Monday, March 30, 2009


I've done the unforgivable in the World of Blog--I've let days go by without posting. Many days, in fact. My sincere and most abject apologies are offered. There is, however, a reason I've faltered.

Firefighters I've talked to watch "Backdraft" and notice all the mistakes; anyone who believes "Grey's Anatomy" shows how doctors really work needs to spend some time in the hospital.

And when I read or watch horses portrayed in unrealistic ways (like the animated movie in which horses lapped water like dogs--they don't) or when riders perform impossible feats (Zorro dropping 20 feet down into the saddle, as if either he or the horse would emerge uninjured) well, I get annoyed.

So I offered an online class through my local writing chapter on horse facts. I thoroughly enjoyed doing the research--spending hours every day looking at photos of horses, reading articles, viewing paintings and prints and historic writings. Though I haven't been blogging, I have been immersed in the horse!

One of the great sources I discovered in my work was the International Museum of the Horse, located at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Kentucky. In addition to their on site exhibits, the museum has a terrific online presentation, "The Legacy of the Horse," which covers the evolution and domestication of horses around the world. Illustrated with contemporary paintings, drawings and photographs, this survey of horse history is a joy to absorb. The site also offers an encyclopedia of horse breeds, indexed by the name of the breed and by the part of the world where the breed originates. How cool is that?

Of course, amazing feats are possible with horses. Check out this video of Lorenzo the Flying French Man with his beautiful Camargue horses:

Poetry in motion.


Wednesday, March 4, 2009

"Horses are karmic and they come to us in our lives karmically, when it is time for us to truly learn. We must not miss this occasion to learn, as it will enrich other areas of our lives. When you are frustrated in this learning process, do not become angry with your horse. Remember the old Arab proverb that says, 'Your horse is your mirror.' Learn what your horse has to teach you, then apply it to something else in your life." Dominique Barbier

This quotation was sent to me by a new friend, a more experienced horsewoman, and states an undeniable truth. Maintaining a relationship with your horse offers the opportunity to evaluate yourself and your behaviour.

Like children, horses require patience and responsibility. They offer confidence and freedom in return. That instant when you've achieved unity with your horse, both of your minds focused and your bodies synchronized, is a breathtaking release from the mundane world. You might only be walking, but you feel like you're one with the wind.

Such moments of perfection are the reason we do the work, spend the money and take the time horses require. These beautiful animals can move us beyond ourselves. It's their natural gift, and we gladly receive.


Tuesday, March 3, 2009

The Pioneer Woman

I wanted to explain this entry in my Links list.

The Pioneer Woman is Ree Drummond, a wife and mom in Oklahoma who sat down one day to blog about her life on a cattle farm. She's funny and fun, a little eccentric, and her blog is a bright spot in the day. Her photographs are delightful--life with cows and horses and dogs, the food she cooks and posts recipes for, the homeschooling she gives her four children and whatever else comes to her mind. She has a cookbook coming out this summer (I think) and she posts a serialized account of her romance and wedding with her husband, The Marlborough Man. No, he doesn't smoke. But he's one hundred percent the cowboy hero those ads convey.

If you get a chance, click on over and give yourself a smile.


Monday, March 2, 2009


The South has endured some strange weather lately. It's been colder this year than any year I can remember since leaving Washington, D.C. in 1996. This is March and we should be waking to sunny skies and flowers blooming. Instead, we got snow last night--not much, but still--and the high tomorrow is supposed to be 34 degrees.

Our snow was preceded by two days of significant rain, thank goodness. We need all the water we can get. But I always think a horse standing in the cold rain is a sad sight to see. Horses roll regardless of the weather, so they're usually standing there filthy as well as wet. My horses all have nice walk-in stalls they could retire to, with windows through which they could watch the weather without being in it. Do they take advantage of my generosity? No, they stand out in the storm, their butts to the wind, looking miserable. And I feel bad.

Sunday afternoon, we came home from church and went back to check on the girls--Lucy, Abby, Joy and Suzette share two pastures about an eighth of a mile behind the house. The two Cream Drafts, having been born into this weather, were fine. Abby, our grande dame, has weathered hurricanes and more since 1990.

But Suzette, the princess, was trembling. Sincerely shivering in the cold, wet day. I hadn't managed to get a blanket on her before the rain started; she was drenched and dirty, so I was distressed. A call to the younger daughter gave me hope--I could put a cooler on Suzette and keep her in a stall until she was dry, then put the blanket on.

Initial problem: Suzette hates stalls. She'll dig a hole 3 feet deep if shut up overnight, and look like it in the morning--dirty and sweaty. My daughter cautioned that Suzette couldn't be allowed to get sweaty under the cooler. Horses are better off too cold than too warm.

We threw a bunch of hay into the stall, since Suzette was bound to be hungry, yet she resisted coming in, even with a halter on. Once discovered, of course, the hay was a big hit. With her attention on food, we put the board across the stall front to keep her in. Then my husband, bless him, went to fetch towels and the cooler while I stood and watched the princess munch.

Suzette doesn't like blankets, either, and she's not too keen on being rubbed down. Eventually, we got the cooler on a body no longer dripping. A cooler, by the way, is a light blanket made of moisture-wicking fabric, wool in this case. Our working theory was that the cooler would pull the moisture away, and then we could put on the heavier, waterproof version and let her go.

Husband also brought me a chair--red, white and blue. I parked myself in the stall, allowing Suzette to wander around at the end of a lead rope, hoping that my presence would be enough to keep her calm and allow her to dry. Two hours later, I released my damp but considerably warmer filly back to the freedom of her pasture.

During the interval, we lived through only a few moments of horse-inspired terror--when I was taking the cooler off, for instance, and she jumped away with the leg straps still around her hocks. Her pirouette, kicking and turning in circles, energized the afternoon. The sirens out on the main road and the big, loud gunshot that followed also caused considerable excitement. Suzette is a control freak; she behaves as if she can protect herself and the rest of the herd from any and all evils, if only she can see them first. Don't we all?

There were sweet moments, as well. I enjoyed the time to watch and stroke the mare I claimed from birth. My neighbor from England recommended stuffing straw under the cooler to give additional layers and speed drying. I only had hay (at $8 a bale!) but after the first weird look, Suzette accepted the experiment. I remembered a Georgette Heyer novel in which the characters rubbed down their horses with straw after a long ride, and so I did the same for mine. Then I threw it on the ground and she ate it. Talk about recycling.

Finally, though, Suzette was bored with 3 walls and a board. She started to dig, but would stop each of the ten times I said "No!" I tried to get her blanket on, but she danced away. And then Joy gave her the chance she'd been waiting for...the 2 year old Cream Draft horse had been sharing the extra hay. This time, though, she got too close. Suzette whirled, backed, and kicked the board down. Joy retreated, as instructed.

I still held the lead rope attached to the halter, so I coaxed the princess back inside long enough to wrap her up, then removed the halter and let her go out into the and cold. We'd both had enough for one day.

Joy went in after Suzette left and finished up the hay. A good time was had by all. In the stall.