I Just Wanted to Ride

This was so me when I was a little girl!!!...and I had a stick horse when I really wanted to get somewhere. When I was five, I graduated to the real thing...been horse crazy ever since.: i

Like many girls, I have always loved horses. When I was a young girl, my mother arranged for me to work at a horse farm on Saturdays in exchange for time riding. When I started working on the farm, the owner was home and directed my work. When I finished, she chose a safe horse for me to ride in a small riding ring near her barn. These were treasured memories and the riding thrilled me beyond words.

One Saturday, she was away at a horse show. I cleaned all twenty stalls in the barn – a huge accomplishment for a young girl. There were llamas in one stall and when I opened the door to clean their stall, they rushed past me and ran out of the stall into the horse pasture. I knew I needed to return them to their stall, so without thinking, I opened the pasture gate to herd them out of the pasture. Bad plan. Not only did the llamas come, seeing the open gate, the horses stampeded past me running into and through the barn to a field behind the barn. They were free and I could not stop them. What a disaster!

I had no idea what to do. I thought I lost all the horses. How would I explain this? Then, suddenly, they turned and headed back to the barn. Later I learned this is a usual behavior for horses to stay where they are fed. Happy to have them return, most ran back into the pasture. A few horses ran into stalls in the barn. I was able to return them to the pasture easily. The disaster that started with the llamas escaping ended with them returning to their stall.

When the owner came home, there was no trace of the trouble I had, however, she was amazed  at the work I had done. She knew how much work went into cleaning all those stalls, but It didn’t seem like work to me. I was in heaven being around the horses all day and looking forward to a few minutes in the saddle. To tell the truth, I would have done twice the number of stalls to ride. She called my mother and made arrangements for me to spend the night because she had a surprise for me.

I was excited thinking of which horse she would choose for me to ride and how fun it would be to be to walk and trot in the small arena, but the surprise had nothing to do with riding. She took me to a car race.  All I can remember is how bored I was sitting in the bleacher seats alone shivering, eating a candy bar, and watching those cars drive around and around the track. My mother never took me to her barn again, but eventually I owned my own horses and was able to ride any time I wanted.

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No Ordinary Day at the Laundromat

Beach glass from Lake Erie and a broken shell from Ponte Vedra Beach, Fl. ...LOVE the broken fragment of a scallop shell used for the wicker laundry basket!.....vwr:

I agree, sometimes life is about little things. Two little things I have always wished for are a washer and dryer at home.

Until that dream comes true, I appreciate commercial washers and dryers at local laundromats. Since I try to see the glass as half full and the up  side of things when able, I see the laundromat as a great asset. When I go, I am able to wash and dry many loads at  one time  There have been occasions I felt like I was the luckiest person alive – not because I won the lottery or made a great invention of some kind – but because I was the only one at the laundromat and used almost all the washers. Funny what one can consider a good day and luck.

Once, while working, I decided to wash clothes at a nearby Laundromat at lunch time. This meant more of the glass half full concept – lunch, wash, and all my loads done at the same time. Didn’t think life could get much better. I started my loads as usual. Soon after I arrived, two men arrived. One was an older gentleman and the other a grown man, but younger.

While we waited for washers and dryers to finish, I overheard the conversation between the two men. The younger man repeatedly asked the same questions. When would they be done? Would they have supper after they were finished? What were all the people doing shopping at the stores near the laundromat? And more. The younger man also stated the obvious over and over- they were doing wash and would be done soon, but how soon? Each time the younger man spoke, the older man kindly and softly responded and assured him they would done with the wash soon as well as answer the same question for the tenth time as if it were the first time being asked.

This  went on the entire time we washed clothes together. I was touched by the kindness and patience of the older man.  I was sure this young man was a permanent part of his life and he never seemed annoyed and never spoke harshly to him. I thought how easily annoyed I am sometimes.

When I was finished my wash, I walked over to the older gentleman and said, “You are a really kind man. It has been very touching to watch you with him.” In a surprised voice, the man replied, “Why, thank you.”  – as if he considered his acts of patience, kindness and love to this younger man just normal, not extraordinary, the way I thought.  His kindness and patience inspire me to be more like him.

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Isaiah and Solomon’s Adventures

Trakehner -- on Papa's farm:

My Solomon was a great horse to raise my young Isaiah because he was kind and gentle and patient. Isaiah was a Trakehner – a German warm blood- that came to me and Sol as a yearling weighing 1,200 pounds, but grew to 2,600 pounds. Solomon was a Thoroughbred who weighed 1,100 pounds. Sol was senior to Isaiah when he arrived, so Sol was boss. They were best friends and Isaiah followed Solomon everywhere- which would normally be a great thing because Sol usually never misbehaved.

Such was not the case on a few occasions. Once, the two of them escaped from a pasture on a farm we were boarding at. Sol found it great fun to run away from me while Isaiah raced right behind him. The problem was that there was danger in the road close by and I did not want them to just run free. I tried everything to get the two horses to come to me – I called them, shook a can of grain at them, and tried to cut them off from running away from me. Sol darted past me every time I was close and Isaiah ran after him. Nothing I did mattered.

Finally, Isaiah stopped and looked at me with his big baby eyes as if to say, “Sol, it’s mommy, why are we running?” And then he came to me. After Isaiah was apprehended, Sol reluctantly followed. It seemed Sol liked being the ‘bad horse’  – getting them both in the dog house.

Another winter day, I put the two of them in a pasture and  left to work 30 miles away. When I returned, I saw footprints in the snow from the pasture, all over the front and back yards, and leading into the street. The owner of the farm told me what a terrible time she had with my two boys while I was away. She chased them for an hour and fell in the snow hurting her back. First, they ran her around the yards, then up and down the busy street in front of her farm before she safely returned them to their stalls. I wish they could have told me all about their adventure, but they remained silent. Their innocent faces hid all the mischief they had gotten into. I never left them out again unless I could watch them. My two bandito -s .

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Trakehner is a light warmblood breed of horse, originally developed at the East Prussian state stud farm in the town of Trakehnen from which the breed takes its name:

I have a treasured friend who trained me to ride. Since I was a working student, and could not afford for my Thoroughbred, Sol, to stay at her barn, he stayed at a barn up the road. We made arrangements for lessons and I put Sol’s equipment on and walked him down the road to her farm.

It was my first lesson and I was running late, so, as I walked up the road, I rehearsed what I would say. When I arrived at her barn,. When I arrived, I apologized for being 15 minutes  late, but said I would pay for an hour if she was willing to give me 45 minutes of instruction.  She then stood straighter and  firmly said, “15 minutes! You are an HOUR and 15 minutes late and I do not have time to be messing with you.” I don’t remember any other words because I was stunned and stood motionless. Everything was a blur as thoughts churned in my mind- we moved 20 miles to the opposite side of town to learn with her, I traveled every day to this new area to ride, my heart felt broken at the thought of not riding with her because I was so excited to, and I had just walked my horse down the road. I tried to think of how I could make such a mistake.

I was speechless. After scolding me, it seemed she realized I had no idea I was this late. I wasn’t leaving. Finally, she agreed to give me a lesson. She gave me an hour of instruction. She liked us.  We became very good friends. I was never late again. It is customary and respectful for a rider to dress in riding pants and riding boots, but my student budget did not allow me to have these luxury items at that time in life. I wore corduroy jeans and attached my spurs to running shoes. She was a proper woman and a professional trainer, but she never mentioned my dress. She understood. We trained in dressage work together many years. She made me a rider. I am forever grateful.

When I visited her several years later, she had a yearling Trakehner for sale. When he trotted across the pasture, he looked like he was floating on air. I told her I wanted him.  I named him Isaiah. My trainer once said the horse does the best for the person who breaks and trains them. I was determined to be that person for Isaiah.

Isaiah was a stallion when I bought him, but after dragging me across a field to chase some mares, I made arrangements to castrated him. Problem solved. When the time came to teach him to ride, the process was easy because he trusted me. He was 17.2 hands tall- almost 6 feet tall) and weighed 2,600 pounds. It took me a year to adjust to his large size. Sometimes I stood on my truck bumper or the wheel of the tractor to pull myself onto his back. He always stood patiently and motionless.

When we first stared riding we just walked and trotted. One day he began to canter slowly. It was amazing, but his stride was so huge, I rolled right out of the saddle and landed on the ground. That boy stopped and looked down at me with his big, beautiful eyes as if to ask, “What’re you doing down there, mom?”

Isaiah jumped, did dressage, and rode trails. I rode him everywhere. We rode English, Western, and bareback. I have the best memories of the 17 years we shared  together.

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The Miracle of Little Chickens

chicken eggs | thetalkingpot

My little Bantam hen, Henny Penny, had so many chicks she should have been a rabbit. Each time she laid eggs, she hid them and faithfully sat on them for 21 days -the length of time to hatch chicks.

Chicks growing in eggs is amazing to me. The egg yolk is actually an ‘egg’ made in the ovary of the hen. This egg leaves the ovary and as it travels down tubules, it is covered with the ‘egg white’- which is made of a protein called albumin. As the egg contents continue to travel down the tubules, a shell made from calcium is added just before the hen lays the egg. An assembly line for chicken eggs – only chickens usually only make one egg a day.

When an egg is fertilized, a chick grows inside the egg. The chick grows around the yolk and uses the yolk as food. Oxygen and carbon dioxide are exchanged through the shell that appears impermeable on casual observation. Over the 21 days the chick is growing, it fills the whole inside of the egg. All the parts of the chick grow as well as the down feathers. When it time comes to hatch, the chick uses its beak to break a hole in the shell. It continues to chip away at the egg shell until it is free from the shell. The chicks chirped the entire time they were hatching – seemingly telling the world there were coming out of those eggs- or maybe letting their mommies know to wait because they were on their way out.

When the chick came out, I loved watching them- their little beaks, little faces, little eyes, little wings, down feathers, and their tiny little feet. The only thing that wasn’t little was their chirping. The minute they were hatched they ran and chased after their mom. They hid in the wings and feathers of their mom and sometimes their dad to keep warm and as they grew, they then had little chicks of their own. Precious and priceless.

The miracle of birth. Einstein said either everything is a miracle or nothing is a miracle. I think everything is a miracle-especially little chickens.

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Cover Girl Mattie

Horse love. Precious moment between mare and foal. Beautiful black horses.:

We bought Cover Girl Mattie as a yearling. Like her name, she was beautiful. We trained her to race and after winning many races and surviving a racing accident, she retired and became a mommy.

Mattie’s first baby came into the world with slight difficulty. In veterinary school we were taught that a foal should be delivered with their nose coming in between their two front feet/legs. We were taught that any abnormal presentation needed correction and that correction was accomplished by pushing the foal back into the mother’s uterus, correcting the incorrect position, and then having the foal delivered correctly. In about two seconds I learned that this is easier said than done.

I arrived home from my nursing work at 12:30 AM to find Mattie’s baby coming with ONE leg and his nose. I called some local farmers because everyone knows it is critical to deliver a foal quickly and if there are problems, they need addressed or mom and/or baby could be lost.

I tried to push that foal back to correct the position as I was taught, but I couldn’t. He didn’t budge when I pushed with all my strength. I placed my hand inside Mattie and determined that the foal’s right front leg was back, but had enough room to be delivered. I began pulling the foal’s left front leg and the mouth.  This was difficult because foals are wet and slippery. Mattie strained to push as I pulled. I put my foot on the back of her rear leg for leverage to pull more strenuously  on the foal.  I yelled, “Push, Mattie” as she continued to push and I continued to pull.

We worked for what seemed like an eternity but was probably 10-15 minutes. Finally, that foal plopped out onto the straw bedding in the stall. He looked exactly like his mommy- a huge black boy with long spindly legs. As I admired him, Mattie fell to the ground. I couldn’t move. I began crying and asked the farmers who had arrived to help me if she died. The memories of vet calls where mamas ruptured blood vessels and died during foaling filled my thoughts. As a veterinarian, I should have checked her, but as her owner and mama, I couldn’t. I was too upset and afraid. With calm voices, they assured me she was just exhausted.

After a short rest, Mattie stood up  She instinctively knew she had to have this little guy nurse. The first milk is important for foals because it provides proteins that protect against disease and are only absorbed in the first 24 hours of life. Both Mattie’s and her foal’s legs wobbled as I helped him into position to suckle. She nuzzled him as if to say, ‘Hello, son, I am your mommy.’ I watched Mattie love her first little boy.

The colt ran in the pasture as if nothing ever went wrong with his welcome into this world. He bounced off his mother and when he ran one direction, she followed as quickly as she could to keep up with the little guy. He wore her out. Most moms know how this is with their little ones. He was fast. He was born to race.

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The Putters

https://www.google.com/search?q=15X22 PUTTING GREEN:

I worked as a home health nurse for children. Every child I cared for was precious to me, but one particular young man had a special place in my heart. He was ten years old when I met him and lived with his grandmother, father, and  uncles.

I cared for him at night time and brought soda, donuts, and movies for us to enjoy until wee hours of the mornings. We played checkers and other board games on the floor of his bedroom. He loved “Angels in the Outfield” and “Richie Rich” movies as well as others.

We became very good friends and we invited him along for fun during the daytime hours. He had a condition that made his legs too weak to walk so he was wheelchair bound. When we went places, I would pick him up, transfer him to the car, and put the wheelchair in the trunk. Everything is portable. We went to movies and stores. One day we decided to go to a park called “Swings and Things.” There were go- carts, bumper boats, and putt putt golf for kids to enjoy.

He  was unable to push the gas pedal in the go – carts and they were too small for both of us to sit in, but we had a blast in the bumper boats. I carried him into the boat- a small rubber water craft in a little pool- and sat next to him. I held him safely the entire time. As my step daughter ‘bumped’ into us with her bumper boat, this little boy threw his head back and laughed so much his belly shook.

After the bumper boats, I placed him in his wheelchair, and we headed to the putting greens. I have never been a fan of golf, but am a great lover of putt putt. As we made our way through each of the greens, I noticed that when he putted, my step daughter placed her putter in front of his hole-  blocking his putt from going into the hole. I was astounded, I said, ‘You do realize he’s in a wheelchair?’ She didn’t care, she kept doing it.

Then when she putted, he wheeled closely to the hole and blocked her putt with his putter. I was exasperated. I said, ‘You both are terrible, I have some news, we are NOT keeping score any longer. If you each have to win so badly you do this to each other, we will not keep score.’ That worked. They stopped sabotaging each others’ putts and we had fun finishing our putting. We had some lunch and finished our fun day.

I realized I was glad she never seemed to see the wheelchair, she just treated him like a regular boy. He appreciated that.

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Otters and Gators and Bass


Baby Gator on Mama's Back:

My brother inspired my love for kayaking along the spring fed rivers in Florida. Each time I visited him and his wife, I was determined to see manatees. However, the manatees only come into the springs when the ocean waters they live in become cold in winter months because the water is warmer water in the springs – the temperature is a constant 72 degrees Fahrenheit. For many ears I was either too early or too late to see manatees, but never seemed to miss the gators.

One visit my brother, his wife, and I canoed Alexander Springs. While cruising the river  my brother fished and caught three bass. As  he admired his catch, other river travelers passing by told us there was a gator up the way with babies sitting on her back. This I wanted to see.  My brother agreed.

He used shoe laces to secure the bass to a tree along the river. Pretty ingenious we all thought. The three of us continued along the river and spotted the mother gator with many little babies on her back. Usually I am terrified of gators, but I thought this was so great I had no fear at all! I took pictures and ‘oohed’ and ‘aaahed’ and acted like a tourist that just arrived in Florida.

As we returned to retrieve the bass, suddenly my brother jumped out of the canoe and swam to his fish. At first we couldn’t see the reason for my brother’s frantic actions. Soon we noticed the thieving otters trying to steal his bass. They must have thought “WHAT AN EASY CATCH TODAY!” My brother, however, had no intentions of allowing those fish to be apprehended by those otters. He was fearless and unconcerned that the otters could present a problem or even bite him. If it was me I would have given those cute little otters the fish. Their faces seemed confused as they watched him retrieved his bass> We finished our canoeing and my brother tells the story of how he almost lost his bass because I wanted to see some gator babies on their mother’s back.

It was a great day on the river.

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The Art of Naming a Pet

* * " Whens me wuz a fetus; me used to sneaks outs at nite whens me mau-ma wuz sleepin'. Me figured meez shoulds starts stealin' stuff whiles me stills hads noes paw prints."[Steven Wright

I am amused at the names my clients give the family pets. From Fizzgig to Gator , many have favorite characters or family members they name their pet after.

We adopted a little tiger cat who was a terror from the moment she came into our home. She raced everywhere in the house, darted under furniture, climbed draperies, and jumped from counters to cabinets to the floor. She was exhausting. My step  daughter loved cats and this kitten was her favorite.

When we named her, I asked my step daughter what name she wanted for this kitten. We both agreed she was a monster. We thought about naming her Monster. Then, my step daughter  thought more and she said, ‘Well, I really like the name Donna.’

We considered our options. Should we name her Monster or Donna? We went back and forth and still couldn’t decide. Then she said, ‘Well, I also like the name Lisa.’

What to do? Now we had three names to choose from. Should she be Monster, Donna, or Lisa? Since we couldn’t decide, we did the only logical thing, we named her Monster Donna Lisa. When you said this about 100 times, it sounded like a real name anyone might name their pet. I am certain there are NO other cats in the world named Monster Donna Lisa, but there are many unique other names as well as the usual names like Bella and Max and Tiger, and others.

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Jumping to Conclusions

Appaloosa More:

I was assigned to castrate 3 appaloosa horses for a client. When I arrived at the farm, the couple who owned the horses were quite pleasant and we talked for a short while before beginning the surgeries.

When I do this surgery, I prefer to put the horse on the ground and pull one rear leg forward by tying it to a rope around the horse’s neck Then I complete the castration. Surgery went perfectly for the first horse, however, midway through surgery on the second horse, things did not go so well. He stood up  with his leg tied. There’s a first time for every disaster I always say. I administered additional medication to put him back on the ground. He fell on the opposite side, so I pulled the other back leg forward and tied it to the rope around his neck. I finished the castration. Yes! Both back legs were tied in a forward position at this time. I finished, untied both legs, let him wake up, and prepared to castrate the last horse.

Before we started the third horse, the owners asked to take a break and went into their home. As I waited for them to return, crazy thoughts went through my mind. I thought they were calling my boss to tell him they did not want me to do the last castration because I had so much trouble keeping the second horse down. I thought they were planning to tell me to leave their farm. The fearful thoughts were overwhelming.

When they came out, he said, “My wife and I were talking about you.”

I prepared for the worst as I thought, ‘I knew it! Here it comes.’

Then he said, “We really like you, you don’t talk down to us. You talk like a regular person.” I was so relieved and said, “I thought you were upset with me and calling the boss because I had to give a second dose of medication to the second horse.”

They replied, “Oh, no. We weren’t upset about that, he (the boss) had to give additional medication to a horse down THREE times one day to complete a castration.”

I was amazed. It makes me think I am the only one difficult moments happen to when others don’t admit circumstances don’t always go perfectly for them.  As time goes on I realize everyone has difficulties and no one has perfect moments every moment.

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