Giving it away

I have given away many things that were dear to me over the years.  I have tried to do the best I could for the people and the animals that I love.  I have also been the recipient of many wonderful gifts.  Gifts, I do not deserve.  Life has been abundant with opportunities for me to both give and receive.  I have been blessed in both areas.  And although sometimes my heart tumbles when I make a promise or statement that I am giving away something that I dearly love, I have found I have been paid back in spades for my paltry offerings to others.

One of the recent gift I gave was the gift of my rescued dachshund to my friends in Bartlesville.  We had taken in Sammi after the floods left her homeless in the Heights of Houston a couple of years ago.  Here is her story if you want to read it.  It was pretty remarkable.

https://exechorseluver.com/2015/06/12/seriously-cindy/

From the moment I picked up tiny Sammi from my friend Renee, I instantly fell in love with her. We got through the vet visit without issue and headed home so all our barn family could meet her. Sammi was always happiest when we held her. Jo Ann and Lainie were the most likely to be hauling the small pup around. 

I dearly wanted Sammi to go live with Jo Ann and her husband Tom. But Jo Ann while she loved the dog was traveling a lot and not able to take her. 

When my camper Kenna came from Oklahoma her parents instantly fell in love with Sam. They asked if they could have her and I jokingly said yes. I did want Sammi to have her own family but I was not quite ready to give her away. 

Later as Amanda and her husband Leon talked on their long drive back to Bartlesville. They called and asked if I was serious about letting them have Sammi. I said sure but actually had lots of regret.  

Sammi went home from camp with her new family. I miss her next to me at night.  I don’t miss her biting at the horses. 

But in the category of the doing the right thing, giving Sammi to this family was such the right thing to do. I have heard about how Sammi spends her evenings with Makenna and family. In the mornings Sammi’s “grandma” picks her up and they are off to see the town. 

I had told Jo Ann over and over to get Sammi a sling so she could be carried around hands free. Sammi’s grandma got her one and they go everywhere together. A dog could not be loved more. 

I am so incredibly blessed to have the benefactors in my life that make huge differences for me and my family. But I am also so happy that occasionally I have had the opportunity through Ginny or Sneaky or Theo or little Sammi to give something that brings some love and happiness to others. 

God bless the givers for their open hearts and unselfish ways. God bless the receivers for having an open and grateful heart to receive their gift. 

Thanks for riding along!!

Super Sunday

I have been taking dressage lessons in a Hunter/Jumper saddle. I have never ridden in a dressage saddle except to try one out at the saddle shop.  I wanted to be medically evacuated from the saddle. The position with my legs straight and wide is not one handled by surgically installed titanium hips. The replacements have very little range of motion.

But I have been enjoying my lessons and wanted to try to do better. I’m almost 60 but there’s always time to do better. So when one of my boarders offered up a dressage saddle that would fit my wide, tall mare I thought I’d give it another shot.  As luck would have it my vet was here as we put the saddle on my horse for the first time. She declared the saddle could not fit my horse better.

The brown saddle is a jumper saddle-meant to be ridden in a forward seat with shorter stirrups.  The second is a dressage saddle-meant to support an upright, deep seat and longer straighter legs.
 

Now if only I would be able to sit on the saddle without great pain.   We put the saddle on Nova and bought the mounting block to the horse’s side. My mare quietly waited for me to mount. I quietly waited to have my hips ripped out of my pelvis.

It was definitely uncomfortable but not as bad as I had feared. I rallied and said I would try to do the lesson in the new saddle. Everything felt different about it. My stirrups were a lot longer-changing my center of balance, my actual seat was forward in the saddle, but my shoulders and back were straighter and my legs were reaching down for the longer stirrups.

As we progressed through the lesson going from walk to trot and then to canter I started to understand the beauty of the saddle. When we got to the canter I was able to sit very quietly on the horse’s back,  my legs barely moving. My heels deep and down. It felt a lot like the old equitation classes I had taken when I had ridden western pleasure. That certainly required me to have a straight back. And I will never forget my old instructor telling me over and over again, “headlights, Cindy, headlights!!”  You might be able to guess where my headlights were located in that keeping my back straight certainly kept my headlights up.

The lesson was not a gold medal round. I had a lot to learn. My foot slipped from the longer stirrup. I slipped back in the saddle. But bit by bit I got more comfortable. I was quite proud of my progress and bought my first dressage from boarder Lisa that night.

I went to bed Friday night pretty pleased with myself. I got up Saturday to aching muscles I had not even known I had.  The backs of my legs hurt. My abs felt like I had done a hundred sit ups. Wow. Who knew? I have been riding a few times a week for several months (since the broken rib incident) but I felt like I just started out as newbie to the saddle.

Sunday I saddled up Nova for another practice ride. It was a gorgeous Sunday afternoon and we spent over an hour in the ring. We practiced all the things that we had been taught. I had a really good ride. The most amazing thing was to be able to sit so quietly at the canter and I trotted and trotted-enjoying being able to set the trot.  Our transitions are still a little rough but I have so much to learn.

After my stint with Nova, I got Betty Sue out.  She is two and a half now.  Many Quarter horses and thoroughbreds are started under saddle by this time.  However, she is European warmblood and they tend to mature more slowly.  We won’t be really riding her for another year or so.  But there was nothing to stop me from continuing her education.  I saddled her up with my heavier western saddle-just so she could get used to weight on her back and the heavier stirrups flapping at her sides.  Everything done quietly and easily now will pay off in spades when the time comes to actually ask her to accept a rider.

I got her bridled as well and we spent some time walking the round pen.  I would ask her to “whoa” and gently pull back on the reins.  I would cluck to her to move her forward and release the pressure on her mouth.  We worked turning left and right.  Soon, I will add some long lines.  My theory is to have the horse able to walk forward, halt and turn before I get on.  Brakes and a steering wheel go a long way on that first ride.

We also did some work on standing quietly as I approached her side from the mounting block.  This was not her best drill.  I would stand on the mounting block and she would move away.  It will take some time.  Patience is a big virtue with a young horse.

Of course my dogs were with me for the glorious afternoon as well.  It was the perfect afternoon, both due to the weather and with the time I had with my two girls (Nova and Betty Sue). It was good for me to get back to what I love best-it has been too long since I have had a day like this.

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Throughout the day, I kept an eye on phone.  My friend Tim was running the Chicago Marathon.  Quite an endeavor to undertake after not running for many, many years.  In fact a year ago, Tim was just starting to do some walking.  Then some short races were completed.  Step by step, he has worked toward his marathon goal.

I got a few updates as the day progressed.  I knew Tim had gone into the races with sore, strained hamstrings.  I wanted him to reach his goal but was worried the injuries would hold him back.

I needn’t have worried as he crossed the finish line in a very respectable time-certainly for someone my age (that’s pretty old) and someone who just started running again after so  many years.  I am very proud of him!  Here is to making and attaining your goals-from trying new things to sticking out the hard ones! Bravo!

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Merry Christmas Jordyn!

For as long as Jordyn could vocalize the sentiment, she has wanted a dog of her own. My sometimes insecure and anxious granddaughter felt safer and braver when she came to Granny’s house and had one of Granny’s dog sleep with her in her room. Sometimes it would be the little lost Muffy dog that would sleep right up by her head. Always available for a midnight pet or a lick on the face. Sometime she would want Kena to sleep with her -the big Doberman who always insisted on sleeping under the covers. But the one thing that was always the same is she always wanted the dog to sleep with her. 

Every year the request has been the same and so has the answer -no puppies!  The answer has always been the same until now. I don’t really know what changed this year to make Ally and Luke decide that this Christmas Jordyn would get the puppy she always wanted, but I don’t care. I am just so thrilled that they chose to do something that I think it’s going to be so important for Jordyn’s confidence, self-esteem and her capacity for love.

My Denver daughter, Amber, recently got a new puppy too. They chose a wired hair German  pointer. A good dog for Colorado and for kids and a dog that Amber can run with. The puppy is adorable.

But over the years I have certainly sided the poodle way. Granted I had them on the ranch as a kid. But I never expected my house to have two poodles and one at my daughters. But that is the type of family we are now, in fact Lauren counts the days for other dogs to die so she can replace them with different colored poodles. I mean she means them no harm but would love to have the house hold a rainbow of poodles. 

Some of you may agree or disagree with our choice of dog. Just as I might disagree with yours. But for the highly allergic family we are, in the busy robust family activities we engage in, these are perfect dogs. There’s never a moment these dogs don’t want to be with you-playing,  fetching, running and jumping. Plus they fit in perfectly with the horses and even the horse show world.

I was in third grade when I got my first dog that was my own. Jordyn is in fourth. My first dog was with me all the way through my college years and the grief I felt of his passing was enormous.  He was my childhood.  Jordyn has no idea today as she takes on this new life all the memories they will share and all the times they will have. And also the open ears she’ll get from this little Man when she wants to talk about something private that no one else can know about. Poodles tell no secrets.

Today we picked up Jordyn and told her we were going Christmasj shopping. She had no idea where we were headed. Way out in woods past the Renaissance Festival we pulled into a tiny hidden driveway. 

This is how it went down. 

​ We got inside and Jordyn held the pup and cried. It was good for my soul. 

So for today my heart is open and I am so glad that I can help them to have this wonderful dog that I hope has many, many, many years with them as a family.  As Jacqueline Suzanne once wrote in her book “Every Night Josephine”, no matter how much someone else in your world loves you, be it your parents or your boyfriend, girlfriend or whomever, no one will ever show as much joy when you come home in the evening dancing around jumping up-and-down ignited with love for you than a dog that you love.

Merry, Merry Christmas Jordyn, may Kai be the gift of a lifetime!



Thanks for riding down this happy road with us!  

Big Surprises!

We have another big surprise in store for Jordyn, my oldest granddaughter.  I am not telling what it is yet-it will happen on Monday.  But as I thought about Jordyn and her life and reflected on my life as well, I thought this little preamble to the surprise was in order.

Two of the biggest surprises in my life were first getting a dog when my mother absolutely forbid dogs or pets of any kind in our house.  I was obsessed with all animals.  It was an unfair match at best.  I was in third grade when my mom went off to spend a week in Oklahoma with her sisters and my dad took a highly suspect week’s vacation to watch my sister and I.

We had no more pulled away from O’Hare airport when my father made a turn that was not towards home. Yes, immediately after leaving the airport, the three of us went to pick up a four-month old Miniature Schnauzer puppy we named Scamp.  I was the happiest I had ever been.  By the time my mom got home a week later, my father had this dog housebroken and trained.  My life was complete for awhile until my push for a horse would begin in earnest.

That was my second big surprise.  My dad and I had gone to look at some nice Quarter Horses.  I loved the buckskin one (still love buckskins).  But I was told we would have to wait until spring when Chicago thawed out enough to pull trailers and move horses.  On Christmas morning of my seventh grade year, one of the last packages I opened contained a model horse.  I thought it was just a promise of a horse to come.  My dad told me to look under the horse.  I was amazed to find the registration papers for the buckskin, lying inside.  Despite  the bitter cold Christmas morning I was riding “Hilltop Dunny” soon after.  One of the best surprises and days of my life.

brandy

At age 16, with my horse Brandy (Hilltop Dunny).

When Jordyn was younger, we let Snowboy go off to our trainer’s barn where he could be used more.  Jo wasn’t old enough for regular rides and Lauren and I had our hands full with training and riding what we had.  Some of you will remember this, but on Jordyn’s sixth birthday, we brought Snowboy back to the farm.  We had him all tacked up in the arena for her to ride after she arrived.  I am inserting the link to the video.

https://exechorseluver.com/2013/08/21/the-snowboy-reveal/

 

Come Monday, I will have a new video of a new surprise for Jordyn.  It was meant to be a Christmas present (and it will be) but sometimes you just can’t wait for Christmas.

Enjoy this link-I hope it puts a little smile on your face!  And maybe makes you remember a special surprise you got-the day you got what you wanted most in life.

 

Check it out!  And as always thanks for being a part of the farm and riding along with us!