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)


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.


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! :-)

Saturday, July 28, 2007

A Year Ago

It has been exactly One Year since I bought Mira!!!!! She has been such a blessing, and I am loving the adventure of horses more every day! I can hardly believe it has already been a year, though... Time flies when you're having fun! Tomorrow I will post a mini collage of photos then & now, and tell you about the "one year party" we will be having. Treats & more treats, and maybe glitter for the photos... :-D

The photo to the left was taken a few days after she first arrived home. Fortunately, her mane is a lot longer now!


Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Been A While

Sheesh, it's already been 9 days since my last post... Apologies to my hordes of readers ( ;-D ) - I do have a good excuse though. These last couple of weeks have been truly rough ones. It seems like my whole extended family is having serious health problems, for one thing. We are also helping a couple different friends who are planning to move to other states in the next month or so, and I really don't like saying goodbye to people!!! I don't want to vent all over you guys, so I won't go on and on, but one last thing - there are a couple people in my life doing the passive agressive thing lately. Yikes!

"God, please don't ever let me do that to anyone!" I do not want to put people through that kind of stress ever...

There. Rant over. :-) I am grateful for all the good things going on too, though, and there are many. Like getting to reconnect with a good friend I don't see all that often, and spending a good long afternoon with her. Like the new Todd Agnew "Better Questions" CD coming out! (I am expecting it in the mail any day, but I've heard several songs online and LOVE them - of course!) Click the link and you can hear them. I would recommend you listen to "Our Great God" first, and then "Martyr's Song." The CD "Better Questions" is about the questions we all have for God, that we often aren't quite sure how to express. Or, we feel like it is not "allowed" to ask them in church, because they're too "messy" of questions. Lots of good messages in these 16 songs...

Oh, also! I want to start teaching Mira how to do a "salute!" Any suggestions would be welcome - I do have a good book on trick training, and I am somewhat familiar with clicker training, but I've never tried something like this with a horse before. What I want is for her to lift one of her front legs on my cue, hold it up, and bring her nose down toward it, similar to this type of equestrian statue pose.

This is just a completely frivolous thing that I think would be fun to work on with her, and I really believe she would love having something like that in her repertoire to wow people with! (She adores any chance she has to show off) At one time I wanted to teach her to bow, but realized that probably wouldn't be fair on her old joints, so I want to try this instead. What do you all think?


Sunday, July 15, 2007

The Review That Wasn't

I have been attempting to figure out a way to write a book review for the last 3 months. I wanted to review "Hackamore Reinsman" by Ed Connell and "Reinsman of the West," by the same author, but I don't think it would be possible! At least, not if the review was to be under 15 pages :-P

Disclaimer: Don't bother with either of these books if you do not want to reread and study them many times. It will take a long time for everything in them to sink in, so expect it to take quite a bit of work!

I first heard about "Hackamore Reinsman" through Larry Trocha, a cutting and reining horse trainer who produces videos on correct training. He gave a rave review and said that if anyone really wanted to learn about the almost extinct method of bridling a horse the vaquero way, that this was the book to read. It is only about 75 pages, I believe, but what he said impressed me enough that I bought it right away. In Larry's article, he said he hardly ever even recommends it anymore, as most people look through the pages and see only the old, black & white drawings and the formal language, and toss it aside as boring.

I still wanted to see what great information was in the book, so I went ahead and ordered it. As soon it came, I started paging through it. Before I finished reading it I went and ordered the other book he wrote. Both books are totally fantastic, and very densely packed with advice and tips that are pure gold!

After reading "Reinsman of the West," which goes into the bitting-up process, how to train and ride in each stage, and how to know when to finally transition a horse into the spade bit, I finally have a bunch of dots connected in my head! For years I have had dozens of questions, especially about what practical purpose there really was in using a bit like the spade, rather than a smaller curb bit, but now I know. If you want to have the same epiphany I did, order these books, and while you are waiting, go read 's articles on bits and bitting. Read each article several times. (Try to ignore his bad attitude, and just focus on what he is saying. There is a LOT of knowledge very clearly expressed in his website) Then read Ed Connell's books several times. It has been so nice to get so many dangling threads finally tied up. I do NOT feel like I know it all, though - rather, I feel like now I know enough that a door has opened that I didn't even know existed. :-D

I hope this is enough to whet your appettite. I have tried to keep this short, and not get into specifics, as otherwise I would be writing all night! :-) Ciao for now...


Tuesday, July 10, 2007


I shouldn't have promised you new pics of Mira, as they ALL managed to turn out lousy. Lousy enough that I really don't want to put them up for the world to wince at :-(

Maybe I'll just have to borrow my friend's digital camera again soon - that would work. Not, of course, that you all are waiting with bated breath...

On the other hand, today was really nice and cool! Because it was overcast, it never got above 90! Yay!!!

Well, I gotta go take advantage of the last daylight to do some outdoor work, so ciao for now! Our peach tree has LOTS of ripe fruit on it right now, so maybe I should go lighten its load a little, too. Is there anything better than a fresh, warm peach???


Monday, July 9, 2007

Tomorrow, I will have new pictures of Mira!!! So stay tuned!

The weather here has finally cooled off a little, going from 115 degrees in the afternoons to "only" about 100 degrees the last 2 days - Phew! Sheesh. I was worried about Mira during the heat wave, but she didn't seem to mind much. I guess it helps that she has white fur? Anyway, it was funny - she would stand around in the sun, chewing on her hay that is in the sun rather than the hay in the shade, and drink out of her bucket in the sun rather than the bucket in the shade. Our dogs do the same thing - they lie out in the sun in the middle of the afternoon! :-s I kept hosing Mira off, which she liked, but she never acted like the heat was getting to her. That was a big relief!

I, however, DO mind oven-like temperatures, so I am hoping that we don't get that hot again this summer.


Book Review: Too Small To Ignore

By Dr. Wess Stafford

I've read this book several times before, and it keeps giving me new things to think about every time. Wess Stafford is the president of Compassion International which is a child sponsorship organization. They oversee close to 1,000,000 children who are sponsored by caring people in the US. This review is not meant to be an ad for Compassion, but I strongly believe in their work and encourage you to check out their website - they are doing amazing work that really makes a difference! (Rather than throwing money at a problem, they start at the roots of poverty in order to fix it for a lifetime)

Wess Stafford wrote this book to the Church, as a wake-up call, and to remind Christians how much Jesus loves children - not as "the future Church" but as PART OF "today's Church." He wrote this book to explain how he became passionate about children and their welfare, and to encourage believers to re-examine their thoughts/priorities regarding children in light of the Bible and what Jesus said about kids during His time on Earth.

Wess grew up in Africa, the son of missionary parents in a small village in Ivory Coast. He played with his friends in the village and lived as one of them, using his slingshot to herd cattle and kill marauding baboons, climbing trees and running races. In the book, he says "I never remember falling down as a boy and skinning my knee without some African woman immediately sweeping me up into her arms, wiping my tears, and comforting me until I felt better once again."

The more he describes village life, the more you are drawn in until you feel that you can hear the birds calling in the tree above you and the goats baa-ing as they come in for the evening. You can feel the tepid water in the swamp where you go to clean up and cool off each night. You can smell the hot, dry ground before the rainy season arrives.

As entrancing as that part of his childhood sounds, however, his early life was also very difficult. In the village, over half of his childhood friends had died of preventable causes by the time he was 15. Life was hard in the village, which never got beyond a subsistence level.

Then, every school year was spent hundreds of miles from home, in a very abusive situation that almost crushed his spirit. There are parts of the book that always make me cry. I cannot understand how people can deliberately be so cruel, especially to little children.

Fortunately, God ultimately used that experience for good, and rather than making Wess bitter, it seems to have solidified his passion for helping children everywhere, including America, grow up in a safe, nonabusive environment, with clean water, enough food, shelter, education, and medicine. According to Wess, the most important thing to know about poverty is that it's main effect is not on the outside - instead, poverty sends an insidious and terrible message - "You don't matter. Give up. Nobody wants you. Nothing will ever get better." Thus, the most important thing we can ever do for somebody is to tell them about Jesus. We cannot leave out taking care of their body, but if we take care of their body but not their heart and soul, they will always be impoverished. It is knowing about God and His love that gives children (and adults) a sense of true self-worth - "If God made me on purpose, and planned every detail of my life before I was born, and if the Infinite God considers me His treasure, then I am worth something!"

Overall, this is a deep and thoughtful book, which will leave you with a sense of hope and determination. It will also give you concrete suggestions for how to really make a difference, which is important to me as I have a practical turn of mind and am not interested in investing in something that will not work long-term. Highly recommended!


Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Happy 4th of July!

Here is a beautiful video of a performance of the National Anthem. Enjoy!

This is a short post because I am going swimming now - yay! It was a mere 110 degrees this afternoon, so a little swim might be nice... :-)

Enjoy your picnics and barbecues, and remember what the day is about. Happy 231st Birthday, America!!!


Tuesday, July 3, 2007

The Monster

I had a nice, long, funny, and entertaining post all written out last night. Guess what happened? Right - the Blogger Monster ate it!!! :-{

Oh well. Enough whining, I should just get to work and write it again. But I really do hate it when the server suddenly decides it really would rather not accept my post this time, thank you very much.

On the good side, I was finally able to take some photos of Mira last night! It's always hard getting everything organized, so that she is somewhat clean AND I have someone to help... I used the film camera (gasp!) so it'll be a few days before I get the pictures, but hopefully they'll turn out well. I did realize something funny though while we were taking the pictures...

I don't have many good pictures of me and Mira together, which kinda frustrates me. Sometimes I blamed it on having "non-horsey" help, because when I take pictures of her they tend to turn out a lot better, but I finally realized the dynamic of what is really going on.

When taking pictures of animals, as with humans, catching the right expression is a big part of getting good shots. With horses, the ears are a large part of their expression. Mira tends to think she only needs to focus on one person, me, and that she doesn't really need to worry about what everyone else is doing. Now, I do love the bond we have - not complaining about it at all! But what happens when someone else tries to take photos is, she will NOT perk her ears at them! She keeps her ears either flicking around, or pointed at wherever I am! Then, when I switch and have someone hold her for me, she looks right at me with her ears forward without me needing to cluck or anything. It is much easier to get decent pictures that way. Duh! Lightbulb moment for L...

Another side to the close bond one develops with their horse that nobody warned me about: One day I was walking down the road with Mira, and I saw this disgusting tarantula creeping jerkily along. Gaggg. Anyway, I sort of jumped sideways away from it, shook my head a little, and went "Eewww!" I really don't like tarantulas, and it was pretty much a reflex to jump, seeing it so close all of a sudden. Well, Mira spooked right along with me!!! I totally cracked up when I realized what had happened. :-D

Lesson learned: Be careful - if you're the leader, you can freak your horse out about anything and everything if you are not careful!