Friday, December 28, 2012

All the pretty ponies

It is a good thing I do not own a big hunk of land somewhere and am not independently wealthy. Or maybe it's not a good thing because if I did, it would be filled with so many Off-Track Thoroughbreds I could barely keep them straight.

And keeping them straight, learning each different horse and each fantastic personality, makes my days happy and full.

Of course, a certain brown OTTB would like to remind me who exactly I belong to--him, the great and wondrous Calabar and only to Calabar.

But there is Dixie (Ur My Dixie Girl), a sweet and dainty mare who is a complete stall piggy and is unfortunately stuck in said stall for another two months or so while she heals up from a hairline condylar fracture. She needs attention and mini-walks and acupressure to help combat tension from the confinement. She is adorable and quite playful. She even attempted to help with the stall cleaning tonight by bouncing the shovel handle for Katie. Too dark for a video, but there were tears of laughter at her antics.

Dixie looking at the arena: "What kind of track is that?"
And there is Cash (Cottonwood Cash), quite possibly the most mellow OTTB I've ever met. He is amazing. Doesn't spook, doesn't bit or nip, NO vices. Really. He is sweet, trusting and snuggly. Just don't try to put him in a stall. He doesn't freak out, he doesn't jig. He just flat out refuses with this look in his eye that says if you force it, bad things will happen. BAD things. But he thinks I am awesome because I just happened to be there when the farrier found the abscess in his front foot and then when the vet found the next one in his back foot. "It's a coincidence," I tell him. "But it doesn't hurt any more, so yay and thank you!" says the cute baby bay horse.

Christmas Cash--yes, he wears costumes well, too.
So.. yes. My time has been taken up with these two very lovely and very different horses. Cash never raced, not once. Dixie raced several times and was fairly successful. And yet both have been handled well and are trusting of people in general.

They are teaching me things that will give me insight into my own horse, have already given me insight into my own horse. This is good. Getting back in the saddle after all the holiday nonsense will also be good. Better in fact. Right, Calabar?

"Yes, more time with me, the #1 OTTB in your life, is crucial."
I love all the things these very different horses are teaching me. Thoroughbreds, particularly Off-Track Thoroughbreds, are not easy and they are certainly not all alike. But they do share something that engages me from the very first second--a life force, an energy, a presence. " What's next? What are you doing? How does it involve me?" In all honesty, they remind me of the cow horses I have met (and the cow horse I own) in the way they draw me in with their very being, their sensitivity, interest and attention to the world around them.

And what they give back when you reach out to them is nothing less than a gift.

Thank you to all the pretty ponies in my life for the gifts you bestow. Yes, that includes the messy stalls and the duct tape boots.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Is it really almost Christmas?

When I was a child, far back in the mists of time, it seemed like a year took forever. For. Ev. Er. Now I've barely put the ornaments away and it seems as if it's time to hang the stockings again.

Has time really sped up or is it merely that a year is a much smaller fraction of my total time on this planet than it used to be?

I do not mind aging, in fact I quite like who I am now--even with a few more wrinkles, bumps and bruises.You could not pay me enough to go back to my 30s, let alone my 20s. Yuck. And yet it would be nice to recapture that slowness of time, those long days of summer when camping in the backyard was an adventure and my dad mowed the lawn with an old-fashioned push mower. In his cutoffs. Singing "If You Think I'm Sexy," by Rod Stewart. (It only warped me a little.)

My wish for myself would be to stop zipping from one thing to another all day, every day, and just for a minute remember that molasses-slow time.

Notice the wrinkly nose--detail and beauty while grass snatching
And what does that have to do with horses? Well, nearly everything. Taking time for each one in my care--stopping to really see them--gives me that contraction in time when all you can hear is their breathing, all you can smell is their rich, warm skin, all you can see is yourself in their eyes.

And then time catches up and you're late for dinner, but such is life. And a good life it is.

Our not-so-professional Christmas Card
In case I don't get back to the blog again before Christmas (or possibly even before the New Year), here is to all of the others out there who love their horses, love other people's horses, and wonder how they will ever find enough time in the day to enjoy it all. Happy Holidays and Merry New Year to you all!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Happy anniversary to Calabar and me

Five years ago, we got stuck in the mud picking up the horse that has changed my whole life. He's broken a few things along the way--reins, trailer ties, me--but he has also taught me so much about horses, life and my own sweet self it has all been worth it. Every last bump and bruise.

Yep. Big, gooey smooch from the fuzzy brown mirror
I still don't know exactly where we are headed together. Do I want to show? I'm not sure. Do I want to do what it takes to maybe show? Yes, because it will be good to work through it with him, both of us learning, both of us pushing gently against new boundaries.

There have been many blog posts here about the journey he and I have been on, but it always comes back to the fact that we are on it together and have learned to rely on each other--some might say finally--in a way that gets us through each step.

And now it's time to go see my big brown horse and let him roll in the arena to get all the under-blanket itchiness properly scratched. Then maybe a little work with our new dressage reins!

Happy anniversary, big brown mirror! Thank you for the smooches, the bruises and everything in between!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Holiday giving

The holidays are a 50-50 proposal for me. I love giving gifts, but hate shopping and particularly hate shopping at this time of the year. The mere thought of fighting crowds to do something I dislike is enough to give me a stomach ache and the shakes. However, my mission over the last few years has been to do much of my shopping locally instead of online, so brave the crowds I must. Someday. Maybe even soon.

I have friends who shop all year for the holidays, but my problem is that if I buy someone a gift, I want to give it to them then, not hold onto it for months and months and months.

Such is the dilemma I face every year and it has given me great insight into my father's habit--the annual mad-Christmas-Eve-dash. Aha. Now I get it.

Of course, the problem is compounded by those who want to give me gifts. "What do you want?" "Um, I don't know?" In all honesty, I'm a lucky gal and don't need a lot more in my life than the wonderful gifts I already have. As a friend--the lovely and more fashionable than I will ever be Jessica Junk--pointed out on her blog Fourteen Carrots, there are plenty of deserving charities out there that can use help more than I need a new widget.

So if you can't figure out what to get me, if you're just not sure that sweater will match my eyes, donate to Neigh Savers on my behalf. It's easy. Just click right here and then click on the big, yellow "Donate" button.

Happy holidays from Dublin!
Dublin and all the other horses we've helped this year will send you a big NEIGH of thanks for your generosity and for not compounding the retail madness.