Sunday, November 27, 2011

Starting up the Holidays

With Thanksgiving behind us it's time to get ready for the holidays.  Our daughter, home from college, loves the holidays.  Her enthusiasm always gets us motivated to pull the boxes of decorations out of the attic and start the process of decorating both inside and out.

Yesterday was a good day to decorate outside.  We had temps in the upper 50's and that yellow stuff that gleams out of the sky...I think it's called sunshine.  :)  Daughter and Dad had headed out to decorate in one direction.  I headed in the other direction, wanting to get the horses out of their pastures and give them a good clean-up before the rains return.

I got Poco out first and took him for a walk down our road to see how my other two family members were doing.  I found them halfway down the road, hanging lights on the fence of the summer pasture now vacant for the rest of the year.

Father and Daughter.  It was a good feeling to watch them working together as a team while the neighbor dog (who has claimed us as her family) stood by.

I returned to the barn, and brought Gus and Bob out to join Poco.  With the short days, heavy rain and winds we've recently had, I haven't had much opportunity to get my hands on the horses. 

Bob in particular was goosy when I first got him out.  Bob is a sensitive horse and after a full summer and fall, I think he's been missing my interaction with him.  I spent extra time doing ground work, brushing and talking to him on this warm, sunny day.  It made a huge difference and I could sense we were reconnected when I finished.

I would have loved to ride on a day like this but I'm sitting my rides out until Bob and Poco have their teeth done this week.  Both are in need of dentals.

My husband, now finished with decorating, joined me to brush out Gus and kindly clean all twelve feet.  By the time we had returned everybody to their pastures and fed it was after 4PM and getting dark.  We both hated to leave the barn so we lingered there for another hour, finally closing the barn door to brushed out horses happily munching on their dinners.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Peace in the Pasture, Peace in the House

There is something we've learned throughout the years about having multiple horses.  It's called Peace in the Pasture(s).  It's important that everybody gets along, can rest, eat and drink in peace.  It's the reason Poco and Gus are wintering together and Bob is next door.  It's not how I'd prefer it to be and you can bet it's not how Bob would prefer it, but so far, so good.

Inside the house peace is also important.  We have Tuna the Mighty Hunter.  Here she is "guarding" the fish (or so she'd like us to think). 

And we have Hank the Dog, coming to his name (or so I'd like to think).

I was a bit apprehensive about bringing the two of them together.  Would we have peace in the house?

I didn't need to worry.

Ahhhh.  Peace in the pasture.  Peace in the house.   It's a good thing.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

2011 - A Day to Give Thanks

Here it is again, Thanksgiving.  In the past two weeks I've noticed some homes and stores already have holiday lights up.  I hear holiday music playing as I shop.  Seems like many have passed Thanksgiving right by for the holidays.

Thanksgiving seems to have become the door to opening the holidays instead of a day to give thanks.  I know times are tough but surely there is one little tiny thing that all of us can find to be grateful for on Thanksgiving.  With that being said, here are my 2011 top ten reasons to Give Thanks on this special day - starting with Number 10:

Number 10.  From late spring until (this year) August, I faithfully watered them every evening.  It took me almost an hour to water them all.  My husband had suggested getting a soaker hose to use instead of hand watering.  But I found hand watering them to be such a soothing task - standing there with the hose, daydreaming about whatever came to mind, watching the horses grazing, looking out at the mountains.  I'm thankful for the beauty they provided, waving in the wind against the fence:
My Daisies
Number 9.  The Cabin.  After a 15 month absence, I'd forgotten how much I missed it.  I went up there in October to meet a friend and ended up spending a couple of days by myself.  I got back in touch with this home away from home and also got to validate myself, who I am and what I am.  I'm thankful to know it's there, waiting for me when I return:
The Cabin on a prior Thanksgiving
Number 8.  The Perfect Camping Spot makes the list again for the third year.  So peaceful and beautiful, always waiting to greet us each year.  We found this spot by accident.  I'm thankful for the discovery:
The Perfect Camping Spot
Number 7.  My Cowgirl Pals.  So much fun to hang around with!  They offered me their friendship and invited me to join them on their adventures this last year.  They opened up a new world of riding to me that I'd always wanted to try.  I'm thankful to have such great Cowgirl Pals!
Lisa and Quincy

Bob and Me; Georgia and her horse Paisley; Kyle and her horse Elbe

Bob and I, Rachel in front of us, Nancy in the background
Number 6.  Ladies Night.  Seven weeks of fun, with a new theme of riding each week.  I'd only had Bob a few weeks when Ladies Nights started.  Ladies Night provided a great avenue to get to know Bob better.  I'm thankful for the opportunity to attend and ride with such talented Ladies:
Ladies Night
Number 5.  Around our house we have a word for our animals that are the best of the best.  We call it Noble.  Poco holds the honor of this title.  He is the most incredibly sweet, dependable horse I've ever encountered.  I'm thankful to have Poco, one of the Noble:
Poco one of the Noble
Number 4.  My friend and trainer (frainer), Rachel Koehler, also one of my Cowgirl Pals.  As a trainer Rach has that knack of telling you what you need to hear in a way that makes you happy you heard it.  I've taken lessons from her for years and our relationship has blossomed from that of trainer to friend.  I'm thankful to Rachel for helping me become the rider I always wanted to be and helping me set my sights on where I want to go in the future:
Rachel test riding Bob
Number 3.  He opened doors for me this summer and allowed me to go places and do things I'd only dreamed of.  I could go on and on about him but if you read my Posts, you already know how much I love this guy and how thankful I am to call him mine:
Number 2.  Returned twice, we were his third rescue family.  He could have been afraid of us, he could have been defensive and wary, yet he trusted us.  They don't come much sweeter than this guy.  We lost him in September.  We are thankful have had him in our family.  He is missed.
Number One:  He never hesitates to encourage me when it comes to horses.  Always willing to pitch in and help be it hauling for me when I'm intimated by driving the dually on congested freeways, harrowing fields, stacking bales of hay, you name it and he's there to lend a hand when it comes to the labor and care of our horses.  I'm thankful for his love and support.  I love this guy with all of my heart:
My Husband

Wishing You and Yours a Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Shutting it Down for Winter

I've lost count of how many times I loaded up my trailer this spring, summer and fall.  I had a routine.  I'd load up my tack first thing in the morning, when I was out for my morning walk with Hank The Dog.  Hank and I would then head in for my morning cup of coffee.  Sometimes it was already so hot outside that I'd find myself covered with sweat when I came back into the house.  On those mornings my ritual of a morning cup of coffee didn't appeal much to me.

I learned to give myself plenty to time to get to where I was going.  I bought Bob in late May with only a one week tryout.  I didn't know much about his personality.  I found that one good way to get to know your horse is to haul him places and that the more you haul together the better your relationship gets.  I found Bob to be "sensitive" but was pleased to also find him to be "adaptable".  Bob is the kind of horse that once he checks something out, doesn't question it any further.

I took this picture on Bob.  This was my favorite trip of the summer.  We'd gone to a local cattle sorting event solo, totally on our own for the first time.  It was a liberating experience and one of the highlights of the summer.  And oh those warm evenings....

But all things must come to an end.

Last week some friends invited me to join them one morning to practice sorting cows.  I didn't even think twice before I agreed to not only go but to also pick up a Cowgirl Pal and her horse along the way.  I told my Cowgirl Pal that I'd meet her at her barn early so we'd get to the practice with time to spare. 

Home alone because it was hunting season, I caught the weather forecast as I was heading to bed.  They talked of lows in the 20's, fog and icy road.  Oh no!  I tossed and turned all night, worried about driving my one ton dually and hauling horses on icy roads with unforgiving 8 foot drainage ditches to greet us should we slide.

I awoke to find everything frozen.

The bird bath was frozen.

Poco was frozen (actually he wasn't but he looked that way).

I followed my routine of loading my tack ahead of time but couldn't get the trailer door opened because the trailer and truck were both covered in ice.  I returned to the house to wrap my chilled hands around my very appealing morning cup of coffee.  After I finished my coffee I went back out and finally got the door opened.

I drove on the ice as if I was driving on glass, telling myself to try to not hurry because I was running late.  I told myself to keep it low and slow.  My Cowgirl Pal (bless her heart) was waiting with her horse in hand.  We were loaded and on our way within minutes.  We got to the practice and hurried to unload our horses. 

I wasn't even finished saddling up Bob and they were calling my name to take my first run.  I was stressed from the drive and poor Bob was riding right along on my emotions.  Minutes later without any of our preliminary ground work, Bob and I were moving our first cows. 

Bob was so tense I felt like I was sitting on a board.  I had this sinking feeling we were a recipe for disaster.  When Bob spooked, sprinting sideways all the way across the pen, I almost fell off but at the last minute regained my balance.  Quite a crowd had gathered to watch the proceedings.  I recall thinking as we flew along sideways that I'd be darned if I was going to fall off in front of them.

The old me would have called it a day and gotten off.  The new me carried on - a testament to how much my confidence has grown this year.  Eventually as I kept riding things got better. 

My Cowgirl Pal and I were both chilled by the time we finished.  We were off our horses after shaking our legs out to get the circulation back, loaded up and on our way home minutes later.  With the sun now up and the roads clear, it was an uneventful drive back home. 

But I knew as I pulled into our barnyard that I was finished hauling for the year.  As I write this it's sleeting outside.  Snow is predicted tonight.  It's time to shut it down for the winter.  I'm sad to see it end but I'm left with great memories of the times I've had and wonderful people I met.  You can bet Bob and I will be back on the road next spring.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Winter Pastures

I've held our horses on the summer pasture as long as I possibly could because I still hadn't decided if I would winter them together or split them up (something I really didn't want to do).

There is always one ring leader in the herd and in my case it's Bob, our newest horse.

Bob provided me with a lot of fun this summer and I love him to death.  But he is the Boss Hoss.  He hogs the loafing shed and only allows the other two horses in when he's had his fill of food and heads out onto the pasture.

Out in the pasture everybody gets along but with winter approaching it was important to me that all three horses had a dry place to eat and get out of the weather.

Winter came in quickly this year.  I came out to find a dry Bob and a soaking wet Poco and Gus, both standing outside in the mud and rain.  They looked and seemed miserable.  My decision about who was going where this winter was made when I found bite marks on both Gus and Poco's haunches.

I've placed Bob by himself.  He has his own pasture and loafing shed.

I wasn't sure how he'd react to my decision to place him alone but as you can see Bob doesn't seem very concerned.  It helps that he can see the other horses.

As I heard the wind roaring outside last night it was a good feeling to know everybody had a dry, safe place they could go to.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Something to Not Ignore

Last spring I wrote a Post about a lump I'd discovered in my breast.  I wrote how I had ignored it, thinking it was related to trauma in the area where I'd been kicked by a horse a few years ago.

Months passed and it started to haunt me.  I'd wake up in the middle of the night and ask myself, "What if..."  I'd lay there tossing and turning, telling myself that tomorrow I'd make an appointment to get it checked out.  But the next day I wouldn't do anything about it.

When I started to find happy moments and beautiful sights sobering I knew I'd had enough of letting something unknown run my life.  I made the call to get it checked out.  It had resulted in a mammogram, which resulted in an ultrasound, which had resulted in a biopsy. 

I was terrified.

When I got the call regarding the results I remember sitting up straight and holding my breath as if I was about to endure some terrible pain.  I was sure I was doomed when I got good news.  I was OK but would be on a six month watch schedule.

Six months recently came around and this time I was promptly in for my check up.  I walked out with the good news that I was off the six month watch schedule and back on my yearly schedule.  I also walked out with the very humbling feeling that I'd lucked out.

So when I discovered a new lump only three days later I found myself mildly irritated that I hadn't caught it before my appointment. 

My health insurance requires I must first be seen by my primary doctor for a referral in order to get an appointment at the specialty clinic.  I'd just left!  Couldn't I skip the preliminaries?

No luck.

So off to the doctor's office I went to sit amongst those coughing and sneezing for my valuable referral. 

Yesterday I returned to the specialty clinic in the big city where we are all getting to know each other on a first name basis.  They told me that I'm referred to as the "Women who got kicked in the chest by a horse."  I guess in the big city they don't see many of us.

I was relieved to find the new lump was nothing to worry about.  Once again I walked away humbled at the good news.

....Something to not ignore.