Thursday, May 31, 2012

If you were to look back in time you might see me, a two year old girl, having a conversation. 

Adult: "What's your favorite animal?"
Girl:  "A horse."
Adult, with amusement at such quick certainty: "Why a horse?"
Girl: "Because I can ride it."
Adult, still amused:  "But why not a camel?  People ride camels."
Girl, doubtful:  "Camels are okay too."

And I did eventually ride a camel.  And it was okay.  But not very comfortable.

I spent my childhood dreaming of horses, and riding whenever I could.  Which wasn't often.  I gained no sense of who a horse was, there was no connection, and I was just a passenger.

When I was in my twenties, no longer sitting in the back seat and with a firm grip on the steering wheel of life, I got my first horse.  With her I began an amazing journey that will never end.   And I thought, "What a selfish kid I was!  I just wanted a horse so I could make it carry me around."  Well of course every two year old is selfish.  But recently I realized that wasn't what it was about at all.  Strange that it took me so long to figure this out.

When I was two, I daydreamed of horses, and the dreams made me happy.  Kids can't help but be happy, at two years old.  But I also had nightmares.  The same one, over and over.  The meaning of this was another thing it took me a long time to figure out.  In these dreams my sister and I were left alone in the back seat of a car.  The car would roll out of control, flipping down a mountainside or over a cliff.  I couldn't reach the brake in time, no matter how hard I tried.

I'm not going to get into a big sob story about my childhood, but that was a bad time.  I wanted someone to take control, but they didn't, and I couldn't.  Luckily it wouldn't be much longer before things started to change, but I was a creature of the present and didn't know anything different.

Just a few days ago I realized why I was so positive a horse was my favorite animal at such a young age.  I imagined this big, soft, beautiful, benevolent creature would take care of me.  I didn't need to hold the steering wheel or reach the brake, and he would take me to wondrous places, and we would love each other.  And we were just little, so my sister could ride double.

I don't think I had this idea formed in my mind.  I wasn't thinking of running away.  I wasn't looking for a solution, I was just dreaming.

What I couldn't know at the time was that horses won't help us run away.  As I got farther and farther along the path of the horse, I came closer and closer to home.  I didn't want to leave.  I began working more and more toward the center, not away from it.  I saw that the only way to move forward is to look inward.  I wanted to make this life, this self, better.  I couldn't go through life in a rut, doing the same things all the time and thinking how great I am.  I had to get outside my comfort zone, learn new things, try new things, make mistakes, see how to do better next time.  See that the only way to do better is to be better.  My flaws just keep floating to the surface where I can see them.  I can't lie.  My horses are too honest to let me get away with that.

Does this sound familiar?  I think all true horse people have experienced what horses have to give us, and know how difficult a gift it is to receive. 

So still I journey.  I expect this journey will never end.  But with my horse by my side, we will go to wondrous places.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

I took Soxy to her new/old home yesterday.  I was really bummed, but she made me feel better about it when we got there.  She jumped out of the trailer whinnying at her old buddy who was just on the other side of the fence.  She was so happy!  And that made me happy.  And there were kids there who were excited to have their mom's old horse back, even if they didn't remember her.  She'll have plenty of love and attention, horse buddies to pal around with, and kids to ride her, which is everything she needs. We'll miss her of course, but this really is for the best.

In other horse related news, I don't have much.  I've been helping with dental work on horses, which is a lot of fun.  I've met a bunch of neat horses.  There hasn't been one I haven't liked.  :)

I got Tonka out the other day, after not riding for probably 2 weeks, and he had another bucking fit.  I don't know if I mentioned the one he had before the poker ride.  Luckily neither happened while I was in the saddle.  It was clear both times that something was REALLY wrong and he was terrified, and now I'm wondering if it's a pain thing.  So I have some things to fiddle with and see if it makes a change.  I don't like seeing him like this.  He has done this regularly once before, with a saddle that didn't fit.  So I'm thinking it may be saddle fit again.  We'll find out.  I did ride him after he settled back down but only for a few minutes.  It felt great to ride again.  But I didn't want to hurt him if this is a saddle fit problem.

I probably won't have much time for the horses anytime soon, but things are shaping up with the house.  We got it completely cleaned up for photos and it is on the market now.  My neighbor's son is interested.  I'd like to see them buy the place and be able to help out my neighbor as he ages.  He's a nice guy.  But whoever buys it, I hope it sells soon!  We found a place we really like up in Spokane.

I'll share a few house photos just for fun.  I can't believe how clean my son's room is!

I don't know which exterior photo I like better...  Too bad I can't get a shot from head-on, but those lilac bushes get in the way.

It's not a bad little house, as much as I've complained about how small it is.  The property makes it all worth it.  I wish we could get a property like this up in Spokane.  We're going to have to go smaller on acreage for sure, but hopefully get a bigger house in the process.  And I really want trees, and neighbors a little distance away.  What I really want is the place we have our eye on.  I hope nobody else snaps it up first!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Well, all of the pre-hire stuff is done, and John got his official job offer today.  He starts on Monday.  Awesome benefits, great pay, company car, company credit card.  It'll be weird being back in the busy world of a big corporation in a big city.  Well, biggish anyway.  It's a whole different world. 

After he told me about that I realized I need to get my ducks in a row and start arranging things for the horses.  I need to ask around and find out where they can stay if we end up moving out of this place before we move into a new place.  I haven't gotten that one figured out yet, but I did call Soxy's old owner, who is SUPER excited to have her old mare back as soon as possible.  I may not take her out there until Monday.  I have so much to do over the next four days.  But she'd like her sooner if I get time.  I'm really glad she's excited but I'm going to miss the old girl.  Every time I think about it, it makes me cry.  But the silver lining is that at least I get to tell her goodbye when she's still alive and well.  I have to keep looking for the silver lining because it's easy to get a little gloomy.

I keep thinking, "Maybe this is the last time in a long time that I'll drive up the grade out of Lewiston."  "Maybe this is the last time I'll see the sun set so red over Kamiak Butte."  Et cetera.  And the worst of it was when we had Liam's Celebration of Learning tonight with his school crew.  I am REALLY going to miss the safe, thoughtful, caring, GOOD learning environment of his Expeditionary Learning school.  I wish they had something like it to offer up in Spokane.

Enough of that.  I've got fly masks to remove before it gets too dark.  So good night!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

 Thank goodness a mother's love is unconditional.
  Even when it seems we'll never learn.

Hope all you moms out there had a great day.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Almost twelve years ago we drove all the way from Spokane to Priest River to look at a whippet we saw advertised in the paper.  She needed a new home because their older dog didn't like her.  When we got there they had an extremely high-energy sausage on a leash.  She was fat!  And she was certainly not a whippet.  Well, part whippet I guess.  Eventually I decided she must be part terrier.  We took her home and she became an important part of our lives.  Her name had been Haji, or Hodgy, or something like that, but we gave her a much better one.  India Anna Jones (all of our dogs are Joneses).  She was extremely trainable and would go lie down in her corner when she got too excited about visitors and we said "corner!"  She was really into her toys, one of which was a zebra that whinnied.  I tried to find a replacement for that zebra when it wore out, but the new one only squeaked and she obviously felt cheated.  She taught us a lot about dealing with a young dog that is naughty.  We learned about crate training and feeding meals rather than free-feeding.  She lost that excess weight and became healthier.  She still made huge messes when given the chance and even opened one of Katia's Christmas presents a day early.  She made Liam giggle when he dropped food from his high chair and she gobbled it up.  She was always kind to everyone, and loved snuggling so much we'd joke that she'd climb down our throats if we let her.

Lately she's been in a lot of pain.  Long story short, she had a lovely ride in the truck today, with the windows rolled down and lots of good scents on the air.  She didn't chase the cars as they passed by though, as she always had in her younger days, and she mostly just lay there while we drove.  When we got to the vet she stood up and fell backward, and it hurt pretty bad.  I got her re-settled and she didn't even have to get out of the truck.  She had a good ear rub as she got drowsy, and then she left us.  She was a good dog.  I miss her.  But I also feel really relieved that she's not in pain anymore.  It's like a weight has lifted.  It was time, and she's okay now.

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

We're moving to Spokane!  John got the job he was after.  Excellent job, with benefits!  I'm really excited about that.  Pretty stressed about getting this place ready for sale though, and about moving my kids.  BUT - a really great job in this economy is something to be very thankful for.

Still haven't gotten to edit pics from our poker ride the other day.  Maybe it will let me post a few anyway.

Sunday, May 06, 2012

We've been super busy.  I'm trying to load photos of my big ride today but I didn't make them small yet and it won't let me.  So maybe that'll have to wait for tomorrow.  These are a couple days old:

Riding Bella in the big pasture, all alone - she did great!

John on Scout

My  handsome Tonka

And on another note - if you were house hunting would you choose a new house with limited horse facility (needs buildings & fence) or an old house with plenty of outbuildings but that needs work?  We looked at a place that seemed to have a lot of history (built in 1910) and i loved it but would need some roofing on some outbuildings and the house isn't much better than our current old homestead.  We'll probably end up somewhere else but this is the photo of the ranch sign at the entrance, which was about where I fell in love:
Diamond B Appaloosa Ranch in Chattaroy - anyone heard of it? 

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

 We had another excellent ride tonight.  Tonka did seem cranky and his hind end wasn't working right.  Still don't know if it's saddle issues or EPSM.  But I'll go back to the good saddle, he seems to like it better.  Or maybe alternate between the two.  John rode him again and they did great, although John noticed his cranky expression too.

Bella was AMAZING!  Now that we're moving out around the field, actually going places, she's happy and alert, and I can't see any sign of worry or fear as we wander around.  She does get a little sticky about turns away from Soxy and Scout back in the other pasture, but nothing terrible.  Oddly, she doesn't really care where Tonka is, as long as he's not crowding her.  We could take off in a different direction altogether and she didn't bat an eyelash.  Love that. 

I think I am going to try a different saddle pad with her again, to hold up the front of the saddle a little better.  She's downhill which feels a little weird to me and maybe it puts a lot of weight in the front of the saddle?  I don't know...  But you know how I like to fiddle with things. 

Next it's Scout's turn.  The weather is supposed to be nasty and we're going to be busy, but soon he'll get to come out and play too.

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Tonka was so awesome tonight.  He was feeling adventurous and happy.  We'd crest a hill and he'd want to stand there for a while and take in all of the view.  He volunteered to go into areas he's normally scared of.  He was still scared, but he was brave too.  He's been more and more like this lately.  It's fun.

I had also gotten Bella out and saddled her and left her to stand at the trailer while Tonka and I rode.  She just dozed.  I went in to get dinner real quick and asked if John or Katia wanted to come out and ride Tonka while I rode Bella.  Neither of them has spent more than a few minutes riding him, so I wasn't sure how it would go.  He's used to me and a new rider is different.  John came out and rode him and they did great!  I had carrots in my pocket that I'd been sharing with Tonka, and I forgot to give any to John.  When Tonka saw me giving Bella carrots he'd look expectantly at John and then look a little put out when he didn't give him one.  It was really funny.  Tonka can be a very expressive guy.  I secretly slipped John some carrots for Tonka when we were done riding.
Bella did awesome too!  She rode out a little nervously, but quickly calmed down and enjoyed herself.  She still has a hitch in her steering but her stop is good.  When she's walking along and I ask her to change direction she resists, and when she decides to release to the rein it can be a little sudden and jerky.  Same with changes in her rate of going.  It's all mental.  I think she'll get more comfortable with things and it will all get better.  She's already showing improvement.

We didn't do anything special, just wandered around the big pasture, but we had so much fun.  It was great seeing my good horse be good and cute for John too, and not offended at having a new rider.  And I was so proud of Bella.  I think we might start doing this every day we can.

Oh, and I rode in the little synthetic Fabtron saddle and Tonka didn't "leave his hind end behind" at all today.  So I don't know if it's the saddle change or the day of rest he had, or totally unrelated, but maybe his back wasn't sore today?  Or maybe it's not back soreness but EPSM.  I'm really leaning toward a sore loin area though, and I hope this saddle continues to be comfortable for him.