Monday, August 31, 2009

My celebrity photo shoot

Today one of Mom's relatives, who writes horse books and designs and sells trail riding tack for natural gaited horses, came to take my picture. We've had trouble getting together since the weather has been so awful, but finally today we had all the right people, in the right place, at the same time, with the sun shining. I was chosen as the model because there were a lot of pictures to be taken, and I have the widest range of skills. Also, there was a lot of unfamiliar equipment, and Brita wanted to work with me because she knew how I would react and that we could work through everything together. When you are in an unfamiliar situation, it's always good to have a familiar partner on your side.

Unfortunately, I hadn't taken a bath. It was a bit cool today, and it was such short notice... Brita got out a spray bottle of smelly stuff, and a towel and polished all of my dirty spots right off. Then she gave me a quick haircut and oiled my hooves, and I was ready for my photo shoot. First I showed how to do neck and back limbering stretches. Those are EASY... there are cookies involved.

Then I got dressed out in the middle of the yard. The author lady had brought a whole pile of strange equipment for me to model. I was very good as everyone dressed me up in weird feeling stuff. The saddle was sort of clunky feeling and had lots of straps in places I've never felt straps. I made little snorty noises to remind everyone to be careful, but I stood quietly in the midst of all the activity. She wanted to show how to teach a horse to ground drive without using any fancy equipment. I'm sort of used to fancy equipment, so all this other stuff made me a little nervous at first, but Mom stayed with me until I felt comfortable, and Brita drove me around the arena. I've never ground driven outside before. I'm used to working in long lines inside an indoor round pen, but I haven't done that in months. I was ready to show how a Saddlebred long lines... Yeah Boy! but that wasn't what they wanted. They wanted me to walk around quietly instead. After this was explained to me, I was very well behaved.

Then they put a bridle on that didn't really fit comfortably. The bit was very strange, and had shanks and a curb strap (which I hate) and it was a little narrow. I was supposed to illustrate how some horses open their mouths against the bit. That was easy! I did a lot of that. I tried and tried to spit it out. Phewy... I didn't like that bit. At.All.

Next, they put a drop caveson on me to make me keep my mouth closed and accept the bit. I still wasn't really happy about the bit, but I understood and complied.
Next Brita put our own tack on (thank Heaven) and we took some pictures trotting and walking over poles. I think I may have blinked.

I was so well behaved and cooperative with all the strange requests and commotion going on and Mom and Brita praised me and thanked me, and I thought it fitting to take a bow. When the book is published I'll let you know.

Monday, August 24, 2009

My Shopping List

I can always tell when Brita's credit card cycle has renewed and it's time to go shopping again. She walks around the barn shaking bottles of fly spray and linament and making lists. I can't make a list, but I can give some subtle hints. I'd like.....

A new feed dish...

And a new Fly Mask....

This one was a little clingy. So, I de-clinged it.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Making Tracks

Lest you come away with the impression that I am always a distinguished English gentleman, let me assure you there is still a bit of the dickens in me. I am a little cold backed, and have been known to crow hop down the first 100 feet of the driveway now and then. I usually have composed myself by the time we get to the main driveway, and always start our rides very relaxed and well mannered. Today when Brita mounted in front of the barn, she got a little cocky, and walked me off before she had her right stirrup. Now, my rider is not always the most coordinated of people, and she was having a hard time catching that right stirrup, so she thought it might be OK to take one hand off the reins and reach down and turn it. Well... I took advantage of the situation, quickly slipped into third gear and began to bound like a jack rabbit down the driveway. My little white ears stood up straight and twisted (like little devil horns) and I was getting some pretty good air. Brita gave up the notion of finding that stirrup and sat up straight. You know those one rein stops? Well, they work. Brita put her right hand back up on my neck, and pulled the left rein back to her hip, setting me on my rear. I even left skid marks.

Mom was predictably horrified at my behavior and suggested I go back inside and do some work in the round pen to remember my manners. But, Brita just laughed it off. She's a pretty good sport about these things, as long as she comes out on top. She just pointed me towards the pasture, and gave me my head. I sauntered off like the whole episode never happened, and butter wouldn't melt in my mouth.
We have been exploring the big cow pasture. Brita (and Uncle Dad) hope that I will be able to be turned loose out there this fall with the other horses, so we have been getting me familiarised with it. It's pretty big, 20 or more acres, and has rolling hills, shady trees, two ponds, a forest, and ravine and a beautiful view. The bad parts are that up by the barn it is ankle deep in wet, black mud....and a Giant Rock Troll lives on the hill. I'll have to get a picture sometime of the Giant Rock Troll. It's bigger than I am an lurks out on the hill where it can see victims coming from miles away. When I startle, I am very good about jumping in place and then checking things out. However, once I've identified an enemy, my vote is always for turning and high tailing it for home. I almost ran home from the Rock Troll today, but instead gave it a wide berth and checked it out from every angle. I was so unnerved, my heart was pounding so I thought it would break my girth. It's a really big bugger, but I'm pretty sure I can out run it.
All in all we had a nice ride. It's very pleasant being out in the pasture with the sun and fresh grass, and the cornfield whispering secrets in the breeze. I think I am going to like the pasture.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Come Ride with Us

Today is such a beautiful summer day, I thought you might like to go for a ride with us. Brita's favorite part about hacking down the side of the road is that I am perfectly color coordinated with the pavement.

Since we had the camera out, we thought we'd try a ground breaking video idea.... My neck fits in the view finder better if you turn the camera sideways. However, it didn't occur to us at the time that we would not be able to rotate the video clip like we can an image. Still, this is sort of fun, so hop on and we'll go for a ride. We apologise in advance for making you tilt your head so far. Those with laptop computers won't find it quite as inconvenient! This was so much fun we'll try it again sometime only not sideways.

It was so hot out even for early in the day, that after our ride, instead of my usual warm sponge bath, we opted for a cool shower in the hose.

Then I took a nice long sip of cold water.

Playing in the hose is lots of fun. I splashed water all over.


Sunday, August 9, 2009

And then it began to rain....

Almost any story I might tell you about this week could have that phrase in it. It has been pouring on and off all day. Last month, we only had 7 days with no rain. This month, I think they have all had rain. Today it rained and stormed so hard that it was almost as black as night outside. This is the weekend I was supposed to be at the fair. Brita seems pretty content about not going. Partly because it has been raining and storming all weekend, and partly because the problem that caused her to not want to go is pretty much solved.

Yesterday I went for a trailer ride around the block. Everyone has been getting rides. Little baby Ace and his Mom went for a ride so he would understand about riding. When they got back, I was crying my heart out over being left behind. So, Brita loaded me up in the trailer, shut me in there alone, and drove away! I wasn't real happy. First I stomped around. There was plenty of room since all of the insides have been removed, and it is basically a large rubber walled box. My head was tied to the side (which I don't particularly like). Then I worked up to a good solid thumping with my front feet. Brita completely ignored me and kept on driving.

I pounded for someone to rescue me, but no one came. After a few minutes, we got to a town. There was some pretty interesting scenery going by outside the window, so I quieted down to watch. We didn't go too fast, and it wasn't hard to keep my balance, but I still had a bad feeling about being so confined. Before I knew it, we were home. As expected, I'd worked myself into a lather. Brita opened the side door, and I was so glad to see her. She untied me while Mom opened up the back doors. I was so excited to see daylight I would have bolted right out, but Brita had me cleverly wedged with my butt in the corner, and her elbow in my neck so I couldn't get away. She made me walk politely down the ramp. What a relief to be home in one piece!

I grazed in the lawn a little until I had relaxed, then we went back inside the trailer. I got to turn around so I could look out the back doors, and I settled in to investigate a bit. Maybe I'll get used to riding. I already feel better about it since they took the tight stalls out and gave me more room. I feel relaxed enough about it that I will walk right up the ramp without a big fuss anymore. I don't see how some horses manage to travel all over the countryside competing in shows and races. I think I'd be a nervous wreck. I'm glad it doesn't happen every day.