Saturday, September 06, 2014

Writing and riding

I'm not sure how it happened that my time has been so swallowed up by other things that blogging has fallen off my to-do list but it very obviously has done just that. Much of it stems from the overwhelming feeling that revelations and insights about my relationships with the horses could not possibly be as interesting to others as they are (sometimes) earthshaking--or at very least head-shaking--to me.

Calabar and I are still working on our riding and we seem to be cooperating better than ever these days. He needs a confident hand--or as Allie says, more leg--and somewhere along the line, I found that in myself. At least most days. It also appears I've forgotten how to ride in a western saddle, so I'll be working on that with Lena and hoping I don't irritate her too much in the process. My left foot refuses to stay in the stirrup at a canter, regardless of what direction I'm going or how short the stirrups are. I have no idea what's causing this so my only solution is to toss that heavy saddle up more than every other month or so.

After Allie tortured my by raising the stirrups
We still have not gotten out on the trail this year but the trailer is in good repair so if I can stop making us too many plans on the weekends, it could actually happen now that weekends are back to normal. I'd been working Sunday-Thursday which left Saturday as cleaning and family errand day. Convincing Steve to play hooky on a Friday was never as successful as I'd hoped it might be. Oh, well.

It's like riding a bike? 
We did get up to Slide in July and had a nice time despite inferno-like temperatures. We didn't ride as much as we planned because of the heat, but Allie got to work the mechanical cow on Lena, Adrienne got to ride again after a long (6 years?) break and we got to catch up with Ike and Cheri. It's a gift in life to know people you can reconnect with easily, like the last two years were only a couple weeks. The plan is to visit in October next year when temperatures should be less horrid.

Lena shows Allie how to chase a cow
Calabar and Lena also got to meet Tuffy which was an interesting experience for all of us. Neither of them, to my knowledge, has been around foals much. They were totally enthralled with this tiny baby horse. Even my big, brown gelding was completely enchanted by this little being.

"His nose is so small!"
"No, we can't have one," we said.

"Are you SURE?" they said.

"Tuffy is right there!"
"Oh, yes. We're sure."

Tuffy and his momma, Truly a Hot Pepper
So.. I am continuing to learn and am finding a bond with Calabar that deepens with every ride. Do I have the need to share each and every milestone? Not so much any more. I have some other writing projects I'm working on and he plays a part in them, as does Lena, but my journey here has hit a bit of an impasse. Will I come back to it? I probably will here and there. I love my horses and the joy, grounding and comic relief they toss into my life on a regular basis. Sharing that with the world is simply not a priority for me anymore.

I think that's okay, at least for now.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Headed to Slide Mountain

After a lovely diving vacation last month, it's pony time! We are headed up to Slide Mountain Ranch with Calabar and Lena to spend some time trail riding, swimming, hiking and whatever other trouble we can get into up in the Sierra foothills.

Wreck diving in Cozumel--another great if expensive hobby!
Ike and Cheri no longer have the guest business, so we are staying in a house in Twain Harte near the lake and leaving the horses at the ranch. This means they will not hear the toilet flush at 4 a.m. and assume I'm coming out to feed them. Or maybe they will but I won't be there to hear them start whinnying for breakfast. I am trying not to be concerned about not being right there and am mostly succeeding. It would have been better if we'd had more practice being away from the barn of late, but with life being life, that hasn't happened.

It's been way too long since we had them out, even just to trail ride. That's nearly entirely due to my work schedule--I was working Sunday to Thursday, with Friday and Saturday off, leaving us with only Saturday to do family stuff. I went back to Monday through Friday after we got back from Cozumel, so a normal weekend schedule should allow for more trail riding. However, with this, that and several other things, we still didn't get them out before we head up to Slide on Thursday.

I'm sure it will be fine and they will settle down nicely. Certainly they will after a few hundred laps around the arena and up and down the mountain behind the ranch.

Really, though, it's just a chance to get away and see people we really like and play with the horses away from the arena.

Maybe this time I can even get Calabar to work the mechanical cow!

"Right," he says, "Only real cows, not bags of socks."

"Why am I chasing a bag of socks?"

"Duh! Because it's fun, Calabar!!" says Lena.
Updates on Ike and Cheri, the new foal and Calabar's progress with cow chasing--plus plenty of pictures of Lena actually working the mechanical cow because she thinks it's fun--coming soon.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Calabar the Calm

That title is not a typo. I'm not 100% sure it's not a behavioral anomaly, but it is not a typo. Not lately. And while I don't want to jinx myself (or him), I also want to give the big brown horse some credit for his hard work and dedication to being cooperative. Especially at dinner time. (His, not mine. Mine comes after his.)

What are we doing? Besides drooling a little, I mean.
He is attentive. He is relaxed. He is full of curiosity and playfulness. I have been experimenting with loose reins and a bareback pad, relying on balance and trust--letting go of a need to completely control him--and believing we work better together than bouncing in different directions. This is hard at a trot where there is a lot of bouncing but it turns out we can actually get in sync. The canter is, however, much more divine.

It seems when I let go of the need to control, which stems from the fear that still lurks in my psyche, he relaxes. And when he relaxes, I relax.


Epiphanies are sometimes so very hard to get to. At least until they hit you in the head with a resounding "thunk." Or "think." It might be "think." Unless I think too much and then the thunk is better.

As I've often said--though likely in different words and turns of phrase--going with logic would have brought me to a different horse. The thunk of my heart when I first met Calabar definitely overrode the think part of the equation.

Leading with my heart has (mostly always) turned out to be the right thing. Even if he reverts to Calabar the goofy tomorrow, it's been well worth it to walk, trot and canter this road with him.

Saturday, June 07, 2014

Missed May entirely

Where on earth did May go? Jeeze.

There were some changes in my life but I can't believe that I missed an entire month! However, it is apparent that I did.

Many changes. I parted ways with Neigh Savers, which was hard but likely best for all concerned. Especially best for Calabar and Lena who would prefer I spend time with them and not horses that are not, well, mine.

I started working Fridays at the dive shop I frequent (Sonoma Coast Divers) because I love diving almost as much as I love horse smooches. Which is a lot in both cases. This means I technically only have one day off a week but it is worth it! Retail is a whole new experience and I'm learning more about another sport I love! How awesome is that?

Calabar on my tank. My worlds collide.
In my now more limited spare time, I'm working on a project that combines both my passions--horses and diving--in a way that I hope will impact the lives of humans and horses--especially ex-racehorses.

We are headed to Cozumel on June 20th for a dive trip. Expect interesting updates!

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Who's listened to you lately?

Horses have a lot to say but humans are not always good at hearing it. We get caught up in our own timelines, our own plans, and stop hearing anything outside of our own heads as we pursue that goal on the horizon, whatever it may be. This strategy can keep us focused on the end game but might make us miss some things on the way. Like an opportunity to connect with a big, brown racehorse. Or the universe. Could be the same thing some days of the week.

He says great things every day
As they transition away from their life on the track, ex-racehorses can be surprised by the new things they encounter in this strange new world of not-the-track. They adapt well--with a little time and patience--to cross-ties, being outdoors, dirt, heavy western saddles, weird games non-track people play and more. What sometimes surprises them most is having someone slow down and listen to them.

The people on the track (for the most part) do love and care for their horses. They know them, their personalities and quirks, and do what needs to get done to keep horses healthy and running. And they spend a lot of time doing that. But it is a business and very often things have to happen on a timeline--a human timeline around workout times and race days and the ticking of a clock that a horse doesn't necessarily hear.

Despite the human energy around them, some horses expect you to be listening. Lena not only expects it, she demands it and woe betide you if you go off somewhere else while you're riding. The ground can be nearly as unforgiving. She is a very expressive (some might say dramatic) mare. Not very affectionate in general but you can always tell when she doesn't feel well because suddenly her big head is in your chest with the likelihood being that she'd sit in your lap if she could. That's when--if you're listening--you be sure you have the vet's phone number close at hand. She's also extremely good at telling you when you are off-kilter in the saddle. "I think I'll zig zag now because you are posting on some crazy diagonal." 

Calabar did not expect anyone to hear what he had to say. Not really. He came to me certain he had to take charge because it was unlikely I would fathom the thoughts going on inside his big brown head. He was right at first, but he--more than any other horse--taught me to listen. There have been many incidents along the way that have cemented our relationship--from what liniment he prefers to saving him from the yellow jackets--and I've had the enormous pleasure to watch others prove themselves to him by simply hearing what he had to say. 

"Oh, I think I ran a hot nail," said my farrier after Calabar reared slightly in the cross ties while Mike held a front foot. Did Mike get mad? Nope. And not without cause. Calabar has not always been overly-cooperative for Mike. Mike stopped, pulled the nail and I swear I saw relief flow across that big brown horse's face. He even smooched Mike and has become easier to shoe since then.

Often the racehorses I've worked with are like Calabar. They've seen a lot, they've been handled a lot, but they haven't always been listened to a lot. Or not always when it mattered. And it's not just racehorses in that boat, there are plenty of horses out in the world with owners who don't want to or can't listen for whatever their reasons are. Those humans are missing a very important part of the conversation, of the relationship they could have with their horse, but they must like that path through the world.

I have seen that look of surprise and relief on more than one of the Neigh Savers horses I've worked with when I didn't get mad, when I didn't force an issue, when I stopped and said, "How can I explain this to you better so you understand me?" Or, "Why is this thing hard for you?" Or "What do you feel like doing today?" Or even just, "How do you like to be groomed?" Maybe this spot is sore or that spot needs a little massage or there is an itchy spot that just has to get scratched. Find them and show that you are paying attention, that you hear them even when they don't use words.

Nick is saying "I need something to do!"
Many of the horses also like to know what it is your doing. Show them the product you're going to spray on them, let them smell it. Take the time to let them understand and agree and you start to build that conversation so when the bigger issues come up--like cross ties and western saddles and large bodies of water--you've got a track record of trust behind you. 

It can get frustrating sometimes, of course. You've got stuff to do and the horse is bouncing away from you for some unknown (to you) reason. Lena likes to move. She likes to dance and prance and will spook just to entertain herself on occasion. Getting aggravated really doesn't help and merely lets her know she's won the latest round. Pretending you actually knew what she was going to do, however, that accomplishes many feats. In other words, go with it then find a way to slow her down and engage her brain more so there is less mental energy going towards practicing her sideways canter.

In other words, you also have to know when they are playing a game and call them on it. Ironically, this ends up building trust because they realize you have them figured out at least a little bit which means you were actually paying attention. Listening. Observing. Smothering laughter on occasion.

When you've been practicing your listening skills, it means you can often anticipate behavior.Any chance to prove you know what you're doing gives you that much more confidence and leadership which goes a very long way with 1,200 pounds. Not over-reacting when they do their silly thing and controlling it when they do it is sometimes anti-climactic but much more fun. Especially when they realize they've been had.

After a lunge session in the indoor arena awhile back, Calabar spied Peter doing battle with the terrifying patch of blackberry bushes in the back corner of the outdoor arena and we absolutely had to investigate. He didn't drag me but our pace was brisk and he would have had his nose in the bushes as Peter flung cut pieces around us if I hadn't kept the brown horse back a step or two. 

After our inspection, we turned to leave and I KNEW as soon as the butt end of my horse was pointed towards Peter and the bushes, Calabar would do what I call a "spin and face the danger." I could say I am so connected to my horse that I picked up on his psychic energy but it's really just as simple as sensing his more obvious Thoroughbred energy and reviewing past experiences.

So, yes. He did spin--a beautiful pivot off his front end, his butt swinging away from me at an impressive rate of speed--just so he could see what he'd just been looking at two seconds ago.. I looked up at him and asked if he was done. He looked at me, sighed and dropped his head to a normal level as we sauntered back up the hill so he could finish his dinner. There was a time I would have gotten mad and over-corrected him, but over time I stopped that silly human behavior (because he learned to stay out of my space with all his antics) and our adventures ceased escalating into madness. Funny how that works.

Listening, tuning out the background noise in your own head and just paying attention, is hard. But man is it ever worth it when they know you've actually heard them and give you their trust. Even if it's just for an instant, it's an instant you can build on, an instant you won't get without stopping to hear.

The journey doesn't end, it is ever-evolving

Recently, someone responded to a message in a way that intimated they thought I was under delusions of grandeur about my horsemanship abilities.

Not an expert for sure, just willing to keep trying to be better.
Good gravy, no. Obviously, they have never read this blog wherein I frequently highlight my foibles, faults and faux pas and where many of you ever-so-kindly remind me not to be too hard on myself.

All the steps we take, especially the ones that go backwards, are part of the journey towards being a better horse person but there is no ultimate finish, no golden carrot of perfect horsemanship. There is only the next thing to learn and the next "Aha!" be it with Calabar or Lena or any other horse that might cross my path.

Calabar has probably taught me the most but Lena has offered her own version of the world as she knows (and prefers) it. Using Calabar tools on Lena won't always work. In fact, they rarely work. Going over a jump is a great way to get Calabar to have fun and relax so we can go back to (as he says) "dumb" trot work. To Lena, going over a jump  is a horrid form of torture to be rushed through as quickly as possible so we can get back to more fun things. Like cantering big, lazy circles or running barrels.

Learning is hard and sometimes frustrating but without the willingness to question what you're doing and try new things, it is hard to improve or grow in anything you do. Some people have a hard time with this, hate getting out of their comfort zone and facing a little risk. Steve recently came back from a work trip where he suggested some of the other programmers learn a new version of a programming language in order to update one of the systems. They looked at him like he had three heads.

I sometimes feel like I have three heads--all of them telling me to do something else--when I'm working through something with the horses, but that's actually the best part. There is always more to learn, more they can teach you, about everything. How to ride is only part of it. Your energy and the way it impacts those around you. How to listen. How to treat mystery wounds and sporadic ailments that appear out of nowhere.

Even my grand-horse has given me lessons. Forrest recently moved to the big pasture and has been instrumental in teaching me more about herd dynamics. He is definitely a lover, not a fighter, and is luckily faster than the horse in charge of the small band of four (now five) horses. My attempts to show him how to send "Go away" vibes towards that alpha horse have so far resulted in Forrest hiding behind me, but there is hope he will learn and the observations have been valuable to me in any case. Apparently, I'm a little scary. Who knew?

Forrest trying to squeeze into Calabar's paddock
Figuring out the best path forward, being willing to try, to keep evolving my skills, my relationships with my horses--that is the only real goal worth pursuing. Anything else, like someday actually looking like I know how to ride, is just icing on the cake. 

Friday, April 04, 2014

Bouncy horses

Yee haw!
Remember these? I can still hear the sound of the springs squeaking maniacally as I did my level best to launch myself to the sky.

My horse (and several others at the barn) are channeling their plastic imitator this week. Spring, green grass, cool weather and some sunshine have all added up to wild ponies showing off their inner dragons. Or maybe just showing off to one another in the ageless dance of spring, trying to prove they are a good mate.

I'm not sure what good bucking and farting does for him, but Calabar put on quite a show last night when I turned him loose in the arena--highest bucks I've seen him do in quite awhile. Maybe he was adjusting his pelvis? Or maybe he was just feeling strong and healthy and thrilled to be able to run a little.

Lena just likes to wander around and sniff things--probably looking for stray carrots--but it's good for her to relax and wander a bit. She reserves her silliness for spooky corners and the dreaded jump poles. We practice WALKING over the jump. Not hopping. Not bolting over it. WALKING. Thinking is good, too.

Even though the horses are all spring-loaded at the moment, I'm looking forward to spring and sunny days after all this much-needed rain. And thankful we finally got all this rain. Having the hills summertime brown in late winter was disturbing for horses and humans alike.

Happy Spring!

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Of wet poop and gratitude

Steve has been in Minnesota for over a week, now. The house is too quiet, the bed is too cold, and I've lost weight because I'm too lazy to cook so I just eat a salad when I get home.

Cry me a river, right?

It is not that I don't appreciate Steve when he's here, I absolutely do. I'd like to think my gratitude is ever-present and obvious, given whole-heartedly and with much enthusiasm, but perhaps I had forgotten just how much there is to be thankful for around here.

This wet week in Northern California has dumped quite a lot of rain on us. This is another reason to be happy and grateful, but it adds weight to horse poop and unused hay.

Who needs CrossFit? I have wet, soggy, heavy horse poop to swing up, over and then into the poop cart. Pretty sure that move has a much cooler name in some gym somewhere. Once upon a time, I think I used a fancy machine in a gym that mimicked that tighten-twist-lift thing that is oh-so-much better with a rake full of soggy poop. Never underestimate the added benefit of weight at the end of a poo-rake for building core strength. Or throwing out your back if you're not careful. That, too. Add to that wrestling heavy bales of hay into their proper storage place. Bales that weigh almost as much as I do and are pokey--it's like wrestling a porcupine into a shoe box.

Muddy brown horse saying more hay would be great.
But while I'm getting a great workout, I am also burning daylight hours that could be spent riding. And I could absolutely ride after I clean. If I didn't want to eat at 9 o'clock (which I don't) or go to bed at an hour that makes my 5:30 a.m. wake up time not so horrid. (Gotta have my eight hours or things get ugly.)

So this temporary routine while Steve is gone makes me deeply appreciate the fact that the poop is normally cleaned up and the horses have already been grained by the time I get to the barn. All I have to do is groom and ride and make it home for dinner. Which is usually cooked and waiting for me.

Makes me sound like a princess a little, yeah?

Apparently, Lena is not the only one who needs a tiara.

Steve says cooking is self-preservation. I know it's really that he wants to eat well and relying on me for that is NOT A GOOD PLAN. Ever. I burn things. A lot.

Am I glad he's coming home Thursday? Why yes, yes I am.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Aahh, Spring

Spring is here, and with it comes mud (thanks to much-needed rain) and lots of shedding as winter coats slick out on their way to being summer coats.

We have hair, lots of hair, coming off both Bar and Lena in gobs. Some of it ended up on the groomer (me), but a lot of it ended up in the barn alley in piles of radically different colors and textures. Lena's hair is thicker and the white hair seems to be shedding out faster. Calabar has a soft, downy undercoat and it gets in my mouth as it fluffs off in clouds under the shedding blade.

This first pass was just the beginning.

Big wad of horse hair
And my horses love the mud. They are quite creative in their self-decoration, both of them.

Happy muddy brown horse

Gorgeous muddy spotty horse
Calabar even managed to ice his backside, which means there were some gymnastics.

Butt mud
Good to know my horse was self-adjusting his long spine.

Look at that muddy butt
I'm glad we are getting rain, really glad. Even if it means my horses are either muddy or blanketed. Blanketed if I want to ride or muddy if I don't mind taking time to groom for awhile before getting on.

Ah, spring. It's lovely.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Working with Faulty Confirmation

Not Calabar's or Lena's, no. They have quite nice confirmation, actually. We are talking about my confirmation, which is not as perfect as it perhaps could be. This is becoming more and more apparent as I continue to beef up my exercise program and find new places that ache along the way.

Who cares if I'm balanced? Oh, right. He does.
Like most of us, I am not symmetrical. There are some left over injuries and skeletal imperfections that make me short and tight on the right side, sore and scrunched on the left side. No worries, though--it is what it is and I am able to be as active as I have time and energy for. When I'm in the saddle, the horses are very good at informing me that I've started to twist to compensate. Standing on my own two feet, however, it has proven to be more of a challenge to uncurl my body from that muscle memory-induced corkscrew. Standing, walking, and now adding a little jogging? Well, that has led to some aches and pains that only get worse if I stop moving.

Really, it's just a knee that is aggravating me the most but it turns out the knee bone is actually connected to the hip bone. Or rather, hip stability plays a big part in my way of going and I need more stability in my life to support the legs that meander down to the ground below those hips.

So I've been working on that, doing special exercises designed to increase hip stability--all added onto my existing core work that helps keep me upright and saves my back from itself. Not to mention a lot of foam rolling and stretching. In case you don't have one, a foam roller is a great tool for loosening up tight muscles of all kinds.

But back to having my own two feet on the ground and a brief conversation with the chiropractor (and friend) who hands down all these good exercises. A conversation in which it was revealed to me that my knees like to rotate in. What? My posture is excellent--I get compliments on it all the time. Shoulders are back, chest open, head and neck perched above shoulders in excellent alignment. But the knees? The knees do roll inwards towards each other making me, yes, knock-kneed. I think the good doctor used a more medically-approved term, but knees pointing at each other are by any other name, well, knocking.


Could this be why I end up with bruises on the inside of these traitorous knees when I ride? Compounded by my twisted hips, however, I usually only end up with a bruise on the inside of one knee--the left. So my body is showing me where things are amiss, and I just need to pay attention.

It is hard, by the way, to retrain a 47-year old body to use muscles and structures the way they are strongest, the way they were designed to be used. Rotating those knees out activates my glute muscles in ways that feel right if not necessarily comfortable at this exact moment in time. And, here's the kicker, when I get the knees in the right place, my right foot rotates up onto the outside, pronating out to do some sort of odd compensation thing, while my left hip goes to it's default up-and-to-the-right location. There is a lot of concentration required to make my body stop the march to its comfort zone.

So I practice. I practice while I brush my teeth in the morning. I practice when I stand at the sink doing dishes. I really practice when I'm lifting weights--might as well try to retrain more than one set of muscles at a time, right?

And, yes, I try to practice in the saddle, too. It goes better some days than other days, but at least in the saddle, there is instant feedback I can't ignore. "You're doing it again," says the ear flicking back towards me.

Going back to the body I was born with, or even going back to the way it was before I did some of the damage, is not realistic. So working with what I've got and--just like life--figuring ways to make it better is the only option.

One solid, balanced step at a time.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Lena and her opposite friend Calabar

Prior to our day of dentistry today, I took Miss Lena Rey out for a little play time in the arena. She obliged my camera habit by being her lovely and photogenic self and obliged herself by rolling extensively in several corners of the arena. Watching her reminded me--again--how different our two horses are.

Watching me watching her
Almost like a reflection of their personalities, their mouths and their attitudes towards being drugged and doctored differ, too.

Calabar's mouth is still a work in progress. The first time we got his teeth done, Leslie said, "If he's ever had his teeth done, I can't tell." That was many years and many floatings ago and we are finally in maintenance mode with him. No ulcers on his cheeks this time, no nasty hook on his back tooth. He is, however, certain that while he is weakened by whatever we've injected into him, SOMETHING will happen. And it is likely to be very, very bad. It is no matter that nothing really bad has actually ever happened to him while in our care. Lena has room to worry, having had Leslie's arm up her rear once and a tube down her nose shortly thereafter. Calabar has had no such experiences and yet his defensiveness persists.

Lena has a mouth as good as her big, thick-walled hooves. She had some hooks today, but she had gone longer between dentist appointments while we did a little in-between work to clean up Calabar's mouth. Leslie was still in and out in maybe 30 minutes. Tops. She was well-drugged, yes, but she still approaches things with a confidence that it will all turn out okay. It probably means she has had many less reasons to doubt her humans than Calabar does, though we have made many (very) long strides in our journey together.

Calabar goes under but is never quite relaxed, still holding his jaw tight and biting the floats Leslie uses at the end to do the final clean up, pushing his tongue into her way. Lena, on the other hand, descends into her happy place and lets Leslie get in and work, no fuss, no argument.

They have had different paths to our family and it shows. I love them both for who they are, as different as they are.

I love Calabar for the many things he has taught me and the many things we have yet to learn.

And I love Lena for her open honesty and trust, as reflected in her lovely and beautiful face.

The lovely Lena Rey

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Once upon a time

It's amazing what technology can do.

For instance, linking my new phone to various accounts means my photo gallery contains gems from the photo archives I might have forgotten about.

Like the face of the horse I fell in love with back in 2007. He looks younger, different, than he does now. And I love him even more now after what all we've learned together.

Oh, that sweet face. Little did I know. :)
And a more typical expression.
Or the first time we took Lena to the beach all by her lonesome. Well, except for Katie, Steve and me, of course. This is Lena demonstrating her athletic abilities against those fearful logs.

Logs.. less scary than waves.
As I scroll back in time, there are many photos reminding me of roads we've all traveled with the horses. There is also hindsight--a look of confusion or anxiety on Calabar's face that I missed way back then. Or a smile on my face that reminds me I have always loved both horses in spite of sometimes less than stellar behavior on their parts.

Aw, so cute. Right before they broke my ribs in 2010.
I rode through an antic last night--one of those unexplained spooks that make no sense to anyone but the horse spooking--and realized my butt is stickier than it used to be. Or perhaps my balance is better. Or maybe I just know my horse well enough now to stay with him during the anticipated squirt forward in "that corner" of the arena.

"What was that?" I asked.

"Um, two big trucks leaving at the same time?" said Calabar. (Last time it was a bird screeching outside the arena.)

"Oh. Can we get back to what we were doing, now?"

And we do. Or we take a few moments to do something familiar, something we both know, so the focus comes back.

Pretending we know what we're doing.
Because the great thing about horses is there is always now, which means you are always moving forward--even if you have to step backwards to do it.

The great thing about my horses is they always keep it interesting.

"Are we done dressing up, yet?"

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

Year of the Horse

Welcome to 2014--the Year of the Horse according to Chinese astrology.

It's been the year of the horse for me for over eight years, since that August afternoon in 2005 when Lena Rey Flo stepped off the trailer and into our lives for good. Or for evil, depending on her mood. Since then, we have added to our equine family as well as introduced extended our reach to include the Neigh Savers horses that have passed through on their way to new homes.

Here are some of my favorite shots from 2013, including a fitting one of Lena with her Christmas crown:

"Finally an appropriate outfit," she says.

Dixie (a successful NS adoptee) at her first show
Another NS adoptee, Clyde, with his new mom Mary Sue. I got a friend out of this deal, too!

My darling daughter was busy this year and is on her way to
exciting adventures in the land of EMT-ness.
Calabar made friends with Allie who lets him jump over things.

A horse-free vacation diving in Belize also occurred.
And another horse-free interlude in Catalina.
Star Nicholas, aptly named, came in October...
Got dressed up once..
And again for the holidays..
And moved to LA to pursue an acting career.
My own horse sporting feathers. "Really, Mom?"
We had a lot of adventures in 2013--no wonder the year flew by! Things may look a little different for 2014 but it will, astrologically speaking or not, still be a year of horses for us.

Happy New Year!