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!"

Thursday, June 30, 2011


My husband made me a nice little riding ring a few years ago. There's a hedgerow on each long side. At one end is a little pond and at the other end there is a stand of large fir trees and a small "meadow" which we usually don't mow - it's hard to get the tractor in and out of there. We recently discovered that a doe has taken up residence in that little protected meadow and she's raising two fawns there! They often come out to romp around in my riding ring and we watch them from the hallway window. Needless to say, I'm not going to go down there and disturb them so I had to find some place else to ride and play clicker games. John recently mowed down the big pasture beside the barn, turning it into a perfect play area for Split and me! Mowed down, however, does not equal NO GRASS so of course the first thing Split did when we went out there on Monday was declare, "Yeehaw! More grazing time!" Umm.......no. He's very good a lungeing (because of the temptation of the grass, he was wearing his halter and lunge line) so I thought, "Why not start with something easy?" I figured that would let him know that we were "working" and not "eating!" Good old Splitter. He was like, "Ok. Whatever you want." He walked and trotted and whoa'd like the prince that he is and accepted his treats nicely. But one time when I stopped and clicked him, he quickly reached down to scratch his front leg and discovered that (gasp!) his nose was touching the grass! He quickly snatched 2 mouthfuls. I laughed and said, "Well, I guess that's your treat then!" From then on, every time I clicked Split, he put his head down and grabbed 2 mouthfuls of grass!! He never tried to get more.........He was happy to do that as his treat! What a hoot!
I've learned to let go of that "oh, no ya don't!" attitude (for the most part! LOL) and am much more willing to let my animals be part of the decision making team. I'm always surprised, too, at how intelligent their decisions are!! I don't know why I'm surprised.......
they're often much smarter than I am! Letting Split take those 2 mouthfuls of grass and turning it into a positive rather than a negative allowed him to get the extra grass he wanted and we had a nice play session! When you have animals, that old adage, "Ya learn something new every day" really hits home!

A woman needs two animals - the horse of her dreams and a jackass to pay for it.
Author Unknown

My daughter gave me that quote on a plaque for Christmas. I display it proudly in my dining room.......

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

A-Jell-ity Training

Jelly and I started agility training last week and what a hoot! There's nothing as humbling as a smart beagle, let me tell you! Our first task was to trot over some 10" high 'jumps.' Handlers were to trot and leap over the middle of each jump whilst cheerily squeaking, "Over, Fido!" to our canine companions. There were 6 of us in my group and every dog did exactly what they were asked to do, even if they approached the first jump warily. Jelly and I were last and we trotted off eagerly. I fully expected Jelly to do what every other dog had done so I leaped over the poles and chirped cheerily, "Over, Jelly!" I was caught up short and almost landed on my nose when Jelly slammed on the brakes. She hunkered down on her front paws, hiney in the air, little face scrunched up, and just stared at those poles. "No. No way. Uh-uh. Not doin' it!" she said. I started laughing and looked at the trainer and just shrugged my shoulders. To my relief, HE started laughing, too!
What could have been an embarrassing situation turned into a very pleasant evening. Glenn (of Crawmer's Dog Training) is a wonderful trainer who treated every handler and dog as individuals. He does not subscribe to a "one method fits all" philosophy, and throughout the evening explained every dog's personality to us.
He helped Jelly and me over and through every obstacle and gave us clear and concise instructions that fit our personalities perfectly and enabled us to be successful every single time! He pointed out how each of us approached new obstacles and what that said about the dog (and handler!). He reminded us to watch our dog's body language and to "feel" thru the leash.
There was the dog who was older, very balanced in body and mind, and who literally glided over and thru each obstacle like a gymnast. There was the pit bull who was more interested in a "meet 'n greet" with the other dogs than anything else. We had the terrier with ADHD who approached each obstacle with uber enthusiasm but 5 seconds later was in the, "Oh, look! A squirrel!" mind-set and would leap off or run around an obstacle with no warning, taking his teenage handler with him. At no time did Glenn become discouraged or demeaning. He simply smiled and offered advice. He heaped praise on all of us for a job well done and he approached every single dog as an individual! What a breath of fresh air!
At the end of class, Glenn told us how each of our dogs was likely to progress; that every dog can do agility but, like people, some are more competitive than others. Some will focus and take on every task like they're training for the Olympics. Some will start out enthusiastically but peter out as they progress and will do the task but they don't care about speed or endurance. And some need to think things over and scope out the territory before making a decision..........like Jelly! He told me that Jelly is definitely a "thinker" but that once she "gets it," she'll be a hard worker.
A thinker, eh? Well, I already knew that. She's a clever dog but never puts herself in a dangerous position. She literally thinks things out. The funniest obstacle we encountered during our first session was "the table." We were to trot briskly toward the table (very large square "table" with carpeting on the top, about 24" high) and as we approached it, we were to shout, "Table!" and the dog would leap up, stop on the table, and then with the word, "Ok!" leap down again. Again we went last. I trotted briskly and shouted, "Table!" I'm sure you know where this is going! Jelly again slammed on the brakes. She walked up to the table and slowly rose up on her hind legs. She placed her front paws on the table and looked it over. She sniffed it. She walked along the edge like a toddler checking it out.
By now no one could contain their laughter and we were all doubled over laughing!!! Yep, that Jelly is a thinker! I like to call our performance on the agility field, "a-JELL-ity!" But we're having fun!!!!

"If your dog is fat, you aren't getting enough exercise." -- Unknown

Jelly has lost 14 pounds since I got her!! Why is it so much easier for the dog?????
Keep 'yer tail waggin'!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Clicker Feet

Hey, I'm double-bloggin' today!! But I'm so excited about our latest clicker success that I just wanted to share with everyone!
Split has always been a gentleman about having his feet handled - as long as he was tied up. At liberty, his attitude was, "I don't have to stand for this." Literally - he would just walk away as soon as I tried to pick up a foot. I never really pushed the issue because as far as I was concerned, hoof health trumped everything else so I would just take Split into the barn, tie him up, clean out all 4 feet, and let him go. But this year I decided would be "The Year of the Hoof." I was going to have him picking his feet up at liberty and he was going to like it! ha ha No, that was NOT my attitude. But I did make that my goal for this year and was excited to see how it was going to play out. I was also anxious to see how I would handle it........I've learned a lot about emotions and behavior these past few years - equines and my own!
I donned the vest o' treats and moseyed out into the paddock early this spring with no other goal than to be able to touch Split's leg without having him walk away. Literally, if he was at liberty, the second my hand reached for his leg, he would simply walk away from me. Yep, that's just what happened. I sighed and followed him at a leisurely pace. I reached out to touch the leg again and again he sauntered away. At no time was he grumpy or exhibiting any signs of stress. He was just free to go so he did! I have no idea long how I spent walking around that stupid paddock, patiently, step by step, waiting for that nanosecond when I would be allowed to touch a leg. (I tend not to wear a watch when I'm clicking.) FINALLY Split stood still for that one second and allowed me to touch his lower leg. CLICK, TREAT, WITHER SKRITCH! Yay! Could I touch it again? Uh.....no. LOL And so we began again. After awhile, Split was comfortable with me touching his leg and he didn't walk away from me so we quit there.
If you're a clicker trainer, you know that progress is measured in microscopic increments and rarely in huge chunks of success. And so we plodded around the paddock until one day.....I reached down to touch Split's leg and, lo and behold and halleluiah, he stood still and let me not only touch it but rub it and give him a nice massage!! Jackpot! Then I asked him to pick it up. "Bye-bye!" And off he went! Oi vey.
I knew this was as much about me as about him so I kept trying to see things from his perspective and asking myself, what does Split want or what is he trying to teach me?
When he finally did pick his foot up for me, of course I WANTED IT ALL and grabbed it and held onto it and he slammed that foot right back down on the ground and walked away. Oops. I blew it. More sighing on my part. More plodding around the paddock. And on it went. I began clicking for the slightest forward movement, indicating that Split was going to pick up his foot. Slowly (like the 3 Stooges.....inch by inch, step by step.........), Split would lift his foot higher and higher but I made no attempt to hold it. Progress!!
A week or so went by and we had temps approaching 100 degrees here with very high humidity. I hung out in the house; the horses hung out in the shade in the pasture or in the barn. No clicking aqui. Today, however, is lovely! Temps in the high 70's with a really nice breeze. I picked the paddock, donned the vest o' treats, and proceeded to groom the heck out of both Split and Jingle. I really don't have to treat for that because they both love it but they're so quiet and stand like statues so I throw a few treats in "just because."
Then I decided to work on "clicker feet" again. To my total surprise, the minute I moved my hand toward Split's foot, he lifted it up and held it there, light as a feather!!! Was it a fluke? Nope. He repeated it over and over and in the end I was able to hold it, clean it, and put it down slowly and gently. WHOOOO HOOOO! Truly a peppermint moment!!!!!!!
Of course, that was his off fore. Tomorrow we'll try the near fore. I bet I'm going to be spending a lot more time plodding around the paddock....................

You Know You're A Horse Person When... (quotes from Horse Forum)
...someone does something nice for you and you pat them on the neck and say 'good boy'. (I've done that, actually......)
...you say "whoa" to the dog. (Yep, all the time)
...you show up for an appointment in your city clothes and when you get there people reach across the table to pick alfalfa out of your hair. (Guilty!!)

One time I was walking my first graders from school up the hill to the monthly mass and when they dawdled along, I literally turned around and said, "Walk on, please, walk on." Oh, geez..............

Hey, don't forget - June 14 is Flag Day!

Jennifer Aniston's Arms

I just read something interesting on line. (Well, where ELSE does one read interesting things these days?? LOL) It was about Jennifer Aniston's arms and how she keeps them toned and looking beautiful. Hmmm, thinks I, I could use some toned, beautiful arms. What's her secret? Turns out it's yoga! So I read the article and discovered that her secret is in the poses.......Sun Salute, Crow, Plank, One Arm Balance, Queenly Wave (ok, I actually made that up), etc. There are directions on how to pose and how to perform each move and I read them all, thinking if I spend time doing these each day, I could have arms like Jennifer Aniston!!!
Oh, who am I kidding? First of all, although I know that yoga is clearly beneficial to one's emotional and physical well-being, I don't do yoga. Where am I supposed to fit that into my schedule? I could take a class but it costs my daughter $15 for a 30 minute yoga session and I could get 3 bales of hay for that or a bag of hay stretcher or some fly spray! Yes, she has nice arms - no wobbly under arms or wrinkly skin like me - but then again she's 25 years old. I'm.........one year from 60!! Yes, yoga for toned arms sounds like a great idea but in the end I opted for my "tried and true."
I'm heading out to the paddock in a few minutes to shovel poop. And then I will probably toss a few 50 pound bales of hay, followed by wheeling many wheelbarrow loads of mulch up and down a small hill. And I won't have to fork over $15 every 30 minutes, either. Yoga schmoga! To arms, ladies!!!!

It's very important to have the right clothing to exercise in. If you throw on an old T-shirt or sweats, it's not inspiring for your workout. Cheryl Tiegs

HA HA HA HA!!! This is a joke, right??? Come on guys..............seriously?
Have a great weekend, everyone!!!

Monday, June 6, 2011

The Race Is Not To The Swift

"The race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong....." Ecclesiates 9:11.

Well, clearly that is the truth because I am neither swift nor strong but I FINISHED THE RACE!!!! Saturday's Freihofer's Run for Women was one of the most inspiring events I've ever witnessed! There were world-class runners from all over the globe competing for thousands of dollars in prize money but the majority of us were there for the friendship, the celebration of our beautiful bodies, the joy of being outside, of being among other women, many of whom have fought harder battles than running up the hill on Madison Avenue. We were 4800 strong - young and old, fit and "not so" fit, thin, heavy, white, black, Muslim, Jewish, Catholic, atheist, Americans, Ethiopians, Kenyans, Canadians, short, tall, long hair, short hair and bald.....we were all there together in joy and happiness. We high-fived each other, encouraged each other along the run, patted each other on the back, cheered for our friends and for complete strangers....we were a microcosm of what the world should be. It made me proud to be a woman; proud to have run the race; proud of every single one of us!
Congratulations!! We are women, hear us roar!!!!!!!!

So many gods, so many creeds,
So many paths that wind and wind,
While just the art of being kind,
Is all this sad world needs.
~ Ella Wheeler Wilcox ~

Friday, June 3, 2011

Freihofer Run For Women

It seemed like a good idea last March when all the teachers and some of the moms at school were talking about forming a team to run in the annual Freihofer's Run for Women in Albany. I was pleased that they would think to include me in their group so I sent off my $40 and eagerly anticipated the run and planned my training schedule and told myself, "You can do this!" And of course there's that free t-shirt.... Well, here it is the day before the race and I'm sitting here wondering why I let myself get talked into these things! I'm not totally out of shape. I walk for about an hour a day with a beagle attached to my arm and last winter Jelly and I went snow shoeing every day we could - that's a GREAT work-out! Still.............I did run a couple of times when we were on vacation in Virginia last week, mostly because it was just around the resort and it's pretty flat there. Well, maybe "run" isn't the right word. I think "jog" or "trot" might be more appropriate. You could also substitute "huff" or "puff." "Pant," "wheeze," and "gasp" might also apply. Hey, it was HOT! LOL
Wish me luck, friends! My only goal is to make it up Madison Avenue without tripping and falling on my nose or wheezing so loudly that everyone thinks there's a steam train comin'. If worse comes to worst, I can always just duck into my daughter's apartment which is right along the race route, get a drink of water, take a short nap, use the bathroom, and then keep going. No one will miss me. I'll let ya know how it turns out!

Jogging is very beneficial. It's good for your legs and your feet. It's also very good for the ground. It makes it feel needed. ~Charles Schulz, Peanuts

Thursday, June 2, 2011

I Miss What's Mine!

Ahoy, everyone! I know you've all been sitting in front of those computers waiting for my next blog entry so here it is!! (LOL!!)
Last week my husband and I joined his brother and his brother's wife for a week in Williamsburg, Virginia. Bill (B-I-L) has a time share at the Powhatan (pronounced pow-uh-TAN and not pow-HAT-in as we Yankees were quickly informed!) Resort and it's become our tradition go with them each May. It's a nice place - restaurant, fitness center, several pools, the old plantation manor house still on site (well-preserved and open for touring during the day), lovely ponds, and lots of Canada geese and the requisite goose poop. Each unit looks exactly like another inside and out, right down to the fake flowers on the kitchen table. No matter which unit Bill gets each year, no matter where it is in the resort, we can count on walking into the exact same thing.....
I realized about mid-way through this year's vacation, though, that I'm not a very good traveler. About 3 days into any vacation I begin to miss what's mine. My bed, my TV, my sofa, my pillow, my kitchen, my horses, my stinkin' beagle, my obnoxious cat, my truck.....I'm truly a homebody and take great comfort in the day to day rhythms here at my mini farm. If I need a "vacation," I go out and play with Split and Jingle or Jelly and I go for a long walk or I take my kayak out on the pond...........In the summer I will take a book and a cold drink and go float in the pool or sit outside in the evening listening to the tree frogs sing and watching the first flickers of the fire flies in the meadow...................
Virginia is nice and I do love walking the streets and paths of the historic triangle imagining how it might have been to be part of life 250 years ago but I was very glad to get home again. Home to my own "history" which, while not "quite" 250 years old, is still

Laughter is an instant vacation. ~Milton Berle