Sunday, November 30, 2008

Miles has a ride!

On Friday, full of post Thanksgiving energy and with the weather a balmy 75 degrees Miles and I set out for an afternoon at Linda's. Miles has always been a bit tenative around horses and since Jackson isn't ready for kiddos yet, Miles usually stays around the ranch while we go and ride. Today, Linda threw him up behind her on Red--her Missouri Fox Trotter--for a ride over to her friend Lorrie's house who lives about two miles away through the back fields. Once getting there, Linda, Lorrie and I planned on doing lunge line work and working in her dressage arena. Miles was going to get to explore Lorrie's barn and play with the chickens and such. He had an even bigger treat waiting for him in the form of Lorrie's husband, Kalen. Kalen is a very fascinating guy with a wide variety of out of the ordinary interests. Miles learned all about how he grows bamboo and cactus--about 10 different varieties of bamboo alone--and started to grow the bamboo as a privacy fence between him and an annoying neighbor because it grows so fast, and then went on to join the local bamboo society! Intersting right? They also looked at Kalen's scythe which he uses to chop down the weeds in their fields, chopped the head off of some dead racoon skeleton's for Kalen's skull collection with an axe, looked at Kalen's giant boa constrictor, and cut up pieces of metal pipe on a "very fast saw," as Miles put it. Kalen also showed Miles a few magic tricks. I'm sure there was more, but I do know that the two spent a very content two and a half hours "being boys!" Miles had a ball! We girls, in our own bit of fun, started out with Lorrie and I in the dressage arena and Linda lungeing Red. We are so into our trail rides, we have not been working on the important stuff like transitions, flexing, and FORM.... Since I still consider myself as green as my horse (have you ever noticed what a terrific rider you are on a perfectly schooled horse and how little you seem to know and how bad your once "perfect form" becomes on the untrained one you bought? grin....) we need lots of work in many areas and will be taking up "official lessons" with a dressage teacher again in the spring. Lorrie is a terrific teacher too, she spent an hour with Jackson and I on the lunge line at the trot and we both got to work on how sore we were going to be for the next few days....hee hee..... I thought I had come a long way with my leg and getting back in shape until I trotted for an hour. But I am getting much better because my legs didn't turn into spaghetti until the last 5 minutes of that hour, and I can feel the difference from six months ago when I NEVER would have been able to trot for a full on hour in a circle, I would have fallen out of the saddle! But it was a great and much needed work out. The hands on the hips part was hard , but ultimately fine. Of course, as always, the trust thing is hard at first. Especially since I got dumped just last week. (Just a bad spook on a very fresh horse, nothing that was really my horse's fault...) Of course, when it came to the lungeing with my hands on my hips, it was me who had the issues, Jackson my wonderful horse took it all in stride!!!! He learns so fast and just wants to please. I have a magnificent horse in the rough and hope I can do justice to him!! We all had fun, and it has been worth the pain! Plan to ride again on Monday....oh Ibuprofen my BEST friend.....

Linda on Red....

Me on Jacks..

Thursday, November 27, 2008

I Am Thankful For....

Well, here it is Thanksgiving and the lazy ones are still asleep at 10am; me awake since the hairy crack of dawn....Just reflecting on all that I am thankful for (wow, I really am getting a bit cheesy in my old age...grin...) and I realized that while I post about my son Miles and my horse Jackson quite frequently, I have given absolutely no attention to the main standby in my life, my dog Dakota. I got Dakota in 1994 at the age of 6 weeks when I lived in Key West, Florida. She predated my son by two years and will be fifteen years old in April of 2009. She is simply the light of my life and my biggest fan. She is still going strong and needs no special medications. She is a bit arthritic, but I give her daily MSM, Chondroitin, and Glucosamine and this does wonders for her. I give her Rimadyl occasionally if she looks like she is in pain, but not often, and mostly when it gets chilly here during the winter and she is especially limpy. I am contemplating adding a new dog to my household, but this is still in its early stages of thought. It feels like I would be being slightly unloyal to my best friend. I do know I will always have a dog in my life, none will replace Dakota, but I believe they each fit into the different places we are at at that time in our life. Don't laugh anyone, but I actually looked into having her cloned. Probably a bad idea, and ethically reprehensible to some, and weird in lots of ways, but it was just me trying to let my beloved pet live on a bit longer. Since that is NOT an option and would cost more money than I will even mention, I have informed Dakota that dying before the age of 25 is not an option. She seemed to agree. When the time does come, I will not prolong her time on earth just to keep her around if she has no quality of life left, and no, I won't be calling the local taxidermist. (And folks, I'm in Texas, taxidermy is everywhere here, a staple for the cowboy who wants to show off his trophy hunt!). I will cremate her and keep her ashes. I would spread them but we have lived in so many places, I will have to think before I know where they should go. Maybe into the ocean down in the Keys. Key West being out on the water brought us both endless hours of peace and happiness. So, today I am endlessly thankful for all God has blessed me with, and Dakota is in the spotlight--14+ years with the world's best dog--I am a lucky girl!!

Dakota giving my friend Mary a piece of her mind. Dakota driving my VW beetle...

'Kota's favorite pastime...chewing on a bone!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Baby Rabbits, Possum the cat and Jackson's Feet!

I went out to ride on Saturday taking Miles with me. He was enchanted by Linda's newest additions--little black baby bunnies. And yes, that is a bunny in the oven warming up! Now that they have lots of fur and their eyes are open, their chances for survival have increased exponentially but they do have to come into the house at night (even though it has not froze here, it has come close!) to keep warm. Mother bunnies are lousy mother's and do not take very good care of their young. I never knew that they only feed their babies 1-2 times per day either. Their milk is so high in protein that that is all the little ones require! Miles enjoyed holding them and it was a challenge for him because they are quite squirmy! Miles was not convinced that Possum had made it through the assault with the dogs intact, so he was all smiles when he located him in the house and got to have a cuddle as the pic shows. Possum is the cuddliest cat I have ever met, he will let you do anything with him and loves to be held.I also wanted to post a picture of Jackson getting his feet trimmed. This actually happened on Friday the 14th, but I left my camera out at Linda's which she rescued from the picnic table outside! Our farrier Donnie is a really neat guy and I had a wonderful time talking with him. He follows the Natural Balance principles of trimming and shoeing developed by farrier Gene Ovnicek after studying the hoof patterns of wild horses from a variety of environments. Donnie explained a few interesting things to me. First, he does not EVER shoe or trim a horses hooves in exactly the same way. He looks at the individual's horse hoof, hoof wall, frog, etc. He showed me how Jackson is slightly pigeon toed and told me that if he were to shoe Jackson (Jacks is a barefoot horse) he would have to have a build up in his right shoe because of the way he carries his feet. He then went on to show me how one of the muscles on his left shoulder is actually a bit bigger then on his right. This is useful information to have so that when I do ground or arena work I can work that right side a bit more, and it really explains why that is his least favorite side too!!! Here is Jackson "monitoring" Donnie's work.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Gruene, Texas

On Wednesday my friend Leslie and I made a 30 minute trek to Gruene, Texas (pronounced Green). Even though it is a short trip, I have never made it there in the three years I have been here. It is located on the Guadalupe River which is always a great place to go tubing and spend a day during the summer, provided we get rain and the river makes it to a decent depth and isn't dried out. In the mid-1840's German farmers became the first settlers in what is now known as Gruene. Ernst Gruene built the first home in Gruene in early fatchwork style. His son planted his land with cotton and it became the #1 cash crop . The cotton business soon brought 20-30 families to Gruene's lands. They built houses in various styles--a Victorian cottage, a large brick home, and a frame house for the farm foreman. The first mercantile store was built in 1878 and a cotton gin powered by the Guadalupe River was added soon after. Further construction during this time included a dance hall and saloon--Gruene Hall (pic above)--which became the center of the community's social life. In 1922, the original cotton gin burned down and was replaced by a modern electric model. The economic disasters of the boll weevil and the Depression were too much for the family businesses and they went under, except for Gruene Hall, which never closed. Gruene Hall is the oldest, continually operating dance hall in the State of Texas. Its stage has seen the likes of Lyle Lovett, George Strait, Bo Diddley, The Dixie Chicks, Jerry Lee Lewis, Garth Brooks, and Willie Nelson. It has also been featured in music videos and movies, of special note being a favorite of mine--'Michael' starring John Travolta, whose dance scene was filmed in the hall. For some reason, I really LOVE that particular scene. We had a couple of glasses of wine and watched an alternative band from Austin who were fairly decent. We also toured some of the shops with local art--pottery, paintings, etc. Got some green jalapeno jelly and pumkin coffee beans-yum! The jalapeno jelly is great spread over cream cheese and used as a dip with crackers! Pumkin coffee screams of fall!

The inside pic is the dance hall itself, the floors are all OLD wood planks.Crrreeaak! Not all that easy to danceon really, especially in certain spots!The pics on the bottom were taken of a van parked out in front of the dance hall. All I have to say about this hand-painted mural is.....ahhhh, only in Texas!!!! The deer scene struck a special cord in me and I had a chuckle. Just had to photog it! --grin---

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Rhodesian Ridgeback Badness!

LOOK AT THESE FACES! I am in love with my friend Linda's Rhodesian Ridgebacks (RR), but the other day these guys were BAD! They have a huge fenced in backyard and are commonly invited into the house where Linda has three house cats. Never a problem between the dogs and cats in the house. Well, the other day while Linda was out in the horse pens, she watched as Possum the kitten made an escape through a screen window. For some reason, even though the dogs are used to seeing this kitten in the house, when he hit the ground in the backyard, the dogs attacked. As Linda ran towards the carnage with a shovel in hand, she watched as Possum was tossed and thrown about by the three dogs. She saw Possum fly high up in the air and try to reach a tree but to no avail. By the time she reached him he was pretty bad off and we were pretty sure he would not make it. I arrived to ride about three hours after the incident. His gums were very white (indicating shock and internal bleeding) and while his breathing was not labored, he was very still and incontinent. I was sad and sure we would come back and have to bury Possum. We went on our ride and checked on him after. Still with us but not looking good at all. I reminded Linda of the kitten pain medicine she had left over from having her other two kittens de-clawed a few months before. Being a prior vet tech before becoming a nurse, I also reminded her of the saline under the skin trick which acts like an IV in cats and dogs giving them needed fluid during times of shock. Linda also a nurse, had 10cc syringes of saline so he got two of those. By the next day he was still alive, lying in the bathroom, but had moved off of his manmade "nest" to lie in the shower stall. Maybe because the tile felt cool? He was still incontinent and did not move his back legs well which was very worrisome. Nothing to do but watch and wait. The next morning he used his litter box and was still a slow mover. By that night when Linda came home from errands she found him on the counter purring!!!! YAY! Good thing he has nine lives. He still has eight left! Hopefully they won't have to be put to use defending himself in the backyard! Possum, you are a house cat! He is not living up to his name, that's for sure! Can you guess who is the wanna be RR in the pics above and has absolutely NO RR blood in him?

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Tagged---I'm it!

EquineMine has tagged me to go to page 56 and find the 5th sentence of a book I have lying around and go on a bit about it. I am working my way through this book of Monty Roberts who has been pegged as one of the original "horse whisperers." I enjoy his writings along with the writings of Tom Dorrance and Buck Brannaman. On page 56, Roberts is talking about round pens of the Old West.

"The round pen was the classroom for "traditional horse breaking." Horses were restrained, blindfolded and broken to submission.
It goes on to say, "You could call it a kindergarten of sorts for those untrained animals who needed to learn how to comply with the wishes of man."
"I remember seeing a roundpen in Nevada, where an old rancher had created a tradition of painting black and white crosses on the planks. The white crosses were for cowboys who died; the black crosses were for horses."

I simply can't comprehend it. I am so thankful that their are folks who have been able to turn the ways of thinking towards training to a more humane, effective pursuit for all involved. I will not lie and say I haven't seen brutality in training methods here in Texas, but the vast majority of the cowboys (and gals) I have met are wonderful with their horses. OK, I'm tagged out! Don't really have any followers or peeps to tag, so if anyone reads this and would like to have a go, have fun!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Riding with the girls...

What a wonderful day of riding we had today! Perfect weather of 74 degrees with a mild breeze! Pictured from left are: Linda on Shorty, Lorri on Kite, and Tami on Little Man. It was a special day as I haven't had a chance to ride with my friend Tami since I left the ranch where I used to board Jackson. She was with me on the day I broke my shoulder and ironically, was with me today over a year later when I finally cantered my horse for the first time since then! I have had no problems cantering or going at a fast pace on other people's horses, but my own has had me bamboozled! I am sure you could hear my shout four counties away today as I cantered on my horse. We still have a LOOOONGGG way to go, but I am determined and am slowly working over many of my ridiculous fears which have slowed down our progress. It gets better every day I ride and I get such joy and peace from it....

I am starting work on Jackson's headset and getting him on the bit, etc., etc. all requiring much arena and roundpen work, not my strongest areas. Sigh. At least I have Lorri around to give free lessons, she and Linda know a ton and are an endless source of information and help. Hooray for smart, experienced horse people who like me!

PS....I know my form is awful in that pic! My arms are usually not that straight, but after riding the buckle to get over my nerves to switching to a running martingale and making my reins so short to obtain a proper headset, we were both "adjusting" in that pic!

A Most Spooky Halloween....

We started out with very big plans this Halloween, and WOW, we achieved all of them! My son, myself, and my friend Leslie started out the night with finishing up the decorating, arranging Miles' scarecrow and finishing the graveyard complete with fog machine. Pictured below is my own little human scarecrow in the red... and his friend Jason a.k.a. Orion. Above are Miles and my friend Les who at 35 yrs. is my sons biggest compadre in all thing Halloween; still loves to get all decked out. Our decorations were a complete success as many of the dads (who you know are the hardest to impress) told us our house was the best on the block...Many people also took pics with their kids at the photo op pictured here. The black lights, spider webs, fog machine, and scary Nightmare Before Christmas music added the finishing touches. After the last trick or treater (miraculously we didn't run out of candy this year) left, we cleaned up and went into downtown San Antonio to Nightmare on Grayson, an incredibly scary haunted house which had a carnival called Fest-EVIL going on while you waited in line for your group to be called. Medical oddities, creepy creatures on stilts, and an incredible show of fire performers called Brothers of the Flame were enjoyed.

We went through the haunted house and had the wits scared out of took about 15 minutes to get through and it wasworth every penny! This will definitely become a Halloween tradition!

Our night culminated at The Menger Hotel. It is located right next to the Alamo in the center of downtown San Antonio, and is reputed to be the most haunted hotel in San Antonio. It was established in 1859 and it is the first hotel to be opened west of the Mississippi. The Menger Bar located inside the hotel is where Teddy Roosevelt recruited his Rough Riders in 1898. I also loved all the memorabilia around everywhere, I couldn't believe people had to ride in this saddle for long hours. It doesn't look all that comfy! When the recruits had their saddles stolen, Teddy R. bought all the calvary new ones at the cost of a whopping $2.53 per saddle!

We checked into our room and decided to go on a tour. It was about 1am, the perfect time to go on a hunt for haunts.

We were awed by the architecture of the hotel and it was a perfect place to feel a few shivers up and down the spine. When we got to the Colonial Room, we looked in and met up with one of the staff. He told us to come back around 2:30am with a camera,this is when they turn the lights off and they catch faces, clouds, and orbs every night. He said if the ghosts like you they will tug on your clothes, as there are many ghosts of children about. Ok. While I

don't disbelieve in ghosts, I have never had a personal experience. I do not have an EVP recorder like Les does, nor was I able to make it to the 2:30am hour and trek back to the Colonial Room. My fatal error was laying me bones on that super comfy bed...I was out. Miles and Les went back at the appointed hour and sat taking pics with the staff who do this every night on their breaks. Also present were a few tourists. They sat with two cooks and were able to get all the stories behind the ghosts so I got to hear them the next day. Really a sad thing I missed it. Many of the folks there caught faces, smoke, etc. on their cameras. Les caught some orbs but that's about it. She said she did feel something brush her leg and denies that there was anyone near her or that it was a tablecloth from a table. When the tourist from New York caught the face of a little boy my son announced he was too tired to for any more action. He later admitted that the little boy's face in the camera scared him to death and he wanted to leave.

It was an uneventful night from about 3am on, except for the growling Les heard at the end of the bed....

What a great time we had! Going riding today to alleviate the post Halloween depression.