Monthly Archives: July 2013

Errands with Batman, or Why I Can Never Again Visit the Caldwell Post Office

I must begin with an apology……this is not the blog that some people have been waiting for.  I have been working diligently on a long narrative about the awesome family vacation that the Desperate Family recently shared with my in-laws and Desperate Hubby’s extended family.  I am about halfway through that blog, which is full of pictures and observations and a lasting historical perspective on what was one of our most fun family vacations to date.

It is my personal policy to try to blog subjects in more or less chronological order, and to always finish one piece before beginning the next.

Sometimes, though, a day happens upon one that must immediately be recorded, both to insure that the events are remembered always, to hopefully be laughed about later, and to try to purge the mind of said events before waking up the next morning to face another day.

I’ll begin with saying that we have had a busy and enjoyable past several days.  The kids and I visited our local fair, the Canyon County Something To Crow About Extravaganza, three out of the four days it ran, petting countless goats and sheep, watching kamikaze 4-Hers on half-broke horses race around the arena chasing horned cattle, and riding the roller coaster (which was the biggest draw in the tiny rattletrap carnival) approximately forty-seven times.

We’ve enjoyed two sleep-overs with friends in the last three days, an event that is as exciting as it can be exhausting, and tends to whip the kids, Batman in particular, into a frenzy of barely controlled excitement and an unconquerable stream of silly, nonsensical and loud verbal diatribes.

On top of that, I am preparing myself, my horse and my household for upcoming back-to-back three-day weekends of horse shows, which is fun and exhilarating but also a little stressful.  This weekend will also be the first time we’ve taken Batman along on a horse show trip, so that adds a whole new element of planning to the party.

Today I took Batman and Annabelle with me when I went to the trainer’s to ride. I had planned to drop him off at a pre-school play date for a couple of hours, but he was wound up from a fun sleepover with friends last night and begged to be allowed to come along with us.  It was with some misgiving that I concurred.

We took Annabelle’s horse Grumpy along, and Batman was left to his own devices, which mainly entailed swinging his newly acquired plastic flashing Ninja sword around the faces of the tethered two-year old colts being saddled, whining loudly nonstop that he was hot and thirsty, then sitting outside the arena playing in the dust and asking every 3.2 seconds when we were going to leave.

After I finally finished riding, I had a few errands to run.  I normally try to avoid running errands with Batman since he is often impatient with the pace mandated by public carryings-on, but today I had no choice.  After dropping Grumpy and the horse trailer off at home, I stopped by McDonald’s and got the kids Happy Meals, which featured a ‘Minion’ toy that makes a charming little whistling sound when blown on.

From McDonald’s, I drove to the local Jiffy Lube to get the oil changed in the truck.  In the Jiffy Lube there were two rows of three seats, each row occupied by a lone woman.  I squeezed the kids and I into two seats (feeling pretty glad that I had only gotten a diet coke at MacDonald’s) and proceeded to try to keep the children occupied for the next half hour.

Batman was pretty good for about ten minutes.  Then he proceeded to blow maniacally on his little Minion toy, getting glares from both the woman seated next to us in our seat row and the Jiffy Lube man trying to sell me a new air filter (I felt so guilty that I went ahead and bought the filter even though I was pretty sure we didn’t need it).

Annabelle perused the small window sill of cardboard display pamphlets, finally selecting one and using the pen politely requested from me to fill in the order blank and circle interesting looking pictures on the glossy facade.  Batman took the same pamphlet, spread it out to it’s fullest map-like size on the floor and proceeded to lay spread-eagled on the filthy linoleum to read it, blocking all the available walking space in the little waiting area.

I pulled him to his feet with a hiss that would have frightened the family cats, and he then moved his attention to a “Ducks Unlimited” periodical he selected from the magazine rack, leaving the huge unfolded pamphlet exactly where he had left it.  Sensing my impending unhappiness, Annabelle quickly picked up and re-folded the pamphlet, leaving her brother to sit down at his leisure to read the magazine in the newly vacated chair next to us.

Unfortunately, the poor Jiffy Lube man chose that moment to come and tell us our truck was finished.  Batman immediately began squalling that he wasn’t done with his article, and he wanted to stay until he finished the duck story (he doesn’t yet know how to read.)

I finally got him away by promising him I’d buy a duck magazine the next time we went to the store, and we moved along to our next destination:  the local post office.  I really had misgivings about this stop.  I needed to certify the mailing of our quarterly employment taxes, but in general (and for no particular reason) I just have a squeamish feeling about taking my kids to the post office.  Since the taxes technically didn’t have to be mailed until tomorrow, I nearly weakened.  Then I thought, “This is ridiculous!  It is a ten minute stop, max.  How bad can it be?”

I got a good parking spot in front of the building.  The kids and I walked spryly in the front doors, and I noted with relief that there was only one person in line for the single clerk, a long-time employee  who seems to always be working when I go to the post office and who reminds me a lot of the television (commercial) star, Mr. Clean.

I quickly filled out the green and white forms for my certified envelopes while gently reminding my children that the brightly colored mailing packages were not placed in the rack behind us for them to pop the bubbles in the padded plastic façade.

Our turn behind the counter came up relatively quickly, and I herded the children up to Mr. Clean’s window.  Annabelle began playing with the curly wire attaching the non-functioning pen to the counter top, while Batman was drawn to a small display of packing tape which was just to the right of Mr. C’s window opening.  My boy immediately picked up a roll of the tape and began examining it carefully, eyeing me all the while.  Knowing my son’s predilection for taping objects together, I knew this wasn’t a safe or desirable distraction for him.

I asked Batman in a neutral voice to please put the tape back where he got it.  He backed slowly away from me like you would when you passed a noticeably crazy person on the street, turning the tape over and over in his hands.  I spoke slightly louder, noting as I glanced in my son’s direction that a line was beginning to build in the small room.  About four or five good citizens had joined us to witness our mailing endeavors.

Batman continued to toy with the roll of tape.  I reached over calmly and grabbed the only part of him I could easily reach, which was an upper arm.  I squeezed just hard enough for him to know I meant business, saying “I asked you to put that tape back!” in a quiet but (I hoped) threatening voice.

At that point Batman screamed as though he had touched a hot stove.  “OOOWWWWWW!  OWWWWWW!  Mom you’re hurting me. YOU HURT ME!!”

I won’t lie to you.  I really did want to hurt him at that point.

But what I did was calmly drop his arm and look back at Mr. Clean with what I hoped was a conciliatory gaze.  Mr. Clean surprisingly and summarily threw my half-processed letters on the scale, walked around the divider between his station and the empty one next to him, reached over the counter with an ape-like arm and grabbed the tape out of a very surprised Batman’s hand.  He very distinctly placed the tape on the tippy top of the little display, seemingly out of Batman’s reach.

Unfortunately, there were still three rolls of packing adhesive on the very bottom of the display, and as soon as Mr. Clean was on the other side of the counter again my little progeny looked me full in the face and reached up and ran his fingers lightly over all three of the rolls still within his reach.

I was mortified, more humiliated by Mr. Clean’s reaction than by my son’s actual behavior (which although annoying was really not that big of a deal).  I leaned toward my son and said something like “You stop it right now!”.  He continued to smirk at me, and while he didn’t actually take another roll of tape down off the display, he continued to graze them back and forth with his hand just to let me know he could if he wanted to.

Mr. Clean finished up my transaction in record time with nary a word spoken to me, not a thank you or even his usual “Need stamps today?” question, which was almost as humiliating as watching him jerk the tape out of my mischievous son’s hand.

I grabbed my receipt, and, pointedly keeping my eyes on the glass doors that meant freedom, grabbed Annabelle’s hand and walked toward the lobby. Batman came along at his own pace, as usual, lagging several steps behind us.  I passed through the propped-open right hand double-door, and didn’t turn around until I heard a distinct “clonk” of a head hitting glass.  I looked over my left shoulder.  Batman had purposely walked into the closed left half of the door, bouncing off dramatically as though he were a bird hitting a window.  I was halfway across the lobby, steps from the outside staircase that would lead to our truck and away from humiliation.  “Zach, come on!” I hissed to him.

My sweet little boy backed up a step, then walked into the door again.  Harder.  The people in line were all staring.  “ZACHARY – please…..”  I begged him.  Clonk.   Back two steps.  Clonk.  He had a huge smile on his face; I knew he was doing it on purpose, but I’m not sure if the other people in the post office did.  I implored him with my eyes.  He began making a mewling sound.  “Mom, I’m stuck!  I’m stuck!  I can’t get out!!”

I wasn’t sure whether to laugh or cry.  The absurdity of the situation won out though, and I couldn’t help but let out a choked giggle as I walked the three steps back to where he stood captive.  “OK, buddy, I admit that is kind of funny, but we’re leaving now.”  I grabbed him by the arm and pulled him through the door.  Two of the women who were waiting in line were laughing out loud by now, and that made me feel a little better.

Once we got to the car, though, the embarrassment took over once again.  “You are in so much trouble Zachary Morgan!  SO MUCH TROUBLE!!  When we get home you are getting a spanking.  A REAL spanking!!”  I meant it too.

Batman is the kind of kid that rarely gets in trouble.  He is a funny, extremely bright little boy, and admittedly his charm and poetic timing tend to keep him from a lot of disciplinary actions that a less-suave kid might encounter in life.  He has never had a real spanking in his days – maybe a swat or two now and then, but never anything that remotely qualifies as a spanking.  This time though I was mad.  Really mad. I was going to make an impression on him. Literally.

On the way home Annabelle kept apologizing for playing with the curly wired pen.  She said “I’m so sorry mama.  I’m so sorry mama.”  She knew trouble was brewing.  Not Batman though.  “How hard are you gonna spank me, huh?” he asked several times during the ten minute drive, blowing on the flames of my dwindling anger just enough to keep them alive.

I pulled up in front of our house and hit the garage door opener.  “Out of the car right now you two!” I said.  Batman looked at me.  “Are you REALLY going to spank me mom?”  “YES, I am really going to spank you.  In the house right now!”

Batman jumped out of the truck and followed me in the garage, even a little more fleet of foot than usual.  “Mom?”  he yelled as I slammed through the screen door into the kitchen.  “WHAT?!” I snarled.

“If you really ARE gonna spank me, could you please wait until I take my tennis shoes off?  My feet are really hot!”

I tried not to laugh.  Batman was looking at me with a look really similar to the one below, though I’m not sure what he was doing at the particular point in time this photo actually was taken.

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My heart wasn’t in it, but I did give Batman a couple of perfunctory swats.  They weren’t hard, and over the top of his long puffy gym shorts I’m sure he barely felt them.  He did cry though.  But only because I wouldn’t let him watch any TV for the rest of the afternoon.

A few minutes ago he came into the office where I sit typing this.  “Mom,” he said.  “I just wanted to tell you that if that was as hard of a spanking as you can give, you really aren’t a very good spanker.  It didn’t hurt at all.”

I gave him a kiss and sent him to bed.

After all, the Middleton post office is just a few minutes away anyhow.

Categories: Kids Are Funny Creatures | Leave a comment

Happy Trails My Beautiful Friend

Yesterday I said goodbye to one of the best friends I’ll ever have.  It wasn’t a sad, teary, final goodbye, because I know I will see her again, maybe even ride the trails on the Boise foothills just like we always did.

But there will be one difference this time – I won’t be riding her and she won’t be mine.

The Long Road to Spice

The beautiful bay mare Spice entered my life just over two years ago.  At that time I had not had a horse to ride for over five years.  A year before I met Spice I had been so desperately missing having a horse that I bought a cheap bay mare off of Craigslist.  I knew the second I saw the mare that it wasn’t right, but I talked myself into it.  I liked her breeding; she was my favorite color; most of all the price was right.  I had so missed having a horse in my life that I just thought I’d make it work.

It turned out to be a disaster.

I was coming back to riding after several years off following a bad accident and my confidence was at an all-time low. The mare was not gentle or well-trained and spooked after an equipment malfunction when I was riding her (in the trainer’s saddle) the second or third time.  I came off of her, and though I wasn’t injured I was so unsettled that I never got the confidence to ride her again, and sold her after just a couple of months, feeling like I might be done with horses forever.

The next spring though, the bug bit again.  We had gotten a little black pony for Annabelle to learn on, and I wanted to find something that I could enjoy riding with her.  Horses were not a very important factor in our budget at that time, so I didn’t have much money to spend.  Once again I turned to the online ads on Craigslist, and I started hunting.  This time I was prepared to take my time and find something that really suited me, no matter how long it took.

And it took a while.

I looked at half a dozen horses over the next couple of months, and out of them only one was even worth riding.  She was another bay mare,  and she was great on the trail and fairly quiet in the arena.  She was pretty, with one weird exception:  her head was crooked.  Really crooked.  When you sat on her and looked down at her ears they were set slightly off to one side.   It was disconcerting to look at, though it didn’t appear to really hamper her.  I assumed that the horse had pulled back really hard on her halter at some point and damaged her neck.  That worried me some, but as I said before, it didn’t seem to affect her.  I almost bought that mare, but something made me stop.  The lopsided head bugged me, and I had promised myself I’d buy something I loved this time.

I passed on the mare then, and again two weeks later when the seller (a very nice well-respected rodeo-family-mom from Kuna) called to ask me if I’d just come get the mare.  She was dealing with family health problems and didn’t have time to fool with selling a horse.  She’d let me have the horse for practically nothing.  I felt bad for her, but politely said no.

I wanted to love my next horse, not talk myself into it.

I’d almost given up on finding something when about two weeks later I saw another ad.  It was once again a bay mare, this one located in Sand Hollow.  The ad said she had cow horse training and could be a family horse.  I called and got directions to the place, and the next morning after I dropped the kids off at pre-school I followed the directions.

I got lost a couple of times and almost just went back home, but I finally called the number on the ad and spoke to the owner, who talked to me the last few miles to help me find the right place. The owner of the horse was a young BSU student who lived in Boise, and the horse was boarded in Sand Hollow at her ex-step dad’s place.  There was no one home, she said, but I was welcome to take a look.

I Knew She Was The One

As soon as I drove up the driveway and glimpsed the mare I made arrangements to have the girl meet me that evening to ride her.  Without even getting out of the car I knew she was the one.

Of course I did get out of the car.  Spice was in a stall with a run, and I crawled through the panel fence into the pen with her.  She walked to me and stood quietly as I checked her all over.  She was absolutely beautiful, and gentle as could be.  I petted her and picked up her feet; looked at her teeth and stroked her long black mane.  I was smitten.

I called Desperate Hubby excitedly, and he agreed to go with me that evening to watch the kids while I rode the mare.

The day seemed to drag on forever, but when DH got home we loaded up the kids and headed out.  I brought the horse trailer and my saddle, since the girl said she didn’t have a saddle available at the property.  The weather had rapidly turned from a sunny morning to a cold, windy afternoon.  As we passed through Middleton the rain showers started, along with a pretty impressive thunder and lightning show to match.

I was undeterred.  Nothing was going to stop me from riding that horse.  DH stopped at Purple Sage Golf Course and I ran inside to buy a hat at the pro shop.  I was drenched by the time I got inside, and when I told the guy behind the counter that I needed a hat so I could go try my new horse he just laughed at me.

Then he gave me a hat for free and told me good luck.

We pulled up to the farm where Spice was and there was not a sign of her owner.  I went into the barn and got a halter and caught her.  When the girl called and said she was running late, I pulled the mare out of the pen and tied her to my trailer.  The rain had stopped, though it was windy as all get out.  Spice stood quietly as I saddled her and we waited for another half hour in the cold damp evening.

As we stood there the step dad came out of the house and told me what he knew about the horse.  He and the girl’s mother had bought the mare several years before and the girl had only ridden her a handful of times before losing interest.  Spice had had a few months of cow horse training at the very beginning, but had stood in the pasture without being ridden for over two years.  He was sick and tired of boarding her for free and it would be good riddance as far as he was concerned.

Before he went back into the house he produced a legal waiver form which exculpated him from any liability should I be injured on his property.  He said I’d have to sign it before I could do anything else with the mare.

Huh.

When the young owner girl arrived the circus began.  She was with her younger sister and their very energetic and untrained lab-mix dog.  The dog kept getting loose and running all around the horse while loudly barking non-stop.  The owner was wearing Ugg boots and stretch jeans, and did not seem the horsey type at all.  She didn’t have a bridle, and I hadn’t thought to bring one, so she went into the house and out came step dad again.  He found an old bridle that he had used on one of his mules.  It didn’t really fit Spice but we slipped it on and the girl climbed aboard.

Spice walked out calmly into the arena, looking as though she’d been ridden just the day before.  The wind howled and spit rain, and the dog ran in circles around the duo barking incessantly and pausing every few steps to jump up and bounce off of the rider’s leg.  It was something to see.

They walked around calmly for a few minutes, then trotted.  All looked good.  I was just about to tell the girl that I’d get on when she tried to kick the mare into a lope.  Spice was feeling good and she tossed her head a little and kicked a bit at the dog as she went into a canter.  This caused a panic attack in the young rider, who hauled up on the reins and jumped off the mare right in the middle of the arena. She led the horse over to the gate where I stood and apologized profusely.  “I don’t know why she did that.  She’s never done it before.  I can’t go on with showing her to you until I get someone to ride her and fix whatever’s going on.”  I was puzzled, but it was clear the girl was terrified of horses and completely undone by the experience.

I offered to get on her, but the girl said no.  She was done for the day.

What Was I Thinking?

I loaded my saddle and we drove away.  In my gut I knew there was nothing wrong with the mare, and I was certain she’d be perfect for me.  After a little discussion with DH I called the young owner. She was driving back to Boise as I called, and I told her that I’d like to buy the mare from her, for a third less money than she was asking.  I would pick up the mare tomorrow, cash in hand, and she would never have to get back on her again.  She balked at first, and I felt bad.  The mare was a great buy at full price, but money was at a premium for me at the time, and I knew that the young owner had no desire to ride the horse again.  She said she’d call me back, and it wasn’t five minutes later that she did.

It was a deal.

After all my experiences over the past year in trying to find the perfect horse I had just bought one.  Without ever swinging a leg over her.  What was wrong with me?

I met the young owner at 10 o clock the next morning.  We exchanged paperwork and with a little effort I got Spice loaded and took her home.  I wasted no time at all in saddling her to see what I had.  All brushed off and standing tied in the sunshine she was even more beautiful than before.

First Day Home

I immediately put a bridle on my new horse and climbed aboard.  She went through her paces like a champ, and though it was clear she was rusty and hadn’t been ridden in quite a while, her early reining training was evident, and she never offered to set a foot wrong, let alone buck with me.

The Love Affair Begins

I had found the horse of my dreams.  She was gentle and quiet, and while she had a few bad habits to overcome (like trying to nip you when you saddled her), her ground manners were impeccable.

In only a few weeks Annabelle was riding her around the pen, with me  close at hand of course.

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I rode the mare every day, and it wasn’t long until Annabelle and I ventured out on the trails together.  We went to Eagle Island a bunch at first.

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And tried camping…..here in Stanley.

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She traveled with us to McCall.

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We rode with friends.

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And climbed the hills of Avimor.

Annabelle Mom on Trail

Every time I rode the bay mare I loved her more.  She reminded me of why I enjoyed horses so much.  I felt like I did as a kid – I just couldn’t wait until the next ride.

That fall we were fortunate to get Grumpy, a retired reined cow horse that Annabelle was going to learn to rein on.  With Grumpy added to our string we could all go out for a ride, even Batman.

Kids Top o Mtn

Spice patiently ponied Reno the Black Pony over dozens of miles of trails with Batman in tow.  My son never touched the reins once, or even used his stirrups for that matter.

TR Batman at Top

Annabelle and I rode for uncountable hours with Grumpy and Spice.  Usually with Winston along for the ride.

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We rode with friends and family, sharing our horses with whoever needed a mount.

Girls at Rocky Canyon

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Spice just got better and better.

Annabelle could catch her easily; the mare lowered her head almost to the ground so my little girl could put her halter on.

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She could clean her feet.

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Brush her off.

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Pony her from Grumpy.

Walking to the gate

And give her a bath.

And A bath

While Batman never did get much into riding, he loved Spice in a way that only a little boy could.  He just liked to hang out with her.  She stayed right beside him.

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So Now You’re Probably Wondering What Happened…..

And it was this.  As time went on Annabelle got more and more into showing horses.  I considered finishing the training on Spice and trying to get her ready for horse shows, but at the age of 11 it didn’t seem fair to put the mash on her and risk hurting her or blowing her mind.  One trainer I asked said “She is wonderful for what she is; just enjoy that and don’t try to make her into something she isn’t.”

That was good advice; as an older horse she would have to compete with horses who had been in cow horse training since they were two  or three years old, and even though Spice was an exceptional horse with a great foundation, that would be a hard curve to catch up to.

I missed competition myself though, and last fall I was finally able to get a show horse and re-enter the reined cow horse competition arena.

We trail rode less and less.

Don’t get me wrong, we used Spice occasionally for trail rides with friends, but I mainly needed to focus on riding my young mare Freckles, and there usually just wasn’t time enough in the day to do both.

Still Meandering

When I did get out on Spice I remembered every time just how much I loved her.  She was always the same, whether you rode her every day or once a month.

Riding Owyhees

I hated to have such a nice horse just sitting out in the pen, and occasionally I thought about trying to find my beautiful friend a new home where she would be ridden and loved.  Batman absolutely went crazy when I mentioned it though, and truth be told I really just wanted to keep her around.

And Then I Got The Email

A friend of mine who had been on many trail rides with me and Spice knew of a trainer who was looking for a horse for a pre-teen girl.  They needed a gentle and calm horse that could instill confidence and teach a kid to ride. The family ran cattle on a big ranch in central Idaho as well, so they needed a horse that could be ridden out and was comfortable around cows.  Did I think Spice might fit that bill?

I knew Spice was perfect, but I wasn’t sure I wanted to take the next step. I employed my passive-aggressive side and said that sure, my friend could give my number to the trainer.  I knew I wouldn’t call her, but if she wanted to contact me that was fine with me.   “She’ll never call,” I told myself.  I knew the email had gone out to several friends and I figured that the trainer would be overwhelmed with calls from people who really wanted to sell their horses.

But she called.

We talked about Spice. I told her that I really didn’t want to sell the mare, but I hated having such a good horse sitting around.  She asked lots of questions and said she’d be back in touch.

A couple of weeks went by.  Whew, I thought.  Dodged a bullet.

Then she called again.

The family was coming back from the Bahamas and wanted to see the mare the next week.  Unfortunately I was gone to Paso Robles for the NRCHA Derby that week.   We could try for the following week.

When we finally got it together, it was agreed that I’d take Spice to the trainer’s place on a Tuesday evening.  After a perfectly nice day the weather had turned nasty.  A huge dust and wind storm was blowing through the valley as we drove, reducing visibility to just a few feet in front of the truck.  We finally made it to the trainer’s barn and it was pretty chaotic.  Tin was banging, tarps were flapping and dust swirled everywhere.  I couldn’t help but think of the evening I had first tried Spice.

I knew it was a sign.

We met the girl’s father and brother, and I liked them both on the spot.  We decided to go ahead with the trial in spite of the adverse conditions and I unloaded Spice and saddled her up.  Being the level-headed mare she is, she was unfazed by the wind or the noise or the half-dozen horses running and bucking on the hill behind the round pen where we rode.

I rode Spice.  The father rode Spice.  I changed saddles and Annabelle rode Spice.  The prospective new owner, an eleven year old girl, Ginny, showed up as we were all finished with our rides.  We changed saddles once again and she rode Spice.  I could tell right away that she was nervous, but she had wonderfully soft hands and a beautiful seat in her english saddle.  She was a gorgeous, sweet and shy girl, and I just knew she and Spice could be great friends and partners.

When the ride concluded we agreed to take Spice to the family’s property for a trial period.  I had told the trainer previously that I preferred to make absolutely sure the pair was a match before any money changed hands, and she agreed with me whole-heartedly.  Spice’s new home was beautiful, with big welded pipe pastures and a large well-maintained arena.  We turned the  mare out in a pen alone, and I drove off; happy for her but melancholy for the loss.

Ginny rode Spice and got to know her for a couple of weeks. I went to give Ginny another lesson on the mare before a final decision was made, and I was amazed at how they were getting along.  Spice was quiet and willing; Ginny was already much more confident in her riding and looked so beautiful on the pretty mare.

Yesterday we met Ginny’s dad and the trainer at the vet for a pre-purchase exam for Spice.  Annabelle went with me to the early appointment, and she had to time get in one last ride on our friend before she changed hands.  She walked Spice quietly around the round pen at the vet while we waited for Dr. Billy to come and take a look.

Happy Girl

I have bought and sold many horses in my lifetime; and isn’t always easy to part with them.  In this case though, the impending separation was especially bittersweet.

Spice had rejuvenated my love of riding, and without her calm and willing attitude I don’t know if I would have ever gotten back in the saddle.  Her presence had fueled an even stronger bond between me and my daughter and given us opportunities to spend more quality time together than some families do in a lifetime.

I have always believed that things work out the way they are supposed to.  I would have never gone out of my way to try to find Spice a new home, but I do believe that she was meant to pass the love of riding on to another girl in the same way she had for me.

Annabelle came into my office last night as I sorted through pictures to put on this blog.  She saw that I was crying and said “What’s wrong mama?”  I told her that I was really happy Spice had gone to such a great home, but I was sad we wouldn’t see her anymore.  “She has been such a big part of our lives,” I said through the tears.

Annabelle looked at me sagely for a few seconds.  “But mom,”  she said “now she’ll be a big part of their lives too!”

And so she will.  I hope you enjoy Spice as much as I have, Ginny.

Happy Trails.

Categories: Horse Adventures, Kids Are Funny Creatures, Life in the Country | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

Batman Buys a Pool

Sunday before last was planned to be a quiet and relaxing day around here at the Desperate Household.  After a busy Saturday and a late Saturday night, we all slept in to some degree, and Desperate Hubby and I were sitting around drinking coffee when the kids finally rolled out of bed around nine.

They immediately started with the usual round of questions…..”What are we going to do today……where are we going?  What do you meaannnn we aren’t doing anything?”

I was somewhat less than inspired about making a big plan for one of my rare unscheduled summer days, so I was happy when Desperate Hubby took charge of the conversation.  “What do you think we should do today?”  he asked.

“Go get a pool! Go get a pool!” Batman loudly suggested.  Batman’s sister jumped up and down excitedly squealing “YESSSSSS, a pool daddy.  A pool!!”  The kids have been waiting patiently through the preceding hot summer afternoons for the day when we had enough free time to get a pool to put on the back porch. They remember the pool of last summer rather idealistically, since it had lasted only a few days before Winston popped the supporting ring that kept the sides up and we had to dispose of it not long after it was filled.

DH looked at Batman for a moment.  “Well, where are we going to get the money to buy a pool?  Do you have money for a pool?”

Batman went silent, and I could just see the thoughts running through his head.  I have before mentioned Batman’s very un-child-like capacity for collecting stuff, from leftover live fishing worms (with which he started a worm farm on his dresser that outgrew two aquarium structures until I finally disposed of it after the third time I found worms crawling down the carpet in the hallway), to maps, to old purses filled with hunting calls and an entire suitcase of camouflage hunting clothes.

Another thing Batman collected, I knew, was money.  Like everything else he gathered, he was both thorough in his acquisition skills, leaving no stone (or jeans pocket, as the case may be) unturned in his quest to add to his stash, and vigilant in keeping his loot under wraps.  At the age of five he doesn’t totally understand the concept of money, but he does know that it buys stuff, and he has been saving money for a boat, one penny, nickel and dime at a time.

Batman determined this saving goal one weekend after fishing with his daddy from the local shore while his sister and I were enjoying a trip to Las Vegas for a horse show.  Desperate Hubby reported that Batman looked longingly at all the people floating around the lake in their fishing boats that afternoon.  Father and son talked about the boats: what kind would best suit them; where they would go with it;  what fish they would catch.

Then he ended that conversation with these words of wisdom for his father: “You know dad, if you keep giving mom all your money for those stupid horses we are NEVER gonna get a boat.”

So he started saving.

He had steadfastly refused to consider using his money for anything up to this point; no matter how much he wanted something he would not break into his bank.  So it came as a great surprise that Sunday morning when he said “Yes, I do have money for a pool.  I will get it out and see if it’s enough.”

So he did.

First we counted the paper money, which Batman refers to as “Cash.”  He had accrued an astounding $30 in ones, fives and a single ten-dollar bill, a little of it birthday money that hadn’t made it to the bank but most undoubtedly appropriated from around the house as it sat momentarily unsupervised.

Next we went on to the coins.  I showed him how to count out the quarters, and he sat patiently on the coffee table painstakingly stacking little columns of four.  I added the money from the laundry jar that sits on a shelf above the washing machine to his pile so he had quite a load to sort through.

Counting the Quarters

When the counting was complete even Batman was surprised at how much he had accumulated:  $42 in quarters alone.

All Counted

When all the money was separated out and counted it added up to nearly ninety dollars, almost enough to pay for the hard-sided pool that I had found on-line at a clearance price in several stores within a few miles from us.  Satisfied that Batman had exhibited financial maturity by agreeing to use his money for something that he really, really wanted, DH told him to bring the “Cash” and put all the rest away and keep on saving.  At first I thought “How sweet!” and then I realized that hubby just didn’t want to deal with the change.  Still, it was nice.

The happy trio of daddy, son and daughter left on their quest, coming home over an hour later with not the hard-sided pool we had agreed on, but a duplicate of the blow-up pool from last year that had been trashed so quickly.  Seems we were not the only family thinking of cooling off in the 100 degree-plus temperatures forecast for the coming week.

Still, the kids were happy.  They immediately got suited up in preparation for a full afternoon of swimming.

Waiting for fill

They waited impatiently as the water slowly lifted the plastic ring that provided wall support for the pool.

Will it ever be full

When the pool was finally full, they jumped in to the cold water with all the enthusiasm you could imagine.  They wore their vests.

Love the vests

And shared the float tube.

Double Float Tube

The cold water took its toll rather quickly, so mid-afternoon Annabelle took a break from swimming to ride Grumpy around while she warmed up.  She caught him, booted him up, fashioned reins out of her lead rope and got on all by herself while I watched from the shade of the back porch.

Pool Break

Then she trotted him around and around the grass until the most surprising thing happened.

Daddy came out to swim.

Daddy Floats

Having daddy join them in the pool reignited all of the initial enthusiasm the kids had started with, and it wasn’t long before they were all playing like wild monkeys.

Sissy Jumps

It took Batman a while to get his nerve up to jump, but when he did he was unstoppable.

Batman Launches

The kids had a wonderful time swimming in the pool that afternoon.  By the next day the water had warmed up considerably, and Batman and his sister had fun for the next several afternoons swimming in the pool and watching Winston jump in and out of the increasingly murky water.

Sadly, this year’s pool soon met the same demise as last year.  Batman’s hard-saved-for investment lasted only about ten days before our crazy bird dog Winston created a tiny hole in the upper ring, either with his toe nails or the collar that Annabelle had accidentally left on him, and the pool now lists dramatically to one side with only about ten inches of dirty water inside.

Not to worry though.  Knowing that this would be the likely outcome, I ordered a new, much more durable, hard-sided pool with a filter to be delivered to our house.  It arrives today.

Batman doesn’t even have to pay for it.

Categories: Kids Are Funny Creatures, Life in the Country | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

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