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It’s Not Love

There was the one with the sparkles.

Her sister’s pick had wow but was way too bold.

The tool and organza made her look like a princess!

Perfect, if she were a three year old.

The consultant pulled a few,

But none quite made the cut.

Her mother-in-law’s choice was God-awful.

She would have chosen anything but.

Maybe I won’t find  it today, she thought.

What a relief; She lets out a sigh.

But wait. The one her mother chose.

“I love it,” she thinks, and begins to cry.

Now, if only, she had the right guy.

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The Hollow

Dazey and drunk like I’ve taken a pill,

I’m looking for reason, solace is sought.

Memories can numb and leave someone ill.

 

My soul begs renewal, some kind of thrill,

But my interests wane, feelings distraught,

Dazey and drunk like I’ve taken a pill.

 

Silence is precious, but lately there’s nil.

There’s peace of mind one wishes could be bought,

Memories can numb and leave someone ill.

 

A cardinal comes to perch on my sill.

His song has meaning revealed to me naught.

Dazey and drunk like I’ve taken a pill.

 

I wait for the day my hollow will fill.

There’s a lurking emptiness which I’ve fought.

Memories can numb and leave someone ill.

 

Crisp autumn air fills my lungs full, but still,

There is no way to shift my racing thought.

Dazey and drunk like I’ve taken a pill,

Memories can numb and leave someone ill.

We Are Not Beasts of Burden

I am completely obsessed with my best friend’s horse Hailey. She is an “off the track” Thoroughbred, so she can really be difficult to ride sometimes (which makes her fun) and is the sweetest thing on the ground. She’s a hard worker and wants to do well, for Jacob her owner especially. They were among the top scorers last year for the jumper division on Long Island, which was pretty amazing. So, it was a little strange this weekend at a horse show when she literally stopped directly before the first jump of her course and then proceeded to leap over it. A lot of people’s first jumps are what you call sticky, so it would have been shrugged off, but she did it again before the second jump, and then again at jumps 1 and 2 for her next two courses. Our trainer checked out her legs, another trainer checked out her legs, I checked out her legs; she was fine physically, but something was up.

I am not GOING anywhere, so stop hanging on my face.

 Jacob has a tendency to really pull the reins when Hailey’s jumping. He is a fantastic rider, but everyone has flaws and that’s his. Particularly when you’re asking your horse off the ground, she is going to want to move her head. It’s pretty counterproductive to hold her back when you want her to go forward. She takes what we call a victory lap around the ring whenever she finishes a course, and I think it’s because she’s so happy he’s let go. I ride Hailey when Jacob goes away and I always try to let go of her, because that’s what she likes. Yea, it’s a little scary sometimes because she was trained to run, but I have to trust her. She is there to work for me, but I am there to work for her as well. That’s something that riders sometimes overlook, which is frustrating to watch.

You’re pulling hard. It’s hard, really hard. Please don’t pull as much. …I said please. Ok, you know what?

I don’t think her behavior was rotten or dirty in any way. Hailey’s been telling Jacob, subtly, that he’s been holding her a little too much. There’s this whole image of horses being “beasts of burden”, but there has to be some sort of exchange where the horse benefits. Many horses truly love their owners and their jobs (I know this because I have met several who have gone into “depression” from retirement). This does not mean, however, that everything they do is catered around their rider. It’s a partnership, even a relationship, and it demands communication and understanding. Horses very often tell you what they are feeling and planning. There are almost always signs. Hailey was acting fine the whole morning but she had been backing off from jumps at home. A lot of people were upset with her, but was it really her fault?

Horse Shows Can Be Fun…

I think I need to apologize. After our class on Wednesday, and reading more of everyone’s blogs, I think that I haven’t been giving as much of myself as what some others in the class are.  For that I feel guilty. For the past two weeks I have told you about riding, but I don’t know if you understand what it actually means to me in my life. It’s something that I will never say “no” too. I will come to the barn whenever I am needed, and don’t get paid. I go to shows, which I do get paid for, but are the most physically draining thing I have ever done. It’s getting up at 5:30 and driving an hour to the show grounds and not sitting down until 3 in the afternoon. I won’t say that I always do this with a smile on my face, but I can have the most terrible day ever and still want to do it all again the next day. I think that telling you about an experience that I had over the summer will maybe help explain me better.

HITS is quite the equestrian experience. It stands for “Horse Shows In The Sun”. (I know, there’s an extra “S”. It annoys me too.) Anyway, it’s a series of shows that takes place on several sites around the country. The one closest to us is upstate in Saugerties, NY. There are about 5 different weeks of this show scattered over the summer, and this year I was invited to come and work for my trainer taking care of the horses. It would be my first time ever going, and I instantly said yes. Why wouldn’t I want to spend five days at a show? To me it’s exciting. I love seeing my friends show and watching the professional riders who attend those sorts of things. I was literally ecstatic. It all started with a drive up there starting at 4 am, so that we could make it for one of the kids’ first classes. The grounds were huge, not to mention gorgeous, and everyone was travelling around on golf carts. There were lakes and we were surrounded by woods and the air smelled so fresh and clean. Our horses stayed in a barn on the edge of the property, farthest away from the rings, but that meant that they didn’t have to deal with a lot of noise or business so I was content with that. The barn was gigantic and smelled like cedar. I loved it when the wind blew because the scent carried and became stronger. One of my friends also came to work with me, and I was excited that we had a mini horse vacation together.

I am not a show kid. I want to make that clear. It’s extremely expensive and something that I rarely partake in as a rider. The rest of the kids at my barn however, who range in age from 9 to 19, show at least once a week from March to November. They’re lucky but sometimes they take it for granted. It wasn’t until this show that I truly realized it. All of a sudden, little girls who are 13 years old and are so sweet at home and local shows became demanding and spoiled rotten. They didn’t take care of their horses, and they didn’t take care of any of their things, simply because they were at a fancier show now and I was a “groom” who was going to handle all of that. And the thing that bothered me was that if they actually asked me to do things for them I would have been fine. I just felt really abused to be honest, so I just made sure I was really involved with the horses and keeping them comfortable during the heat wave that happened to hit that week.  My trainer did nothing to help me out, either because she didn’t notice, or she thought it was acceptable. Well guess what, it’s not. I called home crying. I feel like such a loser for admitting that but I have never been treated that way in my entire life.

I spoke to my sister for a while about what was going on, and she offered to drive the 3 hours to come get me, but I didn’t want to leave my friend working with no one to help. And I just love those horses so much. It made me understand finally the kind of barn I really want to have when I become a trainer. I had been on the fence for a while about whether I wanted to have a show barn, which would definitely make me more money, or if I would just do therapy. I realized that I did not want students who behave like that, because believe me, every other kid at HITS from every other barn acts that way towards their grooms, at home as well. My kids won’t do that. They will appreciate everything their horses and the people who take care of their horses do. I want happy kids, and happy and healthy horses. This sounds so naïve stating that, but I really want to help people. And I know horses can heal them.

I got slightly off track with that morality lesson, I guess I’ll call it, but basically I had a miserable time at that show. Despite that, I’d still go tomorrow just because I’d get to spend every day in a barn wearing riding pants and Hunter boots. Did I mention this coming summer that we might be going to the two week series? Oh, yea. I’m excited. This time I’m demanding a day off.

Founder and Foundations

Founder is one of the worst things that can happen to a horse, due to the fact it occurs in their hooves, which is arguably the most important part of a horse. The bone within the hoof breaks down and sometimes rotates or detaches itself and it sinks towards the sole of their hoof. “Founder” is actually a nautical term for “to sink”. Laminitis, on the other hand, is when the tissue between the bone and the hoof wall becomes inflamed. This is not founder, but it can lead to founder if not dealt with immediately. I apologize for the biology lesson, but I felt it was needed for my following post.

***

I was not surprised to pull up the drive and see that the vet’s truck was parked. Our horses are all on different check up schedules, so I assumed he was making one of his routine calls. I walked into the barn and found Marky on cross ties getting his shoes pulled off by Dr. Roth. One of the trainers was standing by holding his head. Marky rips his foot away.

That hurts.

Marky is this adorable, somewhat fat, little pony. He reminds me of a giant hamster. He belongs to a 9-year-old girl who loves him more than anything. “What’s wrong?” I ask. “Laminitis,” says the girl’s mother, who just walked in with several bags of ice. “You can put those outside,” says the trainer, as she walks to his paddock and proceeds to dig a whole, and fill it with the ice. The vet says he must stand in this, for as often as we can get him too, until his condition improves.

There is no way you are getting me in there.

We tie up hay and a bucket of water for him near the hole so that he does not have to move, but he does anyway. Dr. Roth tries in his own way to comfort the little girl’s mother. According to him, “there are only two types of ponies. Those who have foundered, and those who are going to founder.” This sentiment doesn’t seem to help. How is she going to tell her daughter? But Marky hasn’t foundered yet, and we are going to try to keep it that way.

My feet hurt. Why are they pushing me into this hole? I don’t like that cold stuff, it stings my legs. I won’t stand here, I won’t. I’m hungry too and they won’t give me anything except for this wet hay. Everyone else is eating. I wish they would leave me alone. OUCH. Why does that man always have to stick me?

Marky wouldn’t stand in the ice, so Dr. Roth gave him a mild tranquilizer. It will wear off in a bit and really was just to get him to acclimate to the situation. Poor pony. I hope he understands that we aren’t doing this to be mean. He settles down a little. The girl’s mother brings a chair and takes up her post to sit with him while he gets iced.

I don’t know why she is here. Where’s my kid? She feeds me. Hopefully she will be here soon.

The girl’s mother made sure that he was stocked with ice before leaving him later on. When I left for the night I figured that he would be content. His two favorite things are standing still and eating, so once he got used to the hay he would be very happy. The vet didn’t x-ray him so I took that as an optimistic indication of what he was thinking. I am nervous about this, because it is difficult to fix. He understands that he’s in pain, and on some level that everyone is trying to help him, but what is being done to him is rather strange. I am hoping for the best though. Night, Marky.

This isn’t so bad. My feet feel better. It’s a little weird, but maybe it will help.

From the Horse’s Mouth: Adventures in Creative Riding

My name is Rachel, and I am a student at Queens College. I was very anxious when I was attempting to come up with a topic for my blog. The only thing that I could think of that I would have constantly available to write about is the barn that I work and ride at. After thinking about it further, I decided that I would write each post in the point of view of one of the horses. Seeing things through their eyes is much more interesting, I think. I have been riding for most of my life and it is something that I have always immersed myself in. Horses are the most amazing creatures. Each of them has a different, distinct personality with moods and emotions, just like humans. Not only that, but they are incredibly perceptive to the people around them, and often feed off of the energy and feelings that they are sensing. They have an incredible amount of empathy and understanding, which I think many people may not realize. This first post is about one of our ponies, Roger, and his day at the Hampton Classic.

They took me away to compete. It was one of those big shows that the humans get nervous and excited for. I’m used to it, though. This is my job and I am a professional. I must be “perfect” like they all tell me. My little girl and I had a few different classes, and we ended up placing in all of them. We are a pretty good match, she and I. We prepared for something special called The Test. Who knows what gets judged, but the big voice said my name at the end and all the humans called me “perfect”. I must have won, but I didn’t care. The girl’s mother hung a shiny ribbon on my headpiece, and told us both to pose. I wasn’t paying any attention, so the humans threw grass at me while I pretended to be interested. I just wanted to get the flashes over with. I was bored and so I was trying to bite everyone around me which they of course got mad at me for, but I was “perfect” in the ring and that is all that I needed to be. My girl left me after handing me off to the brush lady. It made me sad but it also meant that I could go back to my room and rest. On the way back we ran into some humans that I didn’t know. There were some very tiny ones with them. I haven’t seen many of them, and I find them fascinating. They asked to pet me and the brush lady gave me a look and I understood that I must be still. One of the tiny ones put her hands on my face. I looked back at her and hoped that she thought I was “perfect”. She smiled. The brush lady told them how well I did and they all praised me. We left them so I could go home. I had never felt so sad to leave someone. I thought of how the tiny one saw me as “perfect” before she knew how well I performed. She looked like she loved me, even with never having met me. I dreamt of her that night, and how I will always be “perfect” to her.

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