Wednesday, April 30, 2008

My Little (Borrowed) Cowpokes

I do not have 'lil cowpokes of my own yet. Actually, before that happens I suppose I should find a cowboy to father them. More on that another time. But I am very lucky to have so many darling little cousin cowpokes in my life. Here is one of them now. Gus McCrae: the next generation?

Oh yea, he looks sweet and innocent now. But when Papa is at work, this little guy is all business. He'll hold down the law, and defend his Mama, his sista, and his best hoss!

Wait a minute, that's better, this picture is a little more vintage western up-and-coming-cowpoke, for sure!

Then there is my Auntie J's grandson. She is grooming him to be a pro-reiner, pro-cutter, pro-something on horseback. I just know it. Here he is with his first pony, Latte. Easy keeper, that little Latte was.

Now this little Buckaroo and I, we had some quality time together in N.Y.C. one muggy August a couple years back (I was his cousin "baby nanny" for a weekend.) I hope he's not clamoring to be a city boy one day. For now, it looks like he's got himself moved up to a bigger pony.

Smart kiddo, wearing that cowboy hat. He's learning early on that'll catch him all the ladies!

What are you are laughing at, Stardust? You don't think Pony Girl is going to find a cowboy of her own? Hmmphh!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Ponies: The Finale

After my negative experience with my psycho pony Shannon ( , I still wanted to get a new pony. I perused the classifieds daily (there was no in the 80's) in search of a pony that sounded perfect for me. I found one for $450. A little background on this pony: his owners told us on the phone that he had escaped from his pasture and had been missing for 2 weeks, so he was "a little thin." They would not let him go to a new home until he had "fattened back up." When we arrived to see him, he was definitely thin. I never knew if they were pulling one over on us with the he'd-been-missing-for-two-weeks-story, but at least they appeared to be feeding him again.

Saberdance was an Arabian/Appaloosa gelding, around 17 years old and about 14.1 hands. His sellers told us that in his past he'd been registered and a show pony. I rode him in his pasture first, and afterwards I rode him along a trail with his owner and my parents walking with us. Saberdance jigged a little. Of course, at that age, I thought jigging was like, totally rad! I decided I wanted this pony. Then again, I always wanted every pony I saw (there was no such thing as a lengthy search, a second opinion, or a vet check.) We said we would call back in a couple of weeks to see how his weight was. Sure enough, he was looking better and we brought him home. Saber was always such a nice boy. He was easy to handle, groom, and ride. We rode western, hunt seat, and hit the trails.

Here we are at my neighbor's play day. Uh, yep, I look a little strange, standing up in my stirrups like that! I was getting ready to run Saber through a barrel or poles pattern. I was not wearing a helmet. I did ride not with a helmet the whole time I rode horses and ponies in my youth. In fact, I did not even own one! Things have sure changed.

Saberdance had better training than any of my other ponies. He was very patient with me as I was discovering new things about horses, such as achieving collection. I remember jerking on his head a lot, which was not very educated of me. Goodness, he must have been very tolerable! I remember a time where Saber closed his eyes and rested his head on my sister's thigh while she was sitting next to us on her pony Angel. Coincidentally, My Boy has similar coloring to Saber, that sorrel roan coloring. When I dug out these old pictures I see a lot of resemblances between them from their Appy heritages. After a couple of years of enjoying Saber, it was time for me to move up to a bigger and more challenging horse. I was in high school, and my good friend was showing Quarter Horses at the time. I was cleaning stalls at the stable where she kept her horse. Of course, more than anything, now I wanted a Quarter Horse. We sold Saberdance. Several years later someone saw him in the 4-H barn at the county fair, so I am assuming he continued to be a great asset for another young rider. I always kind of regretted letting him go, because he was such a rare jewel. He rebuilt my confidence after struggling with Shannon. He was fun to ride, and a pretty boy to look at, too! But I was moving onward, old lang syne, almost graduated from high school.....would my next horse to be the Quarter Horse I so coveted?? To be continued........

Monday, April 28, 2008

The Pond Monster

Before I left the Painted Creek yesterday (my sister's farm where I board My Boy) I headed to the pond. I was collecting samples of water, pond scum, tadpoles (too early yet, I think) and hopefully a frog, anything that young children might find interesting at the Science table in my classroom. I have never really looked at the pond, I just know it is there because the dogs play in it and I rinse my muck boots in the creek that feeds into it. I always thought it was just one pond, but there are actually two, connected by a creek between the trees. This first, smaller pond is covered in what I thought was green slime or algae.

However, upon closer inspection, I realized it was a green plant of some sort, growing and floating on top of the water. As I leaned over to pull a sample of it into my jar, something hopped by me into the water and swam under it. A frog! Darn! Missed my chance at that one.

Here is the creek and in-between area that connects the smaller pond to the larger one. Really, this story is going somewhere, stick with me here.

In this area are a lot of dried reeds and plants. It was here I got the strange feeling that I was being watched.

It was a dark, muggy afternoon. It had started raining, and all was quiet. Except for the drip, drip, drip on the pond's surface. It was eerie. I observed that the second, larger pond was very, very murky. It looked dark and deeper than I thought it would be. I was beginning to feel a little uncomfortable near it's edge and I backed away.

I headed back towards the other pond, unable to shake that feeling of being watched. Wasn't I a little too old to believe in pond monsters? Or swamp aliens? Then I heard a twig snap. I nervously gathered my last water sample and bagged it up, deciding it was time to skedaddle my Pony Girl patootie on out of there. When I spotted him. Across the pond. Behind the trees.

Ah ha! I was being watched!! I knew it! It was that big spotted pond monster of mine! In case you didn't see him:

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Spring, Saturday, Sun, and Seafood?

Spring was back! For one day, at least. I'll take what I can get! On Saturday, my sister and I brought out My Boy and Fritzy for a ride in the arena. The horses were mellow because of the warm sun, and we were happily surprised to be wearing tank tops and sunscreen again. My sister had a couple of good rides on Fritzy this week and is feeling her confidence began to grow more and more with this mare. My Boy was a good boy. We worked mostly on our softening to the bit exercise.

Here I am practicing my "Pony Whisperer" moves. Not too hard when your horsey is sleepy from the warm sun!

Wake up, My Boy!! Fritzy is making her move. These two turned out together would be quite a pair. Both are a bit dominate. I wonder which one would would come out victorious?

After their workouts, these two were content to just nap in the sun!

Okay....first came bull-dozing the alder trees. Then came the burn piles. Then came moving dirt. Then came the fill dirt. Then came arena paneling. Then came dragging the arena and picking copious amount of rocks. Then came a picnic table for the peanut gallery. Next up: a place for Pony Girl and Paint Girl to put all of their horsey stuff while riding!! Everything is a work in progress....

After a day of riding, we headed to the neighbor's for a BBQ and bonfire. The BBQ consisted of 50 lbs of oysters. Pony Girl does not eat oysters, even if they are soaked in butter and garlic. However, she does partake in homemade strawberry-rhubarb pie and vanilla bean ice-cream!

On Sunday, the heavens decided to drip a bit, but I still got My Boy out for a light workout before it got too wet. I also dewormed him, using a pellet wormer. I have never used a pellet wormer before. Any opinions on this type of wormer? Since it the type of wormer I needed to use this time in the rotation, I thought it would be worth a try rather than struggle with the paste tube. My Boy was happy to gobble it down mixed with a handful of his supplement and probiotics. My Boy, spring's visit appears to be short and I may not be back to see you for a few days....have a good week!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Western Treasures

You might have noticed by now my new found addiction to cool cowgirl and horsey stuff. I do not want to overdo it. Oh goodness, you can overdo it. I like things that look vintage and rustic. Here are a few more of my treasures.

Look how easy this would be to make! But I did not make this, I am not that talented. A chunk of rustic timber, some rusty old was intended to be a votive holder, but I keep it in my bathroom and put cotton swabs in it.

I am obsessed with western jewelry. My favorite thing to do is find horse related pendants. Then I take them off their chain and string them onto leather cord, or leather-like cord from the local craft store, and tie it around my neck. I even did this with a saddle string from my cantle bag! Oh, and they're hanging on a candelabra I got a flea market years ago, when I was in my Shabby Chic phase. I painted it antique white. It has little branches and leaves which are great for hanging up all my necklaces and charms.

I just found this golden beauty at the local thrift shop for $6.99. I spotted her from the other side of the shelf and trotted (galloped is more like it) over to swipe her up. Not like I had a lot of competition, I doubt she'd have flown off the shelf here in the city! I knew immediately she was no dollar store mare. But she wasn't locked in the "special antiques case" so she must not be too valuable.

She might be made of porcelain (I don't know my china, ceramics, or glass, sorry cowpokes.) She does appear to be old. But not an old nag, thank you very much! She has a small hole under her belly, when I shake her I can hear the piece cluttering inside. I think she is just Ms. Sunshine herself, don't you? Okay, she might just be a dime-store pony, after all. But I found the perfect place for her.

P.S. I am keeping my fingers crossed that the weather holds so that I can get up and ride My Boy tomorrow after work!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

I Caught A Virus

This is my great-great-great grandmother on her horse Jesse, back in the late 1800's. Just kidding! But it looks old, doesn't it? The picture, not the person on it, of course! This is my Auntie J, the one with the bigger-than-my-apartment-tack room, on her Quarter Horse gelding (his name really is Jesse.) They are decked out for a trail ride. Aren't they just fabulous? She is my cowgirl inspiration. She knows how to make a great "lemonade" too, guaranteed to give anyone enough liquid courage to hit even the toughest of trails. It was a visit to her place in the desert two years ago and a ride on Her Boy that did me in. It roused that dormant virus I had been carrying around so long. The iwantahorseitis. The symptoms came on fast. I heard there is no cure. Sigh. Her Boy is the epitome of a Quarter Horse. Solid, athletic, smart, regal, and a total ham bone. Why, just look at this famous trick pony!

I couldn't get My Boy to do something like that if his life depended on it. Oh, and my Auntie J's Boy is quite the big flirt, too. Just look at him try to work his magic with his new girlfriend! My Auntie J bought this young Paint-that-ain't mare at an auction. She is in training now, and if she works out, my Auntie J is giving her to my other Auntie J (I know, I know, it's confusing. And, my mom's name starts with a J, too. What was my grandmother thinking?)

But how could he resist this baby-doll's face?
Ahhhh, wait a minute there, Buckaroo. Now I see what it is you are really lookin' at. It's her muscular little hind-end! I know, it'll getcha every time!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Come Hail or High Water

I braved the elements and made it out to see My Boy yesterday. I know you don't believe me. You probably think I just curled up on my couch under my furry blanket and watched an installment of Lonesome Dove. Tempting as that was, I really went to see my horse. I have proof!

I was also delivering his new mineral and joint supplements. My Boy is boarded on my sister's farm, about a 40 minute drive (on a good day) from the city I live in. So it requires a commitment to see him, almost 2 hours round trip in drive time alone. But I do it as many times during the week as I can, and, always on the weekend. Today, I only ran into one hailstorm and one rain shower on the way. No snow, thank goodness (I have anxiety about driving in the snow.) The sun actually made a rare appearance while I was with My Boy. The arena was too sloppy and slippery to even lounge him in, so I played human hot walker. See that bit of mane flopping over on My Boy's neck? He has the worst cowlick ever there! Before he became mine, he had a pulled western pleasure style mane, which looked nice enough on him. But I am letting it grow out long, reiner-style.

Oh, so you noticed I am not wearing the new boots yet? I know, I know, I am going to have to get that first speck of mud on them sooner or later. How about later? I think it is still mucker boot season around this farm, for a few more weeks. After letting him graze a little, I put My Boy away and gave him his new supplements. Boy that joint supplement is sure stinky! Must be all that shark cartilage. Here he is, making a bee-line for his hay! Never one to miss a meal, that's My Boy! See you later this week, ya big pill!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

My Happy Place

Okay, I have about had it. Did the groundhog come out for a second time this year, and see his shadow for another 6 weeks of winter? I had My Boy's winter turnout washed, re-waterproofed, and packed away in late February and switched him to a lightweight rain sheet for milder spring weather. In March, we had unexpected snow and I pulled out the winter turnout again. I got smart and just left it in the garage unwashed this time. I put his rain sheet on for the blast of warmer air we had the last few weeks, joking, oh, we won't get any more snow! Hmmphhh! Who knew that I wouldn't be taking any pictures of riding My Boy because WE AREN'T RIDING in this weather? I need to go to my happy place. My. Happy. Place. Where the air is warm on my bare arms and I can smell sweet horse sweat as we climb the switchbacks. Here are some pictures from my trip to the California desert in February. While I was getting my camera ready, my loaner horse decided to take advantage of the unusually green desert forage! If you look close you can see the really cool elk chinks I wore. I borrowed those from my Auntie J, the one with the bigger-than-my-apartment tack room.

Bird's eye view of a palm oasis from the hilltop as we began our descent.

Approaching the palm oasis. There were flowing creeks to cross down there.

I thought it was awesome that although it was 75 degrees and we were riding in the desert, there was still snow on the mountain tops. Does using the word awesome date me? Do people
still use that word?

A really cool rock. Wait, it probably has some technical geological name. If I knew a petrologist I would ask them. Oh, but look at the blue sky!! I'm imagining how warm that rock must feel if I sat next to it......

Okay....I am feeling much warmer and cozier now. Daydream over....goodbye teddy bear cacti. Goodbye date palms. Goodbye desert swallows. Goodbye smooth Tennessee Walker. Goodbye wild sage and lavender. Goodbye rattlesnakes we never saw. I guess it's time to put on the down jacket and head out to spend some time with My Boy.

Friday, April 18, 2008

I Interrupt this Blog

to bring you some random (very random) pictures from my overloaded picture gallery.....

Subject: Black Jack, my first pony

Photographer: Unknown. Either myself or my little sister.

Hmmm....what is your first clue that a 10 year old took this picture?

Subject: My Boy
Photographer: Pony Girl

This was taken after I'd worked him and put him in his pasture. He hung his head over the gate the gate and blew his warm breath on me as I said goodbye. If you look really close, you will see the reflection of my hand holding the camera in the center of his eye.

Subject: Pony Girl and unidentified cat, 1972

Photographer: Unknown. Probably my father or mother

They tried to get me to love cats. That would have been cheaper. But nope, I wanted ponies! (p.s. I really do love cats, too!)

Subject: Stardust, my mom's gelding

Photographer: My mom

Goodness mom, it really is time for me to give you some lessons on using that digital camera!

Subject: Palm desert hills

Photographer: Palm desert Cowboy using Pony Girl's camera

A view of the hills we rode on in the California desert this past February.

Subject: My living room

Photographer: me

GOTCHA!! This is not my living room! Goodness, I wish it was, I just love that rustic elegance thing!

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