Jane Plays Donkey Chess, and Plans a Donkey Abduction

Daisy and I are checking out a facility for a friend who rides endurance, to see if it’s worth her making the trip to visit the place. It’s an Endurance barn with a capital T.

As we get out of the car, we see a trailer being loaded nearby, and hear this:

“Yep. Going to the Tevis again this year, how bout you?”

Reply: “Oh yeah, we’re in. Gotta go – loading  up for a quickie 50, see you later…”

While the facility is relatively close to where we live, it’s way off the beaten track, in the middle of country that looks like this:

FYI, those are thirty to forty foot tall trees, not bushes.

The barn itself is homey and funky, a gigantic old livestock barn brought back to new life. It’s repurposed and well organized, with soaring ceiling and shafts of light. It smells like saddle soap, hay, leather cleaner and warm wood.  There are only a few horses in stalls. There is a lean and muscular horse bucking, trotting and squealing in the round pen.

The owner introduces herself, and follows our gaze. “We have to turn him out in a small area first.” The gelding breaks into an easy canter. “He’s 35, and we don’t want him to immediately gallop off.  He might slip.  So we take the edge off first.”

Thirty Five? He’s sound, muscled, and looks in his teens. Daisy figures out from the barn owner that it’s a horse she knew from 25 years ago. This is his retirement home.

The owner slides back a big interior barn door, and we see a room the size of a gymnasium, full of comfy sofas, oriental rugs, bookcases, trophy shelves, and the kind of coffee table  you can put your muddy boots on.  “This is available to all our boarders year round, but we have a Yoga for Equestrians Instructor here on Monday and Wednesday nights.” I mentally check the mileage. Could I make Monday and Wednesdays?

The owner tells us about summer pasture, winter pasture, and the criteria they look at when deciding it’s time to move them for the season. She says: “Let’s go take a look”.

Daisy and I prepare to walk.

Laughing, the owner dangles keys to an industrial looking vehicle. Imagine a Monster Golf Cart, with a truck bed, roll bar, and 4 wheel drive. I get in back. Daisy is better at reporting the details our friend will want to know. I’ll go on for hours about trees and rocks.

The diesel engine roars to life.

Within seconds, it’s apparent why we are not walking.

Continue reading “Jane Plays Donkey Chess, and Plans a Donkey Abduction”

Murphy Monday: In Which We Discover a Slight Oversight and Meet a New Blogger!

Daisy and I were quiet, watching Murphyvision. Barbie and Murphy were eating: my brain began marching images of junk food past my inner vision.

I look at Daisy, she’s probably thinking about something more interesting. Gourmet food, minimum. I sigh.  Have to get my brain out of the cookie aisle. Murphy and Barbie will be going for Warmblood inspection/approval. Safe, non-food topic.

“When is the inspection, again?”, I say, turning toward Daisy.

“First week in October”, she says. We think about this.

“Road trip?”, I ask, hopefully. It’s a knee jerk reaction: still picturing small bags of chips.

“Nah”, says Daisy, “It’s only like ten miles from here. Get the Doritos out of your head.”

We turn back to Murphyvision. Suddenly, Daisy jerks up straight.

“What?”, I say.

“Inspection?”, Daisy says,  “Road trip?”

“And…?”, I think, while a queasy feeling starts gnawing at me.

“Oh. Crap.”, she says, punching numbers into her cell.

It hits me. Road trip?  

Murphy has go IN A TRAILER in 3 weeks? Mayday! Mayday!

A few conversations later, we have a plan. Hilary Dorris is going to come begin his trailer training.

Day One: 

Barbie can’t get in the trailer fast enough (she learned self-loading from Hudson) and blissfully eats  her way through a ton of hay, grain, and whatever else Daisy can throw in there.  Hilary quietly works to get Murphy to put a foot on the ramp.

Murphy’s response: a mild, non-hysterical, “Um. No, thank you.  I’ll stay here please.”

It’s good: he’s exposed, would put a hoof on the ramp, and remained relaxed. We’re taking it nice and easy, right?

Day Two:

I’m 15 minutes late for the training session. The rig is facing me, backed into the breezeway between paddocks. I grab my camera and walk carefully toward the trailer: I can’t see what’s happening, and I sure as heck don’t want to reverse progress by walking up and saying “Hi. How’s it going? Oh. He was? Gee. Sorry.”

Hilary waves me in. I’ll have to squeeze into the breezeway by moving a trailer door slightly.

I’m floored by what I see. Really?!? In 15 minutes? On day TWO?

There’s Murphy, standing in the trailer.  Perfectly relaxed, hanging out. Maybe ready to yawn. Totally unfazed by moving door and my appearance. He hung out at least a half an hour, completely relaxed: he turned around nicely. Moved away from pressure. Hilary even coaxed him a few steps backward toward the ramp. No intention to make him back out: too soon, just getting comfy.

There was a slight problem with walking out.  Murphy preferred, as a future hunter, to jump the ramp. Scary. Tanbark can be slick. He had remedial “this is a ramp. look at it. touch it” lessons.

Murphy:  “So boring.”, yawn, “I am a jumper.”

He listened politely. Put a hoof out.

But calmly cleared it like a hunter. I think he landed 8 feet away.

Fine. Ramp lessons. First, mom walks over the ramp.

Then Murphy will walk over.

“That? No way! It’s too high! Dude, I’d have to lift my hoof up like THIS high! I’m thinking not.”

No more pictures. Aunt Jane had to step in and help.  To continue safely, we needed an extra pair of hands.

Within a quiet, skillful half hour, Murphy was walking across, on, and standing relaxed on the ramp. The bubble over his head clearly said “Um. What was the big deal here, wasn’t scared. Didn’t much like the thunking noise, that’s all.” Pause. “Can we do something else now?”

Thank goodness Hilary decided to return to horse training!  We missed her. She’s going to be blogging as well, which I am excited about. (Great. Tips.) You can find her new blog here, Hilary Dorris Training, with a more detailed version of  Murphy in loading training, if you click the link below.

He made Student of the Week. Aren’t you proud?!?

And I think we can all see his color changing: gorgeous!

Murphy Monday: 4 Month Birthday!

Jane has never gone this long without posting. The length of time away is making her feel very weird about posting again, so she is speaking in the third person, which is quite dumb, since we know it’s her. She would like to thank you for hanging in with her through a difficult time.

(My upheaval is down heaving, thank God.)

Murphy, this morning, on his 4 month birthday. He’s hitting an uneven growth spurt, and he’s getting much darker. I have no idea what his color may be called (Daisy?) but I think he’s going to shed out into that beautiful seal shade that is on his neck.

I am rusty in many areas, photography among them. Out of the 100 photos I shot today, the above is the only one in which Murphy has legs.

Why yes, a redwood tree has sprouted out of his back. I was hoping you won’t notice.


But hey, on the HUGE scale, check out his size against Barbie.

His height does cause some issues with nursing, but his yoga is excellent.

Barbie looks amazing. Motherhood is her calling. Her strictness and intolerance of bad behavior make her an amazing mom.  Murphy has manners.

Barbie and Daisy:

Psst!  Down here…

It’s me.

Do you see what I have to put up with?!? Cranky mares all around me. I’m not feeling the whole huge thing. Can you hook me up with the gelding paddock across the way? All this estrogen is killing me.

Murphy Monday: In Which We Are Super Foal, Able to Leap…Wait…is this Wet?

Super Foal or convenient mobile clothesline.  You decide!

Torment Sacking out begins early when your mom is Daisy. And you have a kabillion Aunties hovering, ready to decorate help.

His color is still up in the air. He’s red bay for 2 inches behind his ears. He’s seal bay in a patch on his neck, and you can see the color of his face, where the baby fuzz is gone.

Daisy, do we have a name for this color?

FYI? Totally off topic if you click read more…blogging humor

Continue reading “Murphy Monday: In Which We Are Super Foal, Able to Leap…Wait…is this Wet?”

Hudson, Here. You Have No Idea What I Put Up With…

Hudson, here, hacking into the blog.  Tip of the carrot to Smokey; thank you my lady, for tiptoeing on the keyboard.

Jane’s been tending to a sick family member, barfing (whatever THAT is) dog, and healing the wheeled box that brings her to me. Yes, I do know it’s called a car. But it can’t haul a trailer.  Therefore, it doesn’t deserve to be recognized appropriately.

Jane. We need to review. Again.

I am aware you have limited brain capacity, and can’t help it; humans are simply born that way. (Listen to the Lady Gaga song. Finally, a human that gets it.) Trust me, I take your disability into account daily.

How I wish humans could think in concrete, logical terms.

Exhibit A:

I am not going to leave this on.

Continue reading “Hudson, Here. You Have No Idea What I Put Up With…”

Murphy Monday: Guest Photographer

Photos were taken by Laurie, the mom of Ginger, Hudson’s girlfriend.

(Being horse people, friendship lineage goes through our horses.)
Laurie is a talented graphic artist and designer.  I love to see Murphy through her eyes.

My imagination immediately went to Ford Agency portfolio shots, for his future movie career.

Drama: John Wayne remake;

Courageous Heart warmer: Foal in National Velvet;

Comedy: Blazing Saddles, Bucking Horse 1;

Drama, Robert Redford style: Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid, allll the way;

This last one totally slays me. Gorgeous!

What movies are you seeing in his future?

In Which, Trying to Shoot Hudson, We Want to Shoot Hudson

I have had Hudson for nearly a year, and do not have a picture that looks like him.

There is one photo in which his eyes are open, and he bears a mild resemblance to a horse, even if he does not look like himself.

Essentially, the rest look like this. Only worse.

I have 1000 good photos of Murphy and Barbie, Melody and True, random stranger’s horses, dogs, cats,  even a gold-fish.

I complained to Daisy: how the heck does he know I’m shooting him?  He can’t be totally anti-paparazzi!! Can he?

He got a bath. Even had his face shampooed. (This is a breakthrough that involved $50 worth of carrots.)

Since there was no one else present, I had to tie him.  Hoping for that regal shot in the classy leather halter.


  • Tied: looked like a mule.
  • Tied: held up carrot; looked like a starving mule being tortured.
  • Tied: snapped carrot in half and waved around; he looked like a cranky, starving mule, undergoing torture, who is about to kick.
  • Untied: walked away. Looked like an emaciated mule on his last legs (with a sway back and knife withers). His body stretched out like one of those double-long city buses with the accordion connector in the middle. But…a fabulous tail.

Gave up photographing.

He instantly stood normally. Snapped it quick: his non-mule, non-emaciated, nicely muscled body, with head on floor.

He is going to drive me INSANE.

The best of 50 photos. Horrid, busy, background. His face isn’t this long. But at least his ears are forward?

The starving, sway backed horse with giant butt:

Great body, who cares if we see his head and neck? Clearly NOT bony and emaciated:

Even better: head in bucket with fly spray racing stripes, with the angle off just enough to make him look…sway backed, over at the knee, and pear butted.










I swear he does this on purpose.

(Oh all right. The racing stripes out of flyspray? Guilty.)

Murphy Friday: Color Wheeling

The first thing I did, the night we returned from camping, was to go see Hudson. Literally. Okay, maybe I threw some grain at him. So he’d stand still long enough for me to “see” him in the late evening light. I wanted to hug him, like a pony crazed 10-year-old.

So I did.

Jane: [Huuuuuuuug]

Hudson: Jane. I can’t chew and swallow grain if you are choking me.  Glad to see you, etc. etc. But it’s my grain. Mind moving, please?

So I hugged his butt, laying my cheek on his cheek. I believe we were both happy. I’m pretty sure he didn’t miss me at all, and that’s good. It means he’s been happy and content, which I already knew, since Bella took care of him.

Life feels much more approachable when one’s cheek has been on a horse’s rump.

The second thing I did: see Murphy and Barbie. (I didn’t wait for my camera batteries to recharge.  So we have cell photos.) I expected he’d change in a week.  I knew he was scheduled to go out to pasture with mom on July 1.

I did not expect Super Foal:

His head is filling out, looking less foal-ish and more horsey. He will absolutely grow into the promise his ears made.

He’s huge. Everything has changed. His rear end hit a grow spurt.  Possibly encouraged by the freedom of running in pasture.  Major engine power.

We have color shifting.  It’s not the color he’ll end up, but it’s fun to hang on the wheel while it turns! The baby fuzz is wearing off on the tips of his ears, a spot on his neck, and his withers are definitely a shade darker.

Barbie was happy to see me. Until she realized I did not have grain. The absence of grain makes her cranky. Still, I had to hug her too, and she tolerated my hug.

She loves me. Happy sigh.

Murphy was curious to see me. I had the sinking feeling I fell off his radar. I hugged him, and hovered, stroking and touching him. He was mystified, but didn’t move, and seemed to enjoy the attention.

Murphy Monday, with real camera, here we come!

Murphy Monday: Hey! I Resemble You!

Murphy meets Daisy’s niece:

Mom! Mom mom mom mom…LOOK, a mini human! Aren’t they cute?!? Can I have it? Pleeeeeeaze mommy…it followed me home.  I don’t think it has a place to live. Can it live with us? Pleeeze mom, can I keep it, pleeeeeeze…?

Aw dang it.  I wanted a pet. Oh well.  Mom says they can visit.

And here’s a picture of me and mom, I think we look alike, except I’m handsomer, because I’m a guy:

Mom and Son, Photo taken by Bella’s Mom

Murphy Monday: Growth Spurt!

Due to Shaun’s unexpected participation in the Disaster of The Month club, and it’s included, grueling, Doctor Visit Marathon, I hadn’t seen Barbie or Murphy all week.

Shaun won the Marathon, btw: she was at a different doctor’s office every day, and TWO on Thursday.  The Marathon has a delightful prize. If you flip to page 87 in The Mom Manual, you’ll see any hurt person in the household has a right to invoke The Doctor Clause on appointment day: entire family gets as much ice cream as they want.

I’m thrilled Shaun picked frozen yogurt.  (I’ve only increased one clothing size instead of six, and I discovered that I like Tart Mango.) I confess, I received a distinct, if possibly exaggerated, OOOF from Hudson when my tushy hit the saddle leather.

Shaun needs to see Murphy every weekend, despite her horse anxiety.  We went on Saturday, and Daisy’s mysterious text suddenly made sense.  Out of the blue this week, I received this text from Daisy:


That’s it. No explanation.

The second I saw Murphy, I texted Daisy back:


He hit an enormous growth spurt. I promise better pictures.  Forgot the camera.  (Duh. Kinda important when you want to take pics.)

Shaun took most of these with my cell.  She couldn’t risk getting her cast bumped, so had to stay out of the stall.

I can go out by myself now, if you’d just move over a little…? No, really. I swear. Then why am I whispering? Uh…because I don’t want to bother mom? Of course she knows, she…YES MOM, I’m right here. No mom, I’m not leaving

Me and Auntie Jane. Did you know the two legs get short as they get older?  Mine are getting short fast. They must be really old.

I’m a grown horse now.  I eat what mom eats! But I still get the good stuff too. My mom shrunk a little bit.  I have to crink my neck to get the liquid stuff. Frustrating.

Even though she shrunk a little, my mommy is big.  Someone said my daddy is big. They said I’m going to be big too.  I don’t know what they’re talking about.  Why is everyone shrinking?

Whatever. As long as I can reach the green stuff.