Monday, May 31, 2010

Happy Memorial Day! Meet the Herd

So, what's more interesting than pictures of other people's animals-animals they know and love because of all their quirks and eccentricities, but just look like average mutts and cats to you? Nothing, right? So meet my crew.

This is my Kyle, long suffering husband, with CatButt, the cat with all her legs. She is named for, ahem, her rather large, perfectly circular you-know-what. I know it's awful and weird and gross. We tried to name her Luna. It just didn't stick. She's too cool for school and loves Kyle more than me, but I'm not bitter...much:)

Here is my lovely Three-Legs, aka Lil' Kitty (ugh, I KNOW, we truly suck at cat names). She is vocal and neurotic and I loves her.

The dawgs...Lebowski is in front, Samuel is the light and fluffy one, and of course ancient Mojo is the black (well, black and now very grey). Lebowski is my golden boy, literally the nerd of the class, always trying to please and do tricks for pettings. Samuel is fairly new to the crew-we adopted him from Animal Control last June so we've had him about a year now. Also known as Sammy Pickles, he loves pettings as well and all things food. He's our big lumpy teddy bear. Everyone loves this guy. Mojo has been with me since 1999, when I was working at a vet clinic and someone brought her in after finding her starving and wandering around a parking lot. She has issues, but is now in the twilight of her life and is really just a sweet old lady most days. MOST days;)

I love my crew, I really do. Most days I feel like all I do is feed-water-walk-work the job that allows us to afford all these beasts-come home-walk-water-feed. I also try to squeeze in barn visits somehow at least 2 to 3 days during the work week as well. Speaking of Miles!! What would a photo blog be without him?

Showing off his Michigan State Spartan Spirit during March Madness. He's a HUGE College Basketball fan:) He's also a fan of spring grass, in case you can't tell. This was the best shot I could get that day.

His best "how you doin?" impression. I love that nose. Smoochable!

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Oy, the HEAT already

Um, obviously these pictures were taken on another planet, far far away. To counteract the heat, please to enjoy these pics of Miles and LaShore cavorting in the snu snu. Seeing these makes me want to smack my own self for kvetching about the weather!

Still, it's going to be like 90 degrees today. Since I can rarely get myself to the barn before noon (herd to feed, water and walk, don't forget. I should also probably shower, maybe.), no riding today. I'll still stop out to see my boy and throw some hay in the pasture, as well as feed him his beet pulp mash. Extra calories for my lean thoroughbred, and a good way to get some additional water in him.

Great ride yesterday...lovely canter in both directions, and a relaxing cool-out walk around the barn property. It was hot, and I was blessed with my first sunburn of the year, whoo hoo!

Happy Sunday!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Sarah no take good pictures


Credit where credit's due, if anyone else reads this thing....The pictures of Miles on this blog (to this point) were taken by my friend Amanda. She is an amazing horsewoman who helped me sooooo much in the beginning with Miles, and obviously her photographs aren't half bad either. Thanks for everything Amanda!!

A History in Horses

I've been riding since I was 7. I started off at a wonderful hunter barn, taking lessons and leasing horses, where I learned to jump small fences and show in the occassional schooling show. Everyone should start with such a solid foundation. I finally convinced my parents to buy me a horse when I was 14. She was a plain bay appendix Quarter Horse mare, small, could jump to the moon and was everything I needed. Her name was Champagne on Ice (I know, I know...we called her Chami). She carried me through high school, equestrian team, 4-H, hunter paces, hunter shows and even a parade. She was a perfect first horse, and the kind of jewel I couldn't appreciate until later, although I certainly did love her very much, and still do.

I lost myself somewhere in my early 20's and sold her for one dollar to the people that owned the boarding barn she lived at...I thought she would be much happier as a little girl's love, and I was right, at the time. My own issues did not bode well for horse ownership. Looking back, I'm still not sure what happened to me.

In my late 20's I got my stuff together (well, it's a work in progress), and of course I again became obsessed with horses and riding and wanted my mare back. She was in her 20's by then and owned sure enough by a girl who loved her, just as it should be. I thus began my search to buy my first horse as an adult.

I found Ebony 3 years ago, very soon after starting dressage lessons. She was 18 years old, black, and the definition of a opinionated mare. I loved her, and no matter her mood swings, she was never spooky or dangerous (though she had definite opinions about things, no doubt, and I'll admit in the beginning she scared me sometimes). I actually acquired her via a "Lifetime Lease" from a rescue organization which I signed before even riding fact, she had not been ridden for over a year when I stepped into the picture. I kept her at an amazing dressage barn for the first 3 months, and thank goodness got a solid foundation with which to work with her. I owned and loved Eb for almost 2 years, and the day I got a call from the barn that she was injured was one of the worst of my life. It was a freak thing, but that didn’t change the fact that her leg was shattered. I watched her as they humanely euthanized her, and it was horrible and beautiful. She had amazing grace, and was a force to be reckoned with right to the end.

About a month later, I found Miles. It doesn't seem right or fair that I found my "heart horse" so soon after Ebony's death and the guilt still gets me from time to time. I cannot deny however, that after a very rocky first month together, Miles has become a true part of me in a way that no horse has before. It's hard to's more than the nickers of recognition and the sweet horse breaths he gives me. He is my partner in every sense that a horse can be. My other half in this life, as animals go (my lovely husband is ridiculous in his support and I think would understand this sentiment). Miles is my link to my better self, the mystical and serene. I know, barf. Still. He’s amazing. I've been privilaged enough to own and ride some great horses in my life, so I don't say these things lightly. You can see Chami with my 15 year old self (I swear I don't bleach my hair any longer) on the left and Ebony on the right. I still miss my girls.

So it begins....

So, I've got this blog....

I suppose I should start from the beginning. I'm old enough to be offended when people ask my age, but I still get carded. I live with my beautiful husband in Michigan's capital city. Our household consists of 2 extremely loyal (my wording for needy) golden retriever boys, Lebowski and Samual, as well as Mojo, our older-than-time-itself lab (maybe pit-bull) mix, matriarch of the herd. Do not laugh-Mojo takes her role VERY seriously. In addition, we have 2 cats, 1 with all her legs and one with only 3. This is extremely funny to me, particularly because "Three Legs" can outrun any of our animals, maybe Miles included.

Miles. The reason for this blog (ugh, I know there's a really cool French saying for that).

I adopted Miles from an amazing organization called New Vocations. They transition racehorses to new careers and adopt them can see Miles' page here, when his name was still Masarin. If you want your own OTTB, I HIGHLY recommend them~they have amazing horses and are very honest about each horse's strengths and weaknesses. I really did get a helluva deal:-) This was September of 2009.

The first 3 weeks of September after the trailer dropped him off to me and his new home were....not great. My next post will detail my previous horse experience, but I had lost my last horse a month before, and I know I was still reeling from this experience. Ebony was also a thoroughbred, a mare, and I loved her very, very much. She was fatally kicked (probably) in a freak pasture accident, and I was with her as she was euthanized. I'm so, so grateful I could be there in her last moments, but it was a horrible thing to go through. I still miss my girl.

Anyway, I hadn't planned on getting a new horse so soon, but I did. It was a combination of intuition, timing, his Internet description, talking to the folks at New Vocations, and I'm not ashamed to say I had a rather poignant dream about Miles that led me to drive down to Ohio to see him and then adopt him. I can be a fruit that way sometimes.

So, those first 3 barn owner will laugh if she reads this. He was underweight. He was studdy as all hell. Yes, he's a gelding, but I'm pretty sure he was gelded after he was 6 years old (when he stopped racing), so he had, um, issues being next to mares, being alone, being with another gelding, being with a (very tolerant and very bitchy, we tried both) mare, everything. I was really despairing on finding a turnout situation that would work for him, and people with horses know how important it is for a horse to feel happy and secure in their living space. He was still going into a stall at night at this point. During this time, work in the arena was out of the question. Any time I tried to lead him away from the barn there was rearing, kicking, crowding, you name it. He just wasn't ready. Of course, looking back I shouldn't have been surprised. Who knows what happened at his previous home. He was also a RACEHORSE-that kind of behavior is usually worked around instead of corrected, and of course there's the whole "running at full speed on a regular basis" aspect to life that I wasn't giving him.

Finally, we found something that worked...Miles in a small pasture alone, with mares on one side, and a very sweet Haflinger stud on the other. I LITERALLY could not work with him until this balance was found. I went on a short vacation for 3 days after we put him there, and when I came back, he had become the horse I now know and love. He was relaxed, attentive, sweet, a little pushy (though we took care of that right quick), but curious and such a ham. In other words, he was the horse I had adopted 3 weeks before, finally!

Things got even better a couple weeks later, when he found his soul-mate in gelding form. The barn owner talked to me about trying the "new horse" and Miles together in a pasture, and I agreed that it might be a good match...hoo boy was it ever! His name is LaShore, owned by the lovely Judy. Miles and LaShore really are ridiculously cute together...more on them later. They make great pictures, should really have their own sitcom, and I'm so happy they have each other.

Anyway, in October of 2009, I took my first ride on my new horse, and thus began the journey. I've never been a journal keeper-believe me, I've tried! Since blogs are what all the kids are doing nowadays, I thought why not-I'm not particularly funny, witty or interesting, and I'm still trying to find my voice, but I want some kind of record of this exciting time. I've also been reading some AMAZING blogs by other riders, and they certainly inspired me to start...I hope to post their blogs here soon, once I get the hang of everything. Thanks again, everyone (anyone?), for reading!