Wednesday, July 28, 2021

the search

Major taught me too much to give up now. I miss him every day, and even typing those words bring tears to my eyes again. But as he always wanted: forward…

looking for my unicorn…
I dreaded going back to the stable. My good friend C met me there, and distracted me while we washed her horse and just hung out. That same day I ran into barn friend K, who has some personal stuff to deal with. She was hoping I could ride her big quarter horse Beau. I said I’d try!

He seems so huge, big quarter horse muscles (trained as a reining horse), but she has a well-fitted dressage saddle and I tried him out. I hadn’t been on another horse in 5 years, and that was once when Major was injured. It was Major only for 12 years! I tried Beau in the arena, he was fine, more than fine, he listened better than Major (though that is not saying much, we both hated arena work!).

Then I took the big boy out for a hike. I always prefer to hike with a horse first, to see their reactions. Since I got none from Beau the next time we went right out on trail. I’d been warned that he was too strong and could be a pill. He tried to get strong once with me, I shut him down with a one-rein stop and a growl (it was nothing compared to Major’s shenanigans) and we’ve been buddies ever since, riding 1-2 times a week. I am so lucky to have good horse friends.

But a consistent nagging in the back of my mind has me searching a horse to call my own. Searching horse ads (damn have prices gone up from so many years ago!), I have to set some parameters: Arab, Arab Cross, Standardbred, Mustang (or others?), all these seem like good options for trail and possible endurance. Do I want younger or trained? Gelding or mare? I have always preferred geldings, but nothing is off my list. I’m fine with forward but not stupidly spooky. Here are some I’ve checked out so far (no pictures for seller privacy, so have some pictures of my trip to the coast):

Young Arab/Paint cross. Lovely looking horse, just 4. Has been though three trainers with no consistency. His mom now wants a gaited horse (she bred him). Watched him work in the big round pen at her house, moved nicely in a Pessoa rig. Took him on a trail ride, crappy ground manners, very hesitant but would go in the lead, but started coughing quite badly and we came back. Attributed to the new dusty grass hay, I did go see him again at home. No coughing, trotted beautifully around the pasture not allowing me to catch him. Once I caught him I took him off property for a short walk down the quiet road and he was a brat, pulling back, half rearing with any correction, and threatening to bite. Too many things for me to fix.

moonrise over yellow lupine
Cute Standardbred with some good experience. Trainer took him right out on the trail (the facility did not have an arena) and I rode trainer’s horse. Standardbred did nothing wrong while I watched, so I got on. A bit of a choppy mover, lots of vertical movement, but walked down the big hill, over rocks, then opened up into a big trot coming up a long gravel hill, he wanted to go and was competitive with the other horse. He was just fine, but I didn’t get any wow feelings from him…

Another young Arab. This one I didn’t get far with, because he was s.l.o.w. Did not move out on the longe line, did not move out under saddle, perfect western pleasure horse. I don’t want a fire-breathing dragon, but would like something who wants to go down the trail at a healthy pace. Could this guy be taught to do that? Maybe, but it didn’t look like his heart was in it.

Drove to Southern California for an older but still very green Arab. Lovely, but terrible feet! He needed a trim badly but they said he was due in two weeks and didn’t seem concerned. That was worrying. But he moved nicely, they did a ton of ground work while I watched and the trainer rode him beautifully. He was pretty nervous of new things, and in fact couldn’t not get used to the brim on my helmet, I had to remove it! I’m not near as arena-skilled as the trainer, but I did OK, eventually. His inherent personality (very wary) and the fact he had no trail experience did not work for me. I’m sure someone who can spend more time in the arena and then transition him to trail will have a very nice horse.

Local young mustang. Very cute. Had been with a trainer then sold. That owner has had him one month and is now selling, as he is “annoying” (trainer’s words). Figured I’d look anyway. Horse is mouthy on everything when tied, but not on people. And not biting. Trainer rode in the arena, he was sticky after a month off. I rode him, he was sticky but we worked though it, nice mover. Went for a trail ride. Completely unfazed by anything. Big signs for tree work along trail, guys with saws and trucks, no worries. Nice trot, likes to explore. Needs some remedial training as he has gotten away with a lot in a month, did not want to trailer load. Promising but needs more training.

A few inquiries I’ve made have been answered fairly by people saying the horse would prefer a show home, or is not an endurance candidate (I always say that is what I want to do, even if I’m not sure I’ll be competing, because with the right horse maybe I’d get back to it), or is over budget. This is a roller coaster. But when I think back to my original horse search I knew what I wanted and ended up with taller, younger and less experienced than I had set out to find.

12 years ago this week I brought home Major. I did not think I would be shopping so soon. But I’d like to think I’ve learned a bit in the last 12 years, thanks to my big bay boy. I’m trying to take the lessons he taught me and think of a future horse and applying that knowledge. I’m not going to find Major again. But hopefully I can find a worthy partner…

wish me luck

Thursday, July 15, 2021



In one of my favorite books, the devastatingly sad protagonist (who had just lost his bond-animal) has a mental conversation with a cat: 

"Make a lap by the fire.…Hold the cat, you’ll feel better. Fennel the cat said.
I don’t think so.
He rubbed against my leg insistently. Hold the cat.
I don’t want to hold the cat.
Don’t talk back, pick up the cat!

…he leapt to my shoulder…He landed, not heavily, but as if someone had put a large, friendly hand on my shoulder. Hold the cat, you’ll feel better. "
(—Fool’s Errand, Robin Hobb)

The cat is right.

playing is very tiring
Meet Wesley. Full name: Ensign Wesley Crusher (of Star Trek: The Next Generation)


Telling me the whole tale of how he caught the fish-bird.

He came into our home in the middle of May, I just hadn’t gotten around to an introduction. He orbits me like a small, furry satellite expecting attention, pets, hugs, laps, toys, attention, anything. He runs around like a crazy, whirling dervish, skidding across the floor and up the 8-foot cat tower, all carrying his favorite fish-bird toy. He is deadly to any paper bag, box or laundry basket. 
am I interrupting boys?
He and the older cat Jack have come to some agreement, and wrestle time is every evening. He is just over a year old, and Jack is 15.

But he seeks me out when I am sitting quietly, probably thinking too much, and wants to sit ON me, in any way possible. Hold the cat, you'll feel better.

Hanging in the catio: Jack (in the box) and Wesley on a shelf perch
My SO built and awesome “catio” accessed off our bedroom, both cats love it. I join them to sit out there in the morning, cup of tea, trying NOT to be the crazy cat lady in a custom catio with her cats…I think I’ll just have to embrace it.

 Thank you Wesley for being a bright (orange) spot in my life.