Thursday, April 22, 2010

Short but sweet.

This is a quick post, because all I really have to say is,


Uh-huh, that's right. I'm riding my horse. The black one. The broken one. I've had two rides on him now, under Niki's very watchful eye and he feels so good.

And tall. He feels really tall. I'm used to riding his mom, who is 15 hands when she has new shoes and stands up very straight. Snoopy is a solid 15.3, which means he's taller than I am.

He feels different than Frostie, too. Her jog (trot for you English riders) is very smooth, but mostly because she likes to shuffle her feet. His jog is very bouncy in a rhythmic way. You're on one of those slo-motion trampolines like you dream about, where you go way-far-up, then way-far-down, without the jolt of actually hitting top or bottom.

It's okay if you don't get it - I've tried to describe it to Tina and she doesn't get it either.

Their lopes (canters) have the same difference. They both give you the rocking horse feel, but Frostie's got a very sittable, shuffling lope; her son's lope is all slow legs and long hang time. Both feel good, neither feels the same.

Snoopy's left lead has always been his weakest. This is actually good, since my right leg is stronger and I can help him more with his left side. His injury has made him use his hip a little more than before, to compensate for a lack of flexibility in the ankle, which feels very pronounced on the left lead. As I loped him down the arena, I was aware of my seat shifting every four or five strides. It could have been due to riding in Niki's saddle, but it's definitely something I must fight against.

My next post will be in about a week or so - when I tell you all how the horse show went! Yes, Snoopy is going to his first horse show since the accident. Granted, he's not going in any classes, but he is going to travel to Burbank, hang out at the show, and be ridden in the warm-up trail. If you're in the area next weekend (April 28 - May 2), come on out to the L.A. Equestrian Center for the Hollywood Charity Horse Show and look me up.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Do you believe in magic?

Even though this is Snoopy's blog, today's story is about his mom, Frostie. Frostie is the first horse I ever owned. I bought her when she was three, ten years ago. This is her:

Her AQHA registered name is One Zip in Time, so named because her grandfather's name is Zippo Pine Bar, a rather famous guy in the Quarter horse world. She is registered as a chestnut, although most people would describe her as a roan. Actually, I recently learned she is rabicano.

Frostie is very friendly and sweet-natured. Her manners are impeccable; she leads quietly, doesn't crowd, lifts her feet for cleaning with ease, stands still for grooming, clipping, saddling. But don't be fooled. There's a reason I call her the WRM (Wild Red Mare).

She's spooky. If a trash can has been moved, she snorts at it. If one of the guys is on a ladder, she won't walk by him. And if it's a windy day (which is often in southern California), forget it. Every tree that moves, every flower that waves, is going to jump out and eat her. We often tease that she sees dead people because there's nothing for her to spook at and yet, off she goes.

In the old days, she'd run across the arena with me before I managed to stop her. Now I've learned to check her with the reins and push her forward with my legs and she puts her head down and obeys me. But I still hate that feeling of her body tensing, the way her ears cock forward and her head snakes sideways, just before she tries to plant, wheel, and scamper.

Last year, one of the trainers, Barbara Pinella, at the ranch invited an animal communicator to come and talk to some of her clients' horses. She opened the offer to the rest of us once her clients were finished, so I thought, what the heck.

I listened to her discussions with the Thoroughbreds and Warmbloods in Barbara's barn. They liked jumping, some wondered why they weren't getting Christmas stockings anymore, others wondered where their stable mate went, etc. In other words, it was all about their life in the here and now.

Then it was Frostie's turn. I was feeding her some watermelon while the communicator walked into the stall and she told me Frostie liked it (well, duh, she was gobbling it up), and that she really liked the fruit salad I fed her once. That piqued my interest, since I remembered feeding her fruit salad exactly one time, at a horse show.

Once she started talking to her in earnest, things changed.

"She wants you to know she had a very bad mother and her early life was horrible."

Great. Everyone else got "I like carrots" and I get Charles Dickens.

She went on: "Her mother hated humans and told her they would be mean to her. So when they came to wean her or train her, she resisted and they were mean, thus fulfilling her mother's prophecy. She says she chose you because she knew you in a previous life. You sold bread from a cart in Europe, and she pulled the cart. Pulling a cart was very hard on her feet, and now she's always worried about and sensitive to any foot pain."

This part was interesting because we tease about her shoeing experience, that she's such a girly girl, her shoes never fit as well as they did in the store. Monte (our farrier) will shoe her, she'll walk away fine, then two hours later she'll be three-legged lame because a nail is too tight.

Then the communicator surprised me: "She says she'll give you a baby if you want one."

"She already gave me one," I told her. "Snoopy."

The communicator looked confused. "Let me ask her."

After a moment, she got a funny look on her face and said, "Oh." Turning to me, she explained. "Frostie's glad you like that horse, but it's not the baby she meant to give you. He's not an old soul, he's kind of a simpleton, and she wanted you to have a baby that was more like her, only better."

I said, "She was a very good mother."

"Yes, she said she tried to be a good mother, because her mother was so awful. But he's a little disappointing to her."

"Well, tell her we love him. He's a great show horse." I didn't tell the communicator, but Frostie's assessment is correct. Snoopy is a mouthy, smothering guy on the ground, and a dream to ride, but he's no equine Einstein. I'd equate him to the stereotypical high school jock - excellent in his sport, but don't ask him to do higher math.

She talked about some other things, and Frostie promised to try to trust me more, even when things scared her. I'd say she's gotten better at trying, although she still lets her nerves get the best of her.

For those of you who read this and think, pfft, animal communicators, let's just say I'm pretty open to the possibilities of life. First, I don't possess the hubris that says the only reality is the one humans can experience through their senses, that there are no colors we can't see, sounds we can't hear, etc. Second, I'm the kind of gal who wants to believe in magic. I think you either are or you aren't, and there's no penalty in being one or the other.

Besides, if I didn't believe in magic, I wouldn't have had the faith that Snoopy would recover from his injury, and I wouldn't be able to tell you that after almost two years, I will start training on him again, probably this week, and may even send him to a show at the end of the month.

Is there anything you've needed magic/faith/something extra for, to get you through life?