Murphy Monday: Fine. Are those Balloons…?


This out-of-control, wildly bucking, primal flight-panic moment brought to you by The Two Year Old Who Will Not be Fazed.

And Daisy, who took the picture of Murphy’s first time under saddle, complete with, yes, it’s touching him…The Girth.

(Hudson is still certain The Girth will kill him, even when it goes up one hole every 15 minutes.)

Daisy saddled Murphy, removed his halter, and waited for typical two-year-old reaction.

She’s still waiting.

Murphy is captivated by a birthday party just off-screen, complete with helium-filled balloons waving spookily in the wind. Or not spookily at all, if you’re Murphy.  I think he’d carry one in his teeth.

He’s definitely my nephew.  I bet he smells cake.

In Which Jane Yells “Pick Me” and Gets…Picked?!

One of the trainers at our barn needed a bit of barn help.  Did I mention she’s a terrific instructor? Positive.  Cheerful.  She knows how to use her words.

Given some of the life events over the last year or so, I haven’t um, exactly ridden much.  Oh I’ve been packed around daily.  Not the same as real riding.

Riding: that state in which you tell the horse what to do? And meandering doesn’t just “happen”? And tack is involved? And you sit upright, instead of laying your head on horse’s butt while he grazes?

Trainer put the word out she was looking for someone she could teach to help her out on the ground, preferably with some horse knowledge.  If we knew of anyone, let her know.

Ever the mature 3rd grader, I thrust my hand in the air and waved wildly. “I will!! I will!!”

In front of other people.  (Sadly, I am not exaggerating.  Points for enthusiasm?) Gah.

Momentarily taken aback, she said, “Really…?” Pause. “You want to…?”

I had one horrible moment of very adult embarrassment, presuming she was thinking: “How will I politely get rid of this ancient broad who might fall and not get up?”

This is usually an agreement for the 20-something beginning rider.  Not the 50-something sort-of rider that trainer has watched dozing on Hudson’s butt.

Luckily, she was actually thinking (or so she claims): “It could work? I won’t have to spend so much time training…”

I can do many key things: bandages, blankets, basic grooming, lunging, tacking up, read body language, and stay out of the strike zone. I don’t panic.  I’ve uncast horses, treated abscesses, can give shots, eye medication, deworm, check capillary refill rate and know when a tendon is iffy.

Most importantly, it’s possible I’m the best carrot-dispenser on the planet.

It’s the riding part I’ve never quite gotten down.

Hudson was a bit put out.  He’d begun to enjoy doing a lot of nothing outside his paddock.  After our first few rides however, he came out of the arena on jetpacks, proud as proud could be: every stride swung with “I’m a working man. Did you SEE that? I am AWESOME.”

You sure are, buddy!

All I Want For Christmas…

…are things that don’t exist, but should.

I have everything I need, which thankfully coinsides with everything I want. Anna Blake did an awesome blog post on Thanksgiving for Christmas here.

  • Donkey Lending Library.

(Self explanatory to anyone who has ever met a donkey.)

  • Opinionated, talking, inanimate objects.

I feel this would be the fastest and most consistent way of having humor on an hourly basis. I would crack up if my fridge firmly clamped it’s doors shut the second I plunked groceries on the counter, and said “You’re not gonna put THAT in me, are you?! Nu-Unh. NO WAY.”

Life would become highly entertaining. Of course, this would have to come with a “mute” option, so we don’t get carted off to the hospital.

  • Magical carrot bags: impossible to empty, always fresh. (We have to have Hudson’s wish in here too.)
  • Horses should poop gold nuggets. Win-win.
  • Weather. Clicker.
  • Google App for the brain: Download a Skill.
  • If Congress refuses to work out an issue reasonably, everyone, on both sides, should have to wear a huge pointy party hat, polka-dotted, with streamers and uncomfortable chin elastic until it’s settled.  On TV.
  • Option to Reverse Retire: retire when young, energetic and fit, work when older, stiff, and wise enough to keep mouth shut.
  • FaceTime and Skype connectivity to Heaven. (Hi Grandma!!  Miss you!  How’s Mr. Chips?”)
  • Fairy Dust. Who doesn’t want fairy dust? Sprinkle on barn politics, broken cars, sad critters, one’s own brain: the list could go on and on.
  • The Argument Remote: pause, think, rewind, do-over, database access, and of course: mute.
  • Zen Vision Goggles with Zap capability: instant perspective for self, ability to zap others in need.

What’s on  your “should exist, but doesn’t”, wish list?

The Trouble With a Good Rope Horse? He’s Good With Rope.

After the second big lock-picking escape in which Hudson stole Dinero and himself, my thinking changed. I saw George Clooney and Brad Pitt.

Think Ocean’s 243: Hudson starring as George Clooney, Dinero as Brad Pitt. Between the two of them, no lock is safe.

For a smart horse, learning to untie a quick-release knot is a fairly ho-hum occurrence. Pull the end, and I’m free.

Hudson is a smart horse with a stupid owner: I  let him watch me tie the non quick-release knot, without blindfolding him first.

Exhibit A: in which he thinks I’m not paying attention.

Exhibit B: in which he knows I’m paying close attention.

We love the hideous teal lead, because it has a panic snap. It’s why we can tie Hudson with a real knot.

Hudson is tied all the time, and he never bothers the lead.

He’s an efficient oat eater. Quick and thorough.  Dinero, however, is a leisurely diner. Hudson only bothers to untie himself when he determines his opportunity to double his dinner are most excellent.

I’m trying to decide if his blindfold should have flames on it, or hearts….

New Study of Human/Horse Bonding: Horses Remember

From Discovery News, by Jennifer Viegas:


Horses not only remember people who have treated them well, they also understand words better than expected, research shows….

(click on link to read article)

Check it out, it’s an interesting read. The part in which test horses respond strongly and positively to handlers with food treats doesn’t surprise me.

After all, I respond strongly and more positively to people who have food treats!

It made me think about Tiny, the big draft horse that Lily rescued, and the problems he came with. Part of Tiny’s unconventional rehab program was to receive cookies from his rider after he executed a rider’s request, while she was still in the saddle.

In Tiny’s case, the request was: “walk, please”.

He’d been so over-used as a school horse that he completely shut down. Put a rider on his back, and he refused to move. Not an inch. He didn’t do one bad thing: no bucking, no whirling, no head tossing, no backing up, no rearing. He simply shut down, planted, and endured.

Lily, on a hunch, fully aware that this was considered very bad horsemanship, stuffed her pockets with cookies. When Tiny took his first step forward off her leg and stopped, she held out a cookie, which he politely reached around and took from her.

It was the beginning of every positive change for Tiny. Contrary to what we all expected, including Lily, Tiny did not train us to give him cookies before he’d do anything. He started trying to please, was rewarded, and tried harder. Instead of needing more and more cookies, he needed less and less, until he was simply getting a few at the end of the ride.

I don’t recommend this as a general training method, but it worked for Tiny.

Nice to read the science behind food rewards: how it syncs to horses trusting people, and creating a stronger emotional bond between horse and human.


I believe the Discovery article was written in reference to this paper, and the work, in France, of these scientists.  Click for abstract: Positive interactions lead to lasting positive memories in horses, Equus caballus.

Paper is available for purchase, but not to read online in it’s entirety….

Alert! Stolen Horses still Missing: Trailer found Abandoned in Idabel, Oklahoma

Update: Trailer was found abandoned in Tom, Idaho, near Idabel.

If you can help in your area: check the FB page (click picture of flyer for link) to see what’s already been covered, then go to/notify your local auctions  – including kill dealers –  feed stores, tack shops ANYWHERE. Please do copy and print this flyer to distribute. Link to Stolen-Help-Find Facebook page from your Facebook status, etc.

Anything suspicious, CALL YOUR LOCAL POLICE or SHERIFF, then call the number on flyer.

Make it difficult for the horses to stay missing!