Sunday, September 30, 2007


Due to the fact that a) Pixel cat is knocked up, and getting close to spawning, b) Farmmom really doesn't want to deal with another litter of kittens without me there to entertain them and keep them as corralled as possible, and c) when said kittens are weaned they will become barn cats for the college, my apartment is now home to one stressed out contraband kitty.

About halfway through the drive up here she chilled out enough to sit in my lap and be petted (it was dark by then, which helped) but once I let her back out of the box (screw jack in the box, you want to be startled put a cat in a box) in the apartment she started giving me the awful mommy glare.

She's now hiding under my end table (how did she fit??) and panting, glaring out at me. My arm sports fresh scratches from when I picked her up to show her where the new litter box and the food were.

Everyone cross your fingers that the complex managers don't need to come into my apartment for the next couple of months. I'll be shutting her in the bedroom while I'm out for a few days at least, so that she won't make a run for the door and get lost.

Of course, if they do discover that I have a cat I can always cite the rat problem next door......

This has absolutely nothing to do with my missing my fuzzy critters. Nope, not a thing.

Saturday, September 29, 2007


I feel good today, it's not even nine yet and I've already accomplished things.

Thing number 1: Tomorrow E and I will be going to visit the ponies at home, to introduce E to Mamaw's filly, Etta. Upon the realization of everything that I don't know and how good E is with our equine friends, I talked to Mamaw about letting E take Etta through the program. Mamaw agreed, and E is happy that he'll know what he's getting next semester. I think he'll be even happier when he sees her, she's a pretty little thing.

Thing number 2: E will be coming home with me when it's time to move cattle again, and helping. We're going to be trailing them a couple of miles to where we have good corrals to load out of, and E is all excited that he gets to help with a real life cattle drive.

Thing number 3: The reason E and I aren't going to see Etta today is that he and another of the students had already made plans to make a trip to the tack store. So, I asked E to pick me up a nose band and tie down, and I'll pay him back. That way I can return Marilyn's.

All in all, I'd say it's been a productive day already. Now to work on the Lit paper.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Yeah, I'm never happy....

Mark reminded me last night of something that I've been meaning to write. Or, more correctly, re-write.

So, I'm working on re-writing the road construction accident from another perspective.

It will probably be in even more installments than the original, which means that all of my readers are going to have to be pretty danged dedicated, because when I printed out the original to aid in the editing process it was 24 pages, single spaced. And the reason I want to re-write it is all of the things that I left out.

Maybe I can turn it into a book, or something.

I wouldn't look for an installment for a few days at least, but I thought I'd let everyone know what was coming.

And, I promise, I won't pull a Pink Gorilla Suit and leave those of you interested in such things hanging on it.


So last night at about twenty minutes till the interview my nerves went insane. I was suddenly certain that no one was going to call in, and I was going to have absolutely nothing to say.

Then the interview started and the not having anything to say part got a little bit better.

Then a call came in. My first call in on my first ever interview? LawDog just calling to tell me I was doing a good job. From patrolling. Then it was Josh, to pull his stalker schtick, and then AD, and Babs.

It was extremely difficult for me not to squeal and go entirely fangirl when those people called in. When I heard LawDog's voice (once I could actually hear what he was saying) I was just gobsmacked. Listening to it this morning I gave in to my inner fangirl and sat here saying "OhmygodIdon'tbelieveit!"

Just thank goodness I was able to restrain myself from it last night.

Thanks to Mark for having me on, and thanks to everyone who listened and called in.

Oh and LawDog, AD, and Babs? Ya'll are my BlogIdols.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Blog Talk Interview

A couple of people posted comments asking for a reminder on some of the details for the interview so I'm going to reiterate.

The interview is tonight, at 12:00 midnight CDT. This is the link to the show's page where you can listen in. The call in number is on that page, and if you can't, or don't want to call in, you can email Mark at txfellowship (at) yahoo (dot) com or instant message him on Yahoo Messenger at the ID: txfellowship.

So, folks, there's the info. As far as what questions are ok to ask... well, if you ask something that I don't feel comfortable answering, that's what I'll say. I can't really think of what other people would want to ask me, so I don't know. You'll just have to ask and see.

Nerves. They Suck.

I stayed up late last night in an attempt to slightly alter my sleep schedule, but I didn't make it much past ten thirty. Yeesh I feel old sometimes. Then I actually slept in until my revised alarm went off at eight, go me!

Still feel like I should be in bed, but I'll pop my vitamins here in a bit and feel better.

Anyway, I woke up and shut my alarm off, and rolled onto my back in bed, wondering why I reset my alarm and why I felt so tired, then I remembered.... the interview.

Nerves nerves nerves nerves!

One good thing, I have two classes today to distract me from focusing on how badly I'm going to tank it.

I can't help it, people. I'm following in the footsteps of blog giants like AD (who, by the way has reached his 200,000 visit in ten months that he's been blogging, cripes I'm jealous, I'm still pushing for 10,000 at four months) and LawDog and MattG and Babs. All of whom I read religiously in an attempt to better my own writing. And because they freaking RAWK.

So the fact that I've been asked to do an interview is a big thing for me. It's a definite honor, and I know I'm going to sound like a total dweeb. And probably, if asked about any of the above, an utter fangirl.

But that at least gives ya'll who listen a little entertainment, and that's kind of what I'm here for, so I guess it's all good.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Operation: Love From Home

I'll be spending some of my meager cash this holiday season on buying a couple of packs of holiday cards, and I'll be doing it soon. Why? Because I'm going to participate in Operation: Love From Home.

This is a project in which each person can send an actual, physical card to a soldier, thanking them for their service.

I've participated in some of the projects where you write a note on the website and they print it on a card, and then send it to a soldier, but there's something more viscerally satisfying about holding the card in your hands, writing out your own "thank you" and dropping it in the mail. Even if it is just to GA to be re-routed. I think the soldiers know there's a difference, too.

So, I'll be spending some time filling out cards to go to soldiers to tell them just how much I appreciate them, and what they do.

Ya'll go drop by and get the information too. To steal a method of persuasion from AD, I get about a hundred hits on this site a day. We'll assume that half of those are repeat visits. If even fifty of you write one card every day from now until November 17th (to allow time for the USPS to get their act together and get them there), that's fifty cards a day.

Fifty one days, not counting today, times fifty cards, that's two thousand, five hundred and fifty soldiers that get a card saying "thank you." All from this little blog thingy.

And all it takes is a few dollars to buy cards (get the boxes of them, they're inexpensive and you can get the blank inside ones so that if you feel like it, you can write a letter) a little time each day, and a few more dollars to mail them.

Show your appreciation to the people who are willing to fight for you and yours, folks, whether you agree with the political situation or not, those men and women are still there for you and your country.

I'll also be making fliers to post at the college, so consider putting the basics on a sheet of paper and posting it somewhere at work, at your school, or on the street. You can make a difference, and you can help with this, if you try.

Hat Tip to AD for pointing this one out to me.

*Edit: Kat at Yikes! (The web home of Operation: Love From Home) has provided me with a flier. If you want to post fliers, contact her and you can get it too. Trust me, it looks great, has all the info on it, and saves you some time. When it's this easy, why not do a little something to help out?

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

More on Monkey Horse (Long and Rambling)

So, today we practiced for our test tomorrow. We did a pleasure pattern, and Marilyn was sure to tell us that if the horse acted up, that was ok, she was looking at how we did as riders in asking the horse to do what we wanted, and making him do it if he didn't want to.

It was interesting. Part of the pattern was to lope in two circles, one in either direction. Now, I haven't done a lot of loping in circles with Monkey. He's still maintaining the battle to go back to the barn, or the herd, at the trot, so we haven't worked much at the lope.

Did I mention that today was also our first day with spurs? Since Monkey has decided to ignore my leg pressure and heel pressure on things like sidepassing and 180 degree turns, I went out and bought a pair of these:

Notice, if you will, that rather than a rowel, they have a ball. That's because I want him to respond to the dull pressure, not the poking. That way, when he's further along in his training, I can lose the spurs and still get the response.

Unfortunately, Monkey Horse didn't understand that there is virtually no way I can actually hurt him with these spurs. (No, really. Before I ever left the house with them, I sat in my chair and kicked myself in my own thighs and calves with them. I kicked the crap out of myself, and it didn't hurt except at the hardest, and I was really kicking.) He felt the metal, the first time I touched him with them, and I thought we were gonna have a rodeo. That long leggy sucker hunkered down like a freakin cat ready to jump either way, kind of skittered to one side, and then tried to take off running.

He eased up on it though, and good thing, or I never would have been able to get through the pattern.

He also sidepassed both ways today, which is an improvement, since he's been choosing a direction and only going that way before now.

Tomorrow, I'll go early and saddle up, and ride him in the big round pen, so that we can work that lope and burn off a lot of energy before the test.

Marilyn recommended another bit change, she says he's hauling on my arms, I say he's helping me develop fantastic biceps. Hey, it's still a major improvement over what he was doing. Maybe the new bit will make him that much better.

This one is out of the school's bit library, so I'll be putting it on my headstall, and giving back the headstall and bit loaned to me by one of the other students. Get that done tonight, and we'll see how he does tomorrow.

I still feel really good about how well he's doing, but I'm reminded every day how much I want to get him going on neck reining good. I neglected it for a while until I had to ride him one day with only one rein tied across, and was forced to ride one handed unless I was turning him.

I was reminded in a very obvious way that I learned to ride with one hand, neck reining, and riding with two hands is a very new thing to me. Once I dropped my left arm back by my thigh like I'm used to riding it, the ride smoothed out, I didn't have to work at it, and my body fell back into the rhythms that were established for it in my earliest years. A lot less work on me, so we've been doing more work on neck reining as a break between the newer things.

He grasps the concept, he's just not very good at following it if it's not the direction he wants to go, which is something that we're still working on.

Learn Something New Every Day...

Yesterday I whined over on ADs blog that I never got the nifty search results on my site meter. So, Babs explained why, I fixed the Java on my sitemeter, and now I get to see the referring URLs.

I kinda wish I didn't know this one, though....

..... I understand how they got here... my post about having to break into my apartment when I locked myself out did that..... but.... why?

Monday, September 24, 2007


That middle easterners really think that Americans are all extremely stupid:

"We don't have homosexuals..." - President Ahmadinejad of Iran, at Columbia University, 9/24/07

That one made me spit gatorade.

I'm not usually political, I tend to steer clear of those kinds of things, because frankly I just don't want to deal with the trolls and BS that I've seen on others' blogs, but this guy pegged out my bullshit-o-meter so hard it broke the peg.

Jumping Jehosephat, I've stepped in things that smelled better than this guy's speech at the barn.

Random Early Morning Thoughts....

Jeff Dunham is freaking hilarious. His new special was on Comedy central late last night and this morning I reminded myself why I love my DVR.

Also last night, some nimwad decided it was a good idea to drive a steel spike through a piece of concrete in he hallway, at eleven oclock at night. Or something, they may have been trying to cram for their Finishing Class by shoving Miss Manners through their ear, via banging their head on my wall, I didn't check.

In all the time I've been up here I haven't used my MP3 player. I love my MP3 player. It's now loaded with a recorded show from my favorite online radio station. (These people are nuts. If you need proof just think about it... they keep me around.)

My neighbors' chihuahuas haven't barked in three days. I'm beginning to wonder if they chewed their way into the walls and died there.

I'm watching the news, and I've come to the conclusion that Columbia University had a staff meeting a few months ago, and someone said the following:

"Man, we aren't getting as many applications as we used to. It's not about how hard it is to get in anymore, kids today go to the schools they know about. We need commercials or something."

"Wait a minute, we don't want to pay for commercials, what are you thinking? What we need is free publicity. How can we get that?"

And in the back, the poli-sci professor is bouncing in his (or her, I don't freakin know) seat with his arm in the air, about to wet himself.

"I know, I know!!!!"

Sunday, September 23, 2007

This horse will never have a permanent name....

So yeah after weeks of agonizing and wracking my brains for a name for The Big Bay Wonder Horse, I settled on Bubbah. I even thought of him as Bubbah. I thought his name was Bubbah.

Found out this morning how wrong I was.

His name is Monkey.

Why is his name Monkey, you ask?

Because that's what he comes to.

I'm not kidding.

Apparently all of these weeks of walking in, looking at his stall and saying "You are a disgusting little monkey, bubbah," or watching him play in the round pen and saying "Come on, bubbah, you silly monkey, time to go back to the barn," have taught him not that his name is bubbah, but that his name is Monkey.

I had to feed a couple of the rodeo horses today, the rodeo team is back but they arrived home at four in the morning, so I was asked to cover again today (I got a panicked call from E yesterday morning.)

So anyway, I had extra chores this morning so I put the Big Bay Wonder Horse in the round pen and let him goof off while I cleaned his stall, put his hay in his tire, filled his water buckets, AND walked across to the pens by the arena and searched in vain for the hay that's supposed to be kept back there... walked back to the barn, got my car, pulled up by the barn door, loaded half a bale of hay in my trunk, which didn't fit because I have cases of bottled water in there, drove back down to the pens with my white trash transport mode (something in the trunk that doesn't fit, trunk lid open and whatever oversized piece of junk that's keeping it from closing hanging half out) and fed and watered those horses, before taking my car back to the parking lot and hiking back to the round pen to get my horse and put him away.

Every time I walked by he was coming to the gate, wanting to go back to his stall because he knew there was food there by now. Except when I actually went to get him, then he was being stuck up.

"Come on bubbah, time to go back to the barn."

"Hey, I'm over here, I have your halter, there's alfalfa in your stall...."

"Hey! Come here, you silly monkey!"

And he finally came right over to me.

So, Farmmom, I'm sorry, but your horse has decided that his name is Monkey. I swear I called him Bubbah more than I mentioned Monkey, but he has made his wishes clear.

At least until he decides to change his mind and stop answering to anything.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Here, muse! Here muse! Good muse.....


1 Muse


Tiny, wearing dirty blue jeans with holes in them, a sports bra, and a stained baseball cap.

If found, please tell her to come home, things just aren't the same without her.


More writing.

Blog Talk Interview

Ok then, the final date has been decided for this coming Thursday, September 27th, or Friday the 28th, depending on whether you want to call it a late night or an early morning.

The show will start at 12:00 midnight CDT, and you can listen in here.

You can call in and ask questions ( (646) 478-4628 ). Or email Mark at txfellowship (at) yahoo (dot) com before 11:30 CDT. Or you can instant message him on yahoo at the ID txfellowship during the show.

Or, you know, run away, far and fast in the other direction.

Mutual Fascination

Yesterday our area played host to (I'm assuming) some of the Air Force Academy students on training flights, in various aircraft. Early yesterday morning I heard jets go over my apartment building, and around ten there were eight or ten helicopters in the sky, then around sundown it was prop planes.

Kind of fun to watch, and everyone stopped to gawk when they went over.

Of course, at ten, when the helicopters were going over, I was getting ready for class out at the barn. I had Bubbah out and tacked up, and was at my car grabbing a bottle of water when I heard them, looked up and here they came for a low-altitude (low enough that they changed the direction of the breeze as they went over, but not so low that they were stirring up dirt) slow sweep right over the barn and arenas.

I walked over to where I could see Bubbah and made sure he wasn't having a panic attack (no, curious, and a little nervous looking, but no major panic) and then gawked with everyone else.

As the last helicopter went over, I had begun to giggle at all of the students standing around staring upwards with their mouths slightly open like they were about to start shouting "Airpane! Airpane!"

Then I looked up just in time to catch a flash of pale in one of the windows. It was just an instant, so I could be entirely wrong, but that momentary flash branded itself on my brain as a face staring down at us.

So maybe we aren't the only "country cousins" around.....

Friday, September 21, 2007

When Stupid Reality Shows Come In Handy...

Or, Thank God I Live In A Semi-Basement Apartment.

I've been industrious today. I got all of my dishes done, cleaned out my fridge, did laundry... and took out the trash.

The fantastic habit I've developed of locking the door behind me... well. I was preoccupied. And my keys were where they live while I'm at home... in my catch-all dish.

Yeah, I locked myself out. I really need to stash that spare key in my car, instead of being preoccupied and blonde and forgetting to do it.

So I went looking for the complex manager, to get the office key and let myself in. No dice. Well, they were painting the hallways today... went all the way upstairs in my building, no dice. Stepped outside and eyed the entrances to the other buildings, but I didn't see any painting implements.

The toddler brigade was outside playing, though, so I asked the moms if they knew where the manager was. One of them didn't even know who I was talking about, and the other informed me that the manager and her husband had left for the evening.


So, I tried the cleaning lady's apartment. No one there either.


Sat in my car for a few minutes, read through The Raven again (hey, if I'm stuck outside of my apartment until they get back I might as well do something productive like take more notes for my paper, right?) and then had a thought.

See... when it first started, I was addicted to To Catch A Thief. Hey, it was fun to watch the goober homeowners agree to have their house broken into and still pull stupid stuff like leaving doors unlocked. Later it just became the same old schtick of trashing a house and soccer moms crying over the furniture being crooked or muddy footprints on the carpet, and I got bored with it.

But, I thought about it, and I thought I'd left my living room window unlocked. I'd had it open earlier today because there was a nice breeze, and I didn't think I'd locked it when I closed it... I always lock the windows before I go to bed, or if I'm actually going somewhere, but if I'm in the house I don't always lock them when I shut them.

Walked over to my window, and sure enough, I'd left it unlocked.

(Hmm. That's lovely, anyone can walk up to my windows and see if they're locked or not, plain as day.)

Now the only thing standing between me and the rest of my housework (gotta pee, gotta pee!) was the screen....

After a little poking and prodding, I discovered that my screens can be removed from the outside, if you have tiny little fingers and long fingernails.

(Or a flat head screw driver. Cripes, this is making me want to board the windows up.)

(Still, it's a good thing for me right now.)

(I'll have to tell Best Friend that she can't yell at me for my habit of chopping my fingernails off and then ignoring them until they get long enough to get in the way anymore.)

Slid open the window, groped under the blinds for the cord (don't want to tear up my blinds! They're what lets me walk around naked!) and climbed in, (Not head first, nimwit, the floor is down from here!) replacing the screen behind me.

(Crap I think I broke my ankle. What bright moment led me to pile all my shoes under the window? Ohhhh, gotta pee, gotta pee!)

I'm actually waiting for the cops to show up. My living room is just to the left of the front entrance of the apartment building, and faces on another complex, and the people over there seem to be a little nosy, so either they're nosy enough to have seen me in here whilst I had the blinds up, and know that it's my apartment, or they're just nosy enough to have seen me crawling in the window, and have now called the nice officers to report a burglary.

We'll see.

Financial Aid

Ok, so hows this for a screwed around thing....

Checked with the Student Services office today, since there's been a sign up for a week that loan disbursements will start on the 21st. I had a loan, so, I checked.

Walk in, hand over my student ID, say I need to check on my loan disbursement, and as she's keying in my information she notes my name and says "Oh, I'm glad you came in, we have a problem."

"What? What problem?"

"Well... you aren't in the dorms, are you?"

".... No...."

"Ok here's the deal, somehow they gave you a housing scholarship, when you aren't eligible, because you aren't in the dorms. So you owe six hundred and some dollars."

This is the point at which I began to hyperventilate.

"But... I thought all of my fees and tuition was covered with my financial aid and Pell grants... Isn't my loan check in yet?"

"Oh, it is. But you see, we issued this check," and she waved a check and stub with the state flag emblazoned on it, along with "WARRANT," while I tried in vain to see the amount, "and it includes that six hundred plus that you aren't entitled to."

"So... I owe six hundred and some odd dollars, that's what you're telling me? I don't have six hundred and some odd dollars...."

"No, no, that's not what I'm telling you at all!"

Wait.... what??

"But you just said..."

"Well, you do owe that money back, but I can give you this check today, you endorse your loan check and I'll take the six hundred dollars out of that, and issue you a check for the remainder. Otherwise we'd have to re-issue this check."

"Ok, so... I'm still getting all of my aid money.... I don't actually owe anything?"

"Not once you endorse this check." And she handed me my loan check. Seventeen hundred dollars and change, in that check.

"Ok... so, just to make sure I have this straight... I endorse the loan check, and give it back to you. You give me the Pell check, and take the six hundred dollars extra that they gave me out of the loan check, then issue me another check for the balance of my loan, right?"

"Yep, but the loan check won't be ready before next Wednesday."

"I see. Ok then, gimme a pen."

Once I'd straightened all of that out, I looked at the Pell check. It was issued the sixth.

My question is... once they knew that there had been a mistake, why didn't they just go ahead and re-issue the check? They've had two weeks. I wasn't aware that there was a problem, I wasn't contacted, I got no letter saying that they'd screwed up and the disbursement of the remainder of my financial aid would be a little later than everyone else's.

No, all I got was a heart attack. I figured it up before school started and I knew that my grants and scholarships should cover all of my tuition and fees. The student loan was to help cover my living expenses while my income is restricted. So when she told me I owed money, I danged near fainted dead away.

But, I have about half of my "remainder" financial aid in hand now, and it takes away a good deal of the pinch I was feeling in the bank account area. Just as soon as I get motivated I'm going to go open a savings account to hold this money, and the rest of my loan.

What? Why have it sitting around doing nothing when I can put the biggest part of it in a savings account and let it earn interest in the mean time? It's not a huge chunk of money, but it's going to total up to about two grand, when I get the check for the remainder of my loan. Enough to earn some interest and at this point all the extra pennies I can get are more than welcome.


We got an announcement in Lit class yesterday. Apparently one of the students plagiarized the first paper.

The first paper of the semester. And apparently it was blatant enough that the instructor didn't have to do much to prove it. That student got an F for the entire class. I don't know who it was, but the instructor mentioned informing a coach, so I would say that it was one of the athletes, who will probably now lose their athletic scholarship, as well.

Why is it that people can't even put forth the effort to jot something down? The instructor told us right off the bat that if we ran into a situation where we didn't have a clue, we could ask. If we still didn't have a clue, jot something, anything down, and we'd get some points for effort.

Better a sucky grade on one paper than an F for the entire course, and a reputation for plagiarism.

If they weren't going to do the work, why did they sign up for the course? I mean seriously, what is it that motivates these people to cheat? Our instructor isn't a demanding one, she's supportive and encouraging, she doesn't freak out over minor grammar errors (I'm horrible with 'it's' and 'its' ') and honestly wants us to have fun with the class.

During a lesson on word choice we were paired up and given a passage in a story, and we were supposed to completely change the main character, by changing a few words. My partner and I made the character a speed freak, which the instructor loved.

It isn't hard to make this instructor happy. Just putting forth the effort to write a paper and try to make it coherent and to the point is enough to get a passing grade. A note at the end of the paper saying "I tried, but I just couldn't come up with any more," will be taken into account.

In brighter news, even though I wasn't happy at all with the paper that I turned in (the entirety of which I changed two days before the due date... I was stuck on the topic that I had originally chosen, and decided to change the whole thing rather than turn in a paper full of B.S.) I got a 95.

And a note at the bottom, that the instructor had never seen such an in-depth look at the story that I chose. (Happy Endings, by Margaret Atwood. I compared and contrasted the characterizations and plot lines of the various endings.)

So, good thing for me. The next paper is an Explication paper, and I've chosen (unless I change my mind and do it on something we discuss in class between now and then) The Raven. It's a nice rich poem that will support the 750-1000 word paper.

And it will be all mine.

Thursday, September 20, 2007


I am fascinated with dance. I don't have the time to study it, although I've always wanted to take some lessons, but I'm fascinated with the way that a person, or two people, can move together to a beat and make something beautiful out of it.

I don't care if it's ballroom, salsa, techno, or hip-hop, or step teams, dance is great. I love to dance, even though my skills are mostly self-taught and lean towards the "if you're having fun, to hell with anyone who thinks it looks dumb" side of things.

Because of my fascination with dance, any movie with dancing as it's focus is something I'm going to watch.

If it has the added bonus of Antonio Banderas in it, well, I'm all over that....

Bad People, Good Horses

There is one kid in my riding class that I honestly think is trying to get kicked out. He's skipped classes entirely, ignores the "no running" and "no riding between the barns" rules, and just acts surly and not at all like he wants to be there all the time.

There's a bet going on amongst some of the rest of us on whether Marylin, our instructor, will kick him out or not.

If he were in JJ's classes, he'd already have been kicked out. Unfortunately, there are a lot of us in Marilyn's classes, and she just can't watch us all at once, and Mr C (the aforementioned student) manages to pull his crap when she's not looking, most of the time.

This is the same young man who insists that what I need is a set of spurs like his for Bubbah, because "A horse misbehaves because they don't respect you."

Maybe your horse misbehaves because she doesn't respect you, but I have a feeling that most of the time she's just pissed off because you're jabbing those pig-sticker spurs into her and then yanking on her head. My horse "misbehaves" these days because he doesn't know what I'm asking of him. When he gets it, he does it happily. Such as yesterday's right side pass. Once he grasped what I was asking of him, he did it beautifully.

He just didn't understand why I wanted him to go both ways.

Your horse, on the other hand, is developing a hard mouth, a leaping start (from those gigantic spurs) and a bad attitude. Mine is getting softer on the bit every day, he's listening to me and he's begun to look forward to our rides, because when he does well, he gets affection, attention, and rewards.

I really do think that Mr C is trying to get himself kicked out. My best guess is that he decided shortly after Marilyn didn't hail him as the pinnacle of horsemanship on the first day that he didn't want to be here, but mommy and daddy won't let him drop out.

Hopefully he doesn't manage to ruin his horse before he manages to get kicked out. The whole class would be better off without him.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

You Know You Have A Good Horse When.....

Every other horse in the arena is twitching and jumping at the sound of sirens going by, and yours is looking in the direction of the noise with his ears forward and head up, as if thinking "I wonder if I could outrun them?"

You argue with your horse for ten minutes over the proper lead, give up cuing him and hope, and he picks up the proper lead for the rest of the class.

A nip from another horse is met with a slight jump and a dirty glare, not an all-out screaming fit or fight.

You ask and ask and ask for a left sidepass on the fence, and he just doesn't get what you're wanting, but when you try the gate, just because that's what the rest of the class is doing, he performs perfectly.

Your right rein falls off the bit, in the middle of class, while loping, and upon realizing this, your horse responds to your whoa with a beautiful stop, rather than taking advantage of the fact that you only have half control.

It was a long riding class today.

An Honor... And Probably A Train Wreck

I've been invited to do an interview on Blog Talk Radio. I don't have a date yet, because I want to get the combination allergies/sinus infection under control before I go putting my already bad voice out there. Possibly next week or the week after.

Don't really want to sound like a congested toad, ya know? I'm already nervous about the interview, I've never been interviewed before, no need to add a messed up voice to the mix.

But, many thanks to Mark for asking me, and I hope that I can make a good interview subject!

I promise to post as soon as a final date is settled upon, so that ya'll can listen, call in and make a fool of me, or run as fast as you can in the other direction (I recommend that last one, myself :P )

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Answering a Question

knitalot3 said... Have you guys ever met a horse that was just so wild/angry/untrainable that it wasn't worth your time?

Well, Knitalot, I've met horses that are down right nuts. Whether from mishandling, a misfiring in their brain, or just plain old sour personality, it depends on the horse.

My very first horse of my own was purchased for me as a Christmas present. A beautiful little gray Quarter Horse/Welsh Pony mix, from the Arabian side of the Welsh gene pool. She had a dainty little head, expressive eyes, and the smaller stature that I needed at the time. I think I was eight or nine, and small for my age.

I'd been jokingly putting "a horse" or "a pony" at the top of my Christmas List for years, wanting a mount of my own, and my parents hadn't given in on the matter. I didn't really expect that they would, money was tight and I understood that... but I had to try.

This little filly had passed the pre-purchase lookover and test ride that a relative had given her, making sure that she would be appropriate for my level of skill.

A few days before Christmas my whole family loaded up in a couple of cars, saying we were going to a new restaurant. They blindfolded me, feeding me a line about getting a free meal if you were blindfolded on arrival. I didn't buy it for a second, I knew there was a surprise for me in the offing, I just didn't know what it was.

That is, until we pulled to a stop and I heard a whinny.

"You got me a horse?!?"

"Er.. no... you have to um... neigh to get in."

Mamaw has never been good at making up lies on the spot. She'd tell you that it was because she never lied, but the truth is, she just can't think of a good one unless she's got time to plan it. Love you Mamaw.

So, the jig was up, they took off the blindfold and I found myself staring into the eyes of a little gray filly, small enough for me to mount by myself without having to do the monkey climbing act that I usually did with the larger horses. (Knee in stirrup, grip saddle leathers, pull self up, right foot in left stirrup, stand up, left foot in stirrup, remove right foot and swing over.)

She was wearing a hot pink halter, on the end of a matching nylon lunge line. They didn't have my saddle, but I mounted up bare back and Farmmom led me around the open area near the barn at the local fair grounds, where they'd stabled the filly to present her to me.

In the mean time, my brother was screaming his head off and dancing around... I'd gotten my big present early, so he got his early too, a new gaming console that he'd been wanting. He could care less about the horse, he just wanted to go home and start playing games.

Eventually, they pried me off her back and took me home, after promising to bring me, and my saddle, back the next day.

That day I rode her in the arena at the fair grounds, and it was a harbinger of things to come.

That little twit bucked me off right off the bat. No harm done, I didn't get hurt and I got right back on, after which she behaved a little better, but it was a warning sign.

Once we moved her with the other horses, Ginger (that's what I'd named her) picked up every bad habit known to horse kind. She'd kick, she'd bite, she'd buck, back, wheel and rear. I couldn't do any good with her, although I kept trying.

When she started going over backwards with me in the saddle, Farmdad stepped in.

Armed with a three inch thick piece of round rubber about a foot and a half long, he stepped on her. In my saddle. Let me tell you that was an amusing sight, until she reared, and Farmdad hauled off and whacked her between the ears with the rubber.

See... a horse won't rear if they think they're going to hit their heads. A horse with serious rearing problems can be retrained to think that they have something over their head whenever they have a rider on their backs if you simply hit them between the ears every time they do it. I'm not talking about a horse that rears occasionally, or has done it once, but the horses that consistently rear and pose a hazard.

You can't make it a love tap, either. That might work a couple of times, but eventually the horse will figure out that it doesn't hurt that much, and just keep doing it. Some people advocate an egg, or a glass bottle of warm water, for the extreme cases. The sensation of the egg or the bottle breaking, and the warm liquid running down their head, makes the horse think that they've injured themselves. I have never personally come across a horse that needed this, and while I might use the egg tactic, I don't think I could break a glass bottle over a horse's head, near sensitive eyes, nostrils, ears, etc.

So, Farmdad hauled off and whalloped the little filly, and she settled back to all fours, walked a few steps, and when he tried to turn her, she reared again. Another whallop, another few steps, and another rear.

This went on for some time before Farmdad got fed up with it, and with Ginger rearing higher every time, and the next time she reared, he slid off the back of the saddle, keeping the reins in his hand, and hauled her over backwards. She hadn't intended that outcome and wasn't happy with it.

There were several more training sessions like this, and she never would straighten up enough to be a safe horse. She never improved enough to encourage further work, either.

Eventually, we sold her, to a lady who wanted a matched set of grays (she had one already) to train to drive. The lady knew exactly what she was buying and bought her anyway, so we didn't feel guilty about it.

But that little witch was one horse that we just couldn't do anything with. She was vicious towards people, other horses, and anything that got near her, on the wrong day.

So yes, I have run across horses that were simply "bad apples." They're few and far between, in my limited experience, and the truly good ones make up for them in spades, but they do exist. Some have been mistreated to the point that there's nothing you can do to "fix" it, some may have the same kind of miswiring in the brain that makes people do crazy, dangerous things, and some of them simply have that personality.

However, most horses that are dubbed "bad" are just with the wrong rider, I think. Sometimes personalities don't mesh, and of course conflicting personalties are going to create conflict.

That's my take on it, anyway.

Ask Farmgirl 2.0

As Holly has already noticed, I put an email address up on my profile. (Sorry I didn't answer the questionnaire one, Holly, but I've seen sooo many of those they make my brain hurt. The other one was cute, though!)

Since I'm not feeling particularly creative lately, and have been spending a lot of time just talking about my horse and my riding classes, which some of you are loving, and some of you aren't, I've decided to have another Ask Farmgirl session. You can ask me a question in the comments here, or email me at the address on my profile.

Ask me any question you like, and if I get a bunch of them, I'll pick some to answer. If I only get a few, I'll probably answer all of them.

So tell me, what are you just dying to know?

Monday, September 17, 2007

My good horse

So, over the weekend, whilst I was on the old homestead helping (or, actually, attempting to help) Farmmom and Farmdad move the cattle, I had to have someone taking care of Bubbah.

I asked E to do it, and he agreed. Upon my arrival back, during our Horse Production class this morning, I asked E how he was. The response?

"That horse is psycho."

"My horse is not psycho."

"He's spooky, he pulled back when I went to untie him, he twitched every time I touched him..."

"When he spooked, did he try to run away?"

"No, he just jumped a little."

"I see. Did he pull on the lead when he jumped?"


"And when he was pulling back, was he fighting? Or was he just moving back a little when you came to his head?"

"Well no he wasn't fighting..."

"And when you touched him.. he didn't freak out, did he? He just twitched his skin a little?"


"You know, when I bought that horse he had about the same amount of rides on him that the colts do when they leave the program here. It was also the first time he'd ever been to town. He's been handled, to my knowledge, by a total of four people.. five, with you. This is the first time he's been handled by anyone but me, and for a few minutes, Miss C over there when I was hosing his legs down, since he came here."


"So, he's not psycho. He's young, he's inexperienced, and considering all of the facts I think he did pretty danged good with a brand new, never met him before handler, don't you?"

"Well, yeah, but you need to get lots of different people to handle him!"

"I know. But too many people are scared of him."

*Sigh* He's an excellent boy, he's doing as well as any of the other, supposedly "well broke" horses in the program these days, and better than a couple of them.

We did have one moment in class today where I wondered if he was going to listen.. and if he hadn't it would have been a Very Bad Thing.

See... over the weekend, E had tied Bubbah out at the hitching rail to clean his stall. Z proceeded to bring his horse out and tie him right next to Bubbah.

Z's horse has a reputation for kicking for no apparent reason.

Yep. Bubbah got kicked.

He's fine, no swelling or heat anywhere, so it didn't even bruise him, but he didn't like it.

Well, today in class we had all been gathered up to listen to instructions, and as I was letting the horses on either side of Bubbah peel away, up comes Z on his horse, right in front of us. And he's letting his horse push into Bubbah's personal space bubble.

Bubbah reared up a little, and held himself there for a few seconds, while I just tightened the reins a little, tried to keep him from striking out, and said in a calm, reasonable, soothing tone...

"Get that kickey piece of shit away from my horse before he starts a fight."

I can't blame Bubbah for challenging that flea bitten gray (no, really, that's what color he is) after he'd been kicked, and the gray did get into his space, so Bubbah didn't get reprimanded too hard.

But.. once he reared up, he'd started to strike, until I collected him. Once my hands were in contact with his mouth, he stopped. He didn't drop back to all fours until the gray was moving away from him, but he didn't strike out with his forelegs.

He ignored his instincts, which where screaming at him to use a measure of force to push this horse out of his space, this horse that had already kicked him when he was tied up and tried to assert its' dominance over him, and listened to me.

He's a good boy, and he's learning things nearly as fast as I can teach him.

But I couldn't ask for better manners, already.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

You Know It's a Slow Day In Blog Land When...

You can get into AD's Blogs I Read Every Day list, and a mention on the front page, and not have a humongous increase in traffic:

What? I'm easily amused....

Saturday, September 15, 2007


In honor of my weekend off, I thought I'd work up and post a couple of the pictures that I got of Bubbah.

I thought about making them black and white but when I looked at them that way, they just didn't look right without his gorgeous color.

Here they is.


I'm in the process of trying to bribe kids from the college to come help with the moving of the cows tomorrow.

We tried today... our help didn't show up. The portable corrals that we borrowed from the conservation service are in a bad way. Things just didn't work.

So, on the theory that more hands are better, I'm attempting to bribe people to come help us tomorrow after class.

For two of them the bribe is "Want an adventure?"

I'm waiting on a call back from them.

For E... I'm using the rabbit in the freezer, as well as possibly the venison roast, and videotaping his rodeo practices. Along with the damsel in distress routine.

I'm waiting on a call back from him, too. His message was "E, it's Farmgirl. I need help, and not just the crazy chick psychological kind... "

Crossed fingers, I really don't want to repeat today tomorrow.

How Did They Survive?

"I brought my camera so you can pull off the pictures of the bull riding, and I got a few of Bubbah, too."

"Really? Gimme!"

I pulled the card out of my camera and handed it to Farmmom, who petted it like Gollum and started muttering "my precious."

"Well? Where's the card reader?"

"Let me get it"

*Rummage Rummage*

"Well crap, looks like I left mine at home."

"You left it at home??? Why would you do that? You know I wanted to see these!"

"Well I had it set aside to pack with my laptop but I must have missed grabbing it."

She gave me that disappointed, my child is a moron look.

"I have a mini USB cord, we'll just hook the camera up."

"Um, it won't work."

"Why not?"

"There isn't a mini USB plug on my camera, its a specialized cord, which is sitting in the box for the camera at my apartment."

"Oh. Well we'll put the card in my camera, which does have a mini USB plug, and pull them off that way." She eyed me sideways like it was my fault that Samsung is anti-mini USB.

"If that'll work, if I remember right that camera has issues with that. Remember I had that one first."

"It'll work!" Farmmom's voice had taken on the same tone I remembered from my childhood when I wanted brand name sneakers and she wouldn't let me get them. Memories of a terrified shoe store clerk who had tried to cajole her into the more expensive shoes for the commission floated through my head and I shut up.

"It's not working."

"Well you have a card reader, don't you? We had one that had a cord on it."

"No, I don't."

"Let me look."

Twenty minutes of searching later, I've turned up no card reader, and Farmmom is looking dejected.

"I'll go up to Mamaw's and get hers."

"I think she took it to Oklahoma with her."

"She left it the last time...."

"Well, go check."

No card reader at Mamaw's.

To heck with this, Farmmom and Farmdad take pictures with digital cameras too, they need their own card reader.

To Alco*!

After a suitably long search in the minuscule computer accessories department I've spotted four different kinds of cards, six different kinds of travel mice, two different keyboards, and a set of metric crescent wrenches, but no SD card reader. Finally, my eye catches something that looks like a USB hub, but on closer inspection turns out to be a reader for every kind of memory card in existence. Thats gonna be higher than I really wanted to pay, I can tell. Even though the price sticker on the hangar has been removed.

Well, it'll read the SD cards.

Get to the checkout and the clerk rings it up, exclaiming over what a nice reader it is, she's got forty seven different readers and she doesn't have that one, blah blah blah, great, lady, come on, if I don't get back soon I'll have to use the card reader as a shield when I walk through the door.

Ten forty something. Not as bad as I expected, pretty danged good, actually.

When I got back to the house I entered the door and immediately bowed to Farmmom, holding the card reader above my head in an offering pose, and she whipped out her razor knife, leaving me wondering if she was planning to give a blood sacrifice (me) to the technology gods to give thanks for the bounty of digital pictures, but she held it out to me to open the plastic packaging.

I breathed a sigh of relief and quickly stripped the packaging from the reader, plugging the card into it before I offer it to her again.

"Very good, First Daughter."

"I'm your only daughter, mom."

"As much of a disappointment as you are to me today, can you blame me for not having another one? Leaving the card reader at home..." she sniffed and trailed off into a mutter as the pictures copied from the card to her computer.

Looks like I get to live for another day....

*Alco is a cheesy little chain department store. Used to be Duckwall's, but then they got rid of the smell and had to change the name. Anyone who has been in a Duckwall's knows the smell I'm talking about. You could always tell when someone forgot your birthday and just hit Duckwall's to get something cheap and quick, because of the smell.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Headed Home...

... for the weekend. Gotta help move cows, plus it's a couple of days off for me.

Which I think I deserve.

While I'm home I'll be picking up some cold weather gear, Farmmom's duster (which she doesn't wear anymore and volunteered to loan me... good for keeping warm and dry on horseback) and spending lots of time with my pup and my cats. I miss the little fuzzies, it still doesn't feel right not to have them with me in the apartment.

I'll also be picking up an old hair brush to use on Bubbah's tail. I've got a mane and tail comb, but a brush will do a better job faster on his tail, since he's got a bad case of pasture tail. He's got tendrils that are wound into spirals, not dreadlocks but the beginnings of them. I may also pick up some detangler, and I need to hit Big R for bands so that I can braid and band his mane, to retrain it to lay all on one side. He's got pretty good hair, there's just one place up by his head that it likes to lay over on the other side. It'll stay for a while when I comb it over, but it's not well enough trained to stay there. Braiding it and banding it will fix that problem, retraining that bit of mane to lay properly.

I'm not good enough to do a fancy french show braid all the way down his neck, and he's too much of a cow pony for it to look good on him anyway.

By the way, Farmmom, Bubbah is a priss. I stood there for thirty minutes grooming him and he danged near went to sleep. He started leaning on me where I was leaning against his hip to work on his tail, and danged near pushed me over.

So yeah, weekend, moving cows, chilling out... I still have to pack some clothes, and make sure my apartment is prepared for me to be gone for a couple of days, overwater the palm, take out the trash, lock all the windows, etc. Then I can head down there, to be ready to start hauling cattle tomorrow.

It's gonna be weird, staying in the guest bedroom. Farmmom has already started turning my old room into a computer room, not that I'd have a bed to sleep in in there anyway.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

How Bubbah Came to Us*

It was the last horse sale we went to this summer, Farmmom and I, and we were just seeing if anything spectacular jumped out at us, pretty much.

We had some cash laid by, in case, but not a lot, and we were half looking for a horse for Farmmom, so that we could ride together. I'd already bought my mare, and Mamaw had bought her filly, but the filly wasn't broke so we needed another horse.

We were walking the pens, looking around, watching what was coming in, when we came upon a corner pen, where two bays and a paint were hitched to the fence, and one of the bays was being saddled.

Instantly, Farmmom went "ohhhhhh pretty" at the bay as he stood, head up and looking around, a sheen of red to his coat that made him stand out.

We talked to the owner for a few minutes, watched him take the gelding out to warm him up before going in the ring, and as he performed a few roll backs.

We both chalked him up as going to cost too much for us, sighed a bit, and moved on.

But somehow, we kept wandering back to that pen. I was half in love with the little paint gelding, sweet disposition, but extremely green for all of his calmness. I felt I couldn't afford a horse that green at the time, he only had twenty five rides on him.

The tall, leggy bay had forty five, more workable, and in spite of our misgivings we noted his number so that we could see what he went for.

When he came into the ring, he was beautiful, moving lithely and responding well to his rider, considering it was his first trip to town.

Somehow, though, the bids were staying low. Farmmom elbowed me and muttered "I'll go to six hundred on him, but I can't afford any more."

So, I began bidding. The bid price slowly climbed, and Farmmom was fidgeting in her seat beside me. Something about this horse had captivated her, and I resolved to throw in some of my own cash if I couldn't get him for under the six hundred dollar limit.

Four hundred.

Five hundred.

Five fifty.

I glanced at Farmmom to see her glaring at the guy bidding against me. If looks could have killed, that dude would have been a smoking puddle.

Five fifty, and it's my bid. On a hunch I hesitated, thinking about it. The auctioneer was pointing at me and rattling off his numbers and gibberish, the owner was watching me, the entire sale barn was eyeballing the little skinny chick.

Finally, I raised the hand holding the pen. Five seventy five.

I turned to look at the guy who had been bidding against me, who was now staring at me as well. I cocked one eyebrow, thinking "Go ahead, mister. Make me embarrass you in public. Farmmom wants this horse, and she's gonna get it, if I have to kill you after the sale to do it."

"Going once! Going twice! SOLD!"

Farmmom squealed like a little girl, and did a little happy dance right there in her seat, sticking her tongue out at the other guy, while I sat there calmly and wrote down the price, and collected his papers and the signed transfer of ownership form.

And thus, did Bubbah the Big Bay Wonder Horse come to us. And they all lived horsey-ly ever after.

* The main points of this story are true, we did find Bubbah at the sale, and Farmmom did instantly fall in love with him, we did bring him home for five hundred and seventy five dollars. The rest of it, I might have embellished a bit on. My memory is a little fuzzy on the subject, probably due to the beating I got when Farmmom was talking about "her" horse and I piped up with "Hey! Who's name is on the receipt?? Mine, that's right, my name, my horse! But if you're nice to me I'll let you ride him once in a while."
You'd think, living around me for so long, she'd be able to take a joke better than that.....

My Horse

I talk a lot about my horse, I know. You guys have been receiving regular progress reports, but most of you, the Farm Parents excepted, don't really know what he was like to start with, except for snippets that I've shared.

Well, when we started, he wouldn't give to the bit, he was nervous and kickey, he'd sling his head around, he'd wheel, and he'd try to stomp on my feet when I mounted. He didn't bend, he didn't move out, or he'd try to have a runaway. His ears were perpetually forward, or pinned back, he didn't respect me, or anyone, and he never stood still. He was so gate sour that he'd try to buck every time I took him by it, just to see if I would come off so he could try to go back to the barn. He was a little nervous about his stall for the first few days, being a small enclosed space.

Now, he respects me more every day, he listens for my voice for the vocal cues I've been teaching him, he's lighter on the bit than ever before. He doesn't kick at me, although he's taken a couple of shots at other horses that have come too close to his hindquarters, he bends and moves out for me with little pressure, and while he's still a little gate sour, we don't have a rodeo every time we go by. He goes willingly into his stall, and if there isn't a lot of activity around I'll pull his halter just at the door of the stall, leave the lead rope wrapped around his neck, ask him to go on in, and just let the lead pull off his neck as he reaches the back of the stall.

We still occasionally have the attempts to go faster than what I want him to, but he listens when I ask him to slow down. Tuesday we spent an hour just walking and slow trotting, which he hates, but he did really good, considering I didn't put him in the round pen and work off some of that energy before I got on him.

What most of my class mates aren't understanding is that he's four, he's still green, and he's used to being in a pasture where he can run and jump and kick and play all day. He's getting more food for less work, so he's got a lot of extra energy, and he's putting on the pounds. Which isn't a bad thing, he was a little skinny when we got him, and he got enough exercise in the pasture that while he filled out to an acceptable weight, he didn't get fat and sleek. Now he's getting nice and sleek, filling out nicely. His shoulders are still a little weak but that slow trot is good for that, it'll work his shoulders and build up that muscle.

He still looks like he might be a smallish thoroughbred, with his narrow shoulders and developed hindquarters, but his shoulders will fill out and he'll look like a proper quarter horse in time. He's just never used his shoulders that much, he uses his hindquarters for drive, and his front end is just for steering and stabilization. But we're changing that. He's learning to use his front end for drive too, and he's starting to like the challenges that I give him.

He's smart. That's why he was such a butt to start with, and why we still have a few issues on occasion. He gets bored, and he doesn't want to do the same things over and over again. If we do something completely new, he gets a little confused at first, but if we add new things to what he already knows gradually, he picks them up in a hurry.

Yesterday, we added the bigger round pen, and the lunge whip. He already knew what I expected of him in the round pen, so the larger one was just a matter of curiosity. The lunge whip was a little bit more intimidating for him. I sent him around a few times in each direction at the trot, and then asked him to whoa, and went to walk up to him, and he saw the long whistly thing in my hand, and didn't want any of it. I had to put it down, go to him, tell him he was a good boy, and then work some more. He was more relaxed after that, and at the end of the session, when I went to take him back to the hitching rail and saddle him up, I let him smell the whip, and inspect it, which he did, and then he tried to eat it.

I don't use a whip as a means to correct the horse... the lunge whip is just an extension of my arm, much as the lead rope was in the smaller pens. I just needed a longer extension for the bigger pens. It just tells him where I want him to go, and if he starts to lag before I ask him to slow down, I'll make it whistle, to signal him that that's not what I want. It never touches the horse while he's moving, or in a way that will frighten him.

He's learning. He's learning to trust me, to look to me for instruction, guidance, and support. He's becoming more affectionate with me all the time, and he's learning that it's easier and more fun to do what I ask him to than to fight me.

And, I'm learning too. I'm learning how to communicate more clearly with him about what I want, and I'm learning how to be supportive of him, even while I'm being firm with him. He's teaching me more about horse psychology than I knew before.

I'm also learning that some of my class mates want the challenge, while some of them want the pretty, docile nag.

Me, I want the horse with a personality. One that will keep me interested, and give me as many challenges as I give him. Eventually, Bubbah and I will be a team, and eventually, I'll be able to hand him off to another rider, and they'll be a team too. It's yet to be seen if Bubbah will work for anyone else the way he does with me, or if we'll have to go through a couple of times of letting a new rider earn his respect and trust all over again, before he grasps that I'm not going to let someone he can't trust ride him, but that's all in the future.

And from here, the future looks good.

Ahhhh Thursday

After this last week or so I've been looking forward to today with an eagerness usually reserved for times of the year when people give me presents, or historically, holiday breaks from school.

(This year, I don't want the holiday breaks. I want to keep going to classes and playing with the pretty pretty ponies!!!)

Thursday is my first "slow" day of the week. I only have two classes, Lit and riding, and Lit doesn't start until eleven. Friday is another good slow day, only riding at ten in the morning (which makes me happy because it's cooler then.)

This morning, I'm relaxing. I'll probably get caught up on my dishes before class, but I'm not rushing anything. I slept in (for me, anyway, my body still woke me up at six expecting to hear the alarm but I rolled over and catnapped till six thirty) and talked to Farmmom for a while once I got up.

She's all excited to see how Bubbah is doing, and I can't blame her, I've been giving him glowing praise to her, and he HAS made a lot of improvements. He's not perfect yet, but I don't expect him to be perfect yet, and neither does she.

Oh, and to fyremandoug, I don't know how many hands he is, we haven't measured him, and he's still growing. I'd estimate he's somewhere between fifteen and sixteen hands, though. He just looks taller 'cause of all of that leg.

Farmmom wants to get some pictures of me and Bubbah while she's up here, so I may have some pics of my... erm... her... well... our, big beautiful boy later.

I think I may be stealing my mother's horse, an inch at a time, lol.

But anyway, back to the point, today is Thursday, I don't have feed crew for a while, Bubbah will be well cared for this weekend while I'm home helping move cattle, and I'll get some time to relax, as well.

I think I deserve it, this last week I had a test in my business class, a Lit paper to write, which I wasn't entirely happy with but the due date snuck up on me and we'll just have to see how it turned out, and feed crew, as well as working with Bubbah and getting that questionable look out of my instructor's eye about him. Not to mention my class mates.

It's been hectic enough that I'm behind on laundry, completely out of towels, and my apartment carpet looks like I've dragged half the barn in with me. Gotta vacuum.

But, I don't feel harried today. This is a good thing.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Bouncy Bouncy Bouncy....

I am in SUCH a good mood right now! Just got done out at the barn, I don't have feed crew tonight, and best of all... Bubbah (that's what I've decided the bay's name is) was FABULOUS today.

Almost like a real horse!

He fought me on the stops at the fence at a trot for quite a while, but once he figured out what I wanted, and that I wasn't going to let him get away with turning down the fence, and that I wasn't asking him to run into the fence no matter that I kept driving him until a stride or two before the fence, he did pretty good.

And then we did it at a slow lope... and he was danged near perfect!

I don't care if he was behaving because he knew if he misbehaved I'd haul him down into a trot and make him stay there, I don't care if he was behaving because the good horse fairy whispered in his ear. I don't care if he was behaving because the Martians were landing and sending out their telepathic equine mind control rays.

It doesn't matter. He was behaving. He got neck hugs and rubs and pets and good boys and scratches right up by the poll band on his bridle (that's the piece that goes right behind his ears... always itches him) and he got grain when he went back to his stall.

He also stood still, by the other horses no less, without trying too hard to shove them over or run away... I could drop my reins and shift around in the saddle and wiggle on his back and he just sighed at me.

So we went out on the trails. We've only been out on the trails once before this, and that was such a disaster I wanted him behaving better before we tried a repeat. We had a couple of moments, but he was generally very good.

I'm so proud I could bust. Bubbah boy is finally getting it, and working with me instead of against me. If this keeps up, we can start working on the harder stuff, sidepasses and gates and sliding stops and rollbacks when I ask for them.

People are starting to get a little jealous. At first they were all thinking (and saying to each other) "He's so pretty, but there's no way I'd ride him."

Now they're thinking, and saying "He's so pretty... and he's getting better....."

One actually said that to me, with a wistful look on her face.

No. You are not riding my horse. You called him a psycho a week ago. Well, my psycho horse and I are just fine, thank you very much, you just go ride your nag around in circles, and see if you can't get him over the world's slowest trot.

If you'll excuse me, my horse and I have some beautiful loping to do.....

Good Calves Days/Bad Calves Days

I appear to be some kind of weirdo, who cares more about whether she's having a "good calf day" than a good hair day.

Hair? Who cares? I just pull it up in a pony tail and throw a hat on over it anyway.

(When Best Friend was doing my hair, we'd finished the dye job before I had to go do my feed crew duties, but hadn't gotten the cut yet, so, at her threats to life and limb, I left it down, and went without my hat. This garnered a "Holy crap! I didn't recognize you!" from a couple of class mates that see me every day. No, really. Every, single, day. We sit by each other in one class, talk about our horses, they've been to my apartment, and they didn't recognize me with my hair down. Tells ya somethin' don't it?)

But, on two concurrent days, I can wear the same brand, style, and size of socks... even from the same danged package... and one day they'll be annoying as crap, sliding down and driving me bonkers with my boots rubbing on my legs, while the next they could be superglued to my calves, like proper socks.

Good Calves Days, and Bad Calves Days.

I have to be the only person in the entire world who thinks of these things.

I wonder if I could get a set of those sock suspender thingies that men used to wear?

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Bull Riding Pictures

I promised ya'll some pics of the bull riding practice, so here they are!

The most entertaining bit was the impromptu rodeo clowns... and there were a lot of them...

This kid got hung up, but don't worry, he's ok.

Apparently, for some of these guys, one in particular, touching the bull while the rider is spurring them on is the ultimate in macho.....

Because this one just kept trying.....

Of course, they weren't the best bulls in the world... a few of them just wanted some praise for their hard work, like this guy.....

But all in all there were some really good pictures to be had, like these.....

My Goal For The Day...

Is to convince my riding instructor to let me out of class today. The rodeo team is getting bulls in, and they're gonna give the bull riders some real practice (as opposed to practice on the mechanical bull) before the first rodeo.

And, thanks to the persuasive powers of Fred, the rodeo coach, E will be riding a bull today... I gotta get pictures of this. E wants me to get pictures too.

I've got my fingers crossed that when the instructor finds out they're gonna have bulls in today, she decides she wants to watch too and just lets us all watch.... I'll go out early and work Bubbah, I just wanna watch the bulls!

Edit: Success! I rode with the nine am class instead, and I get to skip out on the three pm class to go watch the fun and games! I'll see if I can't post some pictures for ya'll when I get home tonight.

Monday, September 10, 2007

T Is A Brat!

So, I'm sitting in business class, listening to the lecture, when my phone vibrates. I check it to see what's up and it's a text message from T.

Not too worried about missing something in the lecture, it's all covered in the book, anyway, so I answer.

A few messages later, after I've told him how I'm starving and can't wait to get out of class so I can get some lunch, he tells me he's eating a big steak burrito, smothered in green chili.


So when I got out of class I called him, and told him he was a *expletive deleted, but it rhymes with clock* and that he flung a craving on me for Taco John's.

Which flung a craving on him for Taco John's. So I kept him on the phone until I got home with my food, and dipped a potato ole in the nacho cheese sauce, and yammered on for a bit about how good it tasted. He called me a *expletive deleted, but it rhymes with itch* and I told him he'd started it while talking about his big burrito...

Which took us into an entirely new world of innuendo....

Let's just say I'm not gonna look at "sour cream on the inside" in quite the same way for a while.......

Man, I miss that little twerp.

D and Me.

A while back I posted the Best Worst First Date Story Ever, and I mentioned that the guy, D, and I became good friends after that, but never dated again. We did, however, take a few road trips together, which, due to D's strange road trip Karma, never seemed to turn out quite like we expected.....

The first such road trip was actually across the state to pick up his girlfriend at the time and move her back to D's place. At this point, D was no longer managing the ranch, and was helping his dad out on the family place instead.

I had just gotten my first car, a '91 Mercury Tracer with no amenities, not even power steering. It was a little four-banger five-speed manual transmission, so it was cheap on gas, but it would still go like striped assed ape if you knew how to drive it. This was it's first long trip, and I was excited.

It was January or February, I don't remember exactly, and we had two different mountain passes to go through, each way, so we ran into some ice and snow.

I picked D up at his house around six in the morning, and we headed out, both of us groggy and grumpy, FM radio turned up loud enough to wake the dead just to keep us awake on the road.

Soon enough we were woken up and we started singing along with the radio, neither of us any good, both of us caterwauling like crazy people, trying to drown each other out. At least until we hit the mountains, and couldn't get any reception.

We made it to Durango, got to the girlfriend's place, and started loading her stuff.

It was at this point that I discovered that she had four cats. And she was bringing them with her. And she didn't have a carrier.

Picture it. A maroon Mercury Tracer, the trunk and half the back seat stuffed with black plastic garbage bags full of what I can only assume was all of her junk, three people in the car, and four cats loose.

One of the cats about caused a wreck, we were talking and not paying much attention to where they all were, because they had been in the girlfriend's lap or the back window... but one of them had come down out of the window, crawled under the driver's seat, and curled up under my brake.

We only discovered this fact when I went to stop at a stop sign and actually stepped on the brake instead of just tapping it to slow for towns. The yowl went up, my foot came off the brake and we rolled right through the stop sign as I fished for the cat with one hand and tried to keep us on the road, D went head down in my lap and the floorboard trying to catch the cat, and the girlfriend in the back seat yowled just as loud as the cat about how it was my fault the stupid little fuzzball crawled under the brake and got itself squished.

I was not amused.

I kept that cat in my lap for the rest of the trip just to make sure it didn't do that again.

Shortly after this we discovered that with three smokers in the car... we were, collectively, down to two cigarettes. I had forgotten to grab my cash that morning, and had been assured by D that he'd take care of any costs... shortly thereafter to discover that instead of the hundred dollar bill he'd thought he had grabbed, he had a twenty, and we'd already spent fifteen of that on gas. And the girlfriend was a chain smoker.

So we stopped at a convenience store in the mountains and paid an outrageous price for a pack of cigarettes that we all had to share on the remaining six hours of drive time. At this point I was getting a little cranky, the girlfriend's constant whining about being hungry, being thirsty, being tired, her cats being tired of being in the car, and a myriad of other poor-pitiful-me complaints along with the furball in my lap deciding that I was an excellent scratching post, and the ensuing lecture about proper care of animals from the girlfriend when I picked the little furry set of needles up by the scruff of it's neck and growled at it, (which brought about an argument as I explained to her that the cat wasn't hurt, and I was disciplining the thing like another cat would, which was far more psychologically effective than patting it on the bottom and saying "bad kitty") along with being hungry myself, all added up to my own little slice of hell.

That is, until a song came on the radio that reminded both D and I of a party we'd gone to where a mutual acquaintance had gotten knee-walking drunk and stripped to skivvies before her boyfriend had walked into the room and kept her from tossing her bra with a flying tackle, and we started discussing this, and other funny incidents that we were reminded of.

Now, this here is the part that I just don't get. Girlfriend had said she was ok with D having female friends. Girlfriend hadn't said a word about any of the other short bits of banter that D and I had engaged in. But for some reason, talking about mutual friends/acquaintances that did stupid things caused her to lean in between the seats, glare at D and then at me, and say "Well, maybe you two should date instead!"

And for some reason, us looking at each other and saying in chorus "Tried that, didn't work," only pissed her off more.

Ah well. We made it back to D's place, where D, girlfriend, TC, A (D's twin brother, if you missed the last story) and myself had a grand old time bsing, dancing to the music, and eventually, getting a little crude with an ice fight.

Ladies, let me tell you, when you're being held down by a big ol' cowboy while two little wiry cowboys sit on your legs and stuff ice in your bra and underwear... well, there's not much you can do about it, until they let you go.

On an interesting side note, apparently it's really hard to get ice out of the crotch of tight Wranglers, even when you go commando.

Vengeance is mine, sayeth the Farmgirl.

I've Been Blog Luv'd

AD has sent me some blog Luv!

The rules of the meme are Thus: I post the little picture in my sidebar, and tell Ya'll about five other bloggers that I love. So, hang on to your hats people.

Murph, over at Murphy Was A Grunt. This dude is hilarious, go check him out, and feed his ego. Maybe he'll post more regularly then, instead of in spurts.

Monkey Girl at Musings of A Highly Trained Monkey. I gotta agree with AD on this one, she needs to take her rest, chill out, and come back to us.

CrankyProf at Cranky Epistles. Even though the posting rate has gone way down since the Prof popped out the latest sprog, which I am definitely not going to criticize, there's still plenty in the archives. If you haven't checked her out, go do so.

LawDog, of course, at The Law Dog Files. Ya'll should already know why.

And, since I'm jonesing for more Star Of Life I'm going to go ahead and hit AD with this one again, for that one.

And, since the last one was a tag-back I'm gonna go ahead and give ya'll one more...

On The Clock is a great blog, Sam is giving us the story of how she got into the bambulance business, and the amusing things which happen along the way. This girl is a very good writer, and keeps you on your toes. Go check her out.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Brrrr and Rambling Thoughts

Going from around seventy five, eighty degrees yesterday morning while I was working with the bay, to 55 degrees this morning... brr. Welcome to Southeastern Colorado, where if you don't like the weather wait five minutes.

So, we played in the round pen a little bit before we had to give it up for E to work with someone else's horse, watched him work for a while, letting the Big Bay Wonder Horse look around and see all of the activity and just relax to it, which he did, and nibble on my jacket because the poor dear is just starving. Never mind the weight he's put on since being in a stall most of the time and getting good alfalfa hay every day, he wants you to think he's just perishing of hunger and should have some grain.

E wants me to try his gelding out.. he's wanting to just ride him around like a normal person so that the little guy doesn't get too stuck in steer-wrestling mode. Some horses, that's all they ever do, so that's all they know how to do... warm up, run like hell, and then get lazy. I'm not sure why he chose me to ride the guy, but hey, he seems like a sweetheart of a horse, so we'll see. May let E ride the bay while I'm riding his gelding, if he wants to. Won't hurt bubbah to deal with other riders, and E is good enough to stick on through his fights, unlike the kid that wanted to ride him Friday. It's not that I don't trust the kid's riding skills... I don't trust the bay. I know his quirks and what he tries to pull, so I can pre-empt him, that kid doesn't, and I don't want anyone getting hurt on my horse.

I know E can deal with it though, I've seen him ride out worse on his mare. And, I trust him not to let bubbah get away with his shenanigans, or cause problems that I'm going to have to fix. We'll see though, E may not want to ride him. It's only polite to offer, though.

Last night with the Best Friend was fun, we got my hair dyed, then went to the barn, with Best Friend looking her usual drop dead gorgeous perfect-in-public self, which gave me lots of entertainment, because she was a little out of place, although she didn't get all "ewwww" over things, I was proud of her.

However... after I finished my duties we went out back to bs with E because, well, Best Friend had heard a lot about him and wanted to meet him... And E and R were watering... R couldn't stop staring, and E turned into more of a chatter box than ever, filling water buckets to over flowing. I swear, if E was white, he'd have been bright red the whole time. I suspect he was blushing, but since he's a long tall drink of dark chocolate hot cocoa, I couldn't tell. Best Friend said she'd never felt stared at quite as intensely as R was doing it, and then she paused, tilted her head to the side and said "E has such beautiful eyelashes... it's not fair."

After the barn we came back and she finished my hair with a trim, and we got ready to go out. She did my makeup, because she likes doing that, and we drove around for a while, ran out to the race track (cars, not horses) and took her old phone to her sister in law, said hi to her dad and her brothers and her husband, and I proved that I can indeed run in my high heeled boots, when I chased after one of her brothers for saying "All right! Who called for the hookers?"

We've all known each other long enough that all I had to do was take one step towards him and he took off running. Of course, when we were all kids I used to tackle him in their yard and give him wedgies... he's bigger now, though, I'm not sure I could get him down, but at least the training has held. *snicker*

So yeah, I'm gonna end the rambling thoughts here. If you read through all of this, congratulations, you're persistent, you get a gold star!

Saturday, September 8, 2007

The things I do...

I'm sitting here with dye on my hair, my best friend is in my bathroom doing her ablutions, the country music channel on my digital cable is blaring, I have feed crew in a couple of hours, for which I will have a brand new wacky dye job... And tonight, Best Friend and I are going out.

I'm reminded of highschool days when we would pull all nighters just because we wanted to, drive forty five minutes to Wal Mart, or two hours to Dairy Queen on a whim, do crazy things with hair (less mine than hers, then, I've only recently come into the area of telling her to do what she wants as long as it doesn't look insane) and generally just be nuts together.

It's good to know that in spite of years of working, three kids (for her) and many relationships, break ups, crazy stresses and moving away from each other, we still have the wacky camaraderie that got us through those intense, hormone-driven days of junior high and high school.

Besides, who doesn't want to drag their prissy friend to the barn to hang out while she feeds and sweeps up horse poo?

This is gonna be fun..... hehehehe.

Good Times

Yesterday I had my daily battle with the bay, and did my feed crew duties... then hung around to watch the rodeo team practice.

And, of course, being me, help with the practice.

One of the steer wrestlers is training up a new gelding, a good prospect, but he's still pretty green on it. E was worried that the gelding would stop when he dove off on the steer, instead of keeping running, so he wanted to give him a little supplemental training... just a couple of runs along the fence, E would snag the rails and go off... but to keep the gelding moving, someone needed to be moving him along, so he asked me to come in and lead the gelding along at a trot while he dove off.

Of course... the ropers were practicing in the same arena while we did this.

We got funny looks, but we didn't really care.

I had to hop the fence a couple of times when the ropers came at us... nothing I didn't have to do at home working cows, but folks were kind of twitchy when I'd watch the header horse coming at me, and wait till I was sure I was gonna have to before I went up the fence.

It was fun, though, and I stuck around long enough to cheer E on while he was doing his runs.

The rodeo coach's horse had his own little party, while F was chasing steers up into the chute, the horse took off the other direction down the alleyways, chasing the other steers back to their pen, then giving a few bucks to celebrate his good job, and going back to his rider.

Them's some good times, right there.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Battle of Wills

I stride into the barn, pausing a moment in the door to close my eyes and smell the sawdust, traces of sweat, hay and manure.

This is my moment, the moment when the worries of the day fade gently into the background. I roll my head on my neck and shake out my shoulders and arms, feeling the tension slide away into the dusty, scent laden air.

I continue into the barn, finding a convenient piece of wall to lean against, or stretch of concrete to park my sweaty butt on, and wait for roll call.

People stream in the doors, talking, laughing, roughhousing with each other, and I smile at the people I know, exchange a few words, trade advice on how to handle the latest quirks each horse has developed, or exchange stories of past adventures a-horseback. There are always a few boasts that they can ride anything with hair, and I jokingly offer to let them ride my horse, at which point they start muttering about having to exercise their own horses.

The instructors come in, joking with their students, commenting on the progress, or lack thereof, of each horse and rider. The middle of the barn is crowded now, bodies just beginning to sweat from the heat gathered together, twitching limbs and shaking heads in an imitation of the horses in their stalls as flies buzz around in a cloud that seems to multiply daily.

Roll call, names are shouted out, some with short comments or instructions for the day's class, each student answering, some with "here," some "yep" or "yeah," and a few with "ready and rarin to go boss!"

After roll call, instructions are given for each class... there are two at the barn at this time, one with the young colts, just learning the basics of bearing a rider and working in concert, and one, mine, riding the older horses, working on particular quirks and their own riding skill.

Students scatter at the now familiar call of "Saddle up!" Each one goes to their own horse, whether in its stall or out at the hitching rail already, and I walk to the bay's stall.

As I approach, I see through the barred upper part of the stall that he's facing the stall door, ears forward, nostrils flaring as he scents me, knowing what we're going to do, and looking forward to it, as much as I am.

He's a stubborn, independent soul, my horse. Bratty and full of youthful spirit, he knows that I'm going to make him do what he's supposed to, just like I know he's going to try to do things that he's not.

I unfasten his halter from the rail on the stall door, pulling the end of the lead rope to undo the braid that keeps it from dragging on the floor, and slide the door open far enough for me to slip inside.

"Hey, big boy, how are you today?" I eye him, especially his legs, quickly, while I pat his neck and speak softly to him, his ear rotating to catch the sound of my voice and his eyes fixed on the door, eager to get out into the sunshine.

"We're going to have a better day today, aren't we? You're going to do good enough to get some grain when we're done, huh big boy?" I step to his head and reach over his neck, grabbing the head band of the halter with my right hand and swinging the halter up, while he tips his head down and shoves his nose into it, rubbing the side of his head against my forearm as I buckle it on.

"Let's go, bubbah."

Out at the hitching rail the battle begins. Once I have him tied, I go back to the tack room for a curry comb and a brush, to get the dirt and dust out of his coat before I tack him up. By the time I come back he's sidled over until his right side is along the rail, and I begin grooming his left, before walking around him to the small wedge of space he's left me on the right, and putting a hand on his hip. I lean into him, and he leans back, as I talk to him, nonsense mostly, but with a general theme of moving his big butt over for me, until he does. I praise him and pat his neck as I finish the quick pass of grooming, and pat his butt as I walk by, headed back to the tack room to get the dreaded saddle.

Saddling up is a constant stream of soft spoken words, clucks and pats, and I revel in the smell of his hide, the silken glide of his coat under my hands and the familiar weight of the saddle. His ears swivel to catch my voice and the multitude of sounds as everyone is engaged in the same activities as us, some with more success than others, and his head pivots to watch as others walk by, headed for the high arena, or the round pens, or the rodeo arena. We're always one of the last pairs to get to the arena.

Some people ride their horses from the hitching rails to the arena, but the bay and I walk. His breath is hot on my hand and my arm as he follows me, and I keep a gentle pressure forward on the reins. He pretends to be reluctant, but his ears are forward and his eyes are bright, even as his step is sluggish.

Just outside the arena gates I tighten the cinch, and tie it off. His head comes up and he cranes his neck to look at me, a mischievous glint in the depths of his warm brown eye.

"Yeah bud, I know."

Inside the arena I lead him to one side of the gate and face him towards the fence, separating the reins and hooking the off side over the horn before taking a deep breath and squaring my shoulders. I string the near rein back to the horn and gather the off side, shortening the reins until he gives me his head, and step to the stirrup, following him as he backs up, increasing rein pressure and clucking to him to make him back further, before letting him stop and grinning at the amused snort he gives.

I yank on the stirrup, making it pop, and he starts and sidles away, just like he always does. One ear is turned back towards me and I take a moment to chuckle, before setting my left boot in the stirrup, and waiting for him to relax.

Once I swing into the saddle, he tenses again, but the reins are short.. not pulling on his mouth but keeping contact with it, letting him know that I won't let him get away with anything, just now. Leaning down over his shoulder, I adjust my right stirrup, both stirrups being shorter than I usually ride, the better to keep my butt firmly planted on his back.

He shifts slightly and I murmur a soft "whoa," before sitting back up in the saddle.

"All right, baby boy, lets ride." I give him light inside rein pressure and lay the outside rein against his neck, nudging his ribs with the heels of my boots and clucking to him. Just like always, he tries to go back through the gate, back to the barn and his stall, just to see if he can, but I keep him moving past the gate and around the arena, walking a while to loosen him up, and then moving him into a trot.

Everyone is warming up, and there are horses everywhere, walking, trotting, and loping, circles and figure eights, their riders relaxed and flowing, or stiff and nervous, patting necks and cursing under their breath, and while we're walking I have time to appreciate the beauty of the sight. The sun glints off of bays and blacks, sorrels, grullas and grays, riders call encouragement or teasing to each other as they pass, and there's a chaos of missed turns, recalcitrant mounts and over it all the sky is so blue that it hurts the eyes.

The instructor and her assistant come in, and watch us warm up for a few minutes, before calling for us to get on the rail and walk. They're looking for any strains in the horses, or misplaced tack, and soon enough they call out for a slow trot.

I take a deep breath, and increase leg pressure, clucking to the bay and keeping my attention on his ears and the horse in front of me. This is usually the moment of truth for the day. If he tries something, usually turning off the rail to head back to the gate or going faster than everyone else, I have to keep him in line. If I don't manage to curb it now, he'll try harder for the rest of the class. If I do, he'll still try, but he won't expect to get away with it, so he won't try as hard.

He moves into a trot with a little urging, and I shorten my reins to hold him in, he's trying to run over the horse in front of him, a lazy older sorrell that has the slowest slow trot in the class. I slow him almost to a walk and make him maintain the prancing gait for a few strides before I use my right leg to move him to the left, to the inside, to pass the slow horse. I know he can't keep up a trot that slow for long, his legs are too long and he's got a longer trot than any other horse in the class, at the long trot.

His head is up and he's starting to enjoy himself, moving out and loosening up. I feel the difference in his stride and smile to myself, but keep alert.

He's trying to cut the corners, now, coming off the rail at the arena ends and rounding out the turn, and we argue over which way we're going to do things for a moment before he gives in to my leg and rein cues and moves back to the rail.

He knows that when we're on the inside, we're going faster than the other horses, and he's a go-fast kind of horse. At a full gallop its like riding a gleeful avalanche, all thunder and wind whipping at your face and that joyful sense of being perched precariously on top of it all.

He struggles a little when the call comes to slow to a walk, as the instructor gives a student a hint, or a lecture, depending on what's needed. Then the stop, which we're supposed to perform smoothly... the horse stopping on cue and the rider giving the right cues. Some use a verbal "whoa" as well as sitting deep in their saddle and pulling the horse up, and I'm one of them. I've figured out that the bay listens better when you talk to him.

He stops beautifully, and I release the reins, patting him on the neck and praising him, telling him what a big beautiful boy he is. The gray in front of us is feeling frisky and fights the whoa, prancing and dancing forward and back. His rider, a tall young man, starts to get nervous, which communicates itself to his mount, which makes the horse more fractious. The instructor and her assistant are with other students, so I holler out for him to take a deep breath, relax into his seat, and simply block him from going forward, instead of hauling on his head. The gray stops and settles, resigned to standing still, and I shake my head as his rider looks around, rather than praising the correct behavior from his horse.

The call for a walk comes, and then a long trot, and then a lope. I sigh in resignation and begin the argument with the bay over speed. He resists moving into a lope as long as he can, but once he's there, he wants to lope hard, passing everyone and stretching out like a racing thoroughbred. I have to keep him held in, and try to match the speed of the rest of the class. At least I don't have to worry about his leads, he always picks up the proper lead in class, no matter how I have to battle him at any other time.

While we're loping I keep my eyes on his head and neck, paying only minimal attention to those around me. This is a prime time for him to misbehave, the open strides of the lope give him an opening to crow hop or wheel, or he'll drop back into a fast trot with a short stride, decidedly uncomfortable to ride.

Watching his neck and feeling for the tensing of his muscles under my legs that heralds his ornery coming to the surface, I sink into a place inside myself that I only reach on horseback. It's a nice place, peaceful and calm, and the outside world intrudes only so much as I let it. It's as if I'm surrounded by a cool refreshing breeze on a summer's day, while simultaneously being curled up in a big fluffy comforter on a cold winter's night. It's every home cooked meal I've ever eaten with my family laughing and talking around me, and it's quiet nights in a tent with only the stars and the crickets for company.

This is why I ride, even stubborn, restless horses like the bay. This place where the cares of the world don't just fade into the background, they vanish entirely, and its all peace, and joy. This is the place in my mind that I can't find anywhere else, not in music or books, not in learning, or teaching, or meditation. Just here, on the back of a horse. It doesn't matter that there's sweat rolling down my back, soaking my hat band and running down my cheeks. It doesn't matter that there are a dozen other people in the class, the instructors shouting directions and students cussing at their horses. I hear it all, respond to the directions, but I don't really hear it.

What I hear is the bellows of the bay's breathing, the rhythm of his hooves in the sand, the creak of my saddle and the faint sound of the breeze in my ears. What I see is the shine of his coat, the way the sun brings out the red in his coat, as if someone painted him with copper.

Even the battles bring me joy, pitting my will against his, anticipating his thoughts and feeling his movements before he completes them, teaching him something new every day, and realizing from his body language, the way he responds, the way he "talks" to me, that he's enjoying things just as much as I am, and that the battle is more of a game.

All too soon, the call comes to cool them out, and I come back to the world, to realize that the rodeo team is practicing in the other arena, shouts and whistles and the bellowing of the calves as they practice their roping. Some of the other students look exhausted, even though they have the more cooperative horses. Some of the horses are coated in sweat, lathered and blowing hard.
I slip my fingers between the blanket and his shoulder, feeling the sweat and heat from his muscles. He got some exercise today, but he's not overly hot, it won't take long for him to cool out. He's not blowing hard, he's in good shape, and he's used to being out in pasture all the time, with room to run and buck and be a horse, so this is nothing for him.

We walk a couple of circuits of the arena, and then trot a couple, with me holding him to a slow trot, and then walk a couple more so that his muscles can cool down again, before I take him to the gate and make him stop and stand for a few moments, and then dismount.

We walk back down to the barn and I unsaddle him and put my tack away, clean his stall, and then bring him inside.

When I pull off his halter and pat his neck, he turns his head and whuffles at my shirt, nosing me gently.

"You're right, bud, we had a good ride today. See you tomorrow."