Monthly Archives: May 2012

Communing with horses

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.

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Remodel update, end of May

Time for a remodel update!

My husband complained last week that I hadn’t done an update recently. That’s because nothing exciting had happened. But now we’re making progress.

Current state:

  • The electrical box has been completely replaced, updated, and inspected. This one will handle 21st century power needs, including a whole-house generator. I’d post a picture, but really, how interesting is an electrical box?
  • The outlets and switches on the first floor are being replaced and updated as I write.
  • We’ve got bids from a propane company and a plumber.

Next steps:

  • Once the electrical is done, our contractor is going to start working on my office. (Yay!)
  • I have picked the paint for my office, but I haven’t bought furniture yet. Looks like my overtime isn’t going to come through, so I may not be getting furniture anytime soon. Sigh.
  • After the office is done, we’ll be ready to do the electrical, plumbing, and propane in the basement.

And that’s pretty much it. I’m seriously bummed that I won’t be getting the overtime I had hoped for. That will definitely slow down the progress of the remodel beyond the steps I’ve listed. Other than that, though, life is good. We’re still having fun with the remodel, and the rest of life is terrific. Dogs are happy, we’re happy, everyone is healthy, work is good. We’re blessed!

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