Archive for April, 2013

PostHeaderIcon Tenor and the Sweat Drops

I was honored to get to ride Tenor while I was in Florida.  I used to own Tenor.  I bought him from Teresa Jones when he was one day old.  He came home to live with me at 4 months.  A new internet family came to visit me not too long after that.  Ginny had found me on the internet because of my stories involving natural horsemanship and Missouri Fox Trotters.

Kevin and Ginny met me for the first time at my home.  I had let Tenor out of the pasture so he could be part of the greeting crowd when they showed up.  They drove up.  We met and exclaimed with happiness at this meeting.  They met and petted Tenor.  We walked into the barn.  Kevin sat down on the barn floor.  Tenor wandered in and promptly went over to Kevin and laid down beside him.  Kevin petted him and Tenor put his head in Kevin’s lap.  We all knew that was a magic moment.  Horses just don’t lie down like that.  What we didn’t realize was that Tenor had claimed Kevin.  When Ginny and Kevin got up to leave, Ginny told me that if I ever sell Tenor, they want him.  I guffed at that.  What a horse Tenor will make me is what I was thinking of how he layed down with Kevin.

Time goes on and I have many many horses to ride.  Turns out, Kevin was looking for another horse and Jenny Vaught was involved in the process.  Jenny called me and asked, What do you think about Kevin owning Tenor?  The episode in the barn flew into my head.  I blurted out, “It’s perfect! Tenor chose Kevin a long time ago!”  I gave Tenor to Kevin and they have turned out to be best buddies.  They love one another.  Kevin has spent tons and tons of time playing with and training Tenor.

Tenor enjoys every minute that he is with Kevin.  Kevin and Tenor live in Florida…that’s a far piece from Missouri!  So here it is years later and I’m visiting in Florida and Tenor is there.  Kevin offers me the chance and pleads with me to ride Tenor.  I leap at the opportunity.

Tenor is a great horse.  He’s solid.  He’s got all the fox trotter gaits.  He stops and goes at suggestions from my body.  He turns where I want to turn, sidepasses over a barrel.  He does it all.

And then there was the pedestal.  Tenor loves to get on the pedestal.  I’ve seen many pictures of Tenor on the pedestal.  So I ask Tenor to put his front legs on the pedestal.  But Tenor offers more than that!  He puts his front legs on the pedestal and then his back legs.  We are standing on the pedestal with all four feet.  I’ve never been on a horse that managed to keep all four feet on the pedestal.  I am super excited.  I look around.  Kevin is talking to someone.  No one is paying any attention to me.  Evidentially, no one in the arena is excited that I’m on Tenor with all four legs on the pedestal.  I start screaming.  I screamed something like, “I’m on the pedestal!  Look at this!  Someone take my picture!”

I know everyone is going to find this hard to believe, but again, no excitement has been generated.  Kevin is still talking to someone else.  I had to elevate my voice into super scream.  Nichole, bless her heart, did come over and had her camera out.  I had to yell at Kevin..specifically calling his name.  I’m terribly afraid that Tenor will move and my moment of pedestal heaven will be over.  Kevin saunters into the arena.  I want him to take a picture with my phone so I will have it.

I pull my phone out of my….  well….  I keep my phone in a handy place on my upper body.  And let’s not forget that this is Florida…just around 80 degrees and a little humid.  I hand Kevin my phone.  He takes it and then feels the sweat drips.  His expression is one of horror and he is holding my phone like it has some kind of disease.  Kevin knew from where my phone had come and now he’s holding the dripping phone in his pristine hand.  His hand has become tainted with forbidden sweat.

All I’m aware of is that he is taking too darn much time to get my picture!  I scream at him again.  He whines and wipes the sweat off the phone and finally manages to take my picture!  Kevin went through a tough time to get this picture of me and his glorious horse, Tenor!

Thank you Kevin for letting me enjoy this great horse!  Sorry about the bra sweat drops.

Tenor on a Pedestal

PostHeaderIcon The Concrete Journey

Concrete and horses have been long in our human journey. Both the Parthenon and Hoover dam are made of concrete.  Humans have been using both horses and concrete to advance civilization.  The Parthenon had those Roman chariot races for the movie Ben Hur.  Hoover dam has no connection to horses, but it probably has more concrete than any structure on earth. The Romans knew that adding horse hair made concrete less liable to crack while it hardened.

In Florida, I learned a new appreciation for the inanimate talent of concrete.  In Florida, I came to love concrete.  Concrete is sexy.  Who knew! In Iowa where I’m from and in Missouri where I’m from now, there isn’t much concrete in horse structures.  We mostly have dirt floors in barns.  Concrete is used for our tack rooms in our little owner barns.  Bigger professional barns might have aisles that are concrete.  Huge arenas with many many stalls can be found with concrete floors, but they don’t show up much in my horse life.

I went to Florida and discovered concrete. In Florida, many horse barns have concrete floors.  At  Flamm’s Place arena where Tony and Jenny Vaught and two of my lucky horses were wintering, exists a concrete barn complete with concrete floor. Here on this day it is in the high 80 degree temperature mixed with humidity by the ocean.  (Oh it’s a wretched place to spend the winter.)  It’s lunch time.  Nothing is happening at the stable.  Every human body is in a “still” position.  I came back to the arena after a wonderful lunch at Squid Lips.  I’ve just seen dolphins swim, watched seagulls soar, and ate wonderful friend shrimp with wonderful best friends.  Who could be happier than me?  My life complete.  Still, it was a little warmish outside under the full bodied sun.

I walked into the barn and found Stefany lying on the floor.  What!  Stefany was lying on the concrete floor of the horse barn.  YECK!  Because Stefany is such a nice person, I didn’t hesitate to make fun and belittle her.  That’s one of my personality traits that make people love me.  While I was making fun of Stefany, Justin joined her on the concrete floor. Since he’s just a young child, I chose not to make fun of him.  I have my limits. After a few exclamations of concrete amazement, I asked Stefany why she was laying on the concrete floor.  She replied, “A concrete floor is the best way to cool off when you are at a Florida stable.”  ”Oh come on!,” saith I.  ”Who ever heard of laying on concrete to cool off?”  Three young voluteer students were with Stefany. They had the good sense to be sitting on buckets and other “sittable” horse aisle structures.  That’s what we do in Missouri.  We sit in the shade on hay, buckets, barrels…anything we can find.

I announced the question using just a slight belittling tone, “Raise your hands if you have has ever layed on a concrete floor to get cool?”  Two of the young women raised their hands.  ”What!” saith I.  ”You two have layed on concrete to get cool?”  ”Yes, Yes,” they announced.  The third young woman looked embarrased that she had never layed on concrete.  Magically, all three women jumped up from their barns seats and laid on the floor next to Stefany.

Five on Concrete

Group Concrete Cool

What the Hay!  They all seemed so happy.  In a nanosecond, I joined them!  I’m sorry Stefany.  You were absolutely right.  This feels great!

Susan on Concrete

Soon we were discovered by Nichole. After some expression of amazement on her part, wham, we had another human body on the concrete floor!

Six on Concrete

Just so you know, one lays on their back on concete because it feels so good on those arms.  I loved how the concrete felt on my arms.  I loved laying on the concrete.  It didn’t seem all that hard.  It was very relaxing and it was very restful.  Who knew!!

Others came.  They all exclaimed over our group insanity.  Pictures were taken.  Amazement expressed.  Then someone got jealous and perhaps wanted to get the horse afternoon started up again.  My best friend, Apryl, is the star of the final concrete story.  We were laying right next to the horse wash room.  Apryl got the hose and….yes, yes…she did.  Apryl SPRINKLED us.  The nerve!  Since I am so sweet, I was terrified that I would melt.

Me and all the other sweet horse people leaped to our feet and horse adventure afternoon started.

sheesh…..

Oh yes, I forgot one more thing.  About my small concrete tack room in my barn. …   I’m starting a new business renting concrete space for laying on.  For $5.00/hour, you can come to my concrete tack room and lay down on the floor.  In August, the charge will be $10/hour.  When it gets hot in Missouri, come to “Susanfxtrt Concrete Coolness” and get your concrete chill on!

PostHeaderIcon Lucky Star – Spring 2013

Miracle of Miracles!  Lucky Star has been impulsive the last three rides we’ve had.  He’s been impulsive up to the canter.  I can get Lucky to trail walk, flat foot walk and fox trot without too much arguing.  We have come a long way.  However, the canter was not in Lucky Star’s play book.

On this day, Lucky Star wanted to goooooooo!  I’m not quite used to this version of Lucky Star yet.  These past three rides, Lucky seems to always want to go fast the first time we ride on the rail, which conflicts with my normal desire to trail walk on our first steps away from the mounting block.

Later during our ride when I’m ready to canter, Lucky Star is not.  The last two rides in an arena, I got him to canter about two-three canter steps both ways of the arena.  This is always near the end of our training session.  Once I get three steps of a canter both ways, I leap off and pet him extensively.  I’m grateful for those three steps.

I was planning my strategy before this ride.  I decided to let him go fast when we start our session on the rail .  My reasoning is…”I’ll do anything for a canter”.

I mount and we do our mandatory exercises which consist of backing, side passing, turning on the hind and forequarters.  We do some figure eight and circle activities.  Lucky Star and I are ready for the real deal on the rail..

Lucky Star gets on the rail and expresses a great desire to speed up. His head is up.  His back is hollowed out.  He is poised for an off balance take-off. Surprise!  I let him him speed up.  We go faster and faster till we get into a RUN.  I call it a run because there’s no legal name for this gait.  He’s cantering or galloping but there’s no rhythm.  Every leg is cantering or galloping, oblivious of the what the other three legs are doing.  A canter is a three beat gait.  A gallop is a four beat gait.  Lucky was not doing either.  This is a bumpy gait which leaves the human body guessing at where the suspension is coming next.  My human body loves rythym because I can balance and stay in the saddle.  My human body is starting to fear this helter-skelter bumpy run.  I signal Lucky Star to slow down.  He ignores me.  Usually, Lucky slows down to a sudden unasked stop  when I’m enjoying going forward.  Did you ever learn to drive a clutch vehicle?  You start to let the clutch out; The vehicle speeds forward; You let the clutch out all the way;  The clutch hates that and stalls the vehicle to a sudden stop. That’s what riding the normal Lucky Star is like.  This is not the normal Lucky Star.  It’s more like an out of control 1952 one ton truck where the accelerator is stuck and you are traveling down a bumpy gravel road.

Lucky Star was on a high headed, hollow back mission.  I convinced him to slow down to a stop and we did this very same act two more times.  Yee Haw!

At the conclusion of rocket three, I went back to my normal plans.  At the end of our session, I ask him to canter and he did.  Going to the left, he cantered about 10 steps before his legs got confused and we lapsed into our non-canter run.  I leaped off, petted him, treated him and we finished the session with a long grazing session..part of it in a tire!

Lucky Star is a character!  I love him!

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