Monthly Archives: November 2012

Red Mare Beware

“Red Mare Beware!” It’s a saying many in the horse world have heard.  I first heard it from a jumping horse trainer when I was horse shopping years ago. “Stay away from a sorrel mare,” he elaborated. “They tend to be high-strung and bitchy.”

As the Summer of 2012 horse show season began here in the Treasure Valley and five-year old Annabelle started her first real season of competition, it very quickly became obvious that she was in this for the long haul.  My daughter practiced with a singularity of mind that I had never before witnessed.

If she wasn’t riding at a show she was practicing for one.  If I didn’t have the time to saddle her horse, she put a halter on him and coaxed him up the fence to climb on and ride bareback around the place.

If it was too muddy for her to ride, she used gallons of show sheen and packages of rubber bands braiding manes and tails.

If she absolutely couldn’t go outside with her horse, she practiced inside, creating elaborate routines of breaking, training and showing her seemingly endless stable of pretend show horses.  These routines involved a great deal of running around the house with a scarf or dog leash tied around her waist as reins, often supplemented by a necklace through her mouth as a bit, complete with well thought-out back stories for each horse, their ages, owner and their show plans.

To put it mildly, my girl was obsessed.

Annabelle was fortunate to have two show mounts to ride all summer, including the fantastic Smart Chic Dot Com, owned by our friend Kris, on which she won the Gem State Little Buckaroo Division year-end award as well as a fancy halter, a plaque and various other prizes over the course of the summer.  She also had her own horse, Grumpy, which she started showing late in the summer and immediately won her very first check on.

While we were fortunate to have these horses for her to learn to ride and to show on, I knew I need to be thinking about the “next generation.”  Chic was not our horse, and though Grumpy will likely be great for two or three more years, he is getting up there in age, and we would need a replacement mount sooner than later.  There aren’t many horses like Chic and Grumpy, and if you can find one that is for sale they are always extremely expensive.

Desperate Hubby and I talked it over, and we decided to pursue a more time-consuming and less-certain route, which would also be less spendy than going out to find a finished kid-safe show horse.  We would seek out a young horse that had the kind and gentle mind appropriate for our young daughter, and with the help of a trainer season and finish the training of the horse to have it ready for Annabelle in a year or two.  We would likely have the same amount of money in the horse by the time it was finished, but it would be on the pay-as-you-go plan.

I was pretty excited about this.  I hadn’t shown for years, since I had been injured in an accident riding a reined cow horse in 2005, and I thought it would be a good chance for me to get back in the pen a few times.  Who knew?  I might even like going back to showing reiners again, and I could help put the show miles on the new horse so it would be ready for Annabelle.  A win-win situation!

We set about looking for a young horse that had the talent to be a good show horse, and the mind to be safe and reliable for our tiny almost-six-year-old blond girl.  That in itself was a challenge, but I had further parameters:

  • I wanted a mare.
  • I wanted the mare to be between three and five years old.
  • I wanted the mare to be ready for me to show in the reining derby classes by next year at the latest.
  • I wanted the mare to be bay.

OK, I know that last one is kind of ridiculous.  I have been riding and showing horses for many years, and another great saying I learned in the jumping horse world is this:

The prettiest color of horse is the one you win on.  Period.  Color selection has absolutely no place in the choosing of a horse.  Nuf said.

But I had waited seven years to have a show horse again, and I wanted to love everything about her, so I kept that last parameter in the back of my mind.

My friends encouraged me to add another requirement:

  • The mare should be bred like a cow horse and preferably have some training on cattle.

That parameter I ruled out completely.  No way, I said, was I ever going to show in a reined cow horse event again.  I had no interest in going back to the boxing class after spending two years going down the fence, and after my accident I was certain I didn’t have the physical capability, let alone the mental fortitude to ever consider another fence run.  I was looking for a straight reiner.  Period.

With that in mind, I spoke with the trainer who was going to help us with our new project, and we made a plan to start looking for horses.  I told him what we wanted, but I did leave the “bay” part out of the equation.  I didn’t want to sound like a complete idiot.

Finding a kid-safe young horse is a difficult task.  I looked at dozens of horses on-line, and we called about several of them, but they weren’t temperamentally suitable.  I rode some in the trainer’s barn, but none of them were quite right.

There was one mare I tried that fit all my criteria.  She was cute, well-bred, very far along in her reining training, and even bay.  She’d been ridden by kids, and was quiet enough that I knew she’d make a great youth show horse.

I almost bought that horse.  I went so far as to go to the bank and get the cashier’s check for the owner, but something made me stop.

I just didn’t “feel it.”

There was no rhyme or reason why, but deep in my gut I didn’t think she was the horse for us.  Desperate Hubby knows me pretty well after thirteen years, and he sensed that I wasn’t 100% enthusiastic about my choice.  He begged me not to buy the mare.

I decided to take a step back and look around a little more.  The trainer was surprised, and the owner was not happy, but I had to be certain.  I kept on looking.

My friend Kris found a five-year old mare online.  She was in eastern Idaho, in my price range, and obviously talented.  The owners said she was quiet and gentle.  It took only a glance at the picture Kris sent for me to say no.  The mare was red.  I did not want a red mare.  Period.  It really didn’t have anything ‘per se’ to do with “Red Mare Beware,” but sorrels were everywhere.  They are the most common horse color in the world, and I wanted something a little different.

I was starting to get a little discouraged, but one day I got an email from another friend at the barn, Jacki.  She sent me a link to a four-year old mare for sale in Utah.  She herself was horse shopping, but not for a four-year old, and she’d gotten the video link in a round-about way from the horse’s owner.  I opened up the link on my phone one afternoon, and was completely immersed in the video before I even noticed the color of the horse.

She was red.  And at eight hours away, somewhat geographically undesirable.

And I loved her.

I hounded our trainer to call the owner.  He was busy getting ready to go out-of-town for a show, and he didn’t have the immediate time to pursue it.  So I called the owner myself.  He sent me a link to another video.  I called him again.  I asked a million questions.  He sent pictures and answered more questions.  I just had a feeling about this mare.

As strange as it sounds, I could only liken my emotion to how I felt when I met Desperate Hubby all those years ago.  I thought about the little red mare all the time.  I watched her videos over and over again.  I couldn’t wait to see her in person.

I wanted this horse.  Though it made no sense.  And I didn’t want to drive eight hours to try a horse without the guidance of a trainer.  And I definitely hadn’t been riding enough lately to fairly evaluate the performance, talent or training of a show horse.  But I wanted her.

So the day after Annabelle’s sixth birthday party, she and I climbed in the truck with Aunt Susie and headed to Utah.  It was a beautiful October weekend, and Annabelle had the whole next week off of school for fall break.  I was battling bronchitis and had no voice.  As we got closer to where the horse was, Aunt Susie had to call to make all the arrangements for the visit because I could barely whisper.

We spent the night in Salt Lake where we had dinner with my nephew who is in college there, and Annabelle made good use of the hotel swimming pool. The next morning we made a leisurely drive south to where the mare lived.  We couldn’t see her until after her owner got off of work, so we spent more time in the pool at our new hotel.

Finally it was time to go see the horse.  We drove down a long gravel road to a picturesque little acreage that sat right at the base of the mountains.  The leaves were turning colors all around and it was just beautiful.

From the moment the mare’s owner, Aaron, swung his leg over the horse, I knew I was going to buy her.  She was quiet, willing, and obviously athletic.  He rode her and showed me how to cue her on the maneuvers and then I got on.  I rode around the arena with a big smile on my face.  At one point I shouted “I love this horse!”

Then Annabelle got on.  Aaron was very gracious about letting us change to her little saddle so she was safe and comfortable.  She had a smile a mile wide the whole time she was riding.

Freckles Pretty Picture

Aaron helped her with the turnarounds.  The mare spun so fast with her that I was worried my little cowgirl would fall off.  She giggled and giggled.


Of course, we bought the mare.  The next morning when we went to pick her up to head back to Idaho I could tell Aaron was sad.  He had owned the mare since she was a yearling, done all of her training, and he truly loved that horse.  He called her Freckles.  But Freckles was meant to be mine.  Sorry Aaron.

I took Freckles back to the stable in Idaho and waited anxiously for the trainer to ride her.  I knew in my heart that she was a good horse, but I wanted him to agree.  I needn’t have worried.  He rode her for about half an hour and then got off and handed me the reins.  “She’ll be alright,” he said.

I rode the mare every day for that first week.  Every time I rode her I loved her more.  I felt safe on her.  I felt like she’d take care of me.  Then I got a wild idea. Very wild.

By the way, did I mention that Freckles was a cow horse as well as a reiner?  And did I say I would never show a cow horse again?

Although I had not shown for over seven years, and had not worked a cow for the same amount of time, I decided to enter up in the Idaho Reined Cow Horse Futurity and Derby.  The show started three weeks to the day after I brought Freckles home.  I went into a flurry of preparation.  We went and worked cows at a local feedlot, and our old friend and trainer Jake even took time out to give me a couple of lessons on cattle. I tried on my show chaps and found some shirts that still fit.

I was excited to be at a horse show again, actually getting ready to compete.  I saw friends that I had not seen for years, and they graciously welcomed me back.  I felt right at home, like I still belonged. One of the highlights of the show was Annie Reynolds singing “Back in the saddle again…” to me in the warm up arena the first day of the show.

We started that first morning with the reining portion of the derby. Freckles was pretty good, but I was rusty.  We made it through the pattern, and although I made lots of mistakes I was unbelievably happy to be back in the show pen.

Reined Work

The next day was our herd work day.  Although we had only worked cows a few times, the little mare had so much natural ability and talent that she made some great moves.


She loves to work those cows!

Cuttin It Up

The last day of our show was the boxing portion, where we worked a single cow in the arena.  This was similar to what I had been doing seven years ago when I fell and got seriously injured, and I was nervous about it.  I hadn’t practiced this on Freckles at all, and all I could think about was falling off.

Which I came really, really close to doing, by the way.

What you think about happens.


I did manage to stay on board, though, barely.  It was a good thing Freckles had a mane on her.

When it was all said and done, we weren’t close to winning any awards.  But the little red mare had given me an even bigger prize:  the desire and confidence to go back to a sport that I loved and missed, and that I had thought I would never participate in again.  That was a gift I had never expected to receive.

I have owned some very fancy horses in my life. I have owned some extremely expensive horses in my life. But the treasure Freckles has given me is something that cannot be bought with money.

My little red mare is still in reining training, and I go out to ride her as often as I can.  She is getting more and more solid in her maneuvers, and I am wildly excited to show her next spring.

Red Mare Beware, indeed.

Categories: Uncategorized | 7 Comments

Thanksgiving 2012: A Life Bursting With Blessings

As we near the end of the long Thanksgiving weekend, I wanted to take a moment to reflect on just how much I have to be thankful for.  Our weekend has been packed with activity, and we made a conscious effort this year to try spend the long Thanksgiving holiday in celebration of the things that make our life so very wonderful.

Of course, I am first and foremost grateful for my wonderful family.  My children have brought immeasurable joy to my existence, and I say thank you every single day that I was bestowed with the honor of playing a small part in the raising of the three wonderful girls that came into my life through marriage, and then further blessed by the birth of my own two little miracles later in life.  Hali, Hana, Sami, Annabelle and Zach are truly the lights of my life.

My husband, Desperate Hubby, also occasionally known as Greg, is my rock.  He is my best friend and my biggest fan, and while we have our occasional differences of opinion, he is generally quick to see the light and come around to my way of thinking (love you, hon).

Outside of my immediate household, I also have a lovely extended family.  My siblings are all close enough for the random and highly enjoyed visit, and my husband’s family reminds me of how important a parent’s caring and love are to a healthy and happy life.

My network of friends is a treasure, and I am so grateful for the support, guidance, nagging and motivation they offer me on a continuing basis.  Without them I wouldn’t know where to send my kids to school or when they are too sick to go there; I wouldn’t have started riding again, and definitely would never have had the confidence to embark once more on my beloved sport of horse showing; I wouldn’t have the motivation to write, either, or spend a night every month shooting guns.  Whether I see and talk to my friends once a day, once a week, every quarter or even every few years I always come away from the encounter enriched.  Thank you friends.

So, you ask, how did our family spend the weekend celebrating what we are thankful for?

It will come as no surprise and Annabelle and I spent the majority of it riding our horses.  We warmed up on Wednesday with a ride in the indoor arena at Lucky Run, then on Thanksgiving Day we explored the BLM land south of Kuna, taking our new horse, Freckles, out for our first-ever trail ride with her. She was fantastic.  Despite her somewhat diminutive size, she walked at least twice as fast as Grumpy, a fact which delighted Annabelle since she got to spend a lot of time trotting.

We climbed to the top of a large hill and spent a few minutes looking all around the valley.  It was beautiful.

The Highest Point

Of course, being that it was Thanksgiving Day, Annabelle spent quite a bit of time eating.  As she rode.  She’s a good multi-tasker, that one.

Snack on the Trail

I took lots of pictures of Grumpy and Freckles together.  Despite his reputation for not really enjoying the company of other horses, Grumpy seems to have an affinity for our pretty sorrel mare.


DH and Zach spent Thanksgiving Day preparing for a hunting trip.  Batman has become absolutely obsessed with hunting since Daddy went away for a few days earlier this month on a deer hunt.  We have heard of nothing else for weeks.

This is how he arranged his bed while Daddy was gone.


Note the hunting clothes hung carefully beside the hunting magazines and the contract from Daddy promising to take him hunting below. I am not exaggerating about him being obsessed.


When we went to enjoy the Caldwell Downtown Christmas light display, we waited in line for the kids to get balloon animals.

Batman chose a red dog.

Which he turned into a deer immediately upon our arrival home.  He did this whole makeover entirely on his own.  I kid you not.  I was impressed.

Note that he created, specifically, a Whitetail.

Reindeer Now

The day of the big Thanksgiving hunt was Saturday.  Annabelle and I were headed out to ride our horses again, and the boys were off to the Sweet/Ola area to hunt for birds.  Batman was dressed in his entire hunting outfit, literally from head to toe, by 8:00 a.m.  I had to feed him his breakfast because he refused to take his gloves off.  Seriously.

Batman has been acquiring hunting gear since he took up the idea of going with Daddy a few weeks back, but he has been storing said gear in his “Hunting Suitcase” because “You can’t wear it if you’re not actually hunting, Mom!”

He was so excited to see it all put together that he stood on the toilet in the powder room admiring himself for quite some time before he would join us for ham and eggs.

Looking in Mirror

He did insist that I take this special photo of his “Hunting Headlamp” attached to his “Hunting Hat.”

Hunting Headlamp

When breakfast was finished, the boys headed out.  They spent several hours hunting in the Montour Wildlife Management Area, where DH estimates they hiked at least three miles, up and down hills, with Batman working his way through thigh-high brush and weeds.  It rained lightly almost the entire time.

DH had Batman walking behind him for safety, and every so often he would turn around and say “You okay back there, Bud?”  Batman always had a big smile on his face, and his reply was always the same.  “Yep!  We’re still hunting, right dad?”

They paused for lunch around noon, and you can see how happy my baby boy looks.  Almost as happy as old Toby, who is sure that Zach is going to drop that ham sandwich any second.

Hunting Sandwich

Right near the end of the day, the hunters were successful.  They shot a quail just as they were leaving the area to head for home, and Batman was ecstatic about cooking and eating their kill.  Sadly, DH made the mistake of leaving the quail on top of his workbench momentarily when he went in the house to change his shoes. This gave Winston the Maniacal Bird Dog the perfect opportunity to grab it.

As Annabelle and I drove down the driveway returning from riding, we were greeted by the site of Winston running as fast as he could away from the garage, frantically chewing and swallowing what looked like a bunch of dead feathers while he glanced furtively over his shoulder.  The look on DH’s face when he walked out into the garage a second later was really priceless.

All told, though, the hunters had a wonderful time together, and I am sure they will be spending many more fall and winter days out in the field.  As soon as I buy Winston a shock collar, that is.

The highlight of our Thanksgiving was, of course, the time we spent together.  On Friday the older sissies came over for the afternoon, and we were all very excited to see them.

They had an olive wearing/eating contest with their younger siblings.  I’m pretty sure Annabelle won that one.

Olive Kids

I briefly channeled Martha Stewart when I made a Cheesecloth-Covered-Wine-and-Butter-Basted turkey.

It turned out pretty well, if I do say so myself.

Yummy Turkey

We all had a wonderful day together, and it was a great reminder that the most important things in life aren’t things.  They are the relationships we share and the memories we make with all of those we love.

Happy Thanksgiving weekend everyone.

Categories: Horse Adventures, Kids Are Funny Creatures, Life in the Country | 3 Comments

Look Out Reiners….Annabelle Wins Her First Check!

After a successful summer of showing the wonderful Smart Chic Dot Com, graciously shared with her by our friend Kris Troxel, Annabelle was pretty spoiled.  So was her mom.  All we had to do was get to the show and meet up with Chic, who was always perfectly schooled and ready to perform, throw on Annabelle’s little saddle and go.

With Chic’s late season injury, we were faced with two choices.  Annabelle could sit out the last two shows of the season, or we could try to get her own horse Grumpy ready for her to take to the show pen.

Annabelle had been riding Grumpy all year, so he was fit and ready to go as far as his conditioning went.  Problem was, Grumpy wasn’t “schooled up”.  Prior to joining our family about a year ago, Grumpy hadn’t been shown or schooled much for a couple of years.  Even for a veteran show horse like Grump, it is asking a lot to go out and pack a kid around the arena without time to practice and get back in the show groove.

Moreover, when I had schooled Grumpy in a training show early this spring, he had been a bit fractious in the pen: show fresh and full of himself.  I had visions of any parent’s nightmare: Grumpy running off or otherwise misbehaving with his tiny rider, scaring her, and maybe even ruining her love for showing.  I had decided that we would wait at least a year before letting Annabelle attempt to ride him in a competition.

With the last two shows looming, though, I gave my little girl the choice:  do you want to start practicing on Grumpy for next year and spend the winter getting ready, or do you feel that you can go out and try to show him now?

You probably have to think hard to guess what she said.

Our biggest challenge with Grumpy was Annabelle’s size; more specifically the shortness of her legs. While Grumpy is certainly an accomplished show horse, he was accustomed to being cued largely by the rider’s legs, and with my baby’s legs barely making it past the saddle pad, Grumpy either couldn’t feel or didn’t understand when Annabelle was asking him to spin.  He just wouldn’t do it.

The week before the show, I thought hard about how Annabelle could get Grumpy to spin.  I realized that if I could make him turnaround for me without using my legs, so could Annabelle.  I rode him one afternoon, and worked on getting him into the turnaround using only the reins and a tap on the neck with Annabelle’s little pink whip.  While hitting in front of the saddle is not allowed in the show ring, I figured that if Old Grump was properly schooled beforehand, he would spin without the whip too.

We didn’t have a lot of time to practice before the first show, but Annabelle and Grumpy did a bang up job.  Grump was quiet and calm, and the duo looked adorable out there loping around the big pen at the Idaho Center Horse Park.  Although they didn’t get their spins as well as we had hoped, the team earned Annabelle’s first actual horse show check, along with a beautiful set of white polo wraps embroidered with the Idaho Reining Horse Association logo.

Boy was my girl excited!


Before the date of second show, we practiced more.  Annabelle worked on her timing and cadence in cueing for the spins, and Grumpy picked right up on the change.  By the time the last show rolled around, Grumpy was spinning like a champion in practice.

Annabelle was pretty excited to be showing Grump again.  They looked just fantastic all dressed up, with Annabelle in a new show shirt (thanks again Auntie Shane) and Grumpy sporting the new white polo wraps that the pair had won together in their first outing.

Don’t they look cute?  The spots on the picture, well, they were dust on my camera lens. But you get the idea.

What a Picture!

Their performance literally brought tears to my eyes.  I had been so worried that Annabelle was going to have a hard time adapting to showing a different horse, but those worries were all put to rest by this pretty go.

Annabelle and Grumpy SRRA November 3, 2012

Annabelle and Grumpy improved on their previous score by a whopping 6.5 points and earned first place in their class.  I was so proud of both of them.

The duo is keeping up their practice even though the season has ended.  Annabelle rushes out to ride after school, and just yesterday the two of them mastered a few flying lead changes.  It was pretty cute to watch.

We will be forever grateful to Chic for teaching Annabelle what horse showing is all about.  Under his kind tutelage she learned not only how to show, but how much fun it can be when it all comes together.

Chic continues to convalesce in his comfy pasture in Nampa.  He foot is still a little sore, but he has a great appetite and can move pretty fast across the paddock for a cookie. Keep him in your thoughts and prayers, that he continues to improve and get more comfortable every day.

Oh, and Andrea Fappani…….watch your back!

Categories: Horse Adventures, Kids Are Funny Creatures | Leave a comment

The $120 Cake

It all started out innocently enough.  When I picked up Annabelle from school on Wednesday of this week she was eager to fill me in on the news of the day.  Often, that news is comprised of what happened on the playground or maybe a particularly notable lunch menu.  This day, though, it was different.

“Mom! Mom! There is a contest at school. It’s a cake contest.  Can we make a cake?  Can we?  Teacher sent a note!”  Her excitement was palpable.

Many thoughts went through my mind.  I am not a baker and have never been confused with one.  I was battling a terrible case of bronchitis that felt more like pneumonia and had spent the entire day (when I should have been working) in bed, and I was behind on everything from my blog updates to the company bank reconciliations.

Surely, I thought, I would have some time before I actually had to produce the cake.  So I answered “Of course we can honey.  We can make a cake.” 

“Great,” she said, I think we have to bring it Friday.”

Before I pulled out of the parking lot I rummaged through her red backpack and found this note.  Just as she thought, the cake was due Friday.  Today, in fact.

The Note that Started it All

I sighed my patented mom sigh, and summoned some enthusiasm.  “OK, let’s go to Michael’s right now and find a cake pan.  We’ll go do it before we pick up Zach so it will be done, and we’ll make the cake tomorrow.”  My little girl’s face was full of delight as we headed off to the craft store.  I felt a little better just looking at her smile in the rear view mirror.

I drove my usual route to the complex that houses not only Michael’s, but Costco and Target; a route that I take at least once if not two or three times weekly.  After making my usual left hand turn on Cherry Lane off of Middleton Road I noticed a Canyon County Police Officer sitting on the left hand side of the road.  Since I had just turned and I knew there was no chance I was speeding, I didn’t even have to glance down at my speedometer, I just smiled at the officer as I drove by.  I love policeman.  I really do.  It is something about the uniform and the power.  I admit it.

Don’t judge me.

Anyway, just as I passed him, I noticed him turn on his lights and pull out in a u-turn behind us.  “Uh-oh,” I said to Annabelle.  “Someone’s in trouble.”  I pulled over to the side of the road so he could pass me, but low and behold he pulled in behind me.  “Well, that’s weird,” I said to my baby girl.  “I know I didn’t do anything wrong. I wonder what’s up?”

I rolled down my window and waited for the officer to approach the car.  He took his time doing so, and I can only assume that he must have stubbed his toe leaving the car or something, because he was in a foul mood by the time he got to my door. 

“You do realize, Ma’am, that you just made an illegal left hand turn?” he snapped at me.  I was taken aback and my welcoming smile quickly turned to a look of confusion.  “I did? Where?” I stammered.  “Back there when you just turned.” The officers voice dripped with sarcasm.  “Did you not see the big orange flags beside the road?” 

I had, in fact, seen the flags.  I had even read the signs, which said something about Westbound Cherry Lane and Southbound Middleton Road.  Oh.  Crap.  That’s what those signs meant.  The signs, though, looked like construction flags, and I had always assumed (yeah, I know what that word means) that they referred to something about the continual road work that was taking place further east on Cherry Lane.  As the realization spread over my face I felt pretty stupid.  “Oh, I did see the signs.  I guess I just never understood what they said until now.” 

The officer was unsympathetic, and if I venture to say, downright rude as he said “Give me your license, registration, and proof of insurance.”  I handed the documents over, and tears came to my eyes as he walked back to his car.  It wasn’t that I felt I didn’t deserve a ticket; clearly I did.  It wasn’t that I resented him pulling me over; I knew he was just doing his job.  It was his nasty attitude that stung me.  And I was sick!  And on my way to get a cake pan for the Harvest Festival Cake!  And I love policemen!  My brother and several other family members are police officers, and I respect and appreciate the job that they do every day.  But still, this guy was a real jerk.

Anyway, I won’t belabor the point any longer,  After leaving us to cool our heels for about ten minutes, the officer returned with this document.

The Other Note

In a condescending voice he advised me of my right to go to court or to pay the fine, which is classified as an infraction, without going to court.  He told me that the fine amount could be found on the back side of the folded paper. Then he handed me another small slip of paper that had a website address on it.  As he handed that to me he said “And this is something you can supposedly use to pay your fine online.  Don’t ask me any questions about it because I don’t know anything about it at all.  They just gave them to us today and told us to give them to people with tickets. Be careful pulling out.”  And he turned on his heel and walked away.  What a grouch.

I laid the ticket down on my console and put the pickup in gear.  Annabelle said in a small voice “It’s OK Mom, we don’t have to make a cake. We can just go home.”  I glanced at her quivering lip.  The policeman had scared her too.  “No, honey.  It’s OK.  We’re almost there.  We’ll go get the cake pan.”

And we did.  It’s cute, huh?

Cake Pan

It wasn’t until we had returned to the car, buoyed by our successful purchases and excited from the planning of our projects, and I had the nerve to turn the paper over to see the fine amount.

Expensive Left Turn

Yep, that was an expensive left turn all right.  Oh well.

I spent the day yesterday making two cakes for us to decorate; one for the Harvest Festival and one to surprise Aunt Susie for her birthday, which was also yesterday.

The finished chocolate ponies turned out just fine. Little blank slates just waiting for my creative daughter’s hand to finish them.

A Blank Slate

Annabelle picked out the frosting colors and designed both of the finished cakes.  She helped put the frosting on the bodies and made the pink bridles complete with rosettes for each pony.  Her little hands were not strong enough to push the decorative icing out for the manes and some of the details, but she instructed me every step of the way.

I think they turned out pretty well.

This is Aunt Susie’s birthday cake, named Little Palomino.

Little Palomino Cake

The cake for the Harvest Festival is called Top Gun, after Noble’s Top Gun, the fancy stallion owned by the wonderful trainer Nathan and his lovely wife “Miss Nicole” at Lucky Run Arena.

Finished Top Gun

By the time I bought the cake pan, a couple of cake mixes, frosting, and accessories I was into the project well over $120 (counting the ticket, of course).

I just want whoever buys Top Gun at the Harvest Festival tonight for $10 to know that……you are getting a bargain!

Categories: Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Update on Chic the Wonder Horse

I want to say a heartfelt “Thank You” to everyone who prayed, thought good thoughts and sent well wishes the way of our friend Chic.  It is working!

Annabelle and I stopped by the vet clinic last weekend to visit Chic on our way home from a ride at Eagle Island.  After what seemed like an eternity of stall confinement, Chic was finally able to go for short walks around the property to stretch his legs and eat a nibble of grass.  Annabelle was more than happy to do the walking on this sunny Sunday afternoon.

I was so excited to see Chic actually mobile again that I shot this short video of him on his amble.  Look at him go!

Chic on a Short Walkabout


Chic is wearing special shoes on his front feet called Soft Ride Boots.  They are designed to cushion his feet and reduce the stress of putting extra weight on his good foot and leg.  Kris calls them “clown shoes’ and I think that’s a good description.

Annabelle led Chic over to the grassy area in front of the clinic and immediately went to work on some grooming.

This is a girl who has Show Sheen and is not afraid to use it.

First Some Show Sheen

She sprayed and brushed his tail until it absolutely glistened.

Brushing Tail

Then she went to work on his mane.  She had to groom carefully to avoid the I.V. catheter that was stitched in his neck for him to receive his antibiotics and other medicines.

Mane All Clean

When she finished the mane, she went back to the tail again and did a nice braid job.

Braiding Tail

Once Chic was all shined up, another little walk was in order.  I could tell that our favorite gentleman was really enjoying his time in the fresh air and sunshine.

Going for a Walk

Chic’s coat is a little dull from weeks in a stall, and he’s lost some weight that he didn’t need to, but he has that same old “I love life!” shine in his eyes that he’s always had.  It is so good to see.

Chic will finish up his I.V. antibiotics today.  He received a treatment with a drug called Tildren on Tuesday, and it is hoped that the Tildren will help resolve the bone cyst that had developed on his damaged joint.

If everything goes as planned, Chic may get to go home as early as tomorrow afternoon.  We are so looking forward to seeing him out in his pasture again, hanging out with his buddies and lounging around.  With a little bit of luck he can spend many more years doing just that.

Thanks for all your support, and please keep sending positive vibes Chic’s way.

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Annabelle’s Epic 6th Birthday Party

My precious firstborn turned six years old on September 25th of this year (yes, over a month ago), and we held her birthday party a few days later.  You might be wondering why it has taken me so long to write a story about that party, and several answers come to mind when I contemplate that question.

A) I’ve been busy.

B) My computer exploded.

C) I am lazy.


D) I have only now sufficiently recovered from the party so as to be able to re-experience it through the writing of this blog.

The answer is actually A.  And kinda D.  Just kidding.  The party was a blast.  But kinda D.

In the planning stages of her party, Annabelle said she wanted an event just like her brother Zach’s, that we had held in April.  That party was a fun, outside, kid-centric extravaganza with a bounce house, pony rides, four wheeling, and rocket launching by Desperate Hubby and his assorted helpers.  It had been a successful party, and relatively easy to manage, since most the of guests stayed outside the majority of the time and the kiddos were all entertained by the various planned activities.

A bounce house party actually seemed pretty easy to plan. With the experience from last time under my belt I was sure I could pull it off.  It all sounded very uncomplicated, in fact, until it came time to do the guest list.  We had all of our usual friends and family to invite, of course, but there was a new element involved this year.


After her somewhat rocky initial adaptation to life as a kindergartener, Annabelle had settled in and was really loving her school.  And, with few exceptions, ALL of the kids in it.  When we talked  about her birthday party, she tried hard to decide who to invite from her class.  This was complicated by the fact that though she really, really, really liked several of the kids and just had to have them at her party, she didn’t know all of their names.  Also, she was genuinely concerned that if she invited some of the kids from her room and not the others she might hurt someone’s feelings. I thought that was a really sweet sentiment.

I spent about a week or ten days in denial, and then arrived at the only possible solution.

We would invite ALL of the kids from her class.

All thirty of them.  Along, of course, with their siblings and parents.  I sent an invitation to school with Annabelle early in the month, and the RSVP’s slowly trickled in.

It became immediately obvious that we would need a bigger bounce house this time.  I had to upgrade to the largest model available.

Up She Goes

Which sported, incidentally, a sixteen (no, that’s not a typo, and, again no, I did not think it completely through) foot high slide.

The slide was so big, in fact, that it required two air compressors, and blew the circuits in our house three times during the inflation process until we were smart enough to run a cord through the garage and plug it into the laundry room on a separate electrical circuit.

The kids had clamored in and were trying it out before the set up attendant had even finished with his installation.

Trying it Out

It truly was something to behold.

We put signs out by the road so that people would know where to turn.  And decorated the garage up so that it looked festive.

Party Garage

I had printed out a few photos of Annabelle as a baby and toddler and put them around on the tables.  Looking at them almost made me cry.  Still does.

Table top 2

She has loved animals from day one.

Table Top Pictures

Desperate Hubby had offered to cook hamburgers and hotdogs for our fifty or so expected guests, and he had his station all set up and ready to go.

Daddy Cooks

The guests poured in.


Almost all of the people who had RSVP’d showed up.  And quite a few who hadn’t.  It was tons of fun.

Grumpy and Reno walked their little hooves off, around and around and around.

Double Grump

There were all combinations of riders.

More Double Grump

They were like the Pied Piper of party attractions.

Pony Walking Masses

They didn’t seem to mind though.  The kids were having so much fun.

So Cute on Grump

The four wheelers kept pretty busy as well.


Of course the rockets drew a big crowd.

Rocket Prep

Cousin Joni took some really great pictures of the party.  Including this one of the actual launch.

There she Goes

Unfortunately for the soccer games taking place in the park next door, the wind was listing a bit toward the west.  Seems it is hard to keep the team’s attention when a massive bright yellow rocket suddenly comes floating into the game.

Not to mention the six or seven kids clamoring over the chain link fence to retrieve it.


True to form, Desperate Hubby put on a good spread.  He went through about seventy hamburgers and a like number of hot dogs.  There were an awful lot of hungry people there.


You might have noticed that I have neglected to mention the bounce house.

And the slide.

This looks dangerous

That is because I have been trying to block the slide out of my mind.

The slide was fun, but, well……problematic..

Slide Mayhem

With so many big kids, and so many little kids, and so many kids in between, the slide was pretty much constant mayhem.

The party hadn’t been going ten minutes when one little boy hurt his ankle.  When a big kid landed on it from above.  He wasn’t seriously injured, but that sort of set the tone for the slide.

Kids collided. Kids cried.  Parents tried to monitor, but it was a difficult proposition.  If I had it to do over again, I would not have the slide.

But let’s move along.

We had purchased six dozen cupcakes for the guests.

Birthday Cupcakes

There weren’t a whole lot left over at the end.

I got the birthday girl a little cake to put her candles on.  Make a wish!

Make a Wish

Since the part was on big sissie Sami’s actual birthday, we were thrilled and honored that she spent part of it with us.  She had her own cake, although she was allergic to it so she only got to blow out the candles.  Sorry Sami.

Isn’t she beautiful?!

Gorgeous BDay Girl

With so many wonderful and generous guests in attendance, you can imagine the gift opening got pretty out of hand.


Aunt Susie got Annabelle this picture that was painted by an actual horse.  That’s right, it isn’t a painting OF a horse, it is a painting BY a horse.  Super cool.

Annie with Picture

She got cowgirl decorations for her room.

Emma Presents

Which went just smashingly with her newly decorated space, complete with bunk beds so that Batman wouldn’t have to sleep on the end of the bed like a dog anymore.


After about four and a half hours of squealing, running, sliding and riding,  the guests slowly trickled back out and our home was returned to its former peaceful self.

Annabelle was absolutely thrilled by her party, and I was pretty happy too.   A big thanks to everyone who came and celebrated with us, who led horses, chased kids and rockets, and kids chasing rockets, and monitored the slide.  We loved having you all and appreciated you spending part of your day with us.

Birthday Girl

We’ll definitely do it again next year.  But maybe without the slide.

Categories: Kids Are Funny Creatures, Life in the Country | Leave a comment

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