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Tag Archives: Guin
[Note to readers: I got very, very behind on updating this blog. I missed some very important events that I am going back and documenting now — and setting the dates back as well. I’m actually writing this post at the end of March, 2017. ]
This has been a long year, and I will not be sad to see it end. If I could figure out how to kick it in the ass on the way out, I’d be standing at the ready. Of course, I think I’d be in a long line. This hasn’t been a good year for very many people, I don’t think.
In January of this year, I had three dogs and three horses. Now I have two dogs — one new — and one horse. Sort of.
We lost Miss Guin back in January. My darling mare. She had an incredible retirement, and it was her time, so although it was sad, it was understandable.
I didn’t lose Mr. Blue — not in the permanent sense. Instead I gifted him to Heidi, the young woman who has adored him for many, many years. He’s in a good place with someone who loves him.
Rosa is our “sort of” horse. She’s an interesting story. We got her a couple of years ago with the plan to let her grow up, and then get her trained and rehomed. Unfortunately, she got hurt just a day or so after we got her. Turns out that injury is going to prevent her from being ridden.
We sent her for training back in April. By the end of June, he trainer had to throw in the towel. The lasting pain in that injury made Rosa potentially explosive and unsafe to ride. We are paying her board and looking for a permanent companion home for her.
We lost my curly boys, Pax and River, back in July and March respectively. The pain of that loss still hits me, still brings me to tears. Pax was an old man, yes, but River was not. River was lost much, much too soon.
Miss Pflouff, I’m happy to say, is still with us. She turned 8 this year. She has some issues with her shoulders, but she’s still trucking right along. We adore her.
And of course, there’s our newest boy, Mr. Polo. He has settled in and become a much loved member of our family. We missed having a curly boy.
I started a new job back in June, and it has gone incredibly well! I honestly couldn’t have asked for better. It turned out to be a blessing not to get the management position. I’ve excelled in the position they gave me, and I have terrific (new) leadership.
I’ve spent the last couple of months heads down on a big project that rolled out at the beginning of December. It went FABULOUSLY, and I’ve gotten nothing but congratulations since then. I really, really love working for this company!
The big news is what’s coming in 2017. Jay and I have decided to move… to Mexico.
Okay, sort of. We realized that he and I are BOTH working remotely, and that we’re tied only to US time zones. So we’ve decided to sell our house here, and “snowbird” outside of the country. We’re not moving permanently (or even officially, really). We’re going to keep an address here — just not a big house and 10 acres — and we’re going to pop back and forth, living in different places south of the border for 6 months or maybe up to a year at a time.
We want to travel and explore the world, but we don’t want to be TOURISTS. We want to immerse ourselves in other cultures. I’ve been planning to quit work in a few years and explore by boat, but we realized that since we’re both remote workers, we don’t have to wait.
We can’t do the boat thing right now because we need fast, reliable internet for our jobs. So we have to move and live on land, but that’s okay. This will be a good opportunity for up to get a jump start on what we want to do in retirement — and hopefully by selling the house, we can even save some money!
Guin was a half-Percheron / half-something-small-we-guess-Quarter-Horse who spent the first 10 years of her life as PMU mare. That means the farm would breed her, wean off the foal early, and then keep her standing in a narrow stall for 6 months while they gathered her urine to be used in Premarin, the hormone replacement drug. The farms downsized drastically in 2002 when artificial hormones entered the scene, and she was rescued.
I got her in 2004, the same time I got Blue. I suppose it’s fitting that they’re leaving my life so close together. Guin was an amazing mare. She had very little training, but she filled riders with confidence. Riders who were afraid to ride other horses wanted to ride her and trusted her to see them home safe.
As she aged, she developed a problem in her feet that prevented her from being ridden, standing for very long, or for standing on three legs — something horses must do to have their feet trimmed. Guin and I were blessed to know Leslie Peeples, a farrier and clicker trainer, who not only taught her to lie down to have her feet trimmed, but also took my dear girl into her home for many years just to make sure she had the best foot care.
Miss Guin was queen of her farm for a long time. When Leslie moved to a new property, Leslie’s (and my) dear friend Jennifer moved in to her old place. They didn’t want to disrupt life for my old girl, so Jenn became her caretaker. Jenn took amazing care of my girl this past year, and it was Jenn who saw her off on her journey to the Bridge this morning.
I love Leslie and Jennifer with all my heart both because they are the best friends I could imagine and because they loved Guin as much as I did. I could not have asked for better for her, not even if she had been at my home all this time.
I love you, Guinevere. I look forward to meeting you at the Bridge. Say hi to Princess, Rowan, Paragon, Hoss, Thunder, and Rubin for me.
Here it is almost spring, so I thought I should do another update.
I’m still in the same job. Without going into a long, complicated story, let’s just say my contract runs through the end of May. I love this job, so I hope, hope, hope that it will be extended beyond that, but it’s no longer about what my department, my director, or even leadership in our division of the company want. Now it’s a edict from the highest leadership in the company to get rid of contractors and trim headcount. Scary!
Still, like I said, I love my job. I started a new project last week, and I’m really excited about it. It will keep me busy through the end of my contract (or through the middle of the summer). I have a new manager, and he’s as awesome as the last two were. I’m still working with wonderful people, and still working from home. What more could I ask for?
The remodel of the basement is still on hold. We had one chunk of cash left from last year’s overtime windfall, and we used it to remodel the barn. My husband would have MUCH preferred to finish his office, but I asked him straight out: Can we afford to board the horses indefinitely? The answer was no, so we really, truly HAD to remodel the barn.
(I do feel kind of guilty about it, though, because I got my office AND my barn, and he got nothing. I’ve offered to trade offices with him, so he can have the warm, finished office. So far he hasn’t taken me up on it. He can though, whenever he wants — really.)
The barn looks amazing!! We saved a huge chunk of change by purchasing used stall fronts from a guy on Craigslist. He only had three, but that was fine, because I wanted to turn the fourth stall into a tack room with a locking door. We just did the bare minimum this go ’round, which means new stall fronts, tack room, water, and electricity. Water and electricity means we don’t have to run hoses and extension cords anymore. Awesome! We’re working on shelving and such for the tack room so we can keep that organized too. We don’t have a garage, so it has to hold not only tack but also tools, garden supplies, and fence supplies.
Since the barn is (almost) finished, Blue will be coming home on April 1. Sadly, Miss Guin won’t be accompanying him. Her ringbone has progressed, and she isn’t doing well. She’s not at the point where we have to euthanize her, but she likely will be fairly soon. Leslie, the person who is boarding her, is a farrier, and is able to work on her feet in very short sessions — a minute here and there. (She can’t even do a whole foot at one time anymore.) There’s no way I could do that here.
I’m sorry Guin won’t be here, but I’m glad Blue will be. I’ve missed him! Since I don’t like keeping horses by themselves, he needs a buddy. I’m going to foster a horse for Monica. She’s pregnant and due in June, so that will work for both of us. I’m glad I can be of help to her. She has been soooo much help to me in the past years!
Oh, almost forgot — I didn’t keep Charlie after all. Monica had a come-to-Jesus meeting with me about loading up on project horses. She’s right, and Charlie has good prospects. His training is going super well! He’s really anxious to please and just a super, super horse.
In other horse news, I was going to adopt a mustang this spring, but it didn’t work out financially. We have a good list of what needs to be done so we can, though, so we’re going to work on those things a little at a time. We’re going to start with getting the shelter and corral ready.
Todd is going to raise the height of this old shed to 9ft and put a roof on it to make a good-sized 3-sided shed. We’re going to put gravel on the floor for mud control (and fill in some place on the driveway while we’re at it), and we’re going to use those round pen panels to build a temporary corral of the required height. Once the mustang is gentled and able to move into the regular enclosures, we’ll be able to remove the corral, add a front to the shed, and turn the shed into storage.
Other random bits
Otherwise, things are going well. My mom was in the hospital for a while in March, but she rebounded and is back to 100%. (Amazing lady! I hope I’m even half as feisty when I’m 80.) My husband is doing fine, and all the dogs are doing fine. Pax is getting steadily older, which makes me sad, but he’s still hanging in there.
Wow — it has been a long time since I updated my blog! There has been a good reason for that: I’ve been heads down on a huge project at work. Lots and lots of overtime. But the largest part of it wraps up this weekend (handoff on Monday), and it’s time to do an update. Lots of changes around here.
All three dogs are doing well. Pax is getting older, which breaks my heart. I can’t stand the thought of losing him — ever. Most of my critter update isn’t dogs, though — it’s horses. Back in August, Mr. Blue came home again. I was inordinately glad to see him! I’d missed him terribly. Our barn is in no shape for horses, so I’m boarding him at Eden Farms where I’m taking riding lessons. Here’s a picture of him at a clinic acting as a demo horse with Monica.
A couple of months later, Monica posted the picture of a horse in the Enumclaw kill pen. (Translation: a horse who had been purchased by a guy who sells them by the pound to slaughter houses.) We made a deal: I’d buy him and cover his stall, she’d train him, and then we’d sell him in the spring.
Yeah, that selling part? So not happening. This is Charlie, right after he came in:
Can’t get a good look at him there — sorry. He’s a quarter horse, extremely similar to Blue in size and build. He is an absolute love! He’s doing well in his training, and hopefully will get his first ride soon. Right now I’m intending to keep him. If he ends up being unsuitable for me under saddle, I’ll go ahead with the plan to sell him.
Miss Guin is still down in Olympia, happily retired at my friend Leslie’s place. I get down there once or twice a year, and Leslie gives me updates. I bought her a new purple blanket for Christmas. Hopefully Leslie will send me a photo!
My long-term plans for the horses are up in the air. We were planning to rehab the barn this spring so we could bring everyone home, but my job situation (and our funds) got iffy, so I’m not sure what will happen. More on the job situation further down.
We still have no walls in the basement. However we have propane, and the electrical and plumbing have been done, and we’ve got a brand new whole-house generator installed! That was a huge part of the project, and we’re thrilled to have it done. It means that winter can throw its worst at us, and we’ll be fine.
It also means we can have horses at the house again. See, our well is wired into the house. No power = no water. That’s not a huge problem for humans and dogs, but it’s a MAJOR issue with horses. That generator solved the last big horse-owning problem we had.
The next major step in the remodel is to redo the stairs to the basement and finish Jay’s office. Both parts of that are huge, expensive undertakings. Right now those steps are on hold, because of my job.
The major project was a major success. It was, without reservation, my favorite project ever. I’m extremely blessed to have gotten to spend the past six months focused exclusively on it. I’ll be sad to see it end. Technically, though, it isn’t ending. I am.
As kudos to a job well done, my job said, “We love you! Come take a massive pay cut and work for us full time! And if you don’t want to do that, get out!” Okay, maybe that’s not exactly what they said, but it felt like that. I’m a contractor, you see. My division at work has roughly 15 long-time contractors, and our senior manager put together a report showing how she could save the company money by converting all of the contractors to regular employees.
It’s not as bad a deal as I made it sound. They offered straight conversions for most of us, meaning we didn’t have to interview. (I’ve never heard of them doing that before.) And if you factor in the value of their benefits package, the total worth of what they were offering was essentially the same as what I make now for 40 hours a week.
That doesn’t work for me, though. My husband works for the state, so I don’t need their benefits. I need cash. The job would have required me to work in the office three days a week — 50 miles a day on my 13-year-old car, plus two hours a day lost to the commute. I just couldn’t agree to that, so I declined the “offer.”
The theory is that I will stay until they backfill my position. As I understand it, they won’t be interviewing for it until early January, so I’m hoping I can ride this out until the end of January. The *ideal* would be the second week in February, because I’m going out of town then anyway.
All of this caused me a lot of stress. I had been doing really well with my eating and exercising, and all that came to a crashing halt with the news of the re-org. I haven’t gotten back on track yet. I have processed the changes though, and I’m really not upset about them anymore. I wish the situation were different, but it is what it is.
Good question. I have to get another job in my field without question. My mortgage and those hungry horses insist upon it! But I think this is also a call to pursue some things for myself that I’ve put on the back burner.
I’m signed up for a Reiki Level 1 class in January. I’m going to focus on the animal communication again. And probably most importantly, I’m pulling Doubting River out of the drawer. The Universe asked me to write that, but I got too comfortable in my life and put it aside. Now I’m on the edge of being not-so-comfortable. I’m going to get to work before I become decidedly UNcomfortable! There are a few other things I’d like to work on too. (Honestly, if I didn’t have to get a job again, I wouldn’t be bored. Promise!)
December 22 will bring not the end of the world but the beginning of a new cycle. I think it’s a good time for a new cycle for me as well, eh? Reinventing-Melissa, indeed.
Yesterday — a gorgeous, sunny spring day in western Washington — I trekked down to Olympia and spent several hours communing with dear friends and horses.
I started the day at Leslie’s place. Leslie trained my (former) horse Blue, and my mare Guin is retired there now. I can’t say enough good things about Leslie. She’s an AMAZING horse person — everything I aspired to be when I was young. I wish, wish, wish that we lived closer. If so, I would still be in horses. I really appreciate that she spent so much time hanging out with me yesterday!
One thing I wanted to do while I was down there was get some pictures of me and Guin. She had been off property for a while, but she was getting too fat, so Leslie brought her home where she can better control her diet. Guin was none too thrilled about the photo shoot. She didn’t like being taken away from her friends, and so unless she was getting treats, she didn’t have much interest in sticking around. I laughed, because she managed to stick her tongue out in just about every picture.
While I was at Leslie’s, I also spent time with Jennifer, a good friend who keeps her horses there. First we played in the arena with Nemo. I can’t remember Nemo’s breed, but he’s absolutely stunning. He’s also quite the character.
I have some fun video of him as well, but it shows him rearing, and even though it’s on cue, I know there are too many people who would think it was terribly dangerous and reckless, so I’m not going to post it.
This is Izzy. She’s Jenn’s Kiger mustang. She has a reputation for being pissy, but I love her anyway!
This is one of Leslie’s Kiger mustangs. I can’t remember his name, but he was a pocket pony. Leslie described him as a big dog. She decided to teach him to step up on the stump in his enclosure. Clicker trainers do random things like that. 🙂
Leslie, Jennifer, and I ate lunch at Red Lobster, because I was craving snow crab. I’m pleased to say that even though there were cheesy-garlic (crack) biscuits on the table, I not only didn’t eat them, I didn’t WANT them. Yay!
In the middle of the afternoon, Leslie and I went to Heidi’s house. Heidi is the almost-14-year-old girl who now owns my beautiful Blue boy.
Just a note: I didn’t take a SINGLE picture of Blue yesterday. (Sorry, LaShawn!) However, they are going to be showing in quarter horse shows this summer, and I’m going to try to get to a couple to cheer them on. I’m sure I’ll get some pictures then.
Heidi is participating in the Washington Youth Mustang Challenge. She was given a mustang yearling, and she has three months to gentle it and begin its early training. Then she and the yearling will compete against other teens who have done the same thing. The kids can either keep their yearlings or, if they don’t want to do that, the yearlings will be auctioned after the competition.
Her yearling is an ADORABLE filly named Harvey. (There’s a story behind the name, but I love it! I think it’s darn cute for a girl.) Yesterday was day 14 (I think) of their time together. She has accomplished SO MUCH in that time period. While we were there, Heidi demonstrated:
- Leading at a walk and a trot
- Backing — light as air!
- Lunging in a circle on the lead rope
- Free lunging
- Touching her all over
- Lifting and holding all four feet
- Desensitization (like wearing a Hula Hoop!)
- Bowing ON CUE
- Beginnning steps of ground riding
This horse is plugged in and very, very responsive. So soft and light. Gorgeous soft eye. Loves people. Beautiful mover. And very brave.
And, in case I haven’t gotten the point across, Heidi is an amazing trainer.
I don’t want Harvey auctioned off at the end of August. I want Heidi to keep her. Heidi wants that too — at least from the perspective of wanting to do her early training. What Heidi wants is to keep her and start her, and then for me to take her when I’m riding again.
I love that idea, but I’m afraid the timing is wrong. Heidi would have to keep her a minimum of three years, I think, before I would be ready for her. That’s a LONG time for them to feed her, and with us in the middle of a remodel, we can’t afford to pay any part of her upkeep. Plus, ANYTHING could happen in the next 3 years. I could go back to riding, get hurt, and decide I’m too old for horses. Or I could lose my job and have my income cut way back.
Even if Heidi (and her parents) decided that they were willing to take that chance, at the end of three years I’d have one big problem: no truck and trailer. Without a truck and trailer, either my horses live on my property and go nowhere else, or I have to board them. Boarding is very expensive, and unless I suddenly lose Guin — God forbid — I think we would be hard pressed to afford to board another horse.
Is it a possibility? Sure. Would I want to do this? YOU BET. I loved Harvey, and Harvey liked me. She’s going to be the right size and temperament, and I would TOTALLY trust her background.
But it would be a risky, risky proposition for Heidi, because of the time frame and the lack of guarantees. I can say this: Heidi, if you want to keep Harvey and start her, I support you completely. I can aim toward eventual horse ownership (and I would LOVE to have Harvey), but I can’t guarantee it.
I miss horses. I miss them a lot. I was chatting with a lifelong friend the other day, and she was shocked that I hadn’t ridden in years and had retired my remaining horse two hours away. When I lamented these facts, she said, “Of course. That’s the Mel that’s supposed to be.”
And that I think is the crux. (My throat is tight as I write this.) There are three things that have defined me since childhood: writing, dogs, and horses. Without any one of those, I’m not complete, nor am I the person I am supposed to be.