Thursday, June 30, 2011

Going Camping on Horse Mountain

I'm going HORSE CAMPING someplace close to Horse Mountain (love the synchrony). Because Red is a bit sore still growing out abcess channels, he is not really in trail shape. I'll be riding Autumn.

Autumn: Hey, I heard my name. What is this baloney about
ME carrying you up and down some mountain? I don't think so, Cherie.

*Looks around* Just take me back to the general pasture. We'll talk about this later.

So Red, we've got to talk. I think its a crock of manure that you are "too sore"
to make it on this trip. Admit it, you're totally faking, aren't you. And while
you're at it, tell me more about "horse camping", is it as horrible as it sounds?

To be continued . . .

Terror Vanquishes Colic?

Last night, in the middle of scarfing his crunchies, Red stopped eating. This almost never happens. In the past, Red Horse turning away from his beloved crunchies has tended to be the first red flag that we were headed towards an expensive vet visit.
Sure enough, Red started pawing and turning around to gaze at his hip with a very unhappy expression. Immediately we headed out of the barn to see if a little walk and some grazing might help. It was drizzling and sometimes eating moist, tender grass has helped head off a bellyache for Red. This time he showed no interest, not even when we went to some of his favorite grazing spots. He was more interested in trying to lay down.
As a last resort we headed out behind the arena where the grass grows belly high and assorted piles of junk are hidden in shadowy piles. Red has always been convinced that these junk piles are really starved, hungry for Red Horse predators. As we approached his head went up, then his tail. Adrenalin flooded his system and he began to dance . . . and then I heard it! Plop, plop, plop . . . Red dumped a large pile of manure in preparation for flight. YES!!!!

As we headed back to a nice grassy spot, Red dropped his head and eagerly began to graze. Thanks to the "terror" technique of colic prevention, a $300.00 after hours vet call was avoided.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Angel - Still Waiting for a Home

It has been over a year since I started volunteering with Heart of the Redwoods Horse Rescue. Last August I became a board member. Recently we got a couple of boxes of records from the previous management and I spent an afternoon reading up on past and current horses.

When I came to Angel's file, I was just heartsick. She has been in the rescue since 2003. Oh, there have been a couple of foster homes and one adoption that didn't work out (inexperience rider and Arab mare not a good match), but HRHR has literally been her home for EIGHT years.
She is now 25 - and as these recent pictures show, still has SO MUCH TOO OFFER.

I would love hearing adoption strategy ideas from folks. We do the basics - petfinder, craigslist,
flyers at feed stores. Angel is an amazing horse, everyone who knows her adores her. I just really want her to be adopted into a home that will give her the appreciation she deserves.

For more about Angel, visit her page on the HRHR blog.

Monday, June 27, 2011

In the Jungle, the Mighty Jungle . . .

. . . a large, noisy creature was thrashing about. Oh WAIT! That's my backyard! And THAT'S my SON!

My son Jesse and his wonderful girlfriend

Shauna surprised me with some badly needed assistance reclaiming

the overgrown jungle that was once my backyard.

Jesse and his Husqvarna weed whacker made easy work of the months
and months of overgrown foliage that defied my lawn mower when

I tried to tackle the wild blackberry, choke vine, and nettle that thrived where
formerly well-tended flower beds once enjoyed the southern exposure.

What on earth created this fierce, tangled jungle?
Actually three things contributed to the overgrowth.

Red, Lyra, and Autumn! While I'm horse rich when it comes to the
joy of time spent with my little herd, as Jesse said, I'm horse poor
when it comes to having enough time to attend to all the parts of my life.

Thanks to Jesse and Shauna, the back yard is coming close to
being manageable once again. This summer I'm looking forward to reclaiming
my flower beds and maybe planting a vegetable garden.

Thank you SO much Jesse and Shauna for your amazing suprise!
How wonderful that I can actually use my lawn mower now.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Autumn Runs Like the Wind - In the Wrong Direction

Tonight my friend Laura called and invited me to go riding. By the time I got up to Freshwater Stables and entered the general pasture, my mind was full of anticipation and excitement. I am hitting the summer trail a bit late this year and just working on getting me and my horses back in shape. Walking through the gate I could see the herd, they were close. I had already decided to ride Autumn again. As I entered the meadow, I saw my lovely mare . . . running fast in the opposite direction.

Autumn: I heard that thought! NO MORE RIDING!!! I'm so outta here.

Cherie: A few cuss words, actually many cuss words got muttered as I
watched my mare get smaller and smaller in the distance.

Autumn: Like how I canter? Watch me RUN. Far away from YOU!

WHAT! She's still there? Impossible.

I'll just head in this other direction.

And maybe skootch in behind my BFF Cayenne (who pins ears).

STILL there? FINE. How do ya like the sight of my tail . . .

Heading even farther away from YOU.

HA! That'll stop her.

Nooooooooooooooooo. She just keeps on coming after me.

Autumn: Red, hide me from her.
Red: Forget it, Cherie's middle name is relentless, just give it up.

Autumn: Fine, whatever. Let's go on your STUPID ride and get it over with.

And it was a mighty fine ride. At least for one of us.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Are You Listening to Your Horse?

Yesterday Heart of the Redwoods Horse Rescue took in a new horse. Misty, our President, and I went up to Crescent City to get Captain Jack. A good-hearted guy, Jack is VERY communicative. He was pretty anxious to be leaving his familiar surroundings. On the trip, at the vet, and in his new stable Jack let us know in eloquent equine language about his concerns.

When I listened, Jack gave me his very best. It got me thinking, how often do I fail to "hear" what horses are trying to tell me? Now I'm not talking about things at the "animal communicator" level. I'm talking about regular equine language - what you can hear and see when you take the time to pay attention.

Our "dialogue" went something like this:

Cherie: I walk in Jack's directions, stopping occasionally, moving slow. Jack sees me and walks away, showing me his butt.

Jack: Who is this strange person? I feel her attention. Oh Oh. I don't know her. This worries me, what is going to happen? I'm going to tell her to slow down or better yet, just leave me alone.

Cherie: He is walking away. He isn't too sure about me. I stand, breathe slowly, turn sideways, get smaller, point my center away from Jack. Wait. He cocks an ear my way. I take a couple of sideways steps not looking at him. He shifts his weight away from me. I stop, wait, breathe, and start talking about what I'm doing and who I am. He is still.

Jack: I'll just skootch over here away from her. Maybe she will get the message and go away. Oh good, she stopped. Now what is she doing? Hmmmmm. She feels sort of soft, not sharp, no poking-at-me energy. Let me check her out again. Points ear. Oh-oh, she got closer, but it doesn't feel too bad. Maybe she is ok, she is talking to me.

Misty, our President at HRHR, knows how to listen to horses.

To often I get caught up in the "business" I am about and forget that I have a sentient partner with their own preferences and ideas about what works best. I wonder how many times horses get labeled when the real problem is that their human is "hearing impaired" when it comes to listening to equine language.

When we listen, the rewards are tremendous - the eye softens, our bond deepens, and our beloved equine companion dares to reveal more of their self to us.

If you want to learn more about the language of horses, here is a very well written article, "How To Tell What Your Horse is Saying". It starts with this quote from an old cowboy:

Horses are always quietly talking to you with their body, and horses don't lie.
It's very subtle, but if you are very patient and watch closely,
what they are saying to you will come to you like a whisper.

Click HERE to read more.

If you would like to read some great descriptions of how a troubled horse is being helped along as he works with a human who knows to "listen", visit the blog of Quincy & Another.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Have You Ever Gone On An Orb Hunt?

A WHAT? I can just hear everyone. Some of you may be smiling and thinking, "of course, ORBS!" Others may now be convinced I've finally gone round the bend. Come on folks, have you ever noticed that sometimes when you take a digital picture there is a odd little, round distortion? Or maybe a couple? Or hundreds!!!!!! What the heck do you think they are?

The first time I went orb-hunting was when I went on a three day ride. I was with my friend Laura. She had discovered orbs in some of her photos taken in the Trinity Alps. Silly us. We decided to go traipsing across the fields in the dark, pointing our cameras at weird angles and taking flash shots.

At first, we saw nothing.
Then one orb made an appearance. See it in the lower left corner.

Then suddenly many orbs appeared. My first successful orb hunt! I was hooked.

I have gotten into the habit of snapping a few "orb hunter" shots at night when I wait with Red while we go through our last ritual of the evening. We always stop on the way back to the pasture so he can munch on some of the "special" grass at the end of the driveway. He looks forward to this and reminds me if I forget.

See that little yellow light to the right of my face?

This is what it looks like close up.

It has turned up many times when I stand with Red while he grazes at the end of the drive way.

Here the little silly got into my hair.

Ye old manure pile is always certain to be a rich source of orb shots.

Sometimes a few show up inside the Redwood Barn, sometimes not.

This is what they look like enlarged. There are many variations.

Now you can bet that I have googled the heck out of the word "orb". OMG! I've found so many opinions about what orbs actually are: digital distortions, angels, pollen, extra-terrestrial beings, dust, inter-dimensional beings, moisture, fairies. There is even a book about orbs. I posted a picture on facebook and someone I know asked me if I could offer a "scientific explanation". I fretted about that one, worried that that person had just relegated me to her lunatic fringe list.

I can offer no explanation about orbs. I'm a little partial to the idea that maybe, just maybe, the flickering lights I capture with my flash are the result of an alchemical blend of science and old magic offering a momentary glimpse into the land of fae - ah, my wild imagination is showing. If your curiosity has been triggered, have fun orb hunting via google.

Meanwhile, if you ever drive by someone standing in a field in the dark, taking flash pictures of the sky, you will know you have witnessed an orb hunter fast on the trail of . . . well, I'll leave that to your imagination.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

The Official Start of My Summer Trail, 2011

I am lucky - really, really lucky. For the last 14 years I have had summers off. One of the many blessings of my job as a school social worker. I love my job! And I an grateful for the time summers give me to replenish my physical and emotional cup. The last winter was a bit on the intense side and I have some serious replenishing to do.

A couple of weeks ago I was home sick (again) and slogging through the internet looking for immune boosting ideas. I stumbled upon the paleo diet. It felt REALLY interesting to my body and I decided to try a modified version. So I'm going slightly paleo for my summer journey. This means no flour or grain which is fine by me. Two weeks into this and I definitely have more energy. I've dramatically increased my meat intake (grass fed if beef - no corn fed). And found a recipe for coconut flour pancakes when I am really craving something yummy. I also learned that all food has tendencies towards inflamation or anti-inflamation. Here is a really cool page where you can find the inflammatory rating of what you eat - Self Nutrition Data.

It is easy to figure that my summer trail will be filled with horses, horse rescue, and some wonderful trail-riding around Humboldt County. I want to include more photography, blogging, a return to painting, and a regular practice of mindfulness. And more time with these characters: