Monday, December 31, 2007

New Year, Past Thoughts

First of all, Happy New Year!!! I hope that you had some sort of celebration, even if it was a quiet evening in front of the television. That would be me. It's New Years Eve and I'm contemplating de-decorating my Christmas tree. Since the weather forecast is for-- take a wild guess-- MORE HIGH POWER WINDS, I doubt I'll be riding tomorrow on New Years Day. So I'll watch the Rose Parade while I tuck all my pretty glass ornaments to bed for another year of slumber.

In the meantime, a new year blossoms with hope and plans. One place getting a fresh start with 2008 is Kentucky Horse Park. In 2010 the site will host the World Equestrian Games which truly is as big a deal as the Olympics, without the distraction of, oh, all those other contests like swimming, diving, running and rowing. In other words, WEG is all horses, all the time! You can read about the preparation on Horse Channel by clicking here:
Ah, Kentucky Horse Park!

Have you ever been to Kentucky Horse Park? I've been fortunate to visit three times. This is not a place that celebrates or embraces just one breed or one riding discipline: it promotes a love and respect for all types of horses, which I find refreshing. What's also unique is that visitors can get exposed to various cultures because many breeds of horses from around the world are presented during regular performances at the park. They're shown in native tack while their riders usually sport traditional attire. However, my favorite "must see" stop at the horse park is the International Museum of the Horse. If you check out the website for Kentucky Horse Park you can click on a link to the museum. That will treat you to an engaging history lesson complete with colorful images explaining how the horse has impacted the development of civilization.

You can probably tell that I'm a big fan of Kentucky Horse Park. Who knows, maybe I'll get out there for another visit in 2008.

In the meantime, I'm going to go crack open a bottle of sparkling apple cider and have a little toast to the new year. Yes, I said "sparkling apple cider." I live a wild life, don't I?

Saturday, December 29, 2007

The Post-Christmas Trail Course

It's beginning to look a lot like the days after Christmas. Thanks to the wind my neighborhood is strewn with the aftermath of holiday decorations gones awry. Many of the homes (mine included) were all gussied up in their best festive paraphernalia for the weeks leading up to Santa's arrival. But with a sudden, ugly turn in the weather the front yards took on a war torn appearance. I have yet to find the embroidered skirt that adorned the base of the lighted pine tree on my front porch. It was probably blown into another county. Of course, this climate calamity means that the horse trails are also sporting wayward holiday decor. Rather than fight the blight, I've decided to make riding the local trails sort of a challenge. Let's see... Yesterday I devised these competitions:
1. Pine Tree Pole Bending: Here I ride my horse at a walk while weaving around the discarded Christmas trees that dot the trail alongside my house. (When is that trash pick-up day, anyway?)

2. Snowman Slide 'n Stop: A plastic snowman is cute, but not when it's lying on its side like a slain sentinel of winter. The challenge? Can I stay aboard Lexi when she scoots to the far side of the trail in an effort to avoid meeting the glazed eyes of the dearly departed Frosty?

3. Tinsel Two-Step: So much for the loop-de-loop of sparkly garland that wrapped around someone's split rail fence. Now it's lying across the bridle path like a frilly snake. Wally stepped over it all, oh so daintily, though his snorting made me a little nervous.

4. Ghosts of Christmas Past: Enough already with the deflated inflatable Santas! Can people please drag these sad, shriveled wraiths inside and stow them away for next year? My horses and I ride past them, where they're collapsed on front yards in a manner that makes them look as if they died in a desperate attempt to crawl onto the horse trail. My horses don't spook at them. They actually seem to ponder the scene, as if to ask, "What happened to them?"

Now, just so you don't think I'm merely a complainer and not a doer, I have moved misbegotten Christmas trees (disposable plastic stands included) off the horse trails. And I've tracked down the owners of lost decorations. But since the weather report is warning us of more high winds in the next few days, I'm afraid that the trails will soon be "deocorated" with more of Santa's workshop, making the bridle paths a special sort of winter wonderland.

Have any stories or comments to share? Just click on "comments" below or email me at:

Thursday, December 27, 2007

My Vision of Hell

It's been said that we all can imagine our own version of hell and let me tell you, I know what mine is: All wind, all the time.

This recent spate of hurricane force winds began late Christmas Eve. Ron and I had just come home after taking my parents and my sister on a tour of the festive light displays when I heard a sound much like a freight train. The house rattled. The windows shook. The metal hinges on our front gate groaned. It was the wind. I spent much of the night trying to console my poor horses who looked at me as if I was somehow responsible for the weather. Who could blame them for spooking and snorting? When they weren't jumping and whirling, they stood motionless, an expression of resignation on their faces. They were heavily blanketed, and had shelter. But they were miserable nonetheless.

After living in this area for nearly 30 years, I know that when the Los Angeles news stations issue wind velocity warnings, I have to add at least 20 miles per hour to the estimate. When the winds are blowing at 40 mph, I don't ride. When they hit 50 mph I switch from feeding hay to feeding pellets. Hay just gets blown into the neighbor's yard. When the gusts top 80 mph-- and trust me, they do-- I apologize to Wally and Lexi, try to appease them with carrots and horse cookies, and make sure that nothing can possibly blow into their paddocks and injure them.

So much for the post-holiday spirit. Hopefully 2008 will be much more heavenly.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas to All!

Can you recall a special Christmas morning when you discovered you were blessed with a wondrous horsey gift? For me, I think the year that my parents bought me my first English saddle is the most memorable. I suppose I was 13 or 14 years old. In retrospect it was not a very well made saddle. The leather was certainly not high quality and I'm sure it didn't sit me properly on my extra-large pony, Honeybee. Nonetheless, I was in Horse Lover Heaven and I'm sure I shed a tear or two of joy that Christmas morning.

Regardless of what Santa leaves for you this year, I hope you, your horse and your horse loving friends and family have a wondrous holiday!

Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

My Christmas Newsletter

I must rebel against the practice of the Christmas newsletter. These are the mass produced, non-personalized accountings of the glorious blessings that befell the sender and his/her family during the year. Christmas newsletters are not a bad idea. They're a nice way to sum up the year in a paragraph or two for far flung family and friends. But often Christmas newsletters turn out to be self-serving brag sessions. Or they reveal far, far too much about a family's personal matters than some near-stranger needs to know.

With all this in mind, here is my spin on the Christmas newsletter. Horsey, of course. And entirely untrue. For the most part.

Dear Family and Friends:

Well, another year is nearly over here at Pipe Dream Ranch and it's time to check in with those we love. Right now I'm not feeling much love for Stewart. Even though he is my husband, sometimes I envision him as a Thoroughbred. I'd like to run him in a cheap race in hopes that someone would claim him. Every morning it's the same: we get in an argument over which is the better method to clean the stalls. I say you shovel manure first, pick up the mucky shavings last. He does it the other way around. Does he not understand that there must be a consistent method to manure management?

Meanwhile, our fantastic stud colt Zipalenasparkabarspot ("Sparky") is growing into the horse of our dreams. We can't wait to stand him at stud! Of course, we'll have to be able to catch him first. Boy, he can really race around the pasture when he wants to avoid being haltered! We've tried luring him with a carrot, and that worked for a while, but then he started grabbing our fingers with his teeth. That was how Stewart lost half his index finger last March. I can't blame Sparky, though. Stewart has that sort of ruddy complexion, you know, so I'm sure Sparky just thought his finger was a carrot. On the bright side, now we know our health insurance covers pretty much about everything.

Meanwhile, our little Cassandra is blossoming into an incredible rider. Her trainer, Hans, says she is-- and I quote-- "the most gifted natural equestrian I've ever seen." And that's some praise, considering that Hans was a groom and chief blanket washer for Millie something-or-other who once rode on an Olympic team in the late 1970's. According to Hans, Cassandra can do it all: barrel racing, reining, dressage, show jumping, hunters, calf roping... and she's only 6! Now you can see why we chose Hans to be Cassandra's riding instructor. He recognizes our daughter's true talents, unlike the dozen or so other instructors we'd hired in the past. It's no wonder Hans is so expensive. He has true insight, and that makes his salary worth the second mortgage we took out on our ranch. Why, Hans even thinks that by next year Cassandra will be riding Sparky in the all-around events. Of course, we'll have to catch and break Sparky first, but I'm sure our little Cassandra can do that with the help of Hans and a collection of horse handling DVDs we bought at this year's horse expo. Cassandra is, after all, a talented young horsewoman!

Other than our adulation of Cassandra, our devotion to Sparky and our occasional disdain for each other, Stewart and I have had a fairly uneventful year. Well, that's if you discount the feud we're having with our neighbors. They're threatening us with a lawsuit. Seems they're not too happy that Sparky jumped the pasture fence and impregnated their pet donkey. I told them, "That'll be one fancy mule, what are you worried about?" Some people, right? Frankly, I wish they'd tossed a rope around Sparky while he was mesmerized with their donkey. I mean, that would've been nice, but we weren't so lucky. On the other hand, we were lucky that the city didn't sue us when I accidentally caused a flood. See, I was hauling our six-horse slant load with our mini-truck, chatting with Hans on my cell phone (he needed some cash to rent cattle for Cassandra's cutting lesson), and I cranked the steering wheel too tightly as I made the turn off of Main Street. Wouldn't you know it, the back end of the rig jumped the curb and clipped the side of a fire hydrant. Wow, did that water gush like a geyser! I managed to get away with only a handful of tickets for some minor violations and a windy lecture about how I shouldn't be hauling such a trailer with a light duty truck. I told the officer, "Look, as soon as I rake in some stud fees from Sparky, I'll gladly buy myself a dually." I then asked the fine officer if he had any experience in wrangling wild stud colts, but he just looked at me funny, so I dropped that conversation for fear I'd end up with more tickets.

So that's pretty much it for 2007. Hope your year went well, too!

~ Merry Christmas from All of us at Pipe Dream Ranch

Friday, December 21, 2007

Horse Hair: It Tastes Just Like Chicken

Yesterday Lexi and Wally got body shaved. I elected not to do the deed this year as my arm has been bothering me a lot lately (the after effects of an old jumping accident) and hefting an industrial-sized pair of horse clippers for 2 hours didn't seem like a good idea. Plus, what's money for if not to fritter away on our horses? So I hired Casey Warren, a local professional groomer, to do the clipping chores. Besides, she's much more experienced at it than me, which translates into her also being much faster. I tend to body shave as if I'm mowing a lawn. I lead the clippers back and forth in monotonous pathways while Casey zips along furiously. The whole horse is stripped of its winter woolies before it has a chance to decide if it enjoys going to the hairdresser. Or not.

Wally thought the whole procedure was a mildly sensuous massage. He craned his neck forward, stretched his lips and went, "Ah!"

Lexi, on the other hand, most certainly figured we were torturing her. She never did anything bad, she was just wiggly and squiggly. Her exclamations were more like, "Ooh, ick, noooo!"

Meanwhile, I got a real taste for Casey's job. Literally. Even though I was merely holding the lead rope of both horses, I ended up with horse hair in my eyes, in my ears, wedged into the seams of my parka and stuck to the chapstick on my lips. It's no wonder Casey wears a disposable paper mask while clipping. She doesn't want to inhale the stuff.

The end result was worth the discomfort, however, as now both of my horses dry quickly after a workout and that makes grooming in the winter time so much easier. The down side? This means I have to blanket Wally and Lexi every night. If it's windy, dark or feeding time, that chore is akin to putting clothes on an eel.

Have any comments you'd like to share? Just click on "comments" below!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The 7 Days of Christmas

Well, like most horse people my schedule is way, way off. Multiple trips to the mall or the tack store to buy presents has interrupted my almost ritualistic existence of feed, muck, groom, ride, bathe, groom, muck, feed. So you'll have to forgive me for not offering my rendition of The 12 Days of Christmas. Instead, you're getting the shortened version. The final chorus would be this:

On the 7th day of Christmas Santa sent to me:
7 muckers mucking
6 mares a' neighing
5 silver conchos!
4 hauling carts
3 clean pens
2 woolen gloves
... And a pony in a pipe corral!

Now I'm off to finish shopping. *sigh*

Monday, December 17, 2007

Christmas: It's a Black Eye Affair

Our annual family Christmas party is coming up this weekend, and it's sure to be a doozy. I believe the last head count for the number of people attending was at 52. That's some potluck and gift exchange, huh? Something tells me we'll be unwrapping gifts until dawn. And even though it's not being held at my house or my parents' place-- both of which are horse property-- horses will, no doubt, be part of the conversation. Why? Well, a short time ago I recounted how I took a tumble off my mare, Lexi, and ended up with a black eye and a hideous scrape on the side of my face. If you missed that glorious episode, it's right here:

And Then I Fell Off

I thought I was pretty much healed until yesterday. So much so that I decided I didn't need to coat my face with concealing face powder (L'Oreal Warm Beige seems to conceal bruises best, for those of you keeping tabs for future reference). Then I stopped by the tack store and the clerk says to me, "Wow, how did you get that shiner?"


Not to be outdone, my sister is now sporting two black eyes. And yes, it's due to an encounter with a horse.

Apparently Jill was holding her Thoroughbred, Topper, for the farrier. Being a mouthy, antsy-pantsy ex-racehorse, Topper was chewing on his leadrope and flapping his lips to express his boredom with the whole shoeing scenario. Exasperated, Jill yanked on Topper's lead rope. He over-reacted (guilty conscience, no doubt) and flipped his head up and back, thereby whacking Jill in the forehead with the lead rope's heavy brass snap. Two days later and trust me, she looks like a raccoon. Or a panda. It's quite dramatic. As her husband described it, "She has an interesting sort of Goth look going on."

Of course, I see it as some sort of wicked instance of seasonal sibling rivalry. To put it in the parlance of poker, it's like my sister telling me, "I'll meet your scabbed cheek and shiner and raise you two black eyes."

This is going to surpass another Christmas, about a dozen years ago, when my sister, our mother and I each had an arm in a sling thanks to tumbles off of horses. That elicited quite a bit of talk around the buffet table at the family party: Us and our crazy horses. This year won't be any different. Maybe my sister can wear her sunglasses inside and I can cake on the L'Oreal.

I'd love to hear any tales you'd like to share. Just click on "comments" below or email me at

Friday, December 14, 2007

The Vet as a Calming Influence

I've been through a succession of horse vets. That's not because of malpractice issues, personality conflicts or professional flakiness. It's mostly because either the vets move their practice to another area or I move my horses to another area. The only drama involved in my relationship with equine vets is our bidding farewell. That's not to say that there haven't been some tragic moments in veterinary care with my horses or those of my family. But those were due to Fate. Nature takes her course, sometimes, whether we want her to or not. There is, alas, only so much a vet can do.

My horses' vet is named Jennifer. I like her as both an equine practitioner and also as just a plain ol' person. One of her most admirable qualities is that she's gung-ho about treating what ails a horse. There's no, "Take two Bute and call me in the morning," with Jennifer. That's fine by me, as I'm a proud member of the Neurotic Horse Owners Society. If my horse has a cough, I figure it's pneumonia. If it paws more than three times before rolling, in my mind it's got colic. Did it take a couple of short steps in a tight circle? Get out the x-ray machine because it's got to be navicular!

Though Jennifer is thorough, she is not tightly wound. She's meticulous in her examinations and provides me with a detailed diagnosis, but she never allows herself to join me in my Dance of Doom and Gloom. Sometimes, in fact, it seems as if she's treating me as much as she's treating my horse. A horse owner herself, she's very sympathetic to how attached I am to my horses, so I rarely feel embarrassed about the way I pester her with questions or seek reassurance that everything will be okay... over and over again.

What's the most endearing quality about your horse's vet? What makes him or her extra special? You can take Horse Channel's poll here:
Very Best Vet Poll

My only criticism of the poll is that I'm not allowed to vote for a quality like, "My vet also functions also as my psychoanalyst." Maybe that characteristic will be included in the next poll.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Santa Claus is Coming to Horse Town

Look closely at this photo. See the picture in the brown frame on the wall? That's a photograph taken years ago of my mother's prized Trakehner mare. It's not often that you have the traditional Santa with Children snapshot moment with horsey images in the background, yet it's pretty much standard in our family, especially when the annual Christmas party/reunion is held at my parents' small ranch (fondly referred to as El Ranchito).

Oh. And that's my husband underneath all that Santa garb. Santa was apparently busy that evening and required a stand-in.

While I'm not sure if Santa will be making a personal visit this year to either El Ranchito or my house, I do know that some of my relatives will be visiting. I have a huge extended family with lots of cousins and nieces and nephews. Truly, I consider it a blessing to have so many relatives whom I also consider friends. I think it's sad that large, close-knit families are a rarity these days. When we all converge under one roof it's quite a soiree. There's lots of great food and lots of laughing. Unfortunately, when the shindigs are held at El Ranchito or at my house, we also have to dance around the sticky situation of whether or not the aforementioned cousins, nieces and nephews get to hop on one of our horses for a holiday photo op.

It's not that I don't want anyone riding Wally or Lexi. But remember, I just took a tumble off Lexi last week. Putting Cousin Tammy-- who last rode a horse while vacationing in Mazatlan two years ago-- on Lexi just doesn't seem like a wise idea. And Wally, while considerably more predictable than Lexi, is incredibly mouthy in that obnoxious stud colt sort of way. Even though he was gelded several years ago, he still has an oral fixation that may or may not at any given time include an obsession with clothing. The last thing I need is for Wally to be overcome with his Fabric Fetish, grab for my Auntie Thelma's sleeve and inadvertently inhale her arm.

"Hey, Santa, did you bring me any band-aids in your bag of gifts?"

So while I welcome my relatives to Horse Town at Christmastime, I've decided to make the four-legged critters off limits. After all, I'm sure that Santa doesn't allow his elves to take Donder and Blixen for a bareback spin around the North Pole.

Do you have any thoughts or comments on this topic? Let me know by clicking on "comments" below!

Sunday, December 9, 2007

The Dance of the Sugar Cube Fairy

Well, I attended the Nutcracker ballet performance last night. In perhaps what might be described as a minor Christmas miracle, the scab on my face decided to slough off, making me look less Halloweenish and more festive.

And don't go, "Eeewwww!"about me writing about the scab sloughing off. Come on. We're horse people. We deal with oozing abcesses and sheath cleaning. What's a scab on a face, right?

At any rate, losing the scab left me to deal with only a slightly swollen cheek and a black eye. And most of the bruising is on my upper eyelid, so I just added a swath of deep gray eye shadow to the lid of the other eye and I looked fine. Or I looked like Catwoman. But nonetheless I wasn't embarrassed to attend the Nutcracker.

In fact, while I sat in the audience, I kept imagining what a horsey version of the famed yuletide ballet would be like. For example, instead of a magical nutcracker, dear Clara would instead be given a magical leather punch. (You know, something truly useful around the barn). And then, when she's transported to the Land of the Sweets, it would instead be the Land of the Treats. You can imagine the tutus and costumes for that! The entire second act would revolve around ballerinas twirkling and toe-dancing dressed as carrots, apple-flavored biscuits and Oat Munchies.

I also had this vision where the dancers were clomping around on stage in muckboots and lace-up ropers, but I kept that to myself. If I'd shared that idea with my husband he might've thought I'd landed on my head harder than previously thought.

By the way... I really enjoy reading all of your comments. Some of you have had some grand adventures! You can share comments by clicking on "comments" below OR emailing me at:

Friday, December 7, 2007

And Then I Fell Off

Sometimes, when you get dumped by your horse you know it's coming. Everything seems to proceed in slow motion-- although it's really happening in microseconds-- and you have the eerie presence of mind to say to yourself, "Uh-oh. I'm coming out of the saddle. Hmmm.... Let me see. How best can I eject myself?"

Then there are the times when suddenly blam! You're on the ground, eating dirt. That's what happened to me two days ago while I was riding Lexi. But much like my mare, let me back up first.

Just the day before I had gone on a very pleasant 2-hour trail ride with Natalie, a gal I've come to know who lives a few streets over. Though she owns a pretty palomino and a pair of handsome grullas, she spent many years riding hunters and dressage, so we have a lot to talk about as we cruise the trails in our western tack. One thing she told me on our ride was how she feels that she knows her three horses well and therefore how to handle them when something scares them on the trail. And believe me, there are plenty of scary things along the neighborhood streets in our horsey town.

"I figure that at my age (30-something) and with my experience, I don't have anything to prove to anyone," she said. "So even though some people in town will try to tell you to never get off your horse and lead it past a scary object, sometimes that's exactly what I do. I assume the role of herd leader. I show my horse that there's nothing to be frightened of. I lead them up to whatever's bothering them, we investigate it a little. Then I get back on and we ride past it a few times and it's over with."

Made sense to me and I agreed with her. We both concurred that there's also a difference between a horse that's genuinely scared and one that says, "Ya' know, I've considered what you're asking me to do. And my response is that I prefer to NOT go past that object. Period. So there."

Now skip forward to my unplanned dismount the following day.

I was riding to the arena a few doors down from my house. The trail that accesses the arena winds between two houses and along a dry wash. Lexi turned up the trail (the same trail we've ridden on approximately 78 times since March) and stopped. She began to back up. Her head went up, her ears pricked forward. She was seeing dead people. I clucked to her. I nudged her with my spur. Nicely, mind you, but firmly. She bucked and whirled to the left. I turned her back to the right and settled her, patting her neck.

"What's the problem?" I asked her. Really. I literally asked my horse what was bugging her, because I saw nothing out of the ordinary.

So I kissed to her again and... then I fell off.

How or why I do not know. But I was face first in the hard-packed, decomposed granite trail. Immediately I ran my tongue over my front teeth, because I have already exceeded my lifetime warranty on front tooth repair due to equine calamities. But my teeth were fine. My head was fine, too, because I was wearing my helmet. But my right cheek bone had landed against the earth in a classic Face Plant. It burned and when I reached to touch it, there was blood. Everywhere.

I stood up and looked at Lexi. She had the most innocent expression on her face, as if to ask, "Why did you get off?"

It was then that I recalled quite plainly Natalie's advice and our entire discussion about not having any qualms about making the safer choice to dismount and LEAD our horses past scary objects. So I picked up my reins and led Lexi the 20 yards to the arena, knocking dirt off my shirt and spitting out grit with each step. I paused once to allow her to investigate her environment. She seemed to gaze into the adjacent backyard, snorted softly, then sighed and relaxed. It was as if she was saying, "Well, huh. What do ya' know? There wasn't anything scary there, after all."

Being the determined person that I am, I climbed back on and rode Lexi in the arena as planned, although I had to ignore the dirt in my mouth, the coagulating blood on my face and hematoma forming on my kneecap.

I feel fine now, but I'm sporting a lovely black eye and a rather hideous mark on my cheek. It resembles either flesh-eating bacteria or a bad burn. Take your pick of visual images. (There will not be photos). With every passing hour my husband inspects it, hoping it will heal miraculously in time for me to look festive when we go to a performance of The Nutcracker Saturday night.

All of this could have been avoided if only I'd listened to what Natalie had said, and what I had agreed to. Trust me, next time Lexi's body language tells me that she's really, really, really, really scared of something on the trail I'm hopping off, demonstrating to her that she has nothing to fear, and then remounting and riding past it. I have nothing to prove to anyone.... other than I'd prefer to look like a sugarplum fairy, not a female prize fighter.

Have any trail riding war stories that have left you black and blue? Share them by clicking on "comments" below!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Games Horses Play

There's a certain rowdy rambunctiousness that's overcome my two horses. I think it's the winter weather. Or maybe it's the upcoming holidays. Maybe they know Christmas and New Years are just around the corner and they're ready to celebrate. But at any rate, they seem to be in festive moods and they're incredibly frisky. That has led them to begin playing some annual Holiday Horse Games. See if you recognize any of these activities:

* Trimming the Christmas Pepper Tree: In this game, my horses stretch their necks until they are doing their best impersonation of a giraffe while tied to the hitching post. If they extend their lips just far enough they are now able to nibble on the pepper tree I planted at the back of my tackroom. Soon it will be my own stick-and-twigs version of a Charlie Brown Christmas tree.

* The Yuletide Shoe Toss: Without revealing my monthly horse budget, let's just say that I spent more money on Wally's shoes last week than I plan on spending on my sister's Christmas present. (I hope she's not reading this). That's why he's wearing pull-on bell boots for the remainder of December. Each shoe is worth its weight in... Oh, I don't know, its weight in gourmet Godiva chocolates. Which, by the way, make an excellent last minute gift. But I digress. Much as Wally would like to pull off one of his designer shoes, I shan't allow it.

* Holly Holey Blanket Chew-Off: Both of my horses are being body shaved next week and it's actually getting down into the 30s and 40s at night. So shortly they're going to be switching from wearing simple sheets at night to donning heavy-duty blankets. If I care so much about their welfare to put snuggly, cozy pajamas on them at night, why do they care so little? Horse blankets are not chew toys. And yet, I'm already prepared to find slobber spots and nibble marks on them. I hope the blankets make it through the winter... or at least until their coats grow out.

*Jingle Bell Gate Rattle: Ah, is there nothing merrier than hearing a compulsive horse fiddle with its gate snap throughout the night? Such melodious clanging fills the frosty night air with... Frankly, I don't care! Just please, Santa, make it stop!

Maybe I need to steep some hot apple cider, sit down and sip slowly. That'll make me enjoy the winterfest activities of my horses. After all, they seem to be having fun.

Want to share a comment? Click on "comments" below. I love to read what you write!

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Somethin' Cookin' in the Kitchen

My constant complaining about a lack of rain must've worked. Somehow. Because Friday and Saturday it poured for hours. Fortunately we have several drains set in our ground out back, so the footing and paddocks are fine. The neighborhood horse trail that runs along the front of our house? Not so much. It began to resemble a mini-Grand Canyon by sunrise. That's now fixed, though, too, because my husband is nothing if not a one man construction crew.

When it rains, and I'm stuck inside, I tend to cook. And with this being the holiday season, I began to reconsider my past experiences with concocting homemade pet treats. They make clever, homestyle gifts for animal-loving friends and families. Allegedly. I always seem to have a success rate of about 50%. Half of my homemade animal goodies end up being "do overs." But then, that's about the same success rate I have with human cookies. Only a few end up being fit for public display or consumption.

One year I tried to make "healthy" doggie treats for everyone I knew who had barn dogs. I remember hunting down organic flour from a health food store and a special brand of (human) baby food that was, more or less, minimally processed strained calve's liver. Mmmmmmm!

You can imagine how scrumptious my kitchen smelled for days. Not even industrial strength Christmas candles labeled "Balsam Fir" or "Peppermint Snowstorm" could alleviate the odor of whole grain flour baked with liver-flavored baby food.

They stunk. They were ugly beige colored lumps that fought being disguised by my colorful attempts at gift wrapping. But the barn dogs did eat them.

That escapade has left me a little circumspect about making horse treats for my barn friends this year. However, these recipes found on Horse Channel seem foolproof, though I would strongly suggest laying down wax paper across your kitchen counter tops before beginning the process:
Make a Mess, Make Horse Treats

Of course, that's part of the fun of making homemade goodies, whether they're for horses, humans or canines: getting your hands--and most of your kitchen utensils-- dirty.

So let me conclude by saying that if the weather continues to be unpredictable, and I'm therefore prevented from riding, I may just be forced to resort to whipping up some homemade animal treats for gift giving. Secure your spatulas now. And plug your noses.

If you have any comments-- horse treat related or otherwise-- feel free to relate them by clicking on "comments" below.