“Experience is the thing that comes along right after you really need it.”
Thanks to my little friend Christina for sending me this quote. Too perfect!
“Experience is the thing that comes along right after you really need it.”
Thanks to my little friend Christina for sending me this quote. Too perfect!
The day of Horsecrazy and Grumpy’s first rodeo dawned hot and early. We had all been up late the night before in the aftermath of Batman’s epic birthday party, and I had to shake and shake my little Annabelle to get her to wake up. She is a lot like me; normally an early riser who jumps out of bed to greet the day, but not this morning.
Uncle Rob had kindly cleaned out our trailer and put fresh feed in the hay bag after the party ended on Saturday night, so all we had to to was load Grumpy up and head down the road. Aunt Susie had graciously offered to ride over to the rodeo with us and help out. She even brought breakfast from McDonald’s for Annabelle, so that was one less thing I had to worry about. Annabelle sat in her toddler seat happily munching on a pancake platter as we left the farm.
We drove the 45 minutes to the New Plymouth fairgrounds, arriving right on schedule at 8:00 a.m. The rodeo was scheduled to begin at 9:00, so Annabelle saddled up and proceeded to wear out the warm up pen.
I noticed that there were lots of people there with living quarters horse trailers set up, coolers out and open, and shade tents set up in the stands. I figured they must have kids in multiple age groups competing, as I had been assured by a fellow rodeo mother that the Mini Mite division got to go first in everything, so the little kids were finished up pretty much first thing. I was anticipating being home sitting in the shade with a cold beer by noon at the latest.
Poor suckers, I thought, looking at the other parents. Having to sit here all day.
Desperate Daddy and Batman arrived around 9:30. Inexplicably, the older girls all got to run their barrels first before the Mini Mites, so we all got to sit in the stands together and watch.
It took longer than I thought. And it was getting hot.
We finally got mounted up again during the Junior Girls Barrels, and waited it out through the Pee Wees. Annabelle was first out in Mini Mites, so she got to set the pace. She and Grumpy had a little miscommunication between the first and second barrel, but they got it sorted out and finished the run in good form.
This is Desperate Daddy’s first go at videoing with our new camera, so you have to bear with us.
We had run into our old friends, the Telfords, at the rodeo, and their little girls Shawny and Sierra were also up in the Mini Mite barrel racing. I wanted to tie Grumpy up and watch their runs, but Annabelle would hear nothing of it. “We must water Grumpy!” she said.
I knew she had a point. It was getting awfully hot and dusty out there. We took our bucket and the horse and started searching for water. Batman, who had abandoned Desperate Daddy to go with us, tagged along.
There were several hose hookups near our trailer. We walked slowly from one to the other, Batman dragging along behind me by one hand as I carried our shiny new red bucket with the other. None of the hose hookups worked.
We finally found a working water faucet at the far end of the arena, approximately a ten minute walk while towing my little son along behind. It was getting hotter.
After we watered Grumpy I made the kids pose for a picture. Aren’t they cute?
We tied the horse up at the trailer and headed back to the stands. Batman sat and watched the breakaway ropers with fascination. Mini Mites don’t breakaway rope. I guess I had gotten a bit of bad information about the order of events. Huh.
We finally mounted up to got ready for the next event, goat flanking, at around noon. Just the time I thought I’d be relaxing in a lawn chair at home with an ice cold Coors Light in my hand. Annabelle was once again up first in her age division. Just to clarify, I asked my friends how the event ran. I had not seen goat flanking competition before, but the kids had practiced it at the Mini Mite rodeo clinic my little girl had attended a couple of weeks ago.
At the clinic the kids just ran up to the goat, which was staked with about a ten foot rope to the arena floor, threw it on the ground, then kneeled on it and threw their hands in the air. I assumed that was also how goat flanking ran at the rodeo.
Turns out I was wrong.
At the rodeo, the kids had to ride their horses down the length of the arena, dismount with no assistance, preferably near the goat, then grab it, flank it, kneel and throw their hands up. That sounded all well and good, but from what I remembered at the clinic Old Grumpy had not been very impressed by the goats, and we had obviously never practiced this part of the maneuver before.
As my friends the Telfords delivered the information about how goat flanking really ran, they also stressed to me how important it was that the horse was completely stopped and didn’t wheel around or run away once the kid started to dismount. You could have a dangerous situation with a big old horse running loose and a tiny girl hanging off the side.
Especially if the horse was afraid of the goat.
I briefly considered pulling Annabelle from the goat flanking for safety reasons; thinking we could practice the dismount at home before the next rodeo. Our friend Jake was going to be at the other end of the arena to help his girls out if need be though, and he offered to run out and make sure that Grumpy stopped and stood safely. That gave me the confidence to go ahead.
Annabelle and I talked and talked about the importance of running down in a controlled fashion, making sure that Grumpy was completely stopped first, then kicking both feet out of the stirrups before dismounting.
We didn’t really discuss the part about it being a timed event.
Mid-afternoon was looming by the time we finished the goat flanking. We gave Grumpy some more water and then went to the stands to watch. There were a whole bunch (my sister counted 84) more goat tiers and flankers to go, then a pile of breakaway ropers. It would be at least a couple of hours before our final event, which was the figure eight race.
It was really, really hot. We didn’t have shade tents or a cooler like most of the other parents. There was no longer any shady place to sit, and the sun was beating down on us, bouncing off the aluminum bleachers and baking us like a pork roast in a convection oven.
Annabelle was so tired she could barely keep her eyes open. Her face was flushed and sweaty. She leaned against her Aunt Susie, trying to find a bit of shade.
Then she said the magic words. “Mama, do I really have to do the Figure 8 race?”
I do not believe in letting kids quit when they have committed to something. But Annabelle is five. It was eighty degrees outside. She had never ever wanted to give up on a horse event or anything else before.
I sighed with relief. Desperate Daddy smiled for the first time all day. We drew her out of the event and went out to load up for the drive home.
Even though she was tired, little Horsecrazy insisted on taking care of her horse all by herself.
When we got home she laid on my bed and went right to sleep, staying down for two and a half hours. This is a kid, mind you, that hasn’t napped since she was born.
We had a great time at the rodeo, and we can’t wait for the next one. But we’ll take a shade tent this time.
Batman’s 4th birthday is coming up here in a week or so, and we wanted to celebrate early since Desperate Hubby is going to have foot surgery this week. Don’t worry, there will undoubtedly be a story or two about that coming up.
We had originally talked Batman into a destination party…….we have been to several parties lately at Jabbers, an indoor playhouse in Nampa that has lots of cool toys and bouncy houses. Desperate Hubby wanted Batman to have his party at Chuck E. Cheese. Hubby loves Chuck E. Cheese. Both sounded very appealing to mom-the-party-planner. A time-limited party. No set-up, no clean-up.
Batman at first concurred.
Then he changed his mind. He wanted to have his friends over to our house. To ride the four-wheelers. That sounded simple enough. Problem was, we only have two four-wheelers. I knew I could throw in a couple of pony rides too. But that still left a dozen or more kids standing around wishing they were at Jabbers.
Then I came up with a brilliant idea. We could rent a bounce house. For the same price as a party of ten at Jabbers we could entertain a couple dozen kids for a whole afternoon. Brilliant.
We went online to Idaho Inflatables (awesome company, by the way) and Batman picked out his house. A “Superhero” bounce house. He insisted I print out a big picture of the house and he put it in a plastic divider insert, which he then put in a large Ziploc bag for extra protection and carried it everywhere he went for an entire week.
The kids woke up at 6:00 on an absolutely beautiful Saturday morning to start watching for the “Bounce House Man.” He and the house arrived at about 10:00.
They watched eagerly as the house was set up.
And wasted no time in jumping right in. Jumping. Get it. Har har.
In good time the guests started to arrive.
Zach’s best friend from school came with his parents and sister. He was a little camera shy, but we were sure glad he made it.
Most of the parents gathered in the garage, where we had food and drinks set up.
The pony rides were a huge hit.
Both horses were going round and round pretty much the whole afternoon. This little cowboy came dressed for the occasion. He rode at least four or five times. So cute!
The four wheelers were also a very big draw. They were gone so much I didn’t get any pictures of them until they were finally parked in the middle of the driveway, both sets of batteries totally dead.
Of course, Desperate Hubby had to contribute his own special flare. Rocket Man joined us midway through the party. Everyone was very excited. Especially the big boys (aka Daddies).
Hubby had been building rockets for a week or more to prepare for this day. Of course chasing down the rockets after they landed was the kids’ job.
Fortunately, it was a very calm day, and the rockets landed almost directly below their original launch site. Almost.
A couple of people took some time out to enjoy a more solitary pursuit away from the party madness.
Aunt Melody took time to smell the flowers.
Auntie and Uncle posed for a nice family photo. They are beautiful people, aren’t they? Bet you can’t guess what Uncle does for a living. Hint: yes, he does carry a gun.
A little break from the action for a cookie.
And lots and lots of jumping.
After all the partying, it was finally time for some cake.
With so many friends over, the singing was a little loud.
There were so many very cool gifts (thanks everyone!)
Zach was very excited.
After the presents were opened everyone sort of trickled on home. It had been a very fun (and hot) three hours.
Batman and Horsecrazy and their cousins cooled off with a nice water fight in the yard.
We had an awesome day celebrating Batman’s 4th.
As the party planner I would like to thank everyone who helped make it happen. Wonderful neighbor Vernon manicured our lawns and made the place look spiffy as can be. I could not have done it without the horse wranglers who helped walk the ponies around and around – thanks Aunties Susan and Melody. And thanks to all the parents who jumped in to help serve, lead, manage and herd.
We hope you had as much fun as we did.
“The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page.”
— St. Augustine
We finished up our Tasmanian adventure in good spirits, rested and ready for our next trip, an eleven day pack trip through the mountainous region of New Zealand’s South Island.
Rob had regained much of his good humor from the rest and recreation in Tasmania. Look at him here trying to contain his glee.
We traveled from Tasmania to the beautiful city of Christchurch and checked into the lovely Millennium Hotel, where we spent a couple of days getting our laundry done and watching stupid movies on Pay Per View (I noted “Michelle and Romey’s High School Reunion” in particular, in my journal). It has to be a pretty bad movie if you take up valuable journal space remembering the name.
Our trip was based out of a picturesque ranch called Waitohi Downs, which is a mountainous 2,300 acre spread. It is home to 50 horses, 3,000 sheep, 150 beef cattle and 450 red deer. The red deer are raised for their antlers, which are shipped to Japan where the velvet is a high-priced Japanese aphrodisiac. Huh. I guess whatever floats your boat.
Anyway, our hosts on the trip were Jenny and Lawrie O’Carroll. They were a fortyish couple, no kids, and they ran the 1-day to 11-day trips based out of their simple yet comfortable ranch headquarters.
This is Jenny. She was our camp cook, and exhibited unflappable calmness and good humor through all the challenges of the trip. She made a mean dessert too.
Jenny’s husband is Lawrie. He is The Real Man From Snowy River.
I thought he looked kind of like a tall, masculine Richard Gere. Lawrie and I hit it off right away (no, not in the “deer horn” sort of way) and he spend most of the trip trying to persuade me to abandon my life in the U.S. for a year and work for he and Jenny guiding pack trips. I still can’t believe I didn’t do it.
Rob made a new friend while we were at the ranch.
Unlike Australia, where our gear was carried from place to place by automobile, here all of our stuff was loaded on packhorses. Our first night there we were taught to pack our swag, which was a combination of bedroll and duffel bag, and carried all of our personal belongings for the trip. We were allowed three changes of clothing, a towel, some extra shoes for camp, and our cameras and journal writing materials.
There was no room in the swags for a blow dryer or makeup. You will no doubt notice that in some of the pictures later.
The swags were loaded on the sides of packhorses for the trip.
Which brings me to the horses. They were giant Thoroughbred/Clydesdale crosses. Here is Rob with one of the packhorses. They truly were huge.
At just over 16 hands high, my mare, Fern, was the smallest horse in our string. Did I mention there was no room for makeup?
Here is a picture of Rob with his horse. Or is it the horse and then Rob. I can’t tell.
We had a fellow rider who was a very nice woman from Colorado named Diane. Here we are, all loaded up and ready to head out.
And going down the trail. Isn’t it beautiful?
As the most experienced guest on the trip, I was often assigned the ask of leading Matia, a high-spirited and somewhat wild three year old gelding who had never been ridden and was on his first trip with the string. Daily, he stretched my arms, jerked my neck, and once almost pulled me off crossing a nasty raging river.
I nicknamed the colt “Junior,” and next week I’ll tell you about how Lawrie actually made me ride him.
“All horses deserve, at least once in their lives, to be loved by a little girl.”
Well, the long anticipated day is almost here. On Sunday my little Horsecrazy Annabelle has her first kids rodeo.
She is beyond excitement about the whole thing. Yesterday we went to practice at my brother and sister-in-law’s house in Marsing.
Grumpy, Horsecrazy’s mount, has no experience in barrel racing, so she just goes out there and steers him around the barrels.
Because of this, it was pretty important that the driver learn the pattern. I was a little worried about this. At the age of five, attention to detail is not always my little girl’s strong suit.
Aunt Melody came out and demonstrated on her (real) barrel racing horse. This inspired Horsecrazy to go…..faster.
She progressed from a walk, to a trot, performing her pattern perfectly from her first try on. We have been working on practicing “left” and “right” at home in a variety of situations, and it sure came in handy yesterday.
By the time it was all said and done, Horsecrazy had gotten Old Grumpy to lope around the barrels (more or less) from start to finish. He was sweating lightly and breathing hard from the exertion.
My little girl was beaming.
I can’t wait until Sunday.
“There are three ways to get something done: do it yourself, employ someone, or forbid your children to do it.”
This is not a post I ever hoped to write. I hate to even think about it, let alone make our scourge public information. But, as I think I have exhibited before in this blog, I have no shame.
Last week I posted a nice little story about our idyllic trail ride to the hills of Avimor. I talked about our sweet, hairy maniac puppy Winston coming along. Winston had a lot of fun on the ride. He ran up and down the trail. He bounded happily all over the surrounding brushy areas. He swam in every available stream, water hole and mud puddle.
He made some new friends.
They look like this.
No, not a flea. If the title of my post didn’t clue you in, Winston picked up what was apparently an astounding number of dog ticks on the ride.
I first discovered this problem two days after our return from the ride. I was sitting in my office typing away at something on the computer while the kids were performing some sort of dog torture in the other room, dressing up our poor ancient schnauzer in doll clothes and a stocking cap. Suddenly they started screaming there was something wrong with Maddie. Maddie is the schnauzer.
The ran in the office, accompanied by said dog. She sat down beside me and the kids pointed to her side. “There is something coming out of her side!” they exclaimed. I was worried. Maddie has a big bulge on her side that I suspect is cancer. Because she is thirteen and otherwise in pretty good health, I have chosen to ignore the mass until it causes symptoms or makes her too uncomfortable to live a normal life. I looked at her side with trepidation.
This is what I saw.
OK, this is not the actual one I saw, but it looked just like this picture. I did not have the present of mind to photograph it, and you can be damned sure if I did it would not have been sitting on my hand. I got this picture off the internet.
The tick was about the size of swollen lima bean, gray soft and squishy. I touched it and it fell off. The kids squealed. I realized immediately it must be a tick. Huh. No big deal. We picked up the tick and put it in a jar to show daddy when he got home. He wasn’t very impressed.
Batman was positively gleeful when I let him flush the tick down the toilet, screaming “Bye Bye Tick! Bye Bye Tick!” as it swirled it’s way down to eternity. It was pretty cute. He does the same thing when he used the potty for its traditional use. But he doesn’t say “Tick.”
I sort of forgot about the tick until two days later, when I got a call from the kids’ pre-school teacher. She sounded a little out of breath and panicky. “Zach has a tick on him. It is stuck to his ear!”
Again, I didn’t panic. I drove calmly the few blocks to preschool, and using the tick removal skills I gleaned from a couple of minutes of internet research I pulled the tick off by the head and preserved it in a small cup of alcohol in case, well, actually I don’t know why. It said to on the internet.
Then I did what any normal mother of a child who has been bitten by a tick would do.
I called the dog groomer.
She told me what to treat the dogs with, FrontLine Plus. And she said to go get some flea and tick spray and spray the dog’s beds and places they lay outside. I picked the kids up from pre-school and we did all the prescribed treatment just as the groomer suggested.
Over the course of the next few days I found a few dead ticks around. Three to be exact. They were all huge and swollen and gray and ugly. I picked them up and threw them away. I was confident the spray was working. I didn’t let Winston in the house for a few days, but yesterday I allowed the kids to bring him in and put him in his kennel so he could have a couple of pig ears in peace away from Toby The Old Man Dog, who takes his treats away from him.
This morning I went in to get dressed to take the kids to pre-school. I pulled off my pink plaid pajama bottoms and saw on my chubby white inner thigh, just above the knee A BIG TICK ATTACHED TO MY SKIN.
Once again, I did not have the presence of mind to take a photo. It was too gross. And the tick was ugly too.
Now it was personal.
I did what any person who has had multiple family members bitten by ticks would do.
I called my vet, Dr. Danny.
He was pretty unimpressed by my story, much the same as Desperate Hubby, and told me to just keep spraying if I see more ticks, and they will soon be gone. He told me that what I treated the dogs with would kill the ticks all dead in just a little more time.
I believe him, but I am still off to buy spider bombs, which the internet says will kill any remaining ticks. I spent some time online identifying the type of ticks we have and apparently they do not carry diseases that can harm humans, and don’t survive for long unless they are attached to a host. But they are gross.
And I want them dead.
“It is so tempting to try the most difficult thing possible.”
-Jennie Jerome Churchill