10 Reasons Why Old Horse Women Need Your Teenage Daughter

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My Barn Side Kick and I trail riding in Brown County State Park

I recently came across this great article: 10 Reasons Your Teenage Daughter Needs a Horse By Hannah Broaddus and it got me thinking about when I was taken under the wing of wonderful Horse Women and how, now, I get to pay it forward to Horse Girls. I knew the Horse Women in my life were gracious beyond my wildest dreams- taking me on adventures and teaching me the Ways Of The Horse World, but I never knew how much I meant to them (I hope!) until now. My Barn Girl self looks around Little Red Farm here and it is more than what I even dreamed when I was yet a wee Barn Girl. I have dogs, chickens, cats and of course- horses- a plenty that faithfully ride, jump, drive and anything else I seem to throw at them- and a cozy trailer to get us there. If you asked my Wee Barn Girl of yore if I would have ever slowed down or stopped my Barn Adventure Shenanigans I would have looked at you like you had two heads- especially not when there is a truck and trailer hooked up in the driveway begging for the open road. Unfortunately, Wee Barn Girl didn’t know about Life- the kind of Life that makes you watch the horses out the window while you do the dishes, or laundry, or cook, or clean, or rear the children, or are just plum too tired to do anything but look out the window at the horses. However, there is a remedy- the elixir of life for this Old Horse Woman called: Your Teenage Daughter – to us as our newly minted Horse Girl.

Without further ado, here is 10 Reasons Old Horse Women Need Your Teenage Daughter To Have A Horse (Or at least want to ride one of my fat ones!)

1. They call you up with that spark in their voice (ok, or text you) wondering just what ARE you doing on this glorious day?

The answer to that, my dear Virginia, is now taking you on a trail ride, or teaching you how to drive a horse or getting covered in mud having horse Spa Day and having so much fun that who cares if the dishes aren’t done and the laundry is unfolded. Remember? That’s what night time and winter is for- not beautiful Perfect Fall Days with a gentle breeze and the sun warming our faces. Starting to remember Old Horse Woman?

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2. The Horse Girl’s enthusiasm is contagious, they remind you just WHY you love horses again.

That first time galloping up a trail, that first time popping and oxer, that first time stepping into the box and picking up the driving reins for the open road – we get to relive it through our Horse Girls- and its just as much fun that second time around as it was the first. We get caught up in their enthusiasm and everyone has a better time because of it. Those proverbial Glass Half Full creatures they can be!

3. Their Fun Ideas… or excitement at your Fun ideas.

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Drive into town and get milkshakes for dinner? Only the best idea ever in their eyes, what were you going to make Old Horse Woman? A sensible salad? Remember when the world kept turning even though you had fun? You’re catching on.

4. Their Undying Gratitude-

See- the best Horse Girls have it figured out- They are abundantly thankful for the opportunities to go for a twilight trail ride or ride your horse or, even, take their Own Horse somewhere its never been- they are an outpouring of gratitude- which- in turn leads to the Old Horse Woman feeling Very Heartwarmed Indeed so they just want to afford every opportunity to Horse Girl. Thus leading to more adventures for both the Horse Girl and the Old Horse Woman. Vicious cycle. It also reminds the Old Horse Woman how lucky she is as well.

5.  Becoming that Horse Woman role model at the Barn and in Life.

The article had it right- the Horse Girls are going to talk to someone- and would you rather it be a non- responsible girl at school or a Horse Woman who knows about Hard Work and its Big Reward? I don’t claim to have all the answers, but I do know what Hard Work, staying in school and being a good person got me, and I’m happy to share those tid-bits as we’re ambling down a trail. Horse Girls seem to have it figured out too- they mostly dont concern themselves with trivial nonsense at school because the barn chores and its subsequent fun are waiting.

6. Teaching Learned Responsibility AKA: Training, Grasshopper, Training.

Even though I think I’m a pretty Fun Old Horse Woman (even though I need a kick out of my shell every once in a while!) I also don’t skirt around the responsibility that it all entails. There is work, but it usually leads to a great reward. Responsibility is a learned skill and so many people (young and old!) want to skirt their responsibilities yet have the rewards come. There is a direct correlation and horses provide no clearer of a picture. Plus- what is the pleasure of being an Old Horse Woman who’s paid her dues as to not share such ethics with up and coming Horse Women? My barn’s never looked better, the horses are squeaky clean- but we also have a lot of fun!

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7. The Highest of Mountains and The Lowest of Valleys Can Be Ridden Together

I always say you’re not a horse person until you’ve fallen off (or stepped on, or lose in the show ring, or have a bad ride) more times than you can count. We, as Wise Old Horse Women, get to teach our Horse Girls that there is a tomorrow, another show, another ride.  Surprisingly, they too can teach Old Horse Women a thing or two when the valleys get low (back to those eternal Glass Half Full Creatures they tend to be) and we can all ride into the sunset together.

8. They keep US physically Active! (To go along with the other article- this is no truer!)

Trot bareback into the sunset? Clean all the stalls right now so there’s time to go riding? Just do ONE MORE LOOP of the trail PLEASE? I’m markedly more exhausted when there is a Horse Girl calling the shots… and I love it! Plus the amount of adventures increase 10 fold when there is a Horse Girl to tag a long. They keep our heart young and our compass pointed down the trail, and I thank them for that.

9. Teachable Moments-

Most of the equestrian lifestyle can be applied to real life and how we treat others- those valleys become discussion points and even the peaks can be reveled in with a sense of reflection. They connect the dots and find out how their hard work training and perseverance through problems makes a difference to them and those (horse and human!) around them. In training, there will be ups and downs and it teaches them to handle these ups and downs with grace and outlook for tomorrows session.  I saw a quote that sums up both horses and humans- “A horse may forgive, but it Never forgets” I believe the same with humans. We treat everyone with a bit of a training attitude and we have lifelong friends because of it.

10. Mirrors of Ourselves-

Good, bad or indifferent- we’re teaching those Horse Girls with every action and reaction we give. Nothing makes me more happy to hear one of my “Horse Woman-isms” being parroted from across the barn to another horse girl… or even parroted back at me! (It’s always good to have reminders!) We watch how our Horse Girls interact with the world around them and we hope that as they become Horse Women themselves, they carry a piece of us with them. I know I am a better person for all that my Horse Woman mentors had on me and its this cycle of support only found within the sweet horse smelling confines of a Barn.

So, Thank You for sharing your teenage Horse Girls with us. It’s a reciprocal relationship between a Horse Girl and a Horse Woman and we’re happier than you think to do it- plus it makes our stalls really clean, our horses very happy and our hearts overflow.

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The One…

Would this be the one horse I couldn’t save? I asked myself this very question a year ago. I had rescued him on a whim with immensely swollen legs and an abscess above his tail.  After tears and tribulations, we discovered it was not a bacteria or a mite causing his woes, but a crippling genetic disease called Chronic Progressive Lymphadema, or CPL in many furry legged Draft Horses. This wasn’t a starvation case, or bad feet or poor training… this was genetic! Was this going to be the horse, my most beautiful dream breed, that I couldn’t save?

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Through passionate professionals and an amazing acupuncturist, I am proud to say we’ve licked CPL and never looked back. I attribute it to activity and 24/7 turn out and, of course, lots of love. Yesterday we went for a gallivant around a local park- jumping, galloping, swimming and just having an uproarious time. Even Solly was getting into it by trotting up the trail and really turning on the after burners when I asked him to gallop. On the way home tears welled up in my eyes as I realized that this very day was our Anniversary. One year from crippled and swollen to victory gallop. He’s learned how to drive and pulled his carriage at weddings and festivals. He’s become a wonderful saddle horse and has taken even the newest riders for a safe trip around the pasture. Now he’s a member of a herd, has friends, and nickers for them where once he was all alone.  Hes a stickler for routine and as soon as he hears that barn door open hes first in line for breakfast and dinner. I am proud to call him my partner, my friend and my heart and what looked so bleak just a year ago, is now just a figment of our past. Here’s to a strong, healthy future my beautiful boy,  I do love you.

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Giving Life

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Just about everything on this farm was discarded by someone else. Deemed worthless, inept, broken or untrainable. Drinking my coffee this morning and watching our purebred ghetto hound happily munching on a hoof trimming is what it’s all about. I found her dumped, pregnant as a watermelon, on a rainy icy day just shivering away. Others shying away from what was undoubtably a “killer put bull”, I bent down and she gingerly gave me a light kiss. Scared of the world but willing to trust she gave birth to 10 bouncing, full of love spitballs- who we hopefully found responsible homes for- instead of the fate they originally probably had. Now my Lu watches over our family, especially Her Baby Natalie, and I have no doubt she’s lay down her life for us – for the simple transaction of a roof, a bellyful and a kind hand.

Every time I think about adding to our motley crew and start musing about a shiny fancy horse or dog that most suits my wants, in pops a soul that most desperately needs it more. In that I also usually find that they were the animal I didn’t know I needed so deeply either. I show them the world and let them pick their niche- whether it’s carrying us as one over miles and miles to a Top 10 endurance finish or proudly pulling a carriage to the delight of so many children and families during the holidays.

We give them a life, a job, a purpose and in turn they have filled our hearts and reached our souls in ways that a long recovery road together does. To learn that life can be free of pain and torment and be full of food and scratches- that’s what giving life- all around – is about.

And… Exhale

As I sit here on the patio of the LRF watching the horses munch happily, the cats laze about on full bellies, the chickens plucking about the yard with authority and the dogs snore and know the babies (mine and the little one I nanny for) are lost in dream land… I finally exhale! I hadn’t realized I’ve been holding my breath since the summer kicked into full gear. Lets see if I can summarize it:
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When we last left our fearless Draft he was in training to become a bigger, faster, stronger or at least braver carriage pony by going to school to learn how to be a teammate. l

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He passed it with flying colors and its now up to me to continue this progress. I went from a Chevy to a Cadillac (and I do love my Chevys!)- what a dreamboat to drive now- like melted butter. He seems totally secure in his job too which makes all the difference!

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Sol has also become a seeing eye pony for a friends blind horse who lost his long time buddy this weekend. We’re all trying to make his transition as easy as possible but it’s still heartbreaking to me to watch him try and figure out just what on earth is going on here! Luckily, even though Sam was my first foray into Blind horses a few years ago, he wasn’t my only experience. Sometime I might share the story here of a mare named Que Sera’ Sera’ who touched many lives and hearts… Especially mine.

Garden and my Lovely Ladies

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Add to that 6 jars of Blackberry Jam and the bags and bags of produce I sent home to my family, I’d say its a banner year for my little tiny plot of joy! Oh how fresh veggies make the body feel inside!

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I went to the State Fair yesterday and while I was gone, the ladies were busy! I guess they wanted a world record too! Mind you, I only own 9 chickens and collect eggs every morning and night! Banner day ladies, thank you!

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Sonny

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My sweet Arab boy and I did an endurance ride last weekend, this is a picture of us playing the day after the race at camp, bareback and bridle-less. He, too, had a sordid past, but I think this picture is the icing on a much earned cake. It hasn’t always been easy together, we earned our relationship through hard knocks and many tumbles – both figuratively and literally! Oh, and as our first Endurance ride (25 miles LD) post baby- we finished Top 10 and a best condition contender! Sometimes the best things in life don’t look like they are at first glance, but once you chip away the crusty, abused exterior, there’s a little diamond underneath!

My Natalie

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WALKING steps! That about sums up our current adventures! Braver, stronger and smarter everyday- I just can’t get over how amazing something so small can be! She knows so many words and even foam letters she can pick out and say a few! She loves camping in our rig and has been several times since shes been born. Yesterday we went to the State Fair and met Dad who was working so we got a VIP ride on the golf cart. That was the highlight of the day for her- cackling away! You could almost hear her saying Faster Daddy faster! We saw animals and even got to sit on a (pet) bull named midnight owned by the rodeo company. This kid will have no fear…uh oh… She is MY kid!

Summer Whirlwind

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Just yesterday’s haul from the garden/chicken coop!

There’s a saying that goes, “I’m so busy, I don’t know if I’ve found a rope or lost my horse!” And I think that pertains to this summer. It has been cooler and rainy this year which has led to a very zealous garden and record yields with minimal effort. The egg factory is ramping up to almost full production and I’m getting 4-6 gorgeous blue, green and brown eggs a day. It’s so satisfying and fulfilling to go out and collect such nourishing food for my family each day!

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Solly learning how to Texas two-step with a formidable Belgian partner!

We also sent Solly up north to learn how to be a teamster and drive with a partner and get more miles under his harness. I used to (ok maybe still am) be a jack of all trades and had no problem training and tending and doing a myriad of things- however, this whole motherhood thing has not been as easy to just “squeeze in” like another horse to board. It is my more than full time commitment (and love!) and in order to keep the training ball rolling was to enlist the help of another trainer! It was an odd change of events as usually I was the one doing the training and I explained to her I was doing my best to let her do her job and not come across as a crazy horse mom as I’ve dealt with all kinds of pony parents too! He seems to be picking it up quickly and I can’t wait to go visit him and see what he’s been up to.

How Egg-citing!

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By the end of the day we had 4 eggs! New farm record! That means three of my lovely ladies are laying. The two beautiful blue (one not pictured) came from one of my two orange Americanas, the lighter green I think from my beautiful white Americana, and the milk chocolate perhaps one of the Barred Rocks. We took all 4 eggs and made decadent from scratch brownies last night- I’m really starting to like the rewards that are the fruits of my labor!

Eggcellent!

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Best birthday present ever from my humble ladies! Actually, 3 eggs have been laid this week! They’re finally starting to mature and bless me with the eggs I’ve been waiting all these months for! I think it’s one of the Americana (Easter-egger) hens because they’re slightly greenish and all are the same size and color. She abandons them as soon as she lays them so I can’t quite pin-point who it is yet. I can’t bring myself to eat them yet though, they’re just so cute and perfect I can’t bear to crack into them! I almost want to blow the eggs out so I can save a memento of all my hard work, stress and joy!
It’s been a busy few weeks here at the LRF, complete with my little Piggys first birthday as well as mine. We threw a gathering of small intentions but apparently everyone enjoys spending time out here. They came early, stayed late and I loved every minute of it. We’re friends with the people that used to live here and she said that she truly missed the flavor of her eggs from this farm! Turns out I’m in for a real treat once they get going!

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The first jalapeño arrived as well! Looks like I should make my self some huevos rancheros!

From Backyard Farm To Table

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Knowing that I didn’t particularity want roosters in my flock, there would eventually become a time (sooner than later) that they would become roasters in the oven. To make my trip worthwhile to the Amish processing farm (J& M Poultry in Cambridge City Indiana– fabulous experience with them!), I brought along two non- breed standard hens as well to add. Im fairly certain that Mondays delightful dinner was one rooster and one hen and were they ever delicious. Probably one of the best meals I’ve ever had home or abroad. I was glad I got to share them with people who would be reverent of the fact they were just about hatched and raised on my farm ground and garnished with fresh rosemary and German thyme growing mere feet from where they spent their days. I took this “local” theme and added fresh olive oil and garlic dressed green beans and redskin potatoes, which my gracious guests turned into a delightful vinegar and chive (from the garden!) salad. Rounding out the meal was the Strawberry Pie that Piggy and I picked fresh a few days prior at a friends farm (Piney Acres in Fortville). You just couldn’t spoil a homemade crust and fresh picked berries with cool whip now could you? So we whipped some cream for the grand finale. As a compliment they had their choice of two local wineries, French Lick Table White and an Oliver Winery Riesling. The flavors of every dish were so bright and true and I felt a certain accomplishment knowing it was the Indiana sun and soil I had to thank for the bounty before us.

If I didn’t truly enjoy what I could raise and eat before, now the desire is in my bones (or my stomach?). To taste and experience what fresh truly means — and to think this is how we all used to eat! What have we DONE to FOOD and our palates that what we eat commonly today is ‘ok’ or even ‘good’? The indescribable richness of flavor and texture is enough for me to absolutely do whatever it takes to have more backyard or local cuisine on my table. I think I’m going to need a bigger hen house!

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Winner, winner….chicken dinner!

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It’s official, I have- or rather had- 2 roosters in my original straight run of chicks. I didn’t really want roosters and the developing birds really are not a “breed standard”. They lay eggs and are good for meat but because of the large supply store nature (Tractor Supply where I got them), they don’t exactly care if they’re of show quality nature that should or shouldn’t be perpetuated. If I were to have Roos, I’d want to make sure their offspring were worth having. We also have “foodie” family members stopping by the LRF B&B here on their way through town tomorrow. I thought it would be great to share the bounty of the farm with them so I took the two Roos and 2 not standard hens to an Amish family who processed them for me. I plan to cook them with some garden fresh rosemary and thyme and roast them! What a delicious treat!

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We also visited my friends strawberry farm and went a little strawberry crazy! 16 pounds of strawberry crazy! I have strawberry pie to make to go with our chicken but also managed to make strawberry jam and ate about a metric ton plain. Good thing they’re my absolute favorites!

I will never grow my strawberries in anything but window boxes, that’s for sure! They’ve been so happy and thriving in there. Ill harvest some tomorrow to add to the pies!

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Connected by Google

A couple months ago I wrote a post about our baby’s PDA Murmur in hopes that somewhere out there in the great vast interwebs, it would help another family get through that type of surgery that our baby endured. It was the scariest and best thing we’ve had to go through as a family and I would have loved to understand that more from a Mom’s perspective before we went through it. Two weeks ago I got my wish! I was contacted by a lovely blog reading family who’s 6 month old Son was going through the exact same things our little Daughter had in months prior. He was scheduled to have the same surgery at the same hospital just 4 months after we did.  We connected through a few emails and then a phone call- It was heart wrenching to recount the shortness of breath, the sweating, the constant fight their little bodies were going through just to stay alive one more day because of the strain the hole in their little hearts was causing.  We compared notes and Mommy worries- but at least I could give them all some hope in this trying time! To walk out of the hospital with a perfectly well child just 24 hours later is a truly remarkable thing.

I am happy to report that he came through his surgery Friday with bells on and is just blossoming! When you take away all the fight, their bodies just unfold into the little wonderful babies we always knew were in there. To see the spark, color and life just well up inside of them now is a feeling like no other! I am so very excited for this family I’ve never met- to relish in their deep excitement the same way we did with our baby after her surgery is exhilarating!  I am so thankful that Google brought us together and that our experiences could help another family during this difficult and then wonderful time!