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.


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.


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”

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.”

In Which we Apologize for Hold Without Music

Dear God,

Would you mind checking the iCal on your iPad please?  I think you accidentally scheduled all of our pending family crises for the same 6 months. While I know you can’t, um, “make mistakes” because you’re God, (and God doesn’t make mistakes), I would think even Your Holiness might have a learning curve on software? We’d appreciate any re-routing you can make.

If you and Steve Jobs have been a bit too busy to connect on the details, I thought this might help:

BTW, thank you for all the wonderful things you tossed in with the hard things.  It makes it totally bearable, and me love you even more.

Oh, and consider this a prayer for great grampa. We sure would appreciate it if this could be easier for him. I’m getting his room ready as fast as I can? But he’d rather be home, if you can work it out.

Whatever you decide, you have, as always, my deepest gratitude. (But don’t forget to check your calendar!)



Murphy Monday: In Which We Discover a Slight Oversight and Meet a New Blogger!

Daisy and I were quiet, watching Murphyvision. Barbie and Murphy were eating: my brain began marching images of junk food past my inner vision.

I look at Daisy, she’s probably thinking about something more interesting. Gourmet food, minimum. I sigh.  Have to get my brain out of the cookie aisle. Murphy and Barbie will be going for Warmblood inspection/approval. Safe, non-food topic.

“When is the inspection, again?”, I say, turning toward Daisy.

“First week in October”, she says. We think about this.

“Road trip?”, I ask, hopefully. It’s a knee jerk reaction: still picturing small bags of chips.

“Nah”, says Daisy, “It’s only like ten miles from here. Get the Doritos out of your head.”

We turn back to Murphyvision. Suddenly, Daisy jerks up straight.

“What?”, I say.

“Inspection?”, Daisy says,  “Road trip?”

“And…?”, I think, while a queasy feeling starts gnawing at me.

“Oh. Crap.”, she says, punching numbers into her cell.

It hits me. Road trip?  

Murphy has go IN A TRAILER in 3 weeks? Mayday! Mayday!

A few conversations later, we have a plan. Hilary Dorris is going to come begin his trailer training.

Day One: 

Barbie can’t get in the trailer fast enough (she learned self-loading from Hudson) and blissfully eats  her way through a ton of hay, grain, and whatever else Daisy can throw in there.  Hilary quietly works to get Murphy to put a foot on the ramp.

Murphy’s response: a mild, non-hysterical, “Um. No, thank you.  I’ll stay here please.”

It’s good: he’s exposed, would put a hoof on the ramp, and remained relaxed. We’re taking it nice and easy, right?

Day Two:

I’m 15 minutes late for the training session. The rig is facing me, backed into the breezeway between paddocks. I grab my camera and walk carefully toward the trailer: I can’t see what’s happening, and I sure as heck don’t want to reverse progress by walking up and saying “Hi. How’s it going? Oh. He was? Gee. Sorry.”

Hilary waves me in. I’ll have to squeeze into the breezeway by moving a trailer door slightly.

I’m floored by what I see. Really?!? In 15 minutes? On day TWO?

There’s Murphy, standing in the trailer.  Perfectly relaxed, hanging out. Maybe ready to yawn. Totally unfazed by moving door and my appearance. He hung out at least a half an hour, completely relaxed: he turned around nicely. Moved away from pressure. Hilary even coaxed him a few steps backward toward the ramp. No intention to make him back out: too soon, just getting comfy.

There was a slight problem with walking out.  Murphy preferred, as a future hunter, to jump the ramp. Scary. Tanbark can be slick. He had remedial “this is a ramp. look at it. touch it” lessons.

Murphy:  “So boring.”, yawn, “I am a jumper.”

He listened politely. Put a hoof out.

But calmly cleared it like a hunter. I think he landed 8 feet away.

Fine. Ramp lessons. First, mom walks over the ramp.

Then Murphy will walk over.

“That? No way! It’s too high! Dude, I’d have to lift my hoof up like THIS high! I’m thinking not.”

No more pictures. Aunt Jane had to step in and help.  To continue safely, we needed an extra pair of hands.

Within a quiet, skillful half hour, Murphy was walking across, on, and standing relaxed on the ramp. The bubble over his head clearly said “Um. What was the big deal here, wasn’t scared. Didn’t much like the thunking noise, that’s all.” Pause. “Can we do something else now?”

Thank goodness Hilary decided to return to horse training!  We missed her. She’s going to be blogging as well, which I am excited about. (Great. Tips.) You can find her new blog here, Hilary Dorris Training, with a more detailed version of  Murphy in loading training, if you click the link below.

He made Student of the Week. Aren’t you proud?!?

And I think we can all see his color changing: gorgeous!

Roping Practice Wednesday

At home, waiting to be loaded:

Hudson is smiling.  This is a huge smile for Hudson, Master of Understatement.

Dinero is catching some Zzzz’s.

It was  hotter than blazes all day. Which meant a most excellent evening in the hills: T-shirt warm, and not too hot to rope, um, spectate. It probably was hot if you were hurtling after a steer.

Hudson was overjoyed to lose the two pound dressage saddle (?!?), and feel the heft of a sixty pound roping saddle.  (He’s such a guy.)

Once a cow horse, always a cow horse. He doesn’t understand he’s awesome in dressage.

Below, A rare photo of Hudson with his ears forward. Note: his attention is fixed on the arena gate.

The roping arena: it’s level, the footing is light and fast, and it’s HUGE. Think football field. It may be my favorite arena ever.  It’s certainly Hudson’s. We rode with Trixie and Bella before practice while they warmed up.

I had the best dressage ride ever: round, forward, relaxed, on the bit…he was so light in the bridle that holding his mouth was like holding a sheet of paper. At every gait. Wonderful leg yields, nice turn on the haunches, perfect in every way.  Luckily, on roping saddles, the stirrups are not set as far forward as other western saddles.

Big arena, room to gallop: I let him go. To my surprise, he merely stretched out, relaxed, and cantered on. He was humming with happiness. Only minor blip: acceptable. Jigging near the box…

My laugh of the day: technically, I know how to hold split reins. I’m good as long as I don’t have to move. Unfortunately, at some point while riding, you have to move? It seems to be part of the deal. (I ride the halt at Olympic level, if I do say so myself.) I appeared to be hauling up or dropping anchor every time I adjusted rein length. Hudson didn’t care. At all. That’s how happy he was.

Bella and Dinero in the box:

It’s quite possibly the most beautiful ranch I’ve ever seen.  The box is shaded by old trees, the late afternoon light filters down, and everything glows.

So. Here’s the thing:

  • I had a blast
  • Hudson had a blast
  • We were still doing what I love
  • I have no interest in showing dressage
  • The whole atmosphere is relaxed, inclusive, and welcoming
  • I felt no need to be perfect
  • Just because Hudson can DO dressage doesn’t mean he likes it

Maybe I should consider…?

Bella generously said, of her extra roping saddle: “If you can lift it, you can borrow it!”

I’ll just be the one down at the barn, doing dead lift saddle reps…

and one and two and three and four and….make those biceps burn!

The Bad Thing: Hudson’s Perspective

Dear Jane-Readers,

Please forgive me, but I am going to address all the equines out there, who surely will comprehend my pain.  No offense meant to bipeds: it’s one of those “until you walk in my hooves” sort of things.

Dear Equines,

The misery has compounded. For weeks, Jane has rushed in, apparently aimlessly deciding what to do with me, and then forgetting what she decided.

She has been driving me crazy.

Legitimate grievance #1:

I’ve learned to handle the grooming. I’ve adjusted my philosophy and even put my preference on the bottom.

  • Groom and let’s go.
  • Don’t groom and let’s go.

Legitimate grievance #2:

For nearly 4 weeks, all I have done is WALK.  I refuse to count one trot circle or one canter circle as something besides walking. I’ve walked:

  • on the buckle
  • on the bit
  • stretchy
  • booming
  • lazy
  • on the road
  • in heavy sand
  • while ponying Dinero
  • while being ponied by Dinero

Sometimes all in the same “riding” session. I have dutifully walked with gentlemanly forgiveness, and reasoned with Jane. Despite her abundant faults, Jane usually listens. 

Every. Single. Day. I politely suggested we add to the mind numbing walk program.

Every. Single. Day. Jane said “not now, Hudson, sorry”.

I am not lame.  I am healthy. I am fit. There is no medical reason I must walk.

Many of you may identify with my frustration. {Tucker, Fee, Ginger, Solo…need I go on?} I’m trying to handle my retirement with grace, and embrace my new career (gag) as a dressage horse.

I’m a point and shoot kind of guy, okay? I need to work.  I mean, come on: plod plod plod, turn the corner, plod: hey there’s those turkeys again. And how about that manure pile? You knowI think the sun might have moved a notch…

It’s water torture. Drip drip drip.

Then, The Bad Thing happened…

Continue reading “The Bad Thing: Hudson’s Perspective”

Thank You For Traveling Air Hudson, Please Fly Again Soon…

Most. Uncomfortable. Gallop. Ever.

Below is what I thought, as Hudson blasted down the big arena’s long side in a jarring blur of  pipe rail:

  1. Strange. I cued for a trot.
  2. This is dang uncomfortable. I know we’re at speed, but that shouldn’t…
  3. Why am I in the air?
  4. Why is my air time alternating with slamming into the saddle?
  5. This reminds me of something…almost have it….
  6. How weird is this? This feels just like riding the bull…
  7. I wonder why it feels like…Uh Oh…

Yes. I was that slow.

Seriously. It took the entire long side, many jolts into the air, and 4 or 5 savagely good leaps and pile drives for my brain to arrive here: Hudson was bucking.

I spent an embarrassing amount of time wondering why the saddle kept inexplicably disappearing, being annoyed Hudson wouldn’t stay on the bit (once Dressage Brain is activated, all other reality ceases to exist), and wondering how my equitation could just vanish. I mean, I was in the air at least half the time we were galloping?

Translation: I was too stupid to fall off.

In all the years I’ve ridden him, Hudson has never even kicked out in happiness, let alone bucked.

When I told Bella, she said: “What did you DO?!?”

BTW, this is the right response. I thought the same thing while still on board. Any other horse I’d look at multiple factors, and well, I would have known they were bucking. I did make sure he wasn’t in pain. That was my second thought after, “What did I DO?!?”

This is what I did:

I did not take into account The Bad Thing.

Hudson is going to tell you about it tomorrow…

In Which We Still Have Musical Hold…and Fried Cheeto Sandwiches

Due to circumstances beyond our control, I need to be rebooted. My code is flawed, and hit a loop error into endless Worry.

My personal Psych Techs are off camping, eating fried Cheeto sandwiches and starting their own SWAT team.  You gotta love Psych Techs who feel a band and a SWAT team are perfectly complimentary occupations.

I haven’t posted for fear of infecting TLH with neuroses/anxiety. My PT’s are on vacation.  (And also because my keyboard is really sticky from all the frosting.)

Aside: I have invented the All-Frosting Cupcake.  That’s right, skip the cake, go right for the frosting!

We had a family health crisis, it’s over, looks like all is going to be well eventually. We are SO grateful. And it will be a very long road to recovery.

I am stuck in intensely busy, unfunny Overwhelming Land: which is okay if that is the sort of thing that makes your heart beat faster.

Micah and I are managing the command center-slash-travel agency/medical contingency planners.  His job is hug-giver, Master Zombie Slayer (Call of Duty, Black Ops, with TONS of Zombies), and personal driver now that he has his learner’s permit.

I need to be driven to the places where Frosting spawns.

Sigh. Every time I look at TLH, my mind goes blank (Fine. It goes blanker).

Here’s the new plan.  I will actually use the post a day prompts.  No idea if this will be lame, awesome, or profoundly disappointing.

We can always call in the Rock Band SWAT Team…