Friday, March 26, 2010

What a mare!

Linking to a post from Equine Progressive about my favorite racing mare...she just becomes more amazing every time I hear about her.

Monday, March 22, 2010

He's a fake blonde

We have a problem.

It's not a huge problem, but a problem nonetheless.

You see, Gabe's tail is supposed to look like this:
Look how pristine and white and beautiful that tail is.

Instead, we have this:

Seriously. What is this? Blonde day? Not even an attractive blonde, but rather a mud-stained, urine-shaded yellow blonde.

Here, look at it again:

Is that not icky? It's supposed to be WHITE! Hmm...think maybe the constant rolling in the mud (as is evidenced by the mud clinging to his legs!) has anything to do with the state of his tail?

"Mud? What mud? Oh, you mean THIS stuff? I like to roll in this stuff...oh! And sleep in it!"

I have never, ever had a horse with a white tail before. The horses I've groomed for who had white tails lived in stalls with those tails spending most of their lives snug inside a tail bag. Cleaning them wasn't hard, and they were always white. I have a feeling a tail bag wouldn't last for very long on Gabe...either he would remove it or Chief would remove it for him.

I have no idea how to get this thing de-yellowed without damaging the hairs. We all know how very fragile those tail hairs can be!

So, I am open to suggestions...something that will help me get that tail white again without damaging those hairs. When he came to me the tail barely grazed the top of his hocks, so it's done a lot of growing! It's nice and thick and getting longer, and I'd like to keep it that way.

But I'd also like it to be white.

Sunday, March 21, 2010


Mr. Gabe is super mouthy, I've mentioned that before. He's almost like a teething toddler...must have something in his mouth all the time. Yesterday he tore a huge hole in the seat of my tractor while I was cleaning his run-in. Most of the time he limits himself to chewing on the rubber tires, but noooo....the seat was his victim instead.

He used to be very, very wiggly while tied, then, he discovered he could gnaw on the rope during grooming and tacking and he stands much, much better.

It starts with lip wiggles on the rope and tentative testing with the tongue:

Quickly it goes from testing to active, slobber-inducing tasting:

Most days he inhales a huge loop of rope up into his maw to gnaw on it with his molars. This time, he is content with mouthing and licking it:

He spends a lot of time trying to get the rope INTO his mouth. I think that's part of the challenge of the game for him, just staying busy. He's one of those horses who I think would really benefit from one of those pony pop licky things you can mount in their stalls.

Some horses have the head to really show off a fine figure-8 to it's fullest. I personally love the look of a figure-8 on a fine-looking horse head. I think Gabe pulls the look off well!
Isn't he a handsome guy? I'm pretty sure he knows it, too.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Sproingy, sproingy, sproingy!

Yesterday's ride had me thinking about how often we ask a horse, a prey animal, to put their trust in us. And how often they resist their natural instincts and trust us to protect them.

Every time we are with them, whether it's just hanging around, grooming or riding, we are developing a little more trust, a stronger relationship. We ask them to stand nicely while tied up, a compromising position for any prey animal. We ask them to walk quietly through the woods when by instinct, they should be hyper-aware of mountain lions in the trees or wolves lurking behind bushes.

We ask them to trust us enough to go out into the big, scary world without the safety and companionship of their herdmates and yet, still continue to be on their best behavior. That's a lot of trust we shoulder and to let them down can set back training by leaps and bounds.

For the first time I took Gabe into the woods and fields next door to our property all by himself. It's a gorgeous piece of property, half of it woods with trails cut through it, the other half a big beautiful meadow with trails all through it. It's a beautiful, perfect place for conditioning work. A grass road follows the edge of the entire property, gently rolling, through woods, around the meadow, along the edge of a pond and perfect for galloping and speed work. I haven't done that YET, but it's on the list.

I think he trusts me. He walked willingly across our bridge (it's just a concrete slab over the creek) and into the woods. He watched and looked with interest, those cute little ears pricked forward, but never hesitated. Never even hesitated to cross the bridge which in the past has presented a bravery challenge for Calypso.

He walked through puddles and mud without blinking. He did, however, have a little bit of an issue figuring out where to put his feet when we had to walk over a downed tree and negotiate the tangle of dead branches. He got a little confused about where to put his hind feet and just kind of crashed through the rotten limbs. It's good practice for him and when we went back over it he didn't hit a single branch. He jumped a little bit when a rabbit whipped out in front of us. It startled me, too. But he never hesitated or refused to do what I asked.

At least, not until Calypso started calling for him about 20 minutes in to our ride. We were far enough away that it was a faint call, but definitely Calypso's high scream opposed to Chief's low neigh.

Gabe's head came up when he heard her, he took smaller, faster steps and started jigging. Oh. Great. I can tolerate fast walks, but the jigging drives. me. crazy. Jig. Jig. Jig. Jig. GAH! I continued to ask for forward and he tried to rear and spin to go back towards his herdmates. A quick, tight circle and a heel in his side straightened him up.

He then grew about 6 inches and continued to take tiny, mincing steps, obviously wanting to go back from whence we came, but really trying to listen to me and trust in my direction. He was having a battle inside his head: Herdmates! Rider! Herdmates! Rider! AHHHHHH!!!!!

With every step he snorted, the steps got higher and slower and pretty soon I was riding an un-asked for piaffe. He had decent form for an untrained movement! Perfect? Not hardly, but it seems a very natural a movement for him. Hooray! So, I took the opportunity he presented and I went with it. I asked for a little more forward (since he was already balanced well back on his hocks and coiled up like a tightly wound spring) and we had a dozen or so wonderful steps of a very powerful passage. Woo hoo! I was ecstatic!

He started losing his balance a bit (it was muddy in the woods, not the most desirable place to school dressage movements! And, he's not fit enough to sustain it for any length of time.) so I pushed him into a nice canter and he responded with controlled enthusiasm.

I got his brain back by making him work and concentrate and his trust settled back to me instead of reaching out to his herd mates. Yes, he was listening for Calypso's call, but he was listening to ME instead.

I wonder if it helped that I started singing to him after Calypso's first holler? I won't tell you what I serenaded him with, but it might have to do with a lamb and a little girl named Mary. And a later song might have had to do with sunshine and making me happy.

In the end, he could have easily ditched me and left me sitting in the mud to go galloping back to the safety of his friends. There is no way I could win a real fight with an 1,100#, 16.2hh horse who decides to listen to instinct instead of throwing it away and trusting in the human.

I must be doing something right.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Ape-sh*! bananas

That's it. I need a new saddle. I knew my saddle didn't fit Gabe quite as well as it should, but I really didn't know how badly it fit him until I broke out the measuring wire last night.

We rode fairly hard last night (he was FULL of himself! More on that in a minute) so he was sweating. And there was sweat under the saddle everywhere but on either side of his withers. Bone dry. Not good. That means the saddle fits too snugly and is too narrow. Keep in mind that this measurement was taken with him not being ridden most of the winter, so, he will only get wider as he gets fitter. Really not good. A tight saddle is like wearing too small shoes: Very, very uncomfortable and can be permanently damaging to the tissue/nerves/muscle.

I put the wire over his withers two fingers behind the shoulder blades, molded it in place and compared it to the gullet in my saddle. Collectively the gullet on my saddle is over an inch too narrow for this big guy's extra wide back. Surprising on a Thoroughbred, eh? He is not shark-fin withered like a lot of TBs, but he does have a's just REALLY WIDE, more like a warmblood than a Thoroughbred.

So, a new saddle is in order. I am torn right now between just continuing to ride with the current saddle until I get a new one or riding in my really sweet Baretek saddle until I can afford a new saddle. It would be different if the saddle was too big...then I could just pad it up. Not ideal, but better than too small.

The new saddle I would love to have is a Kieffer Aachen or a Kieffer Munchen...both a bit prohibitively priced. I may have to lower my standards a bit.

The only problem...the Baretek has no stirrups. Gabe still has stupid moments that may make riding with no stirrups slightly idiotic and perhaps more than a little bit suicidal.

There it is. My tack doesn't fit properly. I'm a bad horse mommy. See the guilt written all over my face? It's true. I feel bad for squishing my huge horse into what amounts to a pair of ill-fitting stilettos.

And, now for yesterday's ride. The day was gorgeous. The weather: warmer but still a bit nippy. The wind: Blowing. Gabe: High as a freaking kite.

He tried to kill me as I led him on the lunge to the arena. Of course, it didn't help that my husband turned Calypso out into the pasture and she went ape-shit bananas right towards us. Gabe was walking nicely next to me then BAM! Calypso ran at us bucking and farting and squealing and I guess Gabe thought he should do the same. Right next to me. That big dork even squealed like a girl as he reared up and started farting around on the lunge line. Grrr...Bad manners horse, I have him.

Fortunately Chief just stood by and watched the antics of the young'uns instead of trying to kill my daughter who was waiting patiently for the fart/buck/squeal fest to end before mounting. Good girl! Good Chief. He's one-in-a-million.

It took me a good 20 minutes to lunge all the stupids out of him and he was a naughty, naughty boy: Bucking, rearing, hopping (yes, hopping!) and trying to dash off without me. So, I made his butt work. Direction changes, spiral-in, spiral-out, over the trot poles, gate changes...everything I could think of to bring his brain back down to earth and out of ozone land.

Finally, he settled enough that I could get on without worrying about an immediate, unexpected dismount face-first.

And he was excellent. More direction and pace changes, circles, serpentines and a few good rounds of cantering the perimeter of the arena. We had a couple head-ducking threaten-to-buck moments but a sharp vocal reminder from me and a low growl stopped that particular performance from following all the way through. We even managed a couple of really decent lateral steps at the walk and the trot. Yay for sensitive sides!

We had foam, lots of thick, white foam on his lips and a whole lot LESS mouthing of the bit. I did tighten the figure-8 noseband a hole. It's still not snug, but snugger than it was last week. No arguments from him this time.

I hope to ride again today and really get the training program underway. May the sun gods and goddesses continue to shine down on us and keep the clouds and rain and ickiness away. At least for a week. All I ask for is a whole week of mud-free riding!

Monday, March 15, 2010

The most memorable

Most of my childhood memories involve horses or are centered around horse activities. I consider myself pretty danged lucky to have what a lot of horse-fanatic girls didn't: My own horses and friends who shared my passion.

There has never been a time in my life when horses weren't a part of it, one way or another.

I used horses as an excuse to skip out of high school with my best friend. They were her horses, and yes, they managed to get out of the pasture yet again and her parents were not horse people. No, she probably didn't REALLY need help catching them, but what better excuse to leave school on a breathtakingly beautiful spring day for some much-needed horse time? I'm pretty sure that happened more than once. In fact, I'm positive it did. No regrets.

During my junior year a group of us skipped an entire day of school to go riding. It was too nice out to sit inside and listen to teachers and it just kind of happened. I don't know who suggested it, but it was a fabulous idea.

It was probably the craziest, best, most memorable ride I ever had with my high school friends.

See, our friend Wayne was dying from leukemia. Little did we know he'd be dead less than two months after our day of stolen freedom. Little did we know that was really the last time he'd feel strong enough to do anything wild and crazy.

He wasn't a rider, but that didn't stop him from enjoying it. He doubled up with me, bareback, on one of the many ponies and horses owned by the family of one of our classmates. She didn't ask and we ALL knew how strict her parents were. Not only were we skipping school, we were stealing the horses and riding off the property.

We all knew if they found out there would be hell to pay. They found out, hell was paid and none of us regretted it.

About half of our group were riders...the other half, not so much. But we doubled up bareback anyway and headed across the fields blooming with tall native Kansas grasses and made a beeline to the creek. It was far too early in the season for swimming, but we didn't care. So what if the creek was still cold? We were skipping school to RIDE! It could not get any more perfect than that.

Our little group of horse girls spent summers in that creek with our equine partners...parking the ponies in the deep spots, guiding their noses to the thick grasses growing on the high bank and using them as mobile diving platforms while they stood and munched. Such wonderfully forgiving partners we had! Or, they were just typical ponies who wouldn't budge when presented with a tasty patch of grass.

We headed across the field, a couple of the horses moving out fast with the unexpected excitement in their otherwise boring day and so many kids laughing like nothing in the world mattered. The horse Wayne and I were on tossed in a little crow hop, probably expressing the same zest for life we were feeling that day, and he got dumped. He didn't go flying, just kind of slid off and landed on his knees, laughing the entire way down and still grinning as he stood back up and readied to jump back up behind me.

The spring sun shone off his bald head like a golden beacon and he had such an infectious laugh you couldn't help but laugh along. He was great about being able to laugh at himself, despite the very wrongness of someone so young and vital being so sick. He constantly picked fun at his own bald head. It was kind of hard to feel guilty about his sudden, unexpected dismount when he was laughing about it. And I laughed along and gave him my hand to help haul him back up.

He climbed back up and away we went, reveling in the day and celebrating life as only a teenage boy living under a death sentence could.

He was amazing. To this day thinking about him inspires me and all these years later, his memory makes me smile.

I think knowing him changed the whole group of us. A bunch of 16 and 17 year olds faced with the inevitable death of a friend and trying to deal with it the best way they knew: By skipping school and riding off into the prairie on a bunch of stolen horses.

Helmet Cam!

(No, not mine!) What a gorgeous course and a happy, forward horse. I love the way he talks to him through the entire ride. Enjoy!

Red Hills Horse Trials 2010 - Three Star World Cup - Peter Atkins

Friday, March 12, 2010

It's a thing of beauty!

Wow. Look what Natalie over at Retired Racehorse tagged me with! I am humbled! I hop on over to her thoughtfully written, informative and funny blog every day, hoping to glean a little more insight into training these wonderful retired racehorses I love so much. She and I have quite a few of the same training philosophies and methods, I believe, and it is so nice hearing how her training is going with Final Call and watching as some of her issues with him echo the ones I've had with Gabe.

Well, apparently, part of this Beautiful Blogger award involves me divulging seven secrets about myself.

Do I even have seven that are still secrets? I dunno. Maybe?

1. When I was young I taught my mom's hunter, Mike, to rear on command when I tapped him on the shoulder with a crop. While mounted. Needless to say, she was NOT pleased with my training results.

2. I once attempted to imitate bareback bronc riders on my pony, Blaze. I jumped on her bareback, wrapped a rope around her flanks, snugged it up tight and let 'er rip. She flung me into a solid board wall and knocked me out. My sister thought I was dead.

3. I used to force my sister to ride with me in the "forbidden areas" when we were kids. We once broke a federal law and rode across a military shooting range/bomb testing area we had very specifically been ordered not to go any where near.

4. I was once a carnie. My family still makes fun of me but it was an experience I treasure.

5. I write professionally. I have written and sold some stories of the variety.

6. I would love to ride haute' ecole airs above ground movements on a well-trained Lipizzaner.

7. I have ridden naked. It was a Lady Godiva kind of moment.

Whew. I feel like I've been to confession today.

The second part of this award requires that I tag 15 bloggers and link them. I'm going to tag and link until I get tired of the process...probably before I reach 15.

Several of my horsie blogger friends already have received this award, but I'm going to link them anyway simply because I enjoy their blogs. Those tagged don't have to play along if they don't want, but if you haven't read some of them, you should!

If you haven't stopped by 7MSN Ranch yet, you don't know what you're missing. She let's her beautiful photos and hysterical animals tell the stories for her. In case you are wondering, 7MSN stands for "7 Miles South of Nowhere." LOVE IT!

Kate at A Year With Horses posts beautiful photos of the young and the old horses at her barn and writes thoughtful insights into the minds, habits and personalities of her horses.

You haven't stopped by to say "Hi!" to KK over at All Horse Stuff yet? Why not? Get moving! You won't be sorry. I'll bet she'll make you jealous of the amazingly inspiring, serene places she rides! I know I always get jealous when she posts photos of her rides.

Jaz and Poco are the stars of Leah's Barn Door Tagz blog. If their antics don't make you smile you have a hard, hard heart. Leah captures their personalities and shares her ups and downs as a horse owner in a way so many of us can identify with.

Mugwump Chronicles. Need I say more? Yes, she's a western trainer, but her thoughts about how the horse mind works and her myriad of experiences and stories are universal to the horse world, whether it's dressage, reining, jumping or pleasure riding.

I've got mud. Oodles of mud. So does Tammy at Horse Trail Riders. I feel her pain. I love her house and her farm and her horses. Stop by!

Horses. Dogs. Cows. Rattlesnakes. Desert. Oh my! The Horseshoeing Housewife has it all! And she's absolutely hysterical.

Nuzzling Muzzles has a little Arab mare by the name of Gabrielle. She's a gorgeous gray, like my own Gabriel, and is in the process of training the young'un. She also has really irritating neighbors (whom I would have killed and quietly buried a long time ago!) and two other Arabs who share her horsie life: Bombay and Lostine.

Billie at Camera Obscura has been a powerful blogger voice against rollkur, powerful and loud enough she attracted the attention of the FEI, the pre-eminent voice and rule-maker in all things dressage. It probably helps that she is a beautiful writer who obviously has much passion for not only her own horses, but for all horses and their welfare and treatment.

And finally (because I'm getting tired of the tedious process of linking blogs on this stupid work Mac. It's not a simple copy/paste function. Noooo...of course not!) you must, must, must stop by Vet on the Edge. Not really horse-related, but animal related. In Alaska. This blog is an absolute pleasure to read and I look forward to each and every post. If you don't love it, feel free to beat me with wet noodles.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Trust issues: Mine

Sometimes I don't give Gabe as much credit as he deserves. Sometimes, I think the worst will happen instead of giving him the benefit of the doubt. Yes, I am a pessimist.

Due to the incredible amount of mud around here I haven't been able to ride for at least a month. Yesterday was beautiful beyond belief and the ground had dried enough to still be soft, but not squishy or slippery and the only thing I could concentrate on was getting home and riding!

So, I snuck out of work early so I could get out there and ride my boy while the riding was good. I lunged him first (again, I might be crazy, but I'm not suicidal!) and he bucked and farted around a bit, but was good. As long as he stays on the end of the line and listens when I ask him to settle down, it's all good. I'd rather he get those stupid moments out without me in the saddle! And I've noticed that lunging him first, even if it's for a couple of minutes, gets him into the right mindset for working rather than goofing around.

He was not too sure about a new piece of tack I fitted him with and tossed his head around like he was trying to fling it as far as possible from his body. I think I've mentioned before that he has a bit of a mouthy issue. As soon as the bit goes in it's jiggle, jiggle, jiggle, chew, chew, chew, suck it up and try to gnaw on it. For the entire ride. He works the crap out of that bit. No grinding, just chewing and playing. We gets TONS of white frothy stuff, but the bit isn't staying stable and he needs to learn to just let it sit there. I tried a flash on him, but I HATE flashes and he hated it too. So I gladly took it off. I found a nice figure-8 noseband and fitted it on him for the first time yesterday. I fit it loose just so he could get used to it. He was NOT PLEASED with it. He'll get over it, and he did. I'll snug it up a hole for our next ride and see how he does. I'm not a big believer in holding their mouths closed, ever, so it will never be as tight as I've seen on some horses. I'm sure you've seen the ones that are so damned tight the horse's flesh bulges around the leather. That's just cruel and uncalled for, in my opinion.

We did a lot of really forward, steady trot work, changing diagonals, circles, serpentines, figure-8s and gait changes. As long as I kept him moving forward things were excellent. Every time I halted he got wiggly. I don't blame him, it was gorgeous and a bit windy and he was definitely a bit full of his silly self! He still hauls around circles like a freight train when tracking right, but we're working on it.

Oh! And we cantered a bit, too. I LOVE LOVE LOVE his canter. Probably the easiest, smoothest, most powerful canter I've ever ridden. I can ride that canter all day long and never tire of it. Lovely, lovely. He tossed a few half-hearted hops/bucks in while we cantered along and I laughed at him and his exuberance. It was obvious to me that he was just playing and feeling good, not being a butt or trying to dump me in the dirt.

Here's the part I was feeling a bit pessimistic about.

I've never taken him out for a trail ride by himself and I knew before I even got in the saddle that I was going to take him out. Yes, I had a few butterflies in my tummy just thinking about it. We've always been accompanied by one of the other horses and he's happy to march along with his friends safely near him. The few times the other two have been out of sight while I was riding he pitched an "Oh My God! I'm going to DIE!" fit until he could see them again.

So, I was worried he'd pitch an even bigger tantrum if I took him completely away from them. I was prepared, riding in my defensive seat and aware of every little ear twitch or muscle quiver, ready to react quickly if he decided to come unglued.

Imagine my pleasant surprise when he was absolutely perfect. I mean PERFECT. Strode along with that huge, powerful ground-eating walk of his, didn't startle when a bunny jumped out of the field under his nose, didn't argue or hesitate at all, even as we got further and further away from his buddies. Who, by the way, yelled for him a couple of times.

We only went out for about half a mile, but he was perfect for every step of it, even came back nicely without rushing.

I guess I should trust him a little more often. I've done a good job training him so far and I should trust that training, trust that he will behave and respond when I ask because that's what I've taught him to do.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The Equestrian's Bucket List

I stole the Equestrian's Bucket List from Training My Off Track Thoroughbred's blog. She found it on Fugly's blog. Who knows where it came from originally, but I'm borrowing it for mine!

Since I'm unsure how to cross through words without screwing it all up, I'm just going to bold the ones I've accomplished.

1. Gallop on the beach. Does galloping on along a sand bar in the Kansas River count?

2. Win a blue ribbon. I have a few. Very aged they are, but I have them! I even have a couple of purple ones a few multi-colored rosettes.

3.Enjoy an evening of equestrian theater. Have seen the Lipizzaners a couple of times and been to the Noble Horse Theatre in Chicago.

4. Try your hand at cattle work. Find out what it means when they say a horse is “cowy.” Popped up on a friend's cutting horse once. HOLY COW! What a ride! When they say sit down, hold on and enjoy, they mean it.

5. Jump! From crossrails to cross-country obstacles, experience the thrill of soaring over fences. Yup. Yup. Yup. Yup. Fox hunting FTW!

6. Fall off and get right back on again. Conquering fear is empowering. You haven't truly ridden until you've fallen. I can't even count the number of times I've eaten dirt.

7. See the majestic white Lipizzan stallions at the Spanish Riding School in Vienna. I've seen the traveling U.S. show, but would love to visit the Spanish Riding School, not only for the horses, but for all the history and architecture there.

8. Come to a sliding stop on a well-trained reining horse. Sit down and HANG ON! Got to ride one of those dizzying spins, too.

9. Take a lesson with your equestrian idol, _________ (you fill in the blank). I'd love to have a weekend of cross-country lessons with Pippa Funnell and a month of dressage lessons with Reiner Klimke and Charles de Kunffy.

10. Nurse a horse through a crisis and back to full health. Yes. More than once. Not always my own.

11. Experience the smooth ride of a gaited horse. Rode a gaited spotted mule. The Cadillac for old lady trail riders.

12. Watch the horses come through the Head of the Lake on cross-country day at the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event. One of these days I'll have the time and the funds to get back to Rolex. I went three years in a row, haven't been back for about four years.

13. Have the courage to do the right thing for your horse, even when it’s not easy. I think every decent horse owner does this frequently, whether it's skip a ride because your horse is off a bit or retire the old geezer when those aching joints just can't take any more riding. Thankfully I've never had to make the ultimate decision to put one to sleep. *knocks on wood, crosses fingers, prays hard*

14. Attend the Kentucky Derby dressed to the nines—including hat! A mint julep, beautiful horses and crazy hats sounds good to me.

15. Tackle a trail accessible only by horseback and enjoy the view. Often. I have friends who have commented that motorcycles are better rides. But they can't get where I can go on my horse.

16. Take your dream vacation on horseback. One of my long term goals. The plan is a weeklong (or more!) ride across Ireland. I'd LOVE to ride with an Irish hunt, too, particularly the one known for being a little on the nutty side: The Galway Blazers.

17. Master the sitting trot. Nope, not even close.

18. Ride a fine-tuned horse in your discipline of choice, be it dressage schoolmaster or barrel champ. I've ridden two dressage schoolmasters...Wally and Early Morning, both warmbloods. Those rides are the ones I aspire to emulating every time I get in the saddle.

19. Watch polo. Even better, try your hand at it! I've watched it, but I want to RIDE IT!

20. Feed, muck, groom, ride. Repeat daily. Every day. Rain. Shine. Snow. Mud. Ice. Cold. Hot, etc. etc. etc. It's not just a hobby, it's a way of life.

21. Wake up to a whinny every morning. Well, do soft nickers count? They don't whinny at me when I come out with the morning feed, they talk softly.

22. Fly down the track on a Thoroughbred. Cross-country, yes. Hell bent for leather! On a real track? No.

23. Meet one of your favorite famous horses in person. I met John Henry when he was still alive at the Kentucky Horse Park. Even as an old man he commanded respect.

24. Ride bareback, bridleless … or both! I spent most of my youth bareback, bridle-less and shoeless. I still ride bareback, and from time to time, bridle-less. (But not on Gabe! Not yet.)

25. Share a bond with your horse that’s deeper than words. Oh, bratty Blaze, dearest Sunny and wonderful Star, how I miss all of you. I'm working on that same kind of bond with good ole Gabe. Very, very close!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Rip-roaring good times

I know spring is very close. Shhh...don't scare her away! I think missus spring is a wee bit shy as she just starts peeking her pretty little head out over the brown, tortured wasteland of winter. Give her time, she'll be fully present before we know it!

With spring comes shedding. And my three are shedding like mad. Piles and piles of gray hair from Gabe, white hair from Chief, dark brown from Calypso. Odd that Chief's spots always shed first, before the rest of his body does and even after shedding, those spots seem to be a thicker, coarser hair than the sorrel ones.

And I know spring is near because we have a mare and she is in full-blown hussy mode. Hooo boy! She is teasing those poor boys mercilessly, and making a mess of the run-in and her tail while she's at it. She's like a hormone-enraged high school girl: "Come here, big boy!" *cuddle cuddle* "NO! Go away!" *SQUEAL! KICK!* "Wait! I didn't mean it! Come back! Please!" *low, soft nicker* "HA! KIDDING! GO AWAY!" *SQUEAL! KICK!*

I was watching their antics a couple of days ago and had to chuckle when she backed up to the fence between her paddock and Gabe's. He was nipping her butt and Chief was making ugly faces at him (she's HIS girl and he makes no secret about it.) Then...that big gray snot grabbed Calypso's tail with his teeth, close to the dock and refused to let go! Calypso seemed quite shocked that she couldn't move forward when she'd decided she'd had enough of his nuzzling and affections. She contorted her plump little body around and nipped his face and took off running when he freed her tail. Who knew that stout little Quarter horse was so flexible? I never would have imagined she could twist her body around quite so effectively.

And all three started tearing around the paddocks like their tails were on fire...ripping around corners, bucking up the long side and sliding to a stop only to start all over again. They were all snorting and breathing hard and sweating by the time they wore the goofies out.

Silly, happy, frisky beasts.

Hello spring! Come on out...we're more than ready to welcome you back!