Tuesday, August 29, 2006

What happened to Cracker Jacks?

How do Cracker Jacks relate to horses?
I've grew up a Boston Red Sox Fan.
Baseball games = Cracker Jacks.
Fenway: Home park of the Boston Red Sox and the name of my grey horse.

I just went to a Red Sox vs. A's game the other night, sadly the sox lost. During the game I bought some Cracker Jacks. Did you know that Cracker Jacks are packaged in plastic now? What a disappointment, what a loss of tradition! They don't even taste stale anymore! The prizes even suck! I'm so upset by this change. What happened to the good ol'days. I'm submitting a formal complaint to Cracker Jacks.
The baseball experience will never be the same.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Good Point

Jessica brings up a very important point about animal ownership. - Animals who own their owner.

I admit, I get overly gushy about my pets, in particular my dog. I can't stand to be away from him even if it's only for a few hours. I talk endlessly about him and find his patterns and expressions fascinating. He does rule my life in many respect but when it comes to his behavior, I rock the boat! There's nothing worse than an ill behaved pet! An ill behaved pet is like a child screaming in the grocery store because he can't have a candy bar.
It's one thing to recognize that your pet has "issues" and it's another to be completely ignorant. It's the folks who can't see fault, whose pets end up being dangerous. I witnessed a situation where a dog bit a child and the owner used the excuse that his dog reacted because he was territorial over a bone. My response to the situation was, why is that dog in public around children? Not that the dog needs to be sheltered, but if it's not good in a busy public place where there might be children, then don't put him there. It's like putting a person that is sensitive to noise in the front row of a rock concert! They're going to snap!
It's an issue of respect and if your going to take an animal and put it in domestic situations, you gotta have it!

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Being the Alpha

Katie's post about the lost dog is right on in a lot of ways. (Minus the convincing me I need a dog.) :-)

In the horse world, it can be hard to balance your love of this animal and their spirit with the fact that you need to be the alpha in the herd. The same is true with cats, dogs, rats, and any other pet one might care to mention.

It's not that I think you need to dominate your pet to the extent that you squash their personality, but keep their biology, their hard-wired instincts, in mind. It's not just responsibility to them as beings, but responsibility to respect them as they are. In other words, don't make them a substitute for whatever else you're lacking in your life. It's not healthy for them, and it's certainly not healthy for you.

Oh, getting a little preachy, aren't I?

I know a lot of people who over-emphasize their pets' role in their lives. It goes beyond anthropomorphizing into a scary realm where an animal has to fill an emotional need beyond companion.

Don't get me wrong, I know how scary it is out there, how very lonely life can be. But your cat can't fill that void for you and it's not fair to ask them to do that.

Katie is a great example of someone who loves her animals and at the same time expects to be the alpha. One night, after a trail ride, she let Huck out of the truck and he came right up to Lena's legs. Lena danced a little, but Katie was right there and with a hand motion and two words, had Huck under control and safe. Why? Because she is the boss and it's a good thing for Huck that she is. Lena's got big feet!

Lena is 1,200 pounds of wants-to-be-the-alpha-mare, but no matter how cute she is or how much I love her, I can't let that happen. A bad-mannered cat is one thing, but 1,200 pounds of bad-mannered muscle is dangerous. I love her too much to let her be a dangerous, never-ridden spotty horse. :-)

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Please - keep track of your dog!

Earlier this week, I pulled in to the parking lot and noticed a lost black dog. I stopped thinking it was Laika but after close inspection realized that this poor dog without a collar was clearly lost. A chubby black lab mix looked anxiously at every person entering the building, hoping to see someone he knew. I was able to catch him and shortly thereafter brought him to the Human Society. At the Humane Society they scanned him for a microchip, in which they found! BUT ..... The microchip was never registered!! It infuriates me that people are so irresponsible with animals. I plan to go the Humane Society tomorrow to check up on him. If he goes up for adoption, I'm afraid I might have to add him to the animal crew! OR - convince Jessica that she really needs a dog!!

Friday, August 25, 2006

Horse geek

Very often, unless I'm talking to another horse person, I get odd looks when I talk about my horse. My co-workers - many of them on the geekier-in-a-good-way end of the scale - can understand cats or dogs, but horses seem totally far out. Even people in my family ask me "why?" when I choose to ride rather than socialize.

So I've been thinking about the "why" today.

Riding Lena, even just being with her, adds something simple and elemental to my universe. She - and the very act of communicating with her however I can do that - gives silence to my soul and balance to my world.

That's the best way I know to describe the "why." I guess that makes me a horse geek.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

I love other people's dogs

We have a very dog-friendly office and a lot of my co-workers have really great dogs - like Huck! It's a great place to get a dog fix without having to commit to having our own dog.

That's a good thing because we currently feed seven (!) cats, including four of our own. Steve says he only has one cat - Tigger - but two other cats moved in on their own, and then I brought mine, so we're up to four. The neighbor's three cats hang out on our property more than their own, which is how we get to seven. There were eight, but the local tom cat must have moved on.

Tigger is the king, though. He is not spotty, though, he's stripey. He's 16 or 17 years old - Steve can't remember - weighs all of about 5 pounds and has 6 toes on every foot. When he was a kitten, he apparently looked like he was wearing snowshoes. He has the softest fur I've ever felt - like rabbit fur - and does have a bit of small-cat attitude.

One of the things we'd love to do would be to somehow introduce Tigger and Lena. But since we couldn't get a trailer up our road and we can't imagine putting Tigger in a car, let alone a cat carrier, we haven't quite figured out how that might work. Oh, well.

Which one is Huck

Huck is the Chocolate Lab, the 2nd picture down. Laika, Huck's girlfriend is the cute little black dog!

Huckleberry Finn goes to a birthday party!

Huckleberry Finn is 15 months old. I've had him since he was a puppy. We do everything together including going to work, attending yoga classes, and going to the barn. Earlier this week he went to his girlfriend's birthday party! Huck and Laika have lots of fun together and have been stead fast friends from the start!

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Horse Health

Katie's post about Bee's Boil reminded me of one of the reasons I wanted to start a blog.

There are all kinds of things that can happen to horses and as new horse owners, I think we discover a different one every month. Like, for example, Lena has to have a tooth pulled.

Now, I am sure that if I had obsessively researched horse-ownership before we bought El Spotto, I would have a) known all of the possible permutations of health and injuries and b) run screaming the other direction.

We learned the most frightening lesson two weeks after we bought her - owning a horse means you have to be prepared to lose them - but other lessons have been slightly less harrowing, thank goodness. Like how to help your totally drugged horse stay somewhat upright while she's getting her teeth done, and how to clean up the myriad of nicks, scratches and cuts they can inflict on themselves.

All in all, I have to say it's worth it. Then again, I still don't know all the exciting things yet to come. Nah, it's still worth it.

By the way, Lena has been healthy as a, er, horse since we moved her in November to our current barn.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Bee's Boil

Bee has a Boil on his left elbow. It's gross and looks like a large golf ball.
A boil is often caused from the horse shoe hitting the elbow as the horse attempts to get up after laying down.
The elbow becomes inflamed and swollen.
Bee's Boil came to life over a week ago. I tried a combination of hot and cold compresses, along with bute (aspirin for horses). I also put a doughnut (round rubber device) around his fetlock to protect him should he decide to roll in the dust again. Finally after 4 days I called the vet, Dr. Kerr. He poked a needle in to the affected area and a stream of yellowish serum flowed out. He warned me that it might pop up again. And it did. I eagerly await yet another vet appt. Ugh. The Boil saga continues.....

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Things Horses have taught me

Not necessarily in this order, but - depending on the day and the placement of the planets - any or all of them can and do occur to me on a regular basis.

I'm little.

I'm not always paying attention.

I can communicate worlds of information with my body.

Scooping out a stall is a good way to remember what's real in life and what is crap.

Warm noses and big ears can't solve everything, but they offer a lot of perspective without charging you for an office visit.

I am not - humans are not - the center of the known universe.

Relax - or they think you're about to do something weird.




Friday, August 18, 2006

How this happened

There is another common denominator between Katie and me; we both work for O'Reilly Media, Inc.

Katie works on Make and Craft magazines. She promotes the magazines at tradeshows, sells advertising in both - and on the websites, too - and helps coordinate and organize events like our very successful Maker Faire.

I work over in our Online Publishing Group, coordinating the operations end of our online ad sales department for all advertising that runs on The O'Reilly Network.

When Katie started, Shawn Connally - managing editor of Make and former horse person - introduced us. Katie was eventually brave enough to take my crazy horse and me out on a trail ride and has since endured a couple of challenging trailer lessons. And she still says my horse is good!

We both wanted to start a blog and we both have horse stories - some cat and dog stories, too - and that's how we got here.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Horse History

I stared riding when I was eight year old. I had just moved to CA from Boston and my parents had sent me off to a horse camp for a week during our first summer out west. I was hooked. I continued riding through elementary school and Jr. High, begging for a horse each day. I used to think that someday I just might actually catch a loose horse by house so I had made my own rope halter just in case. Finally five years later, after convincing my parents that there was no way to save me, they gave me the go ahead. After a year of searching for a safe trained horse, I ended up buying Bee (the palamino), a three year old with two months of training on him. Great. Needless to say it was a learning experience. I grew up with that horse. I took him to college with me at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. At Cal Poly I helped to start the Dressage Team, which introduced me to some of my best friends today (yes, more crazy horse girls). I started to reach a point in my training with Bee where I s realized he had reached his potential in the sport of dressage and to continue to push up the levels would no longer be fair to him. I was lucky enough at the time to start looking for another competition horse. I set out with my trainer and ended up getting Fenway (the grey horse). It was love at first sight with him and I knew right away that we were meant to bee together. I've successfully shown up to Prix St. George, when then of course he suffered an injury and a battle with ulcers. Figures, you dream of riding the upper levels and once you get there.....Boom. After a season off, he is coming back nicely and I look forward to hitting the ring this next season. So yes, I've always loved horses and have always been obessed with them. They're just so incredible in a multitude of ways.

The dog on Bee's back is my god-daughter, Twiggy. She is a 3 year old rat terrier but she was just a puppy when we took the picture.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Dual Disciplines

As you may notice as you read this blog, Katie and I come from both different disciplines and levels of experience. (Way different!)

I am not only a new horse owner, but I didn't even grow up with the four legged, hay-chowing beasts. I liked them, but from a far safer distance than sitting on their backs.

Katie has been riding for many years, though I'll leave it to her to fill in her biography. I do know she injured her knee riding a steer, not a horse.

I ride western and have no particular plans to show. We really just want to trail ride and enjoy our lovely spotty horse, Lena.

Katie has shown all the way up to Level 4 Dressage and is working on getting ready for Level 5 with her horse, Finn. (Katie, will you supply me with a picture I can add in here, and - of course - correct me if I'm totally wrong? :-) )

Yes, amazingly enough, it is possible for a crazy cutting horse person to ride with a Dressage person. There's this funny common denominator - Katie and I really like horses. Not just for what they can do, but for their very presence. The warmth of their bodies, the whuff of their breath, their soft noses and the rich smell of them.

Horse people are crazy. Even the sane ones are crazy. But turning love for your horse and your discipline into something that is so much better than someone else's horse and activity is really crazy. Unless of course you don't really like horses.

Just my opinion, of course.

Jessica's Horse Story, Part 1

There is a reason I've ended up in the horse world, being alternately overjoyed and frustrated by this horse of the silly lips.

My daughter (also named Katie) hit the horse-crazy age and even showed a bit in some local Western Pleasure schooling. On our vacations, we would find places to trail ride to accommodate her "phase." I even surprised her once by not falling off when my trail horse reared. My partner Steve loves horses, too. His main riding experience came from - many years ago - exercising grumpy horses owned by people who never rode them.

In late 2003, I found a one-page article in a magazine about a ranch up near Sonora that said they offered something beyond "head-to-tail" trail rides, plus something called cutting you could try. This was right around Christmas the year my darling daughter went from little girl to impossible-to-shop-for young woman and I thought this would be an interesting gift. If all else failed, there were nice hotels and mountains nearby.

Oh, and I wasn't going to ride much, if at all. I was going to sit and relax, read, maybe do some writing.

We got there and wandered around, taking lots of pictures of
cute foals, and then went down to the barn where I thought I'd take some pictures of Steve, Katie and her friend Phoebe before heading back to relax. Katie remembers Ike handing me a set of reins and saying, "Here's your horse." Well, I couldn't very well back out then, could I?

My first Slide trail ride had two particularly memorable moments: Ike saying casually, as we approached the stream, "Put her into a trot, she (Dandy) likes to roll in the water," and the grin on Katie's face as she galloped past me up the trail while I hung onto the saddle horn for dear life.

And why, some might ask, did we stay? Why did we keep going back time after time to ride such wild and crazy horses? Well, after that first trail ride, I met the horse ambassador - Cal's Eclipse. World Champion, gentle, intuitive, and an escape artist. Add that to Kathy Sierra's "I rule" feeling - which happened every time we went up to Slide - and we end up as the proud owners of our very own wild and crazy spotty horse.

The New Horse Blog

I'm new to the blogging world but am always looking for a new listener. Everyone who knows me now is completely worn out by my lame horse stories.
So here we go new listeners, time to get excited, time for some Katie and Jessica Horsey Fun!!

One year later

So, I've been a horse owner for just over a year - August 1st was the anniversary of our descent into horse-owning madness. :-)

We've had an eventful year, including nearly losing her two weeks after we bought her, switching barns, and learning how to ride like we want and not scare other barn-mates.

More later, I just had to get something up so my URL would be live.