What We Learn From Horses Can Help Us Become Good Burglars

Spoiler: The first part has absolutely nothing to do with horses or burgling…Also, this post reads much better while singing, “The Rain in Spain Falls Mainly on the Plane”.

Daisy texted: Stupid door is swollen and won’t close.

Since she went to work, I assumed she meant the door into the (locking) garage.

Jane: Crap.

Daisy: I know.  Had to sleep with chair under doorknob all night.

Alarm bells go off.

Jane: You mean your FRONT door??

Daisy: Um. Yeah? I think all the rain made it swell. But it closed and locked last year when it stopped raining?

It’s fine. Daisy connects my dots all the time.  My turn.

Jane: Okay, good to know. Hmmm….we think this year is important too?  We think a front door that locks before April is good?

Pause.

Jane: We need a tool person.  Someone who has a plane. Know any tool people?

Long pause.

I realize Daisy is trying to figure out why we need a person with a private jet to fix her door.

Jane: Plane is a tool.  Like a deli meat slicer? You can shave off the parts of the door that are sticking so it will close.

We go through the list of People We Know Who Have Real Woodworking Tools. This turns out to be Zippo.

Daisy: Uh. I think I’m okay? Can use chair? Who do we know who fixes doors?

It’s 5 pm. Not letting Daisy sleep without a locking front door. It’s also her birthday. I don’t know how to fix a door, but I can plane one into submission.

Jane: Plz hold. On way…

I pick up a cupcake to go with her birthday card.  I also stop at the hardware store and buy Daisy a plane for her birthday. I’m sure she’ll be thrilled. Maybe if I slap a designer label on it?  Come to think of it, why aren’t there Coach planes, or Hermes Planes?

After offering me dinner (not  hungry) Daisy sits on her stairs and eats her Lean Cuisine while watching me shave off bits of her door. I tell her it’s part of her birthday present: dinner and a movie. (Most exciting birthday party she’s ever had.)

Door is acting weird.  Sticking on the inside, next to the hinges. This is a bad sign.  This is the door equivalent of “Whoops, put the plastic tray on the bottom of the dishwasher, dang it!” The door is probably no longer flat.  It’s probably a little twisty and melty. But we don’t say these things until door is fixed and locks.  Otherwise we create door anxiety.

I plane.  Many curly cues later, I can slide a sheet of paper in the gap: not sticking!

There.

Now sticking in new place.  But we gained an inch toward closing. Progress! I look down.  See telltale scrape marks on the metal sill plate.

Problem.  It’s getting dark, and Daisy has to get up in 6 hours.  I pry and slide the plastic weather-stripping off the bottom of the door. We shove. The door closes!  Hurrah!

Unfortunately, the bolt uselessly misses the corresponding bolt hole entirely.   Dishwasher door. Not going to lock in my lifetime. Daisy sees my look of frustration.

“It looks closed…?”, she says, “At least it looks like it’s locked?”

So not working for me. Daisy reads this on my face.

“It’s fine”, she says. “I’ll stick the chair under the knob.”

I grudgingly leave it at that and say a quick prayer of protection. Hardware stores are closed. I come back the next morning, drill, screwdriver and smash proof flipping lock plate in hand. The kind you flip on the door when your kids are short, and you would rather they not wander onto the freeway in their diapers because you were in the bathroom the very second they learned to unlock a door.

It takes me less than 60 seconds to install.  I flip the plate.  Door is locked. I stop for a moment to admire my genius. Admiring my genius ends when I realize I’m locked in Daisy’s house. If I leave, her door will be unlocked. Which was not the point.

(This next part is where horses and burgling connect.)

I  choose a very skinny window to climb out, on the theory that all burglers drink too much, and couldn’t possibly get a beer gut through the skinny window. The likelihood of a skinny burglar choosing that day and that window seemed miniscule.

Unlock.  Slide window open. Remove Screen.  Drop power tools outside on the ground. Go out sideways, one leg at a time. Easy, right?

I get my leg over the sill, so I’m kind of sitting on the window sill the way you would if you were mounted on a horse.  I sort of can’t reach the ground.

I am sort of, um, stuck.

I consider the options:

  • Topple sideways to the ground, hoping I don’t  rip off the inside of my left leg, dislocate my right leg, or hit my head on the very large tree inches from the house.
  • Try to get both feet on the sill and jump like a contortionist attempting suicide form an extremely low, first floor window.
  • Climb back in Daisy’s house, and raid the fridge until she gets home.

No brainer.

Seriously? Daisy has only water, Red Bull, and mayonnaise? Blech.

Oh wait! I can get out.

I climb back on the sill. Pretend I’m going to launch myself – off the wrong side – of a bareback horse.  Thank you, rotten, instructor-less, unmonitored childhood! I know exactly how to do this. Press palms, lean slightly launch up and through…

….Ta Da!  Freedom.

If only burglars drank less, and rode more, they’d be better at burgling …

No need to bother with Daisy’s house though.  Nothing to steal.

Unless they love watered down Red Bull with a cheery dollop of Mayo on top…?

On Freezing…

I have done a most excellent job of organizing the change involved (on my end) in expanding our life to encompass dad. Shaun has had the much more difficult end of packing up his house (while working full-time) and taking care of him until they can get here. Not to mention dealing with both of their feelings.

Unfortunately, I hit one of the glitches in my personality, and froze.

I don’t have time to freeze.

Jane getting stuck: I have to look up the menu online for a new restaurant, or I will panic, and blindly order what the person next to me is having. When I open a menu in a restaurant, The words swim around like little fish Haikus. I consider myself pretty about good at reading? So this makes no sense.

I’d find myself, horrified, shrinking back from a plate of shrimp, clam chowder, crab, or lobster. There might as well be a murderous psychopath glaring up at me from the plate, waving a sharp implement. (I’m allergic to shellfish.)

It’s not important enough to fix, in the scheme of Things That Could Use Fixing (at $150 an hour). I am positive there is no menu trauma in my past, so I found a workaround, and moved on.

Thursday, I was planning Unfamiliar Food menus. 14 years of marriage, and I never noticed Shaun was the planner. Note to self: appreciate Shaun. I give my problem the $150 per hour test: is it worth it? No. Need a work around. I put out an all points bulletin: Jane needs food help!

(I have truly amazing friends, who, if they are fazed by my glitches, never let on.)

Hilary comes to help me sort out menus, the grocery list, and strategize how to get back on track: somehow, in the midst of this, she also manages to clean the bathroom.

I am awestruck.

Forget that she’s an incredible trainer. She can do MENUS and clean a bathroom at the same time. I’m speechless.

The next day, I get half the food in my cart, and stop, paralyzed by what I see on the list.

It made perfect sense when I wrote it down. Now, I have no idea what I was thinking.

I stand there and wonder if I can really ask a clerk:

“On which aisle might I find “Frozen Crap”?

Once I finished giggling, and Daisy texted me back suggesting ‘Frozen Crap’ could possibly be pre-prepared scalloped potatoes, etc.

  1. I knew I had to tell you.
  2. I took it global in my brain: where do I freeze around horses? Or do I?
  3. Where do other people freeze?

Today’s question:

Where do you freeze? Is there any area in which you freeze around horses? What’s your work around?

(Yes, I’m begging: I don’t want to stand alone in the freezer aisle.)

Murphy Monday: The Warmblood Registry Inspection

Barbie and Murphy’s RPSI inspection was Sunday.  RPSI stands for something I am unable to pronounce, but I’m told is a Warmblood registry.

We dubbed ourselves “The M Team”. We joked about getting shirts embroidered, so we’d all match on The Big Day. (We didn’t actually DO this, that would take effort.) When it finally got warm enough for us to peel off our jackets, I cracked up. Everyone was wearing a black shirt and jeans. I guess we know The M Team colors!

The M Team getting ready:

Deborah works on Barbie, while Bella body blocks from the front. Barbie is standing at the entrance to the trailer.  If Bella moves, Barbie will launch herself inside.

Barbie believes:

  • She’s famous
  • Bella’s trailer is a Tour Bus
  • Being clean and braided means her World Tour is starting
  • World Tours require an inordinate amount of grain

Hilary tidies up Murphy’s sock:

Daisy gathers allllll the crap you don’t dare leave behind, because you will totally need it if you leave it at home.

Murphy loads into the unfamiliar trailer in under five minutes.

The boy has courage. The practice trailers were painted white inside. Rock Stars prefer low lighting: The Tour Bus is dim. Bella reported a completely quiet, no scramble ride. All systems GO.

Until our caravan arrives.

The place is packed. Getting in and out with a 4-horse rig does not look promising. Bella couldn’t pull in until she knows how she can get out facing forward. Narrow, busy road with blind hill.

Jane decides to help by checking out distances and vehicle positions.  Jane, who hasn’t hauled anything in 20 years. Let’s just say it’s a darn good thing Bella decides to check the situation in person.  The conclusion: if  one car moves, the rig can be maneuvered to get out.

There are reasons you should never take Jane (we always use the third person when embarrassed) to important events.

See? There was this car? And if it got relocated, Bella would be able to drive the 4 horse rig in a nice loop to get out, instead of backing up with a kazillion miniscule 3-point turns…?

Jane makes it her mission to find out who belongs to the car, and get it temporarily relocated.

She had no idea she was being, um, directive with the actual inspector. The man who would approve – or not – Murphy and Barbie. Good news: he did not recognize Jane later, in the inspection arena.

Here is Murphy seconds after unloading from his first ride in a trailer, standing in a place he’s never seen, with horses calling, squealing, wheeling in paddocks, and people chattering. Not a drop of sweat. He’s surprised, maybe slightly concerned, but going with the program. No drama.

Glenhill Farm hosted the inspection with organized grace, professionalism, precision and excellent humor. Lovely facility, lovely owner and staff.

Barbie and Murphy wait their turn in a fairy tale stall, deeply bedded with fresh straw, a huge pile of hay to keep them occupied.

While Daisy fills out paperwork in the office, M Team wanders around. There is no mistaking Murphy’s older half-brother, Tiko, who is also there for the inspection:

Their temperaments and beautiful faces are so similar it was both cool and spooky. Finally, the orientation is given, and we check the list for lineup entry.  Fourth.  Perfect.

Let the inspection begin. The inspector brings his own handler, who was amazing with every horse he touched. First the physical overview:

Barbie alone:

The handler removes Murphy’s halter, and takes over, starting at the walk. Love how he and Murphy are in perfect stride. Once the inspector nods…

The trot begins. It was clear the handler very much wanted the horses to present at their best. Here he’s checking to see that Murphy is sticking with, and the pace is good.

Then comes the bigger trot, look at that suspension! I’ve never seen a handler with so much air time! (The horses impressed the inspector too).

Next comes free movement: Barbie will be unclipped and the two encouraged to canter and trot freely:

Below is the only canter (ish) picture we have: Murphy thinking about it, Barbie starting to canter. There’s a reason we only have one bad photo.

When set free, they canter: beautiful, uphill, lovely to look at. Until…Barbie realizes Auntie Jane is in her show arena. Therefore the show must be over. And Auntie must have treats!

The two of them galloped straight for the cluster of photographers (middle of arena), who dove, scattered and gasped, while trying to shoo them out.

BEE. LINE. I knew she would stop if I held up my hand, but it would also show the real issue. So I shooed her also. Confused, they barreled past. Wheeled, came back.

The photographer next to me said: “This is SO STRANGE, usually the ground poles and hay bales keep them out on the rail.”

Totally did not foresee this.  We shooed and ducked.  At least four times.

Finally, the inspector waved and the handler called out “Whoa”. Barbie did an instant sliding stop that would have done Hudson proud, impressing the inspector and handler with her good manners. When no one asked anything else of her, she started ambling toward me again.

AUNTEEEeeeeeeeee……treeeeeats…..

Daisy shot into the arena to catch Barbie. We wanted the inspector to think she was high-spirited and bold, not hitting the photographer up for a cookie.

Murphy decides this is a perfect time to try for a snack, while Barbie is restrained.

AND…???????

Barbie: Premium mare, brood mare Book One!

Murphy: Premium Silver! Their passports (seriously) will arrive in the mail. Here’s Murphy’s plaque! He’s official.


Jane Plays Donkey Chess, and Plans a Donkey Abduction

Daisy and I are checking out a facility for a friend who rides endurance, to see if it’s worth her making the trip to visit the place. It’s an Endurance barn with a capital T.

As we get out of the car, we see a trailer being loaded nearby, and hear this:

“Yep. Going to the Tevis again this year, how bout you?”

Reply: “Oh yeah, we’re in. Gotta go – loading  up for a quickie 50, see you later…”

While the facility is relatively close to where we live, it’s way off the beaten track, in the middle of country that looks like this:

FYI, those are thirty to forty foot tall trees, not bushes.

The barn itself is homey and funky, a gigantic old livestock barn brought back to new life. It’s repurposed and well organized, with soaring ceiling and shafts of light. It smells like saddle soap, hay, leather cleaner and warm wood.  There are only a few horses in stalls. There is a lean and muscular horse bucking, trotting and squealing in the round pen.

The owner introduces herself, and follows our gaze. “We have to turn him out in a small area first.” The gelding breaks into an easy canter. “He’s 35, and we don’t want him to immediately gallop off.  He might slip.  So we take the edge off first.”

Thirty Five? He’s sound, muscled, and looks in his teens. Daisy figures out from the barn owner that it’s a horse she knew from 25 years ago. This is his retirement home.

The owner slides back a big interior barn door, and we see a room the size of a gymnasium, full of comfy sofas, oriental rugs, bookcases, trophy shelves, and the kind of coffee table  you can put your muddy boots on.  “This is available to all our boarders year round, but we have a Yoga for Equestrians Instructor here on Monday and Wednesday nights.” I mentally check the mileage. Could I make Monday and Wednesdays?

The owner tells us about summer pasture, winter pasture, and the criteria they look at when deciding it’s time to move them for the season. She says: “Let’s go take a look”.

Daisy and I prepare to walk.

Laughing, the owner dangles keys to an industrial looking vehicle. Imagine a Monster Golf Cart, with a truck bed, roll bar, and 4 wheel drive. I get in back. Daisy is better at reporting the details our friend will want to know. I’ll go on for hours about trees and rocks.

The diesel engine roars to life.

Within seconds, it’s apparent why we are not walking.

Continue reading “Jane Plays Donkey Chess, and Plans a Donkey Abduction”

Murphy Monday: In Which We Ace a Step Up Trailer

Murphy is proving to be incredibly sensible, thoughtful, and courageous.  Hudson says it’s because they’re related. (Hudson is convinced their identical twin whorls make them blood relatives. Oh, brother…)

We used a step up this time, since that is the kind of limo that will deliver him to the inspection.  A ton of new ideas, sensations, expectations…he did beautifully, thanks to Hilary’s quiet instruction.

Loading: Barbie is chomping away, completely ignoring everyone.  Daisy offers Murphy the horse equivalent of chocolate.

Hilary gently put one hoof on the mat…

Murphy:

Oh. I should do what with my leg?

Guys? This is awkward? Are you sure this is what…oh. More?

Dude. This is, like, work!

Climbing down? No one said anything about climbing out!

Thinking about it….thinking about it…

…got it!

Ta-Da!

If I get more time, I’ll see if we can get the backing out photos up.

Good boy Murphy!

Murphy Monday: 4 Month Birthday!

Jane has never gone this long without posting. The length of time away is making her feel very weird about posting again, so she is speaking in the third person, which is quite dumb, since we know it’s her. She would like to thank you for hanging in with her through a difficult time.

(My upheaval is down heaving, thank God.)

Murphy, this morning, on his 4 month birthday. He’s hitting an uneven growth spurt, and he’s getting much darker. I have no idea what his color may be called (Daisy?) but I think he’s going to shed out into that beautiful seal shade that is on his neck.

I am rusty in many areas, photography among them. Out of the 100 photos I shot today, the above is the only one in which Murphy has legs.

Why yes, a redwood tree has sprouted out of his back. I was hoping you won’t notice.

Oy.

But hey, on the HUGE scale, check out his size against Barbie.

His height does cause some issues with nursing, but his yoga is excellent.

Barbie looks amazing. Motherhood is her calling. Her strictness and intolerance of bad behavior make her an amazing mom.  Murphy has manners.

Barbie and Daisy:

Psst!  Down here…

It’s me.

Do you see what I have to put up with?!? Cranky mares all around me. I’m not feeling the whole huge thing. Can you hook me up with the gelding paddock across the way? All this estrogen is killing me.

Murphy Monday: Coming to a Starbucks Near You

TLH presents the new and improved Murphy Sofa/Counter/Leaning/Cozy and Entertainment center. (Nicknamed: MUSCLE). Our corporate plan is strategic placement in prime conversation locations. Our Beta model updates weekly.

Please contact Sacking Out, Inc., if your coffee house is interested in participating.

One caveat: product moves, positioning itself for maximum pet-ability.

Upon entry to test location, you’ll find the MUSCLE’s internal homing device will instantly perceive and respond to your presence, quickly making itself available for use.

Complete with audio capability and high-speed internal processor, MUSCLE will begin to place itself appropriately to your relative positions.

While hot beverages may be placed on the shelf provided, it is not recommended, due to MUSCLE’s continual monitoring of your position.  Even a slight change will instigate MUSCLE’s repositioning for your draping pleasure.

Here we see MUSCLE ideally situated for maximum comfort: perfect for staying warm and comfortable during coffee-house conversation.

For size comparison, Daisy is 5′ 10″ and Shaun is 5′ 4″. Note the color darkening on face and neck. We are experimenting with different colors, and have not decided on a final product. We’re trying these color swatches: black on the knees above the chrome, bay on the neck, red bay on the poll, and a beautiful, but not quite liver color in areas of the face.

Product is self-updating, so stay tuned!

Murphy Monday: In Which We Are Super Foal, Able to Leap…Wait…is this Wet?

Super Foal or convenient mobile clothesline.  You decide!

Torment Sacking out begins early when your mom is Daisy. And you have a kabillion Aunties hovering, ready to decorate help.

His color is still up in the air. He’s red bay for 2 inches behind his ears. He’s seal bay in a patch on his neck, and you can see the color of his face, where the baby fuzz is gone.

Daisy, do we have a name for this color?

FYI? Totally off topic if you click read more…blogging humor

Continue reading “Murphy Monday: In Which We Are Super Foal, Able to Leap…Wait…is this Wet?”

Murphy Monday: Hey! I Resemble You!

Murphy meets Daisy’s niece:

Mom! Mom mom mom mom…LOOK, a mini human! Aren’t they cute?!? Can I have it? Pleeeeeeaze mommy…it followed me home.  I don’t think it has a place to live. Can it live with us? Pleeeze mom, can I keep it, pleeeeeeze…?

Aw dang it.  I wanted a pet. Oh well.  Mom says they can visit.

And here’s a picture of me and mom, I think we look alike, except I’m handsomer, because I’m a guy:

Mom and Son, Photo taken by Bella’s Mom

Murphy Monday: Growth Spurt!

Due to Shaun’s unexpected participation in the Disaster of The Month club, and it’s included, grueling, Doctor Visit Marathon, I hadn’t seen Barbie or Murphy all week.

Shaun won the Marathon, btw: she was at a different doctor’s office every day, and TWO on Thursday.  The Marathon has a delightful prize. If you flip to page 87 in The Mom Manual, you’ll see any hurt person in the household has a right to invoke The Doctor Clause on appointment day: entire family gets as much ice cream as they want.

I’m thrilled Shaun picked frozen yogurt.  (I’ve only increased one clothing size instead of six, and I discovered that I like Tart Mango.) I confess, I received a distinct, if possibly exaggerated, OOOF from Hudson when my tushy hit the saddle leather.

Shaun needs to see Murphy every weekend, despite her horse anxiety.  We went on Saturday, and Daisy’s mysterious text suddenly made sense.  Out of the blue this week, I received this text from Daisy:

Huge

That’s it. No explanation.

The second I saw Murphy, I texted Daisy back:

HUGE!!!

He hit an enormous growth spurt. I promise better pictures.  Forgot the camera.  (Duh. Kinda important when you want to take pics.)

Shaun took most of these with my cell.  She couldn’t risk getting her cast bumped, so had to stay out of the stall.

I can go out by myself now, if you’d just move over a little…? No, really. I swear. Then why am I whispering? Uh…because I don’t want to bother mom? Of course she knows, she…YES MOM, I’m right here. No mom, I’m not leaving

Me and Auntie Jane. Did you know the two legs get short as they get older?  Mine are getting short fast. They must be really old.


I’m a grown horse now.  I eat what mom eats! But I still get the good stuff too. My mom shrunk a little bit.  I have to crink my neck to get the liquid stuff. Frustrating.

Even though she shrunk a little, my mommy is big.  Someone said my daddy is big. They said I’m going to be big too.  I don’t know what they’re talking about.  Why is everyone shrinking?

Whatever. As long as I can reach the green stuff.