Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Sharing the Joy

Through the years that we’ve had our Curlies we’ve been able to share our joy concerning them with many people and in many different ways.  We’ve done demos at local stores, gone to shows, had a booth at Everything Equine, attended clinics, and opened our home for people who are allergic to “regular” horses and wanted to test Curlies.

Some of those tests have not worked, yet some have been rousing successes.  The folks may not have gone on to purchasing a horse from us but we know that the success in the allergy test they found on our farm opened doors for them that they thought had been closed forever.  That is profound joy.

We have recently, though, experienced an even deeper one; the joy of sharing our love of Curlies with our granddaughter, Caroline.  In truth, the bond began long before she was even cognizant of horses.

Her mother, Erica, loved horses as a child; still does.  However, the year she was 9 she wanted to join a horse oriented 4H.  We were happy to have her do so.  Her first meeting had no interaction with horses.  Her second meeting did and that is when we discovered she was horribly allergic to them.  It broke her heart.  But then came the fateful Rose Bowl Parade of 1/1/2000.  Although the first time she tested a Curly she had a huge reaction, the second time she did not.  Over the years she found that some seasons were better for her around the Curlies (low pollen) and she also learned that although she still responded somewhat to them, it was far less than the effects for her around “regular” horses.

Since her allergies denied her the experience of horses when she was young, she has been determined to allow that experience for her daughter.  Every visit here includes time with the horses, from the very first visit after Caroline was born and carried in a front-pack to this latest visit.  Now, though, Cari is almost three years old, and a bit more able and independent.  They arrived on a Wednesday evening and one of the first sentences out of Cari’s mouth was, “Go see Glory?” and off she ran to the paddock to see her.
Caroline's first introduction to *Glory

Caroline actually has a pretty good relationship with *Glory, especially after her February visit.  Her folks had driven through the night and needed sleep, but Cari was wide awake.  So Chuck took her down to the barn with him while he fed the two inside horses and packed the bags for the others.  She helped by carrying handfuls of hay, and in typical toddler fashion wandered and investigated some of the sundry items in the barn.  Chuck got busy stuffing the bags when he heard Cari say, “Look, buckeyes!” and looked up to see that she had crawled through the bars into *Glory’s stall and was picking up the balls of frozen manure.  Kids – gotta love them.  *Glory was happy to have the company and took great care around her before Chuck could come grab Caroline.

Chuck & Cari on *Walker

Cari does "airplane" to help learn balance.
This most recent visit will remain in our memories as well.  It marked the first time Chuck has shared a saddle with someone and the first time that Cari actually rode (pony ride) alone without someone right next to her.  We chose *Walker because she is most concerned with being careful of the human on her and is Chuck’s mare.  *Walker moved very carefully down the hill to the round pen and then made sure that Cari stayed on her back as she was being led.  We even had Cari do “airplane” so that she could begin to learn to keep her balance as *Walker moved without hanging on to anything.

This was a totally joyful experience for us.  We look forward to sharing more with her as she grows and also, sharing this joy with our two young grandsons as they grow.

May your Curlies bring you joy as well!

What a happy girl!

Sunday, July 01, 2012

Three week catch-up

Please excuse the three week lapse in blogs, but things were so busy or hot or rainy that I either had a lot to write or nothing at all!!  I thought I would begin with a synopsis of the past weeks.

6/9-6/15 Chuck took a week of vacation.  During this week besides getting to mow pastures (our brush hog had a split in the top and we finally located someone to weld it) I worked with *Beau and re-introduced the driving reins through a surcingle.  He was quite good, although I once did get the rein up under his tail and he let me know in no uncertain terms that he didn’t like it there.  It was quite cute.

Guine worked with *Andi and *Love on the ground a couple of times using some of Parelli’s “7 Games”.

Chuck and Guine went riding again, this time Chuck was on *Walker and Guine on Silken.  On the 14th our vet came out to do the teeth for those that needed some nice relaxing drug in their bodies.  She did *Beau, Dude, and *Sun; then came up to do *Love as *Love needed a wolf tooth (number 105) removed as well.  Once she left, we took advantage of *Love’s relaxed state and did her feet; not that she is difficult to trim, but you know the old saying “Make hay while the sun shines!”  While we trimmed *Love’s feet, Guine took advantage and worked with *Andi too.   Then, Guine rejoined us and bellied-up on *Love three times.  It was the first time anyone had been on *Love’s back and it was a total non-event even though the medicine had worn off by then.

Guine on Silken; Chuck on *Walker
Later that afternoon, saw Chuck back on *Walker, and Guine on Silken.  This time it was to work Silken at the canter and get *Walker used to “hop scotching” with a horse.  Hop scotching is where a horse passes and walks ahead; then the horse behind goes ahead, passing the other horse.  It allows the horses to get used to the idea that they don’t always have to be in front or behind.  Guine also decided it would be good to try Silken over a low cross-rail and all would have been fine IF the stirrup leather hadn’t broken!  Guine headed Silken for the rails at a nice trot and then two things happened.  The first was that due to Silken’s relative inexperience at jumping, she took off sooner than she should have and produced a huge jump; the second was that on landing the left stirrup went right through the stirrup leather.  This completely unseated Guine, which unbalanced Silken, and Guine chose to make an emergency dismount.  The neatest thing about that was that the moment Guine launched herself out of the saddle Silken came to a dead stop!

Chuck on Silken; Guine leading *Walker
The next day Chuck rode Silken while Guine helped me get up on *Walker.  This was a huge step for me as I have been suffering with strong anxiety about getting on a horse for a couple of years.  I can’t quite explain why I have this.  I used to ride fairly well.  Yes, I’ve come off, but who hasn’t?  I really need to get past it, and so Guine helping me was a first step.  I bellied up, got off; bellied up, got off; stopped to work through some nausea and cramping.  Then bellied up and put my leg over and sat up; got off.  Finally, I bellied up a last time, threw my leg over, put my feet in the stirrups and had Guine lead her, stop her, lead her, stop her.  Only half-way across the round pen, but it was a start for me.  Chuck is determined to help me through this, but that was enough for now.  Then Guine led *Walker around so Chuck could ride Silken a bit.

The week-end of the 16th/17th kept us busy with human activities between the wedding of a family friend and Father’s Day celebrations.

The next week became a scorcher up here in Vermont with temperatures into the 90’s.  This really inhibited our working with the horses as none of us are used to that type of heat and humidity.  I did squeak in an early morning session with *Jack and *Leo and after regular types of round pen exercises put the surcingle and driving lines on.  *Leo was clueless and it was obvious that I will need a second person to get him started with the idea, but certainly worth my effort to see what he could figure out.  *Jack seemed to recall the lessons from a long time ago and did what I asked of him with walk-on and whoa.  Left and right were more difficult but that has more to do with the rope halter than a lack of understanding, I think.

Guine on *Babe
That evening Chuck took *Walker out for a ride and we took *Babe out.  Guine had always had a good relationship with *Babe so thought she could ride her, but it turned out that she was much too herd-bound to her two fillies to really pay attention.  Guine opted to get off and round pen her some.  Chuck and I will continue to work on separating her.

Guine on *Leo, his second time with a rider!
Saturday the 23rd was migration day again for the boys and it was our first break in the oppressing heat.  After migrating we trimmed the hooves of *Andi, *Beau, and *Red.  Then Guine brought *Leo out for a bit of play in the round pen.  She had a lot of fun and was impressed by how mature he has become.  She then hopped on bareback just to give him a bit more experience and like the first time, it was a total non-event.  He followed me around for a bit, and then I stepped out of the round-pen and turned my attention away from him.  He figured out what she wanted right quick and they soon were walking around the pen.

Trimming *Red's hind hoof.
The 24th was the last good day before rain set in on us; however, we had made plans to hike Camel’s Hump, the second highest peak (4083 feet) in Vermont.

Guine cantering Silken
Sheri on *Walker with Chuck
Finally we had a break on the 29th and this was Guine’s last day in Vermont, so she and Chuck saddled *Walker and Silken for a last ride together.  As my older daughter, Sheri, was here for a visit we popped her up on *Walker for a bit of fun, as well.

So, here it is, a whole month since Guinevive came to stay.  We didn’t get everything accomplished that we set out to, but we did get many things done that were very important.  Guinevive’s stay breathed fresh air into us.  We had spent the last three years really just taking care of the horses and not enjoying them.  She helped us both regain the right footing and we will continue onward.  She allowed Chuck to remember the joy of riding again.  He has always felt that she was his hero because Guine rides so well and he started in his late 30’s and knows that he’ll never be as good as she is.   He admires her ability so much.

Adria on *Walker
I gained bravery.  How?  Because Guine demonstrated it for me.  All of the horses are “rusty” but Guine came along and said, “I can get on.  I can do this.”  And, she did.  She also took the time to talk me through my fear and I promised her I would keep going.  Today, I rode *Walker all the way around the inside perimeter of one of the acre paddocks.  That’s about 840 feet which may not seem much, but to me was huge.

The last thing we gained from her visit was a chance to see how mature she’s become.  We are very proud to say that Guinevive is our daughter because she’s kind, caring, intelligent, a good horsewoman, and a damn good writer too.

We love you, Guine.