Running Water, Chaos Theory, and Sparrows!

There are two ways to look at this:

  1. I’ve been riding Ginger for Laurie.
  2. Laurie has graciously indulged me by allowing me to ride Ginger.

I think the photo below shows that #2 is the correct pick. They’re beautiful together:

Copyright: Centerline Photography
Copyright: Centerline Photography

Ginger is an orange ball of fire: opinionated, believes “forward” is an understatement, and is…impatient…with the idea of anything approaching what she would call ‘sedate’. Anything less than Mach 10 is sedate to Ginger.  Slowing down takes far too much time and energy. She’s also a total glamor girl. Think Lucy before her comedic talent was discovered.

Lucille Ball famously said: "I'm not funny.  I'm brave." I think Ginger would say the same thing.
Lucille Ball famously said: “I’m not funny. I’m brave.” I think Ginger would say the same thing.

She’s also a mare’s mare. She reminds me what it feels like to be a hormonal teenager: out-of-sorts and crampy, making a benign issue a problem because we girls just feel like THERE IS A PROBLEM. THAT THING I JUST SPOTTED MUST BE IT. FIX IT, dang it.

I so get this.

During a recent ride, Ginger decided the wash rack that butts up to the arena was The Problem. There was a hose.  Water was coming out of it.  WATER. Do I understand what she’s saying?!?  WATER at one o’clock!

This is a horse that loves her baths.

We went backward, forward, skittered sideways, bounced up and down, and in general showed our displeasure at having to pass near running water at a speed below Mach 90.  I identify. When hormones are involved, I do NOT back down once I’ve staked out an issue, true or not.

Fairly soon, we’re standing quietly opposite the wash rack, while the water is running, talking to a friend. (We know it’s still going to kill us, but we’re very brave.) We try to focus on the conversation.  Sparrows are flitting in and out of the arena, picking up hair for their nests.  All the horses are shedding.

A bit later, we quietly go to work, and it’s awesome. We are cantering nicely in our least favorite direction when it happens.

Two sparrows come tumbling over each other into the arena, straight at us.  I don’t know if they’re fighting, or it’s spring baby making time.  I feel a wing hit Ginger’s belly. Birds whapping near one’s privates are definitely an allowable meltdown issue.  Ginger pays no attention to the birds. Not even a blip on her radar. We keep cantering.

This is where Chaos Theory comes in.

A plot of the Lorenz attractor for values r = 28, σ = 10, b = 8/3.
Whatever. It’s a butterfly! If they flap their wings in Australia, we WILL have a tsunami in California. Who knew?

The birds should have tumbled out, right?

No. Because we hit a Chaos loop.  Running water scared us, therefore the universe hurled us squalling feathers. Her hooves gathering upward in the canter pushed the rolling ball of birds up and in between her front legs.  I feel them tumbling and richocheting between her legs, their little heads whapping like ping-pong balls.  I feel a wing hit a stirrup, feel the Ball ‘O Birds being gathered back up and into the churning cycle of her front legs. They tumble and flap and toss.

I gauge Ginger, wondering if she is going to go all “Today is a good day to die” on me.

Calm cantering.

Except for the sparrows bouncing and rolling and flapping between her front legs, just another day in paradise.

If I stop her, it’s likely the birds will crash to the ground and get pulverized in the process.  If I don’t, she might notice at some point BIRDS are pinging around between her front legs. My slow thought process takes a couple more canter strides to come up with a solution.  (Hey. How often do birds get caught in our horse’s legs?! It’s not like I’ve had to practice this!)

Down into the trot. Hopefully, that will give the birds time to get out sideways. We trot, the birds shoot out of the spin cycle (they’re fine), and Ginger politely asks to canter again.

As if a downward transition to release frantic, trapped sparrows was a normal part of any workout.

And she thought the hose was the problem?

Note to self: next time I decide THAT THING OVER THERE is the problem, check for sparrows.

Would You Like Some Fries with That?

My entrance into helping at the training barn caused a disturbance in the force.

The former helper was male. The training barn is heavily weighted to mares at the moment. Apparently, they looked forward to their cabana boy.

They were not exactly unhappy with me. Ears swiveled at each other: “It’s not cabana boy! Is this good or bad?”

The geldings response was instant and welcoming: Awesome. Dude, look! It’s a chick! One youngster was oddly gleeful: “Mommy!! Where have you been?!?”  Um. Right here, I guess?

The mares decided to hold a sorority meeting after the barn was closed up for the night.

Girls in a herd are much trickier to navigate than boys.  Ask any high school boy who’s been brave enough to attempt cutting a girl out of the herd. It usually doesn’t go well.

I think about this. It’s never good when one is left out of a sorority meeting.

I was new: I expected to get the horse version of super-glue-to-the-chair, notes passed behind my back, and a blackboard scrawled with derogatory “Teacher is…” phrases when I walked into the barn.

I wasn’t going in blind. The trainer gave me a rough overview of personalities, quirks, and habits.  I was looking forward to one quiet alpha mare in particular.  Barn staff had nominated her as “Least Likely to be Difficult”. Very sweet mare.  Her quirk: she dislikes having her blanket touched. Problematic, since I’ll be taking it off and putting it on at least twice a day.

The next morning, I walked into a barn of unusually docile mares. Sweet faces innocently hang over stall doors. Stupidly, this did not activate either my Mom Mayday Siren or Substitute Teacher Hazard Warning Lights.

Awww… They like me! How cool is that?

I unblanket, groom, bandage and lunge the higher-strung Alphas before the arena is packed.

They were perfectly behaved.

Relaxed, and in the rhythm, I went on to the less-amped alpha and beta mares, leaving Miss Least Likely for last.

Fortunately, beyond The Mare Stare of Death, and slight ear pinning, she’s never acted her feelings out. I remove her blanket under the Death Stare. Try to coax her ears forward. Nada.

Oh well.  We go about grooming and working.

Apparently the Sorority of Mares had a secret nomination and a hazing plan.

Guess which mare drew the short straw?

Returning her to her stall, I quietly pull the blanket over Miss Least Likely’s head, adjust it, and reach under her belly for the strap to fasten her blanket, pleased her ears are momentarily forward.

(I’m making progress! She likes me!)

A flash of movement and a searing pain on my butt instantly told me that while I thought I was cooing this message: “Its safe, you can trust me.” She received this message: “YOU can be the Alpha Mare, I, Jane, am a wimp, please take over.”

You could do a dental ID on this mare by photographing my rear. It’s clear she’s had excellent dental care. Beautiful teeth. Nice and even grip.

Mares 1. Jane 0.

Luckily, she was self-correcting. She had a violent reaction to biting me: assuming (somewhat correctly) I was going to beat her to death, she backed up, reared, and hit her head, looking shocked and startled. She was convinced I’d somehow managed to correct her from afar. I glared at her, to reinforce her mistaken idea I’d actually done the correction. It’s hard to glare when you are mad at yourself for being stupid, not the glare-ee for acting horse-like. But I took one for the team.

Before I shut the stall door behind me, I notice every single mare in he barn is on high alert. Our interchange had been closely monitored. Oh. Good. Miss Least Likely’s huge reaction did me a favor: they all believe I aggressively turned on her and instantly dealt out alpha mare justice.

I’m not about to set them straight. I glare at them too, until they turn away, or put their heads down.

I calm Miss Least Likely by ignoring my throbbing butt, forcing myself to relax, and unnecessarily adjusting her blanket until the tension drains from her body. When she pins her ears, I get in her face. Her ears go forward, relieved. She didn’t really want to be the boss.  She lowers her head and nudges me: I had to. I drew the short straw. Sorry? Do over?

I rub her face.

Do over.

Talk To The Hoof: Hudson Talks To Barbie

Dear Humans,

Jane is over the edge.  Understandable.  But she does have a blog to run.  I am completely in the loop.  I have informants. I will run the blog. Talk to The Hoof will be my new column.

I talked to Barbie on the barn phone yesterday (BTW, Daisy: you left your phone in the feeder tub in her stall. You’re lucky. She found it rather tasteless.) She’s sore, but well.

She metaphorically bit my head off.  Barbie felt I could have explained the whole foaling procedure more clearly. I played the gelding card (what do we know?) and she’s somewhat mollified. I spoke to Murphy, who of course, had no clue what he was hearing. But that whinny.  He whinnied at me!

According to Barbie this is what happened: she started feeling sort of colicky, but rather far back, away from her stomach. She said it was a squeezy constricted feeling? Next thing she knew, she was laying in the straw being horribly squeezed. She said it was like being ripped open and left to die.
(This is why she is mad at me. For not explaining exactly where the foal came out.  But I appeal to you…would YOU have a baby if you knew where it came out? Of course not.)

Barbie jumped on me: “You said I was on camera!  That the humans would see  me colicking on camera and come help!” She was steamed.

“Barbs, the human came, right?  As soon as you started hurting?”

“Well, yeah.  But it’s not like she did anything.  She just watched me. I nearly died! Humans. She could have given me a shot or something. At the very least she could have brought me a Margarita.”

Better change the subject, she’s gonna blame me.

“How did you feel when you saw the baby?”, I said.

“Baby?  I thought that thing on the straw was my stomach. I thought about trampling it, but I was too tired. I was dying, Hudson. You didn’t tell me I was going to DIE”.

“Um. You didn’t die”, I say, “and look what you got.”

“Well. I could have”, she said, “and what I “got” was HURT. You have no idea. Why couldn’t I have been born a gelding?”

I hear a hoof stomp.

“You didn’t hurt him, though, right?”, I say.

Continue reading “Talk To The Hoof: Hudson Talks To Barbie”

Barbie Yesterday (The No Baby Update)

Yawn warning: this is a video of a pregnant horse eating.  That’s it.

Barbie not giving birth, yesterday, five days after her due date:

On a humorous note, I saw the baby either kick or roll, a slight bulge outward in the area behind her ribs, then gone.  Barbie’s head jerked up from the grass. Her muzzle wrinkled and her ears pinned. She raised a hind leg to kick at her belly, paused, put her hoof down.

The baby pushed on her side.  Kicking her stomach? Wrong spot.

She put her head back down to eat, and lashed her braided, VetWrap-lumped tail against the exact spot I’d seen move, effectively “smacking” the baby with the hard lump.

She might know there’s a creature in there.

And I think she is not going to be one of those push-over mares, who don’t discipline their foals well. Commando Mom.  Has a nice ring to it.

I must admit, I was awed at her intelligence.  She wanted to whack whatever punched her and was going to make sure she hit it back correctly!

Mommy to Be is still Being, Dang It!

I know we’re all chanting BAAAby BAAAby Baaaaby!

She’s driving us nuts. All indications are: I’m going to lose the baby pool.  I chose today as her delivery date, she has 30  minutes to produce. (Yes, I am counting the seconds.)

Latest photo update: Her Royal Bulkiness rolling

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Her turnout is (deliberately) right next to the pasture where the mares and foals are turned out together.  She’s starting to hang out and watch the moms and babies. So we did too.  They were hilarious.

All the current foals are boys…

And the youngest:

Update on the clipping of foals: I asked why.  My guess was right (shocking, I know!), since they are Arabians at a breeding/show barn, the babies are clipped to show facial features, head and neck. Seeing a more accurate color is a bonus of clipping. Potential buyers can see accurate face, ear, neck detail, immediately.