Sunday, June 27, 2010

As happy as I can be. For now anyway.

A hot day, a good horse and a cold one. It doesn't get much better!

After mucking stalls and doing chores, we hit the road:

Poked around in the woods:

Found our way home:

Sponged down with linament. I think she likes that better than a shower. Here, look at this beautiful butt! No no not mine! Hers! Nicest butt on the property.

Note to self: When riding bareback on a hot day? Keep some extra pants around.

Then after tucking L away with some well earned treats, I wrapped it up with:

I'm the luckiest guy in the world. I found my "thing". There's no place I'd rather be. Nothing else I'd rather do.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Go hang out with your horse

This was our first trip off the property under saddle:

L was 6 years old. We'd been showing for years and she'd been off the property on countless occasions. But not under saddle. I'm not a professional horse trainer. When L came home she was halter broke and that's it. I trained L under the supervision of a skilled trainer. I'm sure she thinks she trained me but that's another story.
Canadian Horses are wonderful family animals. They're very smart, they're sensible, they're good natured. I've also heard they're not for beginners. That may be so. Some say L is smarter than I am and it's hard to argue otherwise. She does know people stuff better than I know horse stuff.
I'm not a beginner - but I'm not an expert either.
L is a bold, dominant mare. Training was...challenging. For a long time I thought I'd *never* get it. It was frustrating. It was scary. Occasionally satisfying. Always it was educational.

This trip was a good experience. It was a busy show with one of L's herd mates (M - I haven't introduced M yet) showing under saddle. The morning was H/J over fences and later in the day was English and Western Pleasure and the WTC classes. L and I were there just to school.
It was late July. It was hot. Competition was outside, warmup was in the indoor arena. It was pandemonium! L and I walked up to the door, peeked in and I said oh crap, no no, we're not going in there, no sir, I'm gonna be killed in there.

We took a couple of circles in the parking lot, peeked in the door again, took a couple more circles, peeked in the door again, sucked it up, and followed our herd mate M in.

L was, of course awesome. Oh, she was a handful. No question about that.

This is a very poor quality picture but I think it caught the moment. You can see just a little of the sheer chaos going on in the background. It was really scary:

L is fully engaged. She's paying attention. Oh, she's making me work at it! But she's being real good. She had her big trot going for a good 20 minutes before she was ready to relax and work. We both came out of there dripping. I was tired. She wasn't.

We spent the rest of the day wandering the property, watching people, watching horses, dismounting, mounting, dismounting, etc.

And nobody got hurt!

It was a huge milestone for both of us.

And I remember learning something I found hugely significant that day too. There was a girl on some kind of chestnut horse. Thoroughbred or maybe a thoroughbred cross. They poked around the property most of the day, watched horses, visited people, got stuff from the canteen truck, all while mounted bareback with just a halter and the two of them just had some kind of "most natural thing in the world" going on. I commented to my companion, J, about it. Now J has been handling horses her entire life, she was riding before she could walk, and she just matter of factly says oh that's one of the summer camp kids. They're on those horses all day long.


I spent a lot of time on L the rest of that summer. Not just lessons and schooling time but just poking around doing nothing. We'd watch lessons. Run down to the street. Walk around the street. Lap the hay field. Walk in the woods. Run in the woods. Eat some grass. And go do it all again. My point being rather than just doing our lessons and schooling in the ring, we started just hanging around doing "stuff". Every chance we had. For hours and hours.

The lesson of course is if you want being with your horse to be a natural comfortable thing, for both of you, well, just go be with your horse. A lot.

Friday, June 25, 2010

The Canadian Horse

The Canadian Horse, or le Cheval Canadien, evolved in Quebec. It's a very rare horse that was, until recently, an endangered species. I think the most recent census from a couple of years ago placed the entire population at 6192 animals. They're popular here in the northeast with several hundred of them residing here in the States.

One can learn more about the breed at the breeder's association web site.

Canadian Horses are well known for being hardy, easy keeping, general purpose horses. They're quite luxurious, large bone mass, large muscle mass, good solid feet, and steady, sensible temperament.

The Canadian Horse excels in all disciplines.

L is a wonderful partner. She thinks she's the boss and she's happy with that. I think I'm the boss and I'm happy with that. Whatever our issues, and I'll go through many of them as time goes by, L and I have always been fully "engaged" with one another. She thinks she's smarter than I am but she's not so sure. I've worked hard to get that far with her!

Monday, June 21, 2010

First day of summer

I love the summer time. I just love everything about it. Hazy hot and humid is my most favorite forecast! The sun sets in Oslo today today at 11:45 pm. How wild is that! I've traveled the world and it's out of my system for the most part, but I'd kind of like to have a summer solstice dinner in Oslo someday.
Every meal should be a treat. I've taken quite a shine to this stuff:

I slice it with a serrated knife and flake it a little bit, lay it out on a bed of nice lettuce and finely chopped red onions, and I put a little dribble of maple syrup on it. Grade B. I like it with basmati rice and honey glazed carrots or steamed green beans or even bean salad in the summertime. Have it with a nice merlot or a pinot noir. I think I prefer the pinot noir. Really good stuff!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

She started it!

Cassie did. This is Cassiopeia.

Cassie is an Appaloosa although she doesn't look much like one. She acts like one though. You know the joke.

I took up horseback riding late in life. A very good friend suggested I try taking a few lessons. She had a horse. I liked visiting the barn. I've been around animals all my life. It would be something fun to do and a good way to meet women.

I got lucky. My instructor's focus was on the experience of being with the animal rather than just learning and applying techniques. I was assigned Cassie and we started with "this end bites and this end kicks" and went from there. This is how you clean hooves and this is how you groom and this is how you saddle and bridle.

By my 3rd lesson I was hooked and then by my 5th lesson I was hooked in a big way. Cassie is one sweet ride! When she was in the zone she'd swing her nose to music only she could hear and I swear she'd rock you to sleep. And it's fair to say, even though I'd had lessons in the past and been on trail rides, Cass is really the first horse I ever rode.

I really enjoyed my riding lessons and I couldn't get enough.

Within 6 months I had my first horse.

I'll call him "B". B was an (unregistered) American Quarter Horse. He'd come into the barn as a prospect for someone else and failed his vet check. B had navicular disease.

He'd be sent back to the sale barn he came from and most likely to auction from there. He didn't deserve that. He was a good boy, he was well trained and he'd served someone well. I don't know how they could have done that to him. Dumped him like that. I didn't know his age, 13 to 15 was a best guess, he was thought to have been a working cow horse from Ohio and I was gonna learn a lot from B. I didn't know what I was getting into but I knew I was getting into something.

I learned a lot and he grew old and grey and sway backed. I'm kinda partial to old horses. He took good care of me and I did my very best to return the favor. May he rest in peace.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Meet my therapist

Here. A treat for your eyes!

Canon A590 IS
I'll call her "L". This lovely beast was born in 2001. L is a 9 year old purebred Cheval Canadien. The names of all Chevaux Canadiens born in 2001 begin with the letter L. She's mostly known as Sweety but she can also be a real booger sometimes.

L is everything a Cheval Canadien is supposed to be. A "little iron horse" type, she's strong, she's smart, she's steady, she's bold, she's brave, and she's gentle as a lamb.

We haven't been without our "issues". She's a very dominant mare. It took some doing to win her over but she's pure solid gold and tons of fun.

I brought her home when she was 2 and a half. We're still not sure who picked whom. I have a problem with the whole "ownership" thing. I'm really her guardian. She's my horse, I'm her human, and I can hang out with her any time I want, which inspired the title for my blog. It really doesn't get much better than hanging out with L. She's my best friend in the whole world. And really, if that was your best friend wouldn't you be Living the Dream?

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Welcome to my blog!

My very first post!

About me? My two passions are my horses and food. And I complain a lot. But I admit I really don't have much to complain about. Doesn't stop me though.

I enjoy talking horses and food and I'm doing this just to indulge myself.
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