Thursday, May 17, 2007

Horse thoughts from Portland

So I join you this evening from lovely Portland, OR, where I will be working the O'Reilly booth at our Rails Conference for the next two days.

It's was beautiful here today and on the way from the airport I saw some really cool horse statues made of driftwood - kind of like this one.

Yes, I am so horse crazy that not only do I notice driftwood statues, but I see horse trailers at every turn. Though not in downtown Portland, at least so far.

I am ready to tune out, now, after dutifully getting our booth set up - even managing to not fall off the table - and going through my email. No fires, phew.

Maybe tomorrow I'll have enough energy to talk about making sure your horse's gate is really latched. Of course, that would require confessing the truly deep nature of my ditziness, but if I can accurately portray in words the look of mischievous triumph on Lena's face, it may be worth it.

I also want to write about getting to watch Fenway get a really great massage from my friend Karen, really cool to watch. I was so busy watching, though, that I didn't think once to take pictures of it. I know... I'm fired.

And then there was Doc trying to tell us we are not done with our trail ride until we get to the top. We should have listened to him, says Phil, Doc knows what he's doing. Phil, Carey, Doc and Taffy are off on a 3-day overnight trip up north and I can't wait to hear how that went for them.

Quiet hotel rooms are great places to remember the things you keep forgetting to write about.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Trail ride

I finally got to experience the Doc and Lena show last weekend, and I have to say she's a much calmer horse when she has a buddy. And Doc is a great trail horse, as well as a nice calming influence on the dancing spotty horse.

Yes, I know. They are herd animals, of course she's better with a friend, but I don't think either of us realized how much better she would be.

We took them up to Armstrong Woods and on a pretty challenging trail. Doc chugs along like a compact little tractor and Lena was just happy not to be crossing drainage pipes by herself.

Sometimes she would go in front and sometimes Doc would - it depended on how unfamiliar something looked to her.

We got down to the picnic area and had a snack, and Doc got a massage. Lena was too busy sniffing and looking around, though she did let me work on her a little and stood mostly patiently while we ate. Mostly.

One of the really interesting side-effects was how many people came up to us and asked about the horses, asked if they were ours and wanted to know about them. One woman - after checking with us and watching Lena for a minute - picked up Lena's front foot to show her young son how big and heavy those feet can be. Lena was cooperative and calm, even though she and Doc were both anxious to get on the trail.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Back to Things Horses Have Taught Me

So I was reading back into the archives and came across this post, which is just as true now as it was when I wrote it.

I am small!

I got stepped on again today and we had more blanket trauma, too. Mornings like this always serve as reminders - rather painful on occasion - of all the things I learn and forget on a daily basis when working with Lena.

Maybe someday I'll remember in time to watch her feet instead of just her head.

Equine Massage and Accupressure Class

I just took the final last night, but Sunday really was the highlight of the whole class.

It was a lot of information crammed into three 3-hour classes and one all day session - especially since I missed one class to go work a tradeshow.

The morning started out with a discussion of other available resources if we want to delve deeper into either massage or accupressure. There is actually not a ton out there for horses, so Diana Thompson, the instructor, is actually working on a pretty comprehensive and horse-specific set of texts.

Then we actually got to meet and touch real horses. Now, I'm lucky enough that I have Miss Lena and had been practicing on her over the last few weeks. Actually longer, since my friend Karen MacDonald came out to give me some pointers a few months ago.

Now, Lena does respond, but nothing like the way some of these horses did. Of course, most of these horses don't dance in circles around you, either.

I actually fell in love with one of the horses I got to work on. He's a Boy Scout horse, though I don't know exactly what that means - except that he'll go away at the end of the summer, I guess. His name was Stone and he was a bay paint gelding with some seriously sore hip muscles.

What drew me to him was his energy - he actually reminded me of Lena because of the heads-up, alert attitude. The young woman who worked with the horses at the JC's farm didn't think he'd work out for the class because he was a little too antsy. Apparently he bucks, too, which when I felt his hips and back, made complete sense. I'd probably buck too if someone got on me when I was that sore.

I won't say he became putty in my hands, but he would calm down and respond to me even as he got truly bored at the end of the day. I could even get up close to his ears and use the pressure point on his forehead.

The highlight was when we did the circle-touch method on his tail. I went down the sides, then started down underneath on the skin. He shook his whole body then started with some jaw-splitting yawns. These are good signs, by the way. It was really cool.

Lena could take some lessons in relaxing from Stone, but maybe if I'm patient, I can get her there.

New trail riding buddy for Lena

Not sure if you all remember Phil and Doc from the day at the dentist, but Steve and Phil worked out a pretty cool agreement that might work fairly well for all of us.

Phil and Carey - Doc's owner - and Phil's horse Taffy needed a bigger trailer. We, as you know, would love to do more trail riding, but needed a second horse and aren't ready to buy another one just yet. Phil, Carey, Taffy, and Doc tend to ride during the week. We trail ride primarily on the weekends.

So far so good. Phil and Taffy took Steve and Doc out on Friday to introduce Steve to Doc and his trail gait. Then Katie and Steve took Lena and Doc out on Sunday to the same place to see how the two horses would do. Apparently it went great, though there are no pictures of either event. Katie, Steve - you're both fired.

Where was I during all this? Well, Friday I worked but did get out and ride Lena at lunch time. She had a distinctly baffled look when I got there and kept looking out of the arena at Steve's car, obviously wondering where he went with those "other" horses and why he left without her.

Sunday I had my all-day session for the equine massage and accupressure class so spent six hours massaging and touching other horses. No, I didn't take pictures of that, either. I know. I'm fired, too.