Friday, November 29, 2013

It's that time of year again

This week, MomToo came out to the ranch with the humans in her family. She does this sometimes.  The Man comes with her, and this time another Man came. He used to be a little human, but now he's bigger.

They brought the two dogs, Duffy and Lady Spazzleton and Katy the cat. I like the cat but she doesn't like me. She is very soft, and I like to sniff her. She doesn't like being sniffed. As usual, the older Man held Mom's rope and they all stood together with us and I heard clicking noises.



Auntie Niki had a black box and was making it click.

Me and Mom were being good.


 
 
 
Okay, mostly good. And mostly Mom.
 
 



I confess, I wanted a closer sniff of Duffy's fur. He didn't like it any more than Katy did, and tried to bite my nose, then started barking at me. I was just having fun.

Soon I heard Auntie Niki say she thought she got a good one. A good what, I don't know, but I got to go back to my stall and eat my dinner. It was good.

Today MomToo came back to see me. It was raining, but she brought me cookies and candy canes so I didn't mind. Auntie Niki asked if any of the pictures came out and MomToo started talking about photo shopping and a bunch of stuff I didn't understand. Somehow she turned this picture:



Into this picture:



And she was awfully proud about it. I like when MomToo is proud of something. It makes her happy. She said something about sending the picture in a Christmas letter. Maybe I will get a letter.

I hope mine comes with food.




Friday, November 15, 2013

I like to play

Dear Diary,

This is my ball.



I like my ball. It is not supposed to be on my wall. It is supposed to be on the floor, where I can pick it up. Pick it up and throw it.

Late at night, my friends and I played catch with the ball. We would throw it to each other across the barn aisle. It was fun. Usually, Tommy would drop it and the ball would stay in the aisle until Auntie Niki came in the morning. She would put it back in my stall.



One morning she said she was tired of picking it up, and she put it on a chain. Now we can't play catch when we are awake at night. I am sad.

Darn that Tommy.



Sunday, October 13, 2013

Humans are silly.

MomToo had to go do another book thing this weekend. I miss her.




Auntie Niki played dress-up with me. She's silly, but I like the hat. I wonder how far I could throw it.



MomToo said she might try this hat on me. It wouldn't even make a good snack.

* * * * *

My book is still free. You should get it. http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00D0HDYRQ

Friday, October 11, 2013

Come get me!

I'm free in the Kindle store on Amazon.



http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00D0HDYRQ

Thursday, October 10, 2013

I'm (almost) free!

Starting at midnight, my book will be free on Kindle. MomToo says it will be free for three days.



I don't have a watch. Can someone tell me when midnight is?

Amazon link:
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00D0HDYRQ

What should we do?

MomToo has a bunch of stuff she wants to give away. She says she'll even give out one of my books, too. Here's what she has:




We got four coffee mugs. What's coffee?



And some hats. I like hats. They taste funny, and I can throw them really far.



And some big grooming bags. I love grooming bags. So much fun to look through.




MomToo ways she'd like some ideas for how to give these things away. I think she should give away carrots and apples. Everyone would love that!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

I like apples

Yum!
 
 
What do you like?

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Excerpt: Learning old things in a new space

MomToo wanted to talk about other stuff today, but I wanted to give you another piece of my story. This is the story of me and Auntie Niki in the big arena, and how every day I got to learn new things - sometimes I learned old things in a new place.

* * * * *

One morning, after we had our training, Auntie Niki led me to the upper arena instead of going back to the barn. We sometimes did this. She would stand and talk to the other humans there, then take me back to be unsaddled.

Imagine my surprise when she took me into the arena and got back in my saddle. We were in a real arena at last. I was very excited, but tried to be good. She asked me to walk, so I did. There were other horses being ridden around me, but they didn’t want to talk. They were busy working. I put my nose forward and tried to look like I was working, too.

It’s funny how a different place makes your brain feel all soft and mushy. Auntie Niki and I had practiced turning and stopping in the wood pen forever, but somehow when she asked me to trot and tried to turn me in the bigger arena, I forgot how. Instead, I stuck my head up in the air and tried to wriggle my mouth away from her pulling. If she tried to pull my face down and turn me, I stopped. Each time I did that, she would push me forward into the trot and we’d try it again.

It took a few more days of being ridden in the arena before I could pay attention to her and be a good horse. After my mind calmed down, I remembered my lessons and it was easier. I learned that staying against the fence was called being on the rail. Each day, I would be walked and trotted on the rail, then in circles in the center of the arena. I liked it a lot. It was really easy.

Until the day we loped. I had gotten pretty good at it in the wood pen. She tapped me forward with one leg and I understood. I’d push off with my outside hind hoof and reach out with the inside front one. The arena was so much bigger than the wood pen, and I could go straight forever before I had to turn.

Auntie Niki asked me to lope down the rail on my left lead. I started really well. Then I started thinking about what I was doing. I felt happy to be loping such a long way in the arena. It was like I was free.

Loping… I’m loping! Here I go—loping!

I’m afraid I lost track of everything then, even my rider. I was running down the edge of the arena. Auntie Niki was pulling on the reins, but I stuck my head in the air and ignored her. It was fun until she finally got control of me again and made me slow down.

Miss Tina was walking past when it happened.

“Damned horse ran off with me,” Auntie Niki said as she made me walk.

“Yeah, but his legs were moving so slow,” Miss Tina told her. “And his knees were nice and flat.”

It turned out that having Miss Tina watch me gave her ideas, even if I was out of control.


 
Auntie Niki thinks I look silly in this picture.


Monday, October 7, 2013

A horse at home

When I bought Frostie, I used to daydream about having her in my backyard. I even used to look at equestrian homes for sale in our area. She would have an in-and-out, like Mr. Ed, and a turnout area, and we'd wander around on the trails together.

Then, little by little, I began to understand two things: I didn't have enough information, and I didn't know enough people.

One day, Hilde the groom brought Snowy the pony out of his paddock, down to a stall. He told me Snowy wasn't feeling well. I looked at the pony and thought... really?

"Look at his sides, how hard he is breathing," Hilde said. Snowy was trying to colic a little, but we took his food away and stuck him where we could watch him, and by the next day he was better.

This was a perfect example of how limited my knowledge of horses was. If I didn't recognize colic in Snowy, what if something happened to Frost?

Then I began to read the stories of backyard horse owners who went on vacation and paid someone to watch their horses. They came home to filthy stalls and skinny horses because their paid help didn't do the job. And then there was getting a good farrier to come out to do a single horse, and not being able to share a vet call, and the complete ease of paying someone else to feed every morning and evening and clean and blanket, not because I am lazy, but because some days, if I have to put one more thing on my to-do list, I shall certainly start screaming.

And I'm not certain when I shall stop.

Still... the idea of having them with me clings like a romantic notion. So I've been having fun with my pocket Snoopy. It was given to me by a darling young girl who attends Breyerfest every year. This year, she went to one of their crafty-shops and bought a small horse, then painted him to look just like Snoopy, down to the freckles on his legs.



It is a thrill to have Snoopy as a Breyer horse, even if it's not official - yet.

Snoopy has been helping me around the house. He makes certain the dishes are clean.



Helps make coffee in the morning.



Reminds me to unwind with a nice red in the evening.



He even updates his Facebook page.



Maybe real-life Snoopy can't go to book festivals or hang his head in my kitchen window, but pocket Snoopy can even visit Marcus at college.



I might end up with a horse in a backyard someday. But for now, I've got a little reminder of that big goofball waiting for me at the ranch.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

I wasn't there.

MomToo says she brought me to the book festival. She brought the thing that she says is my autograph.



She brought the little horse she calls her "Pocket Snoopy."



My friend even stopped by to say hello. She calls him one of my "Snoopy Groupies."



I don't know what she's talking about. I was in my stall all day.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Where'd they go?

MomToo isn't here today. She's at some park somewhere, selling our book. I don't know why she doesn't take me along when she sells our book. She has some silly thing to make it look like I sign the book. I can't hold a little stick and make marks like she does, but I could bite a book. That would leave a mark.



Auntie Niki's not here either. Good thing I have my buddies Bubba and Jet to talk to.



MomToo said she'd come see me on Sunday. Maybe she will bring me carrots.



(MomToo here: I'll be in Duarte, at the Festival of Authors, with all my books, including the one Snoopy and I wrote. Come by and see me if you can!)

Friday, October 4, 2013

A secret revealed

Snoopy does not like to discuss this, but today I must tell you about the dark side of his injury.



No, not the back side, the dark side.

Imagine a young horse. Actually, imagine a young anything. A horse, a dog, a person. Imagine them getting hurt or ill and being under doctor's orders to stay quiet. Remember when you had to keep your toddler from running around the house with his 100-degree fever?

Not easy.

At four, Snoopy should have been allowed time to go out and leap and scamper and be a horse. But with a broken leg, we couldn't allow it, so he stood in his stall. His body was restless. His mind was bored. He needed stimulation.



God knows we tried. Toys, treats, grooming, hand-walking. None of it was enough. Eventually he picked up a habit to help him pass the time. A bad habit.



I'm talking about cribbing.

Cribbing usually looks like this:



The horse plants his upper front teeth on something immoveable, then pulls back and sucks air in. Most people believe that sucking in air releases endorphins. It's pretty much like having a cigarette, without the nicotine.

There are lots of opinions about cribbing. Some people say that it can damage a horse's throatlatch, and even lead to digestive problems by filling their stomach with air. Some people don't think it will hurt the horse at all.

Collars are available to keep the horse from swallowing air. I didn't try to make Snoopy stop while he was stall bound, but after he was back to work, he wore one for awhile. Then I had a little difference of opinion with his old trainer, who didn't want him to wear it. I may put it back on him if he begins to crib too much.

Although I wish he hadn't started cribbing, I figure it was either let him do that or watch him lose his mind. Only one of us needed to do that.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Channeling a horse

I have my own stuff on the internet. I have an email and a Facebook page and a Twitter account. I even have a YouTube channel. I wish I knew what the internet was. All I know is, MomToo tells me I have these things and humans ask me questions and say I'm handsome.

Maybe, although I'm not as spectacular as my friend, Bubba. No one is.

This is my YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCHOCfOy9ozXCq_L_DxCUqEQ

MomToo says this is her favorite video:




What's a video?



Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Did you guess yet?

MomToo is busy, so she wanted me to tell you that my foot is feeling much better. Auntie Niki let me trot on it today, but I tried to jump and buck and she said no, stop it. Sometimes Auntie Niki is strict.

Yesterday she asked a question. Anyone who answers it can get a copy of my book. I told MomToo that no one would want my book if they hadn't read a little bit of it, so here is a part of it:
MomToo says that people love baby pictures.

* * * * *

There were two goats in the pen next to us. They were girl goats, about half my size and brown, and had funny little tails that stuck straight up. I usually ignored them, since they were not very interesting. It’s not like they ran around and played. They spent most days standing in the corner and eating, or looking for food to eat.

One night, I lay down to sleep and somehow woke up in their pen. There was a space underneath the metal bars just big enough for my body and I guess I scooted around to the other side while I dreamed. I don’t really know how it happened, but I went to sleep in the pen with Uncle Snowy and woke up in the pen with the goats.

At first, they liked playing with me. They ran around the pen and I ran after them. Then they came over and sniffed my legs. That’s when I saw their little tails wiggling.

I couldn’t resist. I reached over and grabbed one goat’s tail in my teeth and lifted. Her back end came off the ground, so I shook her up and down. She started yelling. I let her go and grabbed the other goat’s tail. I shook her, too, then I dragged her up to the gate. She yelled even louder.

I dropped her and ran after the first one again. It was a fun game, chasing the goats and grabbing their tails. I couldn’t quite throw them, but I could shake them up and down and drag them around the pen.

One of the ranch men came running. He caught me and took me back to Uncle Snowy’s side of the pen. He wasn’t happy with me. Neither were the goats. Uncle Snowy wasn’t thrilled, either.

“You are a doofus,” he said. “Leave the goats alone.”

“But it was fun.”

“It wasn’t fun for the goats.” He shook his head, making his white mane wave in the hot sun. “Look, I’m a pony. I’ve lived my entire life being a pain in the butt. But I’m small, so they don’t get that mad at me. I get cute points. You’re six months old and already as big as me. No one will think you’re cute when you’re as big as a tractor, especially if you’re pulling pranks.”

I trotted a big circle around him. “But Uncle Snowy, fun is fun. Who cares about cute points?”

“You will when they whip you for being bad. Listen to me, Snoopy. The humans here are very nice. Some of the nicest humans I’ve lived with. They do everything they can to make us understand what they want. But if we misbehave, they spank us, sometimes with the whip. Just learn your lesson now. Leave the goats alone.”

Even now, I don’t know what everyone was so mad about. I thought it was fun.

 
* * * * *

Would you like to read more? You can win a book - just go to yesterday's post and answer the question!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

A little too much help

Snoopy and I had a great show season. Starting in February, we went to one show a month, until August. I was concerned that it was pushing the envelope for his body, but I kept him seeing the chiropractor and monitored his physical condition. When September rolled around, I breathed a sigh of relief.

No more shows until next February at the earliest.

Then one morning, after Niki had schooled him, I got on and... he was limping. On the broken leg. Gah-d.

Thus we began a series of investigation/medication/lay-up to try to figure out why he was sore. We tried a few days of bute-plus-handwalking.



Nothing.

Then we had Dr. Pollard out to visit. He reported a strong pulse in the foot, then administered a block from the pastern down. With his foot numb, Snoopy trotted sound both directions. Dr. Pollard pulled the shoe and tested the hoof. He thought the inside was more sensitive than the outside. Based on these indicators, Dr. Pollard pronounced it an abscess.

I hate abscesses, but if there's something wrong with my horse's leg/hoof, that's what I'll vote for. Still, Snoopy has only had one abscess before, and it never actually popped, making it a frustrating experience. Especially since he was four months old at the time and we had to soak his foot every day. It took three of us - one to keep his foot in the warm water and Epsom salts, and two to scratch his withers as a distraction.

After the vet's visit this time, we soaked Snoopy's foot twice. I'm happy to report that Snoop was a more agreeable horse. Then Monte, our farrier came out to put his shoe back on.

That's when all the pieces came together.

Monte is always trying to make certain that Snoopy is sound and comfortable. This usually means padding and thicker shoeing to lift his heel and make certain his leg stays in the proper tracking. When Snoopy was last shod, Monte had put a new padding in that foot to raise it a little. Turns out he raised it too much.

This was basically like wearing a shoe with an arch insert that's a little too high. Yeah, your foot would hurt, too.

He swapped out the shoe and padding and Snoopy showed relief immediately. We're slowly putting him back to work, but it looks like new shoes solved our problem. (Seriously, when don't new shoes solve a problem?)

In the meantime, Snoopy and I are committed to posting on our blog every day in October. We are going to be asking questions, having contests, and giving out freebies. Stay tuned to see if what you can win! (Hint: It won't always be a free book. It might be a gift card or ???)

Today's contest: Answer correctly in the comments and win a free copy of Snoopy's ebook, in whatever format you would like.

QUESTION - What is the proper name for bute?

Monday, August 19, 2013

The fly.

Snoopy and I went to a horse show this weekend, in Burbank.

It was the last show of our season, The Pink Show, which honors the exhibitors who have survived cancer plus remembering those who didn't. Everyone wears pink and the show does a lot of fundraising for the City of Hope.



The weather was supercali-freakin-miserable. In the high 90s. Hotter than blazes. A dress rehearsal for Hell. Hot. The horse show tried to keep us all in bottled water, but even they ran out. The first day I rode, it felt like the world was spinning by the time I dismounted. The second day, Niki got a touch of heatstroke. I'm saying, it was bad.

We did our usual classes, Green Trail and Novice Amateur Trail. It's a great combo, because our trainer, Niki, rides Snoopy in Green first, then I ride in Novice Am. I get to feel more confident, since he's seen the judges and the course and everything by the time I show.



It was a really good show. I obeyed most of my two major rules:

1. Ride every obstacle. (No defaulting to auto-pilot.)
2. Keep my eyes on my horse at the gate.

I say "most" because on the first day, I got him through each obstacle at the correct gait and on respectable lines. It was going fairly brilliantly until I got to the very last maneuver (isn't that always the way?), a back-up into a chute.

In the warm-up arena, there were poles to walk over at the chute's end. In the show arena, there were no poles. He backed straight. Then, in the briefest of nanoseconds, I thought, "Hmm, no poles. Am I done? No, we need to walk out." In that-much-time, Snoopy swung his hip left and tapped the pole with his hind foot.

Seriously, Snoop? Whaddup with that?

We got a 4th and 5th in the class, which wasn't bad.



But that was nothing compared to the next class day. I was feeling pretty confident. The course seemed easy. We walked in between some cones, then backed to the gate. I opened the gate and walked him through. We straightened and I asked him to back up so I could close the gate. That's when it happened.



He was attacked by a fly. Niki had sprayed him nose-to-tail, but a fly landed on the inside of his leg and Would. Not. Let. Go. I pulled back on the reins, but Snoopy kicked out with his back leg, trying to get rid of his tormentor. I wrapped my legs around him and pulled. That's when he turned his head and tried to bite the damn fly, slamming our bodies into the gate standard.

I pushed away from the standard and got him to back up, latched the rope and sent him jogging out, which finally loosened the pest from his leg. The rest of our course was as divine as I'd imagined. We hit every stride, our lines were great, and even our left turn in the box was smooth and flawless.

We coulda been a contendah.

It was one of those things you can't help or plan for and it was still fun to ride.

One of the fun parts of the show was the Trail Classic. I didn't participate but my friend Christine and her horse Bubba did. Out of 40 competitors, they came in 7th! So cool!



The whole experience made me realize how much I love showing trail. No matter how awful the conditions, no matter how early I had to get out of bed to drive to Burbank, no matter how much physical labor is involved (I muck my own stall, thank you), I still have great memories of it all.

* * * *

If you or anyone you know is interested in Snoopy's memoir, stay tuned.  This Friday, we're having a special!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

He said/She said

We're getting ready for our last horse show of the season, the Pink Show, held in Burbank. Our previous horse show was in Temecula last month. Since usually this blog is either written by me or Snoopy, I thought I'd give us both a chance to weigh in on what happened at the last show.

Fact: Usually, Snoopy is very excited to go to a horse show and spends the first longeing session running like he's trying out for the Preakness. Then he is quiet for the rest of the show.

Me: I don't understand why you didn't run and jump like a crazy beast on Thursday.

Snoopy: I had worked already that day. Remember? You rode me. I was crazy on the inside.



Fact: On Friday, show day, Snoopy longed like the Horse from Hell. Snorting, running, leaping in the air and pawing with the front feet.

Me: You wore yourself out, ya big goofball! Plus, you nearly took me dirt surfing.

Snoopy: Wheeee!!



Fact: Snoopy was tired and dull around the trail course.

Me: So, after running like an idiot, you were too tired to jog? I felt like I carried 1100 pounds around those poles.

Snoopy: I just wanted a nap.



Fact: On the last show day, Snoopy was back to his normal self.

Me: I learned a lot on this course. First, even if your horse speeds up and spins in the box, if he steps out at the end, just go with it, even if you are a little dizzy. Second, focus on one thing at a time, and do not adjust your reins while you ask your horse to transition from the lope to the walk. Third (and this is the Gayle rule only), never take your eyes off your horse at the gate.

Snoopy: I thought we did good. First, don't worry about being dizzy. I get dizzy all the time. Second, if you want me to walk, tell me to walk. I'll see what I can do about it. But when you tickle my neck with the reins, I get a little distracted. Third, sometimes you are very strict. I liked that rope. It tasted good.



Wish us luck in Burbank!

Saturday, July 20, 2013

A guest post and a new opportunity

In between writing books, a newspaper column, keeping up two blogs plus contributing to a third, tending to my horses, helping out my trainer, and spending time with my family, I figured, gee, I'm not very busy.

I'm a currently a guest over at the Equestrian Ink blog, and they've asked me to be a contributor. Of course, I said yes!

In the meantime, come on over to the lovely E.I. blog and read about how I was able to write an entire book using my lovable goof's voice.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

The very busy book launch

My apologies for being so late in this post. At first, my excuse was that I was exhausted from launching Snoopy's book, but ultimately it was just laziness keeping me from writing. Laziness and working on other projects.

Snoopy and I had a great time launching his book at the Lights, Camera, Action Horse Show in Burbank, California. It was a balancing act, to be sure. Each day, I made sure I rode first, then I'd go over to the show office and set up my table.



Sadly, my cool banner isn't working out like I thought it would. The stand for it is too weak to hold the canvas. I tried duct tape, hot glue, everything but a welding torch, but it just wouldn't hold in the frame.

Rats.

I sold seven books at the show. Not impressive numbers, but I sold a couple of books to judges who live in Texas, which means Snoopy's story will travel. Also, my buddy Steve Connell stopped by to meet Snoopy and get a copy.



Snoopy thought Steve looked pretty interesting, but I like to keep him from chewing on potential readers.

I also gave away a prize package to all of the AQHA Trail Circuit Champions, which meant they kept announcing my name all weekend. I swear, the first time Larry (Gimple, the show manager) said my name over the PA system, I thought I was being called into the principal's office.

As far as showing, Snoopy and I did really well on the first day and really badly on the second. We actually got a 2nd and a 5th the first day. On the second day, we messed up badly when we backed the 'L'.

It all started when I pulled up to the gate and turned to watch for the judge's nod. In the meantime, Snoopy was pulling a huge branch off the tree in front of the standard. That never looks professional. The rest of the gate wasn't bad, but when I tried to back the 'L', Snoopy informed me by swinging his hip, that he could take care of this. He was too early, so I tried to stop him, but managed to get wiggly in the saddle. The result was that we straddled the pole, then corrected ourselves, then went on our merry way.

I've been backing 'L's ever since in my lessons. (Amazingly, we ended up finishing 7th and 9th that day, out of 10 horses. I really expected to be dead last.)

I did make some errors that I wish I could correct, and they have to do with photo ops. I should have gotten a picture with Larry and the book, and a picture of one of the circuit champions with their awards. Damn.

But it was a good start to Snoopy's good book.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

My story is out!

A simple horse goes on a difficult journey.


Meet Snoopy the Quarter horse. His registered name is My Flashy Investment, and in 2007, he won the PCQHA Trail Futurity. In 2008, he broke his leg. Now he tells his story of faith and love, and how they helped him overcome injury and doubt.

“A great gift book for horse lovers of all ages.” – Michele Scott, bestselling author of Silent Harmony (Into the Ring)

From the Horse’s Mouth: One Lucky Memoir - Available NOW in paperback on Amazon and bookstores everywhere, and in ebook for Kindle.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

My MomToo's friend.

Dear Diary,

MomToo has a friend Michele. She is a writer, too, and MomToo says her book is out today. It's about horses, so that sounds good.



I can't read, but maybe MomToo can read it to me. You can get it here.


Monday, May 20, 2013

The truth shall set you free

Since I've been riding horses, I've enjoyed taking horseback rides practically every where I vacation. Dale and I go together on most of them. My trainer has always given me the same advice: don't tell them that you know how to ride.

The myth is that if a rental place knows you ride, they'll give you the rankest beast in the place. The reality is probably more understandable. If a tour guide has five people and one knows how to ride, they'll probably give the more experienced rider the horse that has to be handled a little more.

It's the way Niki figures out which girls ride which horses in our group lessons.

Usually, I tell the stables that I ride "a little." I try to say it with a shrug. Once I'm on a nice, quiet horse and we're walking down the path, I confess. That way, I get to look at the scenery instead of actively ride through it.

When Dale and I were going to Cambria, I looked for horseback riding and found Outback Trails. They do some trail rides around Cambria, but they also do a ride through a vineyard, followed by a complimentary wine tasting. Horses and wine? Count me in.

I exchanged emails with a chipper Aussie named Mick, then on Friday, Dale and I wound our way through the wine country of the Central Coast until we found Cass Winery on Linne Road. It looked like a lovely vineyard, and a beautiful day.

"So, Day-yul and Gay-yul," Mick said in his very Aussie accent. He was not very tall, very trim, and had the largest, whitest teeth I've ever seen. "Hae much roiding haeve ya done?" (Translation: Dale and Gayle, how much riding have you done?)

I did my usual, "a little" shrug, then looked at Dale and added, "he's done..." My morning brain did a quick calculation - if I've done a little, then Dale's done... "less."

Mick went off with his assistant Charlie (not Aussie, but Idahoian) to get the horses. Dale used this opportunity to shoot me The Look. "Less?" he asked. I shrugged. "Relatively. Niki wears her tennis shoes, tells them she doesn't ride, and tries to put the wrong foot in the stirrup. At least I'm wearing my boots."

I heard my name, so I walked over to a fairly average-sized buckskin. Charlie put the mounting block next to the horse and started to help me up, when Mick said, "Wait, tie off the lead rope first. It'll be easier in the long run." At this point, Charlie started looping the lead rope over the saddle horn and I was chatting and they were chatting and we were all chatting and I forgot what I was doing.

"There you go," Charlie said after the rope was secured. "Now you can get up."

I saw the knotted reins lying on the horse's neck, and in one natural swoop, I picked them up, grabbed the saddle, and swung up. Mick was on the other side, giving me another kind of Look.

"You say you've ridden a little?" he asked, smiling.

I folded like a defective card table. "Okay-I-own-two-Quarter-horses-and-show-competitively," I blurted.

"When you grabbed those reins, I knew you had to have some experience," Mick told me. "Non-riders don't know to do that."

I explained that I just wanted a relaxing walk and told him of my trainer's advice. He smiled even bigger. "All trainers tell us they don't ride, just because they want an easy day." Then he patted my horse. "Bear here is our gentlest horse. He's the one I put my three-year-old on."

Me and Bear


Bear, gave me a very easy ride. Dale and I followed Charlie on his horse, and Mick driving a wagon pulled by two Belgians (it was their first day here), while we wandered around the various paths of the vineyard for an hour. Charlie and I chatted the whole time about horses and working and weather and winemaking. (Turns out, when he's not a guide, Charlie is a farrier. He's new to the area and trying to build his business.) Dale's bay horse, Frankie, was in a mellow mood and didn't want to walk that fast, so they would get very far behind us and Dale would have to make him trot to catch up.

After our thoroughly enjoyable ride, we went over to the winery and got a free wine tasting plus half-price on a fruit and cheese plate. It was all relaxing and lovely and a great way to start our day of winetasting.



Will I continue to do my "I ride a little" shrug? If I do, I have to learn not to grab the reins on my way up.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Preak what?

Dear Diary,

I heard there's some kind of big fancy race this weekend. MomToo talks about this guy all the time.



If you ask me, it looks like too much work.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Ten, nine, eight...

After months of working to get everything lined up and ready, I think we're set to have a successful launch. Here are the details:

THE OFFICIAL LAUNCH:
The official paperback launch will be at the Lights, Camera, Action AQHA/CRHA Horse Show in Burbank (at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center), May 30-June 2. DETAILS: All AQHA Trail Circuit Champions will receive a Snoopy goody bag. I will be selling autographed copies of From the Horse's Mouth in the afternoons all four days.

PRE-LAUNCH:
For people who cannot wait until then, I will have copies available at the ranch for one day, May 25, from 2 to 4 pm at the Silver Rose Ranch, 2954 English Road, Chino Hills, CA.



I NEED YOUR ATTENTION FOR THIS PART.

Thank you.

Snoopy lives at the ranch, but I do not. There are lots of horses boarded, owned by different people and trained by one of the three professional trainers based here. Strangers are welcome, but they cannot wander willy-nilly around the premises. Therefore, if you'd like to visit on May 25th, I need you to RSVP in the comments below so I know who/how many to expect. If you just show up, I may not be at the front to greet you, and if you wander willy-nilly, I must warn you, there is a pack of border collies running about and they are usually in the mood to nip at strangers' heels.

P.S. If for some reason you can't leave a comment, email me at gaylecarline(at)sbcglobal(dot)com.

E-BOOK LAUNCH:
For those of you who want the e-version, it will be available on Kindle on May 30. It will be priced at $4.99.

We're almost there!