My Partner is Delight

My Partner is Delight
Heading into the great unknown

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Spinner - Four Months out of Hell

I snapped a picture today with my cell phone for a training journal that I keep for the Blazer Boys. As I was loading it onto my Photobucket account, I decided to look at some of the early pictures that were there.

When Spinner first came to us he was very thin and depressed. This picture was taken Nov. 18, 2007 - the day we brought him home. He had been through hunger and neglect at the breeders farm, a ride on a double decker cattle truck, and 3 days in a pen with 30 other horses standing fetlock deep in soupy cow manure. I have a video of the geldings in their pen. In it they are frightened, circling around and around together like a school of fish.

Once he was at home we fed him, cared for his health needs and gentled him. This second picture was taken on December 30. Even after a month he is still walking with his head hanging low. On this day it was his very first time going for a walk down the road. A healthy horse on his first outing would have his head and maybe even his tail flying. Instead Spinner trudges along.

Sometimes it feels like it has taken a long time for the light to gleam in Spinner's eyes. Sometimes it feels like he just got here yesterday and this process of bringing him back to health has happened very quickly. But, even in this poor quality cell phone image taken today he looks like a different horse.

He still has a ways to go. There are muscles to grow and hooves to balance. We are riding him and there are many hours of training to come.

He is shedding off his long long winter coat. His new summer coat will be the color of golden honey. Underneath that coat is a heart of gold. Spinner is coming back to life and he loves his new home. We love having him here too.

Four Months. Not a long time really. Can't wait to see what the next four bring.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

A Wee Visitor

We had a sweet little visitor to our "farm" today.

She is my great niece - am I really that old?

I actually kinda like being "Auntie Char". I am practicing for when the grands come along.

But don't tell my kids I said that!

This girl was born with the horse gene. I pity her parents when she grows older. I think they should start saving for the inevitable riding lessons now while they still have the chance!

Her grandma (my sis - in - law) bought the wee cowgirl a brand spankin' new pair of cowboy boots just for the occasion today, because she has finally out grown the ones that her "great" uncle Tom bought for her.

My daughter spent a long time with her showing her how to brush Tawshi and how to pick out horse hooves. She learned 3 new horse parts today: the mane, tail, and hoof.

Then it was all smiles because she got to hold the reins and guide the horse all by herself. *wink*

Gosh, isn't she just the cutest! I just wish she didn't live so far away.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Theyre Growing!

The piglets are growing! They are a very friendly lot, not unlike a litter of puppies. When you go into their pen they mob you and chew on your shoes and on the hem of your pants legs.

It will soon be time for their big operation. You can see how "well endowed" some of them are getting in this picture! They will also be weaned soon. I am sure Charlotte is thinking the sooner the better. Every time she lays down they batter her side and fight and squeal as they jockey for position at her ample bosom.

In this picture my daughter is scratching the belly of the lone female, Phoebe. Soon after it was taken Phoebe flopped down on her side and rolled over for a full belly rub. On the right is Elvis. He is one of the friendliest of the piglets.

Thursday, March 20, 2008


AOF is an acronym that some fellow internet posters and I have coined. It stands for "Adult Onset Fear." Mostly we use it to describe the fear that rises up the gut which keeps us from doing the things with horses that as younger people we wouldn't have given a second thought to doing. These things are not necessarily dangerous - well not anymore than the danger which is inherent in working/riding/being around a 1000 lb animal. They include, but are not limited to walking, trotting, and cantering.

I suppose AOF isn't limited just to aging equine addicts. There are lots of things that as a 40 something person I would not try that 10 years ago I would have jumped at the chance to try. For instance, when I turned 30 I really wanted to jump out of an airplane. Now, even the thought of leaving an airworthy vessel and trusting my life to a sheet of nylon just gives me the willeys. Shudder. I have always wanted to get a tattoo. That desire seems to be fading somewhat. I keep telling myself that it is because I can't find a design that I like, but inside I know the truth - it is getting more scary to take the risk. After all, what if my metal allergy kicks in and I wind up with a big sore messy scar?

I feel like I should start a support group. At the beginning of every meeting we could all stand up and say:

"Hi my name is ... (Char) and I suffer from Equine Adult Onset Fear."

Then we could all sit around and commiserate (read: bitch), smoke a bunch of cigarettes and drink coffee. Oh wait, that's already been done by another group. I think cheese and crackers along with some nice chilled wine would do the trick. I have also heard that rum and coke settle the nerves quite nicely as well.

I know that I could easily round up other gals with the same condition. In fact, I'm sure that if I could figure out how to combat this affectation I could write a book, go on tour, and make my millions. Maybe I could even help somebody. You never know, it could happen.

As I go along in this blog I want to share some thoughts about the origins of and battle to overcome AOF in my life.

In the meantime, here is a picture of me trying NOT to be afraid at my first show riding Sam:

I just realized I haven't introduced Sam.... I'll do that soon. And no, I am not pregnant, I just look that way. One of the wicked things AOF whispers into my ear is that I am too fat to ride.

Well, I ain't getting any thinner (or younger) just sitting around, right?

Sunday, March 16, 2008

A Milestone for Spinner (and Me)

With the addition of Speedy and Spinner this winter I have started 5 horses undersaddle in the last 4 years.

Horse training is something that can make me feel like I can do anything. It makes me feel young, alive and talented. Other times I get so frustrated with my fear and my lack of knowledge that I want to pay someone else to train my horses for me. But, when I stop and remember that I have started that many horses, it makes me realize that no matter how much I struggle, I have made some real progress! I often forget to give myself the credit that I deserve.

Training doesn't come easily for me. It's hard work. I hate boring repetition. I hate working in small areas. I have a lot of fear issues, so a lot of things like working the horses at a canter go a lot more slowly than I would like them to happen. I am very impatient with myself when I can't think of a way to teach something. I get discouraged when the horse doesn't "get it" on the first couple of tries.

The very worst part about training is that I am too hard on myself and I forget to remember important things like,

I have started 5 horses in the past 4 years!

Today I rode Spinner at liberty at a walk and a trot.

I have done nearly all of the preliminary work on this horse. He was mostly untouched when we bought him at the auction last November. With a little help at times from Tom and my friend Lyn , I have worked really hard with him and his brother Speedy. In January I was able to get him saddled and Cherish up on him for a pony ride. This month I have been working with Tom up in the saddle while I guide Spinner from the ground. This weekend Cherish was able to ride him at liberty in the round pen.

So, I decided to ride Spinner and enjoy for myself all of the hard work I have put into his training. It was great fun! Now that I have him going well without guidance from someone in the middle of the round pen I will be able to ride him myself more often.

It is a milestone in his training, one I need to remember for the next time training seems hard.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Spring Magic

When I went out yesterday morning to make sure that everyone had food and water, nearly all of the horses were lying down sunbathing in the warm Spring sunshine. So I decided to join them.

I sat with Speedy and Star, who were lying together. Neither stirred, so I settled in to soak up some sunshine with them. Speedy turned his head to look at me, then turned it back, falling asleep, his lower lip drooping.

Tawshi was lying not to far away, snoring. It’s funny to hear such a dainty horse sawing logs like a lumberjack. Spinner was a few feet away munching on breakfast leftovers.

I leaned my back against Star’s back, sighed and prayed the damp ground wouldn’t soak through the seat of my jeans too quickly.

The Sandhill cranes are back. I can hear them purring as they fly over. Geese join them, flying over in V formation. Sparrows, Redwinged Blackbirds, Robins and Starlings sing. Bees buzz by. The sky is blue and the ground is warm. The air smeels sweet and clean. Time slows down for a while. I wish it would last forever.

I love this time of year. I love my horses.

Resting with the herd doesn’t happen very often. Horses are pretty wary and most of the time they will jump right up when people approach. Once in a while though, Spring Magic happens. I treasure times like these when the horses feel comfortable enough to let me join their herd for a little while.

I make the mistake of trying to take a picture with my cell phone. Star decides to get up and see if what I have in my hand is edible. I stay seated on the ground, hoping she will fall back asleep standing beside me. No such luck. She starts nuzzling my neck and lipping my hair. I shoo her head away and pretend to ignore her. She lifts up the bottom of the back of my shirt and nuzzles my bare skin. I shoo her away again. She lowers her head down so that her left eye is looking right into my face, and then tries to lip my hair again. Silly Filly! She really wants me to get up!

I pretend to ignore her and so she steps over to Speedy and tries her routine with him, lipping his ears and mane. She lowers her head and blows into Speedy’s face. He shakes his head and looks away. Poor Star. No one wants to get up and play!

I did get a picture, but not before Star got up. She has given up on me and is pestering Speedy.