Thursday, November 29, 2012

One Horse, One Kid at a Time

 I've just gotten a flicker of what I want to do when I grow up.

Thank goodness for flickers, because this getting old thing sucks rocks. 

I hate feeling used up and useless. 

I hate dwelling on the future with a sense of fear and doom. I just hate it.

I was talking to Victoria, a young woman I volunteered with before Jim's stroke, when I was still 1/2 time at the paper. I did a story on her work with homeless youth for the paper and ended up volunteering with her until life took me away.
What we did was called homeless youth outreach, we walked the out of the way places where homeless kids live/hide. For the most part, in tents or cobbled together shelters in the empty woods areas around train tracks, waterways, city trails etc. Then we'd go through the parks and library downtown, where they spend their days.
We handed out socks, gloves, snacks, water, personal items, condoms, and information on where to get help without being picked up to street kids, from twenty somethings to kids barely in their teens .
I added books and rain ponchos to the list and got my family to donate $$ and a local book store to give us books.
It was my kind of volunteering, no judgement, no moralizing, just handing out some much needed supplies and schmoozing. Once in a while we'd lend an ear.
Anyway, her program was shut down, due to lack of funding, and she's working elsewhere, but worries about the kids. As of now, there's no help in place for them.
I told her that every year I donate my x-mas money for my family to a local charity. I was thinking this year I would put it into socks, gloves, snacks and water and we could touch base with the kids.
She's all over it.

Anyway, this tied in somehow with all of the things that have been buzzing around in my head. Here's a synopsis.
1. I want/need a place to live that gets me outside with my critters, no matter what's going on with me or Jim.
It needs to be easy enough to maintain to keep us safe, but me from drowning in the day to day.
2. I want/need to have a purpose beyond being Jim's caretaker.
3. I miss working with horses -- so much it hurts. My well trained duo just doesn't cut it. They aren't rotten enough.
4. I want for Jim to find a purpose beyond waiting for two terrible things, to die and for me to become a decent housekeeper.
5. We both like teenagers, the more rotten the better.

The Universe has joined forces to open a path for me.

I'm seeing it fall into place and I'm impressed yet again, how the world makes things happen.

1. My husband Jim and I really need something to do other than watch Netflix.
2. The Big K and his wife are hoping to adopt. They are also becoming foster parents because they believe in the power of horses, hard work, time to think and horses when it comes to shaping a person.
3. I was talking to my dad about buying a place where I could keep my horses. He raised doubts about my ability to take care of them. 
4. In my very typical way, I got my hackles up and thought, Don't tell me I can't....
5. I talked about the homeless kids with Victoria, which got me missing them.

I woke up with a very clear picture in my mind of what we need to do.

If I have a place where I can have one extra horse at a time, I'll pick one up at a sale, rehab/start it and sell it. Then move onto the next one. Not as a money making venture (God knows, I can't be doing that!), but to help a good horse stay out of a Mexico-bound slaughter truck. The horse industry is still in a huge mess. The only horses that can make it need to be kind, safe, healthy animals with a purpose. I can do that. I can also find decent registered stock for little to no $$.

Jim is a race bike, vintage motorcycle mechanic extraordinaire. He used to rehab vintage motorcycles for himself and clients as a hobby and to pay for his motorcycle habit. Now his hands and eyes don't let him do much.

I could take on one homeless kid at a time. Teach her/him to work, care for and train my project with me. While the horse would be sold when ready, the kid could stay as long as he/she needed to.

Jim would offer the same opportunity to a mechanically inclined kid. They would restore a vintage bike together, using Jim's vast knowledge and his protege's eyes and hands.

I would keep a running video progression going on the blog for you guys. So you would actually get to see me train stuff and teach a kid how to become horsaii. 

I would have fresh things to write about. Oh my, I think my head is exploding.

BTW...I might be sorta, maybe finishing up a Tally story here. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Going Straight to the Dogs

"It wasn't until I wrote this post that a giant chunk of who, why and what I am as a trainer fell into place.

Horses, dogs, any animal ( or child for that matter) that gets passed around from person to person in life, needs to be given every chance they can to be safe from the Mr. Hitts in the world.

If I have the ability to shape them into pleasant, adaptable companions, then that is what my job is. The rest is icing on the cake. Cream cheese icing. Yum.

That is where I'm giving thanks today. For this chunk of light and this blog." - Mugs

I have been in horse limbo. Not just because I've gone from riding 6 - 10 head a day to my two broke horses once or  twice a week. Not because I am so itching to mess with a young one, or three, but don't have the time or resources. Not because I am now spend 24/7 a day with a man I love but never shared more than four hours a day in the past 16 years, MUCH LESS EVERY FRICKING WAKING MOMENT.

No, it's none of those things.

It's because I just adopted Brockle. A dog. Not just any dog. He's a genius. He's beautiful. He's really large. He's a pound dog, who ended up there because he decided to stop being housebroken, start humping family and friends and ate a couch. From what I understand, it was the entire couch.

There were many reasons adopting Brockle was a bad idea. We have three dogs. We live in a suburban neighborhood, and we're already labeled as the weird old couple on the block. We don't have much money. He ate a couch. He is roughly 10 times the size of my other dogs.

But I reeeeaaaalllly needed a project. I feel safer with a big dog, and what's one more, right?

My husband did not want another dog. He did agree however, that we needed some life and action in the house. Why it had to be a 1-year-old German Shepherd Collie cross he didn't know, but he said okay.

Boy, do we have action.

Don't worry, I know this is a horse blog. I won't be regaling you with all my dog stories, although I have lots, because I do like my dogs. But two days ago I had this incredible Well Duh! moment on the way to the barn. It came because of the studying I've been doing on dog aggression. Yeah, well, nobody mentioned one more teeny tiny problem of Brockle's.

He became very attached, very quickly. We have become conjoined twins. He's gentle with the tiny dog, kind to the elder dog and wisely, very respectful of Charlie, my rat terrier. He is very careful not to jostle my unsteady husband. When my close friend came to visit with her very sweet, well behaved, low maintenance female lab, he attacked her. First the dog, then he threatened my friend.

He wants us to stay as a cozy family unit and keep everybody else away. Forever. At any cost. I have adopted a crazy stalker dog.

Now, don't get me wrong, we dealt with it, in ten minutes everybody was mellow, by the end of the night all of the dogs were racing in crazy circles around the yard, best friends forever. I am very aware though, that this aggressive response came from a dog who's essentially a big dumb puppy. When he matures around four or so, this behavior could become extremely dangerous. So I know I need to nip it in the bud.

Here's the crux.While I'm a competent horse trainer, I am not a dog trainer. As a matter of fact, my dogs tend to be more my roommates than something I have control over. We come to agreement on how to get along and then that's how we lead our lives. Life with my dogs is kind of like a big frat party.

Brockle is going to take more than a bandanna tied on the door knob to get the message across.

I hit the Internet and started to read up on dog trainers, especially those who specialize in aggressive behavior. I read up on GSD, even though Brockle is half collie, he moves like a shepherd,  looks like an escapee  from a GSD Krazy Kolor Breeder farm and I'm guessing, is protecting like one. And he's been through the kill shelter experience. So I've been reading.

When I'm trying to learn something new, I try to grasp the forest before I start climbing individual trees. I'll read several opinions, theories and so forth, then I'll look at facts, studies and experiments, and then get into personal opinion.

The concept I've been picking up is dogs needed to be accepted as dogs. Understanding their body language and knowing how to respond to it is key to gaining control. Being able to communicate our desires in a clear, concise manner comes from understanding what they're trying to say to us. So, they're not kids? Huh. Sounds reeeaaaallly familiar.

I got immersed in the pack leader vs. companion argument for a while, again, it was ringing some very familiar bells and I quit worrying about it.

Call it what you will, I need my dogs, which if I am honest, now are definable as a pack, to get along, with each other and whoever I choose to invite into our space, and to not bite, maim or kill anything other than their chew toys or the various vermin that raid my garden  in the summer, my basement in the winter and my barn year round. Period.

I want my house to be peaceful and safe. I don't want to trip on a dog,worry about getting knocked into by a dog, have a dog take over my space or refuse to get out of my way. Same rules apply in how they treat my husband, who is definitely part of the frat party mentality, but needs to be safe. I also want it to be quiet and calm in my house. No fighting or charging the door, no wild greetings that end up with somebody getting knocked over.  Barking when something needs to be barked at, but not just because it's fun to make a bunch of noise at nothing.

If it takes me being pack leader to accomplish this, so be it. I buy the dog food and pay the vet bills. they can deal.

So, I've been learning. About body language, taking control of space, making my requirements known and appreciating the needs of each dog, so they can, as a pack, pay attention and follow through with my expectations.

The two dogs who have been my mainstays for several years are Charlie, the rat terrier, and Dinah, the corgi/jack russell mix. These two dogs grew up as working barn dogs and my best buddies.

Horse training is, for the most part, a solitary and intense job, combined with lots of hard physical labor. My dogs were/are my daily companions, work partners and friends. I have talked about how smart they are for years. I never really trained them, they just do what I need, as I try to do for them and that's been it. Yet they are often complimented on their good behavior. They are polite, non-threatening, always within ear shot, and when we walk, they walk at heel when needed, leave livestock, people and other dogs alone, and are simply, very pleasant to be around. Although they are both breeds (or mixes) known to be yappy and hyper, neither one of them are. As a matter of fact, they are kind of serious and preoccupied.
I have felt very lucky with my dogs.

They are different at home. Dinah is bossy and cranky. Charlie is kind of sneaky. Both of them are jealous and needy.  They fight once in a while. Dinah is a revenge pooper. They like to fly at the door when someone knocks, yowling like the Hound of the Baskervilles. They do the same when a doorbell rings on TV, if Jim calls from another room, or if I say "Hello" for any reason. When we're going for a walk, the second they see my walking shoes, they swirl around my legs, wrestling and growling, leaping and racing, non-stop Tasmanian devils until I open the door and let them out. Same thing at dinner time. They beg too. I call them idiots and a few other choice words, nothing changes, and we go on with life.

Now that we have worked our way up to four dogs, I've been hit with an "Oh my God, what have I done," sense of desperation. I've started thinking about what I want from my pack, and started studying on how to get it.  I've begun seeing some HUGE holes in my non-training program, to evaluate how I relate to my dogs and how it effects their behavior.

The ideas I've grasped and been chewing on is the difference between training my dogs and our general sense of being. Expectations of how things just are, vs. sit, stay, go fold the laundry. When I first get on a concept like this, I acknowledge what I'm searching for, then lay it to rest, shove it to the back of my very messy mental closet and let it ferment. Sooner or later it comes back with some kind of understanding and I chew on it some more.

I was driving to the barn a few days ago and thinking strategy for Brockle and how I need him to be at the barn. It turns out he had no idea such delicious smelling, scary to look at creatures, existed on the planet. Horses, cattle, donkeys, turkeys, all doing their thing right in front of his highly motivated, very energetic self. Just waiting to be barked at, chased, killed, eaten, SOMETHING. What drama! What fun! What chaos!

Ahem. So I was making some vague plans on one level, and on another, wondering why Dinah and Charlie had never been this crazy, even though they too, are bred for action, and wishing I had another cup of coffee when it hit me. BAM!

Energy. Direction. Focus. I had trained my barn dogs, I just didn't know it. They weren't perfect and had started out way below it. We went through the sneaking away from the barn phase, the chicken phase (very bad), the barking at clients grandma's phase. The chasing stock phase...but each problem had been dealt with during my very busy work day, and had ended up with the competent, resourceful, happy and reliable dogs I have now. I have rarely raised my voice and could count on my fingers (which are half as many as yours) how often they've been hit over all the years.

So what was it? My horse trainer brain. The deep, consistent sense of calm that is always with me around horses, the clear, orderly expectations, the fact that time means nothing, only the task at hand matters. These things are so much a part of me when I'm working, I accept them as who I am. And my dogs did too. Without training them to sit, stay, heel in the conventional way, without conscious thought, my horse trainer brain (only engaged at the barn) explained what was needed and expected from my dogs too. And they fell over themselves trying to comply. Son of a gun.

I wasn't born with trainer brain. It took years of struggle, thought, learning from the smarter, wiser, more talented trainers I was lucky enough to meet along the way. It took lots of really dumb mistakes.

Trainer brain doesn't engage at home. Many times, there is no brain activity emanating from me at all when I'm home.

When I was a kid, we got our first dog, years before I ended up with Mort. I was an awkward, lonely, shy 4th grader, wrapped up in daydreams, writing, and drawing stories when we got Linus, a Samoyed and our first puppy. There were six kids in our family, but Linus was mine, not by designation, but by his and my mutual choice.

He was my best friend. I didn't train him, Dad did, we simply hung out together. He didn't listen to any commands from me, or do a single trick, but he always heard my secrets, my fears and my plans. I was his favorite friend, he was always up for an adventure or snuggling together in his doghouse so I could read a book in peace.

Our next door neighbor, Mr. Hitt, poisoned him when he was a little over a year old. Linus was wild, rowdy and uncontrolled unless my Dad had him, and he didn't like our neighbor. I found him dead, foam covered teeth bared and his head thrown back in agony. Vomit was spewed all over the corner of our fenced yard that paralleled the neighbors driveway. I could see the little pieces of half-digested meat drying in with the grass.

Dad couldn't prove Mr. Hitt did it, but we all knew. It was two long years, when we were transferred to Colorado, before we got another dog. This time, there was no wild, back yard bred Samoyed. This time, we got a nicely bred, registered field type Golden Retriever. Dad made sure Jud had manners, he trained him to hunt, to work a field, to retrieve up to ten wooden blocks in the order they were thrown in.

He was my Dad's dog, protected from the Mr.Hitt's in the world with solid discipline and good breeding. Jud and I had a secret though. He was mine and I was his, by choice. We shared secrets, hopes, fears and lots of adventures. There was another difference. Dad taught me how to work the dog. How to train him to quarter a field or jump off a dock on a retrieve. How to hold a pigeon so gently, with so much calmness, the bird was relaxed and not struggling. He showed me how to teach a puppy, afraid of running water, to swim in a stream. This time, maybe because I was older, maybe to make sure we kept the Mr. Hitts away, he taught me how to teach my friend to be productive, to have purpose, to be safe.

Here I am, forty some years and many good dogs later, still living in this dual world. My dogs are my friends,  but they need to be trained, they need to be liked, they can't frighten or anger the people around us. I have to keep them safe.

My Eureka moment came when I understood that Dinah and Charlie were happier, more productive and safer when they lived with my horse trainer brain. Even though they were my buddies, they had jobs that directly related to their breed, lots of exercise and clear expectations from me. It wasn't about teaching them tricks or commands, it was about being.

At home, at the frat party, they felt like they had better take care of things, direct the action, and protect me, because I was off somewhere in Gomerville, with my muddled thoughts and Saturday morning cartoons outlook. My anxieties, fears and health issues were making things even worse, because they took me even farther from the thinking they could understand. At home, we were all about feelings and sensations. Scary, stagnant ones.

How about that?

I'm not far enough into my conscious learning about training my pack to be more specific. My body language is awkward, I can see Charlie and Dinah laughing at my attempts to talk to them on their terms, but I think they appreciate it.

I have made a list of expectations.
No dogs get to claim space, it's all mine. If I want it, I take it.
Dogs don't get to harass each other or me and Jim. No stealing food, no shoving into another dog when I'm paying attention to them, no intimidation tactics about who comes through the door, etc.

The great big goof ball Brockle cannot tease, torment, or whack with his feet, 14-year-old Dinah or 9-year old Sonocone, my husband's 8 lb. Maltese.

Dinah is boss, she eats first, and goes in and out the doors first (after the people). Charlie is my right hand man and pounds on Brockle when he gets out of line. Charlie is not, however, allowed to actually fight, scare or hurt him. Snocone, who just doesn't get life, may not be harassed by anybody, ever, and doesn't have to obey any rules at all.

What is amazing to me, if I put on horse trainer brain, I don't have to point or yell, I just expect, and so far have simply blocked bad behavior with my body. It's working. Brockle is getting some intense socializing, I'm flying by the seat of my pants here, but he is figuring out he can be calm and I'll keep him safe through the introductions. He has made three new dog friends so far, no attacks, and went on his first trail ride two days ago. Off leash, and happy.

My house is calm. My dogs are happier. I am happier.

Call it trainer brain, call it calm, assertive pack leader, call it whatever. I'm thinking it's all about clarity, purpose and balance.

I'm thinking my whole life my be about to change.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Me and the Big K

My Reality

Yep. He's going back to being called the Big K. Here on the Chronicles, that's who he is -- but we know.


We  held our cow by a whisker on her nose. She ducked and turned and Madonna was suddenly scrambling. We had barely caught up, barely saved our position, when it happened again, Madaonna was turning late, her weight shifted to her front end and as she was pulled herself across our line, completely losing the ability to snap through our next turn. Her head came up, my anxiety came with it and leapt ahead of us both.

 "Janet, stop."

I lifted my reins and Madonna came off her cow with obvious relief. I waited for her to settle before I looked to K and heard what he had to say.

"What were you thinking?" His tone was even, his question, as usual, literal.

"Something like, AAAAAAAHHHHHHH!!!!!" I said.

K rolled his eyes and he smiled a little. "I meant before you created that mess."

"What?...I'm not sure."

"Well, think on it." He sat quiet in the middle of his saddle, his bright blue eyes intent on mine. We weren't going anywhere until I worked this through.

I broke his hold and looked back at the dirt, thinking hard. "First I was just riding, then I started liking what was happening, then I wondered if I turned on the crock pot this morning, and then Clare drifted through...and I was behind."

"I could see it in your eyes about two beats before the horse felt it," he said. "As soon as she tried to find you  she fell a step behind. The cow picked up on it and took advantage -- you were so far away you didn't feel it until everything was out of control."

"How can you see it when I don't even know it's happening?"

"It's in your eyes. One second you're riding, your eyes are taking in the whole deal, then I can just see those outside thoughts come in. I just don't get how you let that happen. How can you be in the middle of a cow and start thinking about a crock pot?"

"I don't mean for it to happen, it just shows up, then I start worrying about why it's there and I'm still not on my ride."

K shook his head, letting the full, sorrowful, "I just don't know how to get through to you," look wash over me. I immediately felt guilty and useless, and very aware of my lack of Marlborough man genes. Suburban. Housewifey. Ugh.

This mind reading thing, the way we spoke without words, was so unnerving. K could tell how I was feeling by the way I drove up to the tack room in the morning. I could read his mood as I led a horse down the barn aisle, even if he was out of sight, pulling the blanket off a horse in a stall.

We shared a birthday and an OCD passion for the mechanics of a cowhorse. There was more though, we could find each other across a crowded warm-up arena at a horse show. K could coach me with no words spoken. I could hear him shouting clear as a bell in my head. "Step up! Look up! Make it happen, quit hoping it might!" Worse yet, I could feel the waves of disappointment or disapproval, right in the middle of my fence run, piercing through my thoughts of AAAAAHHHHHHH!!!! and, Wonder what I should make for dinner?

He could walk past me after a run gone wrong, from a mistake on his part, and know I had felt it the second he had let the colt jump into those sloppy spins or try to dive into his turn on the fence. Not because I saw it, he was too good at covering and recovering in the show pen for me to pick it out, but I always felt the change in his mindset, felt the slap of disappointment in himself. Sometimes he hated me, just a little, because I knew.

What the heck was it? Twin brothers from a different mother was all I could come up with...


I jumped a little and Madonna started, scattering the cattle.

"You can't even hold a conversation today. I'm not wasting my cattle on you when you're like this. You have got to find a way to hold your focus when you've got a horse working. I know you can, I've seen it. Go get on a colt or two, make it something froggy so you'll get your mind back. We'll see where you're at on the cows tomorrow."

I sighed, and left the arena, he was right. A skittery colt might bring me to ground, although I was pretty good at wondering who was getting eliminated from Idol tonight while wrestling some bucky little baby around.

I headed toward the two-year-olds and made sure I pulled a couple froggy ones.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Sometimes I Just Can't Shut Up

When I first started to write the Mugwump Chronicles I was one fried banana.
I was angry with the entire horse industry. Every single aspect, including myself, was just pissing me off.
I didn't know where I fit in, I just knew what I saw.
The horse market was crashing.
I had no patience for rich people or bleeding hearts.
I was tired of stupid and feeling very judgmental.
There were lots of targets.

It was almost five years ago when I started sorting things out by writing this blog.
I was influenced and inspired by Cathy Atkinson and FHOTD.
Man, she said it like she felt it.
So I did too.

Then, a surprising thing began to happen. The more I wrote, the more I looked, listened and learned. In order to write what I felt was fair, I wanted to make sure I knew the facts behind every opinion I presented. I needed to understand the emotions and reasoning behind acts of cruelty, kindness, training methods and horse ownership.

I became quite the researcher. Then I began looking at my own motivations, which are why you get the horse stories. They are the events that shaped me, as a person and a horse trainer. By telling the stories I began to understand who I am today.

Then, my outlook began to change.

Maybe, just maybe, I understood the longing and drive behind rabid rescuers, and overly emotional owners.
Still can't stand people who mix up their own needs with the animals, but I get it.

I might have seen the good things a horse whisperer can accomplish. Even a need for them.
Still think the majority of them are old time Snake Oil Salesmen.

I could see why and how professionals got caught up in abusive practices, or training methods many think are abusive, but are actually getting things get done in a safe and timely manner.
Still know I can't use or condone many of these practices anymore.

I quit judging people with horses by their ability or knowledge. Instead, I began to see and recognize their desire to do right by their horse and an eagerness to learn.
Still lose patience with people who refuse to learn because of a personal need to be right.

 I quit holding people involved with horses to my standard of horsemanship.
Although if you want to know what it is, I'm happy to share.

That last one could be the biggest change of all.
I no longer lose my mind when I see a horse out in pasture with a halter on.
Those stupid fabric saddles? I won't ride in one, but if that's what you like, so be it.
Pasture feet, whatever.
A little thin, a little fat, no longer something I felt the need to weigh in on.
Horse hasn't seen a vet in 10 years? Lucky you.
Helmet on, helmet off, up to you. Unless you're a little kid, riding under my supervision.
How your horse is housed, groomed, equipped, not my business.

You want know why?
Because if the horse didn't look he'd been starved and/or tortured, or have a halter growing into his face, he was way ahead of the game.
If he wasn't on a truck to Mexico, being used to train bait dogs, left to slowly die in a hoarder or breeders back pasture, then he was one lucky bastard.
If he had people who loved him, no matter how ignorant they were, he had more going for him than most of the horses out there.
If nobody died today, there was always tomorrow, maybe they'd learn how to avoid it in the future.
At least the horse had one more day with somebody trying.

I seriously began to see how damaging the atmosphere of the horse world can be. Unwelcoming, critical, unwilling to share vital information without an air of superiority, nurturing the myth of good horse training being magic, jealous and just plain mean. Yep, that's horse people.
Making fun of a horse persons riding ability or lack of knowledge? Not on my blog or in my presence. Ever.
Make fun of somebody who is cruel and abusive and should know better? Always.

I decided to quit playing that game. Because it doesn't help the horses.

Anyway, there's a non-lecturey point to this. I found a CL ad. It made one of my points exactly. I wanted to share it, felt the need to explain it, and ended up seeing I need to revisit a lot of this. Some of it will be down right contradictory to what I've written before. Why? Because I've learned so much in the last five years, who I am as a trainer, and how I see people in the horse community. I'm still working on being Horsaii, guess I will be for the rest of my life, and I want anybody who's trying for the same to feel safe and welcome on the Mugwump Chronicles.

Here's the CL ad I found.

"Coconut is a lovely gelding who is broke to ride, beginner to intermediate rider. Does well with a hackamore. He is well loved, kid friendly, no buck, no bite, and no kick! Does well on trails. Gets along well with donkeys and other horses, prefers not to be alone. Sweet, sweet boy, great with the farrier, loads well, easy to catch! He is 16 years old and 15 hands, beautiful eyes! We are switching to working mules and cannot feed pleasure horses and mules. $600 OBO Must be good home willing and able to care for him!" 

Here's the game.
It's called the "Let's Not Be A-Holes" game.

I marked the reasons I WON"T make fun of this young man in blue.
The things I have a problem with are marked in red.
I could fix every red arrow in this photo in two lessons. That would be $90 to keep him off of Trollville.
On the flip side, if this young man never changes a thing, he will be fine and so will Coconut.
I'll explain the blue.
If you understand my red arrows, then you have to keep quiet.
Shuush! I mean it now!
If you don't know why I marked certain arrows, ask why. Knowledge is good, and getting it from us is pretty painless. Then and only then, I will post my answer in the comments and everybody can join in with info...ONLY.

Blue Arrows Photo 1.
1. Coconut looks mildly annoyed, but kind eyed, and very patient.
2.  His ears are back, listening, ready to comply if his rider actually wants something.
3. The boy  is cute. He likes his horse, his smile is real and I like his hat.
4. Coconut has good weight and muscle tone, especially in his butt, which is hard to keep looking good on an aged horse.
5. The horse is clean. His coat is healthy.

Blue Arrows. Photo 2
1. Coconut likes him.
2. He likes Coconut.

Blue arrows Photo 3.
1. The boy is still, really, really cute.
2. Coconut still feels safe, kind and friendly about the boy. He really likes him.
3. Free feed the old guys in the winter! Yes!
4. Yet another, friendly, happy, healthy horse.

P.S. If you have a problem with the grammar, spelling or writing style of ANYONE who writes on this blog, then please, go here and have fun. Really. I mean it. I wish you the best. Siyonara. Adios. Au revoir.