Sunday, September 28, 2008

"Grey's Anatomy"...NOT

So all I was going to do was longe Phantom with side reins while waiting his turn with the shoer, Started out with bridle, surcingle, and detached side reins flapping. Phantom didn't have much sass to work off, so I stopped him to attach the reins. I unclipped the right rein and decided the reins needed to be let out, Phantom took a sideways look at the rein and decided he was out of there. He took off and I realized the longe line was tangling around my feet, With visions of being dragged across the arena I frantically kicked my feet free...losing my balance in the process. I landed on my butt but instinctively put out my hand and crunched my left wrist.

Foolishly I hoped it was a bad sprain, but when I pulled off my glove things didn't look right. And there was that whoosy feeling. Not good.

Horse people are the best! Someone caught Phantom and put him away. Owner Susan had an ice bag on me before I knew it, Trainer Tracey drove me to the nearest trauma center for x-rays, and the barn bunch put away my gear. Boarders Mary Beth and Stephanie have my thanks.

X-rays confirmed both bones were broken. My wrist was splinted and I advised them I would be going to the ER within my health insurance group. Thanks to the splint I was able to load up the dog (with help from Jeannie) and drive home. Once the dog was placed in his kennel, my mother drove me to the hospital. We checked into the ER around 3:15 pm. It was 8:00 pm when I was released.

Five hours of mostly waiting. *sigh* No Seattle Grace interns or residents lingering over me. No McDreamy or McSteamy. No sympathetic George or efficient Meredith. Just hanging out on uncomfortable seats while watching Oprah and waiting for the presidential candidates' debate.

I guess the good news was, I wasn't critical. And nurse John kept me supplied with ice packs. The ortho surgeon's excuse was a blow to the face...he was awaiting treatment just as I was. He even had the good sense to have a bit of bruising himself.

The treatment itself didn't take long and, thanks to a numbing shot, it was no worse than cracking a knuckle. I was sent home with a heavy duty splint, a prescription for pain pills, and an unbudgeted co-pay of $75.

The good news is, I'm right handed, I wasn't alone at the barn, and my mother is helping me manage life with one hand. The bad news is, what a pain in the butt!

Ah well, this will pass. No one to blame but myself. But this hunt and peck typing stinks.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


Indy and Breeze played briefly today. Indy keeps diving under the picnic tables much to Breeze's disgust. She does come on strong and I understand why he's running back to "home base," but the goober pops out to tease Breeze until she chases him again. Indy uses rocks, tables, people -- any available obstacles -- and barrels around them in order to slow down Breeze with her longer stride.

Today Breeze caught up with Indy and mouthed his butt. All she got was Sheltie fluff. Ptui! The last time they played, Breeze snagged Indy's ruff and got a mouth full of hair. Both times the expression on her face was priceless. I can sympathize. Every time I groom Indy I have double-coat fluff in every oriface!


I am amazed. Indy is actually taking to agility. I wasn't sure that he would figure out the equipment, but this week we jumped through the tire (it was practically on the ground, but still...) and ran through the chute (short and straight, but did it the first time). While I was chatting at the end of the class, Indy kept entering the closest chute to sniff out treats. He knew they had to be in there. I thought he might be afraid of it, but obviously not.

All the dogs did well. Even Breeze managed to squeeze her statuesque frame through the chute and tire. Our "ADD" border collie puppy, Rain, made it through an entire hour of training without a meltdown. He is going to be a firecracker when he matures and has more agility training under his collar. Abby, our parti-colored little cocker, took to every obstacle and looked adorable doing it.

Trainer Jessica made us all practice our "stay" exercise. The dogs are to hold it for 1-1/2 minutes by the end of our course. So she timed us. Good golly Miss Molly but 90 seconds is a LONG time! But most of the dogs made it, maybe with a single bobble. Not bad for the first time going the "distance."

I've been throwing in some of our "homework" on our twice-daily walks. Multi tasking -- the fun way!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Barn Barbecue

We didn't barbecue the barn -- we had a barbecue AT the barn!

The weather situation was iffy on Sunday. There had been spotty showers overnight and in the morning, and the temperature had cooled in preparation for the first day of fall. Not a problem...tables were set up in the aisle and arena so we could enjoy our fare under cover. Fortunatley Chef Chris and the grill got a break from the showers. We even had the use of a portable fire pit where our young folks made s'mores.

The timing was perfect to welcome our newest boarders and get acquainted. And it provided an opportunity for all the boarders and barn crew to spend some time together. With our busy schedules the daytime riders don't see the evening riders, and even on weekends the morning riders miss the afternoon riders. And the resident barn crew is so efficient we often don't see them at all. We had some brave non-horsy spouses/significant others participate. Sure, the main topic was horses, but we branched out to other subjects. And the sun even appeared between the clouds a couple of times.

Exit polls indicated the barbecue was a smashing success. ;-)


Right on cue we had some Pacific storms stroll through to remind us that summer has to come to an end. The sun has dipped to an angle that seems always to be in one's eyes. Evening temperatures are dropping. Random red and yellow leaves are appearing.

Time to locate the turnout sheets that were cleaned (uh oh, better get on it) and shoved somewhere out of the way for the summer. Even if pleasantly warm and sunny days are still possible into October, it's guaranteed that the waterproof turnout will be needed suddenly one day. Better have it on hand.

Ugh. Wet grass morning walks with the dog. Almost forgot what those were. Sweatshirt jacket required for the early and late walks, and even the fleece-lined jacket a couple of times.

Thermostat turned to "heat" after months on "cool."

Another batch of college students arriving on campus. The private colleges have been in session for a month. Now the public universities are filling with life again.

Halloween items crowd the store shelves.

The networks are finally airing the new season of programs. And there's still little worth watching.

Election Day can't come soon enough to end the political ads!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Good Boy!

My usual schedule has been disrupted of late so today was the first time I've ridden in a week. I did make a quick trip to the barn on Tuesday following Indy's agility class to tell Phantom that he hadn't been abandoned. I left treats in his feed bucket for later and rushed home.

This pudgy body was pretty sloppy in the saddle today, but Phantom is very forgiving. Per usual he started out anxious and inverted. I did some forehand pivots to remind him that my legs are there. Sure, they're short, but that doesn't mean he can ignore them. Also did a couple of back ups. Posting trot work included serpentines and circles.

We did quite a bit of canter work. Right lead work was a struggle to get him round. Especially when my position is less than stellar. Left lead work was not bad.

I left the sitting trot work for a later ride. Finished with our usual stretchy trot on a long rein to release all the tension from our connected and lateral work.

Phantom is such a good boy. Sure, he has his moment -- we all do. But he puts up with all my mistakes and gives me a semblance of what I'm requesting. What a guy. Definitely a keeper today.


Okay, so our homework includes working with our dogs on turning around in place in preparation for teaching "left" and "right." Sure, Teacher Jessica's blue merle Sheltie, Bounce, makes it look easy. However, the rest of us where challenged by sitting dogs who twisted as far as they could for the treat but remained firmly in place. Right.

If I hold the treat in just the right position, Indy will remain standing and do a 360 to follow the goody. But I can't manage to consistently locate that sweet spot. Unfortunately, the "turn around" just doesn't go with the breed or color (Indy is a steroid version of Bounce) I've got my work cut out for me this week.

For the first time since we partnered up, Indy ignored the puppy food kibble that I use as treats. He was just too excited in class. However, he was VERY interested in the dried hot dog treats that Tiger Lily shared with us. So I got some hot dogs and cut them up to nuke for about 4 minutes. It works! Dries out the hot dog but it's still a yummy lure for the dog.

Indy gets a "good boy" also. He's a quick learner if I'm consistent. But mainly he's outstanding for his entertainment value. Where Lacey was such a sweetie, Indy is a clown.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008


The last word I had from Owner Susan was that Romeo, one of our two barn cats, was still missing. At that point it had been 12 days since anyone had seen him.

The above is the last picture I took of him...Critter Control Staff on a break. :-)

If I recall the story correctly, Romeo followed Trainer Cathi home and was allowed to join the barn staff. Owner Susan inherited Moe and Romeo.

Moe arrived at the barn with Curly. Yes, there was a Larry at the rescue facility but he had been adopted earlier. Regrettably, Curly ventured too close to the road and we bid him a tearful farewell.

Moe has always been a friendly fellow and he'll trot up to aisle toward you when he needs a lap and affection. Romeo was more standoffish but had begun to emulate Moe earlier this summer.

Romeo is half fluff. From day one he had twice as much hair as body. It was always surprising to pick him up, because there wasn't nearly as much kitty there as you expected.

I will hope for the best...that Romeo is living a life of luxury with a nearby family after taking an early retirement from the barn staff.

Horse people tend to be dog and cat people also.

Monday, September 15, 2008



Today we attended a funeral for a family friend. My mother's contemporaries are leaving us. The people who've always been there during my lifetime are departing in greater numbers.

It begins slowly enough. Movie stars, former presidents, foreign dignitaries, best selling authors -- the names and faces that graced the media while one was growing up -- they begin passing away. Hopefully in ripe old age. Sometimes not. Then elder relatives pass away. Beloved grandparents. Maybe a favorite great aunt or uncle. Then friends of your parents. Perhaps long-time family friends who have been present since you can remember.

Your childhood begins to fade away with their passing.

For my mother and others of similar age, shared experiences gradually go away. Younger folks don't recall the Depression, or Pearl Harbor, or the New Guinea jungle during WWII, or Portland during the war. Rationing. Manual typewriters. Outdoor plumbing. Old growth forests covering entire mountains. Portland's original streetcars.

This gradual departure of each generaltion has happened over and over again. But you don't notice it when you're young. Only when special people in your life leave you. I guess it becomes more significant as one's own generation begins the countdown.


There's a reason I lived in apartments for 25 years. Mainly because I chose a horse over a house. But also because I'm not into household maintenance and yard work.

I'll save my opinion of Home Owners' Associations for another time, but our HOA notified us that our house needed to be pressure washed. If not completed by the end of August they'd slap our hands. Having lived in a high crime neighborhood, my mother and I find a little moss and mildew much less offensive than nearby drug houses...but that's just us. But anyway, my mother juggled her accounts and came up with the money to have the house, driveway & walkway, and deck washed. We also had the deck stained. Earlier in the summer she hired landscapers to trim our taller shrubs and layer bark dust on the side yard and topsoil in the front.

The new topsoil has been sitting there all summer. With fall coming and a sale on bark mulch at Freddie's, we got into gear. The sales clerk at the Tualatin store sold us several bags of bark mulch -- problem was, the store had been out of it for a week or so. We reconnoitered the Canby Freddie's and didn't find a single bag of mulch. Hmmm. This could be a harder project than orignally thought.

We finally found bark mulch on sale at Haggen's. Two trips to Tualatin (four bags for $12 was all the Civic trunk could handle and I could heft) and we were set. But wait! We needed to transfer some iris bulbs, and trim the boxwoods, and cut back roses and get something in the ground near the Japanese maple.

After two days of effort the landscaping at the front of the house has a layer of bark mulch hiding the deposit of topsoil. The de-mossed driveway and walkway look great. We could possibly use another bag or two of bark mulch in a couple of small areas...but I'm good as is.

Looks nice. But that's what an apartment complex landscaping crew is for. :-/


Making steady progress on my rewrite. Trying to add more of the red mare's personality and developing the personalities of the princess and her traveling companions. I'm at page 135 which is maybe half way through. I've already edited out a bunch of stuff on a previous rewrite. I think this go round will produce the draft that I'll go through with pen and paper to edit, add and subtract material. Once those changes are incorporated I think it will be time for my First Readers to take a gander.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Agility Foundation Class

Today was our first Agility Foundation Class with Trainer Jessica at the Columbia Agility Team's [CAT :-) ] Wilsonville facility. Abby and Breeze from the barn are also in the class. A bit of a problem since all three were ready for play time instead of lessons. Indy barked the whole hour to let me know he wanted to PLAY with his pals.

Also in the class is Spuds, whom I had the fun of dog sitting last year, another barn dog. Tiger Lily is the A student (there's always one), and I understand the class will have an addition next week.

Jessica assessed our basic skills: sit, down and come. Spuds and Tiger Lily were the stars. Indy was pretty good but conflicted. Come to his person or run to his pals? Hmmm. As I had the treats I won out. Barely.

Our lessons for the day were "Touch" and "Look." With treats involved, Indy was quick to learn Touch which involved touching a plastic lid with his nose. I was afraid he'd grab the lid to play with it, but the treat distracted him. Look involved getting his attention on my face. Pay attention to the hands full of treats or Mom? A more complicated decision.

Our homework for the week = practice Touch and Look.

Our assignment for the 6-week series is to teach our dog a new trick. What to do, what to do? Help me figure out my cell phone? Balance my checkbook? I'll probably settle for "shake."

Monday, September 8, 2008

Goober Boys

We have a "bad" habit at the barn of letting our horses loose in the common area to graze freely while we put away tack and other activities. A former boarder, who shall remain nameless (Wendy!), started this practice. The perimeter of the property is fenced and the gate is kept closed -- the horses are more interested in the grass than exploring off the premises. So, after riding I hosed off Phantom and made the usual preparations for summer turnout prior to walking him out to the grass. I kept an eye on him because Phantom has been raiding PJ's hay. PJ is on stall rest while recuperating from an injury. After the horses are turned out in the morning, their evening ration of hay is placed in the stalls and evening grain premeasured and left in the feed room. Since PJ is occupying his stall, his hay is left outside his stall out of his reach. But not out of Phantom's.

My Goober Boy has been returning to the little barn by sneaking down the second aisle to help himself to PJ's hay, so I have to keep an eye on him and shag him away whenever he comes back into the barn. Sure enough, I found Phantom had reentered the barn to hoover the hay on the ground in front of Keith's stall, next to PJ's. That was okay as long as he left PJ's evening hay alone. It didn't take long and I caught Phantom in PJ's hay. I chased him outside the side door toward the arena barn...twice. I took a peek at him a short time later and he was strolling toward the round pen. That was okay. I took another load into the tack room and there was Phantom at PJ's hay again. The goober had walked toward the round pen, had gone around the far end of the little barn and come up the second aisle via the end door rather than come through the side door where I'd caught him twice before. What a brat!

The third time was the charm and Phantom remained outside to graze near the round pen until I escorted him to his turnout shared with his partner in crime, Zorro.

My small Goober Boy hangs out at one of the two picnic tables during nice days. He is secured with a cable, supplied with a small bucket of water, and has access to shade beneath the table. I unsnapped him for a brief play period with Breeze. He bounded up to the long-legged brindle beauty, teased her into chasing him, and bolted for the picnic tables. To our amusement, Indy did a figure 8 around the two tables to keep one stride ahead of Breeze. He then ducked underneath when she was about to "get" him. The whole episode looked staged, but my fluffy Goober Boy figured out the move all on his own.

How do I end up with such characters?!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008


Indy missed play time with Abby today (my fault), but he had fun with his other barn buddy, Breeze. They played tag when we first arrived at the barn, and again when we were finished with the horses a few hours later. When finished running the pair explored the barn environs while their people chatted and soaked up some Vitamin D.

Indy barely keeps ahead of speedy Breeze with his quick moves, but when she inevitably catches him, Indy "goes to ground" under the picnic table or tags"home" to call "safe."

It got a little warm for racing "puppies" today. We're entering the transition period where it cools down considerably over night but is gorgeous and warm during the day. I think the Pacific Northwest may be at its best in September and October.

Anyway...I was finally quick enough to catch the speed demons at play. Oh to be one of our dogs!

Monday, September 1, 2008

Busy Barn Day

Busy day at the barn with most boarders enjoying a holiday. Just about the only time the daytime and evening riders get to see each other outside of weekends.

We grew by two over the weekend. Char and Mick arrived with their handsome Arabian geldings, Bay and Pugsley. The horses are turned out together and separate from the rest of the crew until they settle in and Owner Susan decides who they will mingle with the best.

We have another boarder arriving mid-month, which will leave us with only one vacant stall. Yippee!

I'm still playing with my camera and the following shot caught my eye. The splash of red, and all the pitchforks lined up neatly.

Good ride on Phantom. He was a little distracted by the activity and particularly by the two new horses. Our first ugly canters seem to be improving. Still ugly, but not nearly as Mixmaster as they used to be. I started out great with our sitting trot work, then I lost it and of course Phantom couldn't maintain his nice round movement. Took me forever to get with the sitting trot and never really did settle in. Phantom managed to give me some nice lateral work anyway. What a champ!

Indy had a great day. Breeze was at the barn when we arrived and when I unsnapped the leash he made a beeline for her. He loves Breeze because she is so FAST. When she goes into sight hound mode and gets a little "overly enthusiastic," Indy dives under one of the picnic tables or finds a safe spot where he drops and signals submission. Then he teases and baits Breeze again and takes off flying with her in pursuit. So she doesn't really intimidate him. Then Abby arrived before we left and the two got to play and hang out when Boarder Kim was finished with her horses. Abby is growing like a weed! She doesn't pursue Indy with the same speed and gusto as Breeze, but she's a good companion for exploring the barn environs. The two fluffy puppies are pretty cute.

So all in all, a good day. Great company (we've got the best boarders!), fantastic horses, and puppy play time.