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

Summer Says Goodbye …

Well, not yet … not for another month, at least.

But with all the kids going back to school, and the daylight hours getting shorter, and the leaves already starting to change colour on some of the maples, one can be forgiven for lamenting the passage of summer.

I’ve seen a few bloggers remark on this already.

Here’s my two cents worth …

Continue reading

The Follow-Up Birthday Present …

Wouldn’t we all like a follow-up birthday present?

You may recall that six weeks or so ago Bear received a visit from the chiropractor (his first) as a birthday present.

Well, yesterday he had his follow-up appointment.

According to the chiropractor, Bear’s held up pretty well since his last manipulation. His main issue is stiffness in the sacroiliac joint which, coincidentally (or not) is one of my main issues. (It’s one of the reasons I visit my chiropractor every couple of weeks.)

... More work on the sacroiliac joint ...

… More work on the sacroiliac joint … (All images taken with my iPhone)

Other areas needing further alignment were his withers, shoulders and neck, though the chiropractor gave him a thorough review, just for good measure.

It was interesting to watch Bear’s body tense and release as the chiropractor worked his magic, and to see the reaction on Bear’s face. He was enjoying every minute of it, even if he was, occasionally, taken by surprise by a particularly intense adjustment.

As the kinks were worked out of Bear’s body he visibly relaxed and seemed to become even more beautiful (if that’s even possible). The obvious glint in his eyes told me he was feeling no pain. I felt like a good mom providing him with this important healing experience.

Afterwards a bucket of carrots was a welcome reward for my brave boy.

The reward

With any luck he won’t need the services of the chiropractor again for a while. But, I won’t be surprised if there’s a follow-up, follow-up birthday present somewhere in Bear’s future.

Healing is not a static experience.

Nurture what you love …

Dorothy 🙂
Horse Mom

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©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

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Copyright Aimwell CreativeWorks 2013

Equus … A Year in Images

The Cream-Coloured Pony

When I was 12 years old I wanted a cream-coloured pony.

In fact, the first horse I ever begged my mother to buy for me was a palomino named Cloud. He was the most beautiful pony I’d ever seen, with his flaxen mane and tail and rich golden coat, and though he also had the bumpiest and thus most uncomfortable trot to sit to he was still, in my pre-teen mind, the most perfect pony I could possibly imagine.

Like many horse-crazy city girls, I dreamt of bringing my favourite pony home, in my case to our 1920s bricks and mortar semi-detached house in North London.

I had it all planned out. The tool shed located on the edge of the carport and which barely held a wheel barrow and a few garden tools, would be his stall. The fact that it was too small was of no consequence. Somehow I would just make it work.

Grazing was a bit of an issue, as our little pie-shaped garden had only a small patch of grass that the dogs actually used for … you know … but this didn’t seem to matter either. Within five minutes walking distance of our house was a lovely big park. In my free imagination I would take him there where he could eat grass all day long under my careful supervision. (Not surprisingly school never seemed to interfere with my dream.) Then I would ride him around the perimeter of this large park named after a king, jumping the occasional bench or playground apparatus, and pole bending around the lines of ancient elms and oaks.

Then Cloud and I would walk the short distance home, along the main road and down the broken path to our street, and I’d put him comfortably away in his makeshift stall with a yummy meal of … well, I never actually got that far in my imaginary plan. It was enough just to know he was there and we were together.

Well, sadly, life with Cloud remained a figment of my imagination that faded with time. It was a sad day when he traveled down the lane in a horse box to his new home. I got over it, of course, but you know, girls and their dreams. They never really forget them … they just get stored away.

So, fast forward to this past March (um … many, many years later …. truthfully decades) when, to my total glee this lovely palomino boy arrived at our barn for a short-term stay. The little girl in me, complete with the Cloud file that had been stored in memory all these years, bubbled to life.

This five-year-old horse was Cloud all over again, and I was smitten.

But not without an undercurrent of guilt. Was I betraying my beautiful Bear while indulging in an old memory of the dream pony of my youth as awakened by this passing Cloud?

This may sound silly, but it’s important to note that horses do get jealous. Bear has chased his paddock buddy, Sam, away from my proximity on many occasions when I’ve visited them by the gate. He is jealous of my attention and doesn’t take kindly to interlopers.

So, yes, that I had given even a tiny speck of my heart to this dreamy, creamy phenomenon had left me feeling a little wanting, especially when I caught myself mindlessly conspiring how I might find the funds to purchase him and then convince the owner to sell him to me.

Evidently the 12-year-old is still alive and well and reeking imaginary havoc.

Then, one day, as was foretold, this golden boy moved to another barn, and with his departure my pre-occupation with an old dream dissolved into faded memory once more .

I don’t believe Bear ever caught wind of this brief flight of fancy, but who can say for sure. Horses know when they aren’t the centre of your world. I’m thinking he got his own back in July. That, however, is a story for another day.

Truth be told, I’ll keep my real-life beautiful bay over a cream-coloured pony dream any day.

Nurture what you love …

Dorothy 🙂
Horse Mom

Copyright Aimwell CreativeWorks 2012

Happy Birthday, Bear!

It’s been almost a month since my last post. A family crisis has come and gone and thankfully the worst is behind us.

Gradually I’m finding my way again, however as happens during times of crisis life is under examination and I am mostly lost for words right now.

So, herewith the third instalment of Ham Horse Gallery, this time to celebrate my beautiful boy’s 11th birthday.

These images were captured today while Bear and his buddy Sam were having a romp in the paddock.

Enjoy!

Happy Birthday, Bear!

Nurture what you love …

Dorothy
Horse Mom

Copyright Aimwell Enterprises 2012

Nurturing Thoughts on Mother’s Day

I take my role as horse mom pretty seriously.

In my view, I have been given stewardship over one of God’s creatures. I do not own Bear. (If anything, he owns me …;-) )  I have taken on the responsibility of seeing to the welfare and well being of this beautiful horse and so I nurture him to the best of my ability. I want him to be happy, healthy and enjoy a satisfying life experience.

Due to circumstances beyond my control I do not have children of my own. I don’t dwell on it. It is what it is. So I turn my nurturing instincts instead to my four-legged, fuzzy children, all of whom teach me valuable lessons as I wear the mantle of nurturer.

Experience has shown me that how we nurture someone or something will either bless us, or come back to haunt us. It’s one of the reasons, I suspect, it’s so important to be mindful of our decisions and interactions with others.

It also pays, I’ve found, to be discerning with respect to the kinds of influences we invite into our lives. What we take in we inevitably dish out, whether we intend to, or not. Remember the saying “Garbage in; garbage out?”

So … I have this horse, and …

… as I nurture him past his spooks and moments of discomfort I, in turn, learn to negotiate the spooks and discomfort in my own life more effectively

… as I nurture him to a more athletic way of being under saddle I, in turn, am more athletic in the saddle

… as I nurture his mind, body and spirit with daily rituals of grooming, exercise and feeding I, in turn, am more mindful of my own self-care

… as I nurture his playful spirit I, in turn, am more playful

… as I nurture his happy nature my nature, in turn, assumes one of happiness.

It’s really very simple.

The obvious reward for being a diligent and loving, caring nurturer is the pure joy of seeing whatever we’ve nurtured, thrive. In my case, it’s Bear. The fact that I, too, can thrive from this experience is a happy, and most welcome, side effect.

Happy Mother’s (Nurturer’s) Day!

Nurture what you love …

Dorothy
Horse Mom

Please participate in the poll in my post Poll: You and Horses

Copyright Aimwell Enterprises 2012

… and this is Bear …

I love to admire my handsome Bear. In person or by image, his incredible beauty in body and spirit always brightens my day. He is the perfect panacea when I’m feeling blue.

And, as far as I’m concerned, he is the most beautiful horse in the whole world. (Every horse mom thinks their equine baby is the most beautiful in the world … ) And why not? He is, after all, my de facto “child” — the recipient of the tender ministrations my own children might have received had I been able to have any.

As the proud Mama Bear (I just made that up! Ha! 🙂 ) of this 10-year-old, 16.3 hand, dark bay Hanoverian boy of superior handsomeness, I naturally feel compelled, on occasion, to whip out the old (well, new) Nikon D7000 and photograph him ad nauseam. And, as any proud parent would I share, and gush, over the images with my friends and family, whether they want to see them or not.

In the spirit of the proud parent, today’s post is a quasi photo album of Bear’s Wednesday training session with my friend Christine in the saddle.

A quiet and gifted rider, Christine occasionally babysits and rides Bear for me when my health or travels won’t permit. Bear adores her, which pleases me, for as every parent knows … it’s important to have a reliable and trustworthy baby sitter.

So, let’s get started …

So, here he is working at the trot. … Oh, what a handsome boy!! … And look how beautifully decked out he is in pale pink polo bandages to match Christine’s shirt! … Like me, Christine feels that colour co-ordination is important. I doubt that Bear cares one way or the other, but if I’m happy, he’s happy. … Besides looking smart the bandages actually serve as protection for his delicate lower legs where the hardworking tendons and ligaments hug the cannon bone just below the skin’s surface. Such fragile beasties …

… and this is Bear taking a break between exercises. Look at the blue highlights reflected in his coat. Just gorgeous! …

… and this is Bear and Christine executing a canter circle. See how all his weight (and Christine’s) is balanced momentarily on his left front foot? … His relaxed facial expression, softly swishing tail and expressive ears tell me he’s in the happy zone. What a good boy …

… and this is a partial view of Bear’s beautiful hind quarters. … So glad to have caught his lucky horse shoe … I spend more on his footwear than I do on my own! But he has a superior blacksmith and it’s worth every penny to know he’s soundly shod. … And look at that muscle tone! Like a rock! He’s just so athletic … I actually find it annoying when people make disparaging remarks involving the horse’s hind quarters. It’s a very powerful part of the equine anatomy and worthy of R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Together with that shod hoof it can seriously maim or, with enough force, even kill! …

… and this is Bear at the end of the training session. He’s demonstrating his relaxed and submissive state by stretching through his back and continuing to reach for a connection with Christine even though she has released the tension on the reins. Happy boy, happy mom … 🙂

… and this is Bear’s foamy (like cappuccino froth) muzzle … more evidence that he was happy and relaxed in his work. Bear has a reputation at the barn for superior foaminess … That’s my boy! …

… and this is Bear giving me the wooly eyeball, wondering what the heck I’m doing. Love those blue overtones … so handsome! …

… and this is Bear fishing at Christine’s hand for a treat. He received plenty of love … and carrots. He’s such a good boy …

… and this is Bear enjoying a post-workout nosh. Sun, grass, dandelions … a happier horse you’ll never see!

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There … my pride and joy … my beautiful boy.

Thanks for your time.

Nurture what you love …

Dorothy
Horse Mom

Copyright Aimwell Enterprises 2012 

You Are Beautiful …

There is a road near home that I travel occasionally. It’s a lovely rolling, broken country road peppered with estates and farms on either side and overhung by old maples, oaks, elms and spruces. It’s one of my favourite routes to travel going east-west.

I first noticed this random, incongruous sign (pictured) on this lovely road a couple of years ago. My eyes had wandered for a second as I was heading east and there it was, nailed to a tree at the front of someone’s property, its white, hand-printed block letters squeezed with effort into too small an area. Yet the message was clear to anyone who happened upon it … “YOU ARE BEAUTIFul.”

Naturally it made me smile —  first, because it was so whimsical and, second, because its message had brightened my day and, in its innocence made me, indeed, feel my beauty.

It was obviously put there on purpose, and even  now I wonder how many other people have observed its unassuming presence. It’s still there. If you’re looking you can’t miss it.

Of course, this leads to musings about beauty.

Do we see and acknowledge the beauty of our own being, or ignore it and brush it aside? Do we nurture our inner, and outer, beauty so we can share our authenticity lovingly with those around us? The kind of beauty I mean is not the vain kind we see only with our eyes … it’s the essence of who we are that emanates from our hearts.

Every day I tell Bear he is the most beautiful horse in my world, but not only because he’s so handsome. His buoyant and honest spirit lifts my own in so many ways and makes me feel better about who I am. The essence of his beauty nurtures me.

My dogs, too, and my cat are frequently reminded of how much I appreciate their extraordinary companionship — their beautiful spirits bringing smiles and healing to my life every day.

It is said that animals reflect their owners. If my animals are so beautiful, and not just in my eyes but to my heart also what, then, does that say about me?

Animals don’t lie. If I’ve learned anything in the past several years when working with my horse it’s that our animals, reflect back to us all that we are. Horses in particular, as I’ve mentioned in a previous post, will show us the truth about ourselves. If we don’t like what they’re telling us are we prepared to change so we can accept our truth and see the beauty that resides there?

False modesty is a lie. I accept the beauty that graces my life and am willing to open my heart and share it with others who can, and will, appreciate it.

When I forget to acknowledge this, however, it’s good to be reminded by the sight or memory of the random sign, on a random road, in a random township that a random somebody placed because they believed enough in the beauty of other people to tell them so.

In case you hadn’t noticed … you are beautiful. 🙂

Thanks for visiting “Musings of a Horse Mom.”

Nurture what you love …

Dorothy
“Horse Mom”