Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Back to normal


Well, another Christmas has come and gone.  I'm back at work today after having a 3-day weekend.  It was a very simple affair for us, and I enjoyed it more than many Christmases that I can remember in recent years past.  I think it may be that I had no expectations this year.  None at all.  That's quite different for me, as I consider myself "queen" of the expectations.  I have a habit of visualizing the "perfect" holiday in my mind and then the reality of everything hits me and leaves me feeling very let down.  However, that was not the case this year.  Our festivities began a week ago with a day of walking around in downtown Portland, window shopping and viewing of Christmas lights.  We met my husband's brothers and their wives at a little Italian restaurant and enjoyed a wonderful evening with them.  The following night we attended the Nutcracker Suite Ballet.  It was wonderful!  I have wanted to see this ballet for many, many years, and I was not disappointed.  The costumes were astounding, the music enchanting and the dancers divine.  We loved it!

Last Friday evening after work, I stopped by our favorite Chinese restaurant and ordered take-out.  It was amazing!!  We ate out of the boxes in front of the television and it was a very nice evening.  Sabbath morning we woke up early, and headed to church.  Usually, I fuss and worry over what to wear because I have so very few "nice clothes".  This morning however, I heard a friend's voice in my head..."I just go".  So, after showering and having a cup of coffee, I threw on some black slacks, a sweater and a neck scarf and away we went.  We listened to some beautiful Christmas music on the way and I was only a tad late for greeter duty.  Afterwards we listened to the sermon, enjoyed singing and headed home.  It was a beautiful day!  Christmas Eve day had dawned bright and sunshiney - what a blessing!  We grabbed a quick breakfast/lunch and preceded to make up cookie gift boxes for some friends.  We spent the afternoon delivering cookies and visiting with some wonderful friends and got home in time to bring the horses into their stalls for the evening (wonderful hubby had taken care of stall duty earlier) and head to my sister's house for an evening with my family.  The festivities of gift exchanging, the annual name draw gift exchange game and dinner were finished by the time we got there.  My sister had arranged for an early afternoon rendezvous because a family member had to work Christmas eve and Christmas Day.  So, we ate leftovers while visiting quietly around the kitchen table.  This worked out perfectly for us.  My family isn't exactly spiritual in any way, and Christmas doesn't seem like any other family get-together outside of the gift exchanging.  We said our good-byes after a few hours and headed home via some country roads and took in some beautiful light displays on the way.  The air was cold and crisp and the stars shone brightly.  Peaceful and beautiful.  I loved it.  My hubby gave me his gift.  It was a beautiful rain chain for our house.  When it rains, the water cascades down the chain and is visually beautiful, and the sound of the water is enchanting...I love it!  I gave him his annual gift of new socks and underwear, along with a few music CD's.  Then we headed off to bed.

Christmas morning we slept in.  We had nowhere to go.  What a blessing!! We had coffee by the fire and then fed the horses in their stalls. They enjoyed their hay and some treats of carrots and oats.  Back inside, we fixed a breakfast of french toast with homemade boysenberry/whipped butter compote and smoked ham.  It was delicious!!  We lounged around the house listening to music and noshing on cookies for most of the day.  We were totally lazy and it felt wonderful!  Later on in the afternoon we headed out to do the stall cleaning and listened to some beautiful Christmas music in the barn.  It was peaceful and relaxing.  After we finished the chores, we headed back inside where we enjoyed an afternoon nap.  I woke up feeling luxuriously refreshed, enjoyed a nice warm bath and got dressed in (real clothes) for the first time that day.  We went to the local theater and watched the movie War Horse.  It was very well done, beautiful cinematography and I cried most of the way through it.  It was just too barbaric, way too gruesome and just plain painful to watch for this horse lover.  I spent a lot of time covering my eyes with my sweater and worried that I might need to leave.  I left with a headache and even shed a few tears on the way home.  The only saving grace of the movie for me, was the human kindness and compassion of some people throughout the story.  Without that, it would have been a total wash.  I liken this movie to "Schindler's List" (which I also couldn't watch), but with horses being abused and sacrificed instead.  War is brutal business.  When will we ever learn?

I had Monday off and that was our day to catch up on housework, laundry and chores in general around the house.  It was overall a wonderful Christmas.  I am thankful for my husband, our warm and cozy home, beautiful friends and family, our dogs and our horses, more food than we need, and jobs to support ourselves.  Life is good.  God is in heaven and all is well within our hearts. I'll probably always miss my mom and and my dad, especially around Christmas, but this one was peaceful and I was content; and for that too, I am so very thankful.

Blessings everyone, and may 2012 be a good year for all of us...

Lorie @ Cingspots

Thursday, December 1, 2011

December dawns bright

It's been cold, dry and sunny for the last several days here.  In fact, it hasn't rained much since last Friday, I think it was.  Otherwise, it's been dry and crisp, and the days that weren't sunny were foggy and grey, but dry! I'll be happy with any day that doesn't involve water coming down from the sky.  Yep, this is my kinda weather!  Love cold and crisp, but your coat on and do anything weather!  Sure helps my attitude and outlook on life in general.  I'm a sun loving kinda gal!!

So, the long Thanksgiving weekend was spent quietly around our house.  Wednesday shortly before quitting time, I started to have a sore throat, which was quickly followed by a stuffy head...sigh, first cold I've had in a couple of years, maybe more.  Anyway, Thanksgiving morning dawned sunshiney and I felt like crap.  But, there were pies to bake and a turkey to be cooked.  My hubby helped out a lot, he even made the pumpkin pies all on his own.  And, they were good too!!  Gotta love a man who can bake a pie.  So, together we cooked our holiday feast and by mid-afternoon we enjoyed dinner together by the fire.  It was cozy, quiet and very, very good.  The remainder of our long, holiday weekend was spent at home laying low.  We slept in, lounged around the house and took life easy.  Since I wasn't feeling exactly "swell", the only thing I did accomplish was a few hand-dipped beeswax candles.  Oh, the smell of warm beeswax is simply divine!!  I've never made hand-dipped tapers before, but they turned out splendidly, albeit a little shorter than I would have liked.  The problem with their length was in finding the perfect melting and dipping pot that was long enough, but not too big around as to require more beeswax than I ultimately had on hand.  Oh well, they're still quite lovely and will smell heavenly when burned.

My wonderfully handy husband took care of all the horsey chores over the weekend so I could rest.  What a sweetie!  He also got my new kitchen sink installed!  We did make a quick trip to Lowe's to pick out a new faucet.  The sink is a huge improvement over our old one, which was sadly in need of being disposed of when we moved into our house some 17 years ago...no sense into rushing into things, right?  Anyway, this sink is off-white porcelin over cast iron.  It's a very heavy sink.  It has one very deep basin on the left side and a smaller (but still deeper than the old sink) basin on the right side.  The faucet is off-set and sits right of center.  The new faucet is brushed nickel and is a very tall swan-neck style with a sprayer.  I love having a sprayer again!!  I'm a simple woman with simple needs, okay?  It doesn't take a lot to make me happy.  And my new sink, which looks perfect and very much the "farmhouse" sink, fits in perfectly with our kitchen style.  I love it!!  So, that was pretty much our Thanksgiving weekend in a nutshell.  Nothing exciting, really; but it was spent at home staying warm and being grateful for our many, many blessings.

Last night my boss, his wife, their son, my hubby and I attended the "Cavalia" show in Portland.  It was beautifully done, had amazingly well-trained and quiet horses, incredibly "fit" dancers and acrobats, and we had a wonderful time.  The show was quite enjoyable.  I have to admit that it wasn't exactly what I had expected, but it was very entertaining and was well done.  I had envisioned more of an opera of sorts performed with horses, you know, telling a story I guess.  Don't ask why I thought this, that's just what my mind had conjured up.  Regardless, it was a nice evening and we loved the show.  After all, there were horses, music, dancers, acrobats and all kinds of lights and imagery...what's not to like?  I have no pictures to share because cameras with flash were not allowed, and my camera does not do well in low light conditions.  Michelle took a few quick pics of the tent with us outside, so maybe I can get some from her.

I'm happy to report that after almost 2 weeks off from his schooling, Eagle had his first session this afternoon.  My friend Kris, spent an hour or so with him this afternoon.  She stopped by the clinic with a full report for me...I knew it had gone well because her smile was one of those beautiful ear-to-ear smiles that said all I needed to hear.  She said he had done remarkably well, and had picked up right where we'd left off.  She did ride him a little today as well, she even did some trotting, which Eagle was happy to do.  I just couldn't be more pleased with his progress.  Eagle is a very, very willing and sensible horse who really seems to enjoy his time spent with people.  Our next session will be after work tomorrow.  I will be there and can participate in this one.  I'm so glad Kris is working with Eagle and helping me out with his schooling, because with the shortened daylight hours and the variable weather conditions, it has seriously curtailed my available time to be able to work with my horse.  This is a win-win situation for all three of us.  I'm really getting anxious to get onboard my boy and see how he feels...can't wait!!

Well, gotta run!!  I'm headed for home to do horsey chores and wrangle up some dinner, and spend the evening with my hubby whose had the last couple of days off from work.  Lucky dog!!

Christmas baking begins in earnest this weekend and shopping for that perfect tree!!  It's time to deck the halls and join the chorus!!


  

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Raining horses and cows!!!

We've definitely gone beyond raining cats and dogs!  It's virtually a torrential downpour today, and it began last night and hasn't let up, even for a nano second.  The ditches are flooding, there's standing water in the fields and in our yard, and before long, the creeks and smaller rivers will be flooding their banks.  Have I mentioned lately just how much I despise rain?  No?  Well, ok...I hate rain!!!  I don't mind the occasional rain shower, or even a good gully-washer from time to time...but this is beyond ridiculous!

Texas?  Believe me when I tell you that if I could, I would...send a lot of our rain down to ya'll  I believe in sharing the wealth.

So, the horses are inside today.  My hubby cleaned their stalls before going to work this morning and turned them out with their morning rations while he worked.  They chose to huddle together with their butts to the onslaught of water and didn't even show any interest in their hay.  That's almost unbelievable, even to me!  But there they were, sappy little faces, heads hung low, butts to the weather and I couldn't take it.  I put more hay in their stalls and called them back to the barn.  Without any second thoughts, one by one, they wholeheartedly marched inside and went straight to their own stalls...and quietly began to eat.  It's a balmy 58 degrees today.  The weatherman says to expect rain and winds throughout the day, and for most of this week.  Oh boy.  There's some hope for a drier weekend, but that's a long way off.  We'll see.  I can only hope.

My boss is on vacation this week and it's been unbearably slow at the clinic.  I've done everything that I can think to do, and now I'm going to start working on some projects for handmade Christmas gifts for family and friends.  Like so many others, we've opted to check out of the holiday craziness.  There will be no "black Friday" shopping for this gal...no siree!!  Instead, I plan on staying home the day after Thanksgiving and work around the house.  I'll probably spend some time with the horses, keep a fire burning in the hearth and continue with Christmas gift making.  I might even indulge in an afternoon nap.  That sounds quite lovely to me.  You couldn't pay me to go out in a shopping mall, or heaven forbid, a Walmart!!!  I shudder at the thought!!  That's simply not the way I want to begin my Christmas season.  No way.  No how.

This Thanksgiving we're having a simple affair in our home.  Turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, gravy, homemade bread rolls and of course, there'll be pie.  You simply cannot have a holiday without the pies!  I'm baking an apple pie, a pumpkin pie and might possibly try my hand at a coconut cream.  Mmmmm, that was my mom's favorite.  I like it too, but if I were to pick a favorite kind of pie???  Well, I guess it would have to be either apple or marionberry.  Any old kind of berry will do, really, but marion or boysenberry is simply to die for!  I just love pie!!  They're my most favorite dessert item ever!!  My hubby's a cake man, but I'll take a pie any day.

I hope that however you choose to spend the Thanksgiving holiday, it will be done so in the spirit of thankfulness.  For that, my friends, is what this holiday is all about.  Being thankful and keeping in mind how we all are extremely blessed.  Be mindful of that, and give thanks to our Heavenly Father whose made all our blessings possible.  For as the Bible says..."all good things come from God".  I believe that wholeheartedly.  Blessings everyone, and Happy Thanksgiving!!

Lorie @ Cingspots




Tuesday, November 15, 2011

A day in the life of a porkchop...

...or, if you prefer "pasture potato".  Either way, you'll see what I mean.  :)

I decided to take a few pics of the horses last weekend, you know, show them off in their winter woolies and all their unique stages of muddiness and such.  These guys, they've got the life...lounge around all day, eat whenever they want, a little nap here and there...life is seriously rough.  Wouldn't you agree?


 This was going to be my attempt at a herd shot.  When I first saw them, they were all lined up side by side dozing.  I decided to run in the house and get my camera.  When I came back, Ladde was pretty sure treats might be involved, so he decided to mosey on up and check it out.  And of course, he brought Harley in tow.  Missed my shot!

 Here comes the Laddmonster now.  In all his glory.  Man, I love that horse!!


 Harley's like; what did we walk up here for Ladde?  Ever since we removed our wire cross-fencing, Harley hasn't had any mishaps that I'm aware of.  He's gotten really good at keeping somebody (usually Kadie) very close.  When the herd gets playful, he's careful to make sure he's in the middle of a wide open space before he bucks and gallops around in pretty little controlled circles.  He's so cute when he plays!


Dude.  Lllama Dude.  We figured out the other day that Merlin must be getting close to 19 ish years old now.  He certainly smells that old!!  How long do llamas live anyways?  Just kidding!  We love the old fossil even if he does stink to high heaven...he's very entertaining to have around! 




The resident "princess", Kadie showing off some rather un-princess-like behavior here...  Notice how long her hair coat is, I've frequently wondered if she might possibly be developing Cushings disease because her hair coat is very long and she didn't completely shed out last summer.  Other than that though, she has no other symptoms.  My sweet girl is 27 years old now...oh how the years have flown by.  If I could turn back the hands of time, I'd certainly do it with this horse.  Yep, start back where I got her and do it all over again!




Kadie is usually Harley's first choice as his seeing-eye horse.  He has incredibly good taste!!  I'd pick her too!  Sensible, trustworthy, intelligent and kind...all good traits to have in a leader.  Good choice Harley!



I had a good laugh when I saw this picture of Eagle!  He's definitely packed on a few pounds since coming to our house.  The boy loves his groceries, and has officially picked up where Siri left off as the "clean-up" crew.   Siri used to hold that position, she'd never leave the hay until every single morsel was gone.  I see a lot of hill climbing in our future.  :)




Although Shad still has a healthy dose of respect for Eagle, they're getting along much better these days.  If ever there's a problem, it only exists in Shad's mind. 





My handsome mustang is doing very well in his lessons.  We've been trying to adhere to 3-4 times per week, usually an every other day routine.  He's very, very smart and catches onto most things quickly.  My friend that's been helping me with Eagle got on him twice last week.  The first time she just sat on his back, but the last time she walked him around the round pen.  He was quiet and willing.  Now I'm sure he's never been ridden, he's just like a colt who has no understanding of why you're on his back.  Primarily, we're focusing on groundwork exercises for now, but occasionally and gradually we'll start including more of riding as well.  I want to keep his education on the slow and steady course, making sure he has a good, solid foundation and thorough understanding of each lesson before throwing too much at him.  I'd rather be accused of going too slow, rather than going too fast.  My mantra of late is, "there's always tomorrow".  I'm very proud of his progress so far.  The other thing I've noticed lately about Eagle is that he's becoming more and more affectionate.  He's quite the "talker" too...always nickering in a quiet way.  I like that.  I just like this horse; what can I say?  Apparently, I know a good horse when I see one.  :)

Until next time...keep a leg on each side of the horse and your mind in the middle. 

"Think"

Lorie @ Cingspots

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

A break from projects



We've been going at the work projects so much lately that we decided to take a break last weekend and do nothing for a change.  Well, I guess we were sort of busy, but we weren't working.  We had a nice, quiet morning at home Saturday.  We slept in and enjoyed coffee in front of the woodstove looking outside at the rain falling.  Maybe it's because our summer seemed so short-lived this year and it didn't really stop raining until July, but I'm really resentful of the rain already.  But, it is what it is.  I can be thankful that we don't have frozen water troughs to deal with, or freezing pipes, or so many other weather-related issues that others' have to experience.  That's what I need to keep repeating to myself.  Anyway, after turning the horses out, giving them their morning hay ration, cleaning the stalls and putting the evening meal in their stalls, we were finished with the only chores that we had to do that day.  I made some homemade spaghetti sauce and put it on the stove to simmer and baked an applesauce/spice cake for a friend's memorial service that we were attending later on that afternoon.   It was a simple affair with family members and a few friends.  We planted a tree along with the friend's ashes and created a small memorial in his honor.  It was a nice way to say good-bye. 

Afterwards we spent some time in the barn with the horses, then went inside and watched a little tv before heading off to bed fairly early.  Wild people we are!  But, it was a nice day and it felt good to relax and take life easy for a change.

Sunday, we got up fairly early and got the chores finished before heading out to Eugene to watch the Extreme Trail Challenge.  This was a first for us, and I was quite surprised at how easy the courses actually were.  There was nothing that most of us trailriders don't usually encounter while riding in the mountains.  The big difference seemed to be, for the horses anyway, was that these obstacles were indoors and because of that, some of the horses were a little hesitant about something, that if outside, they would do without a second thought.  The activity really seems to be catching on with people, and is something that can be enjoyed by all types of riders without a lot of expensive training, special tack or gear.  However, it would be quite fun to have one of those obstacle courses at home; sure would be more interesting for the horses than a lot of ring riding.  In fact, there are several clinicians specializing in this type of training now.  There were a couple of them there, and one of the guys, Mark Bolender, does a lot of building these trail courses on private property for clients.  Now there's another use for somebody who owns a lot of heavy equipment! 

Some of our friends were there with their whole family riding some of their horses.  I don't know how well they did overall because we left before it was over, but from what I saw, they did very well.  Their horses were all amazingly quiet and confidently mastered most of the obstacles on the courses.  I was very proud of how well they did.  Some of the kids had to double up and share horses because Greg, the father, had brought his big boy, Ben; and when Ben goes along, their 6-horse trailer becomes a 4-horse trailer.  Ben is a grey Percheron who stands 18.2 hands high.  Ben is as sweet as a horse can possibly be...just don't give him a butterscotch candy and then expect not to be molested for more.  :)    In his former life, Ben was a Disneyland carriage horse, but he's a family horse now and is used primarily for trailriding. 


Greg and Ben
 

An indoor creek crossing at the bottom of the waterfall.
 



This pretty little Arabian mare handled the balance beam with ease.



Big Ben making it look so easy...
  When we got home, the navy bean soup I had cooking in the crockpot had the house smelling wonderfully.  I baked some cornbread and we had supper before heading outside to bring the horses in for the night.  In some ways, I wished we'd stayed home where I could have worked with Eagle and ridden Ladde because unlike Saturday, it didn't rain at all.  Oh well, you can't do everything.  There's just too many things to try and accomplish in a weekend.  With the time change, horse lessons will become more of a challenge because it's dark before I get off work now.  I hate that.  I'm just not looking forward to winter at all this year. 



Ladde helping with the pear picking.
 


Annie relaxing
 


Eagle sporting his "winter woolies"
 

Stall potatoes   :)

Blessings everyone from Cingspots

Friday, November 4, 2011

Lost like a fart in the wind

Well that's how it feels anyway.  I'm pretty sure that's not the case, but still.  I'm referring to our most recent working session...me and Eags.  You remember, the wonderful horse I was bragging all over town about just the other day.  Yeah.  Well, the very next session sucked.  Big time.  He pretty much looked me in the eye and said, "I quit" and furthermore, you're not big enough to make me.  Oh really?

Never one to back down from a challenge.  Even though I probably should have.  I pushed, and then I pushed a little harder.  In the end, of what began as a pretty good lesson, I "made" Eagle do the lunging that he was, quite obviously sick and tired of, on that particular night anyway.  And then I tried to get back some of that trust that I'd tromped on, and I tried in vain for just a little of that softness that we've experienced, you know, that soft "feel" that we strive for in our relationship with our horses.  Yep.  Blew it, big time!  And that night, I couldn't sleep and it continued to bother me most of the day following.  So....dug out my old Bill Dorrance book, True Horsemanship Through Feel.  My go to horse bible.  I got the affirmation that I so needed.  I was wrong.  Eagle was right.  Crap, I hate it when my horses prove they're smarter than I am.  I don't blame him one bit for quitting.  Early on, I was using a variety of different things we were working on, and then somewhere along, I started just lunging him and lunging him until he was bored out of his skull, and obviously was telling me that he saw no reason to continue hammering away at something that he understood already.  I think I got caught up a little by everybody asking me if, "I'd ridden my new horse yet?"  I felt the peer pressure of hurrying up and getting on his back already.  From the beginning, that is not what I wanted to do.  I wanted to take the teaching of Eagle nice and slow.  I wanted to build a relationship based on trust and mutual respect.  I wanted him to look at me as someone worthy of being his equal and then eventually, maybe even the "leader" in the dance.  I'd lost the "natural" in my horsemanship and bought into the "cram it down their throat, I'm the boss of you" mentality.  That's NOT who I am and that's NOT the way I choose to work with my horses - any of them. 

So, I gave him last night off.  I did spend some quiet time with him.  Brushing, petting, scratching and we had a very nice conversation, Eags and I.  I asked him for another chance.  I'd work real hard at treating him with respect and I agreed that he was perfectly correct in having an opinion about what and how we do things.  We are after all, a team.  Beginning again this evening after work, we're going to work on new things.  I'm going to try and get his hindquarters moving over nicely and hopefully that will help loosen him up.  Maybe do a little lateral flexion work, nice and soft backing and then maybe we'll head down the driveway and go for a little walk.  We might even visit that old apple tree down at the end of the driveway.  Whatever we end up doing, it's going to be nice and soft, I'll offer him a nice, quiet "feel" and see if he doesn't respond in kind.  I have faith in this horse.  He's very, very smart and he has a wonderful, sensible mind.  Let's hope that I can only rise to the occasion. 

Because if I can read horse body language at all...I'm pretty darned sure he gave me "the hoof" the other night.  You dig?  And another thing I'm pretty darned sure about, was that I totally deserved it. 

I forgot to keep track, but I'd say we're maybe at: 4 steps forward - 1 step back.  Something like that.  Not bad.  So, we'll just forget all about the other night and we'll keep striving towards "perfect" progress.  You all probably realize by now that I have enormous respect for Ray Hunt.  I also have enormous respect for Tom and Bill Dorrance and Joe Wolter and a few other amazing horsemen. 
So, here's another one of those pretty infamous quotes from my favorite guy, Ray..."Practice does not make perfect.  Perfect practice makes perfect".  Words of wisdom my friends, words of wisdom.

Moving along @ Cingspots

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Frosty Fall Mornings....brrrrrr and projects

For the last week, we've had a good, heavy frost every single morning except for one.  We had our first real frost a couple of weeks ago, but then it warmed up again for a couple of days and it rained a bit.  I'm having to remember to go out and start my car at least 15 minutes prior to needing to leave for work to give my windshield time to de-thaw.  Yep, genuine ice on the car.  My car door was even frozen shut yesterday morning and it was a real chore to get inside to start the car.  Even though it's been frosty and cold, we've been experiencing beautiful, blue skies for much of the past week.  Heavy fog and freezing fog gives way to beautiful sunshine for the remainder of the day.  I just can't complain about that.  The horses are all looking exceptionally wooly and fat too.  I guess I can't deny that fall's arrived with a vengeance. 

The past three weekends hubby and I have been travelling up into the Trask Mountain area of the Cascade Mountain range and cutting firewood.  So far, we've got about 3 cords and we'd like to get at least 1 more before we relax and consider ourselves finished with this project.  The woodshed is filling up nicely and smells wonderful.  I just love standing in there inhaling the lovely scent and admiring our handiwork, because seeing it all stacked up neat as a pin represents a whole lot of hard work.  It gives me a genuine sense of satisfaction at a job well done.  Spending time up in the mountains in the fresh air has been, for the most part anyway, a real pleasure.  It gives one time to think and relax without having to deal with all the stresses and "should be's" when we're at home.  I sure appreciate coming home, taking a warm shower and sitting in front of the woodstove afterwards.  My body just doesn't quite react the same to hard, physical work like it used to.  I tire a lot more easily and always have to remember to protect my back when lifting and twisting repetitively.  And as always, I'm so thankful for my wonderful hardworking husband for all that he does.  There are just so many things that he is physically able to do, that I am not.  However, I have never been one of those wives who can sit at home while my husband is outside in the elements working so hard.  I am there to help in any way that I possibly can.  When we're finished, we both go inside and relax.  Together.

I've been working with Eagle a lot more lately too, and I can report that he is doing amazingly well.  He sure is one smart horse.  In the past several weeks, which is when I started "regularly" working with him about 4 times per week, he has progressed very, very quickly.  He now lunges both directions at walk, trot, canter and whoa, he's learning his voice commands as well, reverses (always turning inside) nicely when asked, and stands perfectly still and turning his head only, to face me until given a new directive.  He leads "light as a feather", backs and is learning to give to pressure.  He is willingly picking up his feet when asked, but occasionally gets a case of rigamortis in that left hind.  Nobody's perfect.  :)  But, he's making progress.  I've been saddling him and routinely sacking him out, and he's perfect in that department most of the time.  I've even put the bridle on with a snaffle bit and he carries it like he's been doing it his whole life.  I haven't gotten on him yet, but did put some weight in both stirrups and lean over his back the other night.  He's a little apprehensive when I'm on the mounting block, but he's getting used to that as well.  I'm just beginning to teach him to breakover in his hindquarters in a tight circle with just using body language.  We still have plenty of groundwork to work on, but I'm pretty sure that we'll be riding him before too much longer.  Slow and steady is my theory.  Ray Hunt always said, "the slower you go, the faster you'll get there".  I wholeheartedly believe that.  Eagle is a gem, and I love seeing him progress, and his trust growing daily.  I'm thinking of setting up a little obstacle course if the weather stays dry, which will help the lessons stay interesting to him.  I just wish that daylight savings time wasn't almost upon us because it's going to be practically dark when I get home from work.  Or, better yet, if I only had a lighted indoor arena the winter darkness wouldn't matter one bit...but, I digress.  If only.

The following pics of Eagle were taken before I got him last summer on some of the packing trips he went on.  Sometimes he actually packed things like oxygen and acetylene tanks for cutting those steel culverts they removed from the forest, and other times he just got to go along "naked" for the experience of going.  Regardless of what he was wearing or packing, or where he was at; he always has the same expression and demeanor like he's been doing it all his life.  What a good horse.  :)




So, we've been busy as usual.  I'm looking forward to winding these winter preparation projects down and actually being able to slow down a little...just in time for the holidays...oh joy.  I'd love to rent a cozy little cabin somewhere in the woods, seclude ourselves up with a rip-roaring fire and hole-up until the craziness passes.  *sigh*   Doesn't that sound wonderful?  A cabin in the wilderness, big old fireplace, comfy bed with one of those big, fluffy down comforters, little paned windows to watch the snow softly falling outside, walks outside in the fresh air, and when you get cold, come back inside for a mug of hot chocolate and a good book...or maybe a nap.  Yeah.  That's what I want for Christmas...

Blessings everyone,
Lorie @ Cingspots

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

I'm as proud as a peacock!!!

We had our farrier appointment for the horses last night.  We pulled shoes on Shad and the whole herd got their trims.  I was a tiny bit apprehensive about Eagle's turn.  So, when we still had two horses to do, we brought him in and put him front and center in Ladde's stall, where he could nosh on some hay and quietly observe.  And observe, he did.  Eagle is definitely a "watcher".  I like that about him.  I'm a firm believer that horses learn from watching our interactions with the other horses, seeing how they respond and such. 

So, T started out with the front hooves.  It's his habit to work on both front feet first, and then move to the hind ones.  Eagle pulled his LF out of T's hands once.  T picks it up again and moves on as if nothing happened.  Front hooves done, and on to the back.  T picks up right hind quietly, but confidently.  Trims the hoof and all is well.  On to the LH and Eagle staunchly does not want to pick up the foot, and has a mildly worried expression on his face.  T asks us to let him have Eagle's lead and he does a few minutes of groundwork, backing, moving away from pressure and standing quietly while he runs his hands all over Eagle's back and hindquarters.  This took a few minutes for Eagle to relax and let T pet his rump and hind legs, but he finally did.  Then T quietly, but confidently asks for Eagle's foot again...slowly, but surely Eagle lifts his foot.  T sets the foot down, gives Eagle a reassuring stroke or two.  Eagle sighs and licks his lips.  Again, slowly and confidently T requests that Eagle lift his foot.  Eagle complies.  T holds the foot a little longer this time before setting it back down and giving the reassuring little pet and soft-spoken "good boy's".  Third time, T picks up his nippers and trims the foot.  Eagle stands quietly and was fairly relaxed in his whole body.  I'm so thrilled I could have kissed T !!  Afterwards Eagle got to stand quietly while we chatted, he got an apple as a reward, and I removed his halter.  He was still in the barn with us, but loose.  He chose to stay with us and not go outside.  Another very good sign.  I gave Eagle his evening ration and he ate his hay, but continued to watch us instead of going outside.  I think he was mulling over the lesson in his mind.  And it was apparent that he was very pleased with himself.  He knew he'd been a good boy and he felt good about it.  According to my hubby, who fed the horses this morning, Eagle was still feeling confident and comfortable with himself this morning.  :)

Judging from the rope burn scars on his right hind foot, somebody in his past wasn't so patient with him, which is even more amazing that he was so willing when he was treated with kindness and respect.  My gut instincts are right on the money with this horse.  He wants to please, he gets enjoyment when he understands your requests and he is one very smart horse.  A true "diamond in the rough".  I'm so thankful we got him!  He is admired by everyone who meets him, and so far without exception, every person believes he will make a wonderful trail horse. 

So, the plan this fall is that we will continue our groundwork in the round pen and look for a local horseman or horsewoman to work with us and aid us with their expertise.  And then hopefully, if all goes well, we'll be riding by winter in a nearby inside arena.  If everything doesn't go perfectly according to this outline, well then...we'll take things slower.  However long it takes...but we'll get there.  It's all about the journey, right?  And, I have to admit that I'm enjoying this process of getting to know this horse immensely!  He's a joy to be around and with every single day I see a layer of distrust peel away.  That's what true horsemanship is all about!!  The building of a trusting and long-standing relationship.  It is not simply about riding.  Not for me anyway.

In other areas, it's turning out to be a fairly busy week.  Monday after work, we took our truck to the repair shop.  Recently it's developed this rather unsafe "wandering" in the steering.  It reminds me of older Fords we've had in the past.  Loosey-goosey steering is something I hate.  Last night after work was the horse's trimming/pedicure appointment.  Tonight I'm visiting a barn about a half hour's time from our house where hubby and I will observe a "trainer" (I really hate that description), horsewoman work with a horse.  Her prices seem a bit high, but I want to keep an open mind and observe her in action before I make a decision.  Tomorrow night, we pick up our truck from the repair shop and go to a friend's house where we're picking some apples and some pears for making sauce for the freezer.  Friday after work, we'll be picking up our first ton of stall bedding pellets for this season...in preparation for "stall cleaning 101" term 2011/2012...oh boy!  And, I guess amongst everything else, I'll be making apple and pear sauce this weekend.  Fall is always a very busy time of the year for us. 

I found out from the Oregon State Dept. of Forestry that they'll begin selling woodcutting permits on October 12.  They've doubled in price this year, from $10 to $20 for 3 cords, and they're limiting the number of overall permits that can be purchased by a single family from 5 to 3.  It's still cheap wood, and I enjoy getting it, so I'm not complaining.  They haven't revealed the location yet, but we're hoping it might be the same as last year.  This area encompasses hundreds of thousands of acres of forestry lands and if it's too far to drive, it becomes cost-prohibitive if you have to drive for hours and spend big bucks in gas just to get to the wood cutting area, so...keeping our fingers crossed there.  Judging by how cool it's getting at night, it won't be long before a fire in the woodstove's going to be necessary.

And, lest we not forget...we'll be needing to get about 4-5 more tons of grass hay to re-fill our barns for the winter.  Our hay supply we put up last summer is looking a bit too small for my comfort.  So, as you can see...we're busy.  We're just hoping to be able to accomplish most everything before God forgets to turn the water off in Oregon.  Again.  *sigh*

Hope all your fall projects are going well.  Has anybody else noticed how fuzzy the horses are getting already???  Ours sure are!!  Let's just hope they're getting prepared, and they don't know something we don't know!!  :~D

Blessings all!!
Lorie and the gang at Cingspots

Oh, as far as anniversaries go...yesterday marked the one year date since the all-too-soon demise of our beloved pup, Nellie.  In some ways it seems like such a long time ago, and then again, I can't believe it's been a whole year.  I still miss her. Rest in peace sweet girl.  And next week, we will have had our sweet little Ruby for a whole year!!  Now that's something to celebrate!!  Yesterday was a much, much better day than last September 27th...all around!  Amen!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Last day of summer 2011

Son-of-a-gun! Sure did seem to pass all too quickly.  Aah well, fall can be such a lovely time of year.  To me, it seems like the season of beginnings, instead of things winding down; which it really is I guess.  My energy usually seems renewed with the cooling of the weather, and there's always so many projects that need to be completed before the great move indoors again.  Fall is my favorite season to work.  I love riding my horse in the fall, with the fallen leaves on the ground and the brisk temps which call for wearing of your favorite sweatshirt or cozy sweater.  It's also the best time for picture taking.  The light seems so soft and subtle, making photographs so warm and pretty.  Being a squirrel at heart, I enjoy storing up for winter.  Filling my pantry shelves is fun for me.  I love the colors of everything sitting there awaiting my creativity later.  Canning and preserving the summer harvest for the pantry or the freezer is both rewarding and kind of fun, if I don't try and do too much.  I absolutely adore the look of a full barn, bursting at its' seam with beautiful and sweet-smelling hay for the horses.  Can't deny, that's a culinary delight for the critters!  And, getting outside in the woods and cutting firewood.  There's just something so primally satisfying about being in the fresh air and gathering the winter's heating supply that it thrills my soul!  Silly?  Maybe, but I just love it. 

But...before fall officially begins, we have this day to savor and enjoy.  This, the final day of the summer of 2011.  We'll never pass this way again, nope, not ever.  So, enjoy it!  Get outside and do most anything to commemorate the day!  I've dressed for activity today.  At lunchtime, the dogs and I are heading to the park for a walk.  After work, I'm making a quick stop at the local farmer's market and picking up some fresh veggies for a quick and simple supper.  Then, I'll head home to commence preserving that 20 lbs of tomatoes that have been waiting on me.  I suppose we'll get 7 or 8 quarts of tomatoes for the pantry, and if there's any left after that - we'll slice em up and enjoy them fresh!  There's nothing much better than a fresh-picked, sweet-tasting garden tomato!!  Hmmhmm good!!  Who know, maybe I'll fry up some bacon for a BLT.  That's probably my most favorite sandwich ever!  A treat for sure.  :)  What better way to say farewell to summer.  Maybe a glass of fresh lemonade to wash it all down with...yep, that sounds good to me!

On another topic, after the Round 1 fight between Shad and Eagle the other day, and Eagle's 24 hour time out in the pasture all by his lonesome...hubby decided to forgive and give them another shot at friendship.  I said my morning prayers for protection and peace, then drove out the driveway and left them to themselves.  It's up to them now...

They have 5 acres at their disposal.  They have apple trees, plum trees and blackberries to nosh on at will.  They have two seperate pastures and two shelters to pick from.  Not to mention, a whole bunch of randomly placed piles of fresh, green hay to keep them occupied.  You would think that they could handle a little compatability with all those choices, wouldn't you?  I'm sure hoping so.  *fingers crossed*

Peace and blessings everyone,  get out there and seize the day!!  It's ready and waiting like a beautifully wrapped gift.  In reality, each one of our days is exactly that, a gift from our Father, especially for us.  I hope we all make the most of it, and enjoy this; the final day of summer. 

Ready or not, here comes the fall...

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Round 1 - Eagle by a landslide!!

Yep, we had a fight last night.  Big time.  And the winner is...Eagle.  Not a mark on him, not so much as a hair out of place...he sure is one scrappy little sucker.  I'd call him "street wise", you know, like those kids who run the streets at all hours of the day or night.  Ah-huh, like that - savvy?

Poor, poor, poor Shad.  :(  I could have cried for him, he was so traumatized by it all.  You see, Shad's not a fighter.  He's never had to be.  Shad's a leader because he's got the right moves.  All the bravado, but he's never had to back it up.  Until now.  I have no idea what took place.  I hadn't even made it home from work yet, when my hubby called...pe'od that "my horse" had beat the crap out of his horse...um, ok.  Anyway, whatever transpired must have just happened because the wounds were fresh.  There's a perfect bloody hoof print on the side of Shad's side rump (few inches below the hip bone), a rather nasty 8-9" long scrape down the side of his ribcage (same side) and a brutal bite on his back on his other side.  The bite is the one that's the most painful.  The bite indicates that it was upfront and personal...not the rump to rump kicking match like the first time.  Shad was so bewildered that he didn't even want to leave the safety of the shelter.  He was trembling and nickering for his herdmates to come to him.  But, Ladde was near Eagle across the pasture.  Kadie was off by herself grazing.  And Harley, well...clueless Harley was sniffing the bucket of the neighbor's tractor who was trying to move our manure pile for us.  Good grief...I've said it before, but I'll say it again...it's a darn good thing that we know very little of what actually happens around there when we're gone.  Thank God, because He apparently watches over our little herd for us while we're away.  I'm very thankful for that.  :)

Maybe the tractor being there somehow instigated something, however unlikely, but something happened.  Guess we'll never know, but it sure would make things easier to understand if we knew.  They've been together in the pasture everyday, all day long for over a week now.  No apparent problems.  And, now today Eagle is in the front pasture all by his lonesome.  Having a little time-out.  A time to ponder ones' thoughts, if you will.  Maybe it was Shad's fault.  But, my money's on Eagle.  I'm thinking that's a pretty safe bet.

This weekend we're planning a camp-out with some friends.  The first of the summer for us, even if the calendar says it's technically the first weekend of fall.  We're not taking any horses.  We have a friend who'll becoming over doing the feeding and the watering for us in our absence.  I'm thinking we'll leave the horses separated while we're gone.  I'd rather not have any surprises in store for us upon our return home.  *sigh*

This same friend will use the opportunity to evaluate Eagle for us.  The wife of this couple caretaking for us is a full-time horse trainer.  She's been doing it for a number of years and is quite accomplished herself.  I'm thinking that if I want to (hopefully) be riding Eagle next summer as my trail mount, it would be a good idea to have someone work with him for a couple of months, then throughout this coming winter, I'll be able to ride him a couple of times a week in the inside arena in preparation for next summer.  If I don't get help, it will take me far too long to accomplish my goals of having a solid riding horse.  And...truth told, I'm not nearly as brave a rider as I once was.  I don't bounce quite as well as I used to.  It's been many, many moons since I can recall a fall from a horse, and I'd rather not experience anything of the sort in my future.  Get my drift? 

That said - I'm going to be considering a few different trainers in the upcoming weeks and make my decision as to which one I feel the most comfortable with schooling my new boy.  He's very, very sensitive.  Even if he is scrappy.  I want his trust to be handled with kid gloves.  I want his schooling to be gentle, but with firm hands.  Like Ray always said..."the slower you go, the quicker you'll get there".  Amongst so many other sayings that I remember equally well; those are words of wisdom.  And, I've taken them to heart. 

Let's hope there is no Round 2...pretty, pretty please?

Blessings everyone,
Lorie @ Cingspots

Friday, September 16, 2011

Harvest weekend

This is the final weekend of summer...now that's a sobering thought, isn't it?  I love fall, but I'm pretty partial to summer too.  It's always a little bit sad thinking that another beautiful and long-awaited summers' coming to a close.  Oh well...whatcha gonna do?  Go with the flow baby!!

So, my garden has surely been a disappointment to me this year.  Firstly, I decided not to plant much.  That's my fault.  I planted 7 tomato plants and had numerous volunteers shoot up from last year.  Having said that, last week I picked our very first ripe tomatoes.  That's right.  Hard to believe that, but it's true.  I had 4 or 5 and one of those I threw out because it was mushy and tasted terrible.  First time that's ever happened!  I have some yellow cherry tomatoes that are ok tasting.  I've had better.  They're very low in acid and rather blah in taste...won't be planting that variety again.  I have a Beefsteak, that's the plant that's given me a few ripe ones.  They're nice in size and color, haven't eaten any yet, so that's still undecided.  And then a friend gave me an heirloom variety called Brandywine.  I have some tomatoes on the vines, but as of yet; no ripe tomatoes.  Hmmm....mighty slow in ripening wouldn't ya say?

I have tomatillos, also given to me by my friend.  I didn't even really know what a tomatillo was but...they're tasty little things.  And there's bunches of those.  I picked a smallish bowlful of those last night...making us some salsa verde tonight to put on our soft tacos with leftover barbecued pork tenderloin, some of those ripe beefsteak tomatoes, chopped onion, a little grated cheddar cheese, sour cream...yum!  We have watermelon and cantelope (not from my garden) and homemade marionberry/wildblackberry pie that I made last night.  The berries are homegrown...marions I planted and the wild blackberries; well, those just abound everywhere.  I'm pretty sure I may have picked what may prove to be the last of the berries for this season...sigh...sad.  But, we'll surely enjoy sinking our teeth into that pie later tonight.  Hmmhhmm good!!

The only other thing planted in my garden is some flat-leafed parsley and that's growing gung-ho.  So, you see it's not much of a garden this year.  Hopefully the tomatoes will ripen and I'll dry those and stick the sun-dried tomatoes seasoned with sea salt and basil into freezer bags for use later on this winter.  I'm picking up a few local tomatoes at a fruitstand on my way home tonight and have plans to dry up a batch this weekend.  Makes wonderful additions to store-bought spaghetti sauce, throw in a few chopped mushrooms, bell pepper and black olives...yummy!  Dresses up Prego and makes it your own!!  Sshh...no one willl ever know!!  :)

The pears from our trees in the backyard have been out-doing themselves this year.  Me and the horses have been enjoying those, as well as the apples.  Hubby and I will make a trip to a local orchard and pick a bunch of apples for making applesauce and apple pie filling for the freezer.  We go through that in a heartbeat...tastes wonderful with homemade bisquits on a cold night.  The only real difference between my applesauce and pie filling is more sugar in the filling and it's more chunky...but in a pinch, we eat it however we want to.  I think I might pick up some pears and make some pearsauce and I want to make some plum jam for the freezer too.  Sheesh!  So many things I want to do!

I want to get some more hay before the weather turns rainy too.  And, let's not forget the firewood.  We have gotten none and I have no idea where we might get some, if we have to buy it.  Last year we chopped our own through the Oregon Dept. of Forestry.  $10 buys you a permit to cut 3 cords in 2 weeks, and you can buy up to 10 permits in a season.  The season begins when they open up the forests after the fire danger has passed.  That's usually sometime in October in Oregon.  I love storing up stuff for the winter!!  I'm a squirrel at heart!  But, my hubby appreciates it, and so do our horses!  We alll love to eat!!

So, unless my wonderful hubby has a few plans of his own; that's our weekend plans in a nutshell!!  Hope everyone who's having weather-related issues gets some relief soon.  There have been floods, fires, storms and all manner of tragedy in our country this year.  May it finished soon.

Blessings everyone,
Lorie @ Cingspots

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Time isn't honest

I've been doing some thinking about time lately.  I believe that time is different for different people.  I don't really know how to explain that statement, but it just seems to be so.  For me, I always feel like time eludes me somehow.  There is never enough of it.  And how very much time is like sand...in that, it slips through our fingers no matter how firmly we try to take hold of it, and grasp it in our hands.  I'd like to keep it.  Even if just for a tiny, little while and force it somehow, to slow down.  Just a little.

Recently on tv, I along with a lot of other people watched or listened to programs about the 10 year anniversary of the 9/11/2001 tragedy.  Remembering where you were, who you were with, how you felt and so on.  So many emotions.  So many lives lost.  For me, being on the opposite coast, it was surreal.  I was up getting ready for work.  I remember talking to my mom on the telephone.  I remember thinking...how can this be real?  How could someone intentionally do something like this?  And then finally as the reality sunk in, that evil knows no bounds.  There were many common threads in what people remembered.  But, one really struck me.  And that was, that it was almost impossible to believe that it had actually been 10 years ago.  10 years?  It certainly doesn't seem like that long.  They were talking with children who hadn't even been alive then, children of parents who had died, and some who had never even met their mother or father.  Wow...
The reality off just how quickly time slips by astounded me then, as it so often does. 

I heard yesterday that a friend of mine lost her husband last Friday.  He died of cancer.  He had a brain tumor and had only been around 30 years old.  Time wasn't very honest with him at all.  I wondered that if he'd realized earlier in his life that he was only going to live for such a short time; would he have lived his life differently?  Who knows...but it got me to thinking about all of us and how we go through our days doing the same things over and over.  How our lives revolve around routine, and maybe in a small part, was why time seems to pass so quickly?  If our lives were more varied, and we actually got to do more that we wanted to do, rather than what we had to do, if time would be more fully realized?  Less taken for granted because of the mundane and the routine...I kind of think so. 

Time is tricky.  Time is complex.  Time is so very short.  There are so many things that I want to do, some that I've done and some things that I've never done yet.  But, so much living that needs to be done, and so little time in which to do them.  I remember that song by the Stones that says that time waits for no one, and it doesn't wait for me...

If each one of us could only realize just how valuable our time was, that it's really our most vulnerable commodity that we will ever have...would we, or could we be brave enough to use that time accordingly and give our time the respect that it deserves?  And stop letting others take advantage of us by allowing them to waste our most precious gift that we'll ever have?  It's something we all need to ask ourselves, or at least give some thought to. 

What do you want to do?  If there's something that you want to do, do it.  If there's something that you need to say, you'd better say it, and if there's someone you want to be with, please don't wait.  Do it.

I don't believe that time is honest, and it's certainly not fair.  Time is different for different people, just like life is.  But, I would like to learn to become more honest with myself and figure out what is really important to me and to my life, and start treating my time with more respect, and spending my time more wisely.  Like I want and with only those people that I want to spend it with.

My cage lately feels a lot smaller than it used to.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Ho Hum...dog daze of summer

Our weather and I are both quite melancholy.  Yesterday and today has dawned grey and overcast, with some sun breaks in the afternoon yesterday.  Very comfortable, do whatever you want kind of weather.  I'm enjoying this for a change.  I even left the fly masks off the horses for the first time in months.  I'll probably regret it, but was feeling a tad lazy this morning and was running a bit behind schedule and still had to get gas in the car before heading to work.  My boss has been on vacation this week and it's been boring and slow.  Sure wish we could have closed the clinic during his absence, because my time most certainly could have been put to better use at home.  Oh well, I'm resigned to doing what I can, when I can. 

When I got home from work last night, the horses were all crammed like sardines into the one outside shelter...gasp!!!  I'm thankful that my hubby discovered this and not me.  I've been worried sick about Harley lately and this would have scared the bejeebers out of me.  However, after a thorough body check of everyone, the only casualty of war that I could find was under Harley's mask, just below his right eye...a 1-1/2" long jagged cut that was most likely the cause of him bashing his head into something.  A half of an inch higher and it would have been a direct hit on his eye.  How many blows can his eyes take before something extreme happens???  Theoretical question - I do not want to find out the answer to this one...

I'm just thankful (again) that it wasn't more serious than it was.  Besides Harley being slightly jumpy, everyone seemed calm and relaxed; including Eagle, who was pleased as punch to be in the thick of everyone. 

Me - I'm an overly emotional wreck.  I find myself crying at the drop of a hat.  I'm as cranky as hell.  I'll bite off anyone's head for a sideways glance.  I'm happy one minute and feeling gloomy the next...someone just shoot me.  I can't stand being with me - how in the world can anybody else put up with my moodiness???  Maybe part of my problems are caused by my age, 51 and menopausal...sucks.  No hot flashes and most of the time, no problems sleeping, but the moodiness and sometimes outright aggression that I experience is seriously a problem.  I deserve a good, hard slap - but I'd probably pounce on the poor offender like a she-cat protecting her litter.  That's how I feel...like Clint Eastwood...make my day; just gimme a good (or otherwise) reason and I'll explode.  I need drugs...or a vacation...or maybe just more time spent getting physical exercise outside wouldn't hurt.  The fact that I feel like a caged animal here at work sure doesn't help matters any, if I were busy, at least I'd be occupied.  Maybe I need to get laid?  Any advice?  Is there anybody out there who feels like I feel???  And if so...what do you do not to commit harikari??

Blah blah blah...I'm sorry to sound so pessimistic, but hell...I've just gotta put my thoughts down somewhere or I'll surely bust.  I'm missing my mom and my dad.  Take my advice, if yours are still alive - enjoy them, even if they annoy you, or call at precisely the wrong time, whatever...you will miss them once they're gone - I can guarantee it.  My sister never, ever calls me.  If she does, it's for a very specific reason; and that's somehow worse than if she didn't call at all.  I should be totally honest here, she probably calls me once or twice a year (maybe), my other sister hasn't spoken to me since before my mom's funeral...and family, well ever since my mom died, it's like we don't even exist.  That hurts because I've always loved and cared for my aunts and uncles, cousins, nieces, nephews and so on, but...they likewise don't call, with the exception of Shelley, my niece who's closest in age to me.  We speak semi-monthly ish, sometimes a little more.  So, I guess what I'm saying is that I experience loneliness, feelings of isolation and moderate depression at times.  Most of the times, I'm pretty good at keeping myself and my mind otherwise busy, which keeps these nasty, dark thoughts/feelings at bay.  I am so thankful for my husband and my horses and dogs...without them, I would shrivel up and waste away, no doubt.  People need people, we're definitely wired to be socially interactive creatures.  We're happier when we're actively social; at least I think so.  I am. 

God, I sound so pathetic.  So, I apologize to anyone or everyone who reads this blog and gets depressed.  But, the original purpose of this blog was to use it as a journal, a way to chronicle our lives and a way to be able to look back at times and reminisce about events that I otherwise probably wouldn't remember.  And, writing is therapeutic for me, it definitely helps me on days like these to put my thoughts down in written form...get my feelings out, and all that.  It really does help.  So, again hopefully I don't bum anybody else out, I'd hate for that to happen, and it's also not my intention to have people feel sorry for me.  I hate that too.  I do have many, many, many blessings in my life, and I (usually) daily try to actively count those blessings and give thanks to my Father for them...for life could sure as heck be a whole lot worse.  I realize that and am very, very thankful for my life.  Because, overall it is a wonderful life...it's mine, and I'm doing my best.  Some days are just easier than other days. 

See, I feel a little bit better already.  I took a break at lunch time and went to Walmart (oh joy) and picked up some supplies that we needed at the clinic.  The adorable little UPS driver just popped in and delivered some more supplies and chatted with me for a bit.  So, I have freight to unload and put away, a few phone messages to reply to and autoclaving to be done...off to work I go. 

Hope all of you are making the most of these final dog daze of summer.  Autumn begins on September 23, which is just a little over a week away.  There'll be frost on the pumpkin before we know it, chimney smoke wafting on the evening breeze and more time spent indoors when the darkness comes all too quickly.  *sigh*  Fall is my favorite time of the year, but I'm always a little bit saddened by the thought of another summer slipping away...hope we all have a little more time to enjoy the warmth of summer sunshine and friends or family or somebody, to make a few memories that will fill our dreams on cold, winters' nights.

Bye for now all,
Lorie @ Cingspots

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Two steps forward, one step back

So, for whatever reason lately, as in the past day or two, I've been in a funk.  I was practically ecstatic about the progress the horses were making in their socialization, until last night.  We've had Eagle for 1 month, and last night was the first time I really had to get after him.  He was very aggressive to Harley and bit him in the butt when Harley was already walking away from him.  That makes me so damned mad!  Harley rarely does anything to provoke someone's anger, but he's always the first one to feel the brunt of their aggressions.  Maybe it's because he's just so vulnerable to every single one of them, but it just causes me to see red.  I absolutely will not tolerate aggression towards Harley, but especially when it's unwarranted. 

The horses lately have been ravenous.  All of our pasture grass is dead and brown.  It resembles a scotch pad, except it's not green.  The only graze is what they can get in the form of tree leaves.  Our cool weather grasses are long gone and we haven't had any rain since the end of June, I think.  So easy for me to lose track of time these days.  Anyway, I was getting a bale of hay and everybody knew it.  Ladde, Shad and Kadie were waiting in the front pasture where I disperse the piles...they know the routine.  Eagle was nickering at me over the gate, watching me come down the barn aisle with the hay.  And Harley, as usual, was just coming up towards the others wanting to bypass Eagle and head up to the front to wait with the others.  Eagle did not like the idea of Harley walking past him, and gave him a pinned ears look in warning.  Harley however, walked on, absolutely clueless.  So Eagle lunged forward, scaring Harley into a retreat.  Bewildered and afraid, he attempted to circle around and pass Eagle from behind.  Eagle was having none of it, and lunged at Harley, causing him to spin around in fright and head away from the comfort of his herdmates, and just for good measure, Eagle bit Harley in the butt while he was retreating and left a nasty red toothmark in his butt.  I lunged forward towards Eagle, bellowing my rage.  Eagle did one of those drop and spread routines with a wide-eyed look, but held his ground.  Harley, very cautiously proceeded forward between Eagle and me and trotted very quickly up towards the feeding pasture.  My body language screamed volumnes to Eagle, who apparently read me like a book, because he didn't move a muscle until I had closed the gate trapping him in the corral alone.  I dispersed the hay piles to all the horses and then came back and let Eagle come into the herd and eat.  I'm not sure this was the best way to handle the situation, but it's what I did.  I will not tolerate aggression towards Harley in any form, and I will not tolerate an aggressive horse at feeding time.  Period.  I think Eagle got the memo because he was very quiet and contrite throughout the remainder of the evening. 

However, the entire situation was very upsetting to me.  They had made such wonderful progress, and I had really hoped that Harley had found a friend and possibly even a protector.  From now on, I will disperse the hay to everyone but Eagle, and then let him rejoin his herdmates.  Maybe I was expecting too much, too soon.  Then again, maybe the horses were just overly hungry.  Whatever the reason, I surely hope the lesson remains intact with Eagle.  Being with the herd is a privilege, and one that can be taken away with unsavory behavior. 

On another topic, I am relieved that our upper 90's and even some triple digit temperatures have dropped significantly over the last couple of days.  This morning was cool, overcast and we even experienced a light drizzle for an hour or so.  It's quite refreshing and I'm welcoming it with open arms.  I wore jeans today for the first time in months.  While it's been so overly hot, I've not gotten very much accomplished, inside or outside.  When that happens, I become agitated and quite cranky.  I start to look around and see everything that needs to be done, and yet don't have the energy to do anything at all.  I'm most definitely not ready for winter, but find myself looking forward to the refreshingly brisk mornings of fall, the changing of the seasons and looking forward to all the outside activities that I enjoy so much.  Just hoping that we have a long, dry fall...not an early rainy season.  Please Lord?

I'm considering finding someone who will come to our house and work with Eagle several times a week.  Since I work full-time I really don't have the time, or the daylight hours to accomplish much myself.  Eagle really seems to be a lovely horse, but he knows absolutely nothing.  It's like having an 11 year old baby, but there's a stubborn streak that most young horses don't have.  I don't want to rush his education, and find myself feeling more impatience with him than I want to have.  I'm just unsure of where to begin.  I know he wants to please, and my instincts tell me that he will make a remarkable trail horse.  I just want to be patient, understanding, but firm with him.  The challenge lies in finding someone in whom I can place my trust, and bring him along in the way I want him educated.  I don't want him rushed, and I don't want him roughly handled in any way.  I want someone who's quietly confident and very patient.  I believe that the slower you go, the quicker you'll get there...I've seen it proven too many times not to believe it. 

So many projects and so little time...the story of my life.

Blessings all,
Lorie @ Cingspots

Thursday, September 8, 2011

That winning combination


We have progress!!  I am soooo happy I could just about bust!!  I'm talking about our little herd of horses and the integration of our new horse, Eagle.  Hubby and I were so pleased this morning with the progress that it's just humbling.  There's really no better word to describe it...humbling.  Horses never fail to amaze me, and in so many ways.  They are amazing, amazing animals and I feel blessed to have them in my life - our lives.  :) 

For the past week or so, we've been ever so slowly introducing Eagle in a smallish pasture, one at a time, with one of his herdmates.  Everybody except Harley - wasn't quite ready to go there, yet.  Remember that I was torn with exactly how to approach this.  So...when in doubt, go with your instincts.  Start out with the top dog and the rest will/should be a cake walk.

We started with Shad and Eagle together in the corral and 3 piles of hay at morning feeding time.  Refreshed from a long, cool nights' rest and hungry...perfect, right?  It went swimmingly!  There were a few sideways looks, a few cocked ears, and a few of those "hairy eyeball" moments; but neither horse was very interested in a retake of the kicking match that had taken place the week before.  Enough time had passed that the lesson, apparently had lodged itself in their brains.  Never underestimate the power of a little time to cement a lesson in ones' mind - equine or human...I'm just sayin'.

Eagle has that perfect, and apparently winning combination of complete and utter self-confidence mixed with just the right amount of humble respect.  And with Shad, it worked like a charm.  You don't worry me one bit, but I respect you and your authority...now, can we be friends?  We left them together for a couple of hours and they sniffed, they switched hay piles, they walked around each other...and eventually, they even shared a few bites from the same pile.  Hallelujah!!!!  We have the beginning of a relationship and we couldn't be happier. 

And, this morning - quite by chance, the gate was left open again...and again, Eagle spotted it almost immediately and proceeded to saunter with the confidence and grace of an Olympic athlete right into the middle of the herd and pick a pile and start eating.  Kadie, the little old lady (Shad's little old lady to be exact) of the bunch, made a beeline to Eagle, ears pinned and put her nose on his and promply squealed loudly and strike out.  Eagle responds by lifting his head out of harms' way...and then continued to eat his breakfast.  Kadie stood there for a moment, and then went back to her hay as if nothing happened.  Too funny.  Shad merely watched, mildly interested, and resumed eating.  This is too good to be true! 

Now it's Harley's turn.  Harley's the horse that's almost completely blind.  Harley doesn't have a mean or aggressive bone in his body.  He goes directly to Eagle and assumes the "groom me" position...Eagle continues to eat.  Harley decides to share Eagle's hay.  Eagle could care less.  At this point, hubby and I are beyond speechless.  We are quite honestly, stunned! 

Ladde's quite another matter.  Ladde also felt the "great guns" of Eagle's kicking prowess and remembers that little lesson all too well.  He has a very healthy respect (possibly even a little fear) for Eagle and isn't quite so anxious to resume their acquaintance; but Ladde's also non-aggressive and with some time, he'll come around, of that, I have no doubt. 

What really surprises me the most, is that Harley and Eagle seem to be forming the closest bond of friendship.  I didn't expect that.  In fact, I was the most worried on Harley's behalf.  Go figure.  No matter how well we think we may know our horses, and no matter how adept we may believe that our "reading skills" of equine behavior are...we are infants compared to horses reading one anothers' instinctual body language.  *sigh*  As long as I may live, my hat is off to the amazing horse. 

So, to say that we are pleased with our, or I guess I should say, their progress thus far, is an understatement.  We are infinitely pleased...and ever so thankful, and feeling abundantly blessed at this most recent turn of events. 

I just keep telling myself to breathe...

it will all work out in its' own time.  Not mine. 

Blessings all,
Lorie @ Cingspots 

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Herd Integration and Socializing Challenges

Socializing within horse herds comes quite naturally.  Horses are curious creatures.  They enjoy sniffing noses with new acquaintances and getting to know one another...to a point.  But, when you talk about integrating an outsider into an established and close-knit herd.  Well, that's another can of worms entirely. 


See this guy down below?  That's Shad.  Shad is our little herd's "lord and ruler".  We call him the "herdmeister".  Shad takes his job very seriously. 


 We've had the same horses at our little farm give or take a few that have passed away, for 14 years and in some cases, more.  That results in a very, very tight little family unit.  They have established a very consistent social heiarchy within that realm of personalities.  Every single horse knows exactly where that individual stands.  Shad's the boss.  Period.  He rules by intimidation and everyone accepts that without question.  Even the neighbor horses, more or less, accept Shad's authority.  Shad accepts his position of authority with grace for the most part.  He hasn't had anyone ever challange his position, and the occasional newcomer has always ran away.  Shad is, for the lack of a better explanation...quite animated and very dramatic in his body language.  It's always sufficed.  Always.


Until now.  We've had Eagle for a little more than 2 weeks now.  We haven't even tried to put all the horses together in the same pasture yet.  Frankly, we're terrified to try this.  For a few reasons.  For one, Harley is almost completely blind now.  He relies on mostly Katie to be his eyes, but he will stick close to both of the other horses periodically as well.  Without knowing where his herdmates are at, Harley is uneasy and cannot relax until he's reunited with everyone.  Siri used to call out when Harley yelled for his companions, thereby indicating where at least, she was at.  So far, nobody else has stepped up and accepted the "town cryer" position for Harley since Siri's demise. 

The other day, I accidentally left the gate open during feeding time...Eagle spotted the open gate and proceeded calmly and directly to where Kadie was eating.  Kadie gave him her best "scally look", but Eagle was unimpressed and continued eating alongside Kadie.  Kadie accepted and continued to eat.  No big deal.  Ladde could have cared less about Eagle.  Ladde is all about the food, and was satisfied that he had his ration and all was well within his world.  Harley was completely unaware that Eagle had joined the dinner table...

Shad however...did one of those comical "doubletakes" like..."what the????", and proceeded straight as an arrow to where Eagle was, all puffed up like a peacock, neck arched, spun around and presented his big, red butt and bellowed like a bucking bronc and began a kicking match on the intruder.  Eagle responded in kind.  Eagle was not impressed, nor was Eagle intimidated.  At all.  Eagle has great guns and gave whack for whack.  I was in a state of sheer panic and grabbed the, now frightened Harley, and got him the heck out of there before he could get caught in the crossfire.  Hubby comes running with the lunge whip and gets everybody's attention and breaks up the kicking match.

When the dust settles, Kadie's in the corner with Shad protecting her like armour.  Ladde's in front of Shad, and Harley's running around in the corral wondering what the heck is going on?  Eagle is standing calmly, butt facing the trio in the corner, about 20 feet away.  Everybody's thinking things over, it seems.  I walk up to Eagle, halter him and get him out of there before round 2 gets started.







Now, I'm still not sure whether what I did was the right thing to do, or not.  I did not want anybody getting seriously hurt.  I wanted to check everybody out and see if any damage had already been done.  But...if we were'nt there to intervene, would that have been it?  Or, would they have gone at it again?  We'll never know for sure, but my bet's on round 2. 

We've had the horses where they've been able to sniff and squeal and get acquainted for just over 2 weeks now, and we need and want to get Eagle integrated into the herd.  That's quite obviously what Eagle wants.  Shad, on the other hand, likes things the way they are - thank you very much!  *sigh*  What to do???  I know at some point, we are going to have to let them do what they will.  I remember Ray Hunt telling me that "you have to go through it, to get past it".  True, but scary at times.  For me; this is one of those times because one well-placed kick could mean a broken bone.  That, I don't want. 

Does anyone have any experience dealing with a situation like this?  What have you done when integrating a new horse into an established "equine family"?  Do you remove the herd boss and let that horse work out things with the new guy first?  Or, do you just let everybody out together at the same time? 

I do know one thing for certain.  Harley will have to be removed for his own protection.  He cannot see to avoid a situation and would almost certainly get hurt.  Kadie's an aged mare and doesn't move as quickly as she once did.  Plus, she's as close to "married" as any horse possibly can be...and to Shad.  It's his duty to protect Kadie at all costs.  Even if there's nothing to protect her from - Shad sees things differently than we do.  Like I said before, Shad takes his job very, very seriously...and he is the protector.

Ladde, undoubtedly will be the easiest.  He's already had a squabble with Eagle and has learned that the powerful, even if smaller, Mustang has..."great guns".  Ladde's butt shows Eagle's perfect hoof mark as a reminder.  And, as second in command, Ladde will follow Shad's lead.

I'd definitely appreciate any advice that you can offer.  Life's experiences can provide great insight and wisdom...we're open to any and all of your thoughts.

Blessings all,
Cingspots...Lorie