Friday, April 29, 2011

My Heart Horse

Meet Harley.
Harley is a 15.1 hand tall 1998 Buckskin Quarter Horse Gelding.  His registered name is Tackys Beaudacious by Tackys Beau and out of Blazer Bar Fly.  He was bred in North Dakota by Degenstein Quarter Horses.  Harley is what I like to call a "Buttermilk Buckskin".  In the winter he looks like a polar bear, because his nose turns black and his dark legs become lighter like his body.  In the spring he sheds his winter coat to beautiful dapples and then trades them for solid cream in the summer.  My barn owner calls him "The Champagne Horse".

With his black nose and soft, fluffy coat, Harley is a polar bear in the winter.  His only white marking, a small star on his forehead, is barely visible.

I bought Harley in the winter of December 2006.  In the spring, he surprised me with these beautiful dapples.  Here he has just turned nine years old, but looks like a much younger horse.  I love his listening ears, even this early in our partnership.
Spring 2007.  A proud horse and owner.  Here we go!

I love my horse's unusual color, but beauty is only skin deep and there is so much more to Harley than his flashy markings.  I plan on taking my time, writing about Harley and his many talents, attributes, and challenges, our adventures together, and all the wonderful lessons he has taught me about horses, friendship, and love.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Discount-box vs. FedEx-box Boots

The back of my right knee is killing me!  The skin has been rubbed off and then cracked and abraded a second time.  It hurts, but not as much as taking a shower is going to hurt.  Shower water on raw skin makes me want to cry like a little baby.  I swear it would make grown men cry, if they ever found themselves in my situation.  But this is my fault.  Let me explain.

We have to go back quite a few years... my first pair of high boots.  My first pair of high boots were from the discount box at Beval Saddlery.  Although a little big for my feet, they were the right size and fashioned from handsome black leather.  At sixty bucks, the price was right, so I bought them and never looked back.  Those boots served me for countless hours in the saddle and cleaned up nicely for shows.  Even as the leather wore thin, I had them restitched and continued to wear my soft and comfy boots from the discount box until I finally decided that if they were going to last forever, and I was certain that they were, I must begin rationing my time in them.  I relegated the boots to horse shows only, and purchased a pair of Ariat paddock boots and half chaps for schooling.

For years, I was the Ariat-paddock-boot-and-half-chaps poster child, only wearing my special high boots for shows.  In February, I entered a winter horse show, so the boots were dusted off and summoned for another event.  I started to put on my discount-box boots, comfy and soft, only to find that my calves appeared to no longer fit in the boots.  Not to be outdone my mother nature and despite having entered my third decade, I forced the left boot onto my foot.  There.  It still fits.  I began to work on the right boot, which required considerably more effort.  I tugged.  I pulled.  I grunted and then burst out laughing.  This is worse than a skinny jeans commercial!  But I was not going to give up, not yet.

I planted my left foot and tried to relax my right calf as much as possible.  I slipped the boot pulls into place and slowly increased the force up towards my knee.  Come on boot.  Once I get you past my calf, we are home free.


The stitching on the loops ripped completely.  The boot never made it past my right calf.  I was immediately sad, but started to chuckle until I noticed that my left calf had developed a heartbeat.  It doesn't take a biology major to know that this is not a good thing!  In full surrender, I removed the left boot and gently returned both boots to their resting place in the closet.

So, fast forward to last Wednesday.  My newly purchased Mountain Horse Sportive High Rider II boots have arrived by FedEx.  They have a zipper!  No more boot pulls.  I felt like I was living the high life as I zipped up my boots, fresh from the FedEx box and headed for the barn.

After grooming and tacking with excitement, I got on Harley, admiring my new boots the entire time, and asked him to walk into the ring.  Oh dear.  What is that pinching the back of my knee?

Despite my years of riding, I have never owned brand new high boots.  High boots need to drop.  I already knew this, but I did not really KNOW what that meant.  I should have heeded the warning of that first pinch, but here is how my horse-time logic usually plays out:
  1.  Harley, we should just walk, because this pinching really hurts. 
  2. (10 minutes later) Okay, let's just trot a bit.  Rising trot will probably take some of the pressure off of the boot tops.
  3. Yes, rising trot is much better.  I hardly feel a thing.
  4. (20 minutes later) I wonder how your canter feels in these lovely boots.  The foot bed is so supportive.
  5. Oh, cantering is wonderful.  Let's do some figure-eights.
  6. And lengthen stride.
  7. We better canter the other way too.
  8. (1 hour after entering the ring) That was the best ride.  I love these boots.  Let's go home.
  9. (Dismount.)  Oh my.  What is wrong with the back of my knees?
I believe boot burn is an appropriate name for what happened to the back of my right knee.  The left one got off with just soreness.  I rested over the Easter holiday and read about breaking in high boots.  I read all sorts of things, like soaking them in rubbing alcohol or hot water and wearing them until they dried.  Doing stairs and wearing sponges behind your knees.  I also read that some boots take weeks or even months to drop.  The best way to break them in is to ride in them.  Sigh.

Today, I went and rode in the FedEx-box boots again.  Harley and I had a lovely ride.  I was going to keep it to just 25 minutes, to save my healing skin, but you know how it goes.  Besides, my horse barely flicks an ear when I hold my inside leg up towards his shoulder to avoid bending my knee too much as he canters.  He seemed to know that this silly business of riding with outstretched knees was not of his concern.  He was just happy to be cantering.  I wonder how long it takes to break high boots in if I continue to ride this way?

As I prepare to take a shower, I am missing my discount-box boots even if they were always a bit too big.  Although, I must admit, the foot bed on these FedEx-box boots is just wonderful and the zippers are so easy to zip.  Before long the breaking-in process will be complete, hopefully more for the boots than my sore legs.

Welcome to My Memoirs

I vividly remember my first time sitting astride a horse.  I was three.  The horse was a small Arabian pony with a chestnut coat and a white blaze.  Her name was Littlebit.  In my mind, I can see the mare's neck and shoulders in front of me as I am lowered onto her back like it was yesterday.  Her mane is long and a bit stringy, but soft between my fingers.  Her ears swivel front to back as she stands utterly motionless with her tiny human cargo.  She smells of sawdust and sweet feed.  I am in heaven!

The Beginning: My first equine encounter with my aunt.

And that was it for me.  My life with horses began, a life that I built for myself.  My family did not live on a farm.  My parents loved animals, but were not horse people, so it was up to me to pioneer the world of horses.  From the time that I sat on that pony, I knew that these captivating animals were something that I needed in my life.  To this day, they continue to be my life's passion and this is what I hope to share in my new blog:
Memoirs of a Horse Girl.

Welcome and Enjoy!