July 29th, 2001

You must be joking

horse-related aphorisms

On fencing:
Keep the grub and the company inside the fence more appealing than the grub and the company outside the fence. And pray regularly.

On health:
If it's going in one end and coming out the other, things can't be all bad.
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    silly silly
You must be joking

inventory

Hard to tell what you need if you don't know what you have. It can be fun to rediscover what you've forgotten you own. And my horse stuff simply isn't organized, so this was a good excuse to pull it together and figure out where it needs to go. (Actually, I know where I want to keep it -- in the utility room where the washer and dryer are. I just need a saddle rack and some hooks in there.)

Onward. In a box in the corner of the dining room -- my dressage saddle (bought used, but I don't think I've ever used it myself) with stirrups and leathers (those I've used -- the saddle I had then went with Paloma, but that is another story.) Dusty, but blessedly the leather has forgiven me its neglect -- it's not cracked. A Troxel sport helmet; the sweat band is detaching a bit from the inside, but the important bits are all there. A 5" D-ring snaffle with a sweet iron mouth. I think I bought that for Paloma, too.

In the storage closet -- a 22" dressage girth, leather. Leather?! What in the name of all the sweet gods was I thinking? Unused, of course. Dusty. And a hay bag, which should really migrate to the trailer it was intended for.

Outside, the really neglected bits and pieces. A nice wool Western saddle blanket, and a couple of fleece English pads, which at least are up on the table and safe from being rained on in the rainy season. A nice flat-sided blue bucket, containing an ungodly miscellany of bits and pieces. A 4.5" D-ring snaffle with a thick hard-plastic mouthpiece. Useless on Arabs with small mouths. A harsh bosal, and the nosepiece of a mechanical hackamore - useless, ditto. A cheap blue nylon bridle (with a 5" D-ring snaffle in it), which I'd forgotten I owned! Find! A humane twitch (ditto on the "forgotten"). Grain scoop, bath sponge, small container of shampoo. Much of this was given to me by a friend who was going out of horses.

And not to neglect yesterday's clean-out of the two grooming totes -- enough brushes for 2 horses each to have their own set, plus 3 extra soft brushes, plus hoofpicks, a spare lead rope, a weight tape, and all the usual mane combs and such, plus fly spray, coat shine spray, mane detangler and lanolin ointment for scrapes.

And the stuff which I know right where it is and doesn't need to move: 2 horses, with halters and leads, munching on a pile of hay; a truck and a trailer (I really like my truck), riding boots which I dislike mostly because they have to be worn with heavy hot socks. And years of good experiences and time spent learning on and around and about horses, which is something that won't leave me, short of catastrophic failure of the nervous system.

Not much in the tangible sense, but riches indeed.
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    mellow mellow
You must be joking

preparation

Trip had a Small Bookstore Accident. By that measure, I had a Medium Tackstore Incident. But I now have a nice medium-quality bridle -- Swiss-made, neither trash nor top of the line -- and praise the Lady, it fits Petit Point without my having to punch extra holes.

So as I pulled in the driveway, I was thinking about having about an hour of sunlight, and feeling very motivated to at least attempt getting on Petit Point's back... and then a German Shepherd flashed past my peripheral vision as I was parking the truck. What the FUCK?

Sable, whom I had left shut in my bedroom with water and a chew toy (as an alternative to setting up her crate, which is currently in the truck bed and weighs 55 pounds and likes to try to snack on my toes as I haul it in and out of the house) had apparently gone through the screened window in the bedroom and had herself a fine time roaming the neighborhood.

What I wanted to do: pick her up and shake her, while screaming.

What I did: went into the house, snagged my helmet and the aforementioned sweet-iron snaffle, shut her into the laundry, and went to play with my horse. Sunset isn't waiting on anyone. Snarling at Sable would only train her not to greet me -- counterproductive at best.

(I learned at eleven or so -- if you're mad at the horse, don't kick the horse. Kick the barn. Sometimes I even remember it in time.)

So I sashayed into the pasture, and put my new toy together, and fit it onto Petit Point. At one point I had to rescue the reins from Julian, who was ready to tow Petit Point around by them. (And I made the mistake of leaving the unnecessary flash noseband on the fence, within his reach -- yep, that got chewed too. A fine and helpful horse, Julian is.)

So I carefully led Petit Point into the backyard and started assessing various local features in terms of their usefulness as mounting blocks. Petit Point, for her part, goggled and made horrified faces at the notion of being separated from Julian by 20 feet. Inside the fence, Julian made similar faces and noises. Herd species. Gotta love them.

Wwwwwait, I said to myself. Let's run a checkout here, see what the sweet thing remembers while I'm safely down on the ground. So we did some change of direction exercises, then I asked her to stand still for a while as I fussed over her mane. Now that was difficult. Standing still 20 feet away from her paddock with a new bridle on her head and my wearing a helmet was a mindboggling concept. So I made sure to pick up on the reins when she was jittering around, and promptly drop the contact when she was standing. So after I was good and done removing the tangle I'd spotted, and when she was in fact standing, we did some more changes of direction, so she could do something constructive with all that nervous energy, and finished with a quiet horse standing and waiting for what I wanted.

QUIT while you are AHEAD, says the training part of the brain. So I put her out. Tomorrow, we'll do this again, only I'll spend a little time grooming her first, and I'll use a longer line with the changes of direction. Do this for a week and being taken away from Julian will be old hat, which is something I need for the Oregon trip. And maybe she'll stand still without boggling next to one of those big rocks, and I'll climb on without either of us suffering a traumatic incident.

Of course it hadn't actually occurred to me (until I wrote this down) that I should be fooling with her more if I want her to behave as if I'm someone she knows when we're in Oregon. So now you know why I blather all this personal stuff. What I want to know from you is, why on earth do you bother reading it? Haven't you got your lap full of your own self-revelation? (There's a comment link over there; use it.)
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