Thursday, September 27, 2007

Steve gets quality Lena time

I am at a conference in Santa Clara until tomorrow afternoon so Steve had sole Lena duty tonight.

I called him tonight to say hello and he told me he'd left work early and spent a long time with her today, riding, walking her, even rinsing her off. She was in great need of all of those things and I'm glad she got them. I'm also glad Steve has that to give to her.

As hard as it is sometimes to share one horse between the three of us who ride, I think in the long run - even in the short run - it makes Lena a better horse. It also makes us better humans.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Our Kitty Cats!

Jess's post earlier this week about Tigger hit a cord with me. My cat Babar, pictured above, passed away this summer from
FIP. He was two and half years old.
I'm not really a cat person and I had quite the love/hate relationship with Babar. But now that he's gone, I really miss him. It's amazing how creatures, big or small, can make such a large impact on your life.
So cheers to Tigger and Babar. You were great cats and you will be missed!!!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Why exists

This post actually stems both from the re-introduction of Katie D. and a question Mike (our new farrier) asked me.

When we bought Lena, we had absolutely no idea what we were getting into. Two weeks later, when we had to think about putting her down during a bad case of colic, we had a good idea.

My goal - which may be different than Katie's - was to share the good, bad, and ugly of life with horses. In my various searches for information on the web, I've found little bits of stuff scattered all over. We'd like to consolidate it and give folks a central place to find good - or at least tried once or twice - techniques, information, tips, tricks, etc.

Don't get me wrong, I love it. (Duh.) I can't imagine life without a horse in it and I am so glad to have Lena. But. It is a lot of work. It is a lot of dedication. It is a huge commitment of time and money. And it is a lot of risk.

In fact, I love every minute of it - even the scary ones - but if there was something I could impart to people thinking of buying a horse, it's that it is a big deal and you have to have time and energy and patience to put into it.

Do not enter it lightly, but if you are willing to invest, it reaps a reward beyond almost anything else I've ever done. (Parenting ranks slightly higher.) :-)

New shoes (and shoer) for Lena

It was time for Lena to get shoes and, unfortunately, our regular farrier seems to have disappeared.

I got Mike's name from Phil and Carey (Taffy and Doc's owners, respectively), and he came out today to put new shoes on Lena. Now, even though I took the Farrier Science class at Santa Rosa JC, I hadn't gotten to watch our previous farrier work, so I was looking forward to our appointment today.

It was really neat to watch and I'm glad I got to see it all the way through.

I liked the way Mike handled Lena, who naturally had to test the new guy. He wasn't mean as she tried to dance around on three feet, but he was firm. She did check him out rather thoroughly. Lots of smelling.

He worked quickly and efficiently, but paid enough attention to her that she knew he was paying attention. (Even while he had to listen to our whole horse history, the poor guy.)

He did really nice clean up on her back feet as her toes were a little long back there. Her frog was shedding, so he took a lot off, plus trimmed up the toes really well. You can see the extra stuff flying off in this photo. Pretty cool!

Here is a shot of him clinching down the nails so they don't bite either us or Lena.

Mike impressed me with the way he dealt with Lena, and the way he worked with me. I know I'm not easy and I'm a worrier, but he answered my questions and didn't mind the camera going off while he worked. Best of all, both Steve and I noticed how much easier she was moving when we rode tonight.

I sure do love it when someone likes what they do enough to do a good job.

Not our new horse

As much as I would love to have horse number two, we are not there yet. :-) The new horse is Katie D's new horse! We are lucky enough to still get to borrow Doc from our friends Phil and Carey until we get our next horse.

Katie is my partner in crime in this blogging enterprise. She has been riding far, far longer than I have and has come to my rescue on horse-related issues more than once. Her horse story starts here and you've all seen the most recent post.

Katie D. and I both work at O'Reilly Media. I work for the Marketing department and she works for Make Magazine, which is part of O'Reilly.

Katie D. should not be confused with my daughter Katie, though I admit it's confusing.

Katie D. has been doing Dressage for many years. We have only been doing what we've been doing with Lena for a couple of years. Why would we come together? Well, fundamentally I think it's a common love for what horses bring to our lives. It's also a nice respite from the much more technical aspect of work - programmers and Makers don't necessarily understand the joy of a soft horse nose in your face.

That and Katie D. is absolutely not snobby at all. She thinks Lena is wonderful, just like I think Bee and Fenway are wonderful. (I'm sure Willoughby is, too, but I haven't met him, yet.) I have to say that not all Dressage riders have thought Lena is wonderful, but then again, neither have some of the Western riders at our barn. Oh, well.

I may be a little snobby, but only in regards to how people treat their horses.

So, no. The new horse is not ours. BUT I am on track for next spring to be the time for it to happen. Patience is a virtue, but boy is it hard!!!!

Sunday, September 23, 2007


Steve found Tigger's body this morning, and we buried him up on the hill by Virginia and Sputter.

It has been a weird few days of silence, no one meowing for breakfast in the mornings. Very odd to wake up without him staring in the window at us with that mildly annoyed look on his face, as if to say: "How dare you sleep when I'm starving?"

He was, as Steve said, as fine a cat as has ever lived, with his super soft rabbit fur, his rumbly purr, his raggedy and filigreed ears, and of course the gigantic 6-toed feet attached to his tiny barn-cat body.

I wish I had known him longer, but I'm glad I knew him at all.

He will be missed.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Missing Cat

We are missing a cat in our household. Well, The Cat really.

Tigger, our 17-year old, scruffy, gray tabby hasn't come home to eat since last night. It's not that he doesn't occasionally miss a meal, but he has been aging rapidly this year and had quit grooming himself of late, probably due to arthritis in his back legs and pelvis.

He also couldn't gain weight no matter how much he ate - and he ate a lot. I'm sure we could have taken him to the vet - at great physical peril to ourselves - but he's 17, an outdoor cat, and still seemed to be moving mostly okay. His coat, until he stopped grooming, was soft and thick, too. Actually, it was still soft and thick, but he had bad dread-wads on his hind end that we had to start cutting out.

Steve and I have both searched everywhere we know to search, and every meow makes us look up and check the back door, but we think he has probably crawled off somewhere to end his days peacefully.

We always wanted to figure out a way for Tigger and Lena to meet, but never could. It's too bad, they have a lot in common and could have shared stupid owner stories for days.

Tigger, wherever you are, we love you and we miss you.

Now I'm hoping for that ironic twist that would make him saunter in the back door the second I publish this post.

Welcome Willoughby!

Willoughby is now part of the family! I had a nice chat with the vet this morning and he gave me the good news that Willoughby passed the exam! I'm so excited!!! He will go to Ellen's house (my trainer who lives in Templeton, CA) until I get back from Maker Faire.

I can't wait for Bumble Bee to meet Willoughby!

Cutting horse videos

I was on the NCHA site the other day and it said there were lots of cutting videos available on YouTube, so I just took a peek and it looks like there are some good ones.

I love to watch cutting and I wish we could get Lena more involved in it, even just for fun. (Back to the us not wanting to hang out at shows all day thing.)

This one, of an Appy cutting a buffalo, is kinda scary, though. The horse is tough, but the buffalo out-weighs it by quite a bit and there's another one in there, too!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

What I love about my horse

I entered a contest last night to win a trailer, not because we need one but because all I had to do was write a short story about why I love my horse. Could it be an easier subject for me?

Here's what I wrote:
"What I love about Lena is everything; the copper-penny glow of the sun on her coat, her big curly ears and the bulls-eye spot around her tail, the dusty warm smell of her skin, and the presence, energy, and personality that shine out of those big brown eyes. Heck, I even love cleaning out her pen every day.

But what I love most are the things she teaches me - patience, balance, trust, and humility. Just when I think I know something, she reminds me I'm still learning. And if I'm learning, I'm living. That is her greatest gift."

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

New Horse

I know, I've been a terrible blogger.
But I'm trying to get back in the swing of things. A lot has happened in my little horse world since I last wrote. I had to make a really hard decision concerning my horse Fenway. Last year I found out that Fenway had arthritis in his neck. I tried injecting the vertebrae in his neck, turned him out to pasture for three months, and no luck. He was not happy working, it hurt him. So I had to decide between having 2 pastures horses or my riding career. I chose my riding career because that's what makes me happy and that's why I got Finny in the first place. I was lucky was able to find him a great home. He's living in a family's backyard, going on occasional trail rides, and eating lots of sugar! It was one of the hardest decisions I've had to make.
So begins the search for a new competition horse! Exciting but hard because I compare everything to Fenway! I drove to Thousand Oaks this weekend and tried an amazing horse. If I get him, I'll name him Wallabe. He's has the sweetest personality and he is a fabulous mover. He's only six so we'll have a lot of time together.
Wallabe is a son of Weltmeyer, a popular dressage sire. Weltmeyer
The vet check is set for Thursday morning. Cross your fingers!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

New gear for Lena

One of the things we've tried to do on our trail riding adventures is make sure we can let Lena (and Doc) graze when we stop. Usually, this means we leave their halters on under the bridles, but that means a lot of gear on their heads. I don't think they mind, but simplicity is always nicer when dealing with 1,200 pounds.

Linda over at Horses and Things had a nylon halter/bridle combo in a lovely shade of red, so we thought we'd try it out to see if it would work for us for trail riding purposes, and if Lena would actually still respond to normal commands.

The bridle/halter combo is pretty simple, actually. It's almost a normal halter, though it has more of headstall arrangement than a standard halter, and then it has a couple extra brass loops on the side where the bit hooks in using what are basically nylon curb straps on clips. It's a pretty simple solution that allows us to be out on the trail with the bit in, then stop and simply unhook it so Lena can graze. Getting the bit in and out of her mouth proved relatively easy, as well.

And, a very important factor, the red looks very nice on her. She thought so, too, I swear.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Lena is fine

She's back to her ornery self, so that means she's fine.

We don't really know what happened and are getting various theories as usual. Peter thought we had run her too hard on the trail after not riding her much last week, and that she didn't get enough water. Dr. Leslie thought it was Lena's cycle causing internal discomfort. Peter didn't agree, but that would make mares different from every other female species on the planet, so who knows.

By the way, we didn't ride her very hard at all - it was only a 2-hour ride with a break in the middle - and it was only in the mid-seventies where we were in any case. We also offered all three horses water afterwards and none of them were interested in doing anything but sloshing it around and onto Katie's shirt.

All in all, there are some days I really wish horses could talk.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Not the face of an angel

You may not guess this from the sweet expression on her face, but Lena was NOT on her best behavior today. (Yes, again.) Steve's comment was that the best we could say is that she could have been worse. True, very true. It's kind of like teenagers - she pushes right up to the limit to see how far you'll let her go. With 1,200 pounds, though, it's better to push back, sometimes hard.

Part of her excess energy was was our fault - we didn't ride her enough this week. Part of was that she was in season today, too. But sometimes "challenging" is an understatement.

She didn't take off with Steve or me, but she danced up the trail most of the way to the top of the ridge and conducted herself in a most lewd way much of that time. It was almost embarrassing.

Katie D. and Bee came out with us, and Bee had a great time! He seemed really happy to be out and so did Katie. Katie is enjoying getting to ride her old friend Bee while she is in the process of finding her next show horse.

The way down was better, until Doc got in front and she decided she had to race him back to the trailer. Then we had to spin some circles and back up, then - even worse - stand still with me on her back while Bee and Doc got tied up and Katie and Steve got off.

Challenging indeed.


And just like that, something happens that reminds me how much I love having Lena in my life.

Peter called at about 5:30, just as the steak came off the grill. He said she was colicky, laying on the ground. We covered the meat and called the vet and by the time we got there she was up and looking for dinner.

She didn't get dinner, but as of 8:30, we haven't heard from Peter to say she's having any more problems.

Dr. Leslie said it could have been related to her cycle - hard for a mare to tell what in her abdomen is giving her problems, I guess.

I'm trying not to worry and trying to believe that if something goes wrong, we will hear about it.

Not easy, any of it.

So, ornery as she is, I love Lena tremendously and can't quite imagine what life would be like without her.

Maybe that's the lesson of the day.