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Preview: Musings from the Bottom of Chestnut Hill

Musings from the Bottom of Chestnut Hill

Updated: 2018-03-06T04:38:06.460-05:00


Where I've Been


Hello? Hello? There's an echo in here. I think I see one little face way in the back. Hi there!I'm still here, sort of, but in a much different place than I was when I started this blog.The story goes like this.......Jan 2009 I went back to work after being home with children, and Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue for a few years. With the help of a great MD (Dr. Robban Sica in Orange, CT, can't recommend her highly enough) I was able to claw my way back up from the depths.I had been working for the local firehouse a couple of days a week. But in September of 2008, my husband was laid off from his job in construction. My 10 hour per week job wasn't going to cut it anymore. So I began expanding my horizons to further than 5 miles from home (close to the kids in the school system in case of emergency). The very next day I made that decision, I received a phone call from my massage therapist. Tara works in concert with my chiropractor, Dr. Lou, and I've been seeing them (incidently because of the CFS/Fibro) for the past 10 years. Tara told me that the current office staff was experiencing crisis, including an unexpected death of a very close family member, and the other a move to Bermuda. They needed help, and fast! Was I looking for work?Hell yah!!! I had an interview the next day (a Friday), which wasn't really an interview but more of a "We need you, will you please work for us?" and started on Monday.To make a very long story short-ish, what started out as a part-time 20 hour per week receptionist type position turned into a full-time plus position where I am now managing the office. There have been a LOT of changes, as there were a lot of things that were not taken care of due to lack of knowledge, motivation, and time. I'm not the type of person that can do an incomplete or shoddy job even if that is all that is expected. So aside from doing things the right way, I also educated them as to how an office is supposed to be run.In the meantime, back in April of 2009 I had a wreck on Lakota. It was a pretty good wreck, and its been almost a year before my back is beginning to feel somewhat normal again, but the area I fell on still tends to give me fits from time to time. The footing in my roundpen has washed away over the last year or so, and we have pretty much hit a plateau in our work together with just a small roundpen to work in. So for a multitude of reason, I haven't spent much time working with the girls. I did take Lakota out and just walked around the roundpen a few times, and she was perfectly fine. But with the lack of footing, time constraints, and just being plain old tired after working 6 days a week, I haven't done a whole heck of a lot with her other than loving on her and feeding/cleaning up.Lakota did get a bath last weekend, and she actually let me spray her with the hose this year! Its taken a number of years to get her over her fear of the sprayer and water, and I've had to take it very slow, starting with just a sponge bath and not being upset about water pouring off her, to pressing hte nozzle of the hose right against her skin so it wouldn't make the spraying sound, to now she can tolerate a little bit of spraying against her skin, but only for a few seconds at a time. She's such a good girl, and she tries so hard, and she amazingly seems to get better when I give her long breaks between teaching her things, she apparently likes a LOT of lick and chew time. At this rate she will be ready for the dressage ring if I stay off her for a few more years, LOL! Just kidding!So in addition to managing the chiropractic office, I have received Reiki Level I training in November of 2009 and plan to continue through Level III over the next year or so, and this year I am learning Bowenwork. This is something I have wanted to learn for many years, and I'm finally at a place in my life where I can learn and offer this amazing healing modality to others. I have completed through Module 3, and have 3 more modules to go, then testing sometime during the beginning of 2011 for my certificatio[...]

A Suburban Housewife


This is making the rounds on Facebook -- omg its pee your pants hysterical! Warning, foul language and hardcore drug inferences -- but hysterical!

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Pics for no reason


Other than the fact that I haven't posted anything in a long time :-)"Mom! You never visit us anymore! Come give me a scritch, right there......" "Brick Shithouse? I've never heard that term before. I'm sure it must mean that I'm beautiful.""Look at my beautiful ear curls. The dried mud really helps add emphasis.""I love you, mum, let me touch you all over and fog up your glasses with my hot breath....""That damn little one always has to steal my glam shots.....""It's all about mmmeeeeeeeeee!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!""Put that @#$% thing away and bring the food already before I stuff my hoof where the sun don't shine ...... "[...]

I did it!


Some of you may remember the wreck that I had with Lakota back in April. Well, between pain, exacerbations, and my 11 hour work days, I had't ridden since that fateful day. Until a couple of weeks ago. .ygrp-photo-title { TEXT-ALIGN: center; WIDTH: 75px; HEIGHT: 15px; CLEAR: both; FONT-SIZE: smaller; OVERFLOW: hidden } DIV.ygrp-photo { BORDER-BOTTOM: black 1px solid; BORDER-LEFT: black 1px solid; BACKGROUND-COLOR: white; WIDTH: 62px; BACKGROUND-REPEAT: no-repeat; BACKGROUND-POSITION: center 50%; HEIGHT: 62px; BORDER-TOP: black 1px solid; BORDER-RIGHT: black 1px solid } A { TEXT-DECORATION: none } A:active { TEXT-DECORATION: none } A:hover { TEXT-DECORATION: none } A:visited { TEXT-DECORATION: none } DIV.attach-table DIV.attach-row { CLEAR: both } DIV.attach-table DIV.attach-row DIV { FLOAT: left } P { PADDING-BOTTOM: 3px; PADDING-LEFT: 0px; PADDING-RIGHT: 0px; CLEAR: both; OVERFLOW: hidden; PADDING-TOP: 15px } DIV.ygrp-file { WIDTH: 30px; valign: middle } DIV.attach-table DIV.attach-row DIV DIV A { TEXT-DECORATION: none } DIV.attach-table DIV.attach-row DIV DIV SPAN { FONT-WEIGHT: normal } DIV.ygrp-file-title { FONT-WEIGHT: bold } Mandy, may daughter, rode her first, she's been jonesin' to ride, so I promised her she could ride Lakota. It rarely goes well. Lakota is so sensitive, and Mandy has only ridden lesson horses. So there is frustration between the two of them. Mandy is asking something, and Lakota is saying "huh? I have no clue what you are trying to say, so I'll just stand here and do nothing". She doesn't fill in any blanks at all. Its actually kind of fun to put Mandy on her when she gets all cocky and thinks she can tell me how to ride ;-) So Mandy learned that she has to soften and relax her leg, not use her heels to ask for forward, keep her wrists straight and keep that straight line from "bit" to elbow (i.e., no spagetti arms), to look where she wants to go, to be clear and deliberate in her asks, and to keep her seat bones neutral or they will just go backwards around the roundpen. And to keep her focus or Lakota starts looking around for monsters. I just wanted to make sure it really was Mandy and not Lakota, so I hopped on (no stirrups, I had my sneakers on) grabbed an old beat up helmet, and had a blast! Lakota was sooo good. There were some distractions, and she did just fine with "coming back" just by touching the reins. She moved of nice and softely, whoaed beautifully when I just stop riding. Then I did some serpentines, and OMG her bend was just GORGEOUS! I have never, ever gotten such a beautiful arc in her body from nose to tail before. It was one of "those moments" that you go WOW, this is IT! It was a touch sticker to the left than right, but still nice and a lot of try. So we repeated that about 3 or 4 times then I hopped off. I was just flabbergasted with how wonderful she was after 4 months and our last ride ending in such disaster. This girl can be an awesome horse given the right rider and enough time.[...]

Busy, busy!


Wow, I can't believe its been over a month since I've posted. Well, there's been nothing to tell, really. Its been RAINING for an ENTIRE MONTH. Honestly, no exaggeration, it has rained since the middle of May, every single day. Either pouring down rain totally more than 3 inches, or all day drizzle, or spotty rain, or vehement thunderstorms that wash out driveways, basements, and roundpen footing.

I have done nothing with the horses in a month other than feed them and trim their feet. They're turning feral again. I've been working my backside off at work and trying to keep this house in some semblance of less-than-disgusting. I've been working 50 hour weeks (not bad for a part-time job), although I do LOVE it. The reason for the double-hours is because I've been working on/building a website for us. It is now FINALLY finished! I'm proud of it, we have worked hard on it, so that it reflects exactly what we are about, gives the information that we want to put out there, while still being concise and eye-catching.

No other news, really. I would like to send Lakota out for some professional training, but I lack the funding. All cash is going toward hay now. Still no job for hubby, though I am extremely hopeful he finds something soon. So we just keep on, keepin' on. All plans are on hold, and wish lists are growing longer and longer. But you have nothing if you don't have dreams, right?

Stand By Me -- amazing version!


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Amanda's first show!


My daughter attended her first horse show today! She did great, First Place in Equitation, Second Place in Pleasure, and Fourth in ground poles.






You have GOT to watch this -- amazing!


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Don't Stop Dancing by Creed


More Creed music on iLike



A great message from one of my favorite bands...

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I just checked, and clicked on the history for yesterday. At 15:42 we reached 97.9 degrees. Average temps for that day is 66. Its already that now at 8 am, so I expect a repeat today. eesh.......

Still Alive ...


Nothing much has been happening. I'm feeling 99% better after our little wreck last week, just some residual issues in my upper back, which I think took the brunt of the hit, and it is a structural weak point for me, anyway. I had hoped to get back on this week, but we had gobs of rain, so everything was slop. Then the slop dried up today, because it was over 85 degrees! I am sunburned from my sons baseball game, and exhausted from the heat, and more is expected for tomorrow and Monday with air quality warnings. I thought this was April, not August! The horses were all standing around inside, lethargic in their winter coats. They did manage to perk up for a minute when I let them in the grass area, but even that didn't last long, and 90 minutes later when I headed back out for grain/dinner, they were all up top waiting for me. Even grass wasn't enough to keep them in the late day sun. So its not looking good for this weekend, perhaps I can get back on Tuesday (my short day at work). I know the longer it is that I don't get back on, the harder it will be.

The Good, The Bad and the Ugly


I rode Lakota for a short while yesterday, and we had a les than stellar day. She was a little resistant, and I wasn't sure if it was her mood, or I was being conflicting.So when I had the chance to take her out again today, I was excited. The kids are off school this week, so I don't have to meet any school buses, and have the luxury of time after work.First, my daughter wanted to ride Jen a little bit. That went quite well. Jen was mostly happy to be tacked up, although she is still a bit tense at the saddling/girthing process. We just go slow, and give her lots of pets and reassurance through it.We tried moving away from the crutch of myself walking along beside them for reassurances. At first Jen was resistant and didn't want to move forward for my daughter. Then she realized that I was out of the picture, and she was pretty good, although extremely herdbound. Even though she was riding in the paddock, Jen kept wanting to head back to the barn. So after about 3 or 4 discussions between the two of them, with my daughter getting her to walk a few steps away from the barn, she ended the session on a good note, with Jen taking 4 steps away from where she wanted to turn back to the barn, and she dismounted and untacked facing away from the barn. Jen is improving with every ride, so I'm sure we'll be able to help her along with her barn sourness, although I suspect it will a lot of time and patience.Last night I was thinking that perhaps the tiny bit of attitude Lakota had yesterday may be boredom. I always struggle with the line between boring them, and overfacing them, considering I have no experiencing training a horse. So today I decided I was going to do some cone-weaving. I brought Lakota out, and she was good as gold. We did the cones from the ground first, then I circled her w/t a few times in both directions and she was soft, willing, and quiet the entire time. I mounted up without incident, and we did about 1/2 dozen weaves through the cones. Her gait felt a little funny to me. My daughter thought she was hesitating, asking questions between steps, and I wasn't sure if she was trying to do that odd gait she has that I don't know what it is. I still had the camera in my pocket, so I rode over to where my daughter was sitting, we halted nicely, and I asked her to come get the camera and video tape it so I could see what it looked like.As my daughter reached up for the camera, she touched Lakota and Lakota got a zap of static electricity. I didn't know that's what it was at the time, but all of a sudden as I'm leaning down to hand the camera over to my daughter, I feel Lakota coil up under me, and up she goes then spins in the other direction. My daughter said I stayed on for quite some time, but I did eventually fall off. I landed ass/back/head in that order, I think, judging from the amount of dirt shoved in my underwear. I remember hitting the ground hard on my upper back between the shoulder blades, and looking up to see my foot wrapped up in the reins, which were over her head and she was standing there looking at me, horrifed, and slowly backing away from me. I looped my foot out of the reins, and she started to move off. I asked my daughter to go get her, and that is when she bolted, snorting, and headed up to the barn.I told my daughter to just leave her be, and I laid there, assessing damages before slowly hauling myself upright. Wow, was I hurting! I've fallen off before, but never this hard. This was no slo-mo fall, first she was under me, then she wasn't, like cartoon, and I just landed with a heavy, old thud.I hobbled back up to the barn to make sure Lakota didn't get her leg caught in her reins with my daughter following me apologizing profusely. Lakota did not want my daughter an[...]

Equine Supermodels


This really tickeled my funny bone -- Michelle

Sometimes things don't have to have a point - they just have to make you smile. Jockeying for position to be best-in-show, it was up to award winning advertising photographer Julian Wolkenstein to keep the supermodels of the equine world in check.


As you do: Stylist Acacio da Silva and photographer Julian Wolkenstein made Harmony the horse look like a tourist in the Caribbean

'The idea for these images came from a discussion with a friend who said, 'Hey wouldn't it be fun to shoot horses with big hair?',' says Sydney-born Julian, 36. 'It is important to do personal projects just for fun, not to sell anything, but just to remind you why you make images, but mostly, and simply, to make you smile.' Putting the project into motion, Julian teamed up with prominent hair-stylist Acacio da Silva to whip the horses into shape.


Just for fun: Misty the horse actually appears to be giving the camera a flirtatious grin as she enjoys her new flowing curls

'Each horse took around four hours to groom, with hair extensions being added by Acacio, and then when they were presented in front of the camera's and lights they would shake their heads, give a neigh and then ruffle up their hair,' said Julian - with a somewhat forced grin. 'To get them just right, with their hair all set and standing to attention was a bit of a battle. 'But the horses loved the grooming. The lights and camera, well, they were less taken with that.' At first, Julian thought the shoot would be a quick affair. 'We initially thought how hard can this be? A couple of hours on each one,' he said.


Only in Australia: Florence the horse looks demure with her fringe and ginger mane
'Well, we figured out pretty quickly on a test day that it was a major undertaking. 'Apart from casting horses and preparation work which took a few months, each horse took a full day to shoot.'
Even for a seasoned pro, such as Julian, there were hitches to his horse hair project. 'I tend to be drawn to projects where just in trying to describe and trying to explain the concept to all the crew and the people who supplied the horses was fascinating ,' says Julian. 'Most of the time you could see the cogwheels of the mind trying to work it out, trying to visualise it in their own minds, then, a bit of a smile, a chuckle and then the inevitable question - why?' Of course, sometimes - as these pictures show - it's better to live life by asking, why not?

Spring Centered Riding Clinic


This weekend, I attended and rode in a Centered Riding Clinic at Fox Crossing Equestrian Center by Jamison Wallace, Level III Centered Riding Instructor and Vice President of Centered Riding. My daughter audited.For a variety of reasons, I chose to use a lesson horse for the clinic. Cost was one factor, including having to get rabies and current coggins, etc., on Lakota to bring her, but also the fact that she is very green, and hasn't been off the property in a year. I felt I would get more out of the clinic working on myself by riding a BTDT lesson horse who was already comfortable in the surroundings. I was assigned Beau Dandy.Friday evening started off with a talk, and introduction to some of the basics of Centered Riding. We covered Soft Eyes, Breathing, Centering, and Grounding. We practiced different ways of walking, moved through the crowd with our arms extended like an airplane using our Soft Eyes to avoid each other. We took turns wearing a bridle while our partner guided us with the reins, being as soft as possible. Its amazing how the "horse" can literally feel the persons thoughts through the reins, without even engaging the reins. We also "danced" with each other, and practiced opening our shoulders and arms to straighten a crooked or evading horse.Then we sat on the big exercise balls, and found the "allow" upward for posting trot. Then we moved on to the exercise trampolines and trotted on them, again finding the allow, balance and centering.On Saturday morning over coffee, we did some exercises to help us find out body awareness. We did some different stretching exercises, and again practiced on the exercise ball, finding our center and "allowing" the motion. We used the "tippy stool" (I forget what its called) to practice engaging our seatbones. Then we put a saddle on the ball, and again, practiced in the saddle, and we again practiced engaging our seatbones through the saddle to the ball. I finally understand now how to engage a seatbone! I do have much trouble rounding my back and tipping my seatbones forward, but no problem arching my back. This explains why when I get tense, Lakota goes backwards, my seat is telling her to! But I finally "get" the feeling of left/right seat bone, its more of a "scoop" or "roll" motion than a "jam it down" motion.Then we headed out to the horses. I was in the 3rd group. At first I led Beau around the ring awhile just to get to know each other. I love doing this with any horse I ride, and still with Lakota. Its just a way for us to connect before I climb aboard. I think its kinda rude to actually just grab a horse and leap on them, I think its only polite to get to know them a little first, and I'm glad that it was encouraged, rather than discouraged or looked at oddly. He was very sweet, and lead next to me beautifully with his left nostril just barely touching my elbow the entire time.The first thing Jami does, which I love, is the "rain drops" on your feet. She pats the bottom of your foot, and you begin feeling it in your foot, then through your ankle. Then as she suggests, you begin to feel it up your leg, to your thigh, then hip. Then she continues to suggest feel it up your torso, then your neck, and your head. What was really amazing, is that as she did this exercise, I not only literally felt it up through my body, but as it got to my torso toward my head, I started to get really, really light headed, to the point I felt like I had to put my hand on the pommel of the saddle to steady myself. It was really something, and then she repeated on the other side, and I had the same experience again, although very slightly less intense. It was like the energy was moving up through my body a[...]

Horsey Day today


Mandy and I had a nice little horsey day today.She had her lesson this morning, which went well. She did some dressage basics, i.e., straightness, balance, riding from behind. She had some nice canter departs today! She will likely go to a show in mid May, w/t/c and possibly some cross-rails, we'll see about that. She's excited, to put it mildly.Then we came home and had some lunch, and headed out to play with our girls before the two, yes TWO inches of rain that is supposed to start tonight.First up was Lakota, who heard us come outside. And as I was cleaning up the yard from winter debris so we had a safe-ish place to ride, she came over to the gate and was watching us and calling. So cute. So today we tacked up properly which hasn't happened since last summer. Today, she decided the yard was scary. Maybe because it was cleaner? lol! Who knows.So we spent a little time snorting at all the corners before settling down, which actually didn't take all that long. I decided to try ground driving, after chatting with some friends about Lakota's issues with trust in me when I'm not in front. A first for both of us.It went better than I expected. I did have to swing the tail end of one of the reins at her rump a few times so she understood forward. She did a LOT of thinking about this, as it was quite new to her. Once I got her going forward, she moved along nicely. Whoa didn't go as well. I usually use my body, not my hands to whoa, and she whoas on a breath out and when I stop riding. Well, I couldn't really do that with ground driving, unless I turned myself into something like an anchor. So any ideas/advise would be great. When I asked for a stop, I did "breath out" which she responded to somewhat, and then I just closed my hands, and when she ran into that, it was upsetting for her. She fought the pressure a bit, then she turned sharply and wrapped one of the lines around her hind pastern and stepped on it. She didn't freak out, but she hit the pressure, felt it on her leg and wasn't too happy about it. I easily got her out of the mess, but after that she wasn't really a fan of this game anymore. She was ready to head back to the barn, which is so NOT like her, so I knew she was upset.So I asked for one more circle, and then we took off the lines, and I mounted up.Riding wasn't all that exciting, the roundpen was still pulled apart, I didn't feel like taking even more time to put it back together, and we're trying to get away from that crutch, anyway. So since it was only our second time out of the paddock since last fall, we stuck to just some figure 8's inside the pen, although both ends of it were open. She softened and relaxed into the pattern nicely. So after that, we called it a day. She was quite warm and sweaty considering she did nothing more than a walk. It was warm, around 55F, and she still has her full winter coat, but I think it was more emotional sweat than physical sweat, she really didn't do much at all, and the sweat was in her armpits, and her chest and underside of her neck, and behind her ears.Mandy got this shot, which cracks me up. And of course shows how much more relaxed she was with the riding as opposed to ground driving. Then Mandy took these two shots, which I like.Lakota has never been a fan of kisses, but she has learned to at least humor me and tolerate them, as is obvious from this photo. Then it was Jen's turn. She was eager for her turn to get to play. Mandy tacked her up with no problems, other than her bracing and getting worried when girthing up. I suspect that will take a good long time to overcome the old "kick in the gut" girthing process. But we went slow, one hole at a time, wi[...]

Is it spring?


The temps sure don't feel like it, but my crocus' seem to think spring is coming.




Clicker fun


I spent most of the day yesterday cleaning so I could spend time riding today. And last night around 9 pm I started to feel "the crud" come on. How frustrating! So I'm stuffy-headed, headachy, low energy, and have occasional bouts of light-headedness. (sigh).

I trimmed hooves this afternoon, and when I was sitting down on the stoop waiting for my back to quit hurting so I could actually stand up straight, Lakota came over and was begging for attention. She stood next to me and kept touching my arm. Then she started to paw. I took the hint that she really wanted to do something.

So I went inside to gather my clicker/treat back, and while I was doing that, Lakota decided she was going to start without me. I had the camera with me, so shot some video. I had so much fun, I'm glad she talked me into playing.

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Spring has arrived!


The girls went out for their first bit of grass today, and boy were they happy about that!!!!! I did have the forethought, however, to only let them out an hour before grain time, I knew I would never get them back in again if I didn't have something up my sleeve ;-)

Lakota: "Ummm, Hello? The gate is closed! Would you be a dear and trot right on over here pronto and open it back up again?"

"What do you mean 'no'? Fine, I'll just wait here all night until it opens back up again."


Jen: "Whaddya mean the gates closed? It sounds like its biting, too. Damn, that sucks!"
Whinney: "Get your lazy @$$ over here and open this @#$% gate, NOW!"

Before the rain comes .....


My daughter and I had a nice day today. The 8 inches of snow has melted and left mud in its wake of course, but it was GORGEOUS in the 50's and up to 60 with a bright, warm sun this weekend, so I couldn't possibly spend it in the house cleaning. I did get the worst of it cleaned up though ;-)My daughter really wanted to do something with Jen. You may remember that Jen is a rescue (see The first year we had her we spent just dumping food into her, and loving on her to get her over her tension, anxiety and fears. Last year we started clicker-training with her, rewarding her for attention, focus, and fun games like targeting cones, follow-your-footsteps, touch-the-goblins. She will not accept a bit in her mouth, she clamps her jaw shut and flings her head up, no matter how many, or what value treats we use. So I've started her in the Dr. Cook's Bitless Bridle. She was quite tense mounted. I guess I can't say "under saddle", since we used a bareback pad, because her back muscles were still quite wasted and in no shape to hold a saddle. She braced, wouldn't move forward, and was a balled up bundle of nerves and anxiety. When I bought her, I was told that her only issue was being herd-bound.I rewarded her for taking a few steps forward, and flexing her head/neck to both sides, and then put her away for the fall/winter. I've just spent more time loving on her, expecting some more respect on the ground, and just being very calm and loving with her, and spending time just stroking her and talking softely to her.Today was her day. Unfortunately, I left the camera in the house, but hopefully I'll remember next time. So we changed out the gullet in my daughters saddle and messed with girths until we got an OK combination. We decided to stay in the paddock to keep her emotions down for the first time we've done anything for about 8 to 10 months. She was only mildly concerned about saddling, but treats took care of that, she sighed and did a lot of licking and chewing. She took the Bitless with no problems at all. I stood on the ground and we practiced a lot of lateral flexion. Her first reaction to the feeling of any pressure at all is that her head goes up and she braces. I don't escalate pressure (start where you want to end up), I just take up contact and wait, while she works it out. the head goes up, it goes down, she tries pulling the rein out of my hand, then finally, the neck relaxes and she gives her nose. BINGO! instant release with a click, and then a treat. Yehaaa!!!! Repeat ad naseum. Jen has a lot of braced default behaviors that is going to take a lot of time and repetition to undo. Did the same thing on the other side. Then hubby came home, so I stopped to talk to him for a bit. Jen fussed, pawed, fidgeted, and was trying everything to figure out how to get another treat. She finally settled down, dropped her head, relaxed, closed her eyes, and then it was time to reward her with more fun.I briefly repeated the lateral flexion on both sides, and she braced at first again, but remembered much quicker this time. I think I'm going to have to use this sort of thing for her for awhile, a lot of repetitions on one thing, then a break and do it again. She tends to forget between sessions, so hopefully a break and repeating it will break that habit. She also needs repetition, or she gets anxious wondering what the next behavior is that she will get rewarded for. She gets fizzy and tries too many things. Lakota, OTOH, gets bored, so we do something until she gives me a good try[...]

Fly Free, Ducky


Ducky is no longer with us.You may remember Duck from November. The Muscovy ducks decided to hatch out a clutch of eggs on Halloween night, and they were all waddling around on Sat 11/1 early morning. Except for one, who was upside down, cold and half dead. My son found her on the ground, and despite my best "it will probably die, such is nature" speech, the kids insisted on bringing it in the house ,warming it up and trying to save it. they succeeded. But it was too cold for Ducky to go back outside in the winter after being raised in the house. She was apparently premature and behind her siblings, she just couldn't keep up. she was raised in the family room, with a dog crate and an x-pen for a duck house. She had visits to the garden to play when the weather was warmish (30's and up), and visits to the bathtub for swimtime, and was allowed to roam the family room from time to time when we kicked the dogs out of the room for awhile, always supervised.This morning, I had Cher gated in the kitchen to eat her breakfast (she's a little food aggressive, so eats separately). Ducky was in her x-pen in the family room, which is up a flight of stairs and around the corner from the kitchen. I went out to feed horses, and when I came back in the house, Ducky had somehow managed to fly out of her x-pen, down the stairs, around the corner, and over the gate into the kitchen. Cher killed her. My guilt is enormous.Good bye, Ducky. I'm so sorry. [...]

I'm Baaaack -- I'm Back in the Saddle Again!


Wahoo!!!! I haven't ridden since September. In case you can't count too well, that's FIVE months!But I only worked until 12:45 today, rushed home and had a quick lunch. It was around 35F and sunny with NO wind, which we've had for about a week now, so it was a gorgeous day. I headed out to see my girl, Lakota. I did not, unfortunately, have my camera with me.The roundpen is muddy, with deep holes from frost heaves with the constant freeze/thaw thing that has been going on for about 2 weeks. The paddock didn't look too bad though, with hooves pounding them all down. I decided to just toss on the Bareback Pad and Bitless and head into the lower grassy section of the paddock. I figured its been so long since we've doing anything, I thought it would be a good idea to stay in the paddock, plus there was the whole mud issue.I walked that area first looking for holes, and it was a bit squishy down on the bottom half, but not bad on the top half, but of course its the side of a hill, with stumps, and rocks, and ledge. I picked up all the downed brush, and the girls apparently knew what I had in mind, because they were all on high alert (GRASS!!!!). April started racing along the fenceline with her nose on the ground looking for a way through. Its only electric, and it was off, not a good combo with a mini.I brushed Lakota, which she of course enjoyed, but then she side stepped away when I went to put the bareback pad on. I gave her another scritch, and then she was fine. It took us a little bit to put the Bitless Bridle on, she's always been funny about headgear, and if we dont' work on it consistently, she reverts. But I only waited for less than 5 minutes for her to decide to put her nose in, and of course she got a treat after, so all was OK in her world.We headed down to the grassy area, and as I gathered the electric fence handles in my left hand, with Lakota's reins in my right, sure enough they all came flying over. I managed to keep two out, but the mini eluded me (sneaky little shit that she is) she squeezed right through. That was enough to get Lakota upset -- the little brat was racing around snatching at tall grass, Lakot awas trying to snatch at grass at the same time she was spooking, at the same time I was trying to reattach the gate handles. So Lakota and I walked back and forth about a half dozen times, feeling the footing, looking for holes, and trying to catch the little yellow shithead. It didn't work, and I gave up, figuring I probably wouldn't ride long enough for her to founder, anyway.I lead Lakota up to a rock, that was about literally 3 inches wide and 6 inches long, but tall sticking out of the ground. She lined right up like a good girl, she'll line up to just about anything now. And then she stands quietly while I zipper my back, turn it to the side, and try to figure out how far I have to jump to get on her. Admittedly, it does take awhile, she's so patient. So I ungracefully lept -- and slammed into her side with a big - huh! Ooops, sorry girl. The next time I managed to get more air and belly over so I could scramble up.So Lakota and I walked back and forth for about half hour, while the little yellow demon ran around snatching as much dead grass as she could stuff in her little face. Lakota did quite well considering we have mostly only ridden in the roundpen, where it is relatively flat (its all relative around here, nothing is flat, not even the house, anything dropped that is round all ends up in one corner of the house). She real[...]

A sighting ...


Early Saturday during the morning feed, I saw Jen looking at something. I stepped so I could see better through the barn doors, and saw a bobcat running across the neighbors backyard! It came across the stonewall and over Bobby's junk cars that are on the property line. As I watched it disappear into the trees, suddenly, a second one followed the first along the same path!

I have never seen a Bobcat before. Its possible it wasn't, but I'm pretty sure. It was dawn, and the sun came over the horizon where they disappeared into the woods, so I couldn't see any coloring or markings, they were sillouettes, but the size, shape and movement fit a a Bobcat perfectly. They didnt' make a sound, not a single leaf russle they moved silently along, very cool.

I was just reading up on Bobcats, as I didnt' think we had them here. And now is there mating time, and they are active at dusk to midnight, and dawn to 3 hours after dawn. So it fits perfectly to see two of them together, possibly in pursuit, and at dawn.

What a gift!

as long as they leave my poultry alone, that is.

And of course I didn't have my camera with me.

How to get them to want to work for/with you


This came up briefly a few posts ago, Funder had made a comment after Lakota didn't want to go back to the barn, something to the effect of "It must be so nice to have a horse that wants to work with you". Well, Lakota sure didn't come that way!Some of you may remember, but likely most don't, that when I bought Lakota 6 years ago, she was inherently a nice horse, but she was also largely unhandled and/or mishandled.Back in 2003, she was a 7 year old broodmare being bred to her half brother. When I sent some emails to the seller (and I am not badmouthing anyone here, this is a learning exercise) I asked many questions since I couldn't visit her myself to meet her. Some of the questions were:How are her feet/hooves? The answer was "We have lifted Lakota's feet and she does fine. She has never needed to have them trimmed, she self-trims"When asked how much training she has had, the answer was: "Yes, she keeps a halter on, and leads well, has been trailered, has not been handled a lot but you can't tell she is a very sweet."In reading between the lines later on, the answers were more like: "We thought we should trying working with her feet, but never got around to it" and "We keep a halter on her at all times becuase otherwise you can't get one on her without an act of Congress, but she isn't mean about it".So the horse that got off the trailer back in April of 2003 was scared to death, having never been away from her sire, dam or siblings at the age of 7. She was trailered once, when she was bought by the person I bought her from, they bought an entire family/herd.I mistakenly took her halter off her in the paddock as I always keep my horses without a halter unless they are uncatchable, and then they wear a breakaway. Well, I can't remember how long it took, but it was week sbefore I got halter on her, that I left on (breakaway). She didn't know how to hold her feet up to be trimmed, either. She is deathly afraid of the dewormer tube, and her eyes pop out of her head and she rips her head away if you even think about looking at her left ear. Don't try to approach her right side either or she's gone.So how did this horse end up being the one that doesn't want to go back to the barn?Well, it has been 6 years ;-) But she's been like this for awhile now. I had to go back to square one with everything I learned. Lakota has taught me SO much. She was not this way because she was resistant, or "bad". She was truly just scared, and unsure, and very, very sensitive, and had no life experiences to draw from.I found that sending her off when she did the wrong thing, was a very bad thing, and created a horse that snorted and went on alert whenever she saw me. I had to sort of sneak in the back door, not let her realize that she was learning something and make it seem like she had figured it out all on her own.So I hung a halter next to her grain bucket. It was a larger, oversized halter with a breakaway poll. After a few weeks of that, I held the halter while I delivered the grain. Then I progressed to touching her with it. Then we moved on to having her touch it before she could get her bucket of grain. Then I asked her to let me slip it on her nose, and then I took it right back off and let her eat. She didn't get to have her grain at all until she let me do these things. Then we progressed to her wearing the halter while she ate. Then she was tied and she stood tied while she ate her grain. Eating grain while being [...]

Ode to Horses


Why do I like horses? I think I must be mad.My mother wasn't horsey -
And neither was my dad.

But the madness hit me early - and it hit me like a curse.A
nd I've never gotten better. In fact I've gotten worse.

My stables are immaculate. My house is like a hovel.
Last year for my birthday - I got a brand new shovel.

I hardly read a paper - but I know who's sold their horse.
And I wouldn't watch the news - Unless Mr. Ed was on - of course.

One eye's always on the heavens -but my washing waves in vain
As I rush to get the horses in - in case it's gonna rain.

And though they're wearing 15 rugs, the best that you can get,
I bring them in to keep them dry - while I get soaking wet.

I spend up every cent I've got - on horsey stuff for sure
I buy saddles, bridles, fancy rugs - and then I buy some more.

I should have had my hair cut - or bought that nice blue shirt
At least it wouldn't now look ripped to shreds and in the dirt

I can't make a bloody sponge cake -I don't even try
But I can back a truck and trailer - in the twinkling of an eye.

It's jeans and Muck Boots that I live in night and day
And that smell of sweaty horses just doesn't wash away.

Once every now and then I dress up for a ball
Make up and a hairdo - with high heel shoes and all.

I ache from long forgotten falls. My knees have got no skin.
My toes have gone a funny shape - from being squashed again.

But late at night, when all is still - and I've gone to give them hay,
I touch their velvet softness and my worries float away.

They give a gentle nicker and they nuzzle through my hair
And I know it's where my heart is - more here than anywhere

- Author Unknown