Back to Reality…Oops There Goes Gravity (The Super Model, Part Two)

If only our horse lives could stay in a sort of rosy, carrot and alfalfa scented fog of perfect bliss and connection.

Really Jane? What is my photo doing on a horse blog?
Our Reality and Gravity expert: Eminem

While my ideal state for relationships is All Bliss, All the Time, there’s a problem. That rosy, foggy, carrot and alfalfa scented state is strictly imaginary.

As anyone in any relationship anywhere is well aware.

This is partly why those incredible moments of connection are so sweet. BECAUSE THEY GO AWAY.  

Sorry.  Didn’t realize I was shouting.

Stand still so I can Disney-fy our relationships, dang it!
Why, Walt, WHY…?

Back to Reality:

The Super Model went back to being an ordinary horse.

I’ve learned this at the training barn: a surprising number of mares have “Blanket Issues”.  Even if they like blankets.  

The Super Model is more or less decent about having her blankets removed.  She is more or less psycho about having them put back on.  Often, a stud chain has to be involved, to keep all four hooves on the ground, and so we don’t end up pinned beneath her.  She would like the blanket to be put on very, very fast.


She wants to charge me down and swan dive into the head opening, her ears pinned, her lips curled, her eyes small and glaring.

I was lucky.  I got a two-day “You’re back! You’re back!” grace period.  Soft eyes and sweetness while I gently pulled blankets off and on again. She’d been on the road.  I assumed she’d finally given in to trainers requirement that We Stand Still For Blankets.

Day three: she had a change of heart about many things: mowing me down seemed like a decent option when a butterfly gently fluttered down onto a pretty flower. 

Rats. My job is to make her more afraid of ME than random nunchuk-wielding butterflies.  

Seeking World Domination and Arch Nemesis status.  Horrifying.

That unfair, totally wrong thing that our mother said? This hurts me more than it hurts you? It’s that hard to wallop The Super Model. I want to sob because she had been so sweet, and now I’m beating the crap out of her. More or less.

The good thing about horses…as long as we are fair and not acting out of anger, it doesn’t change how they feel about us. Once past the evil butterfly and in the barn, she nuzzles my hair.  

Awwwww. She still loves me.  

Later, she’d like to kill me when I’m putting her blanket back on.  Nothing like being in a 12×12 box with a 16.3 hot horse that is trying to climb up your body because you are not blanketing her fast enough. Note: this is not fear. She is impatient, and wants me to hurry up, preferably by making the blankets magically appear on her body, without all the annoying buckling, tweaking, and head insertion. I’m somewhat familiar with Reality.  I have the chain ready.  We work on standing still, quiet, and relaxed for blanketing.  Four times.

Oops There Goes Gravity:

I started laughing: it’s love. We don’t get to cherry-pick the warm fuzzy stuff and avoid the random bitchiness. (Shaun would verify this.) Love is all-inclusive. 

Damn it.




Some People Call Me Maurice…

The Pompatus of Love.

This may or may not horrify you, but I watch TV.  I think of it as an exercise in marital understanding. We’re all different, right? For some of us, TV is entertainment. For others, it’s a tool we use to get through the flu without actually killing ourselves.

Shaun and I baffle each other. How did we ever get married? How has it lasted 16 years?

We stare at each other a lot. And then something unexpected happens.

I don’t understand you, but here: I bought you a horse.

I don’t understand you, but here: I bought you this ugly giant flat screen TV.

We try to bridge the divide.  Occasionally, Shaun volunteers to come to the barn.  Encased in a ton of metal with the doors locked.  What she’s thinking:  “Why would I want to be outside? In the dirt? With bugs? Is that…poop?  Ewwwwww. Didn’t you come home with a black eye recently?”

Shaun asks me to watch TV with her.  “Sure!” I say, stuffing my reluctance deep into an old, unused, neuron.

I stare at the TV. I stare at Shaun. What I’m thinking: “Why would I want to see Inside San Quentin? Blech. I also watch, through my fingers, relationship dramas acted out above anesthetized, bloody bodies.  Is that a LIVER? Ewwwwww.”

Enter American Idol: I love all music, Shaun loves all TV reality shows. It should be win-win.

Keith Urban had to screw it up. (Dang it all Keith, you’re my favorite judge.) This week he wore a T-shirt printed with “Some People Call Me Maurice”. I burst out laughing, and giggled every time the camera panned to the judges.

This looked a lot better on Keith.
It looked a lot better on Keith. I suspect this is probably true of clothing in general.

(I had to laugh at something. The contestants were instructed to sing a Beatles song. Beatles? Who are the Beatles?) 

“What’s so funny?”, Shaun asks, mystified.

“His shirt!”, I gasp, as disturbing memories, mostly involving a dorm room at UC Berkeley and Alex’s make-up from Clockwork Orange, un-spoll in my brain.

“What does it mean?”, she says.

“Space Cowboy?”, I say.

“Himalayan Dental Assistant?”, she says, trying to figure out this wacko game of bizarre careers.

“The Joker?”, I say, certain this will make my point crystal clear.

“The Green Lantern?” she says, baffled.

If only The Green Lantern were here to shine the light of justice and rock and roll...
Shining the light of truth, justice, and rock music. Also rocking the Abs. Why do superheros get the best abs?

We’re in trouble. We go back to the show.

I Play My Music in the Sun

The next day, I bring up video of The Steve Miller Band on YouTube.  Shaun listens with that look on her face.

“You like this?”, she says, stuffing her incredulity into a vacated synapse.

I’m so busy processing how innocuous this song seems in 2013, (it felt very counter-culture in 1974), that I have to make her repeat her question.

“Well, yeah, don’t you?”, I say.

“Not exactly?”, she says, searching for something that won’t hurt my feelings: “I was more in to Motown.”

I can work with this: I like Motown.

Problem: I also like Metallica. Led Zepplin. Janis Joplin. Bach. Jay-Z. Lady Gaga. Loretta Lynn. Mozart. Brooks and Dunn. Eminem. Itzhak Perlman. Barbara Streisand. The Village People.  (Did I say that last one out loud?)

Of course I like them. YMCA? I'm gay.  It's genetic.  Same with Abba.
I”m gay, therefore I’m genetically predisposed to liking the Village People and Abba. I am dance-spastic. But hand me a pink feather boa, and I’m definitely not sitting out Dancing Queen. Even though I should. Really.

Sure Don’t Want to Hurt No One

My dad used to say two things weren’t for sissies:

  1. Getting Old
  2. Love

Getting Old: I nearly had a heart attack listening to some really GOOD musicians say they’d never heard of the Beatles.  Not for sissies.

Love: I don’t think Dad meant actual love?  Love is easy.  Blammo. Love slams you, whether it’s your wife, husband, kid, or fur family.  It just flattens us. Getting up over and over, that’s the hard part.

I’m pretty sure Dad meant sticking to a relationship in which the other half doesn’t like rock and roll.

THAT is not for sissies.

Overcoming Refrigerator Fear

It’s true.  I am afraid of our fridge.

Some fears are normal and justified. They should be encouraged.  In that category: fear of hot stoves, fear of hungry mountain lions, fear of Jane’s fridge.

Daisy calls our fridge “Condiment Hell” and refuses to open it for any reason.

I prefer to think of it as “The Condiment Museum”.

Continue reading “Overcoming Refrigerator Fear”

Jane’s Letter to Hudson on Grooming

Dear Hudson,

Trust me.  I hear you loud and clear.  Daily.

Let me explain.

On the grooming: it gets you out of a much worse torture; the bath.

On the one hand: daily thorough grooming.  On the other hand: getting drenched with cold water, lathered up, scrubbed, rinsed, cream-rinsed, re-drenched, show-sheened, face washed, forced to stand around in  the sun until dry. Or worse: all the above, drenched with cold water, and having a cooler thrown over you to help you dry because it’s raining.

30 minutes a day is a small price to pay, don’t you think? Without the every-inch-thorough grooming, I wouldn’t have found that abscess. I also wouldn’t know the Ted Bundy of horses in the next paddock got his chompers on your butt, and gave you a sore lump the size of Texas.

It’s not like I pick off minute specks of dirt with a Q-tip. Hellooo?  Curry and brushes. Tail only when I can wash it. Mane, ditto. And don’t give me any crap about the towel. (Eye rolling.)

You dope, I don’t towel you for the grooming aspect.  I do it because you like it. Your lips get all wiggly, your eyes close, and you look like a little foal enjoying a grooming by his mother.

Do you realize you have not had a bath since September? I don’t care all that much about mud.  Hellooo…I’m the person who turns you out to roll. Daily grooming keeps the mud from drying out your skin. You might not have noticed, but I leave the dried mud on your legs when it’s soupy, to help prevent scratches.

Next time you are down at the barn, please note the show Arabs lined up at the wash rack: they are bathed daily in all weather, have their manes and tails wrapped 24/7, are clipped every other second, and are not allowed to roll.  Ever.  They might break a hair. They never go bootless or bell-less.  They do not gallop. They must lunge before every ride. They always have to be on. No ambling in the sunshine for them.  Their coats could get sunburned.

You are a lucky guy. I’m trying to save you unpleasantness.  But hey, if you want to eat your (normal) amount of grain while being groomed, fine.

Ixnay on the trash can-ay.

(Honestly? Sorry you hate the grooming. But we gotta.  Can you work with me here?)

On the cattle drive:

We can’t go. I got sick again. I know, I know. I’m sorry.

(FYI, I would be more mortified than you, if I fell off in front of the other cow horses. Trust me, that’s a needless worry.)

How about if I come keep you company while Dinero is gone?

You know, the big arena is dry now.  You know what that means…

GALLOP! You wanna?? Maybe find some turkeys to chase?



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?”

Falling in Love With Our Horses: The Second Valentine Post

The nice thing about valentines: there’s no such thing as giving, or getting, too many.

Shannon and Spider’s story at A Work In Progress.  Like many of the memories I’m reading, it makes me teary and happy.  Beautiful.

Check out Erik’s story, one very special horse, at Grey Horse Matters.

Sandy’s story was too good to leave in the comments section:

When I bought my horse, Big, I had been looking for nine months — online, all over Ohio and even in neighboring states. I’d been methodical and careful, taking pix and videos, consulting with my trainer, riding only the best prospects.

Then my sister-in-law in Massachusetts emailed me a link to a Perch TBX for sale near where she lived. She went and looked at him, called me and told me to get on a plane to look at this horse. I did and it was love at first sight. I bought him on the spot, no videos, no consultations…my only concession to good sense being a pre-purchase exam, which he passed.

After I got him home to Ohio, it took awhile for us to really connect. It wasn’t an easy transition for him because he’d had the same owner for nine years before I bought him. But we learned to trust each other. I’d owned Big three months when my husband and I went off for a one-week vacation. I couldn’t wait to get home and back to the barn. As I opened the barn door, Big’s big head came popping out over his stall guard and he stretched his neck toward me. I gave him a scratch on the chin. Helen, one of the stable hands, came over and said, “We’re all so glad you’re back, especially Big. He was looking for you all week,” she said. “Every time someone walked in that barn door, he’d poke his head out to see if it was you.” Now he even recognizes my car and will come running over to the fence when I pull into the driveway. He’s a forever horse.

Thank you again for opening your hearts and sharing your horse love with  us.  It’s a gift. In a crazy world full of unpredictable and scary things, sharing these moments of sweetness are pure treasure.

Update: It turns out I am completely unoriginal.  (Nope.  Not surprised.) For more horsey goodness, Barnmice has called for Why I Love my Horse Valentine’s submissions. Click here to read.

Falling in Love With Our Horses: The First Valentine

First, thank you for sharing your experience, horses and hearts with us, it’s lovely to hear how you found each other.  A happy, horsey Valentine’s day to all.  And keep the love coming! (If I missed someone, please let me know, occasionally I am blinded by my inbox.)

Jen B’s story:

I too am lucky to have had several, and sometimes concurrent, horse loves in my life. Although I can also say I have ridden, and even owned, horses that I never really felt a close connection with. My current boy is probably my greatest love. As soon as I saw his cute face I knew I was in, but what happened after really clinched it.

He was 3 years old and unstarted. He had never been lunged but the current owner suggested I take him out to the yard and try to lunge him to see how he moved. This was a ridiculous idea but for some reason I went with it. Well it turned out as one would expect. He careened around like a crazy man in all directions BUT a circle. At one point he came galloping right at me (not aggressively, but in a confused kind of way). I finally gave up before someone got hurt and we took him into the barn. I figured this guy is going to hate this stranger who takes him from his herd, puts him on a rope and swings a whip at him. But no. The moment of love came when I stood at his should, after the debacle, and he turned his head toward me, nose to my belly, ears up, curious and sweet. That was it. If this guy was that forgiving of a complete stranger, he had to be mine.

I’ve now owned him for coming on four years and he still has that trusting, forgiving nature I fell in love with on that first day.

Tammy’s story:

First part at Horse Trail Riders

Fast forward 3 more years and my feelings haven’t changes.  I love my mare!  Although most of the time we are content just riding down the road or riding with friends, we have entered one horse show (didn’t win) and 3 competitive trail rides (she placed 6th in the first one and 2nd in the last one!)  I will never have that “finished horse” or the one that you can just get on after months of not riding and “she rides like she is ridden everyday!” No, that would be too easy.  She likes to push my buttons and then I push hers – she wins some, I win some.  Never fails to embarrass me when I’m riding with someone who has been around horses all their lives.  But has made me proud more time than not. So another compromise.

Sometime I need to take the time to update our story on my blog, but for now it still fits.

Funder’s experience at It Seemed Like a Good Idea At the Time

Lisa’s experience at Gracie and Allie

No! Of Course I Never Text While Riding

I was shocked the first time I saw someone talking on their cell phone while mounted. I’m amazed at how acclimated to technology one can become.

The other day, I saw Bella cantering cardio laps on Dinero, and waved, calling out a hello before I realized she was on the phone.  Oops.  My bad. Almost interrupted her call. She dropped the reins on Dinero’s neck, so she could wave back. She said something into the phone.  Picked up the reins.  I went on down to the barn.

Totally normal.

Shaun called me the other day, to see if I needed her to pick anything up from the store on her way home from work.

“Are you at the barn?” she asked.

“Yup”, I said, shifting the phone to a better place against my ear.  I hate that it’s impossible to cradle a cell phone between ear and shoulder.

“What’s your ETA for being home?” she asks.

Dinero, knock it off“, I say firmly, jiggling the lead rope.  He’s trying to sneak past his ponying position.

“What?!” says Shaun, startled.  “Did you just tell me to knock it off?  Knock what off?”

Hudson starts jigging underneath me. Oh.  I have the Dinero’s lead and Hudson’s reins in the same hand.  I accidentally shook the reins.  Interesting response. Wonder if he could learn to passage with a jiggle of the reins?

“Sorry honey, I was talking to a horse.” I say.

“A talking horse? I think you’re breaking up?” Shaun says, “the line is kind of…jumpy.”

Continue reading “No! Of Course I Never Text While Riding”

How I Became A Geezer and Learned to Embrace Geezerhood

Micah and I collected words for most of his childhood, the way we also collected rocks we liked.

“Bumbershoot”, he’d say.

“Glockenspiel”, I’d reply

“Calliope!”,  he’d pounce.

Hm.  Hard to come up with something good after Calliope.

“Geezer”, I say, in triumph.

His face is puzzled.  New word.  “What does it mean?”, he asks.

“A geezer is a sort of cranky old person”,  I say, “Without a lot of life left in them? But you wouldn’t pass by an older person on the street and say Good Morning, Geezer. It’s an insult.”

I watch him turn it over and store it away.

“Flotilla”, he says.  And we go on.

One morning, years later, I’m snappy about getting everyone into the car for church.  I’m trying too hard to be good.  I know I got up on the wrong side of the bed.  I am being fake-nice, which drives everyone nuts.  They’d rather I was honestly cranky.

Micah, now tall enough to put his arm around my shoulders, says “Don’t stress, geezer, we’re gonna get there on time.”

Continue reading “How I Became A Geezer and Learned to Embrace Geezerhood”