Hudson on Happiness…

Dear Jane,

I’m totally onboard with our fitness plan.  I love to be super fit, love to go, love to show off my stamina.  Please do not take this as a “back off” letter.

I’m thrilled – and astonished – that we continued to workout through the Celebration of Carrots holiday. (I know humans call this season by a bunch of other names, but trust me, all equines know ’tis Season of Carrots.)

I heard you announce you were ‘going to get a photo of me looking happy, if it killed you’. Let me spell it out. Happiness is not all, “ears forward”.

Behold: I Am Happy…

Notice my muzzle is not visible.  The submerged muzzle is a key indicator to happiness in horses.

This IS my happy face. I can’t help it you know exactly what I’m thinking.

Where was I? Oh, right. Workouts.

You’re going to have to clip me.  Whole body. I know it’s not supposed to be 65 degrees at the end of December. Repeat after me: Climate. Change. I’m dying here.

I’d like a manly, flashy tattoo.  Motorcycle flames would rock.  (I need compensation for the ‘Dressage Horse’ thing.)

BTW, Shaun sent  me the photo of you wearing your new hat. BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

Now THIS is a donkey I can live with.

You kill me.  I thought DQ’s had no sense of humor…

Please send me Dinero’s email and chat ID.  I’m going to Skype on Bella’s computer. I heard Dinero is officially retired from roping (man oh man, I know how he feels).  I want to stay in touch. Plus, no one does innocent sarcasm like Dinero.  I need to have a buddy to help me rag on Woodward.

Please pass on to…Santa: a Mrs. Pasture’s Easy Bake Oven is a vital gift,  a life-altering gift.

A new turn out blanket? Superfluous. I don’t mind the drafty old one.

nudge,

Hudson

The Trouble With a Good Rope Horse? He’s Good With Rope.

After the second big lock-picking escape in which Hudson stole Dinero and himself, my thinking changed. I saw George Clooney and Brad Pitt.

Think Ocean’s 243: Hudson starring as George Clooney, Dinero as Brad Pitt. Between the two of them, no lock is safe.

For a smart horse, learning to untie a quick-release knot is a fairly ho-hum occurrence. Pull the end, and I’m free.

Hudson is a smart horse with a stupid owner: I  let him watch me tie the non quick-release knot, without blindfolding him first.

Exhibit A: in which he thinks I’m not paying attention.

Exhibit B: in which he knows I’m paying close attention.

We love the hideous teal lead, because it has a panic snap. It’s why we can tie Hudson with a real knot.

Hudson is tied all the time, and he never bothers the lead.

He’s an efficient oat eater. Quick and thorough.  Dinero, however, is a leisurely diner. Hudson only bothers to untie himself when he determines his opportunity to double his dinner are most excellent.

I’m trying to decide if his blindfold should have flames on it, or hearts….

In Which Jane Does a Little Mowing, and Hudson Runs Away From Home

I printed out this visual aide and took it with me to the barn.

Left to my care-free, easy-going, eyeball-it devices, Hudson could easily have been clipped into a Standard Poodle finish.

I Googled clipping to brush up on body clipping, after 20 years off.  A horse-sized stick of white chalk to mark out my ‘lines’? Seriously? Who has giant white chalk?

Genius strikes. I hit up the tool shed, and score a roll of masking tape. Press on to apply, then peel off in the direction of the hair. Totally painless. Chalk-shmalk.  It won’t smear!

Hudson is One With The Clippers.  He Zens out as soon as he hears the whir:  tension drains out of his muscles, he yawns, his ears get loose, his eye glazes, his lids begin to drop.

While I uncoil cord, pour blade wash into a pan, oil blades and turn clippers on and off, I  see  Zzzzz’s beginning to form in the air above his ears. He’s supremely content.

Seeing him happy and soft makes the tension drain out of my muscles. I riiiiip out the first length of masking tape, utterly relaxed. H paid no attention to the ripping.

Zzzzzzzzzz. Riiiiip.  Zzzzzzz. Riiiiiip. Zzzzzzzz. Press.

PRESS?!?

Hudson is now forty feet tall. It’s ON him?! He snorts.

“I like the tape?”, I say, conversationally, as if he has a choice, “It makes it easy…Cut Line Here. See?” I poke him,  to point out tape is a sensible alternative. (No, I never  learn.)

My pressing the tape on his body creeped him out, in that crime-scene, she’s marking-where-the-bodies-fell sort of way. The moment I laid masking tape along his belly, he stopped sleeping and began scowling:

Hudson fully expected to wake up with something manly on  his butt, like a star, or a steer head, and a full body clip. Instead, it looks like I knocked him out, rolled him over, and mowed his stomach.

It looks like a Brazilian wax job done by a ‘technician’ that advertised their prices in crayon on a cardboard sign.

Still, I was ridiculously pleased I got the line this clean.

I took him out of the cross ties, and he, uh, stretched out his neck. I immediately squished his head back down.  His throat latch looked like it was cut by gleeful kindergartners with  stubby little-kid scissors.

His belly was surprisingly good.  But then, we have to turn upside down to make any comments about the belly clipping, which gives most people a headache: far easier to say “great job on the belly” without looking.

When I finished, I warm toweled all the loose hairs off, brushed thoroughly, blanketed, and put him away, automatically checking the gate locks.

You see, he and Dinero had a jailbreak. It was my fault: I either didn’t clip the chain right, or (gulp) I forgot to chain the gate shut.  I was completely paranoid about opening the gates for weeks.

They got off the ranch.

Luckily, both follow their stomachs, and ran UP the driveway to the racing barn, and were happily chowing down in their hay shed. Thank God Alice woke up thinking, “Hooves…?  I shouldn’t be hearing hooves outside my window at 1 am.” She woke Bella and they hunted down and caught the boys.

There is something terribly wrong about being the people needing to catch the loose horses, on a work night, near a busy road, when you aren’t the one who left the gate open.  (They were both extremely generous with me about my mind loss.)

This is why, after clipping, I check all the gates twice, even those I haven’t used. I slip out through the bars so I don’t have to unlock anything.

45 minutes later, at home, my text bings. It’s Lily:

Did you know the horses are out? BM found and is putting them back. It’s ok, they’re in barn area.

WHAT?!?

I know Hudson is the culprit. A few years back, Bella woke up to the sound of the chain banging on the gate: she ran outside pulling muck boots on over her pj’s.  Hudson had managed to work the chain up out of the slot and back out the little hole TWICE (because it’s locked twice) and let himself out.

It seems obvious to me that Hudson is mortified by his trace clip. He’s running away from home, and taking Dinero with him.

Maybe I can mollify him with a press-apply tattoo? Before he packs all his belongings in a haynet and slings it over his shoulder? How to keep him from running away?

(I bought a horse-proof U clip for the gate. So far, so good.)

Horses Know. And They Kindly Provide.

I think Hudson and Dinero know I am in trouble, and are deliberately providing me with humorous entertainment.

First, you need to understand the difference in personality between Dinero and Hudson.

  • Hudson: Mr. Spock. He studies the Human Condition, and the potential role of Horses. We will never make total sense to him? But we’re interesting case studies.
  • Dinero: Surf’s Up. Always ready for a Chai latte or a run on the Big Kahuna, maybe he’ll roast a couple of marshmallows for breakfast. He’ll invite you to come, and give you the best roasting stick. He’s intensely serious about his passion though, and has instant razor focus. Total. Surfer.

Dinero would wear a flip-flops, swim trunks, and a Hawaiian shirt…he’s chill. Hudson would wear expensive suits or ranch gear. Dinero is not capable of hiding his feelings. He lights up if he likes you. Hudson would rather die a slow death from carrot withdrawal than let you know how he feels about anything, one way or the other.

*Exception:  He has no problem letting you know how he feels about The Girth.

Okay, now you have background…

Continue reading “Horses Know. And They Kindly Provide.”

The Difference Between Dinero and Hudson

Dinero posing:

Hudson posing:

This is what I did:

Dinero?

I said, I’m gonna take your picture now, put your ears forward, K?

He stood like that for five minutes while I shot him from different angles.

Hudson?

I said, I’m gonna take your picture now, put your ears forward, K?

When that didn’t work, I jumped up and down.  When that didn’t work, I waved my arms like semaphore flags, rustled a plastic bag, and threw a rock in the air. When THAT didn’t work, I shook a bucket of grain, trying to get him to turn his head and look at me through the ‘cow’ horns.

I think we can tell by his expression that he’s humoring me.

What horse doesn’t prick  his ears and look at you when you shake grain?

Poor Dinero, he was photographed before Hudson, so when I shook the grain at Hudson, Dinero was like Donkey in Shrek:  ME!  PICK. ME.  I like grain! MEEEeeeeeeeee!!!!! He had the most spectacularly alert expression, completely still, ears tightly pricked forward.

The gauntlet has been thrown.  Hudson, I am going to get a good photo of you, whether you like it or not!

I wonder if he’d prick his ears at the sight of me using a Hula Hoop…

What’s the funniest thing you’ve done, trying to get that special photo of your horse?

Run Like the Wind!

A cold stiff wind swept down from Alaska. Trees bent over, wires swayed, barn roofs groaned, moaned and made scary noises.  The wind was blowing hard enough to roll the gravel down the driveway. I had to lean into it to walk.

Every horse I saw was higher than a kite. Nostrils were flaring, with heads tossing all over the place.

Uh Oh.

Better turn the boys out before I ride.

I have to halter each of them before I can get their sheets off: I can’t trust them to stand still.  That’s insane with these two: they stand still.

But this is Black Stallion level wind. The kind of wind that makes every horse believe he is The Black, and must RUN, run NOW, wild and FREE.

I wonder if I should lead one at a time to the turnout.  Usually I have one in each hand. Problem. Whoever is left will likely have a complete meltdown: I’ll have my hands twice as full bringing out Left Behind Horse.  So I take a deep breath, and lead them both.

Correction: they lead me.  Jigging.  Tossing manes. Rolling eyes. Heads high in the stratosphere. Luckily, it’s only about 50 feet from paddock gate to arena gate.

I get them in, figure out the logistics of how I’m going to turn them loose without getting run over or accidentally kicked, and unbuckle halters, one at a time.  I’m expecting immediate, crazy-assed running.

They drop like stones the second the halters are off. Their knees are buckling before I can get the buckle unhooked.  Got to ROLL.

Dinero heaves himself up, shakes off in a cloud of dust, and takes off bucking, squealing like a stallion, and galloping.

Hudson heaves himself up, shakes off, puts his head into the wind, and trots clumsily toward the rail.

Huh?! Where’s the fireworks?

Dinero is exploding around him like a crazed bottle rocket: crow hopping, kicking out, rolling back, twisting, charging around, including racing up to Hudson to incite his wild side.

This is Hudson, running like the wind:

(It was so windy, the trees are blurry.)

Continue reading “Run Like the Wind!”

Windex Does Strange Things to Your Brain…

If you missed yesterday’s post, read it here. It’s good background info.

Bella hurt her back, so I’ve ponied or ridden Dinero often, so she can heal. He’s a doll, it’s very fun.  I love to watch the boys tease each other incessantly on our pony walks.

Lately, I’ve been sick, or very tired. This leads to something I call “Jane-Thinking”.

It should come as no surprise, that while sitting on Hudson bareback, and ponying a tack-less Dinero, I’ve been contemplating how much easier it would be to switch horses (ride Dinero, pony Hudson) without having to get off and on again.

Yes. You read that correctly.

They’re right next to each other. Two naked backs only inches apart. They can both be ridden in halters.

I used to do this as a kid.

The horses are not going to care. Be a bit surprised maybe, but no flipping out.

Until Windex day, I dismissed the idea outright.  Why? Because I’m 53. I probably haven’t done that for 40 years. Might not work out as well as I magically think.

On Windex day, this is a completely inspired solution.  No having to find a fence to backward climb while handling two horses! Just switch.  Easy.

I decided to perform this feat (I’m telling you, Windex messes with your brain) while inside an arena, facing an open gate. I was on Hudson, who wanted to go out the gate. I was switching to Dinero, a foot or so down, who wanted dinner. Which  also happened to be outside the gate.

Because I thought this through so well, I had a saddle on Hudson, which got in the way while I prepared to get off on the wrong side.  Both horses turned their heads to the space between them, with big question marks over their heads.

Hudson was clearly broadcasting: mom. wrong side.

Dinero was looking at me with benign interest.

I’m sitting sideways on the saddle, thinking I probably should not use the remaining stirrup as a launching pad. Instead, I kinda, sorta, fling my right leg above Dinero’s back.

That’s when I remember the difference between being 13 and being 53. What is it about being mid-air  that snaps one back to reality?

My right leg is the bum leg.  It’s numb. I won’t be able to feel if I made it or not.

Abort! Abort!

Luckily, I stick the landing.  I land on my feet in the 3″ space between the horses. Immediate grumbling about rude humans who shove their way into personal space.

This should stop me from ever trying it again.

But it’s Windex day.

I know! Next time I will make sure neither of them have saddles or bridles…then I can just sail over.

Right?

 

Last of the Spring Cattle Drives

Photos from Bella, since we didn’t get to go. Now I know what she meant when she said it’s steep, rocky, and brushy. Thanks, Bella.

The view is awesome. Glad you had your phone, and were high enough for a cell tower!

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(Don’t let Hudson see this, or I will never live it down…those are Dinero’s ears!  I know those ears! Where am I?  How come I’m not there?!?)

Who Turned Off the Rain?

And is it okay if I kiss your feet?

Today the Universe looked around, said “Fine. Enough with the rain, already.” and flipped the “Spring” switch. It was only two days ago I was crawling underneath my house in four (cold) inches of water trying to get a pump set up.

Really? Like, for real, really?  I want to touch everything to verify it’s not fake.

This is a Hollywood-level staging of Spring, The Musical.

There is a dove cooing on top of my neighbors fence.  Two Goldfinches are arguing over seed in her feeder, while the third perches on a nearby branch warbling it’s little heart out.  I stand corrected. Make that “belting it’s little Broadway heart out”.

Our lilac bushes, which looked like a bunch of dead sticks yesterday, have tiny green leaves and huge stacks of blooms. At this rate, our roses should push out at least one flower by tomorrow, even though they have only a few inches of new growth.

At the barn, the wild marigolds and nasturtiums are blooming.  Grass is so thick and broad-leaved each blade looks like a miniature corn stalk.

Insert Disney-esque, heart-clutching, joyful gasp.

There it is.  The surest barn sign of spring.

Continue reading “Who Turned Off the Rain?”