Friday, September 29, 2006

The hackamore

Oh, I love being a new horse owner.

Lena loves the hackamore.

The first two days we used it, she was more relaxed than I've ever seen her - except after we've ridden her hard for an hour or so - and then we're not relaxed. Her head position was great, her stops were awesome, and she was more responsive with less effort than usual.

Day three was a little different, but not much.

Day four, we went back to the bit.

Today, I used the hackamore again, and she was again more responsive and relaxed than with the bit.

I'm new, don't forget, so it may be as much my physical reaction as anything, but I love the way she responds to the hackamore. Or maybe I love the way using the hackamore makes me more conscious of my body signals to her.

Whatever it is, I really like working with her in a different way and what I am learning from it.

Sunday, September 24, 2006


Everyone knows that to ride horses, you must have the proper gear. Not only for the horse, but for yourself. I don't tend to go for style, more comfort and snot and dirt-resistance - except when it comes to my boots.

My red Ariat cowboy boots are my favorite article of clothing, riding or not. Steve got them for me about a year and a half ago and - at first - they were not used for actual horse handling.

That was pre-Lena.

I wear them every day. They are almost perfectly formed, now, wrapping like a glove around my feet, creased and pliable, stained with aluminum from the stirrups, always vaguely horse-scented. (Dogs love them.) In other words, they are perfect.

I wore through the left insole and resorted to gray tape until I got around - 6 months later - to ordering new insoles. It's almost (almost) like having new boots! (Especially when I clean off the dust and condition the leather a little.)

Recently, though, I started to worry about what would happen when my red boots got too worn out to wear for going out to eat on the weekends, or my signal for the pending weekend, "red-boot Friday." I started looking at other boots, thinking either to replace my red boots with another color to ride in, preserving the red ones for "good," or to use the new, different color as my "dress" boots. I was having a hard time choosing because, really, I just wanted another pair of red boots.

Luckily, Steve understands me and convinced me to get what I wanted, even if other people thought it was silly to have two pairs of red boots.

I'm not quite sure what I'll do if Ariat stops making red boots, but for now, my feet are quite happily covered in red boots for most future occasions I can think of.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

The Boil Saga Continues

Yes, Bee's boil still exists. It's still an ugly round lump on his poor little elbow. When will it go away?
The vet is coming out today so hopefully he'll be able to blow the boil away! Wish me luck!!!

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Horse Rules

I think one of the things I like most about being a new horse person is that I don't know any of the rules. That's gotten us in trouble on occasion, but on the other hand, it's gotten us out of trouble, too. "Oh, they don't know any better."

I have owned a horse long enough to figure out that most everyone has their right way of doing things, their specific steps to follow, their opinion of what event you should do with your horse, you name it. (No events, thanks, we just want to ride and enjoy her.)

It's hard to listen to all of the advice and filter out something that makes sense to you and for your horse, but I do try to pay attention to what people say as we do different things with Lena. Sometimes things work and sometimes they don't, but it's part of the fun of figuring out our particular horse.

We want to get her a hackamore to see if she is more or less responsive - or just different - if we remove the bit. Not a mechanical one, just the simple and traditional bosul. I'm anticipating some grief - not necessarily from Lena, either - but I also know that she was trained with one, as are all the Slide horses - many of whom still get ridden regularly with just the hackamore. We do have to have one of her front teeth pulled, so maybe that can be our excuse. Either that, or people will just chalk it up to another "silly new horse people" stunt.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

I tried ...

... to write a post that wasn't about horses on my non-horse blog.

Alas, I failed.

Oh, well. :-)

Spotty Blogging

My spotty muse is obvious, of course, but I see some comments on Huck's birthday party post that point out that "Spotty Horse" seems slightly restrictive. Since I don't want to change the title, I altered our tagline. (Again, for those of you paying attention.)

But I started playing with other meanings of spotty besides being covered with spots and this is where my brain went with that.

It could be that this is a blog with sporadic (spotty) news about horses, but also containing news about other four-legged beings and their teachings.

It could mean that Katie and I are not always super dedicated to posting every single day, so the frequency of our entries is spotty.

And it could be that I just happen to like the way Spotty Horse sounds and don't feel like changing it. :-)

I myself am spotty in both senses of the word - sometimes distracted, always freckled.

I appreciate having this forum to talk about the weird - and not-so-weird - things you encounter when you choose to share your life with other creatures, including other humans. Lena colors my world-view, always, so she is present in my words - at least in some small way - always. Even when I'm writing about cats or other people's dogs. :-)

Friday, September 08, 2006

Horse Medicine?

By the way, stay tuned for Katie's post about a recent farrier remedy that surprised her.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Using your hands and your head

I read a post called Shop Class as Soulcraft on one of our sites and I think there is something to this that speaks to the reasons I love being around horses. (And tools, but that's another fetish for a later date.) I will say that tool use seems to be a disappearing art, which is a shame. It's one of the reasons I encouraged my daughter to take auto shop - her friends all think a cell phone is the only tool you need when your car breaks!

Noodling through something mentally can be very satisfying, but there is also something fundamentally soul-filling about using your hands to do something. I think balance - for me - comes in part from using this tool (the computer) all day and a shovel and hoof pick in the evenings. It makes me feel more real, less ethereal, more a part of this universe.

Lena definitely makes me feel grounded and real. Trying to communicate with an alien (thanks for that analogy, Bert) is a truly challenging exercise for both mind and body. And being able to use my body as a tool to facilitate that communication is a gift that comes from using a lot of other tools along the way.

My hands may be ugly, but they are strong and will usually do what I want them to - even if they end up dirty, scraped up and greasy. :-)