Sunday, May 21, 2017

A Point of Personal Privilege

"In parliamentary procedure, a motion to raise a question of privilege is a privileged motion that permits a request related to the rights and privileges of the assembly or any of its members to be brought up."

It is technical, often misused, and rarely understood, but there is a very good reason that in matters of parliamentary procedure a point of personal privilege takes precedence over  nearly other motion that could be placed on the floor.

It is true in life also.

This morning I realized that it is time for me to rise to make a point of personal privilege regarding our program and my role in it.

I hit bottom around 5:30 yesterday.  We have made some tremendous improvements in our program in recent months. The most significant is bringing our irrigation system on line while clearing nearly twenty acres of new pasture. We have worked hard to build a very special fence around much of the new land. We have developed significant soil and water conservation projects at the horse lot  and formalized a home school program that is a unique educational opportunity for young people.

We will continue to grow and improve what we do, but for the first time we have reached the point of being instead of the point of becoming. We no longer will be, now we, finally, are. 

And over the last seven months getting here has worn me out.

Clearing land, doing so much of the feeding and fence repair, writing for fundraising, and developing new programs and special events, with a pesky couple of broken ribs complicating matters, have caused me to spend less time in the saddle in the last half a year than any other such time period for the last fifteen years.

The result is predictable. My weight has skyrocketed. Movements that use to be mildly uncomfortable have become intensely painful. Two weeks ago I trotted for about nine miles and was absolutely worn out.

I did not expect for that to be the case until I was at least seventy.

I am only fifty seven.

As I left the horse lot yesterday I found a severed fitting on a hose that was causing water to spew through the woods. I need to walk back and turn the water off.

I could not do it. Had to go home, eat and rest for an hour before I could take care of that simple task.

This morning when I could not get all the way awake after drinking nearly a pot of coffee, I decided that it was time for me to rise to make a point of personal privilege.

And in accordance with said motion it is hereby resolved, in the strongest terms possible, that effective this date, I shall ride.

I will ride in the morning. I will ride on many nights,
I will ride in the heat of August. I will ride in the cold of February.

I will ride young, half broken horses. I will ride old, trail worn horses.
I will ride when the dust is heavy. I will ride when the mud is deep.

I will ride with small children. I will ride with adults.
I will ride when there is work to do. I will ride  when all of the work is done. 

I will ride when I have time to. I will ride when I do not have time to. 

And be it further resolved that when I am not riding I will be playing music. 

Monday, May 8, 2017

Does This Horse Make My Butt Look Fat?

On occasion on Facebook I fall into reading posts on various "horse chat" sites. The experience is invariably painful. The persistent ignorance, arrogance, sycophancy, and the desperate clawing to discover whatever it is with which all good horse people should agree, has certainly taken years off of my life expectancy.

Facts are real. They do not change. They are not subject to referendum. They have no need to be supported by consensus. They do not need cheerleading by the loudest and most obnoxious voices in the crowd.

Facts are not, to use one of the most obnoxious terms of this century, "snarky."

Think how often one has seen a question on these boards along this line, "I am thinking of changing the de-wormer that I use--any thoughts on which brand is best?"

Now think how rare it is to ever see a question on these boards along this line, "I am thinking of changing the de-wormer that I use--any lists of peer reviewed research articles on the effectiveness of the various classes of drugs currently available to kill internal parasites?"

The opinions of ten thousand posters that the rotational worming schedule hyped in the late 1990's is the only way to go do not trump even one factual, unbiased, well researched study on the efficacy of various strategies for controlling worms.

And those who do not even know who these "experts" are  place their horse's health in the hands  of these self appointed arbiters of all things equine.

What does it say about the self esteem and over all mental health of those who post pictures of themselves or their horses and ask for a verdict from the internet jury on how well they ride, their horse's conformation, and whether or not they are too big for their horse? Why do these masochists invite the derision of equ-fascist commentators whose only skill and knowledge that can be proven from their comments is the skill to type on a keyboard and the knowledge to press the "enter" key?

The internet is a tremendous tool for spreading knowledge and solid information.  It is an even stronger tool for spreading ignorance and falsehoods.

Everyone out there who puts a saddle on a horse owes to that horse the responsibility of acquiring every bit of solid knowledge about all things equine that one can possibly garner.

And the quest for knowledge should never end. No teacher should ever stop being a student.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Old Post On Holland

I Could Not Have Hit Him With a Shotgun

This morning Holland showed us all something. With a 160 pound rider on him we set out for a five mile run. I was on Ta Sunka Witco, my SMR stallion whose grandfather was Choctaw Sundance. Holland was allowed to choose his own speed and gait. He completed the entire five mile run in 20:54 after waiting over 10 seconds for me to catch up at the 2.5 mile mark. I finished in 21:34. Holland had such a lead on me for most of the run that he was beyond shotgun range. At the 4 mile marker he lead me by 1/2 a mile.

Holland is a Shackleford, the closest relatives to the Corollas. Shacklefords and Corollas make up what is left of the Banker ponies of the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Their beauty is enough reason to save them. Their history is enough reason to save them. For those who do not care about history or beauty, go run your horse five miles. Then you can appreciate the athleticism of these horses who gave rise to many modern American breeds. When one watches Holland pull away it is easy to understand how these horses, crossed with the "spotted race horse", Janus in the 1720's provided much of the foundation of the modern Quarter Horse.

When one watches Manteo, my Corolla stallion pull away from the pack, one can see the root of all of the gaited American breeds in his swishing hips.

They are too good to throw away.

This is Holland when I first met him a few years ago wearing his rough Shackleford winter attire.

Marking Time

When one of you reads this particular post it will be the 300,000th view of our blog. I intended to write a deep reflective post on how the subtle changes in the tone of the blog over the years have reflected the change and growth in our program.

And perhaps one day I shall do so. But for now I am satisfied to celebrate the 300000th view by simply presenting my favorite picture from the horse lot.

Yeah, She's Grown

It's raining and the rain is getting worse as the minutes pass. I just left Lydia, Jen, Abigail and Wendell at the horse lot. They are loading Manny and Holland to go to Biltmore in Ashville, North Carolina for an endurance race.

Jen won't be racing in this one. And I am proud of her for that.

I have little good to say about nearly all forms of equine competition. All too often the interest of the horse falls in way behind the interest, or even the whims, of the rider.

Jen is not letting that happen.

Her horse is the great granddaughter of Choctaw Sundance. Looks Up, the daughter of my horse, Ta Sunka Witco, and Star Dust, a BLM stock mare belongs to Jen. Looks Up is a super athlete. Jen has brought her into peak cardio vascular conditioning. Last spring we did a little "in house" 25 mile race. Looks up was in such solid shape that when it came time for the vet check her heart rate had dropped to sufficient levels with no break but for being walked the last 200 yards in.

But a few weeks ago she got a very minor strain or muscle pull. She is a ball of energy and often zips around the pasture for no reason that the human eye can see.

Her very minor injury remained very minor but was not all the way healed as of two weeks ago. Jen made the decision to pull her from the race. We have several other horses that she could have ridden in this race. All were conditioned enough to have made the run safely, but none were in peak condition. Holland, a Shackleford, and Manny, a Choctaw, are in perfect shape. Jen knows why we enter such events--to promote the talent of these nearly extinct horses in the hopes that more people will breed them.

If Jen had ridden another one of our horses who was not in top cardiovascular shape the likely result is that it would have lead to slower times for Manny and Holland.

So Jen made the painful, and very mature decision, to be the horse hauler and to be part of the pit crew for Manny and Holland.

Lydia has worked very hard to get Manny's mind and body ready for this event. She would not have been able to do that without Jen.

You see, Manny was not quite green broke when he came to us. It was Jen who gave him his earliest training. That is her on board Manny in those early days. Her skills put him on the rode to being refined by Lydia.

Yes, Jen made a hard, mature choice, keeping only the interest of the horses in mind.

I am not be surprised.

Yes, she is one of my big girls, but on days like this I am reminded that she is also a grown women.