Monday, December 31, 2007

Update on Paddock Paradise Project


I have had a bunch of hits from searches on Paddock Paradise in the last few days (maybe from people who were given the excellent book by Jaime Jackson for Christmas?) and Sheil recently asked for an update here.

I have to admit, I have not yet completed my track. My many excuses include the process of changing jobs, ill grandparents living next door and needing extra care, finances, and a general lack of time. Excuses, excuses. Sheesh! I will say, however, that I only have to put about 20 posts in and put up the electric tape, and now that the ground is finally wet, that wouldn't take me very long. Unlike in the summer, when every single posthole has to be soaked for days on end to have any chance of penetrating our concrete that passes as dirt! I am hoping to get time for finishing the project soon. No promises though...

In other ways I am doing my best to give the horses a healthy life, including:

Fed 3x a day, with grass hay almost constantly available. Hay is placed in several small piles to encourage movement.
Only fed enough alfalfa to keep protein at the proper level.
Barefoot and trimmed regularly.
As much exercises as I have time for now, and more as things settle down.
Regular work/play with their minds as well as bodies to keep them stimulated.
Outdoors 24/7 with a run-in shelter when it rains.
Varied terrain (more varied than I'd like, in fact!)
Thorvin kelp in addition to their regular salt and mineral blocks.


I am very happy with how healthy they both are, and Mira, who has naturally great feet, is almost self-maintaining her trim, and has been for the last few months. Very little ever needs to be done to them. Andolu has only been here for about 6 weeks, so I am still getting to know his feet, but he seems to have pretty good ones. They are a little flat, which I believe is typical for a TB, but he is quite sound. He only shows a tiny amount of tentativeness on gravel.

Both horses look very satisfied when you watch them in the pasture. Watching them is fun, because even when they are bickering they look contented overall. They are always ready to get fed, of course, but since they are basically munching all day, they are not desperate at any time. I believe this is one reason why The Dude has gained probably 50 pounds since he arrived - he is a "hard-keeper TB," remember, and is on grass hay and alfalfa with almost no concentrates, but he has gained quite a bit of weight. I like the benefits to their digestive systems in being able to let them "graze" all day.

Other than that, it gets kind of hard for me to describe the benefits of a more holistically-oriented way of keeping horses. It just feels right to me, more and more as I keep making little changes. The horses will show you how much they like it.

To me, health in humans or animals, total health, means not just absence of disease. I believe that the ultimate goal is to have vitality and contentment that radiates from the animal or human. I am seeing more & more of that in the horses, so I know I am heading in the right way. So, if you are considering changing some of your horse-keeping habits to a "Paddock Paradise" or other holistic strategies, I definitely would encourage you to do so. You will not regret it.


However, just as with humans, I strongly believe that the most important aspect, the part that truly affects everything, is the attitude and the love shown towards the horses. I grew up wanting my own horse, and because I never got one as a child, it became a passion. I still can't believe I have 2 horses, and I know the horses can feel how thrilled I am to be around them: You can see it in their expressions. Just like children, it makes them feel secure.

So, the biggest single piece of advice I have for anyone who has horses, or wants to learn how to deal effectively with them, is, be a little kid again! Rediscover the joy of these wonderful creatures!



Well, it looks like this turned into a book, but I won't apologize. :-) I know a lot of you reading this feel the exact same way I do, and for anyone who is still new to horses, I hope this will serve as a reminder to keep your attitude of excitement. Work hard at the skills of horse keeping and horse training, but do it with an attitude of PLAY!

And I will TRY to get that track finished SOON!
L

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Andolu's Christmas Ribbon


OK, the computers are behaving a little bit better, so here is the first picture. Perhaps tomorrow I will have enough time to organize the rest and post them... We can hope! ;-D
L

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas to all of you, from me and the family, and Anatolian and Mira!

"1In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3And all went to be registered, each to his own town. 4And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, 5to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. 6And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. 7And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.
The Shepherds and the Angels 8And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear. 10And the angel said to them, "Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christthe Lord. 12And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger." 13And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, 14"Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!"

Luke 1:1-14

I like this story. :-) There are a lot of details about it that I find fascinating, especially as I think more and more what it would have been like to BE in those situations. None of the people really knew what to expect about anything. We can see the whole story now, and sometimes, because it's so familiar, we take things for granted. But the people living in the midst of this - I cannot imagine what kind of turmoil they were in! Even Mary was only given 8 sentences to prepare her for being pregnant while unwed (which could have gotten her killed, and definitely got her ostracized), 8 sentences to tell her she was going to be mothering her Creator... 8-0 I can't imagine how much faith and sheer guts that took to keep going even when she was terrified. And the Shepherds. They crack me up! Did you ever notice how in the Bible, pretty much every time an angel appears to anybody, they first have to say "Fear not!" Angels are only messengers from God, servants who do His bidding, but they must be pretty terrifying! Also, the "Heavenly host" was NOT a choir - a "host" is an army. Yikes! I bet those shepherds were looking for the nearest bush to hide behind!

Of course, I like to think about the animals in the story, too. What did the sheep think about the angels? Did they see them? Were they scared too, or just interested, or did they keep grazing/sleeping? Did other people in the town see the angels, or were they all sleeping? Were there any animals in the stable that night, or nearby? I wonder if they realized something really important was happening that night... Anyway, the more I ponder the accounts, the more I have to think about, and the better it gets.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy asking questions about the Birth also, and imagining yourself in the place of one of the people. I have had several people encourage me to do that about the Bible in general, starting a few years ago, and that, combined with finding out some of the interesting details about the cultures then, really makes the Bible come alive to me.

OK, I'll stop thinking out loud now! :-)


Well, I had a great Christmas today! Lots of presents, fun times with a few relatives who were here, some singing... We all managed to stay pretty cheerful all day, too, which is good - nobody started whining, even late in the afternoon, so that is great! ;-) I gave both horses chopped up candy cane in their breakfasts, and Mira loved it! Anatolian did too, as soon as he tried the first chunk! I also braided red & green ribbons in their forelocks, so they looked cute today. Hopefully tomorrow the computers will behave themselves and I can post the photos. :-D

I hope each of you had a wonderful day, also.


L

Monday, December 17, 2007

Click and Drag?

Tee hee, I was just telling my programmer brothers about one of the things I'm working on with Anatolian. I have been teaching him to face me if he is within 20 feet of the fence, and if he isn't facing me when his feed bucket is ready, I click my tongue and move back a little until he turns around. I will say that he is MUCH more motivated by food than Mira is :-) I also don't put his food down until he has his ears forward, because I noticed he tends to have a grumpy face on at feeding time.

Well, my brothers listened to me, and then one said, "So, it is a click and drag thing! You click your tongue and move him where you want him!" I think that it the perfect way to describe it! :-D


L

Friday, December 14, 2007

Update

Both horses are doing fine, and I think I am vastly improved in the worry department, compared to what I was like even 6 months ago! :-) I did keep watching both horses all week, especially Anatolian, to see any possible abnormalities, and felt their legs a lot, but, while I did several times start to convince myself that Andolu was really favoring his right hind, (oh no!) I was able to get a grip and look again. Sure enough, I was over-reacting... If he was sore after the fence incident, he must be all over it by now, and I didn't ever really panic. I guess I am improving, slowly, and learning what to watch for, and what is actually normal... :-)

The fence literally took me 15 minutes to fix once the weather dried a bit - without needing tools. I do like that brand.

The English saddle I borrowed seems to fit quite well, so I guess I'll buy it from the lady who owns it. :-) He has plenty of shoulder freedom in it, and all the other aspects look correct. So, now I get to learn to ride in an English saddle!

I am still trying to convince him to try a banana. It's kind of hard, because he turns up his nose at it, and Mira is only too happy to snatch any pieces I put in front of him! I plan to start training the bow with him soon, using a handful of pellets as an occasional treat. I probably won't have very much time to work under saddle with him until February, though, due to changing job situation. It is going to be a hectic time, so I apologize in advance for probable long absences from here. I will be too tired to achieve even this amount of coherency a lot of the time! I do intend to at least get on the Dude every day, and to try to go on short rides 3-4 times a week, but it won't really be serious riding until things get into a routine again. Hopefully the time goes by quickly!


Over and out. See you later!



L

Some cool links...

I was going to write a deep and profound post, but I have writer's block. I just cannot figure out how to say it. Arrgh. I'm too tired to think right now, so, instead, here are some links; I really enjoyed them all, whether funny, thought-provoking, or serious. Good links for wasting several minutes...


Horsey Stuff:

Body Pilates

Spinal Alignment


Food Stuff:

Grocery Store Wars - "May the Farm be with You!" ROTFLOL

The Meatrix


Goofy Stuff:

Laurel & Hardy #1

Laurel & Hardy #2



L

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Drenched by Downpours!

Although, we didn't have nearly as much as the Northwest did! Please click here for more info on how to help the animals who were affected by the flooding up there. There usually isn't as much publicity about animals in need in a situation like this as there is about the humans, but they need help desperately right now too, with their owners displaced.

I would guess we probably got about 3 inches here. The rain started on Thursday night, and it poured down. Then, it started to hail. The thunder and lightning was also really loud. I think this is the loudest storm I can remember in several years. I didn't really get any sleep that night because I kept listening for any noises from the horses... Plus, I kept worrying that I had left my car windows open. I knew I had closed them, but it kept drifting through my head - what if I forgot after all? You know how irritating that is, when you are too sleepy to make yourself STOP worrying, but you are too awake to forget about it? Things finally calmed down and it was only misting rain when I got up before dawn to go to work. Both horses were standing under the shelter looking bored with the rain, and I was glad they seemed to have tolerated the noise well.

Well, later that day, sometime between them getting fed in the morning and my coming home from work, one of them must have slipped into my HorseGuard electric tape fence. A lot of my fencing is welded wire fencing, with electric tape, but I don't have the welded wire fencing everywhere yet. Anyway, whichever horse it was, seems to have panicked at feeling the shock, and somehow pulled about 4 fiberglass fence posts over, and pulled the tape with conductors off the posts onto the ground before getting free! Yikes....

Upon discovering the fencing, I looked both horses over several times very carefully, and breathed a major sigh of relief that I have such a safe kind of fencing! I still don't know how a horse could have gotten tangled in it, because there weren't any loose parts, but oh well! I have a feeling that it was Anatolian, and I think it was his right rear leg, because he's been resting that leg a bit more than usual. Neither of them has any marks or rubs or limps at all, though. No swellings, nothing. So I am very grateful, and I'm praying that nothing shows up in the next few days, either! I am also very glad that neither horse tried to go over the downed fencing, and that they just stayed where they belong 'till I got home and repaired it!!!

So, I am very glad for the much-needed rain, and I hope we get more in a week or so, but I'd like some sunny weather for a few days now! :-) I hope you all had a great weekend!


L

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Er, yes

I do realize how long it's been since I last posted - sorry! I am super busy right now with work-related stuff. Hopefully I'll be able to start posting again on the weekend!


L

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Good Rides

First, another photo... I am feeding the horses in a Paddock Paradise fashion - that is, grass hay as the basis for the diet, with about 40% of the diet being alfalfa, to balance out protein ratios. I feed 3 times a day. First, I feed both horses a bucket of "Senior Soup," i.e. 1/2 beet pulp and 1/2 Equine Senior, soaked so it is about the consistency of oatmeal. Anatolian only gets some because he is convinced that he needs it, and I have to give him some so he'll let Mira alone! It is also handy to give him "Senior Soup" because it makes feeding supplements like Thorvin kelp, super easy.

While they are eating in separate pens, I go to the hay pile and get at least 1 flake of alfalfa, and a lot of grass hay. I scatter the hay in about 8 or 9 piles around the pasture. That is supposed to encourage them to eat more naturally, moving a lot more during the process. It does encourage more movement, for sure, but not as much as I was hoping. The horse will stand there and eat one whole pile, and then move a little bit to the next pile, and eat all of that before moving on. Oh well!

Anyway, the photo is of them eating. Because there is always hay around, both horses have a pretty blase attitude about it. Most of the time when I look out the window they are eating, but slowly and in a bored way. However, as soon as I go over to feed, both horses are suddenly starving to death! ;-D


Anyway, to update you guys on the nickname, I "tried out" all the different possibilities, and the names that have stuck are Andolu/Andoly, and Dude!


So, the last time I told you guys about riding The Dude, he was reluctant to leave Mira behind and go up the road. I was planning to use my "Carrot stick" whip to encourage him to move, as he wouldn't respect my leg aids. Well, I actually ended up using the string that came with the "Carrot stick," as it has a little popper on the end, which would be more effective, and it is a lot less clumsy to carry around. That has worked perfectly!

When he starts trying to turn around and head home, I only have to shake it at him and he immediately straightens out and moves out again. He is also getting used to the snaffle bit and actually starting to obey it quite nicely. The first couple times I was frustrated because he wouldn't pay attention to small cues and I had to practically yank on the reins, but he is now obeying light, gentle cues. Such a good boy!

Our riding time has been limited, though, because I haven't gotten any Simple Boots for him yet, and he has very soft hooves which wear noticeably in one ride on hard dirt/gravel, not to mention asphalt. He also has flat feet. He has been barefoot for about a year already, but did not have ANY trimming done during that time (Yikes!) which means the next 6 months or so will be a transition time for him to grow out good, tough feet. So I have to be careful until I can get some boots.

Until next time, look at something in nature for just a minute and think about what a marvel it is!


L

Friday, November 30, 2007

Ancient Words video

Wow. This is one of those songs that has good words, but never gets me all that excited when singing it. But this video put things together in my head in an amazing way - very moving, somehow....

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5GVfs4qLISw&feature=related

Lyrics:
"Holy words long preserved for our walk in this world,
They resound with God's own heart.
Oh let the ancient words impart

Words of Life, words of Hope
Give us strength, help us cope
In this world, where e'er we roam
Ancient words will guide us Home.

CHORUS: Ancient words ever true
Changing me and changing you,
We have come with open hearts
Oh let the ancient words impart"

etc.

Let me know if you like it!


L

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

2 Weeks today!


My, how time flies! ;-)

I can hardly believe Anatolian Star has already been here for 2 weeks - I just now realized it. AND, Christmas is less than a month away. Yikes!


L

A little at a time...

Well, I am still working on getting more good shots, (due to my work schedule making it very hard for me to take photos before dusk!) but for now here is a cute head picture. I like his neck :-)

Little by little I am getting the knot in his tail less tangled. Not at the point yet where I can say with confidence that I'll be able to get it all out, but I really hope I don't have to cut any out...

He is getting more and more respectful of my personal space, so that is good. It seems like at first he was testing a lot to see who was more determined/stubborn, and I think he's figured out that I definitely intend to be in charge. So for the last couple of days he has been trying subtlety - will she notice this? Can I get away with this much? He's a quick learner, though! But, I have to admit, I'm still waiting for him to have a fit or throw a tantrum or something. I don't expect him to be perfect - but I guess I shouldn't set him up for being a brat either, by subtly expecting bad behavior due to his age and breed.

I am currently trying out an English saddle for fit. The only problem is that the girth that came with it is too short! Tomorrow I will use a 52" or 54" girth. Hopefully that will be enough.

On a different topic, here is an absolutely gorgeous Lusitano doing an incredible piaffe, or trot in place. Beautiful, and VERY correct. Aahhh....

http://es.youtube.com/watch?v=R6Z6F0LN9sA


L

Monday, November 26, 2007

Actual Picture!


Here you go! Hopefully tomorrow I'll actually have time to sit down and organize photos, and post about how the rides are going. Until now, here is a (casual) picture of Anatolian Star to look at! As soon as I learn my way around this camera better I intend to post some conformation shots and "fancy" pictures. Hope you're all having a great evening!


L

Saturday, November 24, 2007

First Rides!

I have now been on Anatolian twice, and he has a very comfortable back, not too bony! I also measured him, and he is 15.3 HH, or 61 inches. So that was a good guess, this time :-)

He's actually a little bit sluggish so far, in that he is unwilling to leave Mira and the pasture - certainly not leave them at a trot! I have been taking him and her out, sometimes together, sometimes separately, ever since I got him, but he still is doing his best to be herd bound! I will start up the hill and he'll meander slowly up, but around the time that he would lose sight of Mira, (who always calls a lot) he would stop. 'Till now, I have just had my sis pull on his halter to get him started again when he wouldn't respond to being turned to one side or to increasing amounts of leg. I didn't want to get in a fight with him, especially at such an early stage!

I think tomorrow on our ride, though, I might take along my purple "carrot stick" whip, just to see if waving it might convince him I'm serious. If he doesn't respond to that, I will tap his hindquarters with it. I think that will be less likely to make him "blow up" than progressively using harder and harder leg aids would. I have rubbed the stick all over him and he was not as reactive as Mira still is with it, so that is good. (She is a lot better now, but still tends to get wide-eyed and jumpy)

One funny thing is, remember how I said Mira was squealing a lot when he first came, as if to say that SHE would be the boss here? And how he never got aggressive back? Well, despite that, he is most definitely the boss! If he moves toward her pile of hay, she will leave it immediately. Sometimes she gets ticked off, and squeals, but she always gets out of his way. I've only seen him show teeth a couple times - he is still pretty calm most of the time - but he most definitely is the top horse! I have to feed him a little of Mira's Senior Soup every time I feed her, so that I can get a chance to put her into the round pen to eat in peace - he thinks her soaked feed is divino!!! One part about having him around cracks me up, and that is that I'm realizing just how much of a drama queen Mira really is. In a totally nice way, though!

He is also making me remember the early days with Mira, when I did a lot of ground work with her to build respect. He is somewhat more pushy than she was, so I am working on teaching him the same thing I taught her - if he's within 20 feet of the fence, he has to be facing me when I come over to feed or whatever. That was a major help with her, for some reason! So far he still tests me at every opportunity, just to see how much I am going to notice. Like, yesterday he purposely moved his foot to where it was almost stepping on mine, trying to put his head over mine at the same time. I was like, "Sorry dude, not allowed. Scoot." I am spoiled now with Mira - If you tap her gently anywhere on her body, she will move for you immediately, and she is not only respectful, but she's happy about it, too. I know I'll get there with him soon, and it'll be fascinating to see the differences in their personalities in the process!

Hopefully I'll have enough time to update tomorrow evening after my ride and let you know how the third one goes!

Thanks again to everyone for your nickname suggestions! I have been trying each one out on him, to see which one fits best. I will let you know soon!


L

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Ladder needed :-)

So, I had to wait until I got Anatolian's hooves trimmed before riding him. He came with a western saddle, and I already own a western saddle. Both of them are too wide for him though, I believe. He has a couple white spots on his withers and I would bet they were caused by being ridden in the western saddle, as a saddle that is too wide will press on the withers. Thoroughbreds are usually much narrower in proportion than the Quarter Horses that western saddles are designed for. Fortunately, he doesn't have huge "shark" withers like a lot of TBs, so I don't think he'll be too hard to fit. Until I get a saddle that fits him well, though, I plan to just ride him in the bareback pad. I adore that thing anyway, it's SOO comfortable and secure! A lady I know is going to loan me her English saddle so I can see if it fits him. I continue to be amazed and grateful at how helpful so many horse people are. It's so cool :-)

Anyway, we tacked him up with the bareback pad today, putting my snaffle bit on him. Then I led him over to the "mounting block" that I always used with Mira, and surprise, surprise! I can't quite reach! He's just a bit too tall for me to climb on. (I cannot just put my foot in the stirrup to get on when using the bareback pad, as it would slide too much even though I use a breastcollar. I have to start out high enough to slide on.) So, I settled for just getting him used to me leaning over him and talking to him and petting him from up there. As usual, he was a good boy. Tomorrow I'll have someone give me a hand up, and while I'm out there tomorrow I plan to measure and see exactly how many hands high he is. I'm guessing just under 16 HH, so we'll see how accurate I am!

Oh! I also found a record of one particular race he ran in at Del Mar on August 9th last year! He didn't win, but oh well. :-) The people I bought him from did not have his registration papers, but I do know the name of the people they got him from, so I am looking online to try to find a way to contact them. No hurry, but it would be nice if I could get them eventually...

That's it for tonight! Please do vote for your favorite name on this thread. Thanks!


L

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Nickname Ideas

OK, I have been considering a "barn name" for Anatolian, as his full name is just a bit too much of a mouthful. So, I would like you to help me pick a good name from this list of possibilities! I want a name that is original, classy, and just "sounds right." Yes, I'm picky about names! But anyway, if you have an idea for another name altogether, do let me know!

Anatolia is an area in Turkey. There are a lot of Kurdish people in Turkey, so my relative who lived in Iraq gave me some Kurdish words I can use - I have put the meanings after the word.

Current favorite:
Andoly - variant of Anatolia


Others:
Sur - red
Esip (pronounce "uh-sip") - horse
Agir - fire
Rumelia - name of area in that region
Andolu - alternate variant of Anatolia


Please give me your input in the comments! :-)


L

Settling In Together

I let Anatolian out with Mira in the large pasture on Saturday morning, and everything was quite boring all day, which is great!!! There was some squealing during the day, but mostly they both just wanted to eat the hay I had put out. It was funny, until Anatolian arrived I hadn't quite realized just how small and cute Mira is. She is small, but she's put together pretty well so she looks like an elegant little doll, especially with that cute head. :-D

Both the horses were wormed on Thursday, and had baths on Friday. On Saturday I finished the baths (neck areas that I hadn't been able to finish before) and groomed them both again thoroughly.

Today I worked some more on washing, conditioning, and trying to detangle his tail. He has a big knot in the middle, but I'm hoping to be able to get it all untangled rather than cut any off.

Both of the horses have gone up the road with me and my sister for walks. We will take one ahead of the other, stop them, and walk the other past, and then repeat, to get them used to the idea that they are with the person holding the lead rope, not the other horse! Anatolian is cool with it, but Mira, though perfectly respectful of the lead, gets kind of anxious. One of the things I decided first thing was to immediately start taking one horse at a time out of the pasture and doing stuff with it every day, so that neither horse (hopefully) gets herdbound at all. I want them to realize that will be the routine!

I have discovered an interesting quirk of Anatolian's: He doesn't really know what treats are! He will sniff your hand if you are holding an apple, banana, or carrot, but he won't eat it! Even if you put it on the ground he usually ignores it - the only thing he will eat out of your hand is Mira's Equine Sr. pellets, and he inhales those!

Another thing about him: I have already seen him make the flehmen face a bunch of times, sometimes just when being petted. He also loves to roll buckets around and investigate everything with his nose... So I am being careful to gently discourage him from nosing people! But, it seems he is a mouth-oriented horse, so when I start teaching him tricks (which I plan to do for fun, after regular riding sessions) I should probably start with tricks that involve the mouth. Hmmm.....


Hey, I just realized this is my 101st post!!! Cool!


L

Friday, November 16, 2007

Introducing... Anatolian Star!!!

Anatolian is a chestnut 6-year-old TB (thoroughbred) gelding. He is a little under 16 hands high, was raced at one time, and has been used as a trail horse for the last year or so. So far he has been super calm and sweet, and I almost find it difficult to believe he is an OTTB (off track thoroughbred) due to his being so laidback - but he has the lip tattoo, so he was raced! I am SOOO excited to have him, and he and Mira are settling VERY well so far (through the fence)!

The Story:
Earlier this summer I actually visited TBfriends to get acquainted with Joe & Cathy, as I was planning to adopt a horse from them this fall. My goal was a tallish gelding between 5 and 8 years old, sound, athletic conformation.... overall, a horse with plenty of potential that would enjoy lots of riding.

Well, Friday before last, I was thinking about borrowing (on a feed lease) a retired broodmare from a fabulous farm near me, (a farm I had no clue was so close by!) as they were advertising that they wanted to give her away and I figured they might not mind leasing her. Then, a lady I know who is attempting to help some neighbors give away their horse, gave me her neighbors' # and told me to call them. Shortly after that, I was at my local feed store, and one of the girls there, who knows I've been keeping my eyes open for another feed burner (LOL), said "Hey, do you want to buy a horse?" I said "Well, it depends on the horse and the price!" She proceeded to tell me about a horse for sale, cheap due to owner moving away. He came with tack included.

Mind you, all this happened on the same day! I figured, it wouldn't hurt to at least check out this horse for sale, so I went to see him the same day. To my eyes, he looked sound and in great health, and was friendly and quiet. He stood still while the owner jumped on bareback and rode him around. Overall, he was almost exactly what I'd been looking for :-)

I had a local trainer check him for soundness, and evaluate his conformation/possible ability to make sure I wasn't crazy for considering him, got a definite green light, and decided to go ahead and buy him! We did have some trouble with the trailer, (long story, I'll have to post it later) and though we planned to bring him home on Monday, he did not get here until Wednesday! 8-o At least he made it here safe and sound. Phew!

It was so cute watching Mira when we unloaded him from the trailer! Her eyes just bugged out and you could almost hear her going "Yay! Finally another horse!!!" She was a good girl and didn't pull on the lead though, just stood there by my sis while I led Anatolian down the hill to the round pen that he is temporarily inhabiting. He was quite interested in her also, but not as nervous as she seemed to be. We fed & watered him, and then let Mira loose to wander around the edge of his pen so they could sniff each other. Instead, she kept following me and walking in circles around me, like "Whoa! This is so cool, but I'm WAY too excited... Help!" Everyone was "fizzing" - including the trainer who brought him over, who by the way is a really cool gal. :-)

Of course, since he arrived, I haven't been inside nearly as much as usual, thus the delay in getting my GREAT news to you guys! I promise to get a BUNCH of pics as soon as I can borrow the camera again. I seriously need to buy one soon...

Mira spent most of the first afternoon squealing and kicking toward Anatolian - true to form, she was determined to make SURE he knew right away that she is the boss! It wasn't a very convincing act, though, I'm afraid, because her squeals often sounded more like nickers :-D And from the first Anatolian has been nothing but submissive, friendly, and sweet, never squealing or kicking back, so quickly Mira settled down and just spent all her time hanging out next to his pen. Anatolian was also an "only horse" at his last home, and you can just tell they are both so thrilled to have a buddy again! Tomorrow I don't have to go to work, so I will be able to put them together - I'll keep y'all updated over the weekend, as well as doing my best to catch up with everyone else's blogs.

Talk to you soon!


L
(who admits to being a little excited)

Monday, November 5, 2007

Photo










Tee hee, this is why the rest of the family calls Mira "bucket-head." :-D Peacefully eating her 4th meal of the day...

Well, it looks like I am going to have to choose between TWO cheap/free horses (good quality ones, too!) in the next couple days! Sheesh, poor me! I mean, what a difficult choice! I won't say anything more right now, but I am DEFINITELY looking forward to having a rideable horse again, not to mention a companion for Mira! I always feel so guilty watching her watch the neighbor horses. I actually spent all summer trying to arrange a feed lease for a pony, and the owners then decided to give it to the grandchildren, which is cool for them, but disapointing for me. I actually had 2 other situations like that this summer, so I was getting pretty discouraged! I'll keep y'all updated on how this turns out :-D


L

Friday, November 2, 2007

It never rains but it pours

Funny, things keep happening in threes lately! I hope to be able to tell you guys about it soon :-D

I've got the borrowed camera right now, so tomorrow I will try to clean Mira up and take some photos quick before she rolls again! (Anytime she finds mud, she rolls in it!) Also, I really have to put up some pictures of the kitten!

Anyway, here are a couple links I found interesting recently:
Big Family Survival (How true, how like life)

Wild Hooves (Cool!)

You know you're an MK when... (Totally hilarious! But don't worry if you don't get it)

FHOTD (Too much bad language, and serious topics. But quite informative.)


Good night for now. It's the weekend!


L

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Vacation

Well, I had a mini vacation the last couple days, which I was sorely in need of, and now I am back and eager to start posting more often again! Life is good, although things have been extremely hectic lately. We have had lots of rain, (which I hope continues!) and I am already seeing some new grass coming up :-)

We have a new kitten - she showed up a couple weeks ago. When I can get a photo to post here, I will formally introduce her by name! She is VERY friendly and confident, and has definitely succeeded in her determination to make slaves of us...

Mira seems to really like rain and colder weather. Her coat is growing super fast, also. Even though it is much harder to keep clean (due to length), I love how shiny and brilliant her winter coat is.

Well, that's it for random news tonight. Over and out.


L

It wants to get you

This post is about a monster. The monster is lurking somewhere nearby, and it's waiting to get you. It will hypnotize you and suck the life from you, until you are a zombie and cannot think clearly...

Forewarned is forearmed! Beware of the monster, and click here to find out what it is!







(Yes, this is a very tongue-in-cheek post, but I honestly do hate how much human potential goes down the drain every day due to "the monster." I keep thinking about it today, so here are my thoughts...)


L

Thursday, October 18, 2007

William Tell Overture "Mom Song!"

This is hysterically funny - and it is more understandable to the "non-horse savvy people" here, (N!) so enjoy!

Click to watch the "Mom Song." :-D


L

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Dreaming about mares...

The last few days I did something I don't get to do often enough! I window-shopped on equine.com & dreamhorse.com for a while. I always love looking for horses, pretending I have a nice big fat budget. It is funny how the horses I really like almost always seem to have a 20, 30, or $40,000 price tag when I look at the details! :-D I was focussing especially on reining mares during this "binge of imagination," and found a list of quite a few good ones. (The palomino in the picture actually isn't for sale, but I liked her too.) Some of my favorite modern cutting/reining sires are Colonels Smoking Gun, Powder River Playboy, Like A Diamond, and I really liked the gelding by Reminic that I once had the privilege of riding!

If I could pick any mare to start with it would probably be a bay tobiano daughter of Colonels Smoking Gun that I really, really liked - I don't know where she is now, but I still remember her photo & ad. That is just to start with, of course!

My reason for buying her would be that not only did she look like a great producer (and had the pedigree to back it up) but I knew I would have fun riding her. And you know how some horses just fit your mental image in your head, and you go "aaahhhh," ? Well, she was that for me.


1. What about you? If you could pick any living mare, who would it be? Or if you know she's probably out there, but haven't actually seen her, what bloodlines etc. would she have?

2. What is ONE point of conformation that you always look for in a horse? For me it is the hocks and knees - I don't just want them to be level, I want them to be low! The level of the hocks has such a big influence on how well the horse can collect itself, yet in performance Paints & AQHA's that seems to be one of the most overlooked aspects.

3. What purpose(s) would you be buying this mare for, and why does she make you go "aaahhhh," ?


Please let me know your wishlists and feel free to post pictures/links of the ideal mare you would love to own! Have a little fun window-shopping!


L

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

That's Bologna! Or wait, it's Turkey!

Look what went on a picnic through our yard yesterday! Turkeys are quite common higher up in the mountains, but this is the first time I have ever seen them in my own neighborhood. There must have been 30 or 40 all told, and they were not shy at all. We were outside watching them and talking pretty loudly, and the group just kept pecking their way steadily along. I like wildlife, as long as they don't damage anything, so it was fun.

I have now seen foxes, bears, turkeys, raccoons, deer, 'possums, coyotes, herons, and various birds and "varmints" in my backyard. Now if I can just catch a glimpse of the cougar - safely, of course!
I will try to stick to regular photos of Mira for now. She seems to be quite grumpy whenever I try to train and have someone take photos, (plus I cannot focus on her totally when doing that) so for now I am not going to try. She is learning to hold her foot up for a second or two at a time, but this part is definitely slower going than simply picking her foot up briefly. Now she actually has to work! *gasp* Thus, it takes more attention from me.

It rained recently, so the grass is starting to sprout! Yay! This means it is time for me to do some more work on my projects now. Ciao for today... :-)



L

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Excuses, excuses

Many apologies for the long and unplanned blogging absence! My grandmother, who is over 80, had a stroke last week, and has had several episodes since, leading to her being in and out of the hospital. With helping my mother (who also got the flu for several days) and work and helping my friends pack to move, life has been... interesting. Just one of those periods we all have when things get rather overwhelming!

At least training is still going well. I am now working on training her to hold her foot up for a couple seconds at a time, and putting it down after I say "Drop." I am doing this by using a soft rope looped around her fetlock and holding her foot up for a second while I praise her. We have not had time to get all the pictures for the series yet, and we also have run into a slight impedance. It was pretty funny actually - the twig I have been using to cue her did not show up in pics, so I decided to go ahead and buy an all-purpose whip (carrot stick style). I got a cute purple one, and went to pet Mira with it.

What a surprise! Mira's eyes bugged out, and she started dancing on the end of her lead! I was not expecting that, as she has always been on the lazy side when I flip the lead rope at her rear to move over. And she has never blinked when I carried sticks/rakes near her. So I am pretty sure she was never beaten or anything. However, I believe she was in gymkhana at some point in her life, (that is what the vet guessed, and I agree) and I guess she associates whips with getting serious about moving or something. She really was nervous for awhile! Within a few minutes, though, she was letting me stroke her back with it while I rubbed her belly with the other hand. So hopefully she will get totally comfortable with it soon, so we can get some good pictures of cueing her for the Salute. :-D

Now, I'd better go get caught up on reading other blogs. Later!


L

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Waiting for supper...


Here is The Spoiled One, waiting patiently for her evening meal. She's rather dirty right now, as I have not been able to groom her properly since injuring my thumb. Being so light in color, naturally she enjoys rolling in dirt as much as possible - mud is even better! Hopefully tomorrow I will be able to bribe, er hire, some help so as to be able to get better pictures. I am still working on the photos series on training the Salute. She is really enjoying it, and I am starting to think what trick I should teach her next - Mira does not like being bored!

Well, that's it for tonight. I hope everyone is having a great weekend!


L

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Ouch!

I'm afraid the next batch of photos will have to wait until tomorrow, as I managed to give myself a deep cut on my thumb today. It is well bandaged and should recover fine, but typing will be difficult for a while, so please excuse the short break. Talk to you soon!


L

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Field #3

Introducing... Field #3! I know, such a poetic name to give it :-) This is the smallest spot I plan on using this winter, approximately 20'x40'. It is located right below our pond dam, so it is also wetter than some other areas. Right now I am actually not sure whether I will use it for grass hay like Field #2, or if I might decide to plant it to grain. Either way, it is a very fertile (for our area) piece of land.

Below is a picture of the pond grass that we made hay from earlier in the summer. The poor pond is so low! I really, really hope we have a wet winter this year. Last year I think we got about half of the normal precipitation and the pond never filled up all the way. I hope to have more Mira pictures ready tomorrow, so stay tuned!

L

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Field #2



And this is Field #2! (Also called the quackmire due to its proximity to the pond!) This is the wettest, shadiest spot on our property, and is roughly one quarter acre in size, irregularly shaped. It is fabulous for late spring grass, and we must have a spring in one spot, because there is one small area that always has green on it (third pic). I will not be planting anything new on it this year - I simply want to manage it better than it has been so far, i.e. graze it regularly and evenly at the right intervals in order to encourage good growth and to naturally fertilize it. I may or may not put top-dressings on it. If I do, gypsum would be my first choice, again.

My ideal plan for this field would be to graze it quite a bit early in the spring, and then allow the grass to mature enough to cut for hay. We shall see whether it works out, and how much hay it produces!
Field #3 pictures coming tomorrow...


L

Monday, September 24, 2007

Field #1


OK, here is what I will call Field #1. This is where I plan to plant wheat. As far as I know, this field has never had anything other than brush clearing and weed-whacking done to it. No fertilizing, watering, or anything else. It is basically virgin land. I plan to wait until after we get a couple more good rains, and then rent a rototiller and work the ground thoroughly. Then I want to scatter manure lightly over the area - lightly, because wheat does not like too much fertilizer. The main thing the ground needs is gypsum to loosen the dirt (or cement as we call it!). I would estimate I'll be planting roughly 80'x100' to wheat.

I have no idea what the diamonds in the picture are from! I could not find any dust on my lens... Weird.

More photos tomorrow!


L

Sunday, September 23, 2007

New Photos Tomorrow!

Finally, I managed to get my act together and borrow a camera again, and I've been taking tons of pictures! So, hopefully by tomorrow afternoon I will have a bunch of them sorted out so I can post them. I am doing my best to get good clear pictures of the steps in training the Salute, MiKael. It's funny, I don't think I've ever done a photo tutorial before, so I hope it turns out well! I also have been taking pictures of the areas I want to try growing hay (and wheat) this winter. Wheat is the easiest people food of all to grow in this area. Everything else is very difficult to keep protected from the gophers, birds, deer, raccoons, etc. etc. And then the ground in this area is mostly decomposed granite, literally, so it requires LOTS of amendments and water... and water... and more water... which we don't have much of. It is most practical to grow stuff in the winter here, rather than trying to fight the summer heat and lack of rain for 6+ months at a time.

Growing wheat is super easy, though. I will tell more about that in another installment. :-) I am going to try to get lots of pictures of everything I do in preparing the ground and planting, and then photograph the growing plants every couple of weeks. Ditto with the hay - although I will probably use the native grasses for that. Not exactly great quality in them, but they will be decent supplemental forage.

Speaking of home-grown hay, our pond got really low again this summer. There was a lot of green grass growing on the bottom, and just for fun we harvested some and dried it to see if Mira would like it at all. Pond bottoms are typically FULL of nutrition of all sorts, (they can also contain bad residues, though) and so we were curious about it. I thought it smelled pretty sour, but I have never seen hay disappear as quickly or thoroughly as that hay did. I was quite surprised that she liked it that much!

OK, I'll stop rambling now. See you tomorrow!


L

Monday, September 17, 2007

Cooler weather and new experiments coming

It is actually starting to feel like fall now. Yay! I much prefer cold weather to hot. We might get rain this weekend, but I doubt it... Things are pretty normal around here the last few days, not much new. I am still training the Salute with Mira, and will put up pictures as soon as I can get some. Sometimes I reward her with belly rubs instead of food, and I can't decide which she likes best. :-)

I finally gave in and bought some SWAT ointment for a couple spots where Mira keeps getting bitten. I have done everything else, but before it quite heals the flies will come back and bite it again. Aarggh. I don't want her to get infected, so I decided to bite the bullet and get the "nasty" chemical stuff. It IS working very well, and I have only applied it once. That was over 24 hours ago and I still haven't seen a single fly near the spots. I'm hoping I can get them all healed quickly and not have to use any more SWAT this season.

I have been doing some more research on easy, small-scale hay growing, and as winter is our growing season, I will share my experiments as I gear up for growing more feed this winter! For a list of last season's experiments and LOTS of helpful links, click here. One reason I am passionate about this topic is because there is so much concern throughout the horse world about hay shortages. If you look at the news, and study what is influencing agriculture in this country, it becomes apparent that we really should not count on hay (or grain) becoming plentiful and cheap again. In fact, it is best to make plans otherwise. The good news is that growing some of your own animal feed, (as well as food for yourself!) can be quite simple and still produce a big supplemental supply to "boughten" food. You don't need much land, you don't need very much equipment, (nothing with motors is necessary!) and you don't need much time. Mainly what you need is the right knowledge and good timing - something many horse people have an edge on already. :-)

So I hope you all enjoy going with me as I learn more, and maybe this will inspire you to try a few things to make your barn more sustainable!


L

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Update on Training the Salute

Well, Mira has had about 4 "training sessions" (if you can call them that, less than 5 minutes each!) and she is still doing well with learning the trick. I had an absolutely insane week last week, so after that first time, it was a couple days before I even tried a refresher with her. I was feeding her, and before I put the bucket down, I decided to see if she remembered. So I gently tapped the back of her cannon bone with my foot, and before I could even say the "Foot-foot-foot" cue she had picked her leg up! She was very quick and looked at me like, "OK, I did it, now I WANT MY FOOD!" LOL

I was tickled pink that she remembered. :-)

We've done a couple more quickies like that, just to keep it somewhat fresh, and then today I got a banana and we did a short practice session again. This time I also introduced the concept of moving her leg towards a tap on the front of her cannon bone. I will continue shaping the trick until I can "draw" her leg in any direction I ask. And then eventually, I intend to refine until I can just point at the leg and she will pick her foot up.


To Photogchic, I'm afraid I haven't tried clicker training with her, so I can't really tell you which is the best way to go, but Mira seems to have picked this way up quickly. Too quickly, maybe - it might not keep your Maddy occupied for that long! Although, I bet she would enjoy showing off for the farrier! :-)


Ta Da!


L

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

6 Years Ago Today

I was thinking about this day and what happened 6 years ago and how it changed me in so many ways. I think this video might be the best memorial video I've seen yet.
I cannot say anything in remembrance that has not been said already. So I will just say that reflecting on that day reminded me that although we saw face-to-face the incredible evil humans are capable of that day, we also saw incredible beauty in the courage, love, unity, sacrifice, and utter selflessness so many people that day displayed that day...

http://vids.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=vids.individual&VideoID=2503015


L

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

TA DA - I DID IT!!!

I finally figured out how to start training the "bow" with other than normal tactics!!! Yay!

For some time now, both Mira & I have been boorrred with not being able to ride. Grooming & feeding, grooming & feeding, is nice but lacks... pizzaz and interest. :-) I have been wracking my brains trying to figure out an alternative way to teach a variation of the bow. What I would like is for me to cue Mira, for her to pick up her foot so that her knee is nice and high, and for her to pose that way for a couple seconds until I cue her out of it. I do not intend to teach her the real version of the bow, as that would be hard on her old bones & joints.

(I found an 11 second video of a mare that looks a lot like Mira, wearing the SAME type halter, bowing - here ya go! Link)

I kept thinking and thinking about what would be the best way to teach this trick. There are 2 main methods I have researched:

Traditional: Tap horse on cannon bone (shin) over and over until horse gets frustrated and strikes out, at which you immediately stop tapping and praise lavishly. Repeat until horse can strike leg out every time whip is pointed as a cue. This is also the way the Spanish Walk, pictured above, is usually trained.

What I didn't like - Purposely making your horse that frustrated seems very counter-productive to the overall goals of training. Plus, it works better with male horses. Mira would be more likely to bite if she got that mad!

Clicker Training: Teach horse basics of this method first, and then train horse to bow in many small steps of progression.


What I didn't like - I think clicker training is good for a lot of people, but it doesn't mesh that well with my personality. I do like their rules on not treating the horse if it is being pushy in any way, though.


My Experimental Way: (I am sure someone else has done this with their horse before, so don't take me as claiming to have invented this - I just haven't read about this anywhere is all!)


Goal-train her to move her leg towards a steady tapping that is associated with a verbal cue, "Foot." This will enable me to move her leg in any direction I need it to go, and make it a much more flexible trick than I was thinking originally.

Plan-Tap steadily on back of her front cannon bone, repeating verbal cue, and back her up. As soon as the leg starts to leave the ground, STOP tapping, praise happily, and give her a piece of banana.

Results after one session-Ta da! Three bananas, or about 20 repetitions, and she has already figured out the concept! I am jazzed :-D


I will get pictures as soon as I can borrow a camera again, and keep you guys updated on the progress! For now, I'll just say Mira was more than ready for some training and mental stimulation... I think her dream career would have been showing off several cool tricks daily for adoring crowds. She probably wanted to grow up to be a circus horse. :-D


Anyway, I am typing this in a hurry, so I hope it's at least semi-understandable. Have a good night, everyone!



L

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

What kind of training prospect am I?

Of course, the next step from thinking about God as a Trainer, is thinking about myself as the Trainee. Again, comparing humans to horses, you could compare yourself to a wild horse, a green horse (just barely started) a young horse in training, a horse that is coming along nicely, a show horse, or a schoolmaster. One thing that is important, is to realize that even the finished old schoolmaster horse, the one that can teach young riders so much and so well, is never "perfect." They still have bad days, or feel tired, or just don't feel like working at the moment. The difference between them and the green horse is that the schoolmaster has a long history of a trusting relationship, many years of painstaking care put into it and its development, and a lot of thought over the years has been devoted to how best to strengthen, challenge, rest, tweak, excite, and reward, the schoolmaster. The green horse has only a tiny bit of training, and is just starting to realize that it is going to keep on learning new things and being asked for different efforts. The green horse is not even sure yet whether the Trainer is worth trusting or obeying.

Horses have different personality types also, similar to humans. In training, there are 2 chief ways in which a horse will resist the process of training, depending on its personality and the situation. It can either resist openly (leaning on the bit or the leg aids, kicking, bucking, rearing, biting, are some examples) or it can suck back, (i.e. dropping behind the bit so as not to contact it, being over-reactive to the leg, staying far behind when leading, etc.) It is usually easier to see the open defiance and fix it, but the sucking back type of resistance is much more subtle and tends to cause all sorts of performance problems. I have noticed this in humans too - open aggression/rebellion can be a lot easier to deal with, simply because it is so hard to ignore its presence, whereas passive aggression/quiet resistance is often not even noticed by the person harboring it. It is hard to fix if you can't see it.

One thing I like about horses though, and where they are different from humans, is they are so much easier to deal with overall! Of course training a horse is a lot of work, and excellence is something to pursue your whole life, but horses are much easier to train than humans! People are a lot more complicated, but the same basic principles do apply to how we are to treat humans. Then it is the human's choice how they will respond...

Whereas horses will usually respond very well to truly good trainers. Horses (and dogs, and many other animals) are extremely good at reading people. They know right away if you are pretending, even to yourself. They need transparency, kindness, absolute consistency, and an appropriate amount of emotion. I suppose one reason why I and so many other millions of people love animals and need them in our lives is because of how they inspire us to adjust and be more real, so as not to "betray" their willingness to try for us. And it is betrayal of a sort when we require them to perform for us while giving conflicting signals or, for example, trying to love on a horse when you are really mad at it (or someone else) - that will not make it feel good - the horse will see right through the facade and get insecure and nervous.

There have been times when I was really depressed or upset about something and I went to play with Mira (or other horses, or dogs I have trained) and tried my best to be "up" for the animal. I have found repeatedly that the only thing I should do is be open - grimace at something not alive, stomp your foot, cry, or whatever, and get it over with quickly. Then I just work on entering into the animal's world. Animals are so good at empathy, and usually after a couple seconds, when I am able to focus on the animal, just feeling their empathy and presence makes me feel MUCH better. And this way the animals don't seem to stress at all. They just accept what I am feeling at that second. But trying to "jump in" without having recognized the emotions I'm feeling has never worked.

The cool thing is that God is perfect, so He always knows how to relate to us, and He is always honest. We might not hear Him, but if you ask He will be very transparent... which is a somewhat scary thought, but He is love, and that is what will shine through, even when He has to use tough love!

There are so many aspects to good animal training as related to God, and the same principles also work perfectly when switched over to children. How many parallels can you come up with?

Oh, and right now my image of myself if I were a horse, is a youngster who wants to learn but is still just a bit afraid of the Trainer. I have a tendency to try to be perfect so as to avoid any necessity for even the most gentle correction - in other words, I tend to be behind-the-vertical , tense, and thus lack rhythm & proper alignment, not to mention a steady connection/communication. As God works on me, our relationship will get less like shortwave radio and more like a telephone. :-P

When a horse relaxes and starts to really trust in the Trainer is when they start really achieving the goals of training, and they get closer and closer to the high levels of performance which will make them so dynamic. And, I do want that! I used to fret about how I was not doing enough to be close to the Trainer, (and sometimes still do!) but more and more I am reminded that it is His responsibility to do the Training. All I need to do is trust, like, relax, and obey the Trainer. That adds up to loving Him.

I hope someone has enjoyed this last couple of articles. I do not usually want to overwhelm my readers with long-winded articles, so I hope to post more fun pictures and videos for y'all soon. But I wanted to share some of what I keep learning more and more about lately. If anyone wants chapter-and-verse references, or clarification of my clear-as-mud writing, feel free to let me know! And if you have more thoughts on this topic, I'd love to hear them!


L

Saturday, August 25, 2007

What kind of trainer is God?

I grew up hearing about God my whole life. I knew He is a loving God, and He wants the best for us, which is why I should obey Him. I knew in my head that He gave us rules in order to protect us - we don't have bad things happen to us when we sin because He wants to punish us, but rather, He tries to keep bad things from happening by warning us ahead of time what to avoid.

Like most preacher/missionary kids, though, I have sometimes gotten tired of the constant focus on God, holiness, and all that goes with the lifestyle. I've heard this fatigue referred to as growing up with a "dose of religion," and being "innoculated" against religion from that, so that you never actually "catch Christianity." I just call it "taking one of life's biggest blessings for granted." Humans are good at that! ;-)

Fortunately, I've never gone and outright rebelled against my upbringing in obvious ways, but I have struggled a lot over the years with letting God direct my dreams vs. planning my own life. The last few years have seen a lot of growth in that area, and part of that has actually come from having Mira! It's a long story, but basically the timing and the way I found her showed me that God really doesn't want to be mean and deprive me of blessings, and that He actually made me to need horses, He knows He made me to need them, and He has a lot of fun arranging the way my dreams in that area happen. I have begun to have a lot more trust about that aspect of His character, dream-giver AND dream-fulfiller, lately.

I still have no guarantees about how my dreams will turn out, though. That is the tough part about trust. I bet a lot of times things will take longer than I want, or will look different than I want. What I am starting to realize, though, is that He really does WANT to wow, amaze, impress, and delight me with how He can make things turn out even better than I would have been able to arrange!

This process has made me think a lot about God's character as the Good Shepherd, and what shepherds are like as they live with their sheep. It has also made me think about how He designed horses to communicate, and what makes them tick. I used to try to almost "shepherd myself" in my Christian life. I thought it was my responsibility to do all these things to make myself grow as a Christian. I have realized though, that that is not Biblical. I will not go into the references right now, partly because the proof is all through the Bible. God talks constantly about how He wants us to rest in Him, cast our cares on Him, come to Him for rest, follow Him like sheep, etc. etc. He wants us to trust in Him and be willing to work at what He tells us to, when He tells us to. We are not supposed to try and figure out what we need to work on next week, or what program of self-improvement we should figure out. Just listen to Him for the next step.


Simply!


Very simple, very hard, very satisfying, much more art than science, if you know what I mean, and very much what we were made for!

Then I started thinking about the similarities between the way He wants us to relate to Him, and the way I want my horse to relate to Him. WOW. Immediate brainstorm! This has revolutionized so many of my ingrained attitudes and expectations the last couple years - it has been so cool! When training my horse, I never expect the horse to be worrying about how it should be doing better at this, or working harder to improve its flexion or how it needs to do better at not sleeping in the cross-ties, etc. etc. ALL I want from my horse is for it to respond willingly to my requests, commands, & cues. If the horse is willing, we can solve all sorts of problems as they crop up, and if the horse is willing, it will eventually look like a beautiful dance to watchers! I am the one to decide that we are going to work on picking up feet nicely, or that Mira needs work on desensitizing to plastic bags, or that a dull horse needs to learn not to be so lazy, or that we need to practice lead changes or backing up. A horse is not capable of training itself to become a Grand Prix dressage horse, a Three Day Event horse, a Reining horse, or any of the other multitude of things they can do. A foal cannot conceive of the things it will be asked to do later, but if it is trained by a good trainer, it will gradually learn how to do all those amazing things, and all that it ever needs to think about about is cooperating with the Trainer!

And you know, if you look at the Bible, it seems like one of the marks of God working in someone's life is how they accomplish the impossible, things they never could have dreamed of, simply by following Him! They are not told the goal ahead of time, and they are usually not told many of the reasons, but now, looking back, we can see what God, the perfect Trainer, did in their lives through their willingness just to walk (or trot & canter? ;-D) step by step with Him.

I hope this excites you at least half as much as it did me when I started to finally get this!


L

Thursday, August 23, 2007

These summer days

What a quick summer this has been. I am quite glad we only had 1 week of 115 degree weather, and by comparison the rest has been pretty bearable. So much has happened, but I am finally recovering from the "dizziness induced by all the business" ;-D

Mira is getting fat and sassy. I have to say, I have not been able to ride her for over a month, as her arthritis really seemed to be bothering her. Whenever anyone would get on, (no matter how light) she would be mostly fine on the small flat area we have for warming up, but as soon as we got out on the hilly road she was obviously uncomfortable. I actually spent several weeks trying to adjust and modify tack, the routine, time of day, etc., before I realized that she really just wasn't feeling quite up to it. I am not going to say she is permanently retired, because it's always possible that with winter she might get really frisky again and be fine with being ridden, (who knows?) but I doubt it...

It is kind of weird, because I actually have not had a hard time adjusting to this, and I thought I would be much more upset. I am just glad we got several extra months, after thinking she was retired this spring. I'll just keep taking her for walks and doing fun stuff as I get time, and do my best to keep her from getting too pudgy! I suppose it also helps me not to freak out since I know this is a more natural thing, and NOT something caused by me, and NOT an accident. Every time I groom her she enjoys it, but I can never seem to get a pain/stiffness reaction when I gently probe her back or other spots. She is totally happy in the pasture, with just the slightest occasional shortening of stride on the left hind, and undoubtedly she likes having her only job being the arduous one of "Spoiled Pasture Ornament."


On another note, Mira still prances with her gorgeous floating trot every time she gets to go past other horse pastures. So I liked these 2 videos about a Polish Arab stallion named Piaff. MiKael probably recognizes the name... and from what I've seen of your horses in pictures, I bet they look like this when they're showing off, MiKael! Talk about gorgeous... drool! :-D

http://youtube.com/watch?v=eDToA6jpoWE&mode=related&search=
http://youtube.com/watch?v=uCrHjhpukHs&mode=related&search=


L

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Howdy!

Howdy y'all, this is a quick note to let you know I'm still breathing! I have been SOOO swamped the last 2 weeks, but I have had lots of ideas for posts, and I hope to get started putting them up tomorrow. I just had to wait until I could grab enough time to actually sit down and think for a while, thus the silence here...

I hope everyone else is doing well. :-) I better go check all my favorite blogs now - see you soon!


L

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Photos from last week





































She looks a bit grumpy because she was smelling the treats and didn't want to wait any longer! Greedy girl...


L

(P.S. Please let me know if the pictures come out wrong on your browser - I have trouble getting the picture formatting to work right)

Mira's History, Part 3

The following story has been pieced together from a couple of sources. It so happens that a good friend of mine, who I met just before getting Mira, actually lived on the same road where I bought Mira! I did not know about that connection initially, and neither did she. I shared lots of stories and pictures though, and bragged about Mira to her :-) As well as to everyone else who would listen!

One of those days, we finally connected the dots, and that is when I found out more about Mira's history. You can bet we were excited to realize the connection - she to realize that "The Spoiled One" was actually the horse the whole road had been worrying about, and me to know more about Mira's past!

A couple of years before, Mira had been given to a certain person who turned out to be not really competent to care for a horse. The situation Mira ended up in was that of living in a small pen with one other horse, apparently without shelter. They had no regular grooming, no attention save for when they were fed, and I doubt they got any medical/farrier care. She was fed moldy hay at irregular intervals, and got skinnier and skinnier. My friend remembers that the whole neighborhood was upset about this, and hoping something would be done.

Fortunately for Mira, the vet I bought her from lived on that same road. She had to drive past every day and see what was happening, and she kept bugging the owner about taking better care of their horses. It seems like this situation did not last for more than a few months, but that was still long enough for Mira to get very skinny and weak. She started lying down most of the time, and this was probably the same time that she lost most of her teeth.

Eventually, the vet managed to get the people to surrender Mira to her (Yay vet!) and she began the process of rehabbing Mira. Once Mira was healthy, they realized she was still eager for a job, but they didn't have time to ride her much. They put an ad in the paper, and about a year after she was first rescued, I showed up in the picture. :-D

I feel privileged to be able to help make Mira forget that bad period in her life, and I hope she will be around for quite a few more years! One good thing about her life history, most of which I will never know, is that I can tell she was never hit or abused physically. I can also tell that whoever started her when she was a youngster did a good job, and gave her a lot of good first experiences. So it seems to me that most likely that one time in her life is the only really bad time she has gone through. She loves people, and gets mad if people come over and leave without visiting her! She shows off for the horses that live near us, and I doubt she knows she's an old horse! Hopefully, she will continue to NOT feel her age... :-)


L

Monday, August 6, 2007

Better Questions CD: A Review

I got a new CD the other day. :-) I always like getting new music, and I was especially excited because it is by my favorite musician. Better Questions is about the questions we all have about life and the big issues. I knew I'd like it when Todd Agnew said he was NOT going to try to answer all the questions he was asking, as some questions are too big for the "90 second cure." My words, not his.

I had a hard time trying to decide which lyrics to type out here; they are all good for different reasons. I finally decided to go with today's favorite song - this is just the first verse:


If you wanted me

I'll admit I'm glad we're not disciples
out on a lake paralyzed with fright,
'cause I'm afraid I might have laughed at Peter,
until he stepped into that stormy night.

If You wanted me to walk on water,
why'd You make the solid ground seem so right?


There are several more verses after this. The song ends with, If You wanted me to be like You, why'd You make me like me? The words of this song remind me of that joke, "Hey, I resemble that remark!" Because I do complain more often than I like to admit about how hard it is to try to be like Jesus, and ask why it isn't easier to do so...


Well, gotta go now. I hope everyone is having a good day!


L

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Mira's History, Part 2

Last time, I left off at where I was just about to get on Mira for the first time.

This picture to the left is one of my favorite photos of her, although it is small and has some glare. This was taken the day I went to look at her :-D

It had been a few months since I had last been able to ride, and considering her behavior earlier I was wondering just a little about how frisky she might decide to act. I asked the vet if she would longe her for a bit first, which she did, and I watched. I remember that Mira was energetic and wanted to go, but was not hyper.

After a couple minutes, I went ahead and got on!

The first thing I noticed was that she was calm and even more responsive under saddle. I believe the only horse I've ridden that was more responsive (not reactive, but responsive) was a reining Quarter Horse, a performance gelding who was by Reminic and trained by one of the top trainers. He was a blast to ride, by the way!

Anyway, I rode Mira in each gait, and both her trot and her lope were sooo comfortable. I liked everything about the way she felt, and I didn't want to get off! It was a hot day though, so when she started sweating a little I got off and went and found a hose to wash her off with. Then I put her away, reluctantly said goodbye, and went up to find her owner, the vet.

We chatted for a little bit and I said that I really liked her and would go home and think it over and let her know ASAP the next day if I decided to get her. Then, floating on air, I drove home!

As soon as I got home, I told my mom all about her (I still live near my family) and said something like, "I truly think that she would be perfect!" My mom replied, "Well, why don't you go call the owner up right now and tell her, so nobody else grabs her?" I reminded her that I'd always said I would be careful NOT to buy a horse on the first day I saw it, and she said, "Well, you HAVE thought about her quite a bit, and she sounds like the one. You should call now so she doesn't get away."

So, I called the vet back, and for the first time in my life (but not the last!) said the words "I want to buy your horse."

:-)!

The rest is history. I went over the next day and signed a contract and paid for her, and the day after that we brought her home! One blessing is that the vet did NOT sell her for the already low advertised price - she practically gave her to me!


The main feeling I remember about the process of buying her is feeling like it was surreal. I could not believe this dream was finally coming true. Wow...


It may not be the most exciting story to read, but that is how Mira and I found each other. And I didn't know it, but my coming into her life was a very good thing for Mira. The vet had rescued her from a very bad situation almost a year earlier, and had rehabbed her carefully, but did not really have any use for her. My wanting Mira was and is a good ending to a story that temporarily went bad when someone didn't care about an old gray mare. I will tell more about that story in the next installment...


L

Monday, July 30, 2007

Mira's History, Part 1

Thanks for all the comments, everyone! They mean a lot to me :-)

Julie (photogchic) Mira is an Arabian, as far as I know. I don't have papers, so she might not be purebred... Just ordinary conformation, but definitely a great mind! She liked the orange, but it was pretty funny watching how LONG it took her to eat it!

Pony Tail Club - Thanks!

MiKael... :-D



Mira's story:
(I don't have all the details of her life, and most of the details I do know were passed on to me by someone who lives near where I got her)

Mira was used for mountain backcountry pack trips and possibly gymkhana most of her life. From her attitude towards life in general, I can tell she has done a LOT in her life.

I had been looking for a horse for over 3 months before I found her. My search radius was up to 150 miles away, but I had not been finding anything - then I saw the ad for her in the local paper! She was living at a local vet's place.

When I went to look at her, I admit I was not expecting much. For the price they were advertising, I expected weak conformation (bone structure) combined with plain looks. I was only looking for a healthy, good minded horse that I could ride a lot, so looks didn't matter too much, but conformation definitely did.

I immediately liked her owner, the vet, who struck me as an honest person who really loved animals.

When we went out to see Mira, she was in a pen with one other horse, and to be frank, she wasn't very impressive. Somewhat dirty (She's gray, so it's HARD to keep her clean!) she was small and didn't seem impressive one way or the other. But we haltered her and I led her over to the barn to be groomed and tacked up so I could ride.

It's odd, but one of the reasons I fell in love with her was her bad ground manners!

I know, I know, that's idiotic. But the reason her bad ground manners made me start to like her is this: She was forging ahead, bumping into me, and basically not paying much attention to me as we walked over. But, as I did a few subtle "pay attention" cues and adjustments of her position, and asking her to respect my space, she immediately responded! I could tell she was not a "deadhead", and that there was a good horse in there somewhat. I had a "feeling" that she mainly just needed a job to give her something to do. She acted up some while tied up and being groomed, but I could see the "horse logical reasons" for everything she did, and I figured that as long as she was fine under saddle, I wouldn't mind tackling some ground manners issues and desensitizing. In fact, I love training, so that would be fun!

We got her saddled, and it was on to the arena to try her under saddle... I was much less dubious than I had been, but I told the vet up front, that I would be taking a day to think about it even if I did like her a lot, because I had always sworn never to buy a horse right away. She was fine with that, and I got on Mira for the first time.


(To be continued tomorrow)


L

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Party Time

We had a fun "1 year anniversary" party today. Mira got a lot of treats and extra grooming and rubs all day. :-) Then I wandered around the property with her this afternoon, visiting her favorite spots and basically just meandering slowly along.

I also had my brother take some pictures of Me & Mira, which was fun. I am really hoping that one particular photo comes out well enough to post here - I won't tell you what it is until I know if I will be able to post it, but it should be really cute if it turns out!

In return for her patience during the photo session, Mira got an orange, which she tried to eat whole. I don't know how good the peel would be for her insides, so I did grab it back and peel it first... Basically, it was a fun day of just being grateful for everything that's happened in the last year, everything God has taught me (especially about trust) through her, all the different things she has taught me about riding, and how thoroughly she has let me into her world... It is a privilege, and I am so grateful.


L

365 Days - A Mini Collage of Never Posted Photos

First photo: Mira at her "welcome home" party...

She was quite the furball queen in January (2nd photo). The third picture shows her grazing in March - I LOVED how shiny her coat got this spring (last photo) compared to when I got her (top pic), and I believe it was due to all that GRASS she kept eating! :-)