Work Friends

I have made many long-lasting friendships at work over the years.  Work gives you many opportunities to be together over the course of the many hours spent in the office.  I have also found that on the surface, some friendships are quite odd.  As in, not the two people you would necessarily  pair together.

At my last job, I had hired a friend to work in my department. We actually stayed friends and our friendship deepened as we shared our long commute each day.

Also, from my last job, I have tried hard to stay abreast of the activities of another one of my friends.  We don’t speak often, as we did each day walking to breakfast and eating lunch often,  but we talk on Facebook, a lot.  We continue to support each other in issues with our mom’s and our kids.

When I started my latest job, almost three years ago I knew one person in the huge organization I had joined.  The person I knew was my friend, had been for years,  so it was great to drop by her office and be able to talk about horses, kids or anything else that came to mind.  Due to political work issues, we did not often get out to lunch or anywhere else.

My other great friendship, rose from the two of us working together on a project, and then on more projects.  This friend is the age of my daughter, has two young children, has never been interested in horses, and is several inches taller than I. We make a strange couple, one of us older, greyer, rounder and stouter and one being the opposite .

Over the last couple years, we have become fast friends.  We go to breakfast each morning (clearly to be my friend, you must want/need to eat frequently), walk the long corridors for exercise and head out to lunch (food, again!) a couple of times a week. We share stories of our kids or grand kids.  I feel my strong pro-breast feeding stance ( driven by my own experiences, that of my Internationally Certified Lactation Consultant daughter and the long-term positive experiences that my other daughter had ) pushed and motivated my friend to breast feed her second baby.  I have cheered on her baby feeding success as strongly as she has supported my tiring, but rewarding lifestyle with work and maintaining my little ranch.

We have offset each other in work situations as well. I may have over 30 years work experience, but I came into a brand new industry.  My friend has helped me understand the culture, the processes and any new computer thing.  I feel I have helped her in successfully working through employee counseling problems, suggested ways to navigate new business waters and been able to give some good management tips.

Now, my two best work friends will be moving on to new jobs, one at a building not too far away, but certainly too far for easy, casual drop-ins to each other’s offices. My young friend is moving up and out, to one of our locations out-of-state.  I will be left behind to eat alone, walk alone and quietly look at horse pictures by myself.

It will be a big change and not a welcome one for me.  I will make some new friends and continue to IM and email my old friends.  I guess this gives me an opportunity reach out past my current comfort zone.  I had no desire to work on new friendships.  I had great friends.  It will be time soon to make new ones.

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Signing off tonight from a very cold and icy south Texas.  Lauren heads out for an “A” show with Feather tomorrow.  I wish them great rides-especially the most important one-driving the trailer in nasty weather.

Thanks for riding along!

Fate

Lauren holding Feather's fourth place award for points in Pre-Green hunter.

Lauren holding Feather’s fourth place award for points in Pre-Green hunter.

Last night Lauren and I returned to the Greater Houston Hunter Jumper Association (GHHJA) banquet after a years absence.  The annual banquet celebrates and awards the riders, in each division, as they accumulate points based upon placings at each show.  Some divisions are very competitive with hundreds of points being earned by top riders.

Two years ago, Lauren with her horse, Mickey, won the Open Jumper division, the highest height division in GHHJA.  It was a time in our life when we were pretty happy with our little bay horse.  Although, Lauren was taking regular falls off Mickey as he would randomly decide not to jump jumps, we really hadn’t thought of another plan.  Dev had been kind enough not to suggest that Mickey was getting a little unreliable at the higher heights.  Problem was, when Mickey was on, he was intoxicating to watch and ride.  He powered swiftly and precisely through a course of jumps in a rapid fire succession.   And he brought home the blue ribbons- when he didn’t throw Lauren into a jump.

So, we were not looking for a horse to replace Mickey when Dee’s notice to sell her Flagmount’s baby came to our attention.   I immediately said, “I will buy her!”  Uncharacteristically, acting on a split second decision.  I remember talking about her and showing her pictures at the banquet two years ago.

Feather as she looked two years ago.  Dev's dad said "maybe she will grow into that head."

Feather as she looked two years ago. Dev’s dad said “maybe she will grow into that head.”

Honestly, no one was too excited except Lauren, I and our Florida benefactors.   But fate is a funny thing, we did not know Mickey would get horribly sick or that a giant black Jump Start colt would come into our lives.   We were excited about Feather but have had our rough spells.

But from this season’s start at Pine Hill in February when the mare went reserve champ in the Pre-greens, we knew we had something.  Of course, that was the same day I hooked her beautiful ribbon to her bridle, and she freaked out dragging Lauren backwards through the arena at a trot ( I didn’t know horses could even trot backwards!).

We moved on from the hunter ring, when Dev was convinced Lauren would be able to respect the jumper ring and keep letting the mare learn her job. Lauren and Feather moved on through ALL the jumper divisions, earning ribbons in each one.

Sometimes as a parent, you don’t see the progress being made day by day  by your own daughter in the ring behind your house.  It took a friend to point it out to me, that Lauren and Feather did this on their own.  Meaning absolutely no disrespect to trainer Dev, who guided them along their way, but day after day, in the heat or the cold, they worked to get better and more confident together.  Some riders have trainers who show the horse in several classes and then the student takes over.

But each time Lauren and Feather entered the ring, to jumps of greater heights, it was Lauren coaxing the grey mare along.

Fate brought this horse to my daughter at the right time.  We hadn’t even dreamt of a horse of this caliber especially for the money that Lauren had saved, dollar by dollar, over the years.   You know how you remember some moments so vividly?  It all rushed back to me when we walked in the banquet last night.  A simple twist of fate brought Feather to us at the right time for us to be prepared to meet the challenges she would bring us and reap the rewards she was destined to bestow upon us.   Two years have brought us so far.

I am grateful for many things. Thank you for taking this journey with us!

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The Freeze is on!

As I look through my mesh wire fence, I see the intricate web of ice glistening off the wire.  Temperatures dropped below freezing last night not long after sundown.  We did our new routine, drain the pipes, and shut off the water well.  We were not taking any chances on broken pipes.

My frozen trees twinkling in the early morning darkness.

My frozen trees twinkling in the early morning darkness.

I did a rushed prep of the horses and barn last night.  I got out of work a little late, while everyone else in Houston was getting out of the office a little early. The rain was continuing and the temperatures dropping rapidly.  Normal commute- a little over an hour, last night’s almost two.  I got to my mom’s to find her shivering, asleep in bed.  I tried to wake her but she would open her eyes, then fall immediately asleep again.   As I tidied up her room, I heard her breathing with difficulty.  Then deep coughs from her chest, punctured the quiet of the room.

Sounded like a bad cold, which had already gone to her lungs.  Then helper Janet arrived.  She would get some soup, juice and crackers and let momma have dinner in her room.

I left her with Janet and headed home to my new responsibilities.  Yesterday at Dev’s, Feather had sent Lauren flying through the air when she stopped short on a tall, skinny jump.  Lauren hit the ground hard.  When  she called me it was like a never-ending list of ailments.  “Momma, I think I tore my knee (you tore your knee, again, I thought.)  ” my ribs are broken.  My pelvis and back hurt. My neck feels like it has whiplash!”  All of this she bawling over the phone.  I got her talked down some.  If any of those things were true she would not a just loaded a horse and be in the truck headed for home.  At least I hoped not!

By yesterday morning she could barely turn her neck.  Off to the doctor she went.  She was x-rayed from stem to stern.  Doc said the X-rays looked good but she had swelling and soft tissue damage in her neck.  Then he asked to see her helmet.  Lauren rides in a GPA  helmet.  A GPA is over $500 but has a neck guard and can be replaced for a fraction of the price if damaged.

Based upon the swollen, traumatized areas of neck, the doctor told her that without the neck guard piece on this helmet it would have been likely Lauren’s neck would have broken!  Slipped past a bad one there, eh?

Anyway, point is, I still had to pick up some dinner, get home, feed, water horses and dogs, blanket each horse and try to stay warm as 50 + mph north winds whirled through the barn. Lauren was going to need to sit out the chores if there was any hope  of her making the show next week.   I was pretty tired and ready to get inside.

We had a winter storm watch on everyone’s lips and I went about unhooking hoses, emptying and clearing the hoses and house water lines.  It was COLD!

Electricity went off during the night as the winds pounded the power lines. My early morning feed today was  one of the coldest ever endured here in the banana belt of Texas.

Lauren  was still peacefully enjoying her drug induced sleep.  I was cold.  Schools and many businesses were closed today as the ill prepared for winter conditions highway department launched a mostly futile effort at melting the ice.

After noon, we ventured out to see a movie.  There were on a handful of people there. We saw the movie, August, Osage County.  It was quite good but had a lot of adult behaviors and the ‘F’ word said more times than I have ever heard in an hour and 55 minutes.  About a mother with her three daughters.  We are all dysfunctional in our families but hopefully we never get this bad.  Lauren is asleep again, knocked out by muscle relaxers and pain pills.

I am about to go out and throw hay to the horses as it will be another long, cold winter night, then a quick shower, drain the pipes and off to bed.  And then I’ll do it all again tomorrow.

Oh, and momma’s much better today!  Thanks for joining me on this cold winter night!  Be safe!

Genetics-A Bruno story

Bruno is the summer, a little lighter than his winter black coat.

Bruno in the summer, a little lighter than his winter black coat.

Jump Start, Bruno's daddy.

Jump Start, Bruno’s daddy.

I decided this weekend to search for Bruno’s relatives.  I found his sire (daddy) Jump Start still actively producing successful off-spring in Pennsylvania.  Jump Start by AP Indy has many race winning progeny on the tracks now.  I was not so interested in Bruno’s half brothers or sisters as I was in what Jump Start looked like and the pictures did not disappoint me.

Jump Start is 15 and never had to do much work after five starts on the track, and a fracture that ended his career.  We can rule-out that he ever lived in a metal, open-front barn in rural Texas.  So, I can give him that he has had superb care to produce his stunning coat and he has been a great breeding stallion.

Jump Start parading past his throngs of visitors.

Jump Start parading past his throngs of visitors.

We have had a lot of people (okay, maybe 12!) come have their picture taken with Bruno.  I would be frightened and call the police if I saw this pack of people lined up outside Bruno’s paddock.  Once, our neighbors grandkids from Spain came over to give Bruno carrots.  Similar lives.

I tried in vain to find out how tall Jump Start is but I couldn’t locate that data.  Maybe one of you has more investigative skills than I can find out and can let us know.  But unless the man above is a former NBA player turned groom (most of whom tend to be a little small in structure) I think Jump Start is probably just over 16 hands.  He clearly does not have the size his son Bruno does at 17.2+ hands, but that happens in families, kids getting taller and stronger than their fathers.

Looking at the two top pictures, Jump Start blessed Bruno with his strong shoulder and nice hip.  I have never owned a horse whose coat glistens like Bruno, but it looks like Jump Start sent those genes to Bruno as well. I swear I should get an endorsement deal from Nu Image supplement that we use for Bruno’s hoof and coat because never has a product worked as well as did for Bruno!  I know that helps some, but this coat is shared by both horses.

Bruno showing off his gleaming winter coat this weekend.

Bruno showing off his gleaming winter coat this weekend.

Personality seems to be apparent in Jump Start and we know that Bruno is the biggest ham, always playing to the camera and wanting to just hang out with any people who come to visit.

Jump Start looking brillant and attractive for the camera.

Jump Start looking brilliant and attractive for the camera.

Bruno waiting for his littlest fan, Kendyll.

Bruno waiting for his littlest fan, Kendyll.

I looked up some of the horses that Jump Start has sired. He has been a busy guy.  At stud a little over ten years, he has hundreds of children!  Bruno’s Jockey Club name is Fiddler’s Pilgrim, related I am sure to the Fiddler’s Green Stable that owned him and his pilgrim-like markings (black outfit, white socks-come on, you can visualize Bruno as a pilgrim, just give him a musket to hold).

In naming his other brothers and sisters, there were several that retained part of the Jump Start name.  Progeny includes Jump Two, Jumped the Harbor, Jump and Go, Jump Back and Jump Aboard.  When Lauren finally enters the arena to show Bruno in Jumpers wouldn’t one of these names better suit him?  Next in the ring  is Jump This ridden by Lauren Davis from Wharton,Texas!  It would be great.  Or Jump Prize or Jump Quick?  Those would be so appropriate.  However, my favorite name of one of the Jump Start kids is…wait for it… Start Jumping.  I could have really used that name for Bruno.  In fact, if I had a couple of expletives in front of it like Golly Gee Start Jumping or perhaps, For God’s Sake Start Jumping, I could have invented a whole line of new names over the last several months.  Bruno might have been reluctant to jump but he is doing so now.  Still…I would have loved that name.

Jump Start easing around the pasture.

Jump Start easing around the pasture.

Bruno looking me in the eye.

Bruno looking me in the eye.

It is fun to compare the big guy with his prolific father.  It is ironic they both ran five races and ended with injuries.  I guess I am just lucky they never decided Bruno should be a hot-shot stud like his dad.  I am guessing he would have never ended up in my little barn then.

As always, thanks for riding along with us and may God bless you.

Successful Goals

Kona leading the way, with Jo handling Snow all by herself.

Kona leading the way, with Jo handling Snow all by herself.

My family is pretty big on setting goals, driven I am sure by my slightly OCD, type A personality, that is always planning, organizing and setting the next notch a little higher.

One of Jordyn’s goals has been to trot her pony, Snow.  Last weekend she had a few good solo flights in the front yard.  I decided this week it was time to take the show on the road.  Roland was here all morning, needing extra time for the complicated shoeing on Bruno and Mickey.  I had been up to feed the horses long before dawn.  I was ready for a change when Roland finally pulled out.

I told Jo we were going on a trail ride.  “Out as far as the corn fields?” Yes, that far, I answered. I didn’t give her much time to think about it.  Lauren and I saddled up Snow and Mick.  My only concession to this being a bit of a trial, was that we left Snow’s halter on under his bridle with a lead rope looped up to the saddle horn.  If things went too badly, I would be able to drag Snow back to the farm.

From the moment we stepped onto the trails, it was magical.  Jo has routinely had trouble handling Snow in the arena but both he and Mickey settled immediately into a nice pace. I had figured Snow would follow Mickey, but Snow wanted to be lead horse and Jordyn handle him easily.  As we continued down the path, I started moving Mick on a little faster.  I asked Jordyn if she wanted to trot.  She was scared but the horses fell into a nice easy jog.  We were out over an hour, we trotted a lot!

As a kid, nothing was greater for me than a trail ride.  I would ride miles of trail on the weekends.  Crossing railroad tracks, busy highways and deserted back roads.  To me, especially at that time of my life, there was no greater freedom for me, than when I was riding my horse across country.  I was glad I could share this with Jordyn.

The weather was beautiful.  Kona was along for the ride as well.  Jordyn got more saddle work and confidence in this hour than she has had after months of arena riding.  She was like a little cowgirl, handling her pony with gentle but tough hands.

The biggest praise goes to my POA pony for his unflappable spirit.  We have used this pony for so many things over the years.  Lauren won miles of ribbons with him in Pony Hunter at shows.  I was so grateful to have such a wonderful guy for Jordyn to ride.  I believe it was his most important work ever!

My first ride ever on the giant OTTB Bruno.

My first ride ever on the giant OTTB Bruno.

In my 2014 goals, a big one for me was to finally ride Bruno.  I am a competent rider, but getting old, with broken bones and bad backs harder to recover from, I dont want to take a lot of chances.  The horse Lauren rode yesterday, was difficult to ride and hard to control.  I may have cheated a little, because the Bruno persona in the ring today would place well in any hunter class. I rode Feather to double team the Lauren work out team.  The plan was her to work Bruno while I got Feather through flat work.  When Lauren deemed Bruno’s workout complete, I told her I was going to ride Bruno.  He has been here 14 months and never have I wanted to ride the huge, fast thoroughbred.  But you’ve got to achieve your goals and a quiet hunter Bruno was the one I wanted ride.

I had some trepidation as I viewed the world from these new heights.  Bruno is the largest horse I have ever ridden.  I relaxed my death grip on his mouth and he settled in quickly, listening as I worked on some turns.  I prayed that as Feather cantered by, Bruno would not think it was Match Race Sunday.

I loved it, but only walked him today.  I am going to breakdown my goal from just riding Bruno to walking (achieved today!) to trotting and finally cantering the big Jump Start colt.

For goals to be achieved you have to push past your own comfort level and reach a little higher.  Jordyn and I both did that this weekend.  Yippee for goals and success!

Thank you for being part of our journey.

 

 

 

 

OTTB Joey, Levi and some other updates

One of my favorite stories that I have covered on the blog is the one of big, OTTB Joey.  Caroline took in Joey when he was a scrawny, skeleton of a horse, covered with rain rot, with horrible feet.

How Joey looked when he first was rescued from a field in Texas.

How Joey looked when he first was rescued from a field in Texas.

Long story short-Caroline fattened him up, got him in shape, fixed his hooves and moved him on to a new owner.  Then Joey disappeared (we are unclear about exactly how he ended up like he did).  I was contacted on my blog when his “new” owner was searching for his history. His new owner did not want Joey and all his OTTB issues. Caroline agreed to take him back to her home.

It took awhile and some maneuvering (and the help of friends to trailer him home) but Caroline finally started to get her Joey back.  This weekend I  saw Joey for the first time in months.  His weight was back to normal, his eyes were bright, his coat glistened in the sun.  What a tremendous recovery he has made.  Nice to see the good guys win a round!  Caroline, Bravo!

Caroline and Joey looking  great today.

Caroline and Joey looking great today.

On to my little kitten that Lauren and I found a few months back in the pouring rain, spewing poop constantly. It took a lot of trips to the vet, lots of tests, two prescriptions and some prayerful nights to get little Levi back to health.   He has certainly grown up since being a pitiful little Kitty.

PuppyGirl with the kitten in October.

PuppyGirl with the kitten in October.

Levi has huge paws.  He is getting along great with most of the dogs.  PuppyGirl is still best friends with him!  He is a funny cat and loves to play in water.  Levi will get in the water bowl, splash all the water out and go back for more.  He is also very neat and  tries to keep his litterbox very clean.

Levi wants to use the toilet like people!

Levi wants to use the toilet like people.

Clearly, Levi is a well nourished kitten.  From giving him three more days to live in October,  Levi has made a huge turn around.  Certainly, appears to be happy to be part of Granny’s farm!

Levi, happy and healthy.

Momma and Mr. Kid

I was warned not to write this post.  I was warned that people might not appreciate my comparisons.  I guess sometimes you just step out there into the mud anyway.

Me and my momma.

Me and my momma.

My mother will be 90 this year.  She was one of 11 children born in Oklahoma.  Although she was born in the middle of the group, she is the only one still living.  My mother is healthy, has no physical ailments, has even gained about ten pounds since coming to Texas.  She walks regularly and except for some eye sight issues does extremely well.  She has this nagging disease called dementia that takes her further away from me mentally day by day.

I read each day about people dying, people younger than she.  And every time the phone rings in the middle of the night, my heart beats faster with fear that it is bad news about her.  Likewise, each time she gets a cold or seems under-the-weather, I get mentally prepared that this is it!

I know she cannot live forever.  I lost my sister in her 20’s to a car accident.  My father has been gone over 20 years.  It just seems like God has left my mother and I alone, like nothing bad is going to happen to us. My mother has gotten through cancer and some other rough times.  I have had some close encounters with death (highway near misses, visits to ICU) but I just feel I am protected and my mom and I will carry on forever.  I get that it is silly to think that way, but I have not really, seriously, thought I would ever lose my mom.

Mr. Kid 32 years young.

Mr. Kid 32 years young.

Okay, here it comes, the part where I step off into the mud.  I am NOT comparing my mother to my horse.  Well, sort of!  So, I got Kid when he was 20, already considered a senior citizen in the horse world although Kid had no idea.  Now, he is 32! Old, by anyone’s estimation.

Kid has no physical aliments.  He walks, trots and even runs occasionally.  His eye sight is not as good as it once was but he has managed to maintain his weight and perhaps even gain a few pounds in the last year.  I don’t know about any dementia that Kid has although he was once the herd leader and now must be ever vigilant not to get hurt or trapped by the other horses.

As I drive up each day I scan the barn to be sure I can find him still standing by the stalls.  Each morning, as I feed, I am relieved to see he has made it through another night.  He has had his brushes with death as well, like a few months ago when he cut his mouth so badly that I thought we would never stem the bleeding.

It is wrong, I guess, to make an analogy between my momma and my favorite horse.  But I see them both in similar ways.  They have successfully lived their lives.  They are in the golden years.  One of the hardest things to do, and yet one of the best things life offers, is the uncertainty of not knowing how their stories will end. Why is that a good thing, because if we knew what lay ahead for us, it would be so overwhelming.  We would fear the end, knowing how it would end and not enjoy the days we have.  I pray that my momma gently closes her eyes one night and dies peacefully in her sleep.  It is the best I can hope for her.

I don’t know how long I will need to provide for my mother and honestly with the costs of care, it could get a little difficult if she lives into her 100’s.  But I will always care for her.

Likewise, Kid can always count on having a stall to call his own as long as he can enjoy life.  Literally for over five years now, Lauren has thought  Kid would die, but he hasn’t and that is wonderful.

I compared my mom to my horse, but just in their stages of life.  Obviously, my love for her is different, deeper and more powerful.  While I love Kid, he is my horse and I get that.  What they share is being allowed to have these years that so many did not get.  How great it would have been for my sister to live into her 90’s?  How I miss her.

Knowing the end must be around the bend, is challenging and frightening.  But neither my momma or Mr. Kid have any idea that death is stalking them.  They awaken and enjoy each day.  I am grateful.

Thank you for riding along!