Saturday, February 22, 2014

Why I Drink...

Some mother/daughter quality time.
Normally I look at the time I spend at the barn as my downtime.  You know, my happy place.  The place where I relax and unwind after a long day at work.  The place where I get to share my love of horses and riding with my children.  Blissful perfection, yes?


The night started out well.  We got out of the house on-time. There was very little traffic.    Sophie rode Sugar and I rode James.  We both had good rides.

Then it started to unravel.  Soph finished first, and when I brought James in, Soph had put Sug back in her stall and was busy cleaning tack.  As I walked over to Soph she got a weird look on her face and then immediately looked away from me.

"What's up?" I asked.

"Nothing," was her reply.  Oh-kaaaaaaay. My Mom-dar was pinging but I decided not to push the issue.

While I untacked James I looked over at Soph and said, "I'd like to get out of here early, so can you clean my tack?"

And there it was.  The big eye-roll, the big drawn-out sigh, and then, "I knew you were going to ask me that.  You always make us clean your tack. What-everrrrrrrr."

3...2...1...BLASTOFF!!!!!  My vision went red, my blood pressure spiked, steam came out of my ears, and I'm pretty sure my head exploded.

Yes, I could have chosen to let this slide, shrugged it off, or simply reiterated my request. That would have been the mature thing to do.  (Just for the record, I do plenty of tack cleaning.  My own, and the kids.')

I did not go the mature route. I proceeded, in clipped tones, to remind Sophie of how many times I'd cleaned her tack, rolled her wraps, picked up her horse's stall, run back to the truck at horse shows to retrieve forgotten bows/garters/gloves, cleaned up the wash stall after she made a mess out of it, put away her grooming kit, wrapped her horse's legs, tacked her horse up, and helped her groom. I ticked off each bullet point in rapid fire succession, my voice getting louder as I made each point.  I even decided to list all the things I'd ever done for her, starting at conception, because yeah, I was on that kind of a roll.

Oh yeah, I was playing the guilt card.  You bet I was.  There was a point to be proved, dammit.

She stared at me, mouth open and eyes wide, as I delivered the coup de grace, "Now you can clean my tack AND pick out both horse's stalls."

We finished the barn chores in silence, which continued on the ride home.  At one point I considered throwing out a conversational peace offering, then thought better of it.  "Let her stew," I thought.  I had nothing to apologize for, and I can play the silence game as well as anybody. (Yep, that's me, a model of maturity. NOT!)

Soph cracked first.  She asked me how my ride was. "Fine."  A mile further down the road she asked if I was hungry. "Nope." About 10 minutes later she caved and apologized, which I accepted gracefully, the model of parental grace and maturity.  She then proceeded to go into a dissertation on her thoughts regarding the afterlife, major religious dogmas, and her hair (should she cut it, straighten it, get anti-frizz serum or a conditioning mask?)  I just drove, trying desperately to keep up with the wildly vacillating topics of conversation.

At one point she looked at me out of the corner of her eye and said, "I'm why you drink wine, aren't I?"

"You're a big part of the reason, sweetie," I replied.

I believe honesty is important in child-rearing.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

It's Good To Be The Queen...

Sug loooooves when Aunt Carolyn visits!

Sug would like everyone think she has a rough life.  That's a load of horse-hooey.  Bless her heart, she does have to put up with a lot from the kids and I.  Heaven knows she's had to save our bacon many times, whether its doing her best Superman impression when we find yet another long spot or just staying beneath us when we decide we want to take off before she does and jump ahead of her.

However, no one who know her is buying what she's trying to sell.  Anyone who has bordered with us knows Sug's Aunt Carolyn, who comes to massage and laser away her ouchies.  She's got Ryan, her favorite farrier, giving her mani/pedis every couple of weeks.  Her Aunt Amy stops by from time to time to adjust her spine and administer some acupuncture - Sug absolutely loves the pointy feel-good needles!  Sooooo relaxing and they take all the aches away.

And, of course, there are the treats.  The Sainted Mare gets her special Kool Aid (a bucket of water with some grain and electrolytes in it) after a ride to keep her hydrated.  She gets plenty of carrots from us and from her Aunt Maryalice.  Then there are the special treats: Sug goes absolutely nuts for Boston Creme donuts, chocolate chip cookies, Oreos, pears, grapes, and popcorn.  She puts her special cute face on so you know how very much she would like to share your snack with you.

Are you gonna share that popcorn, Sophie?

So yeah, it's good to be the Queen.  We should all have it so good.

What do you do to spoil your precious pony?

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Valentine, Schmalentine...

Someone is NOT pleased...

The Princess of Pulchritude's rather long schnoz is a bit out of joint right now.  Seems a certain holiday went by with no message from her sweetheart.  No card, no flowers, mints, no hay bag.  Not even a text!  

As you might surmise, the date in question was February 14th, aka Valentine's Day.  Of course Sug got a plethora of treats from yours truly and the kids, but you know as well as I do that Valentine's trinkets from a parent, no matter how thoughtful, are not the same as those that come from that special someone.  

The Sainted Mare's sweetie, Tucker the Wunderkind, has always been the model Valentine, showering Sug with sweet billet doux such as this:

But this Valentine's Day passed without any word from her swain.  I told Sug that her favorite bay gelding has been very busy lately.  He moved barns, he's been training in a new discipline (dressage) and he recently did a clinic with Pierre St. Jacques, which must have put a lot of pressure on him.  

I don't think Sug was believing anything I was saying.   She normally doesn't set much store in manufactured holidays and takes things like this in her stride, however I suspect darker forces are at work here.  February 14th isn't the only special day in February - February 26th is a pretty important day, as it's the anniversary of The Sainted Mare's birth.  As she is turning 18 this year, I think she's starting to worry about aging.  She recently asked me if I thought her tush wasn't as tight as it used to be, and wondered if maybe we should do a little more collected work to firm things up a bit.  She also asked if the Eqyss Avocado Mist we use came in an anti-wrinkle/ retinol version.

Sug is nothing if not a strong woman, however, and is determined not to let a little hiccup in the road of love get her down.  Just this morning she put a little more sway in her strut as we passed some of the geldings' stalls on our way to the arena today.

I told her she's like a good red wine, and only gets better with age.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

When You Want to Have It All...

This is not my yacht.

Let's face it, most of us who are involved in horses are not exactly up there with the Firestones, Kellers, Dinans, and other super well-off equestrians that seem to have an endless supply of monetary resources.  I mean, yeah, if we have a horse then it goes without saying that we are better off than many in this world.  If saying "I have a horse" does not mean you have some discretionary income, I don't know what does.

But you know, that's kinda like saying "I have a boat."  I can tell someone I have a boat, but that would refer either to the family kayak or the rowboat.  My father-in-law can say he has a boat, and that would be his 21' motorboat.  I have friends who can say they have a boat, and that would refer to a big ol' motor yacht that is, quite frankly, way nicer than my house!

Basically, it's all relative.  Doesn't mean we can't wish we had unlimited funds or could move to Wellington for the winter.  Doesn't mean we can't wish to be able to buy a new piece of tack versus a used one. Just means we're better off than some, worse off than others, but still pretty damn lucky to be a part of this sport.

This is my yacht.

My friend Malin (a wonderful lady whom I met through this blog) wrote this piece for Horse Junkies United that talks about this very topic.  I thought she was brave and honest in what she wrote, and thought it was worth posting a link here on AWIP.

You can read more of Malin's thoughts on her journey with her mare, Pippi, on HJU and at her blog, I Pick CRAZY.

And again, thanks for taking time out of your busy day to hang out at AWIP!

Friday, February 7, 2014

Perfect Friday Night...

Tall, handsome, dark-haired gentleman who likes
long walks in the woods, cuddling, and massages.
Okay, so I should probably be sharing an update an how my last couple lessons went.  Better yet, I should be uploading the videos my husband took from one of those lessons to YouTube.

Oh well, so much for doing what I should be doing.

You're not gonna judge, right?

Wanna know how to have a fabulous Friday night?  Ride your kids' horse.  Then give him a massage. Seriously, I kid you not.

Poor ol' James was feeling a bit stiff and creaky tonight and so was I, so I let Noah ride Sug and James and I just puttered about, with me letting him go long and low and playing around with some bendy work.  No muss, no fuss, just good, clean funsies.

When we were done Noah cleaned my tack so I could give James a massage. Holy crap, that horse told me so clearly where to put my hands and how much pressure to use it was as if he was speaking English!  I mean, any horse will tell you what feels good and what doesn't, but James took it a step further.  If I put my hands on an area where he wanted pressure, he'd lean into me and press himself into my hands at the angle he wanted and with the amount of pressure he wanted.  And when that area felt better, he'd shift himself and show me what he wanted until my hands found the next ouchie spot.  Have you ever been getting a massage from someone and instead of just telling the person, "Up to the right a bit and press harder" you find yourself squirming and wiggling and trying to direct them with  body language?  Well, that's what James was doing.

I swear, that horse is such a smart cookie!  When I massage Sug, she'll often turn her head to rest her muzzle on my arm and groom me, which I swear is her way of saying "Thank you."  She's also been known to present her rump to me if she wants a bit of a tushie-rub. Both horses tell me I'm doing something right by blinking, chewing, yawning or sighing, but James takes his communication up a notch. At one point he moved his neck until my hands hit the right spot, and then he rubbed his neck up and down and into my hands, almost like he was trying to scratch an itch.  When I worked on his triceps and deltoids he'd pick his front leg up, lean in to the pressure, and then extend the leg again when I'd finished the movement.  It was wild!  He was totally directing the show, and it was just such a cool level of communication.

He was clearly enjoying himself to the utmost, and his relief and relaxation were so visible I felt like I was Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny all rolled into one.

Noah and I celebrated a great night with the ponies by going to our favorite pizza joint after we left the barn. When we got home I grabbed a glass of wine, a book, and took a nice long bath.

Yep, pretty much the ideal Friday night. :)