Monday, January 31, 2011

Dirty Hands

Drama and Magdalene at the PCHA show this weekend, always soaring to new heights.

I think each of us wants to be the kind of person that others look up to, that can be depended upon for anything, or wants to amount to something great in life.  Yet the first time we stick our necks out there on the line and take a risk to really love someone, we end up getting hurt, and sometimes, in the end, we decide that being that "great person" we'd hoped to be, is not worth the price in pain we have to pay.  Yes, I often wish it didn't have to be that way, as I've experienced a good deal of pain in my life, but it's just the way it is.

I don't do this very often, but at times in my life I have been prompted to "bless" my horses, with a spoken, verbal blessing.  Tonight, was one of those times.  I remembered that they had not been blanketed tonight and then temp called for blankets, so I trudged out to the barn.  I started with Drama, and as I put his on him, I gave him a hug and a kiss and told him that he had done a good job today on our fun trail ride in Flatwoods park.  I stopped for a minute to think of his life, who he is and what he has become, and that's when it prompted me to give him a blessing.  Which, I don't remember exacts, but it went something like this: 

"Drama, I have loved you since day one.  And I am so happy to have you in my life.  I am proud of how hard you work and what you have accomplished in life, and I am happy that you have been given to me, and how you have encouraged me when I needed it the most.  You are a thing of beauty.  I adore how your brilliance and your passion exude from you, and how your movement is like poetry in motion.  I bless you, Drama, with wisdom as you continue to learn how to channel that passion and brilliance, as you learn how to work with your rider so that the two of you can continually become more dynamic, that the message for which you were created, for which you were designed, and for which you were set apart for will continue to be shared wherever you go.  I look forwards to watching you as you excel in life and for the years ahead, as you continue to conquer the challenges of life the lay ahead of you.  May you overcome the unsurmountable and continue to astound those around you."

Even as I spoke to him and caressed his neck, as I felt the fitness of his body, I could feel how alert he was to everything around him.  His ears were erect and his eyes were focused forwards on something, his breathing was deep and ready for action. 

I went next to Starbucks, laying peacefully in the still of the late night, starry skies overhead.  I blessed him with grace and gentleness, that he would continue to find it within the depths of himself to give peace, security, and encouragement to his rider, that he would give many the hope of achieving things they otherwise might not get. That he would be a giver, giving to people what they do not deserve and what they do not know how to ask for. 

Sammy was next in line, I love how quiet and and strong he stands.  How he listens and looks at you as if he can understand words, his all-knowing eyes.  I blessed him with the ability to give others comfort and security with his strength, and that he would always use his strength through the paths of gentleness, that his boldness and his courage and his strength would be a source of peace for his riders.

I went next to Raz, the silly old man who continually searched my hands and my pockets, just hoping I had brought him a treat.  I thanked him for his wisdom and his talent, his finnesse.  I told him I appreciated the many years of hard work he had gone through to obtain the levels that so many of us will never see.  And yet, he has found joy and delight in serving and teaching us all, helping us learn and experience that sense of perfection that is so rarely found.  And I blessed him with many healthy years ahead to continue to delight in the rewards of his life of hard work.

Gallery was there as well, and for her, I gave her a blessing of always loving life, always finding the delight in learning and experiencing new things.  To enjoy the process of what it means to be molded and sculpted into a thing of grace, talent and beauty, and to continue to bring happiness and satisfaction to her rider for many years' worth of rides that lay ahead of her.

And last, simply by default of the paddock layout, was Big Bird.  We had just watched the movie Secretariat and I afterwards realized that the sire, Bold Ruler, is in his bloodline as well.  I know so little about racing, but I admire the pure heart they have to put into their work, period.  I appreciate how difficult it is to rewire a brain to think along a different path.  And I know how much work it will take.

So I blessed him with the ability to graciously accept this new change of thought processes his mind and body will have to embrace, that once, he was asked to be fervid and fierce, yet now he is being asked to be gentle, quiet and thoughtful for his work.  And that heart which he knows all too well how to set loose, will be captivated and channeled into paths of greatness that lay ahead of him.  That the inconceivable and unattainable, even in the virtue of the simple tasks such as standing quiet and still, will be grasped quickly and steadfastly.  And that one day his passion and fierceness will be demonstrated in ways that will bring astonishment to many. 

After I was done, and came back inside, I looked at my hands.  They were black.  And I thought, how easy it is to bless someone or something, or to say that we love them, but how hard it is to stand beside them, and with them, while the process is taking place, while they struggle to learn and to grow.  It is so hard to day after day, try and try and fall flat on our faces.  It's hard when the pain surges and the fears take a stranglehold.  Yet, we must listen to that voice that says, "try again."  And that, my friends, is who I want to be, and what I want to do.  So I'm thankful for my dirty hands and hope they will always be so.  Dirty from being involved, going to the depths, into the darkness where no one wants to go, from being on the front lines, from being passionate and at war with the past and the things that hold us down, and from grasping that which seems unattainable and incomprehensible.

Yes, I'm thankful for dirty hands.  And I hope I will never forget that the toil and the sweat and the "dirt" here on earth will one day be rewarded.  And I really look forwards to that.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

More than you wanted to know...

So, me, I have this all-or-nothing tendency-type personality.  Tell me something new, you say, but really, it's true.  When I have stuff going on in my life, good or bad, you will probably know about it one way or the other.  The problem with PEOPLE, however, is that they tend to embrace the good and not the bad.  So all the funny, comical, witty, interesting or happy statuses on Facebook, for instance, get all kinds of happy comments and likes.  Yay, life is so good.  Happiness, flowers and sunshine everywhere.  However, God help you the day you post something even slightly close to the edge of negative, oh, how everyone just loves to be oh-so critical.  I'm more than sure that everyone out there has had their shares of bad days, but it's on the day that YOU decide to go ahead and let it be known that everyone decides to be holier-than-thou.  What's up with you people, you know who you are, that pretend to be mr. or mrs. perfect in the public light?  I know you're not.  And I still accept you, yes, gasp!  Ever heard of this thing called sympathy?  Yes, it really does exist, you should try it sometime! 

So, you know the last few days, going back to the all-or-nothing bit, my life has been just slightly above crap and so had I blogged, you definitely would have gotten more than you bargained for.  You can thank me for that later, haha.  Actually, when my life is going up in flames, it's not my usual protocol to mince words, make small talk, or bat around the subject.  No, I'm the grab the bull by the horns type and face things head-on.  But now that the smoke has cleared somewhat, and I'm not so emotionally charged, I can talk about it with a little less venom!

James and I had a wingdinger of a fight, for starters.  And I'm the kind of person that believes most things are worth going to war over.  So whatever started it, I can't even remember exactly what it was now, but lord have mercy it was brutal, and as it escalated, it became even more so.  James and I promised each other at the beginning of our marriage that we would never go to sleep without resolving a conflict or at least mutually committing that the conflict would be resolved at a later set date.  (That addendum came at a time where we had so many fights and conflicts going on that we wouldn't have been able to have slept for three straight days... and the more sleep-deprived we got, the more we would fight... you get the drift)  Well, my husband is the kind of person that believes that there are not many things at all worth going to war over, so what may erupt as a conflict between the two of us could amount to as little as a hill of beans to him.  Bless his heart.  And so, he has gone to bed several times in our marriage without resolving conflicts.  Well, this past weekend I had had waaay more than I could take, so when he went to bed and I was 99% sure he was asleep, fully well knowing we were in the middle of a full-blown conflict, I went into the room with a cup of ice water and threw it on him.  And then I simply said, quite calmly but with the gravity of a nuclear bomb, "I'll go all night with this."   So yes, he stayed up long enough for us to get back on track with some things. 

Oh, I know what it was that started it all.  We were talking, yes, talking, about what we needed to get accomplished and how we were going to get it all done and he went into this gripe-session about how we have too much to do and how even if we worked 24/7/365 at it, we would never get it all done.  Another thing you should know about James and I, is that James is not an over-achiever my any means, and I am.  Hence, we don't see "work" the same.  He complained about the horses, the chores, the chickens... and other things that conveniently were all MY things.  The arguing started, which started the interrupting each other, which brought up old fights and issues, which brought up the laundry list of character defects in each other, which brought up the diabolical difference in how we handle fights:  I declare war, and he gives it up. 

James called later the next day  and we tried to talk about the night prior, but again it heated too quickly and ended with him hanging up the phone on me, which was the last straw.  

I put an ad up on craigslist that said something to this affect;  "I am about to go out and chop the heads off of two dozen lovely, less than one year old purebred White Leghorn hens that we paid a lot of money for and have raised since chicks.  I am beyond sick of my husband complaining about having to take care of them.  Come and get them." 

Within three hours I had NINE people calling me, practically fighting over them.  It was so perfect.  I had the guy out there by the coop with me, caging up all these hens when James walked out, just getting home from work, seeing what was going on and getting quite upset, and asked me if we could talk before anything further happened. 

Without even a look, I said, "Sorry, hon, but I can't talk until I've caught all the Leghorns." 

He had his chance to talk and resolve it, he chose to hang up the phone that both communicated to me that one, it wasn't worth his time or effort to try and two, it was going to revolve around his timeline.  So, the chickens getting sold and me not stopping what I was doing to talk to him was going to be my timeline.  Petty?  Maybe.  But clearly communicated, yes. 

So while I may be the workaholic of the two, and therefore it's not an imposition to work very hard and do more than what might be my "fair share" of household chores, I'll be darned if I do them ALL and on top of it listen to my husband gripe about having more work than he can handle.  Nope, not going to happen. 

These are the times in my life when I wonder how in the world men and women were meant to cohabitate.  And this thing called marriage, only God could have seen ahead enough to know that it needed to be a covenant of forever-ness, because these are the times when I think my marriage is not going to, and feel like I don't WANT it to, last forever.  Yes, I said it.  But even when things get so bad that you have to revive your husbands' corpse out of bed with a cup of ice water for breaking a promise to you, I have to remember that even though every fiber in my being is screaming over the injustice and rebelling against the pain that is surging in my heart, that the fight is worth staying in.  It is worth fighting for, it IS worth the cost. 

So, you ask, did it get resolved?  Yes, it did.  At least for now.  Oh, it will come back, wearing a new outfit, disguised as a new problem, but it will still be the same old thing.  And it will be worth fighting for then, too.  And lest you think that James is a lazy, non-motivated individual whom I had committed my life to waging war to, let me assure you that is not the case.  What you are seeing is a glimpse into my life from my perspective at a very heated moment, and not the complete picture.  Some things have been omitted on purpose.  And I love James with all my heart; he is very good for me in so many ways.  Yes, he does drive me to the brink of insanity because of our differences, but that is life.  That is married life.  We deal with it and move on. 

Recently we took some furniture my dad made, that I had asked to keep and later decided I didn't want to, over to my sisters'.  JJ had a lot of toys stored in some of it, so once it was gone, his room was just simply a disaster.  ALL his stuff was on the floor, in heaps and piles.  There weren't even any paths through the junk, I just had to wade through it every time I needed to get something out of his closet.  It was fun, while it lasted, as we could just walk down the hallway and chunk his stuff through the door, not caring where or how it landed because nothing was in its place, anyhow.  You should know how rarely, if ever, that happens around here, but even I have to admit, it was kinda fun.  But finally on Tuesday night I had enough of it, so I stayed up til 2am going through every last toy and giving his room a complete overhaul.  It was a great time, of cleaning and organizing, and listening to music with no boys around.

A couple of years ago we bought JJ this huge set of Duplos, I found on craigslist.  Duplos are the very large blocks made by Lego, specficially for young kids because the pieces are large and non-swallowable.  It was a huge box, simply huge.  They were all pieced together in long rows, and when I brought them home I took them all apart and threw them in my bathtub filled with hot water and bleach.  There were so many, it overflowed the tub.  So then I took them out to the front porch to lay on towels to dry in the sun, and I ran out of room on the front porch.  The whole operation was a disaster and it took me practically all day to pull apart, clean, dry, and piece back together these stinking blocks.  On top of that, little did I know that the majority of the blocks were actually "Mega-Bloks", which are a counterfeit and cheaper version of the Lego Duplo.  I, could have cared less.  But James, in his ever high-quality and precisionistic way was greatly disappointed that we had bought these things thinking they were Duplos, and turned out to be mostly Mega-Bloks instead. 

JJ has hardly ever played with them, and now he is playing with real Legos, and all the little pieces making cool cars and things that you can't do with these Duplos.  I decided to re-sell the blocks and I had to go through them all again, piece by piece, to pull out the Duplos and leave the Mega-Bloks.  And since now I have been educated by James as to which is which, it was easy for me to see the difference, even though it took for-EVER.  But it is done, and his room is amazing.  I couldn't stop looking at it because it was so organized and I was so proud of myself!

My life in pictures:  
Going on a date to Barnes and Noble

How JJ eats his Cherios

My endeavors to sort "Duplos" from the counterfeit "Mega Bloks"
The position of choice when I asked him if he could pick up his feet so that I could put his sock on. 
Thursday and Tuesday, when I find I have a spare second to snuggle with them, they are so peaceful! 
Any suggestions on what to do with this MOP? 

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

PMS happens

This is Ansley and Kendle eating James' sacred Chocolate Cookie Quarry ice cream without him being home to know about it, that I so graciously offered them in his absence. 

And this is James' face later that night when I told him about it.  It was awesome. 

There's nothing quite like it in life when I get the "one-up" on him.  It makes my world go 'round.  :) 

So, have I ever mentioned before how much I dislike PMSing mares?  Well, this week they have been in full swing.  My Abbey mare, boarded here for my friend Jody who is in the Navy, normally would just like to kill pretty much every other horse in the barn on a normal daily basis.  However, this week, she's in love with everybody and therefore is also urinating over everything, in the aisleway as she's being walked down to the wash rack, in her stall, in the wash rack, in the arena.  I hate it when you walk into a barn and all you can smell is ammonia, and I do my best to make sure my barn is never that way.  However, when the mares are just peeing on everything, it makes it a touch more difficult.  And this "in heat" type of pee is a bit worse than just normal urine, more pungent. 

I picked up JJ from my mom's this morning and brought another truck load of crap back from her house, since they're moving and packing their stuff up, all our stuff that's been in storage over there now has to find a new home, and it sure as heck won't fit in mine.  So I don't know what we're going to do or where we're going to put it, but it's slowly making its way over here anyhow. 

Magdalene left her FB account open on my computer yesterday.  So before I logged out, I helped myself and typed in a status for her that said something to the effect that she was giving me her horse, Gallery, for my upcoming birthday and what a wonderfully awesome, talented, amazing trainer I was.  Haha.  So all day today I waited for that phone call from her when she finally found out.  It was great.  They pulled up this afternoon right at my end of my ride on Gallery, and when she walked out I said, "Thank you for my new horse!  This is awesome, my first ride on my new horse!"  She just stuck out her tongue at me and gave me this glare.  I figure I'll get a payback from her someday, but it was still fun while it lasted.  

I was a bit cranky with everyone and everything today.  Magdalene had a fantastic ride on Drama, on a scale of 1 to 10, he was an 11.  It was poetry.  Which was good because if had been around a 5 or 6 I think my crankiness would have flared up.  Then Kendall came and rode Abbey, she learned what it meant to post on the correct diagonal, to "rise and fall with the leg on the wall".  I worked with Big Bird and he is learning how to longe, and how to hold his shoulder out and keep a steady circle, which is he catching onto amazingly fast.  And then the only time I had left with Starbucks was to longe him with sidereins.  Eryn came around this time and rode Raz as long as she could until it was too dark to see, and then we did the rest of the barn chores and tried to get rid of all the urine in the stalls.  Once the barn was clean my mood lifted a little bit. 

When we fed the horses, Sammy was fussing at Big Bird and kicked at the fence in the run-out that seperated the two of them, and at that moment when I thought I heard the sound of a struggle, Eryn also called out that Sammy had gotten his leg stuck through the fence.  By the time I got to his stall his leg was out but he was walking on three legs and I instantly got a knot in my stomach, hoping hoping hoping that there was no significant damage.  After I could check him out, the only thing that was evident was a very deep cut on the inside of his left hind cannon bone, but I could treat that type of injury fine.  It's just if it was something broken, pulled or torn that I couldn't deal with.  After he got done eating he walked out of his stall just fine with no limp at all, so then I was able to breathe a sigh of relief, turn everybody out, finish chores, turn off the lights and leave.

Eryn stayed the night over, because she was just going to be out again tomorrow.  So I made something I could scrounge up for dinner and decided not to go OCD-psycho on her and keep my freakish house cleaning session I normally go into after dinner, and save it for tomorrow sometime when there's no one around.  :)  

Got quite a few hospital bills in the mail today... maybe that has something to do with my foul mood? 

Monday, January 17, 2011

Revlon goes feline

I'm kind of a fanatic about the installation process of my child's car seat.  Not that I enjoy that process, mind you, and I have a few choice words to say to the manufacturers of car seats that might not be appropriate for innocent ears, but beyond all that, when it needs to be done, I don't like to let anyone install it besides me or James.  It's just difficult, bottom line, to install, and therefore too easy to do it wrong.  Clips, straps, buckles, hooks... gah, this is why I'd like a word or two with these manufacturers because you'd think that with as many people have had children over the ages, coupled with how many darn times you have to move car seats from one vehicle to another that someone by now would have thought of a more intuitive way... I even have a few ideas myself. 

So this is what I was out doing for the five minutes I was out of the house.  I was installing that car seat in my Mountaineer for the umpteenth millionth time.  When I came back in to collect JJ and the rest of his things to go to Goey's house, he was standing in the living room with this look on his face.  And I knew what that look meant all too well. 

"What are you doing?"  I asked him, cautiously.  He kind of wrinkled his nose, like he does when he already knows he's in big trouble.  "Why don't you show me?"  So then he took off and ran back to the bathroom.  And there, on the bathroom vanity, were both cats, Tuesday and Thursday, sitting there eating their food, and Thursday had about half a bottle of my liquid foundation poured onto his back and sort of rubbed into his fur. 

I'm not sure which is worse, that in just five minutes of my absence, JJ can get into soo much trouble, or that he unabashedly displays the mischief he knowingly inflicted. 

JJ showing me his "mess"
So poor Thursday had to get a mini-bath before we left.  As much as I wanted to just throw JJ in the car to get going and forget about the cat with a half bottle of liquid foundation on his rump, I knew I'd have a bigger mess to clean up once I got home and the foundation was rubbed all over my furniture.  And I'm probably a terrible mom for taking pictures of the little episode while explaining to him that he was never to play with mama's makeup. 

This is case in point why I never can get anything productive done anymore.  It's always something! 

I finally got us in the car and on our way to Plant City, where I got a coffee, JJ some McNuggets, went to the banks to make deposits, and dropped off a pair of boots for repairs.  Then I dropped JJ off and came back to wax Rhonda and Magdalene's eyebrows, do chores, and then went shooting at the range.  Rhonda and I went together and James came later, Anthony was supposed to show but ended up having to work late and never made it.  Either way, I killed my paper raccoon target very dead.  Very, very dead. 

We had a great rain today, for most of the day.  That, of course, makes me quite happy. 

Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Raccoon Saga Continues...

My husband thinks he's a pretty funny guy.  He went to a gun show today to sell some of his guns, and came home with these "raccoon targets", you know, thinking he'd be helpful and all.  Har, har. 

Anyhow, my day was pretty full, Steph spent the night, we had stayed up late watching the movie "Salt", which was good. When JJ woke up we sent him out to the living room to pester her so that we could catch a few more minutes of sleep.  I rather liked the setup, personally.  She made him mac n cheese and nuggets for breakfast.  Then she wanted to go do something with him, so I gave her the Toys R Us gift card and she went there to pick him up a Play-Doh station that I've been wanting to get for him for quite a few weeks now.  He of course, came home with not only that, but yet another truck and a squirt gun.  I love it how all my relatives and family buy him the toys that we as parents have to then censor, "No you may not squirt that gun inside the house, no you may not shoot it at the cat, no you may not shoot it at people..."  So we have to be the bad guys while his Aunt Teffi is his hero.  lol.  

While they were out, I was husbandless and childless, so I got my get-r-done face on and went crazy on my house and the barn.  I LOVE the pace at which I work when I have no JJ-child around.  It feels like warp speed.  I adore how it feels to just get so much done.  It's like when I used to ride my bike and pull the little Doodlebug trailer with him and all his "luggage", over time I'd get used to how much work it took just to go a moderate speed.  Yet when I'd unhook it and ride freely, it felt like flying!  I guess that's the way it is in life, too.  Who knew.  

Nicole and Abby Thomas came to visit today!  It was so great to see them again.  Magdalene was also out and we all got to go riding, it was good fun, a great afternoon.  We hung up our whiteboard in the tack room after it had gotten taken down months ago, put up a calendar, got some more things organized.  Yay, I love organization.  I don't think I'm quite at the OCD-level, but almost.  I'm not sure exactly what it is, but my mood/energy level/quality of work is directly connected to my environment around me.  If it's a wreck, I'm a frustrated, pathetic mess.  If it's neat, organized, clean, pretty... I'm on fire and unstoppable!  The better it is, the better I am.  This is why I dream of my own place one day where I can have it all my way, my dream-perfect way, everything thought out and engineered to the hilt for production and organization.  So that alone seems to be my motivation at keeping up with my surroundings.  It's why I stay up late to finish the last of the laundry, or to windex the bathroom mirror, because with it done I sleep better, and then in the morning when I wake up to clean, I feel better, I am better.  And at some point during the day when I walk into the bathroom and see the clean mirror, sink and counter top, I have an instant energy-boost just because it's clean!!  I'm pretty sure this trait was born with me, because even when I was kid, I loved nothing more than to clean my room super good or to go out and spend hours and hours and hours in the barn cleaning and organizing all my horse stuff.  Here's something you probably never wanted to know about me, the smell of bleach almost does the same thing to me as does the smell of coffee!

All right, it's getting late and I'm sharing too many secrets.  Going shooting tomorrow at the range; gonna blast the crap out of that stupid raccoon target, just because. 

Friday, January 14, 2011

I need to SHOOT something!!

When I woke up and tried to sit up, I thought to myself, yes indeed, I fell off a horse yesterday.

Literally I had one of those days today, where the things that drive me to the brink of insanity all happened in a period of a few short hours.  My son, was namely one of those "things" that about drove me to insanity's edge.  Everything was outright defiance and challenges to orders, requests, demands... I felt like I dished out more punishments today than one does candy on Halloween!  He pooped his pants three times in a row within a period of 6 minutes, no joke, and went poop in the potty once as I was cleaning him up after one of his episodes.  I didn't think such a little person could have so much POOP inside of him, sheesh.  I would go out to try and resume a lesson that was taking place in the arena, he would cry for help because he'd messed himself again, although I had just asked him if he needed to go. 

Yes, the hamster in the wheel thing?  That was me today.  So as I left the arena yet once again to go attend to wiping poop off his behind, I clenched my fists and hissed, "I need to shoot something!"

After the poop was cleaned up for the last time, I was just back out to the arena and heard a call for help from "Kiwi Izzie" (Kendle) to come and ask JJ if he would please quit throwing mud at her.  So yet again I left the arena, went over to have a candid chat with my son, and as I approached him, he threw mud at me.  Lovely. 

So the normal day of working in the barn, riding horses (oh, I am so sore, just everywhere... name a spot, yes, it's sore) and chores, chores, chores. 

I even took a "break" for lunch, went inside and noticed a bill from one of my recent hospital visits last month.  When I opened it I noticed that we were being billed for the entire amount and that our insurance had denied this claim.  I right away got on the phone with the billing people, to say, what the heck is going on here... they said they were going to resubmit the claim after I assured them that yes indeed, we had this coverage.  Then I got on the phone with my insurance the company, and required an explanation.  After so many times of being put on hold, it was eventually discovered that the hospital had sent them this claim, with the date as "2009" instead of "2010".  Yes.  That was it.  I hate having to be my own advocate for these stupid things.  They need to do their job so that I can do mine!

Eryn, bless her heart and all the hearts of the people who do the same, brought me a coffee this morning, I had asked for a grande but she forgot what I said and figured more was better, and brought me a venti... yay... you may sicken and grow weary of my incessant chatter about coffee and its betterment, blessings and boon, but I am here to say that it is like heaven in a cup.  And when my day can start out with heaven in a cup, my day is worth living.  Even when my day is like today. 

When I finally drug my weary body inside for the night, I had just extracted my son out of the barn bathroom where he was happily pouring my liquid soap down the sink drain, he was wet and slimy, I stripped him in the laundry room and sent him into the bathroom to wait for me while I talked with Rhonda for a few minutes.  Then upon hearing hysterical laughter coming from the bathroom and knowing it is never a good thing, I opened the door to find that he had taken a fistful of Tuesday's fur in both of his hands and was holding him up off the floor, by just his fur.  I don't know how this kid can take so many punishments and keep on ticking like he does; maybe he inherited my extravagantly limitless indomitability?  Just a thought. 

After his bath, I was in the bedroom trying him off with a towel and putting his pj's on, when Rhonda called me to say Tipper had cornered a raccoon up against the house, at the same time Ashlee came running inside to tell me the same thing.

So, yes, I got my opportunity to shoot something, although I missed, both times and the vermin got away, completely unscathed.  Darn. 

I will now get to take out the last dregs of my frustration by cleaning my house now, and I leave you a picture, that in so many words, explains so much of why I need a BIG bowl of ice cream tonight; this was Big Bird, having one of his moments tonight during our little training session.. :) 

And speaking of ice cream, James was to pick up some on his way home tonight, I had also asked him to get me a "large" bag of carrots, since carrots are the only treats that Big Bird will eat as I'm trying to get him to do his stretches, so this is what I was greeted with when he walked in the door tonight.  Do I need to explain that both myself and my husband have the need for a certain amount of overkill? 


Thursday, January 13, 2011

It's a Venti sort of day...

The overnight low was 26-degrees, so somewhere around 9 or 10 pm I went out to switch out Big Bird's blanket to a heavier one.  I was fastening his straps, he reached his head around to check things out.  I bent over as if to say hi and give him a kiss, as I got my face close he BIT me in the face!  Like, our teeth actually clashed! Just one of those things in life that you don't really feel the need to accomplish, touching teeth with a horse, lol.  My face was so cold I could not feel anything, though, I guess I got a pass for that one.  I did chase him off to let him know that was in no way acceptable, and poor guy, he ran over to the trees and stuck his head between two of them and quivered, he knew he was in big trouble.  So then I went over to him and gave him some good head hugs, ended on a good note.  He cracks me up, that big thing, acts like such a baby. 

Last night, I got like, no sleep.  JJ must have hurt his knee/leg sometime earlier in the day, because for most of the night he was up crying saying his leg/knee/toes were hurting him and he wanted me to kiss his boo-boos.  Finally, sometime around 3am, I had to give him Motrin because the hope of him eventually falling asleep was becoming scarce.  So during this whole ordeal of getting in and out and in and out of bed with him, James, who was trying to sleep, not being particularly helpful with caring for his child, was impeding constantly into my space on the mattress.  I happen to have the misfortune of sleeping in the middle, between mattress hog #1 and mattress hog #2, so when I wasn't directly kissing a boo-boo, I was having to whap James' limbs as they encroached into my sleep zone.  He then was cranky too, and as I'd climb in and out of the bed and of course, climb over the top of a leg or a foot, he'd get all snippy with me about it as he growled, "Do you have to climb over my leg?"  so I had to shoot back, "Do I look like I have night-vision or something?  If you'd stay on your section of the bed where you belong, we wouldn't be having this problem, now would we?" 

It was indeed a miserable night. 

I still woke up early, went out to feed.  When Drama came into the barn, I noticed that his right jowl was significantly swollen, about twice its normal size.  Last night after the Big Bird episode, I had also put a hood on Drama.  As I did, he kept shaking his head like something was bothering him, so in the end, I thought it was the hood and I took it off and left it off.  He was still tossing his head after removing the hood, so I took him back inside the barn, turned all the lights on and checked him all out to see what I could figure out.  I could not detect anything, and after turning him back out, I watched him for about five more minutes, and then went back inside.  But this morning, the swelling had become quite obvious.  So I called the vet, asked her if I needed to bring him in to check him out.  I then had to hook up the trailer, pack a bag of hay, pack all of JJ's stuff and load him and Drama up.  I headed to Plant City first to drop JJ off at my mom's, and then I drove down to the vets.  My vet, Cindy, didn't see anything that was immediately evident, nothing broken, no fractured teeth.  Perhaps it was an abscessed tooth, so it was decided to put him on antibiotics, bute, and wait and see. 

Magdalene rode home with me since they met me over there, and we got back to the barn and rode for a while, she on Raz and myself on Gallery.  We both had nice rides; although I didn't watch too much of hers except for a few glimpses as we'd pass by on occasion.  She got two flying changes from him, executed pretty well.  It was sort of weird having more than one person in the arena and pure silence, although that is very nice too.  I do get sick of hearing my voice sometimes!  I can only imagine what my students feel, ha. 

Nicole came for her lesson on Abbey, and Magdalene rode Sammy.  After the lesson I rode him for a while, took him over some fences, got some pictures.  He knocked the first two rails down, at 3'9" we then lowered the rail a hole to 3'6" and tried again.  He had been going over the first two times pretty flat and fast, but on this third trip, even with the rail having been lowered, he went over it with such height and bascule, he completely caught me unprepared for that scope and ejected me right out of the saddle as we cleared the 4-ft standards with room to spare!!  On the landing, of course, I took a good fall, got my bell rung pretty hard!  I had to kneel on the ground with my head between my arms for a minute just to let my head stop ringing, it was quite something.  But what a rush it is with him.  We went ahead and lowered the jump to 3.0 and let him go over easy twice, and then ended with stretching.  That horse is just something else.  Just when you think you've got things figured out, you realize you don't.  :)

So here's some pictures of this afternoon.  James did a little touching up on the first one, it came out looking pretty cool.  And I am very tired, my head is still slightly ringing, I think it's really saying that it belongs on a pillow somewhere dark, quiet, warm... and hopefully with no body parts from either male family member in "my" section. 

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


Plenipotentiary is a word I stumbled across tonight, it basically means "Full Power".  I think it would be an awesome name for a horse.  I keep having all these awesome names for horses, yet, I somehow never get to name my own horse.  I also have  "Duotrigintillion" which is the largest number that has a name, and "Synergism" which by definition is, "The process of two organisms coming together to perform something extraordinary that could not be done on an individual basis."  And lately I liked the word, "Capsaicin" which is the chemical found in peppers that makes them varying levels of hot.  No, you may not steal any of these names without my permission! 

Anyhow, that has nothing to do with the subject matter below, I just had to write the plenipotentiary word down somewhere so that I wouldn't forget.

I had quite an awesome day, waking up early and going out to do feeding chores before JJ woke up, coming in and starting a nice healthy breakfast which consisted of sausage links and plain scrambled eggs for JJ, scrambled eggs with onions, green peppers, and zucchini for myself, and a side of sweet potato.  I have been on a quest to get as many fruits and vegetables into my system as possible, so if I eat something "normal", like a tuna sandwich, I see how many veggies I can load into it, such as tomato, black olives, salsa, and shredded zucchini.  I also remembered halfway through cooking breakfast that last night while I was out running errands I had gotten a coffee from Starbucks, and hadn't finished it, so I had that to look forwards to as well, which made my day start off just rocking awesome!

After breakfast JJ and I went outside and I rode Gallery.  I could smell the discharge on her back legs from being in heat, and she definitely acted like she was having a pmsing-sort of day.  Normally she just does whatever you ask; if she doesn't know what you want, she figures it out, and happily obliges.  Today, she was miffed at my legs being where they were asking her what I was asking her, I got a little more mareish reactions from her than I ever have before.  It was more amusing than anything because she really didn't do anything wrong, she just was more particular about how the messages were being delivered.  Which, I totally understand.  And yet, that's exactly why I own all geldings! 

After that came Starbucks, he was amazing.  I always start with asking him to stretch and soften, because flexiblity for that chunk of a horse doesn't come naturally.  He goes into a long trot slowly, and "long" trot for him is still a jog for any other horse.  We got his head lowered and nose in softly and I could feel him beginning to unbind his back and shoulders, so that he could stride out more easily with fluency.  Then after that was established we went to the sitting jog, still with his head low and nose in, and this morning he had the slowest, smoothest, softest jog I have ever gotten out of him, yet.  It was pure heaven in western pleasure format.  I am working with him to create a pleasure horse using classical dressage training, using classical principles, albeit with minor modifications so that he is not stilted, lame, or crippled-looking like pleasure horses often do without correct training.  Then we attempted to get do some work at the canter, but his canter needs more work than I wanted to do this morning and we finished the lesson with more stretching and softening. 

Ashlee came out today, it was her birthday.  Eryn was there also, and tomorrow is her birthday.  I gave Ashlee a new lead rope to match the halter she got Sammy for Christmas, and I gave Eryn a pair of Kerrits breeches.  Then Magdalene got there and they all got their horses tacked up to ride.  We had a great lesson, I threw out a few little obstacles in the area that the horses don't see every day with instructions to ride through them, over them, or beside them without stopping to allow the horses to look at them at all.  Whatever gait they were at and whatever they were doing, they were to continue doing that same thing, just adding these little obstacles right there along with it.  Of course, Magdalene and Drama aced the test, as I expected, he is so comfortable and secure with her he does pretty much anything she asks without a moment's hesitation.  The other day I was talking to my neighbor, Eddie, and he mentioned, "The two of them just look so natural together these days."  I agreed.  It hasn't always been that way, but they have both worked hard. 

Then Ashlee did the same thing with Sammy and he did just fine.  She pushed herself today farther than she ever has in one lesson, where she allowed him to move out at his normal big trot instead of holding him back, she cantered a full lap around the arena and didn't panic even when he picked up some considerable speed, and she took him over a line of a crossrail and a small vertical.  He got a little stiff and heavy on her but she stayed very natural and lighthearted about the whole thing and didn't knit-pick him to death like she sometimes has the tendency to do, which helped him to stay overall, lighter and happier.  They are a good team.

And Eryn, she always looks so elegant astride Raz, with those long, to-die for legs of hers on his big, graceful body and fluid movement.  And yet today, he was something else, I promise you that horse doesn't spook hardly a day in his life and today he did, not just once, but twice!  On his first spook she fell, but she amazingly landed on her feet, we all cheered!  (Because around here, falls are something similar to points, the more you have, the more amazing you are, and then to have a super cool fall like landing on your feet is just, like, groovy radical!) And the second time she stayed on.  She is good at being able to work on whatever it is that he needs to be worked on, and she's good at reading his emotional state to figure out what he needs.  I have never seen him calmer at a show than he has been with her these last two times, and I think that largely in part to her personality fitting so well with his, and that she can simply work with where he's at.  She doesn't have this burning need to always push, always strive, always drive, she is able to just settle and work with the right-now, to be "in the moment".  And he likes that, a lot. 

Magdalene, on the other hand, is little miss go-getter, and Drama is perfect for that, because he is bored out of his brains with having to do repetitious work; he loves every challenge, every new excitement, he loves to push the envelope and strive for the impossible.  And Magdalene is right there with him. 

Ashlee wrote this today, and shared it with me:

"Ready to throw in the towel.
Call it a day.
a year.
...A phase.
But something whispered
And someone said
you can.
Made me believe in me,
invested in me,
in us.
Facing a challenge
but I can meet it.
I have support.
People who have touched my life,
who have believed in me.
And we,
will go forward."

I love you Nik. Thank you for believing in me and helping me through the challenges of life. You encourage me every step of the way and have made me become a more confident person. Thank you for not letting me quit.

And that is why I love what I do!  It makes me happy.  I loved watching the success on everybody today.  Not every day is like this, but when it comes, I relish the moments and drink it in. 

In other news, my butt hurts like nobody's business from all this riding I've been doing recently.  JJ has had a cough and a runny nose the last few days, James is fighting something and I have had a headcold for the past couple of days too.  So without further ado, I need to go give Big Bird his midnight snack and hang out the laundry on the line. 

Saturday, January 8, 2011

I love my job!

I woke up at 6:45am and felt pretty much ready to get up for the day.  That's fairly unheard of, for me, you know, being the late night owl and all.  And I had stayed up late last night; Ashlee stayed over, I was doing laundry, getting ready for today's show.  So I went ahead and got up, went out to the barn and took Gallery out for an early morning ride.  I do love it when it's quiet and still, nobody is around, not a voice to be heard, just the stillness of the morning and the sound of the horse breathing or the steady rhythm of her hoofbeats.  She was great, as is always the case.  I love schooling her, she is one of the few horses I've ever worked with that just "gets" stuff without fuss, without question, without anything besides straightforward education.  You show her, she goes "aha!" and then does it.  And she's lovely, I love riding her.  I can't wait to see what she will eventually become. 

Then Eryn and Gabby arrived and started on chores.  I went inside and changed from my riding clothes and Ashlee woke up and went out to help with chores.  Magdalene arrived and they all just went to work.  Rhonda had brought me a coffee, what a great way to start the day with a lovely ride and a great cup of coffee.  :)  Yes, I love my job. 

We spent the earlier morning getting the horses tidied up and the tack packed into the trailer, Jeanne came to help with things and to watch the show, and then we left at 11am, all piled into the truck.  When we got to the grounds, Eryn went up to see what class they were on and it was the class right before ours, we had a good amount of time to tack up and warm up.  However, the class moved along much quicker than we anticipated, and when the girls all walked up to the arena to start their warm-up, their class was being called in!! 

I was impressed with how well both Eryn and Magdalene did on such short notice.  Normally (if there ever is such a thing as "normal" at a horse show) we have a long warm-up to get the horses settled, their bodies loosened and working, and their minds relaxed.  This time, however, bang, they were in the arena.  Eryn had Raz working fairly quickly in a more relaxed and free-flowing position, and he is quite the nervous thing when away from his home.  That was something in and of itself.  Those old bones of his, and his established way of thinking/processing do not move or change quickly, yet, despite this, she had him in a good place within just a minute.  Although the situation was hardly ideal, all was well for everything until towards the end on the canter on the second lead, Drama got spooked over something and scrunched himself in anticipation of bolting and carrying-on like he does, and Magdalene immediately took a shorter rein and a more defensive position to ward off the imminent bolting and bucking fit that would have happened, but she also did something that she has not yet done before, yet it was so instinctual... she reached down and gave him a rub on his neck.  He did not settle, however, but still she remained in control of him for the remainder of the class and insisted throughout what was left that he remain under control until she could have him back working with her again.  Yes, the class was blown for them and they placed last, but still, I was stricken by the change of behavior in her and I know undoubtedly that it will pay off.  And me, I'm all about the long-run.  Eryn, she placed second, which was thrilling and even moreso considering the circumstances.  :)

Both girls went right out, back to the warm-up arena and had what could be had of real warm-up before they had to go in for the o/f part, trip one.  Magdalene went in first, and her round was well-put together, well-thought out and fluid.  She utilized the size of the arena, they traveled from fence to fence, and line to line with ease and effortlessness.  He was perhaps a bit sloppy over some of the fences and she had to do quite a few simple changes when he landed a line on the wrong lead, but either way, overall picture -- nice.  Eryn went in right afterwards, had Raz moving nicely along, took the first fence and traveled to the second, which was the tallest one in the course, covered in baby-blue flowers with a brick wall.  Raz, bless his old heart, politely decided he could not take that fence.  They circled right back to it, tried again, but again, he politely said, "No, I can't take this fence."  So time three, again!  He didn't outright refuse or outright run it out, he was a bit nervous about the style of this particular fence and she could not make him go over it straight.  They tried, though and of course she was disqualified and left the arena in defeat.  Raz is no jumper, never has been, never will be, he does so many things so well, but this hunter over fences stuff is not his forte by any means.  Yet, they tried, and for that, I was proud.  Raz also behaved himself so much more quietly at this show than he has any other previous.  Eryn had some tears, the emotions of that happening are admittedly hard to deal with.  So I rode Raz in the warm up over a practice fence three times; we had hung a jacket and set a haybag down on the jump so as to 'spook-it-up' a little, and he went over the fence the first time with a big pop and then the last times without any fuss.  It gave him a little more confidence, but they were also being called in and Eryn suddenly realized she did not know her way for her second trip, and scratched the class.  And that was fine.  Drama and Magdalene placed first in both their trips, and as a result, won Grand for the division. 

Ashlee had brought Sammy to school him on the grounds and in the warm-up arena.  She kept a smile on her face, stayed lighthearted, and just had fun.  They both need that, and a lot of that.  She took him over a practice vertical and did fantastic.  I would catch glimpses of Sammy going by as I was doing my thing and he looked so bright and happy, which would make me happy. 

I love watching the success that everyone wore today.  That's why I love my job.  I love the fact that I'm a part of each of these girls as they try, as they work hard, as they achieve, and yes, even along the way, as they sometimes have disappointments.  However, I believe you only truly fail if you do one of two things:  you give up and don't try again, or you don't learn from your experience.  And that was not the case with anybody today. 

So girls, if you're reading this, know that I am so proud of you, and so happy to be a part of your life and your journey that both may or may not involve horses.  :)

Thursday, January 6, 2011


I was in a tack store yesterday, shopping for some items for my new "monster horse".  On the bulletin board for local ads, there was this one for a boarding barn, and in bold font was this statement, "We pride ourselves as having a drama-free barn". 

I could not stop laughing all day. 

Seriously, I know what they were *trying* to communicate, and if you've had the unpleasant experience ever of owning, running, managing, working at or boarding at a boarding barn, you would know, too.  You have people from all different walks of life, with emotional maturity levels spanning the entire spectrum, with horses of all different disciplines, temperaments, breeds... and every last darn horse is somebody's baby and needs to be treated and handled with the uniqueness and care that nobody has time for.  And yes, there is always lotsa, lotsa drama.  "Your horse is beating up on my horse!" "My horse needs more turnout time than that horse."  "That horse is making my horse stressed." "Can you please give Sweetie-Pie an extra carrot at night before she goes out?"  "I want my horse in at night."  "I want my horse out at night."  "Can you blanket my horse at 50-degrees?"  "Can you tell that woman she's an idiot for blanketing her poor horse at 50-degrees?"  "Can you tell your helper person that he needs to clean my horses' stall better, I found a pee-spot in there this morning..."  "My horse hates country music, can you please change the station?"

And it never ends.  I've been around this scenario way too much, in different capacities, but it is always the same in the end. 

So I understand what they were trying to say.  But the problem is, that there has never been such a thing as a drama-free barn.  Heck, one of my horses' names is "Drama" and that gives you his entire life history, cut and dried.  So let me give you an example of what it's like in the real world.  Welcome to MY barn. 

I was up past midnight last night,  which is pretty typical of me.  I had seen there was a 60% chance of thunderstorms in the area, so I checked my weather station throughout the evening and night to see the futurecast, in an effort to try to determine if my horses should go in or out.  Their usual schedule is to stay in the barn during the day, and go out to the paddocks or pasture at night.  I had already turned them out after chores, because I figured that they could at least go out and move around a bit and if I had to bring them back in later, so be it.  However, no matter how many times I checked the futurecast, it showed no storms, not even any rain, in the area all night long.  So I went to bed. 

There is no problem with a horse getting wet, it's just the problem of when it's cold and wet.  And it's a problem when they're out and wearing blankets if it's really cold, for the blankets to get soaked or soiled.  So at roughly 5:30am in the morning, I shot out of bed when I heard the rain and the storm going on outside.  I pulled on my raincoat and boots and ran out there, brought everyone in.  Every day I open the gates, Drama and Starbucks come in first, I lock them into their stalls.  Then Abbey and Sammy go in, I give them a minute to get into their stalls before I let Raz and Gallery in, and then I walk Big Bird in because he's new and he's not used to where he's supposed to go, yet.  For the most part, well, there are exceptions, but for the most part they all go into their own stalls and don't give me any problems.  That is, for the most part.  However, of course, this morning, they all decided to be idiots and not go into their own stalls, but into each others' stalls, and/or not go into their stalls at all and run in and out of the barn in the dark, in the pouring rain and lightning.  I was hand-walking Big Bird in, and naturally who was in his stall but the lovely gray mare Abbey, who would've like for nothing more than to kill Big Bird since day one of his arrival here.  So there I was, shouting at everyone to get in order and go into their own stalls, while whapping the end of my lead rope at Abbey to try to get her out so that I could get Big Bird into there, safely.  I don't know this Big Bird horse very well yet, but even as I was whapping the rope at Abbey and hollering at her to get out, he didn't freak out or do anything stupid, which is why I am liking him more and more.  Abbey went out, Big Bird went in, thankfully there was no attack in the process with me in the middle, and then I proceeded to get the rest of the crazies in and locked up where they belong, while giving them each a word of praise for getting where they needed to go, albeit eventually. 

Then I noticed that all the winter blankets, which were hanging over the back of Abbey's stall (since she is the ONLY horse that won't mess with them) were getting wet from the blowing rain.  I moved them all to the front of her stall, which is facing the aisleway and was protected from the rain.  I had just purchased Big Bird his blanket yesterday, (which is when I saw the ad for the drama-free barn) and hadn't even gotten a chance to try it on him yet to see if it would fit.  I had my doubts, so I had left the tags on and everything.  However, there they were, all piled up on Abbey's stall wall.  I scanned the barn for anything else that needed immediate attention, told everyone goodnight, turned off the lights and went back to bed. 

I got back out to the barn several hours later, to feed everyone breakfast.  The first thing, of course, that welcomed me back was the observation that Starbucks, who is stalled beside Abbey, had been able to reach out and grab some of the blankets off of Abbey's wall and drag them into his stall.  He and Drama (who are blood related, incidentally) are tried and proven blanket-destroyers, and if given half a second with a blanket unattended, they immediately start shredding.  So of course, it was Big Bird's blanket.  It had to be, there was no other way.  It couldn't have been Starbucks' own blanket, which was as old as the hills and held together with duct-tape; no, it was the brand-new, tags-still-on blanket that I didn't even know for sure would fit.  Well, I owned it now.  And also he had gotten Gallery's, but all he had done to hers was pee and poop on it.  I commend him for that option, it is indeed an improvement. 

I really looked forwards to having a horse wearing a blanket, that was more blanket than duct-tape.  Ha.  But either way, duct tape was the fix, and on the positive side, the duct tape had to be applied to the inside of the blanket, which nobody will have to see.  It could have been far, far worse, trust me.  I don't wonder why manufacturers don't just make blankets coated with a layer of duct tape to begin with, it would seem helpful to us end-users with "those" horses.  Ah, the drama. 

So blankets got repaired and some even got washed.  My family hasn't complained, but I am the horsey person/mom that washes our clothes with the horse clothes on occasion.  It just happens.  And besides, there are days when my son's clothes are far worse than anything that comes out of the barn. 

This was a two-cups of coffee day for me.  I usually just have one.  But you know, I wouldn't trade my drama-filled life for anything else.  Yes, there are those times when "boring" looks mighty-fine, but in the end, how would I have possibly befitted from my life being protected, boring, run-of-the-mill, average?  No, that is not me.  I love my downtime, but it comes infrequently.  What I love more is looking back on my life thus far, and thanking God for every pressure, every trial, every tribulation, every problem, every fight, every painful experience... because that's where the depth and the breadth have happened. And I like depth and breadth, much more than I like "drama-free." 

So, I pride myself as having a drama-filled barn.  Just in case you were wondering.  :)

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Happy New Year!!

Introducing the newest addition... "My Bird's Wired" aka "Big Bird" 

This is not me riding him, but this is him last weekend, right before I got him.  He is a 8-year old 17.2 OTTB.  I am looking forwards to having a horse of my own, I have made my students swear upon their deaths or dismemberments that they will NOT steal him from me, like they have Rasputin, Drama and Sammy.  So far, I really like him, but time will tell whether our personalities will click.  Standing beside him is purely awe-inspiring, because he simply towers above everybody and everything.  He makes all my other guys look like ponies! 

More later.  <3