Spr-inter Storm

Snow

It was a mess of weather all over the place its seems this past weekend, and this is what we had in our neck of the woods. Unrelenting ice pellets and snow with a smack or two of freezing rain and high winds.

We were really fortunate not to have sustained any damage to trees and property. As well, the hydro stayed on throughout. Others in our area were not so lucky.

Still, we were isolated for a couple of days. Access to our highland area was almost impossible as the gravel roads were skating rinks (I’m told as I haven’t left the farm since last Wednesday.) I’m sure happy I didn’t need to go anywhere. (And we were going to remove our snow tires last week! Hahahahahahaha!!!)

We subsisted on homemade soup to use up stuff in the fridge in case the power went out. Fortunately we have a gas stove so heating up food was not going to be a problem. And it wasn’t. The beef barley soup with dumplings was de-lish!

Since no one was able to get to the farm Monday morning I helped Eira with barn chores. Mucking stalls, turnout … that sort of thing. Trudging through the heavy snow to get the horses in and out, and digging a path to the manure spreader required heavy exertion. Been a long time since I worked in such conditions, and I really enjoyed it. It’s challenging, physical labour and immensely satisfying. Not something I can do all the time, mind you. Issues with adrenal fatigue continue to dog me, so after that kind of exertion I’m pretty much useless the next day. I need recovery time. It’s my woman-of-a-certain-age challenge and I manage my life around it. Somewhat limiting, to be sure, but to do otherwise would push me back into a debilitating state I’m unwilling to re-visit any time soon.  Today I can up the activity one more notch.

A Wagon LoadThe horses were, for the most part, pretty cooperative. They spent all weekend inside and were happy to stretch their legs in the snow once we were finally able to give them some turnout on Monday. We’re hoping for lots of sunshine, over the next little while, to dry things up suitably so our equine friends can enjoy the spring grass when it finally arrives. Paddock management is crucial this time of year.

Now I’m looking forward to seeing things green up. The buds are on the trees; the tulips were just poking through the ground before the storm hit. Spring is awaiting its turn with baited breath.

Nurture what you love,

Dorothy
Horse Mom

~*~

©Dorothy Chiotti … All Rights Reserved 2018 … Aimwell CreativeWorks

 

 

The Ice Storm Cometh

Ascension

~*~

Got up at my usual early hour this morning and was privileged to watch the sun ascend on the other side of the valley. Always a thrill for me, as the vista is quite magnificent, however especially today as according to the weather prognosticators there’s no chance of sunshine in this area again until the middle of next week. Between now and then southern Ontario is expected to see a menacing ice storm which, as those of you who have been following my blog for a while will know, has the potential to wreak havoc. (See Ice Storm Aftermath, March 2016) So, I’m grateful to have had this moment today to commune with the great, and seemingly elusive, fireball in the sky.

So, ice storm. Our lives disrupted by Mother Nature’s need to vent. (Don’t blame her.) A check list of things to do to prepare in case we lose power for a few days. Firewood brought inside to dry. Water stored in containers. Bran muffins to be baked. Perhaps most importantly, breathe. It will be what it will be.

As for the horses, I am told by the lovely ladies holding down the fort at the barn that if the ground is not safe enough to escort grandma it’s not safe to turn the horses out in the paddocks either. So, when/if we get this ice storm the horses will be kept inside and ridden and hand-walked and free-lunged to get the bugs out. And then, when grandma feels it’s safe, our equine kids can go out again.

Spring on the farm can be quite the roller coaster ride.

Nurture what you love,

Dorothy
Horse Mom

~*~

©Dorothy Chiottii … All Rights Reserved 2018 … Aimwell CreativeWorks

Daily Prompt: Disrupt

My Lucky Charm

 

Going Home

Shakespeare, age four, comes homes … March 17, 2006

~*~

Twelve is a popular number in cycles.

The 12 months of the year.

The 12 signs of the Zodiac.

The 12-year cycle in Chinese astrology … and on.

Today marks the 12th anniversary of the day Shakespeare trotted into my life. This day does, I feel, mark the end of an important personal cycle. As I contemplate movement forward in my life I must make room and allow the past to be the past.

Shakespeare was a change agent. He was a catalyst for self-awareness and made me a better person because of it. Taught me to stand up and be counted. Taught me to open my heart. Taught me I had a voice and that I needed to use it.

He was my comic Shakespeare. My little leprechaun who even now teases my memory  bringing laughter and tears and joy.

To mark the end of this 12-year cycle I have started to build a cairn in his memory at the highest point on the farm. My monument to him and his great spirit and everything he meant to me.

And so, life goes on.

Shakespeare will always be my lucky charm.

Wise Guy

Shakespeare, age 15

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Nurture what you love …

Dorothy
Horse Mom

©Dorothy Chiotti … All Rights Reserved 2018 … Aimwell CreativeWorks

 

Planning to Shine

It’s been just over two months since Shakespeare departed and the Wednesday wave of grief continues to roll through. Each week its impact is less, still, I  choose to be gentle with myself on this day when the waters are stirred once more.

Today my thoughts begin to turn away from loss to what may be found from its experience. The silver lining, I suppose.

Bear was a huge part of my life for a long time, and for the past two and a half years our journey was shared by a beautiful Hanoverian mare, Sophia Loren (Sophi). Now she is the full focus of my attention so, in the spirit of getting on with life, I would like to tell you about her.

Sophi

This little mare is as larger-than-life as one might expect from one bearing the same name as a cinema icon. I didn’t name her. Like Shakespeare, she arrived in my life offering a challenge. Shakespeare, named for one of the greatest wordsmiths of the ages, helped me to find my heart, and my voice, as a creative writer; Sophia Loren, named for one of the brightest shining stars in the firmament of Hollywood, is helping me to shine. I’m not going to get into all the complex ways this is meaningful to me. I believe, however, that my experience with these two horses rather underscores the idea that the Universe will send you what you need, when you need it. You just need to be open to recognizing and receiving it when it lands on your doorstep.

Sophi and I struggled, in the beginning. Not that we weren’t well suited. Not at all! Like Bear, she was only the fourth horse I looked at and we fit like a glove. No, our struggles came through outside influences. Finding our groove in that first year proved difficult as our coach, it seemed to me and for whatever reason, chose to dumb everything down. Sophi was training Third Level dressage when she passaged into my life, and our coach was keeping me stuck at First Level, a place from which I was determined to rise.

That coach and I parted company after a year for a variety of reasons. Four months later I was introduced to Nancy. A brilliant, accomplished coach whose only agenda was to help Sophi and I realize our potential. Within a couple of lessons she had us training Second Level movements. Six months later we were preparing for our first dressage show ~ my first time in the ring in 10 years! In such a short period, Sophi and I had risen together through the watchful eye and skillful teaching of a coach who truly cared and wanted us to succeed. No quick fixes. Everything I had learned over decades of training had been held within waiting for the right person to draw it out. It was a matter of trust.

Shoulder In

Shoulder-in … Image: Victoria Sambleson

In July and August of last year Sophi and I participated in our first shows together. Three tests over three days at each show. I learned all the Second Level tests by memory and Sophi was an absolute star. Sure, I was nervous, and adrenal fatigue was a concern as always, but feeling Sophi’s confidence, and the encouragement and support of those around me helped to override that. Our scores improved from test to test and we ribboned in the top four in all six classes.

We had so much fun. I’m so grateful to all my friends who encouraged me to take that uncertain leap, and to my coach for showing me it was possible. I’m grateful for Victoria who groomed for me at the show, and JF who transported Sophi in the horse box, his journeyman show confidence underpinning the whole adventure (“Go get ’em, tiger!”) For Eira who did such a lovely job braiding Sophi’s mane; and Courtney for doing such a beautiful body clip on her. Sophi looked immaculate and so proud of herself. And, naturally, I’m so grateful to Nancy for working with what she saw in me, not with what someone told her to see.

Extension

Extension … Image: Victoria Sambleson

Sophi thrives in the show ring and this gives me confidence, and as we share in each other’s confidence we thrive together.

Now we’re training Third Level, starting to introduce all the fancy moves that Sophi already knows (lead changes, passage, etc.) and loves to pre-empt. (“Oh, I know what you want…” and gives it to me before I even ask.) She’s a very smart mare.

We’re planning to show next summer. We’re planning to shine.

Nurture what you love …

Dorothy
Horse Mom

©Dorothy Chiotti … All Rights Reserved 2018 

 

 

Review and release

 

My dearly departed Bear is the focus of this post. Final respects and then it’s time to let go and move on as he taught me.

Please enjoy this review of some of the images posted to this blog since 2011 celebrating my beautiful boy and all he was to me.

I give you “Variations on a Theme.”

Nurture what you love,

Dorothy
Horse Mom

~*~

 

Musing

Sophi

Sophi

~*~

I’ve said it before, and it’s worth repeating ~ when in the middle of a significant life experience I tend not to disturb the process by writing about it. A play-by-play of my life (with horses) is not the purpose of this blog. Rather, I prefer to review things after the dust has settled … and muse.

One of the things I’ve observed lately is the amount of change going on around me. So much change, for so many, all in the same window of time.

This is true in my life also. In many ways it has been a summer of positive personal upheaval. I feel blessed and grateful and, perhaps, slightly overwhelmed by the incredible journey that lies ahead. However, I trust the path to which my husband and I have been guided because of all the signs along the way that have pointed us in this new direction. I also take lots of deep breaths and endeavour to keep my feet firmly planted on the ground. I feel like I’m stepping into my purpose. My comfort zone expanding in momentarily uncomfortable, but important, ways that will define a new way of being as I go forward.

A quick-ish update …

Mi scusi … mi piacerebbe un bicchiere d’acqua … (Excuse me … I’d like a drink of water …)

It’s been five weeks since Sophi (aka Sophia Loren) sashayed into the barn for the first time and turned our lives upside down. She’s a starlet in her own mind … and she knows her own mind.

For instance, it wasn’t by accident I learned she loves to play with the water nozzle when being bathed. She told me. I was  hosing her down after our first training session, spraying cool water at her chest, when she started dipping and bobbing her head up and down trying to reach for the nozzle. I got the hint and pointed the gentle spray at her lips, whereupon she grabbed the nozzle and drank from it as it if were a straw. This went on for about a minute. It was a hot day and she was thirsty, and what struck me immediately is that she knew how to take care of herself.

Then, as I rinsed her off with a bucket of diluted anti-fungal liniment she kept reaching around as if she wanted to drink from it. I cautioned her and yet she persisted. She wanted to drink from the bucket as well. So, I stopped what I was doing, grabbed her little red bucket and promptly filled it with water. When I offered it to her she emptied the bucket almost to the bottom and then grabbed the edge nearest her and attempted to throw what was left in my direction. I guess she figured I needed cooling off, too.

As you might imagine, she has trained me well and this is now part of our daily ritual (as long as the weather stays reasonably warm.)

Non puoi fare nulla di queste mosche? (Can’t you do anything about these flies?)

Another pet peeve for our resident Italianate prima donna is the surfeit of biting flies. This I discovered the hard way when I was bringing her in from the paddock one day soon after she arrived.

It was one of those hot, humid, sticky days and the flies, as annoying as any paparazzi, were swarming and stinging. In her distress Ms. Sophi bumped the metal gate as I was leading her out of the paddock. The gate, in turn, bumped hard into the bridge of my nose. (Expletive!) After I let go of the lead rope she ran back into the paddock leaving me stomping and wandering around the path to the gate in an excruciating daze and feeling my nose to ensure it wasn’t broken. Having established it was still in one piece, I was able to pull myself together and make a second attempt at bringing in my stomping starlet.

Once she was safely in her stall I grabbed an ice pack from the freezer and spent much of the afternoon and evening with it perched on my nose. A visit to the chiropractor on my way home helped, too. Perhaps it was this that saved my face from extensive bruising. I was lucky. A few inches lower and the gate would have knocked out my front teeth!

It wasn’t Sophi’s fault. I was distracted by the flies as well and ought to have been paying keener attention. Since then I’ve been careful to ensure Sophi’s turned out damp after bathing her so she can roll in her favourite dirt spot and create her own fly defence. I must take care of my little starlet … and my nose. 😉

~*~

Bear

Bear

~*~

The lady doth protest too much, methinks …

Meanwhile, Bear (aka Shakespeare), a one-horse-show for the past nine years until Miss Sophi entered and took centre stage, has made it clear he will play second fiddle to no one.

Sophi and Bear were originally turned out in adjacent paddocks. This had to stop day one when I made the mistake of attempting to bring Sophi into the barn first. Witnessing my error in judgement from his paddock gate next door, Bear went all medieval, bucking and leaping as if I had slighted him in the worst way possible. Naturally, I was concerned that he would re-injure that healing hind suspensory ligament, so I had to abandon my original plan and bring him in first.

Who says horses don’t get jealous?

To alleviate this being a “thing” every time I want to bring one of them in, they are separated by at least one other paddock, this way neither is any the wiser when I bring the other in.

If they’re in the barn at the same time I am careful to ensure they receive equal treat distribution. However, there is one ritual I’ve reserved for Bear alone.

Banana time is his thing. Sophi can have everything else ~ Bear shares his carrots, his apples (yes, he’s been weaned back onto apples), his crunchy treats, his fly spray. He even, in a fit of pique one night, remodelled his fly mask for her. But I have promised him that he will never have to share his banana.

He’s good with that.

Back in the saddle

“When I bestride him, I soar, I am a hawk: he trots the air; the earth sings when he touches it; the basest horn of his hoof is more musical than the pipe of Hermes. ”

William Shakespeare (Henry V)

Riding Sophi has proven to be a revelation.

She is everything I hoped for in a new dressage partner. She’s finely trained; forward and forgiving. My coach says we’re a good match. We still have a long way to go to find our synchronicity, but the foundation is already there. Every time we work together, on the ground and under saddle, our connection and understanding improve. Sophi moves correctly which has underscored my own lack of alignment. Now I’m on a mission ~ through massage, chiropractic, Pilates and conscious awareness ~ to re-align my hips toward straightness so she and I can work correctly together. A tall order at this age and stage of my life, perhaps, but I’ll do my best.

Meanwhile, my intention for Bear is to put the saddle on and take him out for micro hacks. Five minutes to begin and gradually working our way to longer outings. I’ve come to this decision because ever since Sophi’s arrival Bear’s showing me he wants to do more than just hand walk. It’s as if he’s trying to prove to me that he’s quite capable of doing much more than my imagination will allow. So, soon I will take him out for that first short, slow spin. We’ll both enjoy that.

Moving On

BuildingsAnd so, a few final words on change.

We have spent the summer preparing to move the horses to a new farm, which is part of the reason my posts have been so sparse of late. Energy can only be divided so many ways.

The move finally took placed September 10, and I’ll have plenty to say about that in my next post which, I hope, will be more timely.

Last, but certainly not least on the subject of change, we find ourselves moving on to this next chapter in our lives one dog short.

A couple of posts ago I mentioned our old collie, Sass, was on her last legs. Well, on August 14 we finally had to let her go. She was failing. Her quality of life much compromised by the ravages of old age. At 13 years she’d lived a long and happy life, and we wanted to remember her that way. So, with heavy hearts we released our dear Sass, knowing it would be the last act of kindness we’d ever do for her.

Sassy was our sweet girlie and we miss her terribly. Autumn's GirlVisit my blog Eyes to Heart for a short tribute.

So, as another chapter closes it’s time to contemplate and move on to the next. A lot of change lends itself to a lot of musing.

It was ever thus.

Nurture what you love …

Dorothy
Horse Mom

©Dorothy Chiotti 2015

Time Flies

Bear

~*~

Time flies. I can hardly believe how quickly a month has gone by since my last post.

Bear continues to recover and is enjoying basking in the sun whilst on restricted turn out, (i.e. he hangs out in the round pen, not a paddock, lest he re-injure himself galloping around like a wildebeest.) He’s still bananas for bananas, and having fun just being himself and making people smile.

He’ll be a great therapy horse.

Meanwhile, the dressage horse search continues.

It’s more challenging than you might imagine. Sure, there are lots of horses needing homes, just like there are lots of single people wanting partners. But finding a suitable horse is as difficult as finding a suitable mate ~ it takes time and you don’t want to appear too desperate lest you make an inappropriate choice. 😉 Horse and rider matchmaking is a serious and time-consuming business.

I’ve walked away from two promising horses because of navicular issues. I already have a high maintenance horse, and while I’m all for rescuing and rehabbing horses, it’s not the route I wish to take with my next riding horse. So, I’ll just persevere in my search and at some point, when the stars are aligned and all the cosmic tumblers have fallen into place, the “right horse” will walk into my life and wonder what took me so long.

Timing is everything, of course. There have been other things going on in the background which have monopolized my energies, which is one of the reasons my posts here have been non-existent of late. There’s only so much time in a day, and since I’ve learned there’s just no point in stressing over the dynamics of life beyond our control, I simply go with what is.

On another note … our 13-year-old rough collie, Sass, is fading and this brings much sadness. It’s as if a whole chapter of our lives will soon come to a close. We expect her departure during the summer. The heat is just too menacing and her steps falter by the day. Lately she has won the heart of a three-year-old girl, Gabby, who lives a few doors down. Together, with her grandmother, we go for short walks and Gabby gives Sass lots of hugs and merrily holds the leash as we walk. Sass enjoys this attention as her new friend walks only as fast as she does, which is slow. I’m so happy our old girl has felt the unfettered joy of the love of a child before she leaves us.

I mention this simply to re-iterate the obvious ~ nurture what you love …

Dorothy
Horse Mom