Introducing Zu Zu …

Rather than bore you with yet another rant about how miffed I am about yet another dumping of snow interfering with my precious barn time, I thought I’d introduce you to Bear’s new girlfriend. Rather appropriate, don’t you think, with Valentine’s Day just around the corner.

A couple of days ago, when it was finally warm enough to pull out the good camera, I captured a few images of the happy couple out in the rolling paddock behind the barn.

Bear and Zu Zu

They were hanging out by the far fence line, so I called to Bear. He turned his head to acknowledged me and, naturally, when he did, she did.

Zu leads

After a few moments hesitation, where it looked as if it they were discussing whether or not it was worth their while to interrupt their mutual meditation Zu Zu, it seems to me, decided it would be appropriate to make the trek across the snow for a visit. Or, possibly, Bear indicated to her he wanted to see his mom and nudged her along. At any rate, you can see that he’s quite the gentleman allowing Zu to take the lead. Or did she, the alpha mare that she is, just take the lead and he followed? Hmmmm … this is open to debate.

Bear follows

Either way, they trudged happily together through the snow to the gate and, as any gentleman would, Bear stood back to allow his beauty to star in her very own picture.

Zu Zu

Zu Zu is a rising four-year-old mare of the Canadian breed.  She is much smaller than Bear, but what she lacks in stature she more than makes up in attitude. She is the boss and has wrapped herself around Bear’s heart.

And mine. 😉

Nurture what you love  …

Dorothy 🙂
Horse Mom

~*~

©Dorothy Chiotti, All Rights Reserved 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 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

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

A Dream … Some Luck … and St. Patrick’s Day

I remember the moment I first saw Shakespeare.

Tall, dark, and handsome, he was standing quietly amidst a flurry of activity whilst being readied for our meeting.

The first thing I noticed was how much he seemed to love the attention.

I liked him immediately, but guardedly.

Buying a horse just because it tugs at your heart strings is never a good idea. Think with your head; go with your gut, but leave the heart out of it. At least at the beginning of the purchase process. Horse shopping requires due diligence.

As this was my first horse shopping experience, I was doubly cautious about keeping an emotional distance.

By the time I’d met Shakespeare I’d already looked at three horses. All disappointing in one way or another. Misrepresented mostly. That wasn’t their fault, of course.

Finding Shakespeare happened out-of-the-blue.

A fellow member of my dressage club, whom I’d never met, overheard at the club’s AGM that I was in the market for a horse. She entered the conversation and kindly suggested that I not look at anything else until I’d checked out this “beautiful boy” she and her daughter had just seen while on their own expedition in search of a brood mare.

She excitedly went on to describe him — dark bay, four-year-old, German-bred Hanoverian gelding by Shakespeare in Love. She emphasized that he was one of the sweetest horses she’d ever met, and gave me the contact information for the farm.

Three days later, after setting up at appointment, I made the two-hour drive to see Shakespeare.

I was cautiously optimistic. He sounded so lovely and he was named after one of my favourite writers. I’m a writer. Surely that was a sign!

Neverthless, the caution button was switched on. I was still dealing with the notion of horse ownership — something never to be taken lightly — and wanted to make a good decision based on facts, not fantasy. A horse to call my own had been a dream for so long tucked away that the dust of doubt had layered on pretty thick.

Was I really ready for such a commitment? For my dream to come true?

And why now?

One day, not long after the death of the horse I’d been part-boarding and while I was struggling with what to do next Lloyd, my loving partner, broached the subject with this statement:

“Perhaps it’s time you had your own horse.”

I was sort of dumbstruck, at first. A horse to call my own? Was it possible that a dream I’d held since childhood could come true this far along the road (I was in my early 40s) of my life journey?

Six weeks later, I was standing next to that cute and chunky four-year-old, his big soft eyes and enormously expressive, floppy ears a sure sign that he was, overall, a happy horse. Did I dare to think this gorgeous creature might be “the one?”

I watched intently as he was put through his paces in the arena, warm breath streaming from his relaxed nostrils with every breath. His movement was sublime.

Worth noting is that he’d been trained by one of Canada’s top Grand Prix dressage riders. I thought of my own training and the fact that I was nowhere near Grand Prix level. Shakespeare was being sold as a good amateur prospect. Even so, would this talented horse prove too much for me? And, worst of all, deep down inside me a niggling voice taunted … “Are you even worthy?”

When it was my turn to climb into the saddle I did my best to push that negativity aside. I would never know until I tried Shakespeare on for size.

Holy horsefeathers!

Walk … trot … canter — forward and laterally he felt so powerful, fluid, engaged. So solid. I’d never ridden a horse like him. It already felt like a fit, so much so I didn’t want to get off!

It was while Shakespeare was being put away that my then coach mentioned a slight hitch in his stride coming from his left hind leg. My gleeful, yet still guarded, heart sank just a little as we lingered outside Shakespeare’s stall. He hung his head over the half door, pulling faces and looking for attention, as if he was part of the conversation. So calm and engaging. Yes, so sweet.

I secretly hoped there was nothing wrong with that leg.

At home, our barn manager, an excellent horse man and my current coach, studied the video of my ride. Something was going on with that left hind leg but nothing, he thought, too serious. I was to make another appointment to see the horse in 10 days, after he’d been rested. Maybe whatever it was ( he could have pulled a muscle tripping in the icy paddock) would be cleared up by then.

Ten days later, we returned. Shakespeare had been rested so the first order of business — to check his movement and get rid of some of that extra energy … was some free jumping.

This was fun to watch. Shakespeare floated about that arena with unfettered joy, guided through a chute of three or four small jumps made gradually bigger by one of the trainers as the exercise progressed.

He was clearly enjoying himself and such a show-off! … And, he was obviously sound. 🙂

After watching him go under saddle again, it was my turn to pop on. The time passed too quickly. … Oh, he was lovely.

So, with the soundness issue cleared up, it was time for a big decision. Was I interested enough in this horse to go to the expense of a full veterinary examination?

What do you think? 😉

The appointment was arranged for a week later. Since I was eager to see Shakespeare again and how he was under the stress of a close inspection, I went too.

For almost two hours he was poked and prodded, yet he couldn’t have cared less. No fuss. No muss. He actually seemed to enjoy the attention. Legs and feet x-rayed. Blood taken. Teeth checked. Eyes examined. Heart and breathing monitored. It was no big deal.

I could feel my heart beginning to open up, but I was still one “yay” or “nay” away from the “all clear.”

At home the wait was excruciating. I walked around numb inside for several days just waiting for the test results to come in.

It was while I was at the barn, one day, that the phone rang. I paid no attention until my then coach sought me out, threw her arms around me in a big hug and whispered in my ear:

“He’s yours.”

For a moment my head swam in disbelief. Could it be true? Was that beautiful horse really to be mine?

It took 24 hours for the wonderful news to find its rightful place in my heart. After that, it was all systems go as we prepared to bring Shakespeare home on the luckiest day of the year … St. Patrick’s Day!

Going Home

Our very first photo together, taken just before Bear was put on the trailer to come home. … What do you think? Do we look happy? 🙂

And here we are, seven years later, still learning, growing and having fun together.

As we mark St. Patrick’s Day, I’m reminded of the luck that brought Bear and I together — a chance conversation with someone I’d never met and have seen only a couple of times since.

Perhaps that’s what luck is …  a simple opening of the heart and mind and the ability to welcome the manifestation of the longed-for dream no matter how unusual the timing or unexpected the circumstances.

When it’s meant to be, it will be.

Believe in your dreams, no matter how far away they seem, and keep your heart and mind open.

But first of all … have a dream.

Happy Anniversary, Bear!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Nurture what you love …

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

So you think the horse does all the work …

“So you think the horse does all the work …”

It’s easy to understand how someone unfamiliar with the way of the horse might get this impression.

Flying

First of all, when we observe a horse “at work” the effort he’s putting in is obvious. His powerful legs stir the air beneath him as he prances and leaps in airs above the ground. His nostrils snort with every breath, a healthy foaming froth coats his lips, his ears are pricked and attentive, and his tail flies loosely and wildly in his wake.

Yes, his animation certainly would give the impression that the rider, perched on a leather lily pad and stylishly attired, is doing seemingly nothing of any great consequence to contribute to the overall picture.

*

Thoughts such as these crossed my mind today as I sat in an exhausted, collapsed heap upon Bear’s back following a lengthy turn astride his powerful canter.

My legs, my hips, my abs achingly reminded me of my mortality, and the fact that I must be patient with myself as I re-establish my form following a six-week hiatus.

And my head echoed with the voice of my absent coach:

“Lift your left hand up and your right heel will drop.” … “Sit more on the front of your seat bones.” … “Bring your left hip forward a quarter inch.” … “Bring your outside shoulder forward.” … “Push him round the corner with your outside leg.” … “Move your hips through the whole cycle of Bear’s canter stride.” … “Post the whole trot stride; you’re only covering 80%.” … “Use your inside leg for the bend.” … “Sit down!” … “Sit up!” … “Lean back!” … “Not that far back!” … “Relax your thighs.” … “Ride the next step.” … “Ride athletically.” … “Ride with intention.” … “Bring your right leg more underneath you.” … “Put more weight in your lower leg.” … “Look where you’re going.” … “Shorten your reins a couple of inches.” … and my personal favourite … “Stop trying so hard.”

All of these things (and more!), were I able to organize them in such a way that made sense to my middle-aged grey matter, would help me to create and maintain consistently a forward pace with Bear’s energy in front of my leg, a steady rhythm, straightness and independent seat (i.e. balance), all of which would have the desired effect of making Bear look good … effortlessly.

Bear, to his credit, is surprisingly tolerant of my attempts to do him justice.

I, on the other hand, and often in spite of the ongoing encouragement I receive from my ever-patient coach, experience the self-loathing and frustration one feels when, for the 1000th time, the sequence of cues gets jumbled in my head and my body position won’t cooperate, sending Bear mixed messages which he patiently endures, most of the time. Self-awareness on the back of a 1,200 pound four-hooved power ball takes a lot of concentration.

When I do get it right (and this is happening more frequently, thank goodness) and Bear is moving like a dream (which is what keeps me coming back for more), he likes to test me to see if I’m really paying attention. For it must be remembered, he is a sentient being with a mind of his own and when all is said and done I must continuously earn his complete and abiding trust, don’t you know …

Working Horse

Of course, his questions are conveyed by his body language, so I must be paying attention.

Here’s an example.

Bear’s feet planted; eyes bulging, staring into the distance, ears pointed straight up and body braced could mean (there are so many meanings …) “What are the sequence of aids required to prevent me from spooking at that barely discernible shadow on the wall beside letter marker “A” 100 feet away?”

Or, how about this pop test: “Hey! Sit to this!” — as he suddenly and without warning executes a half pirouette to the left in response to ice crashing off the roof to his right. (This is a trick question with no warning. Ice crashes right; Bear spooks left; I grab his mane, close my legs and sit back holding on for dear life. The trick is my ability to stay on board. … Fortunately he doesn’t test me with this one too often.)

To avoid these impromptu examinations of my equitation skills, not only must I ride the step we’re in but I must be aware of the next step as well, making sure my body language is consistent with what my brain is telling me it wants Bear and I to execute next, all while being prepared for just about anything as we go. In fact, I must be several steps ahead in my thinking while riding in the moment, and be as aware of our surroundings as Bear if we are to avoid any of his off-hand, high-headed, high jinx.

The irony is that what I’m really trying to achieve is the ability to stay out of my horse’s way so he can look brilliant and I can look like I’m just sitting there.

Bear for Joy

Bear’s powerful extended trot; his elevated, relaxed, round-backed canter; the stretch through his top line — all of this he can achieve on his own. I’ve seen him do so in the paddock and when he’s free lunging in the arena. So really, all he needs me to do is find my balance athletically and stay centered in his motion while he does what comes naturally … on my cue, of course. It should look effortless for the rider, but effortless takes a lot of work!

Still not convinced?

Never mind. … I’ll nurse my aching back and hips with yet another visit to the chiropractor and leave you to marvel in the glory of the horse and wallow in your little fantasy world.

You’re right … the horse does all the work. 😉

Nurture what you love …

Dorothy 🙂
Horse Mom

*

Copyright Aimwell CreativeWorks 2012

Good Vibrations

My cellphone rang almost as soon as I’d posted my last blog entry. Okay, it vibrated.

(I’ve turned the ringer off as I don’t care to hear every ping and horn blow that emanates from incoming messages. … Of course, this means I’ve missed a few phone calls … 😉 )

They were good vibrations, to be sure. Bear was being an absolute star in his new surroundings. Christine’s note read:

“Bear was fantastic and settled sooooo well no need to lunge he was nice and melo.” (Don’t you love cellphone slang.) “[Coach] is really happy with him! Tomorrow should be really great and Sunday in our lesson even better.”

Feeling my heart swell with pride, I texted my well wishes and relaxed. Everything was going to be alright. My boy was fine … and I would be too.

Then yesterday I witnessed this for myself.

It was Bear’s chance to shine in the clinic.

Christine rode him beautifully, so confident and sympathetic in her manner. In response, Bear’s ears were pricked forward and attentive. He was forward and enjoying his leaps and bounds over the jumps. It was obvious he was thoroughly enjoying his experience. He’s such a scopey horse … powerful, athletic and with a reasonable enough mind that he can tackle happily pretty much anything asked of him under the right leadership. Christine demonstrates the appropriate leadership.

So, yesterday morning, while I toasted my tootsies in the viewing lounge and took pictures through the window, Christine put Bear through his paces.

He warmed up well on the flat and then over fences. The clinician focused on what Christine could do to get the best from Bear and Christine made it work. Bear was totally responsive and jumped like a charm. I felt proud all over again. Don’t they look fabulous? Pretty good for a dressage horse, don’t you think? He loved being a jumper for a day.

When all was said and done, Bear and Christine had a great experience. I’m so happy for them both.

And I’m happy for me and the way I, as Bear’s mom, handled him being out of my control for 48 hours.

First of all, his happy personality and good behaviour while in the care of another off property confirms, yet again, that I’ve done my job as his steward. It tells me he has matured well.

It also tells me that my personal evolution during the six-plus years Bear has been in my life has been a positive growth experience for me too. He reflects to me the grounded, happy person I have become.

Who could ask for more? …

Bear gets to hang out in the paddock and be a pasture ornament for the next couple of days. On Wednesday it’s back to our old routine. He’ll need to shift into dressage gear once again and be patient with his (old) mom as I return to the saddle after a five-week hiatus and get my mind and muscles back into riding mode.

What a prospect.

Still, I’m looking forward to finding our rhythm again and creating our own good vibrations. Our training ended on a good note before I left for Australia … so I’m hopeful.

But that’s a story for another day …

Nurture what you love …

Dorothy 🙂
Horse Mom

*

Copyright Aimwell CreativeWorks 2012

Horse Crazy After All These Years …

It occurred to me this morning, for some reason, that I don’t have a single photograph from my childhood of me with a favourite pony. Not a one!

My mother, a single-parent earning her living as an opera singer, rehearsed and performed odd hours during the week. She was too busy, too tired, too distracted providing for my brother and I (including paying for riding lessons) to attend too closely my equestrian exploits.

My father (rather a deadbeat), and the rest of the extended family, lived thousands of miles away in Canada. Thus, there was no one around to capture my moments of triumph or my sheer joy of being with the ponies.

All I have are memories.

I don’t feel sorry for myself … just sad, in a way.

I suppose that’s why this image, that I’ve posted in this blog many times before, is so important to me. My first official portrait, as a “mature” horse crazy girl, with a horse; my horse.

I revisit my memories fondly. Learning to ride in England was a special experience. Britain’s culture is steeped in the horse and I was rapt by it.

The other day a good friend forwarded a link to a comedy sketch poking fun at the culture of the horse crazy girl. It features brilliant British comedic actresses Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders, and is called simply “Ponies.”

If you haven’t seen it before, please check it out via the link below. It’s a lark laced with the truth and innocence of a young girl’s love of horses. When I view it I laugh so hard it brings tears to my eyes.

It brings back so many memories — of the old stable yard (a little more sophisticated than depicted here) where I first learned to ride; the frustrations of trying to catch ponies that just won’t be caught; and yes, playing “show jumping” over the jumps while the horses are otherwise occupied (usually eating.)

The memories are so thick around me it feels like just yesterday I was a young girl lost in pony novels, immersed in Follyfoot Farm on the television and galloping across a huge field and jumping ditches while on the back of a dark bay pony called Bimbo. Never mind the fact I have nothing on photo paper to confirm any of it.

Girls and ponies. Women and horses. Nothing changes. I am just as delighted to be spending time with Bear now as I was as a little girl with all the other ponies and horses that captured my heart. Only now, of course, I am that horse crazy girl with one to call my own.

Please enjoy …

Ponies

Nurture what you love …

Dorothy 🙂
Horse Mom

*

Copyright Aimwell CreativeWorks 2012

Everything in its time …

I’m not riding again today. 😦

This makes the fifth day in a row my boy has been doing his own thing … hanging out in the paddock being a horse — eating, getting soaking wet in the rain, rolling in the mud, eating, chasing Sam, rolling in the mud, eating grass, getting soaking wet in the rain, eating hay, eating grass, being chased by Sam, eating, basking in the sunshine (finally) … you get the picture.

It’s been an unexpected holiday.

The weekend was very hot so I gave us those days off.

Then I was ill on Monday.

Yesterday I gave myself the day off for full recuperation because there is no sense getting on a horse when you aren’t feeling 100%. They know everything about how you’re feeling the minute you walk in the door. They don’t want to be led by a weakling.

Yesterday it rained all day. I went to the barn to spend a little time with Bear. When I found him in the paddock he was huddled next to his buddy Sam, hunched over like an old man braced against the storm. He was happy to see me and anxious to follow me to his warm, dry stall and its mountain of fresh hay.

Still he was so wet I couldn’t groom him, so I left him after a while with a bucket full of carrots and told him I loved him. As I always do. He seems to know this in his own way.

Today I was hoping to ride, but am still not feeling up to par. Thus, Bear gets another day off … well almost. I’m going to hook him up to the end of the lunge line and let him run circles around me. He needs the exercise and I need to establish alpha again. Too many days out of the routine and Bear pulls out the claws.

But he’s a good boy really. He’ll be happy to see me, no matter what we do.

Tomorrow we ride again …

Nurture what you love …

Dorothy 🙂
Horse Mom

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