Monday, August 17, 2009

Mouthy Mondays

I loved this story. Loved, loved, loved it. Wish we had a blog or website address.....
I just remembered I had a question about leaning on the bit. I'll try to get to this today. Dressage folks can help here, I think my methods are close.

In the mean time....

*I wish you would get rid of ALL your animals!*

I could not believe those words came out of my father's mouth. My father. Felix. My partner in crime. My shotgun-riding cohort in most of my horsey adventures. My rock. My go-to man. My mother used to get so furious *You are JUST like your father*.......and I would tell her *That's the NICEST thing anyone has said to me today!!!*

*I wish you would get rid of ALL your animals.*
My husband of 35 years is a city kid, born and bred. We live out here, on land I grew up on, in the middle of no where.....and I know he does it for love of me. He refuses to have anything to do with my outside critters because he fell off a horse when he was 10 and broke his wrist. That's ok, I can live with long as he doesn't interfere with my horses and goaties.
He doesn't. He never asks about the vet bills, he never grumbles about the hay in the garage. He has no desire to know how much I have invested in saddles/bits/silver, he says he would probably faint if he knew.
He's right. He would.
He pretty much leaves me go my merry way in anything horsey.
It works.

But Felix, the world's coolest father, the 88 year old retired farmer who chops wood by hand *for exercise*, the man who thought he was done with fences and sick animals, with making hay and helping me pick out a tractor.......he's my go-to man. He has made me a *lady-sized* fence pounder. He carefully divides pears into equal sections so no one critter (3 horses, 1 goat in the field) gets more than another.

When I lost my filly in the dead of winter, it was Felix who called in a favor the local gravedigger owed him........and the guy came out in -17F weather with his backhoe to bury Tessa.......and charged me $50. All because I could not bear to let her go to the rendering company.

When I brought home a coming yearling colt, it was Felix who put up a recycled funeral tent in our backyard so Cisco would have shelter while new colt waited for the gelding bus. I have no idea how he did it by himself, I helped him take it down, and it was almost too much for both of us.

Cisco. LOL.....I turned 48, had been out of horses for almost 25 years........but there he was. A 7 year old dapple grey arab stallion. For sale. $900. My all time dream horse. Felix thought I was insane. But he helped me convert the boathouse to a snug little stable........he borrowed a trailer from someone.......and Cisco came home to our backyard.
Cisco quickly became a gelding........and I added 2Sox, a 12 year old arab mare to the mix.
When I told Felix I wanted to breed 2Sox, and I had found a stallion about 30 miles away, he about laughed his head off.
*You had a good stallion, and you gelded him. Now you're going to PAY to breed your mare????*
But guess who hauled 2Sox back and forth the 3 times we tried to get her to settle???
Yup, Felix.

Don't ask me HOW I knew, but I knew I would never have Cisco the years and years I wanted........and I was right. I fed one night, and he was fine, begging treats, just being a sweet prince. He was only 18.
The next morning, I found him dead in the corral. Heart attack, stroke, whatever........he was dead. There were no signs of a struggle, looked like he just lay down and went to sleep.
It was early Spring, so Felix dug the hole, and we carefully moved Cisco down, next to Tessa. I managed to hold it all together until the last scoop of dirt was patted into place on the grave.

Then I pretty much came unhinged. Instead of hugging me and telling me it would be alright, those awful words came out of his mouth:

*I wish you would get rid of ALL your animals.*

Certainly not what I wanted to hear, but it did stop the tears long enough for me to ask *Why would you say such a thing?*
His answer was:
*Because I see how much it hurts, every time you lose a critter........and I don't like to see you hurting so bad.*
But he still helps......and he knows I won't give up my animals.
Almost 4 years ago, I had to have our lab, Velvet, put down. I wrapped her in a blanket, and Felix and I dug a hole in the rain, down in my *pet cemetery*.......down by Cisco and Tessa, several cats, and countless ferrets. It's getting pretty crowded down there. A high spot towards the front of our 2 acre lot, covered with white violets in the Spring, it's a peaceful place that, yup, Felix picked it out as the best spot.

2 years ago, I lost my old old Nubian doe, Gabby. Felix and I went down to dig the grave. We both thought we were far enough away from anything else buried down there (I am sadly behind on markers).......when all of a sudden, he raised his tractor forks, and there was a purple blanket caught on one.
*What the hell???*
*Oh, stop, STOP!!! OMG, you dug up Velvet!!!*
*Yup, she's still dead, too!!!*

Gabby went to her final resting place with more laughter than tears.......and closer to Velvet than she probably thought she should be......LOL
Felix. The world's coolest Dad.......who saw nothing wrong with giving me a chainsaw for Christmas last I can keep the branches trimmed off on the corral fencing.......LOL......


  1. AWESOME story! Reminded me a ton of my dear old dad.

    Thanks for the smiles, and the tears. :)

  2. Dads HATE to see their little girls cry, no matter how old each of them are! What a blessing to have your dad as your sidekick and also for support.

  3. That is an amazing story!! Thanks for sharing! Dad's are amazing, I hope mine is as cool as yours when he's 88 years old!!

  4. Great Story!!! Makes me miss my Dad, he was always into something or supporting me in what I had gotten into. He left way too young.

    Subject change - training question. How do you teach a horse to break at the pole? You probably already covered this, or are calling it something else, if so steer me to the right post. My speed walker is coming along very nice and I see now that he's slowed down there are alot of holes in his training.

  5. I have a conditioning question to put out here. I'm switching for a while from 3x/week riding to 1x/week riding. Just a couple of months hopefully. What I want to know is this: How much do I have to lay off the lil' mare now that she's not out as much. Can a horse thats only out once a week still lope about a mile or do I need to cut it back?

    (We cannn-ter of course, in our little dressage saddle but I really like the word lope. Loowwwwpe. Flows off the tongue better. Loooooowwwwpe. This is the only place I use it.) (Can you tell I'm a little sleepy?)

  6. Tears. Welling. Up. Darnit!

    Felix reminds me of my grandfather, who is nothing short of a father to me. Hates seeing his little girl cry. He almost took me out of horse rescuing because of that, but he saw how much I loved it still....

    Very good story. We need a blog address lol!

  7. I loved this story, it was so awesome... Her husband sounds a lot like my dad... If he only knew what we pay to keep our horses and the money we spend on them. He however can't much complain anymore when he bought mom a new horse last year for Christmas.

  8. that should go into a Chicken Soup for the Fathers and Daughters book!

  9. Great story! you were blessed to have a father who supports you so much.

  10. That was an excellent story, and I have to say the end made me laugh. Funny, in a morbid sort of way.

  11. I am so glad that you have such an awesome dad!! Mine was like yours and I really miss him! Please, take a minute to tell that awesome father, in actual words, how cool he is and how much you love and appreciate him. It was the last think I ever got to do with my dad before he died and four yrs later, I am still glad that I took the time for it... btw - dad was quite embarrassed but it has truly helped get along without him.

    Thank you for sharing your story.

  12. Great story - very touching! It makes me think a lot of my dad, who sacrificed a lot so my sister and I could have horses.

  13. Mugwump, not too long ago you posted something in the comments about training your horse to lean away when mounting. I don't remember how much detail you went into. My horse periodically "unlearns" how to stand still when I mount. She isn't necessarily unsafe about it, but it’s quite annoying. When I put my foot in the stirrup she leans into me, when I stand up in the stirrup she takes a couple steps inward, then stops and waits for me to get on. Because I know its coming I can still safely get on, but I plan on having this horse for many years to come and the day will arrive when her antics could make mounting difficult. Could you direct me to the date you posted about teaching them to lean the other way, or could you post more details on how to reteach her to stand still? I think I've let her get away with it too long this time and my usual methods aren’t getting through to her.

  14. Really great story - it IS the worst thing 'bout owning our animals. They sure take a chunk out of our hearts when they go...

  15. FABULOUS! Huge applause from all of us in the Swamplands.

    bange = the result of a 4-year-old's haircut on her 3-year-old brother.

  16. Great great story. I really wish I had the gift of writing.

    Mugwump - I'd also be interested in being directed to any posts regarding a horse that fidgets when I mount (both leaning into me and taking a few steps forward). I know she was great and stood still when I bought her, so obviously it's something I'm doing, just not sure what? Lately I've been mounting and standing still for a minute or so (halting her if she moves off), so hopefully she learns not to preempt me my moving off straight away coz "it's what we always do".

    I would also be very much interested in knowing if you have done posts on the horse who rushes in the jog and lope - and the silly rider who instinctively wants to haul back on her mouth even though I KNOW I shouldn't and I'm fighting it!! I'm terrified I'm going to ruin the soft sensitive mouth of my mare and undo the 12 years of training she's had with my clumsy heavy handed riding.

  17. Do. Not. Want. To think about losing my old gelding... it's been years since I've lost a pet. And it sucks. Great story... I too have the non-horsey yet non-interfering husband.

  18. Thank you for your kind comments. I feel very honored that Mugs used my story. Alas, I don't blog, and I have no website......technically challenged, you know (just ask Son #2....LOL).

    Someday I'll type out the story of *Why My Horses Live In A Toilet*.....courtesy of Felix....LOL.....
    Hadn't had Cisco more than a couple weeks when he decided to go on walkabout one night. He lifted the access gate off its pins, and went out for a stroll.
    My phone rang about 3am.
    Mom: *Diane, are you missing a horse????*
    Me: (barely conscious) *Uh, no, I don't think so.*
    Mom: *Diane, yes you are. You're Father is bringing him home now.*

    By time I had scrambled into some clothes, and turned on the outside lights, here came Cisco and Felix up the driveway. Cisco was wearing his halter, Felix was wearing his Hanes jockeys and a pair of elkhide slippers.
    ROF....Mom was jolted out of a sound sleep by the rattle/bang/creaking of her birdfeeder. She looked out the window, expecting to see a raccoon raiding it......but nope, it was Cisco, slurping birdseed in as fast as he could with his long ol' slippery tongue.....LOL....

    Felix fixed the gate the next day.

  19. Oh so very sweet. I love your dad already. Thanks for sending your story to mugwump so we all could enjoy it.

  20. So there's really a Gelding Bus? they do exist? And they're full of Fugly and co in jeans, boots and colourful shirts knocking back Margaritas and cracking jokes, while dishing out whup-ass to abusive horse owners, right? Kind of like "Even Cowgirls Get the Blues" takes to the highway. Anyway, that's how I imagine it.

    Lovely story! I like the way you set us up for a really mean episode and really it so wasn't!

  21. That was a great story, Diane, thank you!
    Not only do you have a fabulous father, but you also know how to tell a story…
    A blog, please? Get that son #2 to help out ;)
    I also loved the follow-up about your smart birdseed-eating runaway, lol!

  22. Love this! Made me miss my dad even more...

  23. Lol, my dad's the same way, but 1500 miles east of me. And my husband too gets some lonely nights when I go to the barn.

    He hasn't so much as SAT on my horse, but was willing to front the money for a rescue (fell through-long story).

  24. Absolutely wonderful story. I'd always wanted my dad to be like that. You were truly blessed~~

  25. Definitely a great story :) Reminds me of the saying "better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all." No matter how much it breaks your hear, the good times win over the bad :)

  26. Loved the story and the follow-up! Start the blog and make Son#2 earn his keep by keeping you up and running :o) Makes me jealous though, my dad was a dairy farmer and I don't know how many times I heard "you can't make money in horses"! Maybe not but you can sure have a lot of fun!!! Probably why I'm still willing to go the financial distance to own my own!

  27. Great story!

    Off topic, but Mugs you asked me to let you know when I was ready for more on my loping issue. However, there has been a "new development" that I would like your input on. Sorry in advance, because this is probably going to be long.

    I have been working on lateral flexion pretty intensely for a few weeks now (I ride 4x/wk) and she's still not great, but tons better. She's starting to respond to my leg and not just the spur (which she cow kicks and makes evil faces at). She's really light with a snaffle bit. I've been working on the exercises you gave me. I hadn't loped her for at least a week, so Sunday I decided to put her back into a bosal, ride without spurs, and lope some and just kind of relax and dink around before our lesson on Monday.

    I asked her to lope to the left first, which is her good side. And it was AWESOME! She stayed fairly close to the arena rail (I tried not to steer her too much and just let her go), she was smooth, relaxed, semi-collected. I had a big grin on my face. Finally PROGRESS! Then I asked her to lope to the right, her stiff side. Ugh!

    Just as bad as before. Leaning in, motorcycling around, fast and out of control. I tried my hardest to just sit, relax, and bump her nose into a big sloppy circle to try to steer her a bit, and bump my inside leg to try to get her to pick her shoulder up. If I let her go along the arena long side she would try to switch leads. I thought if I could just keep her loping she would start settling into it and relax. Then she started cow kicking and acting like she wanted to buck. I thought she was kicking at my inside leg, so I just ignored her and kept her going for a bit then asked her to walk. We did that three or four times. I never let her break when she was kicking or trying to bog her head.

    Monday I had my riding lesson. When I asked her to lope to the right during warm-up, she immediately kicked and bucked just like on Sunday, but worse/harder. It really unnerved me. I thought maybe I had accidentally gotten into her with my spurs, which I had put on for my lesson. The next time I asked her to lope she immediately kicked and bucked harder and ducked into the fence. My instructor was watching and said I absolutely didn't touch her with my spur and I was being so careful to hold my legs well away from her. She said it looked like she was kicking at my long saddle strings, or maybe the back cinch, which are not new at all. So she is cow kicking, but also kicking out when she bucks.

    At this point, I was quite shaken as I had almost come out of the saddle. We decided to just do some long trotting. We loped to the left and she was great, smooth and relaxed. After trotting for about 30 minutes we decided to try loping once more to the right. Our idea was to try to trot her into it. I kept my legs entirely off of her and just kissed to her for encouragement. We did this twice and she loped off just fine both times out of a death trot, and went one full lap each time without kicking/bucking before I brought her back down to a walk (shaking, sweating and nervous – me, not her!).

    So, she started the kicking/bucking on Sunday when I rode without spurs, but I thought that maybe her right side was sore from all the prior lateral work we had been doing. So, during cool down on Monday I did some laterals. She never even switched her tail to my leg or my spur, so I don't think she was sore on her sides.

    I have not had a vet look at her yet, but I have never seen her take a lame step and my instructor commented on the same. I'm beginning to think though that there might be a medical issue we're missing.

    Thanks for any input, from Mugs or others, would be welcome.

  28. Half Dozen Farm - You handled your problem exactly right. Good for you and your trainer.
    I woul think maybe a vet check is due, BUT she is probably very one leaded and kind of a bitch.
    My only input her would be to be happy with less.
    Long trot her into her lead, totally relax, and try to bring her back to the trot after half the arena or so. Let her rest after she lopes.
    When I had a horse like that I would still use my leg. In my mind they have to accept my leg.
    But I wouldn't use my spur.
    I would end the ride with one short lope on the tough lead and then put her up.
    Work hard on the trot work, make her sweat with transitions and save the short lope on the tough lead for the last requirement of the day.
    It will become a reward.
    When you can easily get her to take the tough lead from the trot by kissing her into it then add another kiss when she slows down. Get her to lope a little farther, then put her up.
    By the end of the week you should be tooling around pretty well.
    Eventually you will want to get to where you are dividing your lope work to 70% on the tough lead and 30% on the easy one. But this could take several weeks.
    Then you can scale back and even things up.
    Patience and little steps is the key here.
    Because your mare gets so grumpy with the spur I would make sure I'm not over-using it.
    I use spurs to move my horse side to side, but not to get forward. That comes from my seat and calves.
    I think you are on the right track, just be happy with little steps.
    It will come.

  29. I have a dad like this too - only he lives too far away to participate in my animal escapades in any way than phone calls - still feel like the luckiest gal (other than you I guess) in the world to have his uniquely hilarious, decidedly un pc salty support.

  30. Thanks Mugs. I AM really tickled that her left lead is so good! So, I'll focus on that and stop fretting over the other so much.

    My trainer is out of town for the next week or so, so I think we'll just do some low-key trail riding and forget all about spurs, loping, legs, etc.

    Thanks for your support!

  31. I think I'm in love with Felix. Sounds like he is one hellava man! Lucky to have him in your life!

  32. Bravo and Applause - Well done, Di, well done. I am one of the lucky ones who has met Felix in person -- he gives great big bear hugs when he meets you. He is, truly, one of a kind.