Things We Equestrians Know for Certain

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Mark Twain is credited with stating that the only things that are certain in life are death and taxes.  Well, no disrespect to Mr. Twain, but we equestrians know that when you own and ride horses, that there are other things that we know for certain:

1)      Your horse will lose a shoe right after the farrier leaves or the day before your big show.

2)      The worst injuries and emergencies always occur on holidays, over the weekend, or after 10:00 at night.

3)      The more expensive the medication, the more likely you are to wear it.

4)      You will fall off…so don’t be too proud or arrogant and wear a helmet.  Your head will thank you.

5)      Your foot will eventually meet the underside of your horse’s hoof, so always wear the appropriate footwear at the barn.  Flip flops are never appropriate.

6)      Nothing from your first horse will fit your next horse.  I speak from experience.

7)      Admire your new white pad or breeches at home because as soon as they arrive at the barn, they will never look that clean ever again.

8)      You will not die if you eat your lunch right after mucking stalls even if you do not wash your hands first.  Sorry Mom.

9)      Your horse will always manage to find the one loose nail on the fence in the paddock; you will never find it.

10)   You will be pooped on at some point.

11)   Training horses is two steps forward and three steps back.

12)   Shortcuts in your training will only get you so far.  Take the time to do things correctly.

13)   Horses can count and do fractions.  Ike knows when he only gets half his grain or when I only give him three of the four treats in my pocket.

14)   Your horse will always know when the hot wire is not working.  Cigar is a master hot wire tester.

15)   Most scary things are invisible.

16)   Bailing twine is as handy as duct tape.

17)   Vet bills are never under $100.  If yours are, could you please share your vet’s phone number?

18)   Your horse will mysteriously go lame the day after the show closes and there are no refunds given.

19)   Horses are the best at keeping your secrets – like how much that saddle really cost or where you hid grandma’s silver.

20)   Nothing improves a bad day like the sound of a nicker or the smell of the barn.

Alison

p.s.  I also know for certain that I am so ready for spring.  This latest round of snow needs to melt quickly!

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The Big & Husky Boy

A photo of Ike from March 2013 when his sheet still fit him...

A photo of Ike from March 2013 when his sheet still fit him…

Well, it is official.  I knew that this day might get here sooner than later, but I can no longer deny the truth: Ike has now transitioned from the normal horse clothing to the Big & Husky sizes.  I now have an 84 inch turnout sheet and an 84 inch medium weight blanket looking for new homes.  They no longer are able to adequately cover Ike’s burgeoning 5 year old body.  Seeing Ike in his way-too-small winter attire made me laugh.  It was much like seeing a young child trying on last year’s winter coat – there is just no way you can make it work.  Sadly I know that they fit him back in March…a mere nine months ago.

I optimistically tried them on today since temperatures have started plummeting into the 20s at night and the high temperature on Sunday was a balmy 35 degrees before the wind chill was factored into the equation.  If Ike was to stand perfectly still, he could have worn either the turnout sheet or the mid-weight blanket.  They would have been very snug around the shoulders and a bit short on the sides, but at least he could have stayed a bit warmer.  But I know that wasn’t going to happen and I envisioned the sheet creeping up his shoulders and bunching around his neck as Ike cavorted with his brother.  The bunching blanket would have caused blind panic with the sheet somehow getting ripped and tangled around his legs.  Sadly, this is how it played out in my head.  The blanket’s fit was no better, even with the belly straps let out 9 inches.

So Ike got to be naked all day and will remain so until I can get a larger sized blanket shipped to me (the local tack store does not carry anything in the Big & Husky sizes.)  Don’t feel too bad for him.  He now has a decent unclipped winter coat, obviously more weight and mass, and will spend his nights in his toasty stall.  If the weather during the day doesn’t suit his highness, a hissy fit ensues and Ike usually will get to have a nap in his stall.  Can you say spoiled rotten?

I’ve been in the saddle a few times since my grandmother passed away.  Riding is very cathartic for me.  I learned many years ago to put aside the cell phone, the to-do lists, and the million other random thoughts that are on a constant loop in my brain.  Just like other sports, riding requires you to be present and be mindful.  It is good to put everything else on hold for an hour and just enjoy my horse.  There were no breakthroughs with our training, just steady, happy rides.  Who could ask for anything more?

Gallop Away the Tears

Photo by High Time Photography

One of the photos of Ike and me that my Grandmother loved. Photo by High Time Photography

There are tears in my eyes as I write this post.  My grandmother has had a couple of difficult weeks, and we just received the news this morning that she passed away peacefully in her sleep last night.  I am heartbroken.  She was an amazing lady who almost made it to her 91st birthday.  Earlier this year she moved from the home where she had lived for the past 70 years, 60 of them with my grandfather who built the home.  She was a strong woman with strong opinions.  I can only hope to be half the person that she was.

She was my one of my biggest fans and always enjoyed hearing of my equine adventures.  I would send her DVDs of my rides so she could see us in action.  I recently came across a photo of Ike, myself and my husband that was taken by a friend and sent it to my grandmother to let her know I was thinking of her.  My mother told me that it brought great joy to my grandmother in her final days.

My animals have brought and will bring me great comfort as I deal with my grief.  The dogs and the horses each have their own way of putting a smile back on my face.  The dogs lick my tears from my cheeks and curl up with me on the bed.  The horses softly nicker and nudge me with their noses.  I stroke their necks and ears and share my memories.

I wrote the following a few weeks ago when I was feeling down about her failing health.  I am no Maya Angelou or Emily Dickenson, but it is written from the heart and dedicated to the memory of my Grandmother.

Gallop Away the Tears

I want to gallop away the tears

They just don’t seem to stop.

My heart is breaking and the tears are streaming

Drip, drop, drip, drop.

I escape to the barn

And there I privately cry;

The neck of my trusted steed is wet

As I tell him how hard it was to say goodbye.

He must sense my sorrow

For the only sound one hears,

As I methodically move the brush

Is the falling of the never ending tears.

I want the move with the wind

Hooves pounding the ground below

And gallop away the tears

That flow and flow and flow.

The shared moments and happy times

Are kept in my memory to stay.

I will keep you in my heart always,

It will get easier with each passing day.