's been happening to me...when...I...get...the...time!  (Soon but not quite yet).

But for now, a quick Post to introduce you to the first Buffalo Baby of 2013...

Cute, huh?  :)