Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Cost of Loving a Horse

I spent the morning in the barn watching my horses get new shoes. Custom made, shiny silver rims for their feet that would enhance their way of going, make them more comfortable and cause someone watching them move say, "Nice."

Then I looked down at my mud covered, steel toed work boots and saw my friend Jill's bright new clogs instead. She'd posted pictures of them on Facebook and her excitement over her new acquisitions leapt off the page. What is wrong with me, I thought. I should be writing a check for my own movement enhancing, feel good apparel, not spending all my money on these beasts. Image, my thirty-two year old Thoroughbred snorted. He only got a trim, not a set of shoes.

I glanced at him. Perhaps, I could use his share of the horse budget to buy myself some Jill-like happiness?

Then, I really looked at Image. His hips show his age, his coat, too. His time here is finite. And, I knew my thoughts of clogs making me happier than being in the barn with this old horse were no more than daydreams.

The reality is, if new shoes might keep Image around longer, I'd happily go barefoot.

Image, Bob and Kernan

Sunday, March 27, 2011

The Other side of Horse Ownership

Summer Games-One of my horses

I went riding in the rain this morning, trotted across the soft ground in rhythm with the falling moisture. Once in the woods, I lifted my face upwards, glimpsed flashes of a lavender sky through a shifting cover of pale green. Cleansed by fresh air and pristine water, I breathed deeply of the promise of spring and turned toward home. My hand ran through my thoroughbred's mane. He relaxed, stretched long and low. I followed his example and let go of the things I worry about. 

Horses add a wonderful dimension to my life. Sometimes, I forget that when cleaning their stalls.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Horse Play

"I want to have fun," I say.
Sun's out, weather's warm. These darn chores can wait. I grab the nearest horse, my new thoroughbred, out of the field, scrape off yesterday's mud and throw on my saddle. Rustic shimmies left and right as I tighten the girth signalling his desire to rejoin his buddies.
"If you don't have to work, I shouldn't have to."
"Yeah, yeah," I say, then cock my head. Have I just been talking to a horse?
He turns his head my direction and blows. I wipe the fine droplets of exhalations off my brow and decide I really should spend more time with humans. He agrees with a vigorous nod.
In the tackroom, I select the fat, rubber bit. It will fill up his mouth and garble his speech, just in case Rustic thinks he wants to continue his smart mouthed ways. I chuckle at my own penchant for giving horses human characteristics, finish tacking up and climb aboard.
Today, Rustic wants to go on a trail we've never taken. I let him have his way, simply happy to be out. He picks up a trot, extends it. I'm tossed high in the air on each shoulder thrust, drop back in the saddle on each down beat. The trail bends and we enter a shady, pine-bough tunnel.  I ask for a walk. The needles strewed under our feet can be slick.
Rustic kicks it up a couple of gears. Skips the canter and launches into his racehorse gallop. He makes a few sounds, but I can't understand. Wind whips branches, and I haul back on the reins. Rustic rumbles. I duck left and begin to regret the fat, rubber bit.
In the flash of an "Oh #*##" we're completely lost. At least, I am. Rustic seems to have a plan. I grow tired, give up on trying to stop him.
"Okay, you win. Take me home," I say.
He begins to slow.
At the next intersection, Rustic takes a left, then another. His neck stretches, he ambles into a walk. I remain silent. Even though I know he can't understand my words, telling him he's useless sack of bones doesn't seem like the wise thing to do at the moment. Only he knows where we are.
Three hours later, he ambles onto a familiar trail, one that leads to the barn. I give a relieved sigh. He's mumbled all the way, throwing in a whinny now and then.
Back in the stable, I take his saddle and bridle off, grudgingly wash sweat from his coat.
"What was that all about?" I ask as I turn him back out with his buddies. He looks over his shoulder. "Don't you go blowing on me, again." I put one arm up in front of my face just in case.
 "If, you hadn't stuck that big bit in my mouth, you'd have understood. Now I'm not gonna tell ya." He kicks up his heels and streaks across the field.
"Okay, don't," I say, not caring if I appear crazy, knowing I'm simply adding words to his actions in my mind.
As I walk away, I hear hoofbeats coming my way. I turn. Rustic nuzzles my shoulder.
"I was just horsin' around," he says. "You said you wanted to play."
I laugh and blow kisses in his face.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

The Value of A Smile

Artist's Image

Because of life recently getting in the way of living as usual I've found myself examining each day a bit more. Asking, what did I do that made me smile? What did I do to brighten someone else's morning or afternoon or moment?

Today, it's easy to answer the first question. I'm looking out my window at my three horses munching their way across the field, headed for the steep hill. I know when they get there a race will start to see who can get to the front pasture first. Heels will kick in the air, necks will arch, bodies will twist in joy. It's quite a sight and always makes me smile.

Image, my 32 year old TB will come in last, but not for lack of trying and he will have a blast playing the young stud, if for just a brief moment. He always reminds me, no matter our lameness, age, or condition there are bright spots if you keep on keepin' on.

What have I done for another? I scolded my husband for not eating enough protein. That may not sound like something to brighten his day, but he knows it shows I care. It brought a smile to his face. Sometimes, no often, simply doing something that shows a person matters to you is all it takes. His smile does that for me.