Thursday, April 29, 2010

Boulet Boots

I love boots. I have always loved boots and I suspect I will always love boots. I do not wear fashionable boots or even boots that most people find attractive. Since I was ten, my feet have been clad, year round, in Doc Martens.

Over the years, however, many people have complained about going out with me because it takes me approximately fifty and a half hours to tie up my boots before I walk out the door. As such, last year at tax time, I ran out and bought myself a pair of dress cowboy boots.

My life has not been the same since. I love them. I love the click of them when I walk across a parking lot, I love the pointed toe when I look down and see them. I love a perfectly hemmed pair of jeans sitting around them and I love them with a denim mini-skirt (Which I've only gotten up the nerve to wear once but it was the county fair and I simply had to).

My boots are Frye boots, not Boulet boots. Boulet boots, for those of you not in the know, are the be-all, end-all of boots. I have been chastised by many people for my choice in boots but last year's tax return would not afford me Boulet boots. Sigh. My Frye boots haven't behaved in exactly the fashion I want them to behave in. They are still completely functional but they need to be resoled as the sole of one of them has started to fall apart and come off.

Fast forward to yesterday: I found out the amount of money I am getting is quite substantial. Life-altering, even.

Immediately visions of beautiful Boulet boots started dancing in my head. I was picturing the new saddle I would buy for my horse, the clothing I would purchase as I frequently look like a homeless person when dressed in my own attire.

And then I sat down in front of my computer and realized a few things. Here is a breakdown of my financial situation:

Tax check in the mail = $10 less than what I owe on my vehicle
Amount in savings = $20 less than what I owe on my Visa
Amount of excess in next pay check = amount I owe my parents


But my head. Oh, my stupid head is saying -- in a fashion much less direct than my heart -- that I should pay off all my debts and have a chance to be at zero for a while.

I'm sure that Joomy will step in here and offer some encouragement in making the right decision.

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It's You and Me, Big Guy...

These are the words I speak to my horse any time something 'big' appears before us. I whisper this to him if we are approaching a jump, if a particularly scary thing is coming up, before we enter the show ring, and any other time I feel fear or anxiety.

Sometimes I say it before we leave the stall, if I'm feeling particularly stressed about a ride.

Sometimes I have to do something that scares me a little bit, like let go of the inside rein at the canter. I hate letting go of the inside rein. I've honestly not ridden him hands-free since I've owned him.

Sometimes the mounting block scares me. I never tell him that it's me and him then. Usually I just get someone to hold him for me. More experienced riders don't have this issue. Sigh.

I am not a hacker. "Hacking" is the term used to describe those riders who wish to ride in the great outdoors, where scary things like butterflies and emus and deer and quail exist. These things can jump out at you at any moment, and no amount of whispering "It's you and me, Big Guy" can help. Certain other riders are not afraid of hacking, and as such, I hire them frequently to give my horse the excercise he needs beyond the beautious indoor arena.

So, here we are.

It's time, once more, to take life by the horns and ride my horse. We don't know how much more riding Zydo's arthritis can take at this point. One thing I know about Zydo is that he is desperate to work. He wants to keep going, he will run on his sore leg until I say stop.

He never says stop.

And so, I'm going to ride my horse, that magnificent beast, to the best of my ability because I owe it to him. I recieved him as a gift almost three years ago and I haven't, until now, had the ability to ride him in the way he deserves to be ridden.

And Hell, if this kid can't do it, why not me?


Saturday, April 10, 2010

Oh, Didn't I Tell You??

My father purchased his mare, Darq Lucretia, three and a half years ago.

At the time I was away at university, studying to become a wonderful Sociologist who would go on to do great things with her life. In the meantime, I was working at The SubShack and when I found out about Tia's presence in our lives, I immediately went to all my coworkers and told them how I was going HOME that weekend and I would get to ride a HORSE.

For the first time in years! I would be back in the saddle!

My father informed me that, no, I would not be riding his horse and I was momentarily heartbroken. Because, really, Do you know who I am?

And then my father went out on his first ride with Tia. It took my brother's assistance to hold her while my father got on and then they sped down the driveway in a flurry of feet flying and tail swooshing and I was all like, Dude, I am not getting on that horse.

Because Tia was kind of nutso. Not gonna lie, the girl had some issues. Before we got Zydo, six months after Tia's arrival here at The Ranch, Tia couldn't even go outside by herself because this big old world is just that scary.

I haven't since asked my father to get on his horse because I do not believe in interfering with the training others are putting in to a green horse. I don't believe that he should set back his progress with her in any way to please me, and as a result, our dearest Darq Lucretia has never been backed by yourse truly.

Until now.

Tia has grown as a horse since her arrival here. Sure, she has had her share of flipouts and hysteria. Sure, I used to call her The Dancing Queen. Yep, she is petrified if you carry a plastic bag by her stall and she will very much try to escape through the solid wall should you make a crinkling sound in her doorway. Once every three years, she will even try to kick you. (Or me.)

But she has also become phenomenally sweet. She is the horse people turn to when they come in our barn, not Zydo. She is the one people want to pet and kiss the nose of because she is just so darn lovable, that little grey mare. She is beautiful and curious and just so willing to pick her feet up should you ask.

And so, this past weekend, we were outside with Tia and her baby, and I couldn't help but notice how absolutely calm she has become. Dead quietness.

And I rubbed on her back, leaned up on her, and I thought for a brief moment, What if I were to hop on?

And then I realized, wait.

I can't get on a horse. I need a mounting block and a full ground crew to mount any horse and I demanded that my father come and place me on his horse's back. I love this first photo because of the "Oh, for fuck's sake" expression on my dad. Like, really this chick is 25 years old and she can't get on a damn horse? Really?

And then I was suddenly on our dearest Darq Lucretia's back and while I was kind of nervous, waiting for her to bolt or spin or throw in a buck, I really thought, Hey! What's the worst that can happen?

And then my father led myself and Tia down the driveway and I thought for a brief moment that this was how I started out 24 years ago. I was 18 months old and being led by this same man down this same driveway, past those same maple trees on a horse named Gentleman Jim Dandy. I remember the first time I trotted on Jim, down that driveway. I was five or six, and I was scared. My father told me that there was no time like the present to try it out. Jim and I trotted with great success that day and I bobbled around like a rag doll on top of that enormous horse with a grin on my face that I'm sure you could have seen from the moon.

So, here we are. Twenty five years later? Or three years later?

I'm not sure.

But my father finally let me ride his mare, that delightful grey little thing who is just so sweet you want to pick her up and put her in your pocket. I've always had an affinity for Tia because of who she is: A defiant little creature who states very clearly what her needs are. A lovely little thing who can be a beautiful mover if she wants to be. The one who brought my father home a ribbon the first time he competed with her because when it comes to, she really can do what needs to be done.

And also the one who brought us the next generation of riding:

I've told my mother that the theme song for this year is Taylor Swift's "Fearless". You should go and listen to it right now, really.

You take my hand and drag me head first, fearless.

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Tuesday, April 06, 2010

On Relocating the Love of My Life...

So, I have made this decision in the past and the time came to make the decision once more.

Riding here at The Ranch in the spring is hellacious. I've given up on ever riding in this delightful swamp during the months of March through June.

So, Zydeco, Off you go!

But first we had to get him on a trailer.

This proved to be quite easy as this year I hired one of my father's friends who believes in doing things 'the cowboy way'. So they cowboy-ed my horse onto the trailer in about eight minutes flat and off we went.

Zydo made it to the barn before I did, and when I arrived, there he was, in his enormous 14 x 14 stall eating hay as though he'd lived there all his life. He was in his glory in that stall and I truly felt bad for disturbing him. But, riding him daily is the reason I moved him over there, so I tacked him up and brought him to the ring.

In the ring is what is commonly known as an electric fencer.

My horse is terrified of electricity.

So this delightful piece of equipment is going "Click, Click, Click" the whole time we are in the arena. Before getting on Zydo the first time, I decided to walk him to the far end of the arena and make him stand by this electric fencer.

But Zydo would have none of that. Oh, no. He was fearing the worst, thinking that it would jump up and attack him, shocking him within an inch of his life. He skittled about, paced side to side, jumped around a little bit, and tried to run me over. The owner of the facility actually said "Is she going to get on him?" Because he was acting like a bit of a nutbar.

So, I gave up on making him stand by the fencer and mounted my trusty steed.

After my attempts to make him comfortable by the fencer, I rode my magnificent thoroughbred in an indoor arena and OH MY WORD.

I live to ride in indoor arenas. He was magnificent, if not a little look-y. I even managed to get a few steps of functional trot out of him.


After our first ride in six months, it was time to introduce Zydeco to his new pasture mate, something that gives me anxiety since the last time he was turned out with new horses, he promptly got his ass kicked. He still has the scars to prove it.

His new pasture mate, however, is a delightful pony mare who also happens to be a chestnut. They sniffed each other out and decided that they should become fast friends, galloping into the sunset together. They have since become such good buddies that they scratch each others' itches, lay together in the sun, and eat their fill of delicious hay without trying to take each others' faces off.

A case of true love, indeed.

Zydo and I plan to live there for about two months, until the ground here is dry enough to ride on.

However, I don't have an indoor arena here, and I fear greatly that I will fall in love with such a beautiful facility and feel the need to stay there forever.

Time and money will tell.