Thursday, July 26, 2007

I'm up in the land of shiny cars and cold running water. I took my time and made it a two day trip, instead of that long, long 12 hour, butt-numbing, maniac ride.

Are you wondering why I speak of cold running water? In our little Mexican village the water pipes aren't buried very deep, AND we have a big water container on our roof (like a thousand liters) in case the town water goes off for awhile. Those two things combined make for warm cold water all summer. Many people just turn off their water heaters until October, when overnight temps cool down, and still shower comfortably in tepid water.
I foolishly filled my hot tub thinking I would be able to dip my feet and enjoy a cool bath. After I put the solar blanket on it for a day to keep out wind borne bougainvillea flowers the temp went all the way up to 110. I guess that wasn't a good idea. Nothing refreshing about that.

And, of course, there are plenty of shiny and fancy Mexican vehicles, but not like up here. Every other car up here seems to be less than a year old shiny BMW or Prius. You know that car you drove 15 years ago and traded in 10 years ago? It now lives a nice leisurely life in Mexico, puffing oil and forgetting it ever had a muffler. Oh, I was thinking that our old-car enthusiasts might consider going down into Mexico to find that certain cherry '55 Buick. There are plenty to pick from under swaying palms. And, they're probably still running.

I'm on the first leg of visiting my sisters. My daughter is here at my 'Merican house with me for the first part of the visit. It's so easy to spoil her, we just drop right back into our Mother/Daughter roles. Then, sister Susan is picking me up (in her shiny 2 month old Prius) and taking me to her home in LA. After a haircut and a visit to the Pilates studio (duh) we are heading up to Barbie's house in Oregon for less than a week. Think of all the cold running water up there! We are all coming right back down in the shiny car and then I am driving Barbie back to Mexico with me. It's a busy trip.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Horses are such quick learners. If they see the smallest bit of weakness in their riders they go for it relentlessly. We ended up on the lunge line going in circles so we could actually learn a few pieces of riding etiquette. This horse crazy girl was a quick learner, too. She understood the reason behind using only the ball of the foot in the stirrup. Then, she learned how to get off safely.

Then she had to go in and speak to Bella and give her a bit of a brushing.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Horse Crazy

Once again I am lucky enough to meet another 10 year old girl who imagines horses in everything she does everyday all day long. She has memorized a few body parts on the horse and I gave her a little more information. We discussed the chestnut and the hock and how over thousands of years the leg developed like that, and then I gave her an assignment for our next trip out to the barn. On Sunday we took the time to measure several of the horses with my carpenter's measuring tape. Anyone who has never measured a horse might not be aware that horses don't particularly like having long, skinny, snake-looking things held up next to their body. Doing this exercise taught Brittany how to introduce an unsavory object to a horse with patience, where exactly a horse is supposed to be measured, and we reassured the horses that we could be trusted.
Bella is almost too easy because she tends to trust me with anything but the fly-spray bottle. She came out to 53 inches. Her mother is only an inch taller at 54 inches. Bella's sister, Sonora, is 51 inches. And the other yearling, Cita, is 52 inches. All little horses for sure. Billy measured out at 60 inches. Oh, and baby Paulina is 44 inches. Amazing, but she trusted us very soon after we introduced her to the tape. I figured she'd be the toughest to get, but it was Billy who just didn't have time in his busy schedule to fool with tapes and people without candy. I explained to Brittany that this wasn't a very scientific experiment because the dirt floors are uneven and a real measuring stick has that top part that rests on the withers to guarantee a level measurement. Her assignment is to write all the horses names and figure out the number of hands and the date. Next time she comes to visit her grandma we can do it again and see who has grown.
Meanwhile, I'm thinking that maybe tomorrow we should saddle someone up and take a short ride. I would love to get a picture of her on-board and see if her smile can get any bigger. I have an old black and white picture of myself, at around 9 or 10 years old, on an old flea-bitten white mare, Comet (who I thought was gorgeous!) and this look of cowgirl confidence under my hat.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

A new day dawns.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Baby's First Step

I got on Bella last night. She's been such a willing little lady all week and I had complete confidence in her last night, so I saddled her and then stepped up on top. Well, to be more exact, I had decided to put her saddle on as I was driving out to see her. She had been out all day in the desert with some of the others and so had whatever attitude already bucked out of her. As I led her out of her stall she just followed along sweetly so I took her all the way out to my car (no use schlepping my saddle into the barnyard.) I had her little bucket in the back of the car and she always knows that. I let her have her bucket and just started saddling her right there, next to the car, not tied up. That was fine, she hardly noticed. Then, Diane (the barn owner) came out of her house and laughingly asked what was I thinking, and then said she'd get on her. I just replied that if she had had enough to drink, she was welcome. She hadn't had a thing to drink but was certain that Bella would be wonderful. So, she came over and we got the cinch nicely snug. I took Bella's almost finished bucket away so she could focus, and Diane put some weight in the stirrup. Bella hardly blinked. Diane then put weight in the stirrup again and just swung on over. Bella stood still and thought about it and then asked for her bucket back. Diane got off and we hugged the baby and then I found myself back by the stirrup and I decided to do the same thing Diane had. I put my weight in the stirrup several times before going ahead and swinging on over. She stood like a statue. I talked to her and patted her all over and rubbed her neck and then got off. Maybe a 60 second first start. She was completely happy with herself and now wanted the rest of her bucket.
After a few more minutes of us fawning all over her being such a big girl we brought out the bridle and put that on her too. She took all of this like a little well-trained girl. I do need advice though, on what bit I should start her with. I have a nice big full-cheek snaffle that I've used for years, but I'd like to really protect her mouth while at the same time having that direct contact. Any choices you have started with and think works well?
So, Bella's been broke.

Friday, July 06, 2007

I just got a new phone (pink, razr, the one everyone bought ages ago) and I wanted Bella on it. I think my real camera does a better job. So, I've figured out how to send pictures back and forth via Bluetooth with my computer. The quality of the phone camera is different, of course, but one out of ten pictures turns out almost useable. It might help if I would put my glasses on so I could actually see what I'm taking.

I can't believe Bella has so much forelock. I suppose I should braid it, but whenever I do I get teased about these not being California horses. Mexican horses do not have a bridle path, so after I mentioned my clippers once to Diane and got a sniff in response, I put them back in the drawer. I will say however, that since I've been giving Bella suppliments and daily brushing since around last October, she is the one horse that has the softest coat and combed out tail. Some of it is her breeding, some from attention. I'm slipping Pony, her mother, a little grooming and tail combing, and putting Swat on her belly-sore from fly bites. Pony's tail is almost hopeless with such a mess of dreadlocks. Little by little, stroke by stroke, maybe I'll make some headway. Before we know it they'll all look like show ponies. Cowboy Magic anyone?


Tuesday, July 03, 2007

That's my neighbor's tree as it was just starting to bloom. That was a couple of months ago, I think, and now it is full of leaves and few blooms left. It is one of our favorites since the fragrance is delightful.

June Monsoon is doing very well and is as active as a foal can be in a large pen. We let the mare and baby out into the yard everyday so the baby can explore and learn a little. We never let them out of our sight since there are always troubling things for a foal to get into. The Mexican owner is very happy with his new baby and is happily surprised that she lets us handle her. He has named her Paulina, which is lovely, and I think it's in honor of her being born on St. Paul's day. I suppose I'll always think of her as June, though. Thanks for the sweet comments.

Last evening Diane, the barn owner, led a group of City Slickers out into the desert to see the sunset and I got to go along on Pony, and bring up the rear. It was a lovely, warm (can you say HOT?) evening and the sunset was colorful. Pony has more and more confidence in me and we are becoming quite bonded. She's starting to do as I ask and not question my decisions. We had to move through the herd several times when someone dropped a rein, or needed to hand over a water bottle, and she only had to be told once what and where. I don't own her, but I do own her daughter, and I can only hope that Bella has such a logical head on her thick shoulders. It seems so now, but time will tell. Several nights ago we took another tour over to the beach and had a sunset over the water. People just seem to love horses on beaches, yet certainly not all horses love the waves. Splashing through the waves is not possible on many horses, but fancy side passes are well practiced as the horse tries to avoid that moving water. All was well with our group both coming and going, and I let out a deep breath as we get everyone back home safely after dark. No wrecks, no falls, no harm. Our little barn has some amazingly safe and sound horses.