Thursday, July 10, 2008

The Pioneer Spirit

Bonnie and Apryl go on a hike-

Some things never change – or at least I seem to have adventures at 50 that reflect how I was at 10.

When I was a 10 year old- I was staying with my favorite Aunt and my cousin.. I decided that my cousin and I should have a picnic and hike to the back of the property to eat our PBJs… My Aunt Judy being the trusting sort made us a lovely lunch and off we went – surely we would not go far…Well two hours later – she picked us up at a neighbors turkey farm – she was well how should we say – not happy.… You see the lure of that next—more beautiful spot, then the next – and the next…t had lead me to a stream and 3 feet of muck – in which my cousin lost her PF fliers to the mud goddess. She cried.. and I got mad – or scared or a little of both…. She was four…and now we were in the woods all alone.. and I had no idea how to get back.. -the pioneer spirit in me was in full swing --- I kept moving – hoping to find something familiar before the coyotes ate us. Thankfully - the mud goddess accepted our offering and lead us to a turkey farm when my aunt was called and we were IN TROUBLE.( Sorry Annjeanette)

So fast forward to today…Bonnie – my Clydesdale mare and I rode in the arena – life was good—Mike and Logan were pulling up old fence posts – life on the ranch was good… so I thought we would take Bonnie on a the east 40 – so get us ready for our Trail ride weekend coming up. Now the east 40 is a vast WILDERNESS….grass as high as your eye.. fallen branches and trees – ahh a great obstacle course for us. SO off we went. I dismounted and lead her.. ( I am not THAT courageous)—this is the place where deer make their home—there is a ravine – a pond – black berry bushes – lots of tall green grass- trees with low hanging branches….hidden springs and pools of water, did I mention the springs? She followed me like a trooper – eyes all keen and interested ,, ears on me.. eating the occasional head of ripened grass. Hmm I thought – looks like a place where there might be ticks.. ahh no matter.

We walked on – she watched carefully where her feet went – in the waist high grass – but she could see the rocks and logs that I could not.. and went over them with ease… We were having FUN!!! She trusted me…she was having a great time.. so on to the next beautiful spot.—a little more dense—leading down to a pretty LITTLE stream—hmm a little marshy. Well lets see how she does with that. Splash! She did great—following, pleasantly eating the more lush green grass that grew by the springs that wound around the little valley we were in. Well now time to cross a BIG stream – about knee deep – so I stepped out first – and immediately sunk to almost my knees --- Bonnie had already started to come. I slowed her some and she found a gravel bar to stand on while I struggled to get out of the mud – If I believed in anthropomorphism… I would tell you she was smiling at her superior position, I think I heard her giggle. He spritely face covered in mud splashes.. She DID have a twinkle in her eye.

OHHHH!!! look ahead – once we Squeeze through these trees and under that one…. we walk down the stream ( knee high..) up on this bank – oh look --there are the trees that surround the pond. Bonnie does a number on the creek bed with those large hooves and mucks through the mud…did I tell you there was lots of springs and marshy mud? I never realized there were so many little springs or tributaries down there.. they are everywhere. SO the closer we get to the pond… the marshier it gets and the farther we sink if we stand still. Marsh to the left—pond to the right and in front of us the canon wall… hmm don’t think we can climb that vertical thing. If we just stand here we will be gone in two minutes, without a trace.

OK so now I am starting to think about how we are going to get out of here.. going back the way we came would be traveling through the places we had been and sunk deep and made 4 foot holes in the ground. Bonnie was happy – she didn’t care- she was on an adventure… and eating lush grass. She after all is a big stron Clydesdale with a rear made of steel. She followed me with enthusiasm.. sinking and pushing herself out of the mire like she did it every day. Back into the stream..I am not sure how it grew in size since we went through it a few minutes ago. I stepped where she had stepped and sunk above my kneecaps – and could NOT get out… Bonnie was sinking and using those powerful hinds quarters to push past me – so I undid her rope and let her lead the way – that was the most savvy thing I have done in a long time. As she walked by me – I grabbed the stirrup and let her help me out of the sink hole. The she looked up and lead me to a place I NEVER would have tried. Tall brush – but she could see over them, they were not stickers – or locusts or setting in 3 feet of mud. She made a trail for me .. and we walked out together. Back into the tall grass and back to civilization both of us glistening with black mud – and water lines to our bellies. Splattered with muck and mire--- the only thing white on either of us was my smile. She and I walked side by side for a ¼ mile. Loving the feel of wet and mud and the companionship of a shared adventure. I was so happy with how far we have come…not only tonight but over the last few years.

We walked back to the feed house where I have her a nice portion of grain..and my husband came to greet us. He kindly recommended that I undress outside and burn my clothes before I came in. So here I am 2 showers, 1 hairwash , 7 ticks and 1 pr of thrown out socks later…and alright… I know it maybe was not the best idea to go on a hike like that.. but sometimes my pioneer spirit calls… and now the mud goddess is with me.. in her furry Clydesdale form.

Friday, July 4, 2008

July 4th Weekend

Our yard is large and FULL of clover. We had been letting Image and Scout ( they are constant companions) graze in the yard - what a blast it is to look outside and see those big horses right outside the living room windows. We started adding a horse here and there and yesterday had 6 our there. No need to mow this weekend! The baby is wonderful -- he had a bout with rain rot when it was so wet -- but we are over that and beyond a few bare patches he is cute and adorable and loved by the herd. His legs are so long -- he is really having trouble reaching the grass... soooo he has a cute little habit... he lays down and eats that way.....heheh My Niece Maddy came over and rode Raven and Bonnie.. they had a lot of fun and all did well. Raven seemed to like it - although yesterday she went to the end of the pasture when I came out to get Scotty - I have ridden Bonnie a few times and she is progressing - we are now riding in the yard when the others are in their pasture. She seems to have made a change - that this stuff is not so bad -- and she likes hanging out with me.. I have been making a pile of apples in various places when we ride and take her to them...that is her favorite. Mom rode her too...Bonnie is moving forward now at a walk with a little squeeze and stopping with a seat drop -- all at the walk mind you... we are trotting her and I am looking forward to the canter. She has this rocket action in her strong hind quarters. When she goes from a walk to a trot -- she gathers up and "Springs" her hind end a little. Even when you ask easily..... It is pretty comical. I have to say - I am really enjoying her- she and I are quickly becoming real buddies.. and that is what I wanted -- more than riding - more that driving... - that horse... can't wait to bring her to more things. Day before yesterday -- Mom was working her laoding skils and she was doing great... and I thought ...I WONDER......HMMMM. I circled her a little - then sat on the fender of the trailer and asked her to load herself.. she walked up -- looked in ,, decided naw... and we did another gentle circle... I asked again and she walked up, thought about it.. and hopped in, all by her little self....what a time we will hook up the truck and take her for a short tide -- then let her out.. I think she knew we are not going anywhere...I thought I might toake her up the road -- let her out and give her and apple or some grain... rest a few and get back in. I think within the month I will be able to ride her around the farm and when I can do that -- I think we can go on a trail ride.-- we walk her around the town like a puppy. and she is doing well with that. Mom says that Bonnie and I -- and the saddle make a very balanced attractive picture.:-) I was thinking that I had not "done enough " with them this weekend .. not enough work -- but then I thought -- I have been outside with the herd in the yard almost all weekend -- swishing flies for this one -- scratching that one when I walked to the feed shed, Spraying Winnie with water when I was watering flowers.. having my coffee with them-- nudging the sleeping Shadow baby when the herd left...driving one away when they were cranky......I lived with them -- was part of the herd. There is value....great value -- to my soul if nothing else... Image is settling in..I think I am lucky having so many left brained introverts... I don't have to change style a lot when working with them... She is now not mugging me until I get to the feed trough... she used to mug me the whole way -- and she is starting to move out of my way better.. a long way to go... pretty fun though.. she goes to her "happy place" pretty easy ... but I have a bag full of tricks...:-) I think she will really end up being a great horse. So - two years ago -- I stood in the pickup bed scared to death holding scouts halter as mike gave him immunizations.... 3 years ago _ watched in disgust and terror as my father in law and brother in law tied a terrified scout to a tree to give him a shot.... all panicked and fighting the whole way...I went home and said never again.I cried for hours. This week -- I GAVE ALL OF THE SHOTS -- no ropes -- no halters. Walked up to each grazing animal -- petted -- pinched and smacked the side of the neck...checked the response.. if they didnt care.. I gave the shot. if they did. I then went to another horse and tried later. So within a week everyone -- including Tango had been vaccinated with 4 way and west nile. It is so easy to not acknowledge the progress we make - sometimes our progress is measured in years. And I knew that when I got into Naturalhorsemanship. I do miss riding with you... but I also know that you are with me in horse spirit.. and we will ride again together!! That is enough for now... more later.