Horses Save us Money!

Most of our significant others have the mistaken impression that this is the green stuff we feed our horses:

Stock Image: Fifties Picture. Image: 64981

© Photographer John Hix | Agency: Dreamstime.com

But in higher denominations.

It is not the least bit telling that I had to find this photo on the internet. Because my wallet has a single dollar bill. That’s just smart, right? With all the muggers waiting  in all the non-existent alleys in this small town, it’s better to leave,  um, “excess” cash* in the bank. (Do NOT let your significant other read the stuff after asterisk.)

*I know, I know: “excess cash” is a foreign concept. I’ll save you Googling time: excess cash is money beyond what one needs to pay one’s “household” bills.

In which there are no line-items entitled “Hudson’s dentistry”,  “Dover breeches sale”, or “supplements”.  (Those things are covered under “dentist”, “clothing allowance”, and “emergency medical savings”.)

How horses save us money:

  • No fancy gym membership fee!

Theoretically, we get all the exercise we need from riding.  Or more common: hours spent trudging after horses in pasture, because acreage causes horses to forgot they have names. What grain is. And who we are. (Ask Daisy.)

  • No pricey hair stylist fees!

It all comes down to helmet hair.  Which ‘style’ works best with baseball hats and riding helmets? The universal (men and women) pony tail. Hair elastics: $2 for 100.

  • No pricey hair products!

I just bring home a little ShowSheen, to make it seem like I meant my hair to be COMPLETELY FLAT, I mean sleek.  Like J-Lo.

  • Target is our friend!

Everything except the boots and breeches: Target sale racks. The secondary purpose of our clothing is to serve as giant horse napkins anyway.

Target, (pronounced Tar-Jay to confuse friends who refuse to shop anywhere but Bloomingdale’s) has a wide choice of colors favorable to the horse woman: “alfalfa slime” green, “hit the dirt” arena gray, and “winter mud” chocolate.  I’ve even seen some bright “Furicin” yellow in their workout wear! Check out the teen section for “I’m confused” pattern mixtures.  I’ve spotted Horsewoman Cammo. Hides all the colors above, even Betadine.

  • No Botox! No Filler!

Since we are regularly smacked in the face by Dobbin’s 50 lb boney head in our attempts to hug his sweet wittow bittee adawabol face, we all have giant lips, nicely snug skin (covers the swelling) and, if we’re lucky, bruising. (see below)

  • Half the make-up costs!

Because of the black eye (technically purple, green, or yellow), we only need to use those outdated colors – perpetually on sale – on the remaining eye that is not black! Win-win if you have two black eyes.

This photo (Google Images) illustrates my point, nicely covering all stages of bruising:

makeupstyleideas.com

We just happen to have horse-related proof. What a coincidence!

(Warning for the non-horsey, graphic photo.)

Jane’s not-supermodel eye yesterday morning (no make up) after hugging Hudson the day before:

Oops. I missed.

Ta-Da! Five minutes later, with 75% off bruise-green eye shadow, we have something one would only see on a runway of a famous designer. (Granted, after hiring a truly sloppy makeup artist):

Instant Runway makeup!

Fine. I do need to invest in some 90 % off red eyeliner. And be slightly more careful in application. And possibly wax my brows again.

The great thing? I’ve only covered the personal-care expense category.
How does your horse save YOU money?

Murphy Monday: Another New Photographer

Daisy let me know she had photos of Murphy in more “hunter-ish” stance, and would send them to me for the blog. Daisy took some great photos! Here they are:

Murphy sort of hunter pose

One more:

Murphy hunter-ish pose 2I texted Daisy:

Jane: You took some awesome photos!

Daisy: LOL

Jane: No, really, I like them!

Daisy: You’re kidding.  Right?

Jane: Nope. They’re good.  FYI, not jealous of photographers who know Murphy.

Daisy: Jane. YOU TOOK THE PHOTOS!!

I smack myself in the head.  Can I pass this off as an “I got you!” joke?

Daisy: You forget I know you.  You can’t pretend you were having me on.

Jane: How do you DO that?!?

She reads my mind.  So please meet, again, our new Murphy photographer.

Me.

In Which Jane Yells “Pick Me” and Gets…Picked?!

One of the trainers at our barn needed a bit of barn help.  Did I mention she’s a terrific instructor? Positive.  Cheerful.  She knows how to use her words.

Given some of the life events over the last year or so, I haven’t um, exactly ridden much.  Oh I’ve been packed around daily.  Not the same as real riding.

Riding: that state in which you tell the horse what to do? And meandering doesn’t just “happen”? And tack is involved? And you sit upright, instead of laying your head on horse’s butt while he grazes?

Trainer put the word out she was looking for someone she could teach to help her out on the ground, preferably with some horse knowledge.  If we knew of anyone, let her know.

Ever the mature 3rd grader, I thrust my hand in the air and waved wildly. “I will!! I will!!”

In front of other people.  (Sadly, I am not exaggerating.  Points for enthusiasm?) Gah.

Momentarily taken aback, she said, “Really…?” Pause. “You want to…?”

I had one horrible moment of very adult embarrassment, presuming she was thinking: “How will I politely get rid of this ancient broad who might fall and not get up?”

This is usually an agreement for the 20-something beginning rider.  Not the 50-something sort-of rider that trainer has watched dozing on Hudson’s butt.

Luckily, she was actually thinking (or so she claims): “It could work? I won’t have to spend so much time training…”

I can do many key things: bandages, blankets, basic grooming, lunging, tacking up, read body language, and stay out of the strike zone. I don’t panic.  I’ve uncast horses, treated abscesses, can give shots, eye medication, deworm, check capillary refill rate and know when a tendon is iffy.

Most importantly, it’s possible I’m the best carrot-dispenser on the planet.

It’s the riding part I’ve never quite gotten down.

Hudson was a bit put out.  He’d begun to enjoy doing a lot of nothing outside his paddock.  After our first few rides however, he came out of the arena on jetpacks, proud as proud could be: every stride swung with “I’m a working man. Did you SEE that? I am AWESOME.”

You sure are, buddy!

In Which Hudson Calls the FBI on Jane

Dear Excellent Equines and Bemusing Bipeds,

I told Jane if she did not stop calling anti-septic smelling humans to look at me, I would have her investigated. Per usual, she did not believe me.  Please note my casual “what?” glance back at Jane.  Me? I have hooves. How would I dial?

Works every time.

The first anti-septic smelling human that came used me as a pincushion. Then, he embarrassingly studied my…digestively-processed feed…under a microscope, reporting back loudly that HUDSON DOES NOT HAVE WORMS.

Humans.  Have you no decency?  There were cute mares around.  How would you like it if  I informed your potential dates that you did not have worms?

Exactly.

The day after being used as a testing ground for sharp metal points, I didn’t feel so good.  My neck swelled up, and I admit, I wanted Jane to stay and read me Black Beauty.  I felt that sick: I wanted Black Beauty. And cookies.  I must have regressed emotionally.  I’ve read things like this happen.

(I hate Chick Lit.)

Do you know what Jane did? I did not lay restfully with my head in her lap while she gently stroked my forelock, and read to me about Merry Legs. She pressed a large, flat, freeze brand on the swelling, and held it there. OW.

I. Am. A. Saint.

She shoved a syringe in my mouth, and squirted that nasty paste in my cheek. Yes, it made the hot swollen thing feel better, but…BLECH.

At least I made her do this twice.  She knows I will spit it out, so she holds my chin up in the air until I swallow. I pretended to swallow. She let go of my chin, I opened my mouth, and out plops a nice line of paste. HA! (Second time, I was not so lucky.)

Next, finally, I have my chiropractor.  I love this human. LOVE. I knew my atlas was out, but he said my whole right side was a mess.  Something about more work would be good.  And massage. And tons of carrots and cookies. Jane, I’m thinking a massage twice a day would help?

Days later, I see something else good: the trailer is hooked up! Jane is going to reward me for my good behavior!

I jump in fully expecting to see STEERS when I jump out.

Drat.

It was my dentist. He tells the worst jokes.  They’re all human jokes, and most are baffling. I ask you, if a joke started out “A horse walked into a bar…” wouldn’t you all immediately wince, knowing the horse hit himself on the bar? His punch lines never match the preceding tale.

Strangely, I like him.  Not crazy about the head harness/pulley system, but by then I’m feeling oddly relaxed and don’t much care.

After that was the Week it Hurt To Eat and then my stomach felt uncomfortable, which was torture. But at least it got me tons of hand walking and riding in the halter.

I’d be the most awesome dressage horse on the planet if Jane lost the bridle. A fact I never cease to remind her about.  No saddle + no bridle = perfect shoulder-in and canter pirouette.

She says No WAY.  She claims I will trot down the centerline, halt at X, and yawn as widely as possible, so the judge would know my opinion of dressage.  (She’s right.)

Drat.

At least I’m getting a lot of the good stuff: pellets top-dressed with all kinds of exotic food.  She must have given in to my personal chef request.  Nice.

This was not enough to stop my FBI phone call, however. Someone must quench the parade of humans that smell like anti-septic.

Jane says “Hudson, a real FBI vehicle would be a car.”

Wrong.  The FBI isn’t stupid.  They’d use a golf cart to blend in: common item around barns. Obviously, I watch more CSI and crime drama than Jane.  (I can see the TV from my paddock.)

If the FBI doesn’t make all this poking and prodding stop, I’m going to try something called the “IRS”? I don’t know what IRS stands for, but lately I’ve heard a lot of humans speaking about it with a great deal of anxiety.

IRS must be Special Ops.

Jane, consider yourself on probation.

Nudge,

Hudson

When Knitters Protest

The upside to numerous medical appointment driving: I’ve been in four different towns in  three days. One of them was the infamous dog park town. Definitely breaks up the monotony, to drive all these places.

Knitters there have “tagged” a light post and a bicycle rack, by literally knitting around it.  I look at the yellow bicycle rack cozy, and the red striped lamp-post warmer.

I resist the urge to shove my fist in the air and shout “Solidarity!”

There is an underground guerilla knitting cell here.  I was a member.

We met secretly in each other’s homes, knitting our hearts out, without patterns. 

Now THIS was knitting on the edge. We were tough, reveling in the gritty front line of no-holds-barred, full-bore, all out knitting. I knit my first pair of gloves here, starting at the wrist, and knitting up the hand, trying on as I went, deciding to *offset the thumbs.

*Translation: making a right and a left glove, because, if you look at your hands, they aren’t interchangeable, and the thumbs sit down and more toward the palm.

Nice to remember my glory rebel days, when knitting wasn’t a granny occupation, but an act of defiance, refusing to be owned by the corporate pattern companies.

Hey, everyone has to have their own comfort level at defying the status quo.  Mine just happened to involve pointy sticks and string.

Odd. Yesterday, a different town had a public trash can “tagged” by a guerilla knitter. S/he presumably knitted around the can in the dark of night.  Huh. It was right outside my favorite bookstore.

Today, more waiting in yet another town.  I walked down to Starbucks to kill time, past the library, and was startled to see  more knitted “tagging”.

Well.  Who can argue with that sentiment?  Not me!

I’m not sure if this is a local movement, or there is a bigger, more focused grass-roots movement, to protest or call for support, via Rebel Knitters. As far as I can tell, it’s been focused around…books…?

I wonder how dangerous it would be to contact my former cell…

Update: thanks to our wonderful commentors, we learn knitting is being used all over the world as a powerful protest tool.  Some examples (click on photo for original site):

Tank Cozy:

Knitted House and Landscape:

Street signs:

A bus in the UK:

It’s called guerilla knitting or “yarn bombing”, as crochet is often an easier tool to wrap things in. In fact, here’s a great blog on the subject:

Yarn Bombing

Now pardon me, I have a knitted bus to catch before I miss the movement!

 

Poop: the Gold Standard of Friendship

Walking up to Hudson’s paddock I see Bella.

“Did I go too far?”‘ she asks, “TMI?”.

“I don’t think so…?”, I reply, mentally scrolling through our recent interactions.
“Because I don’t have any idea what you’re talking about?” (The “huh?” reply: a good indicator that all is well in a friendship.)

“I sent you a picture of Hudson’s poop.”, she says.

I throw my arms around her, choking on sobs of relief and gratefulness.

She barely fends me off. “No Jane! I woke up with a cold.” Aw, sniffle sniffle, she doesn’t want me to catch it. She’s such a good friend. I pull myself together before I start sobbing about what a good friend I have. (Um. It was a rough week?)

Instead, I say, “I didn’t get the pic, but it means a lot that you sent it”.

We both turn and stare at Hudson, source of poop and human bonding.

His ears prick. The thought bubble over his head clearly calculates: mom plus former mom equals FOOD. He swivels an ear to alert Woodrow to pay attention. Woodrow lifts his head swiftly, and begins to amble carefully down the muddy hill, eyes on the ground, ears on us, nostrils testing the air quality for any hint of a treat.

It hits me, how refined the tools are that horses use to “see”. It’s…so cool.

Hudson’s had digestive issues. For the non-horsey, this isn’t like a human having digestive issues. It’s more like a human nicked an artery, and you’re doing everything you can to repair the problem and prevent the nick from widening, so the human doesn’t bleed out.

While he looks fantastic, his teeth weren’t doing the whole chewing hay properly thing, as his other end so aptly reported. Woodrow needed his teeth checked as well, so off to the dentist they went. (Hudson is missing a tooth, which can throw off his bite, floating wouldn’t be sufficient.)

Knowing they would both be slightly worse after the dentist (sore mouths aren’t going to chew better, even if the teeth are capable, and there’s the anesthesia, which slows gut motility) we were prepared to up their ration of easily digestible pellets.

It’s true: horse people are all veterinarians-in-training.

We hand walk them to get their guts active, and help move the anesthetic out of their systems.

They both needed Bute (Aspirin, for our non-horsey) to eat even the mushy pellets. Bute can upset the stomach. So can an empty stomach combined with pain. So can a stomach coming out of anesthetic. Tricky.

This is the start of the Jane Is Worried Sick week. I believe worrying before it’s necessary will prepare me for future events. I blame this on the Girl Scouts. (I took “Be Prepared” a bit too seriously.)

Every day brought about tweaks to the get-normal program. More pellets, less Bute, etc. Finally, I hit on Hudson’s magic balance: adding dry bran, upping pellets even more, and feeding insulting him with a slurry of aloe juice and powdered slippery elm bark.

(Probably time passing had a lot more to do with it, but I need to believe I helped.)

Bella and I took turns checking on, walking, and feeding the boys twice a day. Woodrow was digesting better, but had a much more difficult time with pain and the after effects of sedation and dental work. He took it very hard. It showed up in whole-body muscle spasms.

As he recovered, I’d send photos of him happily rolling, or bucking, and send them to Bella at work: look how much better he feels this morning!

And Bella took a picture of a decent poop, and sent it to me, knowing it was my relief-equivalent of seeing a good buck.

Does it get any better than a friend who sends you a photo of poop?

Nope. Golden.

How about you?

When Your Horse Is Smarter Than You…

You get trained.  Well Trained.

I take some comfort that I know I’ve been trained.

It only takes me hours to figure it out.

Returning Hudson back to his paddock, I stopped short and smacked myself on the forehead with the flat of my palm: Jane! You did not teach Hudson to pick up his sore hoof using carrots as a reward.  

Hudson taught YOU to give HIM carrots on demand, by firmly planting that hoof until a carrot was waiting to be offered.

Oh. No. No no no no NO. Seriously? Please, please, PLEASE let me be wrong.

I immediately turn around and reach for his ‘Sore’ Hoof.

Hudson immediately shifts 1100 pounds to the Hoof He Can’t Bear to Lift…

…while he activates his carrot scanner, turning his neck toward me and whuffling the air near my back pocket.

DANG it. He got me. Again.

This is the third or fourth time I’ve belatedly realized I’ve been trained.  It’s embarrassing. I’ve never been the owner who gets trained. I’ve always been the bossy owner: Stand still! Feint a bite in my direction while I tighten the girth and you die! Hoof, NOW. Don’t even look at that grass while I’m leading you.

I wonder if he and his pals in Mensa Equine trade Dumb Owner jokes in secret meetings. He has the intelligence, will, and scientific curiosity to finagle himself into being the dictator of a small country.

Uh.

Insight: I’m the small country.

(Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to unload 100 pounds of carrots out of the trunk, and six giant tubs of Mrs. Pasture’s cookies….I think I feel the need to throw away all the worming paste too.)

Impatience is a Good Thing…

…when it allows you to drop the reins, film your horse, and claim he’s being gentlemanly.

Open, closed, if it’s in his way, it bugs him. He’ll close the arena gate as we pass by if it was left open, and is blocking the line on the rail.

Oh Hudson, how I love thee!

Ah, Spring.

So far, this has incited Hudson into two jail breaks.

#1: After getting shoes. He has a most excellent farrier, Dane, who offered to return him to his paddock (probably so I’d stop hanging around trying to look busy, neither of them need me to be present) when done being shod.

I go to the feed store.

An hour later, Laurie spots them surreptitiously grazing in an inconspicuous spot quite close to their paddock. They think we won’t notice the lack of fencing in front of them. Laurie said both their attitudes were something like this: “No no, we’re fine. We’re supposed to be here.  Just grazing.  Near our paddock.  See? There’s a fence.”

#2: Bella steps out her back door in time to see Hudson pick the lock on the main gate, setting himself and Woodrow free.  This gate is closed with a horse-proof carabiner type clip. We still don’t know how he managed this feat.

I generally have to fuss with it to get it open. It’s a clumsy operation.

Hudson and Jane are back on the ouchy-achey road to fitness. Six weeks off of Real Riding might as well be a year for me.  I don’t have even half an Ab left. My inner thighs are sore from posting for ten minutes.

(Oh, the SHAME…I mean, um, it’s so, uh, good to be reminded of what beginning riders have to go through…)

You may  have to put up with less than stellar blogging as my brain takes the ouchy-achey road back to thinking…

(FYI, I missed you guys a LOT!)

The Art (and humor!) of Jody Lynne Werner

Lucky for us, Jody Werner stopped by to identify herself as the creator of “Air Amatuer”. I’m going to shamelessly plug her website, seeing that I laughed myself silly for a good 15 minutes, and her humor and art are terrific. (And buyable!) Go to Misfit Designs. Still giggling over the lesser known horse breeds.

I believe I’ve found Hudson’s Warmblood brand:

Report back.  Did you find your horse among the lesser known breeds?

In Which We Ignore Armchair Psychology and Go For the Frosting

Mirror, Mirror, on the Wall……does this horse make my butt look small…?

Our relative sizes fuels my denial, so I can continue to use frosting for comfort. Who wouldn’t look small next to that engine? I’m not sure if I am sabotaging my desire to fatten up, or sabotaging my desire to slim down: I’m hitting the gym, as well as the frosting.

Now, we will bore you with a simile or an allegory. I can’t remember which is which:

A number of years ago, Shaun wandered out into our verdant backyard with a glass of iced tea, where she found me kneeling  next to a flower border, trowel in hand, smeared with dirt, and laughing like a lunatic.

For most people, this would be a signal it’s time to hear their mother calling. But Shaun is braver than most people.

“Do I want to know why you’re laughing?”, she says, sipping her tea.

“Yup”, I say, trying to contain giggles, absolutely convinced I’m SO FUNNY.

Shaun makes a rolling motion with her hand: continue.

“I just planted Ajuga next to Lambs Ears, in front of the Japanese anemones!!”  I double over in a new fit of laughter.

Shaun considers this.  “And this is funny, because…?”

Continue reading “In Which We Ignore Armchair Psychology and Go For the Frosting”