Friday, November 23, 2007

Trying new things

One of the fun things about trail rides is getting Lena to experience new things. In this case - several months ago, now - it was the ocean.

I love this shot, though, because of the expression on Lena's face and the obvious encouragement both Doc and Lena are getting from Katie. (Notice the foot in the surf.)

Lena got to try another new thing today - having a very small person on her back. Steve's three-year old nephew Adam has been up visiting for the holidays, along with his parents -- Steve's brother Thom and his wife Jane. We all went to the barn today so Adam (and my dad, Thom, and Jane) could meet Lena. Adrienne came, too, though she is well acquainted with her Royal Spottiness.

Adam was cautious, but not afraid - even when that big nose investigated him thoroughly for carrots - and wanted to ride Lena from the first second (maybe the third) he saw her. That is Steve asking me what the rough patches on the insides of Lena's legs are called again - her chestnuts.

We put Katie's helmet on Adam and he sat up in the saddle, holding the horn tight since the stirrups were way, way below his feet, and apparently grinned from ear to ear the entire time Steve and I led the two of them around the arena. I was busy watching Lena so I missed that part, but am hoping Thom shares some of the many pictures he was taking.

At one point, Adam looked down at me and said, "She moves!" in absolute wonder, his voice echoing the same genuine awe that fills me every time I work with her.

I'm just glad to have a horse that pays attention to us, even when we're asking her to do something new and sometimes weird.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Day one with Lena

Day one with Lena
Originally uploaded by spottyhorse67

Can you tell this was back when I was still a little scared of horses? She was so lovely back then, and I think even lovelier now. Although she is rarely that clean anymore. Sometimes in the summer. :-)

Friday, November 09, 2007

Good horses

People have a lot of criteria for what they consider a "good" horse, and it varies depending on the person and what they want from that horse.

Me? I like a horse with some spunk, some brains, a good attitude about learning, and the willingness to trust me.

I know I'm still relatively new to all of this, and that maybe my criteria is based on the horse I have, but now that I have her, I can't imagine wanting a different type of horse.

But that's me.

Lena gave me a good example of what I consider a "good" horse yesterday. I had noticed some scuz on the inside of her rear left "thigh" the other day, but hadn't looked closely. (Yes, unlike me, I know.) When I did look at it yesterday morning, there was a scabby knot of blood and dirt there, so I took her into the barn to clean it out and see what it was.

Now, as some of you know, Lena does not hold still well. She dances and shifts from side to side in the cross ties, cranes her neck back around to see what you're doing, nibbles at the ties, etc.

Unless you're doctoring her.

I put her in the cross-ties and got some water and a towel to clean off the scab, then did that thing I'm good at - ignoring conventional wisdom about being around horses - and climbed under Lena's belly to work. She stood absolutely still, not even shifting a foot, while I scrubbed at the scab to get at whatever lay underneath.

Linda and Karen were both there and were both impressed at how still she was, both of them knowing what a rare thing that is with Lena.

It's almost like she knows I'm fixing something and - as long as she wants it fixed, too - holds still until I'm done.

I think it was a tick - there is a nice, round hole underneath all that crusty stuff, like she'd managed to get the tick out, but it left a good gouge. Ew.

At any rate, my point is that as goofy as she can be, she seems to know when to be still and let us tend something that needs attention. Even if she challenges me the very next minute in some other way, that makes a good horse in my book.

Sunday, November 04, 2007


I love owning a mare. I know. I'm weird. Geldings are calmer, steadier, more affectionate, and generally better choices for new riders like us. I read somewhere that with a gelding, you're always dealing with the same quirks, but a mare invents new ones all the time. That's been true so far with Lena, but I can't really say I would want it any other way.

As we get to thinking about horse number two and what we want, there is a logical assumption that we consider a gelding - a nice, calming influence on Lena - and part of me thinks that might be a good idea.

But the other part of me loves - absolutely loves - the quirks that come with owning a mare. Yes, even when she's in season and not necessarily focused on arena work - or much of anything but her own hormones.

She is passionate and moody, sensitive and emotional. And I love that about her. I think she is amazing and I love playing with her, riding her, and figuring out what mood we have on any given day.

I don't honestly know who or what the next horse will be, and as long as Lena accepts him or her, I don't care. Of course, since she may be the most spoiled spotty horse in all of Sonoma county, getting her to share her humans at all - regardless of the gender of her new trail buddy - may be the biggest task of all.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

33 second nose bag lesson

While Steve and I were at the packing class, we witnessed the power of a nose bag of grain. Shake it, and they will come.

So we found a nose bag today and introduced Lena to the concept.

The first thing she did was stick her nose in it. Then decided it was too scary for all of about, yes, 33 seconds. I shook it at her and she walked away from me, rolling her eye in my direction. I shook it at her again and she walked away again a couple more times.

It didn't help that she could see her regular bucket o' grain outside the paddock and she did wander over and hint that Steve could give that to her any time since I was being silly with this weird bag thing.

But then she decided maybe the nose bag wasn't too terrible and buried her face in it until she had effectively snarfed up every last little rolled oat.

I can't guarantee that it will pull her away from a meadow of lush, green grass, but that's an experiment for another day.