Tuesday, February 15, 2011

In which I am given an honorable but undeserved award

This award has come from several dear bloggers, and I thank them all so much it...

but seriously?


Moi? The woman who routinely pairs a loud aloha-print shirt with camouflage trousers and accessorizes with purple hightops and a pirate ballcap? It is to laugh. Or at least titter.

I've had a lot of adjectives pasted to my hide, but stylish is a new experience.

I'm not sure I'm up to this challenge.

Fortunately, my obligation upon accepting the award is to reveal 7 things about myself, and then foist the award on some other unsuspecting bloggers.

Howsabouts I dazzle you with some of my personal trivia:

1. I've written 3 novels so far as part of NaNoWriMo (the month of writing madness) in three successive years. In 2008, writing was a delight. In 2009, I couldn't wait until the end of the month so I could throw all the characters off a fictional cliff. In 2010, I enjoyed the story so much that I'm still playing around with new chapters.

2. When I was a kid, I'd look out the passenger window on long road trips, and dream about how I could ride a powerful strong horse on the hills and through the forests of the medians. I'm 46 years old now, and I still do it.

3. Black-bay is the best color for a horse. Red-bay is my next favorite. I love *looking* at grey horses but I don't actually ever want to try keeping a grey horse looking respectable in a Swampland climate! Dirt-colored is most practical...and also my favorite, especially Dark Dirt.

4. I love and hate computers. I find them miraculous and amazing. I love being in contact with farmers and horse people all over the world. I think the persistance of technology in the face of political upheaval has the potential to bring this troubled little planet to a place of lasting peace and prosperity. And when the computer doesn't do what it's supposed to do, I turn into the Evil Stepmother from Disney's Snow White (insert dragon roar sound effect).

5. I spent 13 years studying karate when I was in my 20's and 30's, and achieved the rank of third-degree black belt. One day in the middle of warmups, I realize that my learning curve in the class had been flatline for months...and I stood up and politely excused myself, and never went back. To this day, I curse myself for not figuring it out before doing the nightly 55 pushups.

6. I could happily eat salmon and asparagus and strawberries every day of my life, forever. They never get old to me.

7. I'm not sure that Jim is significantly smarter than me, but I am absolutely positive that he is significantly nicer than me. We've been together for 10 years, and he keeps getting smarter but I don't seem to be getting any nicer. Something to ponder....

And as for bein' stylish:
Don't you all go expecting me to start shopping for Jimmy Choos or Manolos anytime soon. I'm not sure those brands carry a riding sneaker, anyhow.

OKAY, time to pass the award along (phew, can't get rid of this baby fast enough!):

I nominate some folks who are new to the blogpark:

BREJD Arabians and Sport Horses
The Hoge Homestead
Wren Loop Thoroughbreds

Let's give 'em some applause!!!

Monday, February 14, 2011

In which we participate in Jane's Valentine's Day Love Festival

One of my favorite bloggers in the horseblogworld is Jane at The Literary Horse. She is always willing to explore the less-graceful and glamorous (and thus more interesting) side of riding and riders; she asks the questions that non-horsepeople don't think to ask. She also has a very skewed view of the world, which has caused tea-spew on my computer monitor more than once. Uh, more than once this week.

Jane asked in this post about how we came to love the horses we love. And since we celebrate the horses' birthdays on February 14th every year, it's a good time to tell this story!

Lemme tell ya, it's been a long journey to get to this:

It started with this: Pony Camp, circa 1976. I was about 12 years old, and finally deemed old enough by my parents and the Whatcom County Parks Department Summer Programs division to attend Pony Camp. Midnight was a fabulous pony (according to me): she would canter all day. On the last day of camp, we went on a trail ride--two hours in the woods on horseback. I thought I'd died and gone to heaven.

My parents were sure that I'd grow out of it. Grownups, in their experience, didn't spend most of their waking hours either on a horse or wanting to be on a horse.

Nearly twenty years later, I finally bought a horse of my own:
My friend Trish took me up to the Standardbred track in Canada, where one of the trainers was selling off some horses. Most would end up on the meat truck. Trish looked at Story and said, "That one won't leave you broken and dead on the side of a mountain." High praise, from Trish. The next week, we brought her home.

Story stayed with me for the remainder of her life, about 12 years. (Part of her end-of-life story is here; have a hankie ready if you go to the link!)

Less than a week after she died, I got a call from Greener Pastures, the standardbred adoption agency in Canada.

They had heard about Story. They said they were proud, they said I was brave, they said I did the right thing.

They said they noticed I now had an empty stall.

They said that they had a mare who needed a place--a foster home, or a forever home. Could I take this mare for a few months? I could send her back in the spring if I didn't want to keep her.

They didn't say that the mare was huge, clumsy, and still growing.

They didn't say that the mare was a biter, and a kicker, and had enough powerful anger issues to light the city of Seattle for a month in winter.

They didn't tell me a lot of things that I learned about Fiddle in our first year together.
They didn't know that while I thought I wanted a short, sweet, sensible mare, what I actually needed was a gigantic mare with a need for calm leadership and strong, consistant boundaries. Well, hell. I've been training weird, neurotic dogs for most of my adult life. I've worked with teenagers for even longer. I have calm leadership and strong consistant boundaries.

And I have no skills whatsoever for turning away a challenge.

Fiddle learned to walk on trails--and later, to mark them with ribbons for endurance rides.

She learned that every stupid outfit comes with at least one cookie. She learned that games are fun.
She learned that endurance rides are fun.
She still isn't short. Most people think she still isn't sweet.

But she is.

Shhhh. Don't tell everyone. It's a secret.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

In which we reintroduce an old friend to an addictive substance:

Horse Spit.

"Normal people" think it's disgusting.

And perhaps it is: greenish, wetish, warmish, and usually slopped down the front of a jacket, back of a shirt, or (in some instances) through the helmet vents and into the roots of the hair.

But "Horse People" (i.e. "non-normal people") can be exposed to minute quantities of horse spit, and are immediately transported into euphoric raptures. When the drool dries, the euphoria fades a bit...and the only way to hit the high again is to put the shirt, jacket, or hair within spitting range again.

(NOTE: some people have reported relief from taking deep breaths inside the cab of the truck that has been stacked up with wet saddle blankets)

Duana has been away from horses for 6 years!

She and her (now) husband took lessons at our old barn before jetting off to Tuscany for their horseback-riding honeymoon.

I'm sure the honeymoon was awesome (Tuscany! on horseback!) but they haven't really returned to the horse scene in all that time.
Until today.

Duana was pretty sure she'd forgotten everything. And hey, she did try to put Hana's halter on upside-down at first.

But they say it's like riding a bike, and it is.

(Assuming that your bike smells warm and grassy, and keeps mugging your pockets for carrots). Yep. She pretty much grinned that grin all afternoon.Go ahead, girlie. The first ride is free.

Hana made sure to deposit some extra-strong saliva on Du's jacket.

That should be just enough to trigger a nice case of withdrawal in a day or two...when Du's muscles start to recover and the horse spit starts to dry.
Heh heh heh.