Get Well Greetings from Spike Pearson … A Pictorial

Bear has received many greetings and warm wishes from concerned friends

This week, a special declaration of friendship from his buddy, Spike Pearson.

~*~

“Bear! Someone’s sent you a get well card!”

Good Penmanship

~*~

“For me?”

For Me?

~*~

“That’ right … Look!”

Compelling Reading

~*~

“What does it say?”

With Love

~*~

“Oh, how lovely! Look at all the carrots. Would you like one?”

Get Well Carrots

~*~

“That’s a silly question!”

Thank You, Spike

~*~

“What do you say?”

“Thank you, Spike Pearson! You’re the best!”

Spike Pearson

~*~

Bear is such a lucky boy to have such good friends.

Nurture what you love …

Dorothy
Horse Mom

Next update coming soon …

~*~

©Dorothy Chiotti … Aimwell CreativeWorks 2015

Bad Boots … Bad, Bad, Bad Dressage Boots

 Bad boots

… Bad dressage boots …

~*~

Silly title. Silly story. A moment of tragic(?) nonsense that shows that sometimes it just doesn’t matter how well you take care of your equipment things can, and do, go wrong.

Don’t worry. It’s not about Bear. He’s in ship shape shape.

No, it’s about a sad state of affairs relating to me and my custom-made dressage boots.

Okay, I bought them almost 10 years ago and for about seven of those years (up until fairly recently, in fact) they sat in a boot bag at the back of a dusty closet. Why? Because a sprained ankle all those years ago made it impossible for me to put the darn things on and once out of the habit of wearing them I just couldn’t be bothered.

Read on …

And then I moved to this dressage barn and, come spring, everyone was casting away their winter footwear in favour of dressage boots. Boots designed to give the leg a steadier more effective contact with the horse’s side. Plus, their stylin’. So, I decided, “Me too! I’m going to start wearing my dressage boots again. It’s time.”

So, I fished them out of the closet and took them to the barn. I located my boot hooks (because the only way to get these darlings on is to insert boot hooks to boot loops on the inside of said boots … and pull!!!) and went to work.

And, wouldn’t you know it? The darn things were so stiff from lack of use I couldn’t get my foot anywhere near the bottom of the boot. Not only that, they were really, really tight.

I talked this over with the other riders who commiserated on this state of affairs and offered some helpful advice:

“Take them in and get them stretched and, while you’re at it, get the shoe repair guy to put a zipper in each boot so it isn’t such a struggle to put them on.”

Hmmm … zippers. A novel thought. I’d noticed that many of my fellow riders, including my coach, had done just that and that they’d all gone to the same zipper putter inner at a shoe repair shop not far from my home. Eureka! That’s what I would do.

So, I packed my boots back into their bag and took them to the shoe repair guy. I explained to him what I needed.

In his thick middle European accent he said, “No problem with the stretching, but not the zipper. These are very good quality boots. Well made. Custom, yes?” I nodded. “You should try first the stretching and oil them to soften the leather … and get inserts to keep them from collapsing. If this does not work, then we try the zippers. But first,” he repeated with a knowing look, “stretch the leather. Yes?”

“Yes, I guess so,” I responded, unsure but willing to lean on his expertise.

So, I left the boots and hoped for the best.

A week later I picked them up and took them home to shine and polish according to the shoe repair guy’s explicit instructions, focusing especially on the ankle area to soften the leather.

Excited about trying them out, I took them to the barn the next day and, after dousing the insides liberally with baby powder I inserted hooks into loops and attempted to pull the right one onto my leg. It was a struggle at first, but eventually I got it, and the left one, on. I rode. Awkward doesn’t describe it. I hadn’t ridden in them in years. Still, I thought, the more I wear them the easier it would get.

Fast forward through the month of June (away) and most of July. I rode in my half chaps mostly, due to the heat, but on a cooler summer’s day, Tuesday of last week, in fact, I struggled into the boots for a lesson. Things went swimmingly.

“Do you see a difference when I ride in these boots?” I asked Herr Coach.

“Absolutely!” he responded.

So, I reasoned, I must wear my boots.

Removing the boots was a struggle. Bootjacks are an absolute necessity when extricating oneself from the vice grip of a close-fitted tall boot, and I had to wriggle myself free of both boots with a great deal of care.

The next day my hips were really achy. I asked the barn manager, “Do you think my hips are sore because of the different leg position my dressage boots put me in when I’m riding?”

“It’s possible,” she said. “The leg does hang differently in those tall, stiff boots.”

Hmmm … the only way to get used to the new leg position was to keep wearing the boots.

So, on Thursday last week four of us went out on a lovely hack in the fields. I wore my dressage boots to continue breaking them in.

When we returned to the barn and after I’d untacked Bear and made him comfortable, I went to my locker to fetch my bootjack so I could remove my boots. Once again I had liberally sprayed baby powder into my boots before putting them on, so I anticipated they’d slide off with ease.

Right boot ~ with the heel of my boot wedged in the curve of the bootjack I started pulling my leg free. My foot began its slow migration up the boot … and then it got stuck.

“You stuck?” A concerned fellow rider enquired as I clung to the doorway between efforts, a contorted look on my face.

“Nothing I can’t handle,” I said with more confidence than I felt.

“If you need a hand, let me know.”

“Thanks … I’ll do that. Appreciate it.”

Then I tried another tac, wiggling my foot up and back and up and back. Finally, it came free.

“Hallelujah!”

One down, one to go.

Setting my left heel in the bootjack and resting my right foot (now sporting a paddock boot) on the base of the jack for leverage, I grabbed once again onto the doorway and began the ordeal.

Once again my foot slipped from the bottom of the boot and got wedged at the ankle.

Hmmm … that hurt. Try again.

Okay … breathe and heave. No movement.

Again … breathe and heave. And this time I noticed how the torque in my body was putting uncomfortable pressure on my hips and in my right groin area. “Oh,” I muttered aloud, “this is why my legs and hips have been aching the last couple of days. From the effort to get these boots off.”

A light bulb moment, to be sure, but useless to me at the time as the only way to get the boot off was to continue what I was doing.

I rested for a moment. Regrouped. Surely just one or two more tugs of my foot would extricate it.

One … two … heave …

Like the crack of a whip I felt a sting across my lower back.

“Uh … oh! That’s not good.” I exclaimed aloud as I grabbed the back of my waist and winced. “Now I need help,” I said to the concerned rider as she once again walked by.

Seeing my distress she escorted me as I hobbled across the aisle and into the tack room. I lowered myself gently into the well-worn blue leather two-seater couch, and breathed.

“Now,” instructed the concerned rider, “give us your foot and we’ll pull this thing off for you.”

Yes, it took two people to pull the b(**&y thing off.

After the ordeal I attempted to stand up … straight. Impossible. So, after taking care of my equipment (including cleaning those evil dressage boots) and seeing to Bear’s needs, I went directly to the chiropractor for some attention and then home for an Epsom salts bath.

The next day I felt a bit wobbly, but got on Bear anyway just to see if a walkabout would help massage out the kinks. Not a chance. It was actually a pretty foolish thing to do. If my darling boy had spooked I would have been toast.

For three days I could barely walk. I spent the weekend sitting on a heating pad and taking anti-inflammatories. By Sunday evening I was in so much discomfort I finally booked an appointment with my massage therapist who, fortunately, had some time available on Monday. After spending quality ground time with Bear, albeit hunched over like the fellow of Notre Dame legend, I went for my massage.

Afterward I felt freer in the hips, but still wobbly, and the ache in the depths of my lower back was still keen.

“No riding!!” the massage therapist warned.

“No problem!” I answered, resigned and sad.

So, my coaching scheduled for Tuesday was turned into a training session for Bear with Herr Coach. I watched from a chair in the corner of the arena with admiration and envy.

I wanted to ride.

~*~

Bear today

… Bear …

~*~

Wednesday rolled around and Herr Coach rode Bear again. I had my camera with me and took a few photos, including this one. I marvelled at how much my boy had changed and developed since January. His uphill movement giving him a bearing of lightness I’d been longing to see for years. And he looked so beautiful.

“I hope to ride by Friday,” I told Herr Coach optimistically before he left for vacation, “but if I can’t he’ll get the time off and be ready for you to pop on him again next week.”

Herr Coach thought that a good idea. There would no point in riding with sore hips and undermining what had been achieved in the two training sessions. Bear would simply get confused.

I went to the chiropractor again. He worked his magic and I felt a little bit better again.

“No riding!!” he warned.

“Of course not,” I sighed, disappointed but resolved to doing what must be done to heal.

And then this morning, after several days of being stalwart and philosophical about it all I finally had my little feeling-sorry-for-myself meltdown. And it wasn’t that I really felt that sorry for myself, it’s just that I was soooo frustrated that my life had been derailed by a pair of stupid dressage boots. Had the shoe repair guy put the zippers in when I asked him to this would never have happened. As well, in the middle of all of this discomfort, and in my darkest moments, I was haunted by the idea that the pain might never go away and I’d never get to ride my beautiful horse again!!! (Wah!)

Still, it was only a short, dark period of self-indulgence, and then I let it go.

This afternoon I went to the barn and spent a few hours with Bear, reviewing exercises from the FEEL program and playing with him in the arena. It was a lovely time and I soon felt much better. I even began to look at this unexpected hiatus and “hip adjustment” as another opportunity for growth. Maybe, by some miracle, it would mean my hips would be looser and more cooperative in the saddle once I climbed back in.

As for the bad boots … the bad, bad, bad dressage boots … I took them to the shoe repair guy and, as I stood there clutching my aching back, demanded he put the zippers in notwithstanding his admiration for the original workmanship. Custom-made, last-you-a-life-time dressage boots or not, they’re garbage to me without this important mechanical adjustment.

I pick them up August 2. I sincerely hope I’ll be riding by then.

Nurture what you love …

Dorothy
Horse Mom

©Dorothy Chiotti … Aimwell CreativeWorks 2014

The Five-Minute Dental Check-Up

This is the way we brush our teeth, brush, our teeth, brush our teeth ...

Monday afternoon Bear had his annual visit with the dentist.

His experience is a little different from ours, however. The dentist comes to him.

Bear gets a home visit. No waiting in a sterile dentist’s waiting room, tortured by muzak and picking through last year’s trade magazines.

Nope. Just hanging out over a pile of hay, as usual, waiting his turn in the comfort of his own stall.

That’s not to say he doesn’t experience some degree of anxiety.

When I arrived for my Monday ride he was standing at the back of his stall, eyes wide, ears pricked back toward Mac two stalls down who was in the throes of dental rapture. (Not!)

And down the aisle, Bear’s normally placid paddock companion, Sam, was stomping and snorting in protest, the ting of metal rasp against water-filled metal bucket more than he cared to process. And his turn isn’t until Thursday.

Bear was next on the list.

“Does he need to be tranquilized,” I asked innocently enough, convinced, of course, that my baby could manage without it and save me the extra cost of the tranq.

“Oh, yes,” answered Coach, “but it’s not so strong a dose that you won’t be able to ride after.”

This fit into my time frame so I stood back and watched the show unfold.

Mac’s dental work complete, the good doc stopped by Bear’s stall to “fix him up” before heading over to dear old Teddy who, in his 30s now, is pretty long in the tooth. As you know, my boy is placid for the most part but, like most of us, he’s not big on the poking and prodding that comes with getting your teeth done.

Within minutes, and with Ted sporting a relieved look on his face, the good doc was in Bear’s stall, his hand up to his wrist in my boy’s mouth feeling for sharp edges, broken teeth and other dental issues. Coach was keeping a firm hold of Bear’s halter to provide support. With a grasp of what was going on in Bear’s oral cavity, the good doc then went to town with the rasp (like a huge metal nail file), floating away the rough edges of Bear’s pearly whites.

(Some equine dentists use electric horse tooth rasps, but this guy works mostly by hand. I like that. Who do you know that likes the sound of the dentist’s drill? 😉 )

There’s not much a dopey horse can do in this situation but roll his eyes and enjoy the attention, such as it is.

With Bear’s thoughts lost in the ether somewhere it look barely five minutes for the good doc to take care of business and announce a clean bill of oral health for my boy.

His next appointment is set for a year from now.

Bear Smiles

I should be so lucky. 😉

Nurture what you love …

Dorothy 🙂
Horse Mom

~*~

©Dorothy Chiotti, Aimwell CreativeWorks 2013

The Dirt Devil

Bear is a handsome horse, but like all pretty boys he has a dark side.

Now I know I’ve talked about this sort of thing before, but this is a special moment I just feel I have to share …

Wednesdays are a day off for Bear and I. No training, just some down time and me showing up to groom and fuss over the lad as I do every day, regardless of whether I ride him or not.

Yesterday I arrived, as usual, about noon. Bear was out in his paddock with Sam, his erstwhile buddy, grazing and minding his own business when I approached the fence. Camera in hand, I hoped to capture a few images of him happily grazing with the backdrop of whatever fall colours remained in the woods yonder. The leaves have disappeared quickly this year, so there really wasn’t much to work with, but I thought at least I’d try.

Sam came over and made it his business to interfere with my intentions. Jealousy, I think, is a part of his problem. He knows I dote on his pasture mate and he wants a piece.

I shooed him out of the way as Bear started to wander up from the other end of the paddock. His was a quiet, purposeful saunter in the mid-day sun to where I was standing, his hope that I would reward him with a carrot.

Sadly, I had not yet been in the barn and had no carrots on me.

After having chased Sam away Bear met me at the fence and waited for an impatient second, nudging my arm with his nose to receive the much anticipated carrot.

“Sorry, Bear, I don’t have any on me right now.”

Annoyed, as I imagined him to be, he turned and walked purposefully away. In other words, he gave me the bum’s rush.

“Huh!” I thought, “What a strange thing for him to do.”

Feeling slightly put out I watched with amazement at what unfolded next.

He stopped in the middle of his coveted mud hole, dropped to his knees and rolled … and rolled … and rolled. Dumbfounded, I poised the camera and clicked away to capture the moment.

Like some bodyguard minding his celebrity client, Sam continued to interfere with me. Bear continued to roll. I tried to shoo Sam away. He wouldn’t move. Meanwhile, Bear continued his evil frolic in the devil’s playground until he was well and truly covered in dirt.

When he was done he lurched to his feet and had a good shake.

He sauntered back to me and, with a look of supreme self-satisfaction, nudged my arm again as if to say, “Have fun grooming. Now, where’s my carrot?”

Do you think I spoil him?

Nurture what you love …

Dorothy
Horse Mom

~*~

©Dorothy Chiotti, Aimwell CreativeWorks 2013

The Escape Artist …

Something a little light-hearted from the hallowed aisle of Bear’s barn abode.

*

The boy has proven, yet again, that he belongs in the Houdini Hall of Fame.

Either he is supremely, easily and utterly bored after dark … or too smart for his own good.

I believe it’s a combination of both, which is interesting because ol’ rubber lips has worked out the combination of moves required to, once again, make mischief.

It appears that during the still of the night when all is quiet and there isn’t a meddling human in sight, my darling all-too-clever-German-bred-boy-wonder has figured out how to open the feed door to his stall.

Bear and his neighbour, Robert, enjoy a chin wag

Bear and his neighbour, Robert, enjoy a chin wag. … Note, his feed door is open. How smooth and debonair he looks … like butter wouldn’t melt in his mouth. … Yeah, right … 😉

Perhaps it’s my own fault.

I have, over the years, indulged Bear’s social nature by making a habit of opening his feed door so he can stick his head out and engage with the world while I’m there. This is particularly true in winter when he spends more time indoors.

From here, Bear enjoys visiting his neighbour, Robert. He also eagerly awaits the filling of his bucket, which hangs on a hook beneath the feed door, with his beloved carrots. I, being his doting mother, of course, am only too happy to oblige. I just want my baby to be happy.

Recently, however, there’s been a development …

Bear has, indeed, figured out how to open this lever-less door on his own.

In and of itself this not a huge problem.

What has become an issue is the fact that my closet mechanical engineer has also figured out how to unlatch Robert’s door and push it wide open … all from his perch at the feed door.

So, not only is Bear adept at creating his own escape opportunities (see The Party Animal) he is all too willing, and able, to create these opportunities for others.

Fortunately, Robert is too old to be bothered with making a run for it and has, in fact, been discovered in the morning standing at the back of his stall, perhaps a little confused as to why his stall door is open at all.

How to curb Shakespeare’s quick wit?

Management has put a chain in place so Bear, while he’s still able to dislodge the mechanism, can no longer push open the door and lean over to mess with Robert’s latch.

Robert indicates the chain now in place to thwart naughty Bear's attempts at mischief ...

Robert indicates the chain now in place to thwart naughty Bear’s attempts at mischief …

However, don’t be too concerned …

… cos Bear certainly isn’t …

Here's laughing at you, kid

Nurture what you love …

Dorothy 🙂
Horse Mom

*

Next time … the next instalment of Confessions of a Coaching Intern

©Dorothy Chiotti, Aimwell CreativeWorks 2013

How my horse saved me from an in-store cosmetic makeover …

Who are you?

Slightly off the beaten track today, but I felt I just had to share this little moment of unguarded candor from Saturday.

I was in the cosmetics department of the local drug store, minding my own business while engaged in the daunting task of selecting a suitably coloured lip gloss for daily use. (To my gentlemen readers: this can be a laborious endeavour for most women, make no mistake. 😉 )

Holy horsefeathers! … With so many lip-plumping, shine-enhancing shades and varieties and brands on the market these days what was once a simple foray into creative cosmetic self-expression has become more of an exercise in close-your-eyes-and-pick-one.

Ploughing through 12 or more shades of pink to find the one that works best for me is not my idea of a good time. What’s even more frustrating is when I do finally find the one I like and want to replace it a year later after it’s been well used, it’s either been repackaged and renamed so I can’t find it, or worse, discontinued. Thus the search for a new shade begins all over again. (And this is true of ALL cosmetic products.)

Another consideration: Do I trust the salesperson (usually a woman) to have my best interests at heart when debating the merits of pink versus peach against my skin? Sometimes I wonder. Call me a skeptic, but when she says I look good in a particular shade does she mean it or is she simply trying to make a sale?

Hmmmmm …

Perhaps this is more about my own trust issues, I don’t know, but I’ve bought a lot of lipsticks over the years that, under artificial store lighting, looked really good but, when I got home and tried them in natural light, made me look like a charicature of myself.

My make-up case is a veritable lipstick grave yard.

But, I digress …

During my little escapade I became acutely aware of a roving make-up artist brought in by the store for the day. Her mission: to provide make-up refreshers or, if a hapless “victim” purchased $75 worth of product or more, a full makeover.

She wasn’t really harassing people, but you know how it is … when you’re in a hurry you don’t really want to be bothered interacting with someone whose real purpose is to sell you stuff you don’t need. Frankly, I already own a full complement of expensive product I haven’t been able to use recently due to my ongoing entanglement with adrenal fatigue. I haven’t been able to get out much. The barn has been my social focal point and, as you might imagine, there isn’t a great call for a full face of make-up there.

So, doing my best to make myself invisible, I crouched low to the ground and ruminated with much focused intensity upon which of the the many gloss colours at my disposal might be most lip-smacking appropriate. I don’t wear a lot of make-up, but I am particular when I do.

Then, as the wolf is to the rabbit, I was pounced upon.

“Can I help you find something?” the over-made-up make-up artist enquired with a saccharin snarl.

How to wriggle myself free?

“No thanks!” I responded quickly and resumed my focus on a seemingly fruitless search.

The prowler wouldn’t take the hint and continued to hover, almost standing on top of me. So while still crouched, I turned on my heels and decided to get a closer look at her.

She was young middle-aged, I’d say, and face painted in such a way, no doubt, as to demonstrate her prowess in the cosmetic arts.

Heavy foundation, piled-on layers of eye shadow in shades of cerise and black, false eye lashes, big ruby lips, and hair dyed black sporting a streak of cerise that flashed carelessly through long unkempt bangs — a little too Goth, for my taste. Still, I smiled, thanked her for her query and returned again to the task at hand, hoping she’d go away.

I was to be disappointed.

“We have a special offer on today … ” she began her cheerfully whining speech.

I only half listened as she went on about this and that to do with the special in-store offer.

“Blah … blah … blah … blah … blah … or you can have the full makeover with a purchase of $75 or more. Would you like to follow me?”

That’s when I finally turned to the unrelenting and, without pre-meditation, flashed this bolt out of the blue:

“No thanks … I’m going to the barn after this and my horse doesn’t care what I look like.”

A pregnant pause hovered between us. A quizzical expression crawled spider-like across her mask such that I could almost hear the synapses in her selling strategy snapping in panic behind it …

Abort! Abort! Abort!

Then, after a moment and with wonderfully punctuated hesitation, she said …

“I … guess not …”

She then turned and walked away.

Victory complete, I exhaled with relief and returned again to my torturous lipstick hunt.

It was the wonderfully dumbfounded hesitation in her response that amused me.

Perhaps she’s never spent time with a horse. Perhaps the notion of going out in public without a full face of make-up is anathema to her. Or, perhaps, both notions are as foreign to her as wearing a full face of make-up every day is to me.

Had I intrigued her or confused her? Or did she think my manner downright rude and boorish?

I don’t know and it doesn’t matter.

What I do know, from personal experience, is the trap that’s set as soon as you park your derriere in the make-up chair of a cosmetic department.

Let the up-selling begin!

You come in for a lipstick and, unless you are really, really strong, leave with a full compliment of new face paint you will literally never use — all because the make-up magician made it look so good. Once home you’ve either forgotten, or have no idea, how the tricks work.

Experience has taught me that being cornered in this way is to be avoided at all costs. Like my horse, Bear, I don’t appreciate being bullied into doing something I don’t want to do. And sometimes, like Bear, I need to get myself out of that corner by demonstrating a little bit of attitude.

So, ladies, (gentlemen: feel free to pass this along to the women in your lives) if ever you feel cornered by some over-zealous cosmetician, feel free to lean on my exit strategy. And, hold fast to the immortal words of French poet, Antoine de Saint Exupéry:

” … it is only with the heart that one can see rightly, what is essential is invisible to the eye.”

And that is how my horse saved me from an in-store cosmetic makeover. 😉

Nurture what you love … including yourself …

Dorothy 🙂
Horse Mom

*

Copyright Aimwell CreativeWorks 2013

Escape With Me …

Yuk it up

… and pass the time with my equine entertainment coordinator … the comic, Shakespeare … as we engage in a little horse play.

You all know him as Bear, of course, but that doesn’t alter the fact that my four-legged thespian loves to put on an act and delight whatever might constitute an audience in the small barn where he lives.

Yukking it up and flashing those pearly whites for the camera is one of his many pleasures.

This week the topic of conversation around the barn has been the mucky-ness of the paddocks.

While these green spaces recover from the ravages of winter, the horses are on hourly rotation out in the sand ring which is itself a mire of mud and murkiness. This schedule will continue until the paddocks are demonstrating more resilience and the grass has had a chance to grow.

Like all the other horses, Bear cannot resist the urge to drop to his knees and roll … and roll … and roll. The current soft squooshiness of the sand ring makes this a particularly appealing pastime.

Yesterday Bear’s blanket, as evidenced by this image taken in said paddock with his buddy, Sam, was absolutely filthy. He has the role of mudslinger down pat.

Sam and Ham

Later, as I was photo-documenting the results of his shenanigans in the barn he decided to be the centre of attention for his own reasons, and proceeded to ham it up for the camera.

Yuk it up 2

Naturally, the bucket of carrots at his feet had something to do with it. Like all great entertainers he expects to be rewarded for his efforts.

Aries is looking for a best supporting actor nod as he rests his chin on Bear’s rump trying to get in on the action.

Aries wants a carrot

You can see how well that’s going over.

*

This is my escape from the world and its drama.

After a couple of hours with Bear my perspective on a broader world beyond my control changes as I realize the amazing influence I can have on my horse and he on me.

My heart goes out to all whose lives have been radically changed this week by terrible events … and not just the ones we know about.

Nurture what you love … and create a happier world for yourself and those within your influence … while the chance is yours.

Be well …

Dorothy 🙂
Horse Mom

*

Copyright Aimwell CreativeWorks 2013

The Party Animal

So, apparently, Bear is a party animal.

When Christine entered the small barn early one morning last week to feed the hungry hordes their morning hay ration, she was greeted, quite unexpectedly, by the blanketed derriere of an escapee … my Bear.

“How did you get out?” she asked astonished.

It was a good question.

Now, it’s not unusual for the bored and resourceful horse to pop his head over the half-door and fidget with the fastened latch. Their lips, practiced at maneuvering edibles, are strong and flexible and easily grab hold of all kinds of [forbidden] objects.

Several of the 10 horses living in Bear’s cozy barn have proven adept at unfastening their stall doors and so are now on lock-down at night.

My “butter-wouldn’t-melt-in-his-mouth” Bear happens to be one of them.

I didn't do it!

This is because a few years ago he made his first, and supposedly last, great escape. He was discovered, one morning, chowing down on the contents of a 50 lb sack of carrots, evidence of his one-horse aisle party littered all about him. You could tell where he’d been and which of the other horses he’d visited by the trail of hay and manure left in his wake.

Thus, to curb his lust for channeling Houdini, a stall security system was devised that could not, under any circumstances, be manipulated by wandering equine lips.

Security System

So, it was, indeed, a great surprise to find, once again, that he’d been making the rounds as the quintessential party animal — feasting upon the morning’s stored ration of hay, fertilizing the poured concrete floor and fraternizing with his barn buddies. He was enjoying a conversation with his old pal, Doc, when Christine intervened.

But how the heck had he escaped in the first place?

Later that day a small herd of barn mom’s congregated around Bear’s stall door and studied the latch for several minutes.

One enterprising horse mom, Bears “gammy,” took a step stool into his stall, climbed upon it and, when we had closed the door behind her, proceeded to pretend to be Bear by leaning over the door and a) reaching for the latch to fiddle with the lock with her fingers as a horse might with his lips, and b) rattling the door by leaning her body against it repeatedly and thus some how releasing the mechanism.

We deduced, after a good laugh, that it would have been impossible for him to tamper with the latch. No amount of door rattling or lip gymnastics would have given him an out.

The only conclusion we could reach was that the door must not have been properly latched in the first place. Bear, being the rich opportunist that he is, would have noticed this when leaning on the door some time during the night and taken full advantage of the situation by pushing it all the way open to let himself out.

Party!

Still, no harm done, except that Bear was rather dopey that day, standing in the paddock catching up on zzzz’s instead of voraciously eating, which is his usual habit. Something, I think it can safely be said, that is true of party animals the world over.

Nurture what you love …

Dorothy 🙂
Horse Mom

*

Copyright Aimwell CreativeWorks 2013

Managing the Equine Fall Fashion Faux Pas

Autumn brings change.

As Mother Nature releases her latest Fall collection (the same every year, but who’s complaining), my horse dons a retro look all his own … a big, fuzzy, seasonably fashionable, Fall coat.

Bear is, for better or worse, amongst the most ardent followers of Fall’s irreverently fluffy look.

Unlike his sleeker chic summer style, Bear’s cool-season wear is more provincial — thick, fuzzy, like … well … a bear! I run my hand through his hirsute coat rather than over it, my fingers buried in plush. He is suiting up for Winter.

The Fall season’s colour trend for this horse-about-country is a rich, dark bay … a mahogany melange of reds and browns and blacks — my favourite range in the equine colour palette. Naturally three white socks, white-starred forehead and the white snip on his muzzle distinguish him from others sporting the same outfit. Everyone needs their own personal statement.

A thicker, more luxurious coat of necessity requires a more intense grooming regimen. Designed to insulate and provide a certain amount of water-resistance the Fall coat is, indeed, prone to attracting all manner of dirt or, heaven forbid, mud when Bear is engaged in one of his more pleasurable outdoor pastimes — rolling in the dirt patch (bottom left of first image) in Poet’s Paddock.

In fact, no amount of elbow grease can release completely the layers of, dare I say, filth, which gather beneath the surface yet is plainly clear to the eye. A never ending cycle of currying and brushing and currying and brushing isn’t enough to remove all the detritus that lurks there.

Once unleashed from its hairy prison, dirt and dust fills the air around Bear like a menacing cloud. It settles on my clothes; gets up my nose; coats my face; invades my lungs. Sometimes the grit of it even gets inside my mouth (which, I suppose if looked at in a more positive light, does provide a bonus between-dental-appointments tooth polishing. 😉 )

Thus, in spite of my best efforts, there is always, hovering at the surface of his fluffy new Fall coat, a layer of dirt that makes it look as if I’ve put no effort into grooming him at all. I don’t know, perhaps it’s part of the equine Fall “look,” and I just don’t get it.

There are many things about fashion in general I just don’t understand.

And then imagine, if you will, Bear’s appearance after his workouts, his fuzzy coat randomly caked in sweat. Remove his saddle pad and voila! … as profound a case of a bad hair day as you’re ever likely to see — all sticky and matted and gross.

Fall’s fashion statement leaves something to be desired — it simply is not functional as active wear!

You see, before I can brush him out he must dry off. On cold days this requires the use of a “cooler” — a light fleece or wool blanket that wicks off moisture so he doesn’t catch a chill. With his coat as generous as it is now, this can take a long time. And while he, as the indulged might, enjoys the extra preening I do need to consider my other responsibilities. Not every day can be a spa day.

So, how to manage this Fall fashion faux pas?

In about a month (maybe sooner because he is really fuzzy) Bear will sport more urban chic Winter finery. His fluffy look will be clipped away completely so that all of which I’ve shared here is nothing but a passing unpleasant Fall non-fancy.

No more unpleasant, lingering sweatiness for him. No more dirt up my nose. No more floating surface dust cloud that renders him looking ill-used. Just a lovely ready-to-wear, high-season, shiny coat of seal grey/brown (also rather beautiful) — easy to clean and accented and protected by myriad high-quality warm blankies and accessories provided, at some cost, by yours truly.

He’ll model a carefully selected assortment of outerwear designed for equine comfort indoors and out. A stylish waterproof, wind-resistant rain sheet (unfortunately not horse play-proof but you can’t have everything); blue and green plaid day sheets to wear in the barn (pictured below); grey/blue/black plaid cozy “jammies” with a burgundy fleece lining for when the nights are colder; a green turnout shell for those days outside when it’s reasonably mild, and a heavier blue/black/cream checked outdoor blanket for those really cold days (to be worn over his day sheets for extra warmth). His undergarment a blanket buddy of pulverised parachute silk (I least I think that’s the fabric) to protect his broad shoulders from blanket rubs.

Not to mention his two stylish coolers for keeping the chill off immediately following a training session — a blue/green fleece for warmer days and a heavier black/burgundy number with gold trim for the deep winter months. (You might have noticed some colour coordination in my descriptions. I am a firm believer in this. More in another post.)

Bear will be toasty warm and clean. He can roll all he likes in the mud and the blankets will take the brunt of it. No more bad hair days for him. No more dust and dirt storming off his coat and clogging facial orifices for me.

His Fall/Winter wardrobe will be both functional and fashionable — no doubt what every mom wants for her child, even when it is the four-legged (fuzzy) kind.

Nurture what you love …

Dorothy 🙂
Horse Mom

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Copyright Aimwell CreativeWorks 2012

Poll: You and horses …

… Did you participate in the poll? … Enquiring minds need to know …

Before I can have an effective connection with my horse I need to understand what makes him tick.

Similarly, it’s my desire to have a better understanding of your experience with horses so I can create an effective connection with you through this blog.

So please, take a teeny, weeny moment to click on the statement below that best reflects your experience with horses. Leave comments if you wish. In ensuing posts I will muse upon and write about each of the statements, share stories, etc. to demonstrate that you are not alone, whatever your experience with, or interest in, horses may be.

Obviously you have some interest, or you wouldn’t be here, right?

So, go ahead … don’t be bashful … 😉 …

Thank you soooo much!

Nurture what you love …

Dorothy
Horse Mom

Copyright Aimwell Enterprises 2012