Salvage It

Most of this week did not go according to plan. I won’t bore you with the full extent of the sideways, but suffice it to say a close family friend lost their life, and Scrappy was Scrappy. There’s not much to say about the former except please, please, if you work in a dangerous trade, *never* let your guard down on the job. As to the latter, Scrappy “keeps finding himself in these Scrappy situations,” as one Facebook friend put it, which elicited rueful acknowledging laughter from me.

Briefly: a round of Dreamhorse/CL advertisement prompted immediate response from a friend recommending a potential great home for Scrappy and said home saw the ad independently and also contacted me. I set up to meet D Wednesday morning at the lake trails for her to try Scrappy out and pulled Scrappy Tuesday afternoon to wash his tail, be sure his hooves were as tidy as I wanted, and give him a mash. He was his usual stoic cooperative self.

Wednesday morning? The brush touched his neck and his head tilted like any itchy spot, but not quite. I moved farther down the neck with my hand and when I reached midway up, just in front of the scapula, he folded in half away from pressure. Strong reaction on the left side, 1/3 as strong right side. There was a maybe bite but didn’t seem to be a truly obvious reason for it but it was undeniable and I couldn’t reach the buyer on her cell phone. I didn’t want to leave her hanging and Scrappy was otherwise quite his usual self so with much head shaking I loaded him and went to the lake to meet her.

“He’s a bit of a hot mess, isn’t he?”  Yes, that about summed it up, between the neck and the back history, which I have in the adverts and showed her as well, down to the ultrasounds. Horse people being as we are, she quite liked him regardless, and is keeping tabs on him to come see as soon as he’s feeling better. I separated him from the admittedly bossy Apache that day and the soreness improved daily. I’m happy to say as of this morning Scrappy is non reactive to pressure on either side, though still a bit knotted feeling in front of the scapula, so I’ll give him some more Sore No More massages and days off before we schedule with the potential new home again.

And then, some spirit lifting occurrences to really salvage the week!

We have 9 young bantams a friend gifted to us this summer, 5 roosters unfortunately, but among the few and barely laying hens, there’s a broody hen. As of yesterday, as Funder said–broody hen is a teen mom! A quite industrious one I must say, to the tune of 8 chicks in the last 24 hours. In November no less.

do you hear peeping? errr–sure do! yesterday

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this a.m.

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born to be a mama

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Another big big grin moment came yesterday, when buddy T who took me riding on her horse’s last weekend came down to Lake Oroville to play with my ponies. Her trail dog joined us and the first grins of the ride were prompted by Blaze, who T was ponying her dog off of in populated areas. Blaze got a look in his eye and an arch to his neck that I haven’t seen since our brief foray into team sorting, surely that dog needs herding! He thought so the whole ride, leashed or not.

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culvert contemplation

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T trotting on Blaze 🙂

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Sheza did wonderfully on the ride, leading most of the way, crossing bridges, trying one snarky dash at the dog instead of spooking at her (woot!), EDP and finally, after some stopping and hesitancy, peeing.

marching at the first bridge

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2nd bridge crossing

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a fun note, Sheza is wearing her momma Desire’s saddle pad, pommel pack, and head gear, and the Trailmaster saddle on her is one I bought from Desire’s old owner and Sheza’s breeder years ago 

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The best part though? Trotting, briefly, but long enough to really feel what sort of trot my home raised filly girl actually has. And you guys!!! It’s SMOOTH. Low kneed, efficient, solid, smoooooth. When you have to try to post instead of are being forced to post–ooh!! I am so excited. She doesn’t get to know what she’s capable of for a long time yet, but that taste was glorious!! A long time coming.

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doing some epic-pose mash eating back home, Georgia on scrap patrol

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It was a solid mini course on life this week, ups and downs, all arounds. Critters and natural beauty and connecting with good friends and family are my way of salvaging it. What’s yours?

this morning before the rain

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New Roommates, Good Friends

It’s hard for me to articulate how special the intertwined group of horse gals I find myself in has become to me. I tried to state it as local friends, but it expands over this broad state of California and into others, and there are certainly feelings of warmth sprinkled to many others across the country and beyond. Which is weird, because I don’t do sprinkly feelings of warmth and groups of girl friends. Or didn’t? I’m honestly pretty anti social, finding my clients, blog/FB, endurance events, and very few riding buddies I actually join IRL entirely enough social life without crowds, cities, strangers, or excessive indoor activities needing apply. That’s an accurate description of me even in this very moment, but I do undeniably now have a pretty cool core of people I am honored and stoked to call friends. And it’s great. So thanks, folks!

That sentimental ramble did lead somewhere, I swear..last Saturday, Mel of Boots and Saddles brought her endurance mare, Farley, up to Mare Camp. I struggle to even remember when we first met at this point (blogging/Renegades/Tevis?), but Mel has become one of those blog-to-real life friends who the above paragraph very much applies to. She inspires me and makes me laugh, and I respect her and her opinion (and stellar UC Davis DVM title) immensely; you might see where I was both happy to help a friend and a bit thrilled at the trust, to have her stashing her mare (to be swapped for her filly as needed) here. Farley was due for a bit of pasture relaxing, and we had grand notions that she might help curb long yearling Rushcreek Aurora’s rather voluminous ego.

welcome Farley!

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aaaand here we have yearling Rory routing Farley. Le sigh

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well hello, gorgeous

(Desire…is an aptly named loose lady of the night)

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 Farley is no dummy, she headed for safe quarters far away to assess

(Sheza the Breyer model…sigh, swoon)

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Rory is deemed substantial. To match her ego..

Long story short, Farley did not and has not yet stepped up to squash egos in any way. In fact, I had to deploy an extra feeder and trough and close off a side gate so that she could eat her meals in peace. Rory and mini Napoleon are twin towers of terror but fortunately Desire’s amorous intentions got Farley enough under her wing that direct harassment by Rory wasn’t allowed for long. Current status? Everyone is getting enough to eat, no undue violence, except from my mini horse, who is back to literally backing at horses at high speed squealing, to hell with pinning ears. I hurt from laughing and I know, we need a video!

Spark is looking and feeling good after Wild West. I need to get a shake out ride in before Gold Country 50 next weekend!

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Heh..heh…Spark and Apache, the odd couple

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And now..another new roommate, found through a good friend. We lost our good old buddy JJ the Shepherd mix at the beginning of May. My husband had rescued him before we even met and he lived a grand ranch life, passing peacefully with us stroking his head.

JJ the firewood collector

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It left a hole in our outdoor dog force, something we very much need living in a rural area with small animals and predators of enough types that you just want a big barking dog outside. Thanks to that vine of friendship I mentioned at the beginning of this post, I was recommended to a local with years of experience with Shepherds, and the day after boarder Farley arrived we were very excited to bring home 3 1/2 month old Shepherd pup that we named Jasmine, “Jazzy.”

no big deal, just a car ride with strangers..

our first glimpse at her awesome brain (she did vomit copiously, but that’s only fair)

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I feel like I barely need to caption these..she just fits in. And gets it. And is very trainable. Thrilled with our Vista Farms girl. Thank you.

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so that’s how it’s done..

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Now ME try! 

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even old Georgia is taking to her well 

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Meanwhile, it’s been over 100 degrees *every day*. Our amazing firefighters stopped a 75 acre fire 3 miles from us on Wednesday. Last night, heading out in a hot breeze we were nearly first witness to another fire roaring up in a residential area, as thunder rolled and lightning forked through the sky. I’ve been recruited to the county fire scanner Facebook administrators and I am so happy to help in any way. It’s an intense and good time to be alive, and we need to watch each other’s backs.

foothill sunset

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veggies beating the heat…one moon til Tevis! I’ll be crewing again

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sunrise after last night’s rain(!?!)

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Coming up..

Gold Country 50

Sheza’s First Endurance Camp

Apache Trail Time

Look for the Lesson

One of the best things about horses in my opinion is that the lessons they teach us transcend the animal or hobby. I suppose it must be possible to be around horses with no further emotional investment than “this is fun” or “a job done,” but personally I’m not capable. My own ongoing journey to being a calmer, better, and brighter human has been so irrevocably linked to my failures and successes with horses that the one is inextricable from the other.

11304040_10152785288102031_117548517_nThis isn’t the post to tell all the tales, but for example this: I didn’t used to like Arabians. My first experiences on horses were English riding lessons in Maine on a variety of breeds; my first favorite horse? An ornery chestnut Quarter Horse mare named Ruby. Another favorite was a Morgan gelding who’s ground manners were of the shove tiny me into a wall on his way for vittles type. My first personal horses, years later as a Californian, were a greyhound bodied and minded Appendix mare and a Welsh Pony/QH mare.

You can safely read into that that I didn’t shy away from sassy and smart horses by any means, I just didn’t see the appeal of Arabians at first. As a teenage trail guide at a riding barn on the north coast that also did endurance, I was around numbers of Arabians for the first time– and really? They seemed completely over the top. As a transplated strong willed redheaded youngster with East Coast roots, a somewhat self imposed desire to naturally understand and be good at things right away, a family instilled need to be efficient, and a natural born cowl of impatience, Arabians and I were just made to butt heads at that place in my life. In my world we didn’t *express* and we got shit done, period. Stopping, staring, snorting, spooking–emoting! Well what good is that. That’s not accomplishing anything.  Get on with it. IMPATIENCE! 

Between those years of guiding and buying my first Arabian, there was much Young Person Angst. You’ve been through it or you’re going through it, I don’t think I need to labor the details. The point comes around to being, I bought and bonded with my first Arabian, Blaze, in early 2009 at a raw and new place in life. I’d moved to a new county with a man I barely knew, my Welsh cross mare was freshly and harshly retired by a truck accident, I had no local friends, connections to family were more tenuous than they’d ever been, I could go on. My 2008 model first-ever personal chi-mutt Georgia was my friend, that I knew, and this short, trumpety, spooky, horse aggressive bay, Blaze, was going to be my friend too, by god.

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^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^I’m overpointing at this meme because it’s true, it’s so damn true. And horses will teach you this, over and over. They will give you the highest highs, the lowest lows, and if you’re lucky you’ll wake up every morning and get to decide how you are going to handle it all–not deal with, not cope with it, but *handle* it all. The years between Blaze coming home a snotty jerk and becoming the amazing little man he is today are all chronicled on this blog, feel free to browse back.

From Lds with Blaze to 2012s first 50s with Desire to her early retirement– to the *2 year* saga that has been endurance with Scrappy, I have absolutely been discouraged, kicked in the gut, and completely done. Then I got up the next morning, fed those ungrateful gorgeous four legged wretches, and carried on. The horses don’t know how much they cost, in dollars or dreams. Regardless of what emotions or expectations we project for them or inflict on them, the horse *is*. Initially, the sensitivity the Arabians showed to the world and to my own roiling emotions was what repelled me, but as I struggled and grew, it was their honesty that made and kept me honest, with them and myself. The more willing I was to look at my own behavior, in life and with my horses, the better all results became. The calmer, truer, and more open hearted I am, the better they respond, and the better we are together.

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So here we are. Scrappy is out to pasture for a year. I’m riding a nice, but borrowed horse. Things are not as I had imagined or planned, and that’s okay. The struggle isn’t over, all the obstacles are not yet seen or even imagined. I have no idea, in this moment, how I’ll handle them when I encounter them. But I know that I will, and I’ll learn something from it, and be better. I urge others not to grasp too tightly to labels and expectations or grand plans made. Yes, dream. Yes, make goals. But recognize and embrace a positive flexibility– often found rooted in an elusive acceptance of yourself–look for the lesson, and thrive.