Saturday, January 31, 2015


That's Lucy's opinion.

Did you see the burn pile behind us?  It was smoldering away with occasional flare ups.  Smoke drifted across the fence line and through the arena.

Lucy held it together for the most part.  I was proud of her for that.  Her instinct told her to run but she stayed with me.

I even got some relaxed work... here and there.

It would have been even better if I had kept my eyes up...

and my shoulders straight.

Holy smoke, I need a lesson to fix my position.  I wish Lucy and I were more fit because right now I don't think we could make it through a lesson.

And you know how I said back in December that I don't care about showing?  Um, I lied.  Since Lucy got her massage and has been stretching so well across her back, I have started thinking about doing more with her.  There is a schooling show series at Sandy's barn.  I think I'm going to go to as many of them as I can.  I renewed all my memberships and registered Lucy with the USDF.

I'm a woman.  I can change my mind.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Random Friday

1.  A number of people noted that there are a lot of "normal" people living in Las Vegas, outside the strip.  I couldn't agree more.  I know a few of them and they are well grounded.  Most of them avoid the strip -- the area where my meeting was located and where my observations were made.

2.  As January draws to a close, our drought report is not good.  We had less rain (no rain) in January than in any January since they started keeping records in 1877.  The snow pack was measured this morning (a huge source of water for the State) and it is at 25% of normal.  We still have two more typically rainy months ahead of us.  Fingers crossed that we get lots of the wet stuff in February and March.  In the meantime, it feels like spring here.  Sunny, warm, and dry.  My daffodils are confused.

3.  The master bathroom remodel continues.  The plumbing is in, the electrician moved outlets, the shower has been framed and hot-mopped, and today the drywall was installed.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Not My Kind of Town

I spent Monday and Tuesday at a meeting in Las Vegas. To say that the city is in direct conflict with my word for this year, (authentic), would be an understatement. Monday night, after dinner in a casino restaurant with my team from work, I left the table and walked back to my room at the earliest opportunity. While I savored the peace and quiet there, I looked out my window at the lights of the strip and thought about the people I saw on my walk back to the room. It seems to me that there is a lot of glitz in Vegas, a lot of sparkle and shine, but not much happiness. I scribbled my feelings on the scratch pad sitting by the phone.

Me, in my well worn jeans,
surrounded by spiky heels
and black spandex skirts
skimming hips,
and hugging thighs;
Shivering goosebump exposed
in the taxi line;
bleached bright smiles over
ochre lined eyes,
-- oh honey,
who are you? buried
beneath the black
shattered night.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Breakfast Time

The goats and the girls eat breakfast together in their shared pasture.

Their table manners leave something to be desired.

Whiskey crawls under the feeder and eats whatever the others drop.

...which is a lot.

Maybe they should wear bibs like Brett.  (We feasted on crab, shrimp, mussels and calamari with friends today for lunch).

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Pearly Whites

This morning we loaded Flash, Lucy and Pistol into the trailer and drove them down to the vet's office to have their teeth floated. A very few horses rarely, or never, need to have their teeth filed but most do. Mufasa and Jackson's teeth look pretty good and don't require any attention this year, so they got to stay home.

Flash was loaded first, with Lucy going next. They immediately started bickering.

Lucy: Keep your face on your side. Squeal, stomp, head toss.
Flash: Get a grip.
Lucy: He touched me! Boy germs! aaaagh!
Flash: Don't be such a drama queen. Look at Pistol; she's not making a fuss.
Lucy: Give me a cookie and I'll quit squealing.

When we arrived at the clinic, we put the two mares in a round pen

and Brett unloaded Flash. He launched himself out of the trailer and pranced.
Woo boy! A deployment! Look -- there's cars in the parking lot and people and dogs. It must be a crowd control assignment. Tack me up and let's go.

Instead, the vet listened to Flash's heart and then led him into the stockade where he was sedated. Flash's lower teeth have worn way down and he may have trouble chewing hay thoroughly soon. We will start adding a pelleted feed to his morning bucket to make sure he is getting adequate nutrition -- although, he is in good weight. Flash will be 19 this year and the condition of his teeth is to be expected at his age.

Lucy was up next. Her teeth had some pointy areas where they didn't wear evenly. Dr. Mike filed them down level with the rest of her molars. This way, she won't gouge her cheek when she's eating. Overall, she has good teeth and it looked like she had gotten regular dental work in her past.

Pistol, the unflappable, was up last. She took one look at the stockade and planted her feet. No way, Jose. She was not going in hell, high water or cookie bribes. She ended up getting her shot of sedative, and then we led her in on wobbly legs. Her teeth are in excellent shape for an almost 19 year old horse. Unlike Flash, the lowers weren't worn down at all. In fact, her teeth are so hard that Dr. Mike had to work hard to even out the waves that were preventing her teeth from sliding evenly across each other to grind her hay.

Once the horses were alert, we loaded back up and headed home. Brett is thinking about trying to ride Flash one of these days. In the last month, he's been acting very peppy and not walking as if the ground were eggshells. He's been on pasture rest for two years; maybe whatever was hurting him so much has healed. Both he and Jackson are doing so much better up here at Oak Creek Ranch than they did down south.  The ground up here is much softer; not the hard pack cement-like ground at Aspen Meadows.  Its the only difference I can think of that would make such a big difference.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Ranch Life by Cody and Camille

When Camille and Cody were visiting last weekend, Cody took a number of pictures.  Some, like the ones of the arena, were to show his mom.  Camille sent me a few of the pictures he took of her with the animals.

She told me that they enjoyed their time here; hiking at the lake, the meals, and the animals.  The goats especially; the goats have stolen Cody's heart.

He'll just have to come back up and visit them, right?

Monday, January 19, 2015

The Bond Deepens

This morning when I rode Lucy, my goal was to work on me. We went through our usual warm up, using my favorite concentric circle pattern. Initially, we walk all three circle sizes. When Lucy is stretching nicely, we do all three at trot (both directions). Last we do a mix, using the largest circles for canter and walk or trot for the other. I transition at the same place -- and hopefully my circles are rounder when I ride than when I draw.

While Lucy was warming up, I concentrated on keeping my elbows relaxed at my side, carrying my forearm, keeping my thumbs bent on top of the reins, eyes up, heels down, legs against Lucy's side. Once she was stretching and loose, I brought her into a working frame. All I required of Lucy today was that she be prompt in her transitions, forward, and in front of my leg. We alternated more collected work with stretchy trot circles -- I'm a huge fan of stretchy trot circles. I use them in the warm up and then through out our work as a reward, especially after canter. We always end with stretching trot work as well. We didn't do much collected work. Lucy isn't strong enough, here in mid-winter with sporadic schooling sessions, and my abs aren't strong enough to sit for more than 15 meters either.

Brett was riding Mufasa at the same time as I was working Lucy. After we finished, Brett said he wanted to ride through the trees and I said that Lucy and I would follow him. She isn't comfortable outside the arena; it is apparently quite a scary place. So we rode behind Mufasa, on the yummy grass side of the dressage court.

As we turned and came back down the outside of the court, Brett stopped right by the haunted corner. If Lucy is going to spook during work, it is always in the same corner. Brett and I chatted for a minute and then Lucy was crow-hopping in place. I grabbed the bucking strap, told her she was fine, and she settled into a prance. We walked forward -- I have no idea if she heard a neighbor, saw a goblin, stepped on a twig... it's a mystery. I walked her back into the arena and she dropped her nose to her knees and blew a huge sigh of relief.

This evening while I was mucking the mare's pasture, Lucy came ambling over to me. She usually checks to see if I have treats, tolerates me scratching the mud off her face, and then walks away. Tonight, she let me scratch her face, her neck, her ears, her withers and her belly. She stretched her neck sideways and twisted her face, twitching her lips in pleasure as I massaged her. When I finished, she lifted her velvet muzzle to my face for a kiss. I'll have to thank the corner monsters for increasing Lucy's trust in me.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Riding Jackson

Yesterday, when I walked Lucy by the donkey pasture on our way to the dressage court, Jackson came trotting up to the fence.
"Excuse me, I've been trotting around perfectly sound.  I've jumped the stream.  I've bucked in the cold morning air.  I think you need to ride me for a change."

Finessa and Tuffy chimed in, "Yeah, when does he get a turn?  And, do you have any treats?"

Before doing anything else, Jackson needed to have his trail boots cleaned and a thorough grooming job.  He hasn't had a bath stood in the rain for almost a month.  He was beyond filthy.

When I went into the pasture to get Jackson, he was on the other side of the trickle stream.  He jumped it to get to me.

I took him into the wash rack where I hosed off the trail boots, and washed his mane and tail.  I was tempted to give him a full on bath but then he would be too wet to ride and I wanted him to be dry before dark.

Next we went to the tie rail.  I removed his boots, sprayed his feet with anti-thrush medication, and checked for rubs on his heels.  After thoroughly hosing off the boots, inside and out, I slid them back on his hooves and tightened down the velco.  Next, I went after the mud with the curry.  He's still far from clean but definitely improved.  I used my bareback pad since I didn't expect to ride him at more than a walk and only for a few minutes.  He was eager for the bridle.

We started out in the arena; walking around in one direction...

...and then the other.  He marched right along with just the slightest bit of stumble once or twice.

We finished up with a "trail ride" through the trees.  Jackson was an amazing trail horse before his feet gave out.

We rode through the trees to the south of the arena and then down the other side.  I found the shallowest slope by the stream, which is a trickle there too, and walked him down.

He hesitated at the water, put his head down and took a good thoughtful sniff, and then hopped over.  I laughed.  And I stayed on!  Do we look pleased with ourselves or what?

I jumped off when we got to the chickens.  The ground gets hard just past the hen house and I didn't want to ride him on that.  He didn't care about the chickens (who are still laying); he cared about the grass.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Pass The Aspirin

This morning, Camille and Cody loaded Kersey into the back of Camille's car and drove up to Jenkinson Lake.  The water level is still quite low (no rain since Christmas), but there was more than enough for Kersey to enjoy a bracing swim.

She needed a couple of aspirin when she got home and crawled into her bed for a long nap.

While the kids were gone, Brett worked on smoothing out the gullies in the dressage court so we could ride.  He worked on it steady for a good hour and a half.  I caught Camille's boyfriend taking a picture of it last night -- his mother rides dressage, how cool is that!.  I told Cody he had to take a picture of it looking like a real arena today.

It was apparently siesta time when we decided to ride.  Mufasa was the only animal not taking a nap.

Her majesty, Lucy, wasn't too pleased with me interrupting her beauty sleep.
"Seriously, you want to ride now?  In the middle of my nap?"

She heaved herself to her feet and glared at me.
"If you think I'm going to walk over to you, you've got another thing coming.  You can come get me."
I extended my hand.  "I have a cookie, Lucy."
"Oh, alright.  I'm coming."

Brett hasn't ridden Mufasa since last August, before he had his knee replaced.  He's ridden Pistol, but not the big red guy.  In the two weeks prior to Brett's surgery, he came off Mufasa twice.  Mufasa wasn't being naughty, but Brett was a tad nervous about riding him nonetheless.  Mufasa stood quiety while he was being tacked up.

We had a lovely ride.  Both horses were perfectly behaved.  Once again, Lucy immediately stretched down.  Our normal 20 minutes spent getting her to stretch took ten.  Then what?  I'm not used to having time to work on other stuff.  We did a lot of lateral work today and she was Gumby bendy.

Afterwards, Lucy and Mufasa when back to their pastures where they enjoyed a good roll.  Brett and I went into the house in search of aspirin.  My abs and Brett's shoulders are talking to us big time.

Chicken and dumplings for dinner tonight, with apple cherry pie for dessert.  Camille's Cody eats all my cooking and pours Brett more wine -- I'd say he's making a good impression on her parents.