This blog is dedicated to my friend, my mentor, and the best teacher I have ever had. Without him, I would not have embarked on this amazing journey. Split, this blog is for you!
Ponderosa Misty Icon, aka "Split," is a handsome gray Welsh pony who came to me via a phone call "out of the blue" (actually Peterborough, Ontario). Our first few months together were rocky to say the least, which made me question my ability as a horse owner, as a horsewoman, and as a rider. Forty years of horse ownership had not prepared me for this little gray pony!
But we muddled through and because of Split, I have begun a journey that is both spiritual and enlightening. I hope something here resonates with you and that you'll check back now and then.
We leave you with one of our favorite quotes: "The best whisper is a click!"

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

A BODY of work!

We all know how off-putting bad body odor is, right? Well, I've come to the conclusion that bad body position is just as off-putting to our animal friends as human B.O. is to us! Just this morning, I was playing out in the meadow with Split and danged if he wasn't "getting" what I was trying to do. Let's set the scene......(hey, you know I'm into theater - setting the scene is what I'm all about! LOL) It's a beautiful fall morning here and my husband has brush hogged the back meadow and left me a new place to play with my critters. Today I'm surrounded by loud sounds.....the people across the road have a tree removal company doing a lot of work with compressors and big a** saws, and my contractor is still working on the outside of the house where he replaced a big dining room window so his compressor is wheezing and snorting away. AND there's quite a breeze, too! Add to that the turkeys that decided to meander along the hedgerow where Split and I were playing and the poor pony was on sensory over-load at first! But he was awfully good! He was a bit "wary," tho of everything going on around him at once, and at first wasn't really paying all that much attention to me. We started with "Grown-Ups Are Talking" (GUAT) which I use every time we start working - I think it reminds us both to be polite and patient. From there, we went to "Why Would You Leave Me" (WWYLM). There were some really good moments in WWYLM, considering we were in an open meadow with no official boundaries. We were, of course, working on a line rather than at liberty because hey, there's still tempting grass out there! Anyway, at one point, Split was actually bending AWAY from me and getting all stiff and acting like he didn't know what I wanted him to do. ARRGH!!
So I stopped and quickly took a mental "picture" of what I was doing with my body and discovered that I was actually turning my outside shoulder INTO him so he was turning his head away from me. At the same time, I was pulling on his lead. Gosh, how embarrassing!! So we went to GUAT for a few seconds which allowed us both to regroup and rethink and then I started WWYLM again, this time paying strict attention to my own body language. Success! So then it became fun to find out what my body language says to Split and I began deliberately to screw things up and I got just what I deserved! I only did this a couple of times - it's not something I want to reinforce - but I did need to see for myself just how much my position was affecting Split.
When we first started exploring clicker training, Split was much more forgiving but now he has no qualms about giving me what I'm aksing for, even if he "knows" it's wrong.
He also knows that it's OK now to do that. He knows I'm not going to fly off the handle and have a melt-down (I always did so quietly but trust me, it was VERY CLEAR to Split what was going on inside my rattled brain!!); he can trust me to stop, step back and analyze the situation. I can almost hear him saying, "Idiot" when I finally get it right. But he says it in a loving way.........with a little chuckle in his voice.
Body language......who knew? I SHOULD have known. I've had horses for over 40 years so you'd think I might have learned something along the way. I did. But I'm STILL learning and that's the fun part!!!!!!

"Old minds are like old horses; you must exercise them if you wish to keep them in working order."~ John Adams (1735 - 1826)

You might not have an old mind like mine but it's still a good idea to learn something new every day!!!! Go out and have fun, everyone!

Monday, September 6, 2010

About Nothing

Is anybody reading this a Seinfeld fan?? Is anybody reading this.......period??? ha ha ha Anyway, if you watch Seinfeld then you know that George's concept for a TV show was "a show about nothing." I feel like this is what my writing is about today. Nothing. I'm waiting for Katie to get out of bed so that we can head to the Chatham Fair Horse Show which is our annual Labor Day tradition. We watch the show and then later in the afternoon head into the Fair itself so that we can watch the weird people, visit the livestock barns, and Katie can eat her Bloomin' Onion.
On the way home we stop at Golden Orchards for apples, half a dozen cider donuts, and a caramel walnut apple pie. I look forward to this every year.
The horse show is great fun! All the riders are locals who return year after year and it's all very laid-back and geared toward the kids. There are classes for adults and they're all filled, too! I love trying to second-guess the judge and I actually have a pretty good track record in that respect. Now, put me at the National Show and I wouldn't even know where to begin but here in Chatham, NY, I have a pretty good chance of picking the top 3. LOL!
I've stopped doing horse shows. At my age, they're just too danged much work.
I used to love it, tho! It was such fun getting ready - bathing the horses; cleaning the tack; making sure all my clothes were clean, polished, wrinkle-free; arriving at the barn in the wee hours of the morning to feed early and then load up and hit the road...............Ah, those were the good old days! And all for a bunch of ribbons which, back then, probably cost all of 69 cents each! LOL But it was fun! Now......I'd rather spend the day doing other things with my pony and donkey. We don't win any ribbons, none of us are polished or groomed to perfection, my tack consists of a rope halter and a lead rope..........
"And the winner is............" ME!!!! :0)
Happy Labor Day, everyone!!!!!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Bob and my ass

Well, here I am again. Thank you, Ariamne (isn't that the coolest name??) for inspiring me to sit down at the keyboard and start blogging again. "Reblogging?"
There's another word to add to the dictionary in a few years!
I sort of had the wind taken out of my sails in July. I've been floundering around, trying to wrap my head around the death of one of our very best friends. Bob was 76 and he and his wife, Kathy, have been my husband's and my best friends for 20 years. Bob and Kathy's daughter (their only child), Jess, and my youngest daughter have been best friends for all that time, too! Because Bob and Kathy had no family up here, we spent lots of time together - holidays, graduations, birthdays, sporting events..........20 years of fun, friendship and LOTS of laughter!
Bob was much older than his wife (by 20 years) and had suffered numerous health problems in the last 5 years. But none of us anticipated that one evening he would just..........die. He was like that big, pink bunny who keeps banging on that drum or like a Timex watch - takes a lickin' and keeps on tickin'! Bob was bigger than life. Or so it seemed..................
I was getting ready for bed around 11:30 the evening of July 27 when the phone rang. It showed a call from Virginia and I assumed it was my cousin but it was Jess, phoning to say that her mom had just called to say that her dad had fallen down the stairs at home (final diagnosis - "spontaneous brain bleed") and was being airlifted to Albany Medical Center. Could I please meet them at the ER so that someone would be there with her mom? I woke up Katie (my youngest daughter; Jess's best friend) and told her what was going on. She shot out of bed, grabbed her jeans and said, "I'm coming with you." Bob and Kathy were truly like 2nd parents to Katie - she loves them both. The scene at the ER was like something out of a TV hospital show with everyone working quicky and efficiently. When Bob was finally fully evaluated and brought into a room, I knew immediately that he was, for all intents and purposes, gone from us. What amazed me during all of this was the poise, control and compassion that my daughter possesses. She's always been the social butterfly, the free spirit, the "spit in your eye" type of kid. But that night she showed what she's truly made of. Kathy asked that I stay with her thru all the doctor consultations, the viewing of the x-rays and CT scans, moving Bob to a room in ICU, the visits from the pastoral staff, social workers, etc. Katie asked the ER staff's permission to keep in touch with Jess in Virginia via phone and text messages and they willingly agreed. She helped Jess get her flight up here the next morning, picked her up at the airport, sat with her arm around her while Jess had to hear that there was no hope for her dad, held Bob's hand and talked to him while he took his last breaths..........................
Bob's death was a rude reminder that life is fragile and truly should be handled with care. Kathy told me after the life support systems were disconnected and we were all sitting and waiting.........."Just last night we were cheering the Mets. We were laughing and planning a trip to the track in Saratoga. I can't believe this........"
I learned a lot in those awful 12 hours (the hospital staff kept Bob "alive" until Jess arrived to say goodbye). I learned that I have the strength to comfort a friend in dire need; I learned that I can look death in the eye and while it still frightens and discomforts me because I know that it can take away someone I love, I know it's not the end except for here on earth; I learned that my daughter is an amazing WOMAN and no longer a "kid." I know I will be able to depend on her and her sisters if I am ever in need of them.
I've done a lot of reflection and soul searching in the last month or so but it's all led to the same old place.....the here and now. Because that's all, folks. The here and now. We need to use it wisely. Yesterday is gone; tomorrow is not yet in our grasp. I've read and re-read a wonderful book called "The Power of Now" by Eckhart Tolle, yet little did I realize how important it would become to my life when I first read it last spring. If you've never read Eckhart Tolle's books, I HIGHLY recommend them!!!
Now, about the title of this post....I have to share the story with you! Bob Reinhardt was continually amused and fascinated by the fact that I have a mini donkey which he always referred to as "Karly's ass." Bob nicknamed me "Karly" the first time we met and it just stuck. So after I got Jingle, Bob would always unfailingly greet me with, "Hey, Karly Hayden, how's yer ass?" And I would always reply, "Brown and hairy, same as always." I also like scotch so whenever we got together at the Reinhardts, Bob would have a scotch and soda waiting for me. The last time we were together, in that room at the Albany Med ICU, I rubbed Bob's shoulder as he was taking his last breaths. I told him, (with apologies to his elderly sister who had arrived at the last minute, and his niece), "Bob, I'm going to miss you buddy. But I'm going to go home and in your honor, I'm going to have a scotch and soda and I'm going to "slap" my brown hairy ass." Kathy started giggling amidst her tears and told her sister-in-law and niece the story of "Hey, Karly Hayden, how's yer ass." At the wake on Sunday, everyone in Kathy's family (who had flown in from literally all over the country) had obviously also been told that story because they all greeted me with, "Hey, Karly Hayden, how's yer ass?" I would have laughed but I was too busy crying.
Well, in my next post I'll catch you up on my clicker happenings. We've had a blast this summer!!!
Until next time..............

Love is stronger than death even though it can't stop death from happening, but no matter how hard death tries it can't separate people from love. It can't take away our memories either. In the end, life is stronger than death.