Friday, November 30, 2012


So Craigslist is my best friend. Truly, I have met some great people, all the new people in my life have come from advertising something on Craigslist. It's like the underbelly shoppers or horselovers of Los Angeles, it's all there, there are some weirdos, but really there are some of us regular people too. The girl who kept the goats at our house, the girl who rides my horse and teaches me, this new weird job I might get writing weird little notes in Christmas packages -I like that my life is dictated by Craiglist. I could be out selling my book. Or out doing something that might get me a better, bigger paycheck. Or any paycheck. But I think I'm doing the right thing. I'm feeling people out, I'm inspired by glimpses into people's lives, I'm writing about them. I'm affected by them. I keep thinking I should be Building my Brand, to make my book a household name, but wait, I think this weird thing I'm always doing, this IS my brand. I can't NOT be building my brand, all I'm doing is my brand. I am it. So when I had to go to Costco alone yesterday, my friend crapped out on me and I went anyway like the loser that I am, because who wants to sit alone there with auto mechanics and lawyers on their lunch breaks, and it turns out ME, I want to be there... Anyway, I sat alone because eating pizza and walking while pushing a cart is more than I can do it turns out, and I sat there alone, just me, and I was thinking, wait, you know what? I am here with my grandmother. And all these people who come here for a cheap lunch - we're all my grandmother. My grandmother was the table I sat at. SHE would come here alone, bringing her old cup so she could get free refills. She would eat here everyday. She would be as happy as I am. She would be extremely proud that I was affected by her good spirit, thrifty ways, and wrinkly smile. She lives on, and I'm proud to wear her. And someday, yes, pass down my Costco card to a lovely, deserving bright eyed, moneysaving grandkid. In the craziness and lean-ness of this Christmas, I'll wrap up with my gramma and realize she has succeeded. And she'll dine with me wholeheartedly, from above. Everytime.

Sunday, November 04, 2012

Food Hound

Thank God I have AshleyCourtney helping guide me with Dewey. She's the Riding Doctor, if I'm having trouble, I email her and she gives me a suggestion for how to fix it. Saddle trouble, or try a new exercise, or keep your mind clear. Dewey has been learning to canter/trot, trot/canter transition. He walked across a tarp for me yesterday. He'll stand still to mount if you give him a carrot afterwards. He's a food hound. Yesterday he stood out in the driveway, ventured out to see what we were doing, and then just stood there while Tim and Nathan threw a football over him. I think he's a member of the family.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Cantering Fool

Dewey still amazing. 2nd day of doing canter work in the arena. He lurched forward like a jet rocket the first time today, and then looked apologetic. The next time I asked, all I had to do was barely whisper "canter" and he just floats forward into it. He's a pleasure to work with. Restoring my faith in horses. He's eating hay and enjoying time with the chickens right now.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Dew Dew Run Run

Dewey has now been with us for 40 days. In that time, I've managed to injure him on the arena gate (he's almost all recovered), introduced him to two terrible ponies (Waffles was good for a month before she started bucking, Molly was good for two days before bucking - an improvement, in pony keeping), and now he is the Lone Horse of the Opper Hacienda. Until we find a regular old quarter horse gelding, to be his buddy, I'm done with other horses. Dew is four years old, and funny. I've started walking him over poles on the ground because he seemed terrified of things knocking into his feet. He'll still leap a little if something pokes him funny, but he's learning to channel his inner deer. The best part about Dewey is not that he limps a little bit on his right front leg, which I hope is because his bare feet are still a little tender as they toughen up on our streets, but the best part of him is that he is not evil. He is not, like Maggie, trying to run away and kill all aboard in a panicked frenzy. He is not an old pony mare who just wants to flip you off and be a b**tch. He is a young, loyal dog, who is interested in everything, and will even forgive a person for tearing a hole in his leg with the arena gate. We had to work hard to get him back through that gate, but now I can lead him in the gate and he's not thrilled, but trusts. I had to be a firm leader. Firm and gentle. Secure. All things I could use work on. He's helping me. If his limpy-ish foot recovers eventually, and we keep working in the arena together and putting the basics into him (like we did today, just a little walk/trot, just get in and out of the evil gate, everything happy and easy) - he'll be a very easy horse to ride for years to come. He has a good mind. We just started walking to the arena all on our own, maybe 4 times so far with no trouble. Once there, I'm teaching him the cues to walk and trot, to slow and speed up a bit, so he can learn his brakes and accelerator. So he doesn't lurch when a rider asks him to go, so he can learn what we want. Lots of circles. Keeping his head low, to stretch out his back and neck. And I rubbed a crackly plastic bag all over his body and head, which is an accomplishment. The more we take him out, the more he sees, and sees he's okay, he can get through it, the more confidence he has, the better a horse he is. I guess it's the same for all of us.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Pilot Error

Did the stupidest thing today. Decided to take Dewey out to the arena alone, because it was time to get him going alone that short distance. He was fine, I rode halfway, and then when he seemed nervous, I got off and walked him the rest of the way. At the arena, I opened the gate to go in, and I didn't open it enough. So I walked through, and when he walked through, the stirrup accidentally got caught on the gate. Like a fishhook, hooking a horse. So then in about 5 long seconds, poor Dewey realized he was caught, tried to free himself by wrestling back and forth on the gate, ripping a gash in his leg. I stood there frozen because I couldn't rush in in case he trampled me, so I didn't help him at all, which is still killing me. The girth finally broke under the saddle and he ran off into the arena, and I caught him by carefully walking up to him like nothing was terrible, nothing was wrong. His leg had some cuts on it, I picked up my broken saddle, we walked back home, and Tim met me on the trail halfway, and carried the saddle and I was so angry at myself for not opening the gate right, and then worried because I soon saw that Dewey had a big square chunk missing out of the top inside of his back leg. Then the whole day was depressing. Washing the wound, trying to dress the wound. Talking to the lady who gave him to me, and she came over, and gave him a tetanus shot, and penicillan, and washed it out again, and Lilly played in the mud while we fixed the broken horse, and I kept thinking, what am I doing, I don't have time for this. And Dewey tries really hard to understand and be good, while also being 4 years old. So tomorrow he should be even more sore, and hopefully I'll clean it up right, and give him the pain med, and the antibiotic, and hopefully I haven't ruined things for this horse. I went out and walked him around in the dark, and he is sore, but walking. He's so smooth, his coat, like black velvet when you pet him. This was not my favorite day. The only good thing was because I was out walking him in the back paddock area, a place I don't go much, I heard this buzzing sound, and I finally looked to see what it was, and a tomato plant had grown huge and was crossing the electric wire (that keeps coyotes out), causing a short. Sparks were flying off it. We had to pry the plant off without shocking ourselves. Dewey's injury was bad, but he might have saved us from our whole property burning to the ground. So he's resting, and the short is fixed, and we get a whole day tomorrow to perhaps heal. I don't like when I make an error in judgement, a stupid mistake. Because I'm too tired, or too lazy, or whatever. It's depressing. As you get older, aren't you supposed to get smarter? I just feel less capable. Maybe I should just accept that, and stick to knitting. But we were doing so well. That's why I tried to go to the next step, because we were doing so well, and it's good to keep moving forward. I think I just learned that the horse is not a tool, it's a real thing, that needs tiny steps, and tending. Just like everything.

Monday, September 24, 2012


After Maggie, Dewey and Waffles are like the world's best horses. I'm also doing something different this time around - I'm not in it alone. I'm going out with company. I'm not trying to be some Joan of Arc (even Joan of Arc had company). If it wasn't for Waffles, Dewey would be way more nervous trying new things. Because he has the solid Waffles behind him, Dewey is a calm and confident most of the time horse. And Waffles herself is just an old, opinionated mare. She definitely wants to do what she wants to do, but she is most of the time just a horse that clocks in, does the job, doesn't worry about running dogs or bicycles or trash trucks. It's almost like she's got an earpiece in and is conducting some other very important business while going through the motions of scary new trail rides. She's only been here two weeks and she's never flinched at anything. She's a Getterdone. Go at that trail, and getterdone. Then come back and doze. I still don't trust her all the way, because I've been riding the bigger, blacker horse, and I don't have a good track record with ponies. But she seems to be a reliable horse. Dewey is a gazelle of a horse, two people have said "he looks like a painting." He is the horse people pose with in those 18th century fox hunting paintings where the people's heads look too small and the horses' legs look too thin. He is a horse that floats along next to you, looking to you for support, because he's still a gawky teenager. But he has a solid head on his shoulders, he's wary of some new things, but not a bolter or a nervous horse. He loves going out. So that's the horse situation. The horses are training each other, and if they didn't eat hay, there'd be no problem at all with keeping them. But for now I'll teach the kids on Waffles, and train Dewey and keep getting to go out on gentle trail rides where nothing happens except peace.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Follow the Trail of Poop

The only thing I miss about Maggie, is she used to line her poops up like an accountant, very neatly at the far end of her paddock area. Always. These new horses are like frat boys that take a dump off a balcony. They leave their poops strewn around like my kids leave their shoes all over the house. Wherever they are, well, that's a good enough place to heft a load.

But then this morning when I was cleaning up poop in the early morning quiet, when the sun streams in like it's just teasing, it's going to stay this cool and perfect forever, I liked that I had to follow the random trail of poops all through the horsy area. It was like a scavenger hunt. Who knows where it will take me. There are little spots of light there, and a lone chicken pecking in mud over there, and a contented horse sneeze while chewing hay, both their muzzles nuzzling together.

Being organized is thrifty, but being random is mysterious and rich.

Perhaps we should call these new horses Hansel and Gretel.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Good Brownies

Last Friday, I was saying goodbye to Maggie. Then I had two horse-free days. I even contemplated never getting another horse. I thought, wow, more time to clean my house. Organize. Take the kids on walks.

Monday, here comes Waffles. An 18 year old Fjord pony. Okay, we'll take her in and try her out. She can't eat much, she's like a little blonde muffin. The first hour she's here I decided she's way scary, I don't like new things, she's not right for us, what have I done.

A day later, a lady in the neighborhood tells me to come meet a 4 yr old black Thoroughbred gelding. 4 is kinda young, 4 means insane rides with difficult years ahead of desensitizing. I meet Dewey, and he looks like a movie star. I take him on a trail ride, through water, up hills, past trucks, he's like Robert Redford mellow and we just ride home with Waffles. I rode the horse directly home. All the way thinking THIS IS A TOTAL MISTAKE.

It's been two days. I've taken him on 2 trail rides with Waffles. Waffles has turned into the steadiest, readiest, sweetest pony who ever lived. Dewey is a tall drink of water who doesn't want to share his food, but otherwise, he's an amazing horse.

After ONE YEAR of Maggie, she has suddenly evaporated into these two steady and calm horses. In one week. Of course, I've had diarrhea from all the changes. I can't get off the toilet. But other than that, it's been the strangest week of my life. At one point I had so much anxiety about all the changes, it felt like someone lifted off the top of my head and was stirring up my brains. I think that was when I was on the trail through water with the horse and pony I don't know, who now live at my house.

So now I have to get a job of some sort, because I think these are our horses. Oh yeah, and then TODAY, after ALL this, a friend calls and says hey, you can have my pony, and her little cart, just keep her for free. If she'd said that A WEEK AGO, things would have been alot EASIER!! But I'm thinking we'll see how these two dudes do at our house. Waffles had nobody to play with. Dewey needed a buddy and a family. They're trained, and they're nice to everybody. It's like being handed a plate of brownies after swimming the English Channel. You deserve it, and they're good brownies.

Sunday, September 09, 2012

It's Off To Work I Go

Starting to look for work as a farmer writer. I need to spread the Momish word. I emailed some movie livestock people, you know, the guys who drive carriages in movies and tv. I'm not sure they read or spell, I think their chaps are too tight. I'll probably have to call. But then I picture a life on a movie set sitting around between takes, dressed as a pioneer woman with my team of horses waiting for the next take, talking to guys who spit between every other word or just look at me like "lesbian." I'm not sure anyone would be reading "Pride and Prejudice" and wanting to discuss.

My other options are regular writing work, that's where everyone is smart but I have to work indoors and smell nice. I could still wear my pajamas, which is high on my list of must haves.

I'm sure the right thing is just hanging there, waiting for me to pluck it. Perhaps I have to GROW it, and then REAP it. Create it myself.

Thursday, September 06, 2012

Swimming Downstream

Here's what I learned after almost exactly one year of riding a green draft cross mare: there might be something YOU want out of a horse. And you can try, four days a week, for a year, and all the hours in between, in your brain when you're obsessing about how to make this horse the right horse -- but in reality, the horse will be the horse she is, and will need what she needs, and that is the fact.

The last time Mags and I went out on the trail, she bolted 3 times in a row. I could handle it. I am now used to horses exploding under me and I rode it like a swan glides across water. Maggie and I were out alone, on a trail we go on all the time.

I realized, walking home that day, when she was back to her regular, boring old self, that all this time I was shaping Maggie into my dream horse, she was trying REALLY hard to be that horse for me, she was doing things she'd never done before, she is bold and hopeful in that way. But I was so rigid in my need to shape things MY way, that I was weaker at seeing what SHE needs. She shouldn't be ridden alone. My job wouldn't have even BEEN that hard all these months, if she hadn't been ridden alone. She needs a horse to mimic. But I only had one horse, so I did what someone can do who has one horse and a crazy desire to accomplish. You ride it.

But walking back that day, I saw Maggie, the hero. She never wanted to do all those things alone. She tried to do all these things for me, and in a short amount of time. But there's no reason to do all those things by herself, with some old mom on top of her, scared, with some dream horse agenda. She should have horse friends around. When she follows along with other horses, she is happy. She's always going to be a strong horse. But she will have her people, her herd. That's what she had in North Dakota, she could count on those few months she got out to pasture with a herd of other girls, and their foals, she had that every spring.

So as of yesterday, my friend Julie has bought Maggie, and she'll get to live with her old friend Ginger, they'll be reuinited like at the end of a war, running to greet each other and Maggie will snort and say "oh my GOD, Becky, you won't believe what I've gone through." And then she'll pack on big men riders that have probably never ridden before, and she'll follow Ginger, and they'll go out with a string of horses in Griffith Park, walking, Maggie's favorite gait, and for Maggie it will be like the end of the Olympics, every day. She will be done excelling. She will bask in glory, and contentment. Riders and horse will be matched, there won't be annoying new things to worry about, and Maggie will have Julie (not the original, but still just as good) as her ultimate leader, who will keep her forever, who loves and speaks horse.

I was only taking her out once a day, and by the end of the day, Maggie was always hanging over the fence, wanting to be in the garage with us, or wanting to do something else, offering to do something else. Now she'll have 70 other horse buddies. They'll play cards, they'll have nachos, they'll take rides, they'll peek at the cute geldings. The outcome of things - it's kind of meaningless, isn't it. When you get to the end, it isn't what you think. It kind of peters out, and then there's usually an abandoned taco stand, and you're thirsty. I guess all the meaty parts are the getting there. But we don't always notice because we're so busy in all the emotion and joy and terror and noise, but we do feel the current, and we ride it without knowing it, it's all a hurled snowball, love and living.

Am I done with horses? (As James Herriott would say, "It's always okay to get another dog.") In Maggie Aftermath, a lady I met yesterday has an old Fjord mare, short, thick and very experienced, who used to do what Maggie's about to start doing, take people on rides through Malibu on a rental string. Lilly can walk the pony all by herself, and I can ride the pony because she's sturdy like Maggie, just shorter. If we want, we can borrow this pony to see how she is at our house. Instead of having to try and force Maggie's size, bulk and inexperience into what we're looking for, there may already be a horse waiting, who's all chocked full of what we need, and lonely. Maggie can be Maggie. And this pony, who knows if she's right, but maybe she'll be a horse the entire neighborhood of kids can climb on right now and gain confidence.

So you CAN try and force things to be what you want. I spent most of my life doing that, and it leaves some spikey, angry residue in your skin. I did succeed with Maggie about 89%. She became what I wanted in lots of ways. But it took a ton of energy, and in the end, Maggie would have been just as happy having no person, and being one amongst many like her friend Ginger did - Ginger just went directly to work. They both came from Colorado on the same trailer. I'm guessing Maggie would have become the exact same horse she is today even if I had never met her. That's what's ridiculous about forcing something. You can choose it, but maybe leaping in with a full heart is better, and knowing when to stop. When it's not the right direction to swim. Stop fighting. Swim downstream. Find someone swimming your way.

I like thinking that it was all me that made her, but in reality, I was making myself nuts. Stretching to the point of breaking - not fun, although one of the perks is becoming a better rider and learning a ton about horses. But I also saw my limits, and went too far past them for too long. That part made me feel anxious, and angry. Maybe how Maggie feels when her limits are tested.

I thought when Maggie came that she was the end of a search. I got her because I only had $400 and I loved drafts because Clyde, the carriage horse, was the most amazing horse I had ever ridden or driven. He was Buddha. Maggie had his body type, but she also had a streak of wild. I never could totally cure that piece, working alone. I tried really hard, but it was like trying to eat soup with chopsticks. I could be alot of things, but I couldn't be me AND OTHER HORSES. As versatile as I am. I lost my sense of humor for awhile. I tripped over it, it was leaking out my pants. After this Maggie year, I did learn what WOULD be good for me: one really safe, gentle, experienced old horse that is good for the kids to start on. A borrowed horse is great. And one regular trail horse, that will do what I ask, including sometimes moving faster, and is safe. Riding together, kids and me. Sometimes alone, but together is good.

Not trying to change to Maggie anymore will be a great relief. Knowing that she is going to a place where she is welcomed and used happily, exactly as she is, is a great relief. Knowing I will get to enjoy her and bring her carrots, is a happy thought. Not having to DO it all, after doing it all, and comically, no one asked me to do it all, I just DID, (as my dad will understand) - a pretty great lesson to learn. Find what you need. It's probably already there. You don't have to work that hard. You just have to find the right path, and gauge how much energy you have. You don't have to kill yourself to get there.

It can even be funny.

Saturday, September 01, 2012

Large Barge

I wasn't going to post in here after last Tuesday, because Maggie acted crazy on the trail, bolting 3 short bolts all in a row, her worst ever, she gave me a rope burn on my finger and I had her bags packed, and forget it, goodbye.

I ignored her for two days, and then I started to crack, and talk about it. How it is hard to train something that weighs 1600 pds. How maybe I shouldn't be going out alone like some idiot, on a horse that is still learning. I should ride where there are people and it's safe, and I should ride with a horse buddy when I want to try new territory.

Mostly, I should realize that Maggie can be annoying and want her own way, but mostly Maggie is just big. And she can be powerful. And her brain is the size of a walnut. I've dated people like her. I certainly wouldn't let her drive my car.

But it's not about the walnut brain, it's the instinct thing. She is always going to want to be, apparently, 3 feet away from danger at all times. And if danger is lurking, she will move those three feet away REALLY fast. Then she'll act like she never went anywhere. She will in fact look annoyed at me, that I didn't see the danger first and WARN her. (Sprinklers on top of hills are HIGHLY DANGEROUS. They can go off at ANY TIME.)

So I'm looking into having a buddy for Maggie. And also just riding with the local freaks I mean ladies in my neighborhood. It does make for a rich human tapestry, and fun things to talk about at birthday parties.

Of course she's been excellent ever since. A one ton angel. Funny, and with a butt the size of Rhode Island. (I think I've dated that too.) The trainer came and worked with us this morning, and I tried an Australian saddle, and had the first mini-riding lesson I've had since I was ten. It was great. I am learning to lengthen my leg, and ride kind of long and mermaid-ish, floating with chest out and legs behind, like those carvings on the front of a ship. Makes a strong center core, and I'm pretty sure it makes you taller. All I know is I've never stretched the front of my legs before, because my body was kind of laughing at me when I tried to ride the way she taught me. Should be fun to keep trying. I'm all for humor and things that seem impossible.

And from the ground, I could watch the trainer on Maggie, and see how Maggie might resist going forward, but only because going forward takes alot of effort. She isn't a mean horse, she's like the fat kid who's looking for an ice cream cone and someone has put him on the track team instead. She's disappointed there's all this work and not enough snacks. Funny to watch, especially when she gives up fighting and just sighs and does what we ask. (Then she gets carrots. And she gets to walk.) Working through that resistance. Not taking it seriously. It's a pretty good life for a barge.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Fat Guy in My Future

Well after spending a whole night making a new blog for Maggie, the successful PMU horse, I decided to sell her.

It's a shocker, we'll see how it goes, how does one fill a 1600 pound hole in one's life? I'm thinking jellybeans.

She's been a great horse, it's been a great learning experience, a year of really hard work and some nice rewards. But she's too strong for the kids, she's always going to be too strong for them. And I'm tired. I just want to get on and ride a regular horse. Kid-safe, boring and easy.

I'm hoping some big burly guy will like Maggie, the kind of guy who's too fat to get on a regular horse. She'd be good for him.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

See, Everything's Okay

3rd day trail riding with a buddy. All it seems to be is getting over fear. Doing it when your feet are dragging. The Dread Factor. We've been out twice with Beth, who's a psychologist, and thank God for that because now I'll be getting free therapy for fear issues. Beth brings a whole first aid kit with her and wears a whistle around her neck. I'm going to be taking her with me everywhere. Luckily, she put up with me saying, "Um, I can only go for a short ride, and I have to be able to turn around if it's too nervewracking. Also, let's not stop to look around because if Maggie's feet stop, there's a better chance she'll look around for things to freak out about. And I promise I won't always be so psycho." To all that, Beth said, "Sure." So I dragged out to take Mags out this morning, going on a new trail by the Hansen Dam golf course, and I tried to stop thinking, just tacked her up and did everything like I would any other day. I just got myself out there. Beth was already out halfway to our house by the time Maggie and I got out, and we walked the entire way together. Up, into the dam, into a tunnel, over a hill, alongside golf course and next to joggers. Maggie, on her second day with this new horse buddy, just walked along happily. Once she realized that all she had to do was walk along and occasionally smell piles of horse poop, and nothing popped out at us, she just plodded along. Every step we took was a step deeper into confidence. So we made it back, without any drama, in an hour and a half, which turns out to be a half hour longer than my hips can handle on her width. Back at home, I stopped her to get off and I couldn't figure out how to get my leg out of cowboy position. I was like a wishbone, implanted onto her back. But now the anxiety is less, I have a new trail friend, and Mags has the chance to become a well-rounded horse, by seeing new things and having new scenary. I like the rides where nothing happens. I like the rides that give you a glimmer of See, Everything's Okay.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Carving a Path

The Mags and I went on an awfully big adventure, as they say in Peter Pan, today. When I first got Mags last year at this time, this neighbor pulled over when she saw us walking by on the road by the school, and yelled out the window "Is that a PMU??" She had rescued one a few years ago. Her name was Raquel and she had dyed black hair and every other word was a cuss word and I thought she's either a hairdresser or from New York, and it turns out she's a hairdresser. I liked her right away, because she was so foul-mouthed and funny. Anyway, now it's a year later, and I kept in touch with her and finally, with the kids in school, I had a free morning and a year's worth of work and riding with Maggie, I was ready to take her on the trail out in Hansen Dam with Raquel. Maybe this is the same with anything in life, but riding Mags up the road we always ride on is easy. Veering off the road into a new area, there could be coyotes. Scary cars. Loose dogs. What if Raquel is insane? What if I end up in a ditch? My hair all hacked off in some brutal, yet stylish way? I get to the feed store, which is already a block further than Maggie and I ever go, so I'm already on alert. I see someone riding toward me but it looks like a man, so I think, oh great, this is going to be the day I find out that Raquel is someone who never shows up. But as the rider gets closer, I realize it's her, not a man, and in fact she doesn't look like a man at all, and I should probably wear my glasses. And she doesn't seem as ballsy as she did in the car that day a year ago, she seems smart, level-headed, safe, funny and honest. She's 53, so I think of someone with that high a number as like my mom or something, even though she's only 7 years older than I am. We talk about the basics first, which is #1 riding accidents - she broke her back a few years ago, and I got bucked off and broke my hand. So we are more cautious riders now, this is good. Maggie likes her dark horse I'll call Ray Charles, who looks like an anorexic ice skater next to my sumo wrestler. They sniff noses, and Maggie nibbles his lip while looking away like, "Okay. You're cool." We cross down McBroom Street, and then under the tunnel, which we've only done once, with Nigel, months ago. Out into open territory, Maggie's head is up, she's a bold horse, she would pick a fight on the schoolyard, or run away if the person looked too scary, those are her two defense modes. When you go through the tunnel, you cross the entrance to the top of Hansen Dam where all these people are biking and jogging. As we crossed down the trail near the dam, Maggie did not enjoy the joggers up on the Dam ridge above us and next to us, they were like movement, far up, that she interpreted as Possible Danger. Keep Note of It. If we were alone, Maggie would have stopped and run away, or given me all sorts of balking trouble. But because she had the mellow Ray Charles horse next to us, she didn't run. Her horse brain decided, well, if he's okay, I'm not happy with all that movement, but this skinny dude here seems to think it's okay, so I'll just stay next to him, but I'm unna keep my left eye on that movement, if you don't mind. We get around a bend and then we aren't anywhere we've ridden before. This is scary. As Sally Ride, the chick astronaut, says, "All adventures, especially into new territory, are scary." We are on sand, and there is desert wildlife everywhere - scrubby plants, and wide open sky, and a small mountain to our right. Then we're going down a path and it's starting to feel cooler, and then we're in trees. Then it's like being back in Maryland a little bit, because there is only the trees, and the path, and the horse in front of us. And then a stream is right there, flowing and wet and beautiful, or it would be beautiful if I could relax, but Maggie's never seen a stream with a rider on her, what is she going to do, and why does it have to be ME on her, but the other horse stops for a drink, and Maggie stops for a drink, and then we cross the water, and she loves the water, it isn't scary, it feels good, so we keep walking, and up ahead is a deeper stream, slower moving, and we head through that one, and I have to keep kicking Maggie because she has no river manners, she might just stop and then probably decided to lay down and roll in it, and I can't handle that! So all this time Raquel and I are talking, and it's easy to talk when the horse is calm, but when Maggie starts seeing something, and her head raises up, my blood pressure raises up. The trail goes up and gets a little rocky, and then we're out on the other side of the wash, and it's wide open and there are other riders here. Maggie is very alert here, in a wide-eyed, I don't want to be riding her, kind of way. And there's this loud strangled kitten sound coming out of the bushes that's freaking her out, and I'm thinking, let's keep going and get past this and then somehow Raquel is saying, "wait, there's a cat in there," and then she's off her horse and looking in the bushes. This is when I start panicking, shit, just leave the freaking cat already, I am just trying to survive this ride - coyotes will take really good care of that kitty, but instead, I'm circling Maggie, and she's lifting her head so high if she was helicopter she would be flying by now, and she's seeing all sorts of "scary" objects, dogs barking in cars, dogs running around, cars in the distance, riders coming at us. And this lady is just digging in the bushes and she finally, after YEARS comes out with a black young kitty. "I'm sorry, I'm a mom -- I had to get it -" and she stuffs the cat in her shirt and figures out how to get back on her horse with a meowing cat in her bra, and I'm thinking, this woman is SO FAR beyond me - lucky to be able to ride relaxed on her 16 year old horse who looks like he should be wearing spectacles and playing a rousing game of Scrabble by a fire, while I'm on Disaster Horse, Anything Can Happen Horse. I wished so BAD, I was her. I'm just trying to hang on, I thought. You're putting a cat in your bra. We continue our walk, and Maggie settles down a little, but this is already an hour ride, and that's usually my limit. So I ask her gently if we could find the path back, and we head back the same way. Maggie is thankfully, very good, even when there's a loose dog on the path by the water, who disappears back into the woods (and I expect to come bounding out at any moment) - I just want to get back now, so I can have had a successful, no accident ride. When we get through the tunnel, and we're back on the street, and I can't feel my hips anymore, I realize we're going to be allright. There were no big problems. Maggie bolted only once, when we were first rounding the bend in the sand, before the water. She burst ahead because something scared her, and I turned her and she stopped. Raquel said I didn't move out of the saddle, which made me feel good. I'm probably more secure than I know. Now that's comedy. We decide to do it again next Friday, and then I have the long walk back to my house on Mags while my hips hurt. I should maybe get a saddle that is slightly higher up, or pad mine differently so I'm not stretched like a rubber band with my ankles in my ears over her wide river back. Raquel was telling me there was this really good $600 dollar saddle she knew about and I just laughed. I said $50 was more my speed. But I learned alot from her, I can see how I can make some improvements on my ride - where to carry a water bottle, what's the best fit for the most comfortable ride for Maggie and I. Mostly, when it was over, I got to see that I could do it, that any kind of training is hard work, couragous work, and carving new paths is just what it is, carving a new path. So we can glide later. I need chewing tobacco, chaps and leather skin, I think, to at least outwardly look as tough as you have to be to try these things. Luckily Maggie doesn't know I'm a trembling flower. She just knows I'm kind of fun, we take weird walks, and I have the carrots. I'll take a picture next Friday, when I can unfreeze my terror-filled hands from the reins to get the camera. But next week I will be an inch closer to being the lady with the cat in her bra. That is something I'm looking forward to. I like having that image - with a little more work, you too, can do something like this. In fact, by the time you get to the cat in bra point, it won't even seem like a problem.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012


Since the kids are in school, I'm back to being able to ride Mag almost each day. Today on the trail some sprinklers went off right when we were passing them on a skinny path, and she startled and tried to turn around, but I had her and circled her and talked to her and let her walk by the dreaded sprinklers until she realized they weren't going to spray acid onto her or attack her. (She has flashbacks from when she was a spy, Agent 91.) (I guess.) Then we were almost home later, on the secret leafy path right by the house, and nothing ever happens there, so I had taken my feet out of the stirrups cause they hurt sometimes from all the fear pressing down into the stirrups (that's where I channel it all, apparently) - so of course I had no stirrups, so no extra balancing aid, and a squirrel decided to wrestle itself THROUGH a plastic covering on the fence RIGHT next to us as we passed by, and I have to admit, if I was Maggie, I would've flipped out too. (Luckily, I saw the squirrel before Maggie did and sort of expected it to happen.) So Maggie, who was ambling along after having stopped to pee in her regular place in the shade a few feet back, sees wiggling squirrel plastic next to her and says "I'm gettin out a here, Boss -" and turns to flee. I have gotten it down pretty well, I lean the other direction, put both hands on the one rein she's fleeing from, and aim her back so she basically can only take two steps, and can't run anywhere. And she's gotten pretty good, she stops, and the adrenaline is fading because she's just big and retarded, and she turns back around like "oops, okay, right, carry on," and then she keeps going forward with no trouble. It's like she has to learn HOW to react in a safe way while still acknowledging her fear and letting it run its course, without hurting anybody since she weighs as much as a car with Arnold Schwartzeneggar driving it. Of course, I get to enjoy the nasty fear aftermath as I assess if I'm still alive and functioning. Luckily, I got to see that I could ride just as well with no stirrups - my body didn't move a bit in the saddle, I was glued in and balanced all on my own. Why do we always doubt our ability to hang on, and hang on well? I was meant to be in that saddle. Maggie isn't trying to hurt me. She's just young, and learning. Anyway, I'm going to try and make these blogs into a separate Maggie Channel, so other people with PMUs can feel encouraged. That training a 10 year old mare with no previous experience under saddle isn't impossible. Little bits every day. Nobody handled her face much before me, so I'm just now getting to that aspect - having her turn and let me stroke her face, wipe it -- she still wants to turn away. But when I ask her to turn toward me with gentle pulling, she lets me have her face, and if I'm grooming her, eventually she'll drop her whole head and relax like, "Finally. Somebody."

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Summer Lovin

Too hot to write. My arms are sticking to the desk. There is a fan on in here, but it seems to be blowing air directly up from hell. Inside I am an ice cream cone, but outside of me, I am actually melting. Summer is waving at me from the window, it is the end of summer even though August just started, because the school year has changed its schedule. So I am still standing in the yard, looking at summer waving, and refusing to wave my handkerchief in surrender. It's just not fair how things end. How some things just bulldoze past just when you realized you were having a good time. Raising kids is just like that. Yell, yell, fun, leap, heartbreak, yell, yell, clean up, fireworks, ice cream, everyone asleep. Rinse, and repeat. I've had so many great, dawdling summers, and I'm so grateful to have this very one, with all our kids nestled in for the night, and Barry passing his driving test renewal, and big Mags rubbing her big butt on the tree outside in the dark. Lilly summed it up tonight going to bed, talking about family: "Daddy's the biggest. Then you, then Bruce, then Nathan, then Emma, then me, but wait, no, what about Brandon and Ziani? And then Noah and Rowan? And Luke? It will take, like, quick. Like there's too many people. Like the sun will come up."

Sunday, July 22, 2012

That's Alot of Horse Gas

Someone posted a spectacular horse-farting video that Will and I made called "The Colonel" on YouTube, and it's gotten 514,000 hits. I found it by accident. I'm hoping to channel all those fart-lovers to this blog, and all my work so far. If the Colonel can blow in some more readers, his gas will not be in vain.

Thursday, July 05, 2012

Maggie Scores Some Wardrobe

Thanks to generous contributions, the Magster will be having a brand new bridle and bit, that fits her fat face!! I told her all about it, while she was munching some hay out there at dinnertime. As my neighbor Mrs. Eick, said, "This horse has hit the jackpot." She used to just be someone's urine machine, with no family. Now she has social skills, riding skills, some driving training, trail rides and park rides, a family and so many treats. And now her very own bridle.

Sunday, July 01, 2012

Amish in Ojai

On the way back from the beach the other day, we drove the back way, thru Ojai, and right before Ojai is a little town called Oakview. In the little town is a dude named John Morgan who for the last 26 years has fixed horse carriages. He's the closest to Amish I can get in Los Angeles. Since Maggie's borrowed horse cart has a broken shaft, we had to get new shafts, the poles that stick out front, and they're 12 feet long and carved the way an Amish guy would carve, I guess. So I walked into this massive carriage house, like a carvern of carriages, all beautiful and all jammed happily in like if you asked Santa for a carriage for Christmas, and then you could shrink down into his pack and be surrounded by all the carriages he was delivering, you'd be coated in carriages. So I was. And I got to meet John Morgan, who is a 74 year old carriage maker, and I guess his son or grandson, who was probably my age, and they helped me get the pieces I needed to make our cart work for Maggie. The greatest part was, they were so NICE. They walked slowly, they let the kids climb into the carriages. They explained how to attach my shaft pieces to my cart at home so I'd do it right. They did everything happily, and peacefully. I figured out why everything was so happy there. There is nobody there. There is no depressingly long line like at Lowe's when you need to find a part for something. There is no air of defeat, like at an auto parts store, where everyone has a ring through their nose. Because there are no customers. Because there are cars. Because who the hell buys carriage parts when the country is on its knees economically, and everyone just wants their car to run so they can keep going to their shreds of jobs. There are cars. Nobody relies on carriages. So John Morgan can work his particular magic for Disneyland, and make parts for carriages where people use carriages in their businesses, and for hobbies. But I liked that there's something in the world I like more than anything - going slowly in a fast world. Looking around while your horse clip clops around slower than you actually walk. I like that there is a guy near Ojai who sits amongst all these carriages and sells obsolete items, in this relaxed and wonderful way. His whole lofty warehouse seemed filled with sighs, and hope.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Maggie, the Safe and Powerful

Mighty Mags was mighty good today. Because I made a huge mistake over the weekend and put a milk jug with rocks in it on her harness. The noise is supposed to get her used to the noise of a carriage. Well, the noise apparently sounded like someone was coming at her with chainsaw, because she flipped out and started running around the driveway, skidding and bucking and flipping out while Nandy and Tim and I watched, frozen in an "oops." Luckily no one was hurt, including the fat Mags. But today I realize it's a good thing, like every mistake is a good thing, maybe. Because I learned that if I had been on her, or had a bridle on her, I would have had control, she would have trusted me. Nine months of riding and consistent training have given her a precedent of gentle handling. So today when I got on her after yesterday's rock attack, I should have been scared. But instead, I sat deeply and firmly on her and gave her lots of loose rein in the front. Cause the trainer said with a horse that is pretty slow, you want to leave the front open so they can move forward easily, give them the option to move forward willingly. So the ride to the park, and in the arena, Maggie moved forward happily, willingly, glad to be out. She gave me a little attitude when we got to the arena cause she thought I was going to make her run, but I stepped back a step and we just did easy walk trot, follow the directions, be good. So she settled in and connected the dots I laid out for her and I gave her loose rein, more reason to do because she wanted to, because it was a good choice. She is becoming a really, really wonderful horse. The last month she has settled into becoming reliable. She'll be good for all of us, kids included. I have my neighbor's cart and we've been getting her used to it, all the steps leading up to hitching her up. But the cart is broken and the two pieces I need (the cart shafts) are $67 dollars for the pair, and they're in Pennsylvania, where some Amish guy named Earl makes them. But Earl informed me (I talked to an Amish dude!) that the shipping would be $150 dollars. So I've been trying to find an Amish dude here, but so far ain't no Amish Californians. And cart shafts aren't the most popular item since people invented cars. So we're still saving up for that. This experience with Maggie has made me a better rider, stronger and safer. Maybe I needed that to safely teach the kids. And in the process, we saved a big fat horse. Who gets carrots everyday. Mistakes sometimes turn out to be miracles.

Friday, June 08, 2012

Fatty Can't Run

The young girl/PHd student who has been training Maggie once every month or so came out about a week ago. We were going to teach Maggie to canter, and she did really well, actually. Getting Maggie to go faster is like filling a gigantic canvas sack with whale blubber and then attempting to heft it skyward. But CourtneyMadisonOtherYoungGirlName was able to get her going pretty easily and it was exciting to see her achieve something only the men on the moon have achieved - uncharted territory. I went to the arena yesterday to try it out, nervous because I was by myself, but I thought I could maybe get her to do it. I'm messier than the trainer, I'm more me, less PhD. And as we worked in the arena, it started to get broiling out, Maggie got hot and decided she didn't want to run anymore. It's like she REALIZED she was 1400 pounds. So she didn't run at all. In fact, when I asked her to canter, she slammed on the brakes, very clearly saying UH NO. I did find myself calling her the C word. For fun. I was having a Cbag day. She did canter for one STEP. After that, it was just like she was melting into a puddle of magma. I did learn something that was pretty funny - she is a safe horse. I know, because I was beating her with my little stick and she did not try to buck me off or hurt me or anything. She just was not going to move. My friend Karen said to me a few weeks back, "It's funny, you got a slow horse because that's what you wanted, and now all you want is for her to go faster." The good thing is, today Maggie is back to normal, walked and trotted on our little ride today, out with Hank in the neighborhood. She just tells me what she wants, she wants company, or she's too hot, or yes, today I will run when you ask. The trainer says boy horses (geldings) will say "okay," when you ask them to do something. They're just doofy and agreeable. Mares, when you ask them to do something will say, "Why." And then if you persist, they will do it for you. So the Mags is doing well. She's more reliable on the trail, getting more relaxed and confident, barely spooking anymore. When I was getting on her today, and I had Hank on the leash, I went to get up on her and she looked down at Hank and leaned down and play-nipped him on the back. He glared at her, but it was funny. They both like each other's company out on the trail.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Trail Blazer

Rode Maggie out on the trail today. It's been a little windy, which always makes horses alert and ready for anything scary to blow in front of them so they can blow sideways and leave you hanging from a tree. Mags and I made it all the way up a trail we had only been on once before, and she was doing just fine. I say trail like it's all lush and gorgeous, when really a trail here in The Real World of Los Angeles is riding up a neighborhood street on a horse path (or sometimes in the middle of the street) on your wide horse (I don't think she's wide but apparently everyone else in the world who passes by and comments on it thinks she's wide), until you get to a dirt area that used to be mountains but is now new houses being built into giant mountainous lots. So it's trailesque. There are moments of trail. It's beautiful, anyway, to pass the school and have the kids yell hello at you from the playground, and to see the blue sky and birds flying around and leafy trees and green lawns. Anyway, so we get up the trail and on the way down we run into two other horses going on a trail ride. An older dude and a girl in her 20's. They don't know it, but we hitch a ride with them, secretly hoarking their ride so we can have company. I keep thinking, I should say hi, I should say hey can we ride with you part of the way, my horse is still new at everything, but instead I just steal their ride from behind, I'm taking it anyway, without telling them, because they were sort of quiet and I didn't want to kill their silent buzz, as surfers call it, I didn't want to "harsh their mellow". So they go up a big dirt trail where there's construction at the top, and I wouldn't have gone up there with out horse company, but since they're going I have the balls to go, and they're a little ahead of us, so Maggie, who has NEVER cantered with me on her, decides to CANTER up the hill to catch up. It was so exciting! She moved fast! But then we turned left to go down another trail to follow our riders, and they were a little ahead, and here's where things turn bad. Some noise scares her from behind and suddenly we're CAREENING toward the other riders at full speed. I have Maggie, she's not going to get away, but it sure looks like it. Luckily the guy's horse just STOPS, so then Maggie crashes to a halt inches from him. If his horse had gotten scared of my horse, we'd all still be running right now. I made a mental note, learn how to stop horse BEFORE bolting. Not sure how to do that. I said sorry to the guy and he didn't seem to respond, just kept going. So I turned Maggie down the first trail possible to get away and we crawled away in shame. But then the rest of the ride was fine. Mags just has like two speeds. Ambling, ambling, ambling and light speed. Then ambling again. So I'm working on tempering that light speed. I'm not as afraid anymore, because she's had weeks without one bolt at all. She's learning. She's just got to learn to get some more polite gears on her. She's like a rookie racecar driver.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Mag on the Mountain

Rode Magammemnon up the mountain today. Just the small mountain, a loop up the closest trail and back. You don't know, it's taken like 8 months of riding 4 times a week, 160 days consistently, weeks training on streets and in the arena, to get to this small victory. This is all I wanted,to be able to go up the trail, without getting bucked off, without being scared, and come home refreshed from seeing a tiny bit of wide open space. With Maggie today I learned (or reinforced), that you can't QUIT. When she wants to turn around at the top of the mountain and scurry back down the way we came, when she grinds her feet into a stop and looks at me like NO WAY, PARTNER. Ain't doin it for you, she said. My reaction today was F*#$ You Aren't. And I gave her a whale of a kick. She looked at me like awww, man. And she decided okay, I'll do it for you. There were two points in my ride where she tried to pull the plug and I had to say No. (Plug.) Go. In a forceful way that doesn't seem fitting on a pale and gentle flower such as myself. I have to FORCE THROUGH fear. The rest is sort of easy, actually. When there is resistance, I have to barrel right through it. I figure now, maybe tomorrow when I ride, it'll be a little bit easier. And next time, even easier. As I know with her, eventually our new path on the mountain will be routine, and she'll be pretty reliable and good. Then when we start driving, when I get the balls up to hitch her to the new old cart we have, I'll have to start all over with new challenges. But at least I've learned, Tough. Shove. 1400 pounds needs a strong hand, and once she learns to be safe, then it takes less and less force. And eventually our little rides and drives will be a water ballet.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

We harnessed Maggie up yesterday on a blustery warm Saturday and it took four adults to walk her and drive her on the ground, and get her used to the poles next to her stomach that we carried and jostled against her so she can get used to the shafts of the cart. My neighbor gave us her training cart to use, which is broken but I think we can fix it and then the kids will get to take little rides, once we get her used to it. Small steps to getting her ready, I figure when she's ready, the cart will be ready! It was exciting, though, to see the kids excited, and Maggie really became the Family Horse in that day, because they saw that she was going to be useful and the center of all of us, like a car that breathes, and needs food. A part of the family. Also, this unicycle is an interesting thing because it reinforces all the things I'm good at, or can learn: Stop. Climb on. Balance. Sit deeply. It's okay when your heart flips when you feel like you're falling. Fear keeps you resolute, keeps you trying. It's ridiculous, trying to sit on a pole, on one wheel. It's so pointless. It's not a skill you can use ANYWHERE. Unless maybe you're French, or a midget, or both. But that is precisely why, training a horse to drive in 2012, and riding a unicycle, are so important. Right? Because when we get her used to driving, we will be able to get somewhere at FOUR MILES AN HOUR. And when I am able to sit on the unicycle without falling, I'll be able to sit on a unicycle. hehheh

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

My Kingdom for a Butt Scratch

This is from my friend Lee on the phone: "Next time we're at the toxic waste dump, we'll swing by." Now that's love. I took Maggie on the trail alone for the first time in a long time. I was feeling brave. I did learn something, and that is you never let a 1400 pound friend that you're riding make any decisions. Once I realized I had to be very strong with Maggie, and then let her trust me, she is excellent on the trail. She says "I'm scared of that big plastic bag. Don't make me go over there. I'm thinking of turning and running away like a crazy woman on fire." She says this by arching her neck really high and looking around for the nearest fire exit. I have learned that under all that momentary fear, she is fat and lazy. So I say "Hey, you're scared of that?? Hey, let's go SEE that, let's go FAST over to SEE that." And I kick her to move forward. She immediately starts rethinking her plan of escaping as soon as there's any FAST MOVEMENT involved. She says, "Wait, wait wait, I don't REALLY want to run off. That bag isn't looking that scary. Please don't make me move faster. In fact, I'll put my head down and stop acting retarded if you stop kicking me to go faster." And that's how we had a very happy and almost relaxed trail ride today, I listened. She listened. We are almost partners. Especially if I give her a really nice carrot and a really nice butt scratch when we get home. Scratches make good friends.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

At Least Mag is Not a C Bag

I met the lady that was with the lady who was calling her horse a cuntbag. It turns out that lady was TRAINING her horse, and part of the training was to bitch the horse out with foul and colorful language. It also turns out she funly fired that trainer and now has a trainer who uses weird things like gentle touch and patience with her horse. Thought you'd want to know the haps on that particular scene. Mag and I just plod along, in her case, literally, moving forward and trying not to be afraid of things like wandering peacocks and miscellaneous trash bags blowing in the wind. I am a much better rider after htese 7 months, as if at 45 I really wanted to take a hard look at my riding skills, especially by training a green horse. But it has given me confidence. Now I can go home and pack a lunch or clean out the kids closets with confidence. heh heh

Monday, April 16, 2012

Check Out the Mouth on That Chick

I'm certainly glad I had a better day with Maggie in the public arena than the girl before me... Mags and I were standing there with our lips hanging out (hers more than mine, bigger bottom lip and more gravity) while the girl in the arena in front of us was chasing her horse around and yelling "f*&^ing cuntbag" at her in the nicest way, actually not so nice even. (I left cuntbag in because it's so unusual.)

When she stormed out dragging her horse who looked like she really wanted to go home with us or maybe get a job at a Chevron station or something, Mags and I went in the ring and did our normal, boring, excellent work where Maggie did everything and stopped so she could be petted and loved.

It was a glorious day. For all cuntbags.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Maggie Can Canter

Maggie has cantered three times on the lunge line. For all those people out there who are working with their green PMU mares, this is a nice step. Haven't ridden at the canter, but at least she does GO, and she doesn't try to get away or cause trouble. So she's taking the next step. There are no other gaits she has to learn, so eventually she might be a regular old riding horse.

I walked her across our really busy Sunland Blvd the other day to get to my friend Mary's house, so we could get used to that area. She did fine with everything, it was only these huge great danes on the hill that looked like roaming wild lions that made her nervous. Which then made me nervous because I didn't want her to run over me on her way to escape. We just have to walk over there again, and she'll see that it's a routine and then maybe I can relax too.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Chub Chub Gaining Confidence

Two things- gave up on Mags and then started reading books about how to bombproof you horse and it says things like "listen to what your horse is asking," (by her behavior) so I knew she needed company. She's always lived in a herd. So I started taking Hank the Anchor dog out with us, and she is so happy. She plods along and Hank plods along and nerves are settled, collecting dust somewhat. So this in turn, helps me sit more relaxed, and helps build confidence so the next time we go out, I am stronger, and we work better together. Also, she has never had a person. I am her first person. So after 7 mos, she is learning my cues, trying to do what I ask, and making less of her own decisions. In fact, the more I clarify my cues and make things simple, the better she is able to execute what I'm asking. We are both trying to figure it out.

Also she's been a mom, and I think that changes a person. Animal. Your mind/body is not quite the same. Even though her mind is a walnut. It has still changed a fraction. You are wholer after kids, your body has become a fast food restaurant. You naturally think you know best. Because you have been a food court. And you have been a manufacturer. You don't argue with the boss.

So Mags and I may have similar outlooks. Plus her body looks like I feel inside. Squatty, dumpy, comfy, sturdy, round, slow, with nice fur. In short, gorgeous.

An important thing the book says, too, is that the stronger you are when making decisions, the more your horse will trust you. If you waffle (god I love waffles), they think, 'wait, if SHE'S not sure, then I'M not sure' and then they start making all the decisions, like running for home or eating candy for breakfast. So you gotta be confident to gain their trust, and then pretty soon you're a team and then you both can relax. Confidence is the path to relaxation. Who'd a thunk. I always thought hot tubs were the path to relaxation.

Okay, so that's where we are on the horse path of life. Oh, and her nickname is Chubs. Chub Chub.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Three's Company

Gave up on Maggie and decided to give her to my friend. I even sent the email saying take her, take her.

Then I ignored the horse for two days. No radio on in the barn, no special treats. Then I decided oh, I'll just take you out with Hank. You just need company and you won't bolt off with me. So for the last three days we went out with Hank and huge trucks came by and no bolt. Small dogs running at the park, and no big deal.

Maybe Maggie was telling me, I'm just scared. Have Hank the Anchor there on the ground walking along relaxed and I'll be relaxed, I like a herd.

So that's what we're trying. The horse lets you know what she needs. Also, I like the company.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Walking and Talking

I can't stop sucking in movies - when you walk on the treadmill you can't FOCUS on the walking, it would kill you. So now I'm watching every movie known to man that I've missed since Charlie Chaplin first started recording them in celluloid. Okay, so I have ALOT more to go.

I should maybe try to get my masters while on the treadmill.

Monday, March 05, 2012

Ride Out

Well for Maggie lovers out there, this horse is doing spectacularly. For people worrying about my treadmill, it is really dangerous and almost killing me. I must get it tuned up.

But back to Mags, the "trainer" came out yesterday and I'm always glad NOT to be riding her and just observing. Less stress. We did some arena work and she is doing really well. I'm am again learning that I may NOT get bucked off.

This morning in the heat of March, Hank the dog and I went riding to the arena. We both like the company, the dog is like the staple to the earth. Nothing bad can happen with Hank there. So we moseyed to the park and Maggie did everything right and then we came back and I can see that more time, repetition, routine, Maggie is learning to be a riding horse who listens. Which means safety for the rider.

Just have to keep doing what I'm doing, shoving back the fear, locking it away, swing up on to the horse, ride out.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Hey Jule, Shut Up Already

Learned to keep parts of my mind to myself. It's good to write honestly, but my audience gets confused. I think I should be working on a bigger project and keep my inner workings to myself. This blogging, I forget people might actually read it. I use it as a colon cleanse. Mostly everything coming out is going to be mixed in shit. heh

Hey, I miss Lukey.

Spent the night enjoying my cold and waking up so many times I never realized how long a night is. It's like, FOREVER. I could have flown to Australia and back.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

So Much to Do, So Little Gets Done

Hey, so PhD Girl has ridden my horse 3 times and she's so much better at everything than me that I may just enroll in a PhD program of my own except wait I don't want to go to school. I'm already doing so much of Nathan's homework and what with Emma's Rosa Parks report, and Lilly learning the numbers, I'm swamped.

I'm supposed to be furthering my writing and here I am in dirty sweatpants because all I can do really in the 2 hrs off from all kids, is get on that fat horse and pretend I'm making progress. We are SORT of making progress, I mean progress is so SLOW that it's hard to see the progress. I see why people build buildings, or bind books when they're done writing them, so they can SEE the beginning, middle and end. There's an actual end.

My dad, who actually cares about me furthering my writing, has all these ideas about how to push my stuff out there, but I just want to push it out of my head and form it, and then print it out, show it to Barry and a few other people, as many as want to read, and it's done. It would be nice to widen my audience, but I would also like to just be writing again. In my spare time.

It just seems pathetic. But maybe if you push through pathetic there is alot of money. I should keep going. I just wrote it SO LONG ago. But then, so did Shakespeare.

Gotta go make lunch. I am working out what thing to write next. Have many unfinished, and one finished that I could look for a publisher. Guess I have to do it all at once. But then who will make lunch?

Maggie is doing pretty well. I learned from the Amazing Rider Girl that it is possible to be solid, grounded, and relaxed. I am good at feigning these things, she's suggesting actually USING them in the saddle. Stop floating around with my head in a bubble. Just be solid. Wait, look - butterfly...what?

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Maybe We Can Do Her Some Good

I should relabel this blog PMU Adventure. Life with a fat and slow rescue horse.

I read in Anne of Green Gables, when the Cuthberts get a girl (Anne) instead of the boy orphan they wanted to help around the farm, Marilla says "What good is she going to do us?" And Matthew, the serene character, offers quietly "We might do her some good."

I do think I've learned with this Maggie horse character that I had my foot stomping need to have a horse in my life to see everyday, while we have the barn and the land and the hay to keep one. But then she came here and thankfully I had no idea how much courage it would take to get on and ride an untried big fat horse everyday, because I would have wimped out. Sincerely.

But everyday I got on that horse whether I wanted to get on or not. With fear in my boots. Sloshing full of fear. Because of that pony that bucked me off and broke my hand.

It's been six months next Monday that she's been here. I see an inkling ahead that maybe the hard part is over. She is used to the routine of riding. I have a girl with a modern name like Madison who will come once a week and school her. Maybe it is the presence of this phantom girl who will only really see Maggie for an hour a week that has given me a sense of settling into my pants. (When I'm on the horse.) I used to be afraid, what if she sees something and gets scared and then I'm whisked off and I die and yay no more meals to make but no, no dying. And this girl says, "Just have a quiet seat, she sees something that scares her, her head goes up. You just sit there like eh, that's nothing, she feels that, she settles back down." You are then leading her while not doing anything but relaxing.

So lately my rides with Maggie have been I Can Do It, not Please, Can I Do It? Solid leg on the sides of her, to squeeze her forward like toothpaste shooting in front of us. Holding her with my legs so she knows she has someone leading her forward. Today we went around the park in the wind, which scares any horse, and she did everything I asked with only a few moments of worry. When my leg got stronger and my seat got quiet, she got more confident, and her head dropped down and we both sighed.

The sign of a good ride.

She's coming around the corner, and there will be the time I've been looking forward to, the time when she's no longer new, she's gently used, and we're good for each other.

Friday, February 03, 2012

Whoa Girl

Maggie and Lilly expressing the thumbs. A girl is coming to help ride Maggie on Sunday. She's 25, got a PhD in mechanical engineering and is also a national champion rider. I felt very large and flappy in the mind when standing beside her. I felt like a prarie mom. Hopefully she will teach Maggie how to be well behaved for our kids, so I can turn her loose on them in the summer. Oops, I mean turn them loose on her.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Ridin Really Wide

Got a new saddle with some of my Christmas money, my first new saddle ever in my life. It's not a real saddle, it's like a bareback pad, squishier, called a treeless saddle.

It's so WIDE on already WIDE Maggie that after about half an hour in the saddle there is actually no way I could get off. My legs are stuck straight out that way.

So I have to do some stretching, throwing my legs to the sky and having someone shove them out in the splits. And hold them that way. Til I break, or they loosen up.

Friday, January 20, 2012


After that disastrous day out with Maggie where I decided turning her into a bag of dog food would be the kindest thing I could do with her - the next day I went out with Nigel on the trail.

Except for spooking at a parked boat (seems boats are the most TERRIFYING SHAPE, and I'm thinking she had a terrible boating accident when she was Agent 91, Super Spy), she did excellently well - she does so well with a friend horse along. It wasn't until 45 minutes into the ride, when we were heading back in from a new trail, that I could relax, I could feel my legs come down from up in my shoulders and actually touch the sides of Maggie's stomach. I believed in her instead of being scared. Alot of my problems are me. She's just being a horse that never did anything or saw anything before these last 5 months. She's just being honest. And honestly, all she needs is a buddy for trail rides to get her comfortable (she keeps telling me with body language, pretty specifically) and on days I don't have Nigel or someone to ride with, I can just do circles in the street near my house, where she's comfortable. You know, read her signs and do what she can do, and build up our connection. But I have to believe in her and tell her so by being relaxed. Believe in me. Too.

So lying in bed that night I realize, oh, wait, she's my 4-H project. My 45-H project, since I'm way old to be in 4-H. Like my friend Chris said, just pretend you're taking a class in things you're scared of, and your mind will open up. So she's a 4-H project, and that gives me some balls.

Also, she's been having some fungus that is making her rub all the hair off her face so I've had to rub her down with Listerine twice a day, which I don't know, gives her really fresh breath. So my hands smell like an old man Hebrew Choir, seriously, old man fresh.

Love hate relationship, I'm just going to try and stick with my project. Why is worrying so ample and buxom??

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Brother, Would You Sell a Friend?

I don't know what to do about Big Fat Maggie. Mostly, if I sell her, I'd want to name the new horse Maggie. If there was a new horse.

She's just big and difficult and I'm old and senile-ish. I have no right being up on a green horse. I should be up on an old senile horse. Definitely.

The problem is, I've spent MONTHS with this horse. And she needs maybe another 5 months of me not being afraid. It's like she's reached giant toddler stage, so she knows SOME rules, but she doesn't want to really listen to those rules all the time. And she's 1400 pounds.

I don't know, gentle reader. I just got a used bareback pad to fit her huge gut off ebay. Of course, in the week that I decide I probably should find an easier horse to ride. So I have to wait at least til it comes so I can use it once. Before I get a smaller horse. Anyway. Luckily there are plenty of horses out there, and two friends are interested in taking my horse. So no money would be lost or spent. But it's hard to sell a friend. Especially, what if she's destined for greatness? But she is a really pushy horse. I wouldn't mind a less pushy horse.

Okay, more later.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

52 New Things

My friend Spew is going to do 52 Meet Ups this year. I decided I'm going to try 52 New Things. One new thing a week.

I'm behind a few weeks cause the year already started. But I can count meeting a new friend - I did that today.

The next thing is going to be ice cream. I'm almost sure. I want to try unicycling. Anything out there you're going to try??

Right now I'm going to try and be on time picking up Lilly. That's a new thing.

Friends for Mags

Maggie has a new friend. Well, two new friends. It's been 5 months since she got here - and yesterday we went out on the trail with another horse and my friend Nigel. He borrowed the horse from a neigh bor. (Get it "neigh" bor?) Anyway, he came and picked me up on horseback, just like in Sense and Sensibility. I'm hoping he brings a carriage next time and then changes the neighborhood into a scenic valley with a Lake of Shining Waters, and has fresh sandwiches packed in a basket. I will then disappear completely into my imagination. But as Anne says, that's all we need. My trail rides will still be full of shining lakes and verdant valleys. Who cares if we live next to the dump.

I was nervous to take her out with Nigel, who I thought as a boy and an ex-jockey, wouldn't baby us but would instead make us do dangerous stunts, but of course he hasn't BEEN a jockey in several thousand years, and we just walked along the trail. Also, I was afraid that Maggie might somehow cause a scene, fight, freak out, I had never seen her really with other horses, and what she did was very funny, all she did was hurry up to follow the other horse with her nose almost imbedded in the other horse's butt, and that's where she wanted to stay. Goodyou'rehereI'lljustfollowyoudon'tmindmynoseIloveyourbuttit'sgreat. Thank god that horse wasn't a kicker, Maggie would currently have no face.

I should mention that Maggie was extremely oily because I had freaked out thinking she had chicken lice (a great soup if you're sick, by the way) because she was rubbing all her fur off, and so I went out the night before and dusted her with this white powder until she looked like a Ghost Horse, and then she was still itchy the next day and I looked up lice and I looked up itchy horse butt (as I'm sure you all have) and then I found some sane person online that said um, dandruff anyone? So I checked her mane and tail and she had a ton of dandruff, which I had kind of thought but who listens to intuition these days - since she had come from a wet environment (CO and N. Dakota) and ended up in weirdly hot January in California - yes, I think scratching all your dry skin off until you push the fence off it's brackets is in order.

So I washed her with Head and Shoulders and then doused her with mineral oil on the itchy spots, and now I could fry an egg on her and it wouldn't stick (very hard to get her over the stove). So that's how we went on our trail ride, me on the greasy fat horse and Nigel on the refined ex-polo pony who didn't mind my horse's face in her ass. Noble, it turns out, was not only her name.

But it was the first trail ride with company, and it helps to have reinforcements, why have I forgotten that? Because I couldn't afford reinforcements. But it is so much better. Except for one dog who charged the fence so much as we passed that Maggie, who was patient patient patient until finally just flipped out and bucked and stormed forward but I had the One-Rein Emergency stop in my new bag of tricks that I've learned as Scared Rider, so I ripped her head to the left and aimed her at the opposite fence (which was coming at us rapidly) and she contained herself. She is a very mellow mare most of the time, she only has these momentary explosions and leaps forward or some very exciting nonsense for about three strides, enough to outdistance her panic, and then she stops, panic-free, the panic is now three strides back, and I'm now choking on my own panic, but she's fine, ready to keep going now. Thanks. And I keep thinking, thank god the kids aren't on her, but duh, of course the kids aren't on her. This is WHY you're on her. She'll be good at kid riding when you're done at training. In time.

So we'll work on that. It's only been a few months. The more exposure, the more it's eh, that's just a stupid dog.

And then 2nd friend, today I met Lottie, who is looking to do some horse bonding and responded to my craigslist ad for horse help. I wanted someone who wanted to come out once a week and play with Maggie in exchange for a bale of hay, to help with her costs. I couldn't have found a better person - she's a sweet girl/mom, college student, just wants to braid Maggie's hair and put ribbons in it. Time away from her kids and work, to relax. Maybe eventually to ride, but for now, she just wants to bring a bale of hay and play for a little while and get to know her. Perfect arrangement. Perhaps later, she and her kids can move into the tiny apartment being built onto our house, and marry Tim, the construction worker who already lives there. Heheh

Friday, January 06, 2012

Could Fear Wait Over There, Please?

I took a bunch of kids ice skating today. We also went Monday, and it seemed like Monday was more fun maybe because it was Monday and not today, where everything is fresher and we had to compare it to Monday, the better day.

This time there were six pairs of skates to tie on six different people, and I'm not kidding, a half hour later I finally finished. Leaving only and hour and a half to skate the 50 bucks I spent to get everybody in. There was one kid that should never, EVER have soda because he talks so fast anyway, having him talk while hyped up on soda was like traveling on the Millenium Falcon on hyperdrive. It was kind of amazing to behold.

But I didn't get into this blog to talk about the skating, this is my Maggie blog. I didn't get to ride or work with the Mag today because the kids were home and there wasn't that hole in the day that I could jam a 1400 pound cowhorse into. I did manage to lay on the diving board face down in the sun with Lilly wearing SpongeBob pajamas at like 1 in the afternoon. While Emma was in the treehouse, and Nathan was riding around the neighborhood collecting Christmas trees to bring home and cut up with a chainsaw. (The urban boy's firewood gathering.)

Maggie has been here almost five months, and getting on her everyday, whether I want to or not, just being a robot and doing the same things over and over so it becomes routine, has helped to shape her into a riding horse. She's 80% there. She still has maybe 19% I Want to Do Things My Way in her mind. But she's learning. I ride with about 20% fear. I'm trying to reduce that. I took Hank with us to give her some company, and I spent so much time yelling at the dog who kept wrapping himself around poles and stepping all over his leash, that I forgot to be scared, I was too busy being angry and yelling at him. It was kind of refreshing, to have the immediacy of anger to focus me away from the internal dread of getting bucked off. I might take Hank more often, it made an hilarious circus train of a ride, I'm sure all the people passing in cars on the street were amusing by Cussing Girl with Dog and Pony Trailside Show.

I should maybe designate a recepticle that I could place my fear in as I head out to ride, and retrieve it later, because it sure takes over everything. Maybe I'll put it all in the mailbox. Maybe I can accidentally mail it in with my Netflix and never have to see it again. Until I rent it next week. Dammit.

Aside from Maggie having an itchy neck and butt and scraping all the hair off those places, she's a healthy and fat individual. So far.