Posts Tagged With: ponies

A Perfect Seven

My little Annabelle recently celebrated her seventh birthday, and though I had not planned to orchestrate a multi-day extravaganza it sort of turned out that way.  In the end, it was obvious that the variety of events commemorating her milestone were oh-so-fitting for my first-born’s multi-faceted personality.

Celebration Day One:  A Real Birthday, Sans Stirrups

Annabelle’s actual birthday fell on a Wednesday, so after a day at school we had a quiet family (and by family I mean Batman, Annabelle, adopted-sister Kristi and me) at the Texas Roadhouse restaurant, or as Annabelle refers to it “That Restaurant by the Freeway Where You Throw Peanuts on the Floor.”  Desperate Hubby was practicing with his band that night, so he didn’t get to join us for the meal.  We managed to have fun without him, though, especially the birthday girl, who squealed with delight when she was placed on the decorative saddle for her birthday picture.

Until she said “Waaaait a minute!  Why doesn’t this saddle have any stirrups!?”

The kids’ school had thoughtfully given us a four-day weekend for Annabelle’s birthday, (well, actually I’m not exactly sure that was the reason for it, but we had a long weekend just the same) so we had plenty of time to continue with the celebrations.

Replete with birthday dessert, we headed home to we could get up early and try out Annabelle’s birthday gift from her dad and I, which was this snazzy new bridle for Pony Reno.  The bridle features a beautiful leather headstall complete with shiny crystal brow-band conchos (thanks Bob Bean for putting it together), a cute little pony-sized correction bit with silver detailing on the shank, and brand new pink and purple roping reins which were a gift from our friend Jacki.

Annabelle was thrilled with her new bridle.  Reno maybe not so much.

New Bridle

Celebration Day Two:  Grandmas Make the Day

We woke up to a cold and rainy day on Thursday, and since it was not a good day to break in the new bridle we headed out for some birthday-party shopping preparations, arriving home just in time for our next two birthday events.

We started with an afternoon shopping trip with Grandma Becki (who successfully braved not only a drenching rainstorm, the new traffic roundabout down the street AND her Canyon County Social Immersion Class at our local Wal-Mart – bravo Becki!) where Annabelle got two fantastic gifts, including a very authentic-sounding and noisy battery-operated kitty.  Batman was thrilled to get a few things as well, and Becki was nice enough to bring home a roasted chicken from the deli “just because.”  It was probably that chicken that got me through the rest of birthday prep!

The afternoon shopping trip was followed by a Thursday night birthday dinner with Grandma Kay and Grandpa Vernon, along with friends Shawny and Sierra, which was held at the mecca of fun in our neighborhood, the Arctic Circle (or the “Place with the Blue Play Fish,” as my kids refer to it.)  Annabelle got presents from all, and the kids played like only free-ice-cream-cone-fueled elementary students can.  After a couple of hours I dragged them away, protesting all the while, to get some sleep in preparation for the ongoing events of the next few days.

Celebration Day Three:  A Mystery Door Locker

Friday was meant to be a quiet day, spent cleaning, decorating and finishing preparations for Saturday’s planned birthday party.  After a morning spent shopping and organizing a few things around the house we decided to run over to the barn where Freckles, my show horse, lives, to go for a ride.  I had a lot of things left to do, but the kids were restless, so I figured we could spare a couple of hours for some outside time.

Batman has had a renewed interest in riding of late, (look for my blog:  Zach in the Saddle, coming soon), so we saddled Grumpy for him and Annabelle rode Pony Reno (who performed fantastically in his new bridle, by the way) while I loped my mare.  We finished up in an hour or so, fighting a chilly breeze and more than ready to head home.  Batman was a little whiny and very hungry, so he climbed in the car to forage for a snack.  When he couldn’t find something satisfactory, he climbed back out, disgruntled and wanting to know how soon we were leaving.

Unfortunately, while Batman was in the pickup, somebody inadvertently locked all of the vehicle doors (I still don’t know who the culprit was, since Batman insisted vehemently that it wasn’t him).  Since my cell phone was also locked securely in the truck (along with all of our jackets), we had to borrow a phone to call Desperate Hubby for rescue.

DH was in the middle of finishing up a loan package that had to be submitted, and he exhibited less-than his usual amount of enthusiasm about my phone call.  Nonetheless, he arrived about thirty minutes later, and after quickly figuring out that he could not magically open the truck without keys he used his cell phone to call a locksmith for us.

About ninety minutes after that, I was on the road again.  The kids, being the opportunistic little creatures that they are, had hitched a ride with Grandpa Vernon and were already home playing with Shawny and Sierra while I waited with the horses for help to arrive.

Desperate Hubby got home shortly after I did, and after a quick dinner he took the kids to football practice by himself.  I was considerably behind schedule by that point, so I spent until nearly midnight finishing sweeping the garage, hanging pink crepe paper  and happy birthday banners and making lists for the next day.

Celebration Day Four:  The Real Birthday Party

I kept a nervous eye on the weather as Saturday dawned, which was the day of Annabelle’s official party and what was slated to continue an ongoing fall-like weather pattern. Desperate Hubby headed out early with both kids for their flag football game, though Annabelle balked at the cold and wondered why she had to go since it was, after all, her birthday.

As it turned out, the birthday girl had a fantastic game, finally hitting her stride as one of the fastest members on the team, pulling flag after flag on defense, then running the ball deep into the opposing team’s territory time and time again on offense.  DH was all smiles when he came home, recounting with glee the frustration of the opposing team’s (Redneck, he said) coaching staff at their inability to stop the progression of a girl, of all players.

Annabelle does look pretty fierce in her football regalia, no?

No.  Not really.  But she is fast!

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With the rest of the birthday team home, we finalized preparations for the party and soon welcomed our guests.  Last year we had invited the entire kindergarten class for what turned out to be the most wild, raucous and memorable birthday party ever, but this year Annabelle had decided to make it a lower-key day, inviting “Girls Only” and limiting it to just a handful of her friends from class.

Just as the guests began to arrive the chilly overcast weather took a turn for the better, and with sun intermittently shining and breeze quieted we were in for a blissful afternoon.  We had the requisite bounce house, which was most notable for the upside-down “Happy Birthday” banner installed by the teenage delivery boy (and then reinstalled by DH in its proper format).  Though I actually had the time this year to walk around, converse a little with my fellow parents and enjoy the party myself, I apparently did not have the time to take a picture of the bounce house.  It was red and yellow and blue (with no slide this year in case you were wondering).

I had experienced a flash of craftiness in planning our activities this year, and decided to have the kids make their own party favors.  I purchased a bunch of plain wooden frames for 97 cents each, and coupled them with a big table stocked with paint, glitter, stickers, and other decorative items.

The first thing I had each child do upon their arrival was go to the table, pick out a frame, and paint and decorate it so it would have time to dry before the party ended.  I curiously did not get any pictures of the actual decorating process, but this is what the table looked like after the party.

And no, I don’t know what I was doing all that time either.

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After the kids were finished decorating their frames, they were free to roam and bounce, eat pizza and candy, pet the bunnies or the cats or dogs, and ride the pony or the horse or the four-wheelers.  They seemed to have a good time.

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At some point during the afternoon I did force each of them to each sit individually on the pony for a photo, something like this.

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Or, in Annabelle’s case like this.

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Batman was the lone holdout who took advantage of Grumpy’s decorations.  He had chosen to remained dressed in his white football shorts throughout the day, pairing them with a white t-shirt which gave him the look a tiny wandering pool boy traversing the party of (almost completely) girls.

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Once everyone’s picture was captured, I ran into the house and printed them out individually, enlisting the help of adopted-daughter Kristi to get them cut out in a size that would accommodate all three frame shapes we had ended up with.

When that was done, Kristi and the other sissies all pitched in to assemble the finished favors – a custom picture frame showcasing the cutest little party-goers imaginable sitting on the decorated pony.  Some of the kids (and a few mothers too, ahem) had gotten amazingly creative, writing their names on the frames and creating elaborate detail with their colors, jewels and stickers.  All of them were cute.

This is Annabelle’s.

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And her brother’s.

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I was really surprised and delighted by how well the whole project turned out.  In the end we had thirteen beautiful little frames and photos of (drum roll please) thirteen smiling children.  It was a whole lot of fun, and about the simplest party project you could imagine.

You are welcome to copy the idea for your next party.

But you’ll have to come get the pony yourself.

Party favors all wrapped up, we turned to the next order of business.  The obligatory pinata.

Sister Sami was in charge of swinging and raising/lowering the cardboard horse, creating a level of difficulty matched roughly to each child’s hitting ability.

Sami Raises

In my experience, there are few things that kids love better than a good pinata beating, and this afternoon was no exception.

They swung.

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And swung.

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They laughed.

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They became enraged by their inability to break the pinata, swinging again and again in an apparent testosterone-fueled rage at the inanimate object.

Oh wait, that was just Batman.

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Finally the pinata was broken, and children scrambled like chickens to pick up the scattered candy.  I let them gorge themselves for a few minutes, then herded them in to provide some more party sugar.

Since it had been the other three sissies’ birthdays over the past month and we hadn’t gotten to celebrate with them,  we put all of the girls’ names on the cake.  (Editor’s note:  a beautiful bunch, yes?)

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Annabelle and her inimitable brother Batman got the honor of blowing out the candles.

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We passed out cupcakes and ice cream cups to the throng of party-goers, saving the decorated cake to send back home to BSU with the older sissies.

Then came the moment all the little ones had been anticipating.

Present time.

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Annabelle was thoroughly spoiled with the largesse she received.

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Present after present, each special and oh-so-fitting for the birthday girl.

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After the gifts were opened, guests were thanked and some clean-up was accomplished, we had a hearty dinner with adopted-Uncle Danny and headed off to an early bed-time.

This birthday wasn’t over yet.

Celebration Day Five:  We Burn All That Sugar Off

In my infinite wisdom I had scheduled Annabelle and I to run the “2013 Wine Race” 5k the day after the birthday party.  We had to be over on Sunny Slope near the tiny town of Marsing for our 10:00 start time.

I was excited about the race.  Back a couple of years ago, before Annabelle and I had started filling our weekends with trail rides and then horse shows, we used to race all the time. Though we hadn’t done many 5ks in the past year or so, both my daughter and I remember each of the runs fondly, and I wanted to encourage her to continue to view exercise in a favorable light.

When I sent our entry in for the Wine Race, though, I had not taken realized that we would be on day five of birthday celebration activities,  following a full day spent celebrating with a dozen little friends and their (and our) families.  Nor did I foresee a cold, windy morning, intermittently spitting rain on our under-dressed bodies.   I just saw an open day, a new race for us, and signed us up.

Boy am I glad I did.

Despite the fact that I made a rookie error in parking, going along like a lemming with others who left their cars at the bottom of a steep mile-long hill that had to be climbed to reach the starting line,  my newly seven-year old daughter and I had a wonderful time at the race.

Ready to Run

We joined hundreds in our wave who ran, jogged or walked (we did mostly the latter) a moderately hilly three-mile course through our own Idaho wine country, passing under the beautiful iron arch of the Ste. Chappelle winery as we set out.

And we're Off

Cresting the first hill was a bit of a challenge for Annabelle (after all she had already hiked a mile uphill just to get to the start), but she never complained.

Well, not much anyway.

Top of First Hill

We were both happy to finally hit the home stretch, a gravel field road winding slowly down to the finish line below.

The Home Stretch

We hung around the after-party for a brief period, listening to live music and watching all the people, but we were tired and ready to head home.  I didn’t even take advantage of the free wine tasting, so you know I was done in!

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On the way home we stopped for Annabelle’s favorite lunch, a Quizno’s turkey sandwich, and headed home to settle in for a relaxing afternoon.  It was a school day the next morning, and I had no trouble convincing Annabelle or her brother to hit the pillow early that night.

It had been an action-packed birthday celebration, as varied in activity as my lovely daughter is in her interests.

A very fitting celebration if you ask  me.

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

Pony Rides $1….uh….50 cents?

The kids and I had a rare free Saturday yesterday, and we decided to take advantage of it by going for a little ride at Eagle Island.  This ride was special for me and Annabelle because Batman had decided to accompany us.  His participation in equine activities has always been sporadic, and the time between his rides has grown greater and greater over the past months.

Annabelle was, as always, eager to show off her riding prowess, and she wasted no time in planning how the day would evolve.  When we discussed horse assignments she volunteered to ride the pony and let her brother ride Grumpy, as the pony had not been ridden for a couple of months and she was “a lot better rider than her brother.”

We caught the horses, and I saddled Reno first.  After I lunged him around for five or ten minutes I thought he would be safe for her to climb on.  She mounted up and started trotting him around in small circles, bending his head and bridling him up to get him to listen to her.  All seemed like it was going well, but I watched carefully for several minutes before I went back to saddling.  I knew the pony could be fractious after time off, and it was a cold winter day out there.

I was on the other side of the trailer removing mud from a less-than-thrilled Grumpy, and  I kept glancing  around the corner to check on progress.  At first, Reno seemed pretty compliant.

After about ten minutes though, I heard an alarming sound…..kind of a yelp/scream from my little girl.  I rushed around the trailer just in time to see her launched off the back of the little black bastar bad boy and land on the frozen ground on her back.

Then this.

I ran to my baby girl, who was actually crying.  She has been bucked or fallen off of more horses than most children her age will ever ride, and she almost never cries.  So I was really mad at that pony.

I got Annabelle up and asked if she was all right.  She answered in the affirmative, but made it clear she wasn’t getting back on.   After a long hug and quick check of body parts, she trudged off to get some grain in a bucket so we could catch Reno.  He has proven on more than one occasion that he enjoys a little freedom now and then, and it is almost impossible to catch him when he’s on a rampage.

I tried though.

He ran.

And bucked.

And ran some more.

He's Off

Although I knew I wouldn’t likely catch him without the grain, I couldn’t stop myself from chasing him.  I tried to head him off by jogging around the side of the horse trailer, where Spice was tied rearing and bucking in place from all the excitement.

Reno was thinking about running me down when suddenly Annabelle appeared behind him, rattling the bucket.

The pony screeched to a halt and his entire demeanor changed.

He turned and walked calmly to my now-smiling little cowgirl.

Who is the most forgiving person on the planet.

She patted him on the nose and said “Good boy Reno!”

There was no talk of cancelling the ride from any involved party, so we carried on with our plans.  I got Spice and Grumpy saddled, and we loaded up and headed for Eagle Island.  We decided en route that Batman would ride Reno, since the pony is always a perfect gentleman on the lead line, and Annabelle would regain her composure on her trusty Grumpy.

When we finally got on the trail it was a beautiful ride.  Although we are in the depths of winter, there is plenty of wildlife to be seen at the lovely state park.  We saw several blue herons, and the kids marveled at their long wing spans.

We even saw a heron sitting in a tree along the river.  I had seen them on the ground many times, but I had never before seen one in a tree.  It was pretty cool.

We stopped after going through one of the many gates we had to pass to take a photo of the team.

And speaking of wildlife, one of the funniest moments of the ride was an encounter between Winston and a big flock of geese sitting in a field.

Winston looked at the geese for a long time trying to figure out what to do.

He finally talked himself into approaching the flock, and moved toward them cautiously.

Batman was beside himself with excitement.  All ride long he had wanted nothing more than to “catch a bird” to take home to daddy.  Although he has gone hunting a few times, I don’t think he has the concept that you have to actually shoot a bird to capture it.  He was sure that Winston would catch a goose for us, and that it would be “the PERFECT PRESENT for daddy!!!”

Winston wasn’t so sure about that.  One of the geese honked at him, and he turned around and high-tailed it back to us.

We laughed at him for a while, and when it was apparent that he was not going to approach the birds again we started to walk back down the trail.

Suddenly the crazy dog got a flash of inspiration, turned around, and took off for the birds at a dead run.  He ran right into the flock, who took flight at a leisurely pace.

The geese in the park are so used to dogs that they glided only about ten yards away and landed again.  Winston was so proud of himself that he didn’t care if the birds actually flew away.  He returned to us wagging his stump of a tail and smiling with his whiskery face.

He is a funny dog, that one.

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Before we got to the trailer, we had one more gate to go through.  Unlike all the other gates, this green metal swing gate could be opened and closed while on horseback.  Annabelle was intent that she was going to do it herself.

Because she had been planning on riding Reno, she was not wearing her spurs, so she had to work hard to get Grumpy sidled over so she could reach the locking arm.  I asked if she needed help.  You can guess the answer.

Got the Gate

When she got the gate unlocked, she swung it wide so that Batman and I could pass through.

Batman waited placidly for his sister to maneuver the gate.  He was disappointed that we had not “caught” any birds, and he was ready to get in the truck.

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After we passed through, it took a while for Annabelle to get Grumpy side-passed over and to where she could shut the gate.  I asked again if she needed help, and she said “NO MOMMY! I can do it myself.”

She shut and locked the gate all by herself, and rode smiling over to resume our trek.

I know she is my daughter and all, but dang she is cool.

Once we got the horses loaded and climbed back in the truck, the cold and activity took its toll on four-year old Batman.  He fell asleep before we hit the main road and although I know he must have been roasting he slept for the entire 45 minute drive.

Gloves and all.

It was a fun winter day.  We all appreciated the fresh air and relatively moderate temperatures, and it is always rewarding to do a physical activity with the kids.

So remember, we offer pony rides…..

……..with a 50% discount if you have good insurance.

Categories: Horse Adventures, Kids Are Funny Creatures, Life in the Country | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Further Adventures of Little Black Pony

This was supposed to be a story about travel.  I have decided that every Friday or so (I’ve always been a little non-committal) I am going to write a story about some of my travels around the world.  The story that unfolded in the horse pen last night though is such a good illustration of my life with Horsecrazy, that I couldn’t resist sharing it.  Africa will still be there next week.

Happy Girl

I had spent the day cleaning my office.  Emboldened by my success with Batman’s room, I had purchased some new bins (!) at the Super Walmart, dropped the kids off at daycare to play with their friends, and dug in.  In short order my formerly slightly messy office looked very similar to the “before” pictures in the “Organizing Batman” post earlier this week, except that instead of heaps of plastic trucks and naked baby dolls it was covered in piles of papers and boxes of files.  I took a picture, but it is just too humiliating to share.

Anyway, after two hours of cleaning and then another two engrossed in reading some of my travel journals, I was rushed to go get the kids and pick up the dog from the vet.  I think I mentioned that Winston the Maniacal Birddog Puppy was getting neutered this week.  I pulled my mind from racing over the plains of the Masai Mara on horseback full tilt after zebra, and climbed into my Durango to go do my rounds.

When I walked into daycare my little angel Horsecrazy started in. It went something like this.  Horsecrazy:  “Mom!  Can I ride?!” Me: “No. it is too late.  We have to get the dog and I have to make dinner.”  Horsecrazy: “Please, please, please. Can you just saddle Reno?!”  Me:  “No.” Horsecrazy:  “Please please please please I REALLY WANNA RIDE!”  Her voice was escalating and in an effort to just get her to the car I said “Maybe.”

Which to me means “No” and to Horsecrazy means “Absolutely!”

Fast forward forty minutes. I pull into the garage and go into the house to change my shoes.  Horsecrazy had won the battle of pleading during the ride, but I had negotiated her down to riding bareback, in a halter, in a separate pen, so that I could get the other horses fed and get in the house to get started on my gourmet shake n’ bake pork chops.  In other words, I basically told her that whatever she could do on her own, with no assistance from me, she was free to do.

She beat me to the pens, wearing long john bottoms with no pants over them because she absolutely refuses to wear jeans more than once and it was office cleaning day today, not laundry day.  What I saw when I arrived caused me to laugh in spite of myself and pull out my phone for some pictures.

She had caught the pony and tied his lead rope into reins, leaving a small length extended for a “whipping rope” (her words, not mine).  She’d also brought along a bucket to climb on because she knows from experience it is hard to get Reno to stand close to the fence long enough to get on.

Getting On 2

She almost got on on her first try.  But didn’t quite make it.  She put the bucket back and tried again.  The pony moved away.  She laughed and moved the bucket.

Almost On

She tried again.  The bucket tipped over.  She picked it up.  And tried again. And again. And again.  Every time the pony moved. Every time she kept moving the bucket.

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I have to say she has try, that girl.

Finally!  Sweet success!  She was on. The pony walked one step, Winston the Maniacal Birddog Puppy barked in exuberance and the pony bucked her off.

Annabelle on Ground

This is not unusual.  She ends up on the ground pretty much every day.  She got back on again, after much bucket maneuvering and pony positioning.

Then she proceeded to trot around the pen at a high rate of speed.

High Speed

I admonished her “NO loping!” and went in the house to get the beets on to boil.  After about thirty minutes I noticed that Horsecrazy was nowhere to be seen.  I went back outside.

She was loping around the pen.

She had removed the halter and was holding on to the lead rope looped around Reno’s neck with one hand and the dangling halter with the other. I took some awesome video of the event.  For some reason my camera didn’t save it. I am bummed.  She’s really pretty good.

Cowboy Batman had fun doing his own riding last night.

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Finally, I think Winston was happy to be home.  He came in the house when we were all finished up outside and laid down in his kennel.  He kept whining softly.  I gave him a treat and cooed “What’s wrong boy?  Are you OK?”  Handsome Hubby answered for him “He says ‘Has anyone seen my nuts? I can’t find my nuts!  My nuts are missing!!’”

He’s such a dog whisperer.

Categories: Horse Adventures, Kids Are Funny Creatures, Life in the Country | Tags: , , | 7 Comments

If I’d had my gun……I woulda killed him!

It was a windy, cold, nasty afternoon here in the beautiful country.  Annabelle, of course, was undeterred.  You see, although we live on a little piece of heaven in the country, the front of our property shares a border with a local park and soccer field.  When the fields are filled with players and their adoring parents Annabelle feels compelled to provide them with a free equine exhibition.

I was happily puttering around the kitchen, doing a little laundry and putting chicken into Handsome Husband’s favorite marinade, when my little darling trotted her sweet black pony over to the horse trailer.  I witnessed this from the kitchen window, and knew pretty well what would happen next.  She ran in, and said in her nicest voice, “Mom, would you saddle Reno for me?” I sighed, (I sigh a lot, as it turns out.  Zach recently asked me to “stop making that noise mom!”) Then I pulled on a jacket and gloves and went out to saddle the pony.  I had a lot of chores to do outside anyway, so I thought I might as well nurture my little girl’s passion while I was at it.

Anyway, if I didn’t mention it, it was very windy outside.  The pony was frisky and in no mood for a spontaneous “Pony Express Meets the Idaho Frontier” rendition.  I saddled him quickly, objecting but eventually conceding to Annabelle’s request to add her pink breast collar to the horsey ensemble (when she puts on a show she goes all out).  As I proceeded to bridle the little pony angel, I could tell he was not in the mood.  I put the pink reins around his neck before I slipped the halter off, and put my right arm over his tiny ears to pull the headstall up.

Low and behold, the little son of a buck pulled back.  Thinking I would give him a quick tune up, I whacked him gently on the off side cheek – a “come back to me sweetness tap” really.  Reno objected to this mightally, reared back, pulled the bridle out of my hands and proceeded to drag me about twenty feet by the neon pink roping reins which were looped around his neck.  I finally let go over by the propane tank, and the little sweetie proceeded to buck like a saddle bronc across the open grass area where we park the trailers.  He dragged between his legs the most expensive pieces of tack I have purchased in some time, a cute little hand tooled headstall supporting a very nice pony bit which cost at least 20% of the price of the pony himself.  And he wasn’t a cheap pony.

Although my  wee children were delighted by the escapade, I wasn’t, and I am pretty sure I said some words that would not be acceptable at the fancy Charter School next door to us, should they ever deign to admit us in the first place.  I chased the little bronco across the field, and by that time we had attracted the attention of several of the soccer parents, and even a few bored players.  I caught up to him by the neighbor’s old horse, and thought the game would be over quickly at that point when he lowered his head to indulge in some leftover alfalfa that had blown from the feeder.  As soon as I approached the little sucker he peeled right, mashing his expensive bit with a hind food and bolted for the haystack.  The next attempt to corral him was less pretty. I was yelling at Annabelle to get in front of him (after a quick check of the wind to make sure the soccer moms couldn’t hear) and we nearly had him before he was off again, running full tilt around the corner, the carefully tooled headstall being ground to a pulp beneath his horrid little feet.

He stopped around the corner this time, close to his own pen, by a small stack of alfalfa hay.  That is his weakness.

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I was really mad at him.  But I refrained from doing anything really diabolical, because the kids were watching. I calmly bridled him and boosted Annabelle aboard.  Zach was still laughing when he went to board his own ride.  They had a good day after that, pursuing their respective passions.

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But as I believe I mentioned before……it was a good thing I didn’t have my gun.

Categories: Horse Adventures, Life in the Country | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

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