Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Believe in Yourself

So I'm covered in molasses but very excited because tonight, day 16, the horse did everything right. She did everything I asked. She slurped molasses off the bit and let me fiddle with it without yanking her head away (or maybe I learned not to be so forceful). She let me pick up her feet with a rope using light pressure. She let me put a bareback pad on her back and cinch it up gently, and then walk around.

Hmm, so slow and gentle, with a sense of humor... it does seem to work. All I did was stop trying to get somewhere, and remember that this mare is new to everything, and then there ya go. We're working out our relationship. So today was good.

Monday, August 29, 2011

There's this horse. She's been at our house for two weeks now. I've been working with her every day, at night when the kids are asleep, and I'm sure the horse wishes she was asleep.

On day 13 (2 days ago) I decided this is too much for me. This takes too long. I don't know how to train a 1400 pound animal. My kids don't even put their dishes away, and they're a waifish 80 pounds.

So I started looking on the internet for how to work with horses like her and then I started reading about life as a PMU mare, which is what she is. She stood pregnant, tied in a stall starting every September until May. She had a little pee bag strapped to her pee area (that's the professional term) that collected her pee so it could be used for hormone replacement in humans. She was just a pee machine. She couldn't lay down, or wander over to smell flowers. No one gave her a carrot. In May, she'd have her baby and be out to pasture to loll free for three months. Then they take her baby away, get her knocked up again and stick her back in the stall for the long winter in snowy North Dakota.

I went back out there this morning to feed her. She was rolling in the dirt, free. She got up, shook off and stood there looking at the sky. She saw me and she came ambling over, sticking her nose out for a pet.

I can't believe I expect this horse to do anything except take deep breaths and enjoy her freedom. I don't need to rush to shove a saddle on her and bit in her mouth. I'm just getting to know her, and asking her to do small things to get her used to working kindly with me. Of course I want to ride, like yesterday. I want a horse that knows everything and is just easy. But my small amount of money buys this horse, the one that needs help and guidance. I have the space, and little bits of time. She is wide, fat and hilarious looking. And she loves molasses. Maybe sometimes you get what needs you, not what you need. Or somewhere along the line it works out, if you commit to it. And in the meantime maybe I can learn patience, and empathy here. Start gently, and fresh. With understanding of where she's been, the way she's been standing for years. It's only been TWO WEEKS.

I did just spend two years working with a filly doing exactly what I'm doing with her. I do know a little bit. I could do it.

One lady trainer I read said Slow and Easy. Throw away your watch. She'll learn everything, just go slow and easy.

I have hay for awhile longer.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

A Swell Summer

Sold our doggie door today to a strange guy in a truck. He was a big guy, who looked too old to be driving a truck. He made lots of jokes that were a little bit weird - you know when someone is trying to be casual and it just doesn't fit on them, they're just not good at it.

So he took the doggie door which is good because we're getting a new one put in the wall. But he wasn't someone we'd want over for tea, even Nathan agreed he was a little odd.

There's alot going on at our house - guys outside builing a deck that seems much bigger than the feeble one Barry and I had in our tiny minds. Things seem to take longer when power saws are involved, and they main guy who's working seems to pump up his muscles every day. By the end of the job he's going to be all arms, you won't even be able to see his face. Tina and I like to ogle him, big stong man. It is a construction site, so someone has to ogle. It's in his contract.

People come to swim, so the house kind of expands in the summer, friends come and go, food comes and goes, (mostly goes), the day always starts out with the usual Oppers and then there's this big middle day where people jump in and then it winds down to just us Oppers again. That middle part is swell. Like, full, swell, it swells. There never seems like they'll be enough food. There are always many stomachs. Luckily the stomachs usually bring extra - but the sheer amount of food preparation, have I mentioned this?? How do other people do this??

Okay, well anyway, a swell summer.

I'm in the Money

I'm only writing in here because Nigel said he'd pay me $50 bucks for every blog I write. Cha ching, look this one's only two sentences.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Big Fat Horse

There is a big fat horse at our house right now, and dammit I'm too tired to get the camera and plug it all in for a picture on here. If only Nathan was running my downloads or uploads or whatever, this would be a way cooler blog. Filled with pix and games and things you click on and whoosiwhatsits. That's not even a word I'm comfortable with.

This mare got here 1 day ago. She looks like a cow. A cow who swallowed a barrel. She has big cow eyes. She has never seen so much action in her life. She's been on 30acres in Colorado for a year, and before that at a PMU farm where she stood in a stall and had her urine collected for 7 years.

Now she watches kids riding bikes over ramps in the yard, and airplanes flying overhead. Her eyes get wide when she hears something she's never heard before. I'm sure she's sitting out back thinking "wow, I really drew the short straw on this one. Where's all the grass??"

But she is having something she's never had in her life. A family. Kids feeding her hay. Pats on the shoulder. Someone sitting with her. Putting fly spray around her eyes and face. So she's still adjusting to this new life.

The good thing is, she can always go live with my neighbor and be a trail horse for a living. But for now, we're just seeing what it's like to have a horse here, and giving her some love.

The weird part is, when you get something you think you want so bad, it doesn't feel like what you think. It makes you realize that the wanting something is a great thing - the getting it just makes you realize you were already perfect before - my life is already so wonderful. I didn't need anything else. I see that. Just having these kids, and a car that works, and living indoors, and occasionally pizza and books to read - this is much. Huge.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Nathan on The Workers at Our House

Nathan says tonight, "You know you like someone alot and then you find out something about them...like they smoke or they have a tatoo... and you don't like them as much?"

Monday, August 08, 2011

Home Improvement

Whoever said that opening new doors is a good idea has never gone door shopping with Barry.

It could be me, it might not be Barry, it might just be that you can't take two people with little sense of home style and put them in front a million doors. Will this one open in and clutter the room? Is this a bad choice, the boring sliding glass door? Who pays $800 dollars for a door?

Lilly lays on the bottom of the Lowe's cart and is so bored that she invents a new game with two gold screws she found behind the cabinet section. I think the screws are both dogs and there is something about napping going on. Either way, it's more interesting than Barry and I standing around on concrete floors with big drooling Lowe's employees trying to figure out which frigging door should lead out of our bedroom.

Then we get home and we have to move the broken diving board to make room for the new thrift store diving board, and somehow Barry ends up knocked off into the pool. Barry is now not allowed to do anything involving the OUTDOORS. Since his phone (which was in his pocket) is now sitting in a bag of dry rice in the kitchen. Praying for a miracle.

Stealth Chicken

Our white chicken did not like that we moved her nest. Since the chickens have been moved over into the barn while the millions of chicken mites die tragic deaths alone in the chicken house, the white chicken has been holding out laying. In protest. I knew she had to lay, too, cause she kept going in and out of boxes, looking for the right spot, not able to focus on anything else, she obviously had a worry on her mind.

I could NOT find the nest. For days, I knew she had laid, just couldn't figure out where the heck she found a place that I couldn't see.

Yesterday morning when I went out, no white chicken. Uh oh, that usually means that overnight, chicken has become possum's Sunday dinner. But later when I went out again with some treats (who doesn't like old watermelon and stale crackers heaved over a fence?) I SAW the white chicken fly down from a tree. Eh heh, okay, I got you.

While she was eating I pushed my way past the foliage (sorry) and on TOP of the rabbit hutch, in the midst of a bunch of leaves I find a MILLION white eggs, all organized into her secret nest. Okay, 13 eggs. So it had been exactly 13 days she had kept her nest hideaway a secret.

I've checked the hideaway the last two days now and NO eggs. Craft hen. I believe she is building an underground railroad. If you see her, do offer her shelter and solace. But grab the eggs.