Photo Challenge: Visiting Friends

We shared stories as we drove up the canyon road 
that angled between rocks, colored grape and copper 
and sienna; geometric rocks stacked like massive 
bricks as perpendicular to the earth as castle
walls. Tucked between gnarled trees were ageless

log cabins without porches or windows, creosote  
black and hunkered low on southern exposures,  
open to long meadows edged with pine and aspen 
that quake and sway in the late morning sun. We 
first saw the herd under the shade of a lone fir 

on an open grassy stretch. They'd been watching us 
long before we saw them, a platoon of longear 
sentinals judging our intent. One tall and elegant 
with an aristocratic nose. A stoic gray who asked 
for less than he wanted. A jenny as wide as she was  

tall and just the color of milk in tea. Two rough and 
tumble brothers with a schoolboy sense of humor. Our 
friend's laughter came up on the breeze and we all  
stood shoulder to belly and head to heart, passing  
hours grazing, scratching donkey ears, and admiring 

wise mule eyes. At the water tank, Fiona sipped with 
slow caution and then left the tip of her pink tongue  
dangling just past her whisker lips; she let me and  
it felt cool and delicate to my touch. And intimate  
beyond reason. Driving back, the road was unfamiliar. 

Aspen leaves turned to gold before our eyes as the sky
faded to a pale shade of winter tourquoise. We nibbled 
on cookies made of seeds and apples and grains, and
the particles wedged between our teeth became the 
bittersweet flavor of reluctance and September grass.

 

 ….
Anna Blake at Infinity Farm
Horse Advocate, Author, Speaker, Equine Pro
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(WordPress Photo Challenge is a weekly prompt to share a photo–I enjoy twisting these macro prompts to share our micro life here on the Colorado prairie. I take these photos with my phone, on my farm. No psych, definitely not high-tech.)

 

Helmets: When Complacency and Experience are Killers.

“She had a helmet on and she still got hurt,” the woman said. Well, sure. I take vitamins and I’m still getting older.

If this is logic, then I’m missing the point. I write about the importance of helmets every year; this is the eighth since Courtney King-Dye’s accident and the founding of riders4helmets. Lots of us wore helmets full-time long before that.

To be clear, I wasn’t born in a helmet. When I was a kid, we didn’t have tack, much less helmets. But I’m capable of change. Apparently, that’s a bigger deal than I think; the common reason I hear for not using a helmet is that they never wore them in the past. I didn’t use a cell phone back then either. I changed.

When I’m able to talk helmets with that helmet-resistant rider quietly, they usually give the same reason. With a self-effacing smile, they admit the reason is probably ego. An uncomfortable silence follows. Sometimes I stare, wondering if ego is usually the thing that gets in the way of us caring about our loved ones.

In earlier posts, I’ve ranted about freak accidents and logic. That’s silly, of course. All the statistics are undeniable. Everyone knows everything. Maybe I should be happy that kids think of helmets as part of their riding/superhero costume and just bite my tongue.

I can’t because I’m a horse advocate. I disagree with riders who think what’s on the outside of their head is more important than protecting what’s inside; their intellect, personality, and most important to their horse, the ability to buy hay. What does it mean to have concern for horse slaughter or the plight of the mustangs but take your own life for granted? Why not do all you can to be there for your horse (if not your loved ones)?

I can hear their defiant anti-helmet proclamation. Well, I’m not afraid to die on horseback either. What I’m afraid of is NOT dying. I couldn’t bear living without horses.

International Helmet Awareness Day 2017 (Sept 16th and 17th) is your chance to purchase a new helmet at a special two-day only discount from one of hundreds of participating retailers in 16 countries. Visit http://bit.ly/2xM4EYJ to locate a retailer near you #IHAD #riders4helmets

The new statistic that caught my eye this year is a study conducted by a team of Alberta researchers found that riders who reported an injury had an average of 27 years of riding experience. New riders had a relatively small incidence of injury.

It rings true for me. In my extended circle of riders, there were several injuries this past year. Some were quite serious. Some took place on the ground or at the mounting block. All the injured were experienced horse people with many years in the saddle. The beginners were just fine.

So I speculate. I see a lot of complacency in the horse world. It’s a luxury I can’t afford as a pro. I must keep my focus at all times; I need to see the world with an equine range of vision. Training horses and riders requires awareness. I’m always surprised at the number of times I witness riders unaware of obviously dangerous situations.  I’d call it a passive disrespect of their horses. Sometimes they don’t know better, even after a life with horses. Sometimes it’s laziness. And sometimes we just get bull-headed as we age, set in our ways and unwilling to grow or learn. I suppose there is a certain cosmic balance to getting a head injury from not using your head.

For me, I’m trained to see patterns in horse behaviors and human behaviors. When I see a rider defend their ego, or even just close their minds toward helmets, safety, and common knowledge, how does that reflect on their training methods? How does it reflect on their horses?

I understand how difficult it is to change. Looking back, horses have asked me to change everything about myself. I resisted; it was hard and once you start, the learning never ends. But I still see horses through the eyes of that little horse-crazy girl. The rest of me has changed as horses have asked me to. Like most of us who have applied ourselves, I’m a better person for their equine input. It took another species to teach me humanity. If nothing else, I want to be around to enjoy that, sound in mind, for as long as I can.


I’ll finish this post with the usual list of important information, in hopes that it might make a difference to the people who can make a difference…

Stats and sources:

  • Equestrians are 20x more likely to sustain an injury than a motorcycle rider, per hour.
  • 60 number of deaths/year due to head injury (compared with 8 for Football)
  • 60% of riding fatalities occur from head injuries.
  • 15,000 number of ER admissions for equine-related head injuries in 2009.
  • 2 feet number of feet at which head injury can occur.

45% of TBI (traumatic brain injuries) are horse related. Riding is considered more dangerous than motorcycling or downhill skiing. Approximately 20% of accidents which result in head injury happen while the person is on the ground. They are just as common in professionals as amateurs.

If you have a hard impact blow while wearing your hat, immediately replace it with a new hat. There may be damage to the hat that is not visible to the naked eye.Hat manufacturers generally recommend replacing your hat every four to five years. There is a sale on now.

There is no statistical correlation between skill level and injury likelihood. Professional riders are just as at risk to sustain injury due to a fall as less frequent riders. Head injuries are cumulative. An original head injury can be made much worse by additional concussions. Your injury risk depends on the height from which fall, as well as the speed at which you’re traveling. Even a fall from a standing horse can be catastrophic.

….
Anna Blake at Infinity Farm
Horse Advocate, Author, Speaker, Equine Pro
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Photo Challenge: Waiting

WM Skunk llama

The air goes still on my prairie during that
instant when my finished inhale lifts gravity 
and just before that slow release leaves my
body healed and whole, upright in that cool
instant that holds forever. I know there will

be no stalling and the very last thing I would 
do is kill time. Let every pore of each sense
be curious of it's passion. Eyes that discern
the exact shade of the color in the light, a
sweet moment to feel the company of sisters

living in this breath, this scent that tells the
story of those who passed this way, and leaves us 
curious. Alert to a question, what if this isn't
wrong? What if there is a gift in this pause of
time that will be uncovered in the next inhale? 

Hold still, irreverent joy, to sense the precise
equity of moistness and heat in the air as the Earth 
breathes us into her lungs and cradles us, precious 
as napping foals on yellow straw. Precious as the 
flash-edge of a cloud at the scarlet strike of sunset.
 ….
Anna Blake at Infinity Farm
Horse Advocate, Author, Speaker, Equine Pro
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(WordPress Photo Challenge is a weekly prompt to share a photo–I enjoy twisting these macro prompts to share our micro life here on the Colorado prairie. I take these photos with my phone, on my farm. No psych, definitely not high-tech.)

Waiting

How to be a Brilliant Conversationalist: Horse Version

You know how the cat magically goes to the person with the allergy? Or she goes the person who happens to agree with Preacher Man, the Corgi, who believes that all cats are agents of the devil? Meanwhile, the person who loves cats is cooing and coaxing with raw fish but the cheeky cat hoists her tail a bit higher and gives us that view as she saunters her way out of the room. Cats think people try too hard. They’re suckers for the one who plays hard to get. Corgis are doomed.

How to catch a cat: Just don’t. Don’t look, don’t talk, and absolutely don’t let the thought cross your mind that you’d like to scratch those ears. Then relax and let the cat sneak up on you from behind. Cats can’t resist mystery.

Now pretend that a horse is as smart and curious and playful as a cat. And you want to think you are at least as clever as a corgi. This part is much more complicated because we’re only human.

Sometimes we let our minds get a little soft. We are prone to thinking we’re not predators or prey; instead we act like intellectuals, spending time in our minds and mistaking that for the natural world where cats and horses live. In other words, we’re boring.

We debate training technique but then work by rote, busy with opinion and not being fully present with the horse. We unconsciously halter the same way every time. We lead them like they are bricks on the end of a rope.

What if we thought of ourselves as artists? We agree that riding is an art, but do we hesitate to call ourselves artists? That’s silly; it takes an amazing amount of creativity to get out of the house in the morning.

We are a creative species but we get lazy and use our intellect to doubt ourselves. We let ourselves be ordinary when all we need is a bit of conscious energy. Energy that we can dial up or down like a thermostat on an oven.

Creativity isn’t a mystery, it’s a habit like brushing your teeth. Or cooking with spices. Or loving someone. Creativity is the cherry on top; it’s the extra dollop of energy that adds zing to life. It’s a skill –like horsemanship, only with a smile on your face.

When I meet a horse, I start with a simple question like can you please take a step back? I ask him with the method I least expect the horse to know. I ask politely and he thinks about it.

His owner wants him to succeed, so she interrupts and tells me how she cues him to back. To be clear, all three of us know he can back. And I could care less if he backs, I am establishing a conversation.

If a horse has just one cue, how do we know he isn’t answering by rote, too? Unconscious action might be the first thing we teach horses. I want a fresh response, so I want to engage him. I want to be interesting and mysterious. That’s how he’ll know who I am.

The two things I know more than anything else about horses is that they like consistency. They are like us that way, they like dinner on time and the comfort of knowing they are safe in their home.

And second, horses get bored easily. Just like us. Are you both so used to acting by rote than you think it’s normal? Is your horse unresponsive? Would your horse say that you are?

So, I give the horse a minute to up his game. Anyone can back, I want him to be curious about me. Not because I have a stick or a loud voice but because I listen to him. If he looks like he’s thinking, then I reward him profusely and it’s game on. But if he looks like he isn’t thinking, I’m not fooled. Horses are as smart as cats; I reward him, too. Because energy should always be rewarded.

Here’s the secret: Disarm him with unpredictable release.

Be brand new; fluid in your movements, soft in your eye, agile on your feet. Step out of his space. Unpredictable release.

Go in his pen and actively don’t catch him.  Hold the halter in your hand and studiously do not try. Unpredictable release.

Go to the mounting block and don’t mount. Scratch his withers and go untack him. Unpredictable release.

Work at liberty but trust him. Ride bareback and massage his ribs with your knees. Ride with a neck ring that you are patient with… patience is creativity, too.

Instead of warming up with too much contact too soon, along with too much distraction and worry, warm up with too much music and fluidity. Unpredictable release.

Being mentally active means the rider is using less physical strength but keeping her energy up. He mimics you. If he isn’t forward, well, wake your-own-self up, change the length of his stride, longer or shorter using just your sit-bones. Think with your seat and legs. Still your voice and breathe. Crank up the music.

Long walk in a soft leg yield, barely asking his withers to the outside. Think inside leg to outside rein while moving in serpentines. Continue reversing direction until neither of you can remember having a stiff side.

Sometimes ask for tiny things and sometimes big. It isn’t that you don’t train the hard challenges; it’s that your train them as if they’re fun.

Then ask again, and be ready for a different answer. You don’t know what he’ll do and that’s the best part. It’s the call to energy and creativity. Unpredictable release.

I want to be the most interesting thing in the world to my horse. I want our conversation so scintillating that he hangs on my every word, and by that I mean, that I don’t cue by rote. I keep my energy percolating.

I want to have the consistency that makes him feel safe and yet still be mysterious and interesting enough to hold his attention. I want him focused on me and I’ll train that by focusing on him. I want him to think it’s more fun working with me that staring at plastic bags flapping in the wind.

Ride like a cat. Listen, bat some ideas around, then mentally pounce on one and chase it down so you can play with it. Now reward your own creativity for making work feel like play.

 ….
Anna Blake at Infinity Farm
Horse Advocate, Author, Speaker, Equine Pro
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Photo Challenge: Structure

 

This horse covers the ground more quietly 
on four hooves than my old feet can manage,
dynamic strides so I stretch to keep up.
Awareness pulses in his ears and nostrils.
That's character carved in his jaw and if 
 
the sun is setting just right, you can look
into his eye and see the universe lie flat 
and small at the left edge of his heart. I'm 
only a bit embarrassed to admit that I time 
my breath so I can take in his spent exhale. 
 
I'm six times his age. It seems the sharper 
his profile, the more mine loses definition. 
My cheeks are abraded flat with fruitless
emotion and the prairie wind has turned 
my ears to gristle like the old donkey's. 

The corners of my mouth have stretched from
screaming at the moon and my eyelids have 
gradually swollen to protect my eyes from 
sights that hurt them. Six times his age, 
using his breath, trailing safe in his stride.
 ….
Anna Blake at Infinity Farm
Horse Advocate, Author, Speaker, Equine Pro
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(WordPress Photo Challenge is a weekly prompt to share a photo–I enjoy twisting these macro prompts to share our micro life here on the Colorado prairie. I take these photos with my phone, on my farm. No psych, definitely not high-tech.)

Structure

Leadership Percentages and Confused Horses

Pause here. Look in his eye. He’s sensitive and intelligent and looking for a partner who’s his equal. If we’re going to agree with scientists that horses are sentient beings, with feelings not unlike our own, when will we start treating them that way?

In riding lessons, I ask math questions a lot. Not real math, of course. It’s more a theoretical sort of math, like “what percent of your horse is forward” or “rate this trot on a scale from one to ten.” It’s short-hand to quantify where we are compared to where we started and where we’d like to be.

The usual way I hear short-hand math talked about in the barn is to quantify leadership. Like most horse things, there is a long continuum of opinion. Some demand their horse submits to 100% human leadership. Equine slavery, I’m thrilled to say, is not tolerated here. It’s easy to deplore. We shake our heads and tsk-tsk our tongues. But 100% cheerful compliance would be great.

We want a partnership with our horses. And once we really agree to that, the confusion and weird math begins. Should it be a 50-50 balance? Does the human get the deciding vote, 51-49? Or because you have a goal with your horse, 60-40? Or maybe you missed the vote entirely and you just go along for the ride, 90-10, to his favor.

Definition of leadership: The ability to provide another sentient the feeling of safety. In this case, a horse.

Humans are extremists. Sometimes, in an attempt to evolve and not dominate horses, we just chatter away kindly. We over-cue, carefully introducing their halter for the millionth time and the horse might even politely sniff it. Maybe he thinks he should because we act like it’s a brand-new thing each time. We chatter about cleaning his feet and might even think he’s listening, when the truth is that it’s the same order of hooves every time. A horse would have to be brain-damaged to not learn that pattern and obligingly pick up his foot.

In other words, we think we’re training things that they know inside-out. It’s like reading a grade school primer in college. Boring at best. Worst is they think we aren’t all that bright. What would it take to teach up to his level?

I think horses kindly recognize human chatter as a calming signal. Meaning it calms us to chatter away. Maybe they assess what percentage of their rider is stressed out and roles reverse.

Definition of chatter: The rattle and bang of constant noise. Legs and seat and hands and voice that just never stop flapping and nicking and correcting. As annoying as flies buzzing, landing, circling, and buzzing some more. It’s the crazy-making babbel that any self-respecting horse would shut out to save his sanity.

About this time, since we don’t want to dominate or chatter away, we decide to listen. No, really listen. We learn their calming signals and their unique detailed preferences. The more we listen, the more they share, affirmed that humans are pulling it together. It’s thrilling to have a corner of understanding that didn’t start in a human brain, but instead is something you learned from a horse. Listening is pure joy.

We listen to our horses so hard, with such focus and patience… that our horses hear crickets. Silence from us. They revert to doubting our intelligence and worry that they are the only sentients in the room. Horses might wonder if, between the scream of domination and the silence of listening, humans are void of the ability to have a simple conversation.

Definition of a conversation: Cues that might be body language or movement, or intention –eye contact along with a thought. The least important part is verbal. The most important part is that there are two sides conversing.

The focus is to shape a response on both sides. You give a cue for walking and pause. He considers the request and walks. You release your cue and breathe normally and follow the flow of his walk. In the beginning, it feels stilted like an Intro to French class. (Bonjour, comment vas-tu? Bon, Merci et vous?) But don’t get impatient and talk over each other.

Any positive training conversation starts with rewarding a good basic response. Behavioral science calls it ‘successive approximation’ implying an approximate answer, not the correct one.

In other words, one of you giving your best hints until the other guesses the right answer, like a game of equine charades. Creativity! A language between two species is born! Hear the theme from 2001: A Space Odyssey? You get it.

How to quantify that kind of leadership conversation? 50-50 feels too flat and dull.

I think it might be an 80-20 percentage, but not static. The idea-and-response flip sides between the human and the horse in an instant. It’s a flash of intention and a spark of response. A cool breeze of release followed by quicksilver inspiration. So fluid that he finishes the thought before you fully articulate it. And his response was lighter and more beautiful than you imagined. It’s a dance that switches leader and follower every few strides.

If a rider complains about a lack of response in their horse, guessing that they only have 20% their horse’s attention, I think a better question might be what percentage of their attention is on their horse? Do we think it’s his job to hang in suspended animation until our next command? Isn’t that how domination works?

Why do humans limit an animal’s response by talking down to them? What if a better name for an unresponsive horse is a bored horse?

The art of communication with horses means evolving a language of successive approximation to a place of happy response on both sides. It takes a quiet and quick listening mind on the part of the human, along the same amount of physical self-awareness that a horse has. That’s the hard part. It would always be easier for a human to dominate or be passive.

Pause here. Look in his eye again. He’s sensitive and intelligent and looking for a partner who’s his equal. The question isn’t if he’ll meet our expectations. It’s what will we need to do meet his.

(Next week: How to be a Brilliant Conversationalist.)

 ….
Anna Blake at Infinity Farm
Horse Advocate, Author, Speaker, Equine Pro
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Photo Challenge: Corner

The first hint comes just at moon rise 
on an ordinary August weeknight. It's
hardly a breeze at all, certainly not
enough to toss or even tickle a leaf
but still a few degrees cooler with just 
 
a bit more oxygen than usual. Meanwhile, the chickory sway with clean priorities; frank blossoms the color of midnight with no pretense of foliage. The goslings on 
the pond have traded their oatmeal down 

for more sleek travel attire and lifted 
off for their first long distance flight,
leaving me flat-footed in a dimming 
season, longing for fresh wings to glide 
a sore heart above the cool indigo prairie.

 

 ….
Anna Blake at Infinity Farm
Horse Advocate, Author, Speaker, Equine Pro
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(WordPress Photo Challenge is a weekly prompt to share a photo–I enjoy twisting these macro prompts to share our micro life here on the Colorado prairie. I take these photos with my phone, on my farm. No psych, definitely not high-tech.)

Corner

How to Relieve Your Horse’s Anxiety


Growing up, only one person in our home was allowed to have a temper and the rest of us kept our heads down.

After I left home, I started therapy and tennis lessons. It was the beginning of the age of bad-boy Grand Slam winners. Some of the top players competed without visual emotion, while others blew up on the court. The crazy thing was that the bad-boys played better after their temper tantrum, and if my therapist was right, it had to do with getting the emotion out. Every time I saw a racket slam the ground, I felt a morbid attraction.

I envied their tempers. I knew it was wrong and rude. I’d been taught that the punishment wasn’t worth the tantrum. Instead, I was busy holding my stomach in, my feelings in, and silently tending wicked grudges.

The trouble with being stoic, as any stoic horse will tell you, is that you don’t have fewer feelings; you just try harder to hide them.

So here in our adult horse world, lots of us don’t want to compete because we see that emotional hostility and unleashed desire to win. We want nothing to do with it. Horses frequently suffer from our human passion and so it’s better to claim the high moral ground and not compete. Because we love horses.

Yay, you. Now you’ll never throw a temper tantrum at a show. And all your training challenges dissipate like fog in the sun because you’re calm and kind.

Except it doesn’t work that way. Our perfect horses have issues. We are quick to blame past owners. It might even be true, but the other thing that’s true is that we care about how things go with our horses. We are totally capable of having “show nerves” during an emergency vet call. Sometimes just standing next to our horse in the pasture is enough.

Here is a list of things you are perfectly justified in feeling anxiety about in the horse you love: Spooking unexpectedly. Going too fast. Won’t stand still. Has separation anxiety. Doesn’t go forward or appreciate your feet telling him to. Won’t canter. Doesn’t like arenas. Or trailering. Or being nagged to a stupor.

Let’s say he’s flawless under-saddle. You might resent his chronic vet issues. His constant need for a farrier. Costly supplements. His persistent habit of continuing to get older every year. His eventual need to retire and the unfairness of loving horses in the first place.

(For the sake of brevity, I won’t add the non-horse angst humans feel about their human relationships, financial dramas, and inevitable mortality. This list is infinitely longer.)

Here is a list of who knows about your anxiety no matter how politely you try to hide it: Your horse.

The trouble with being stoic, as any stoic horse will tell you, is that you can only pretend as long as you can pretend.

Apparently, the challenges of daily life can rival the stress of competing in the Olympics. But go ahead, make lists and hurry about. Try to tell yourself that you aren’t being judged every second, by everyone you see. Then try to tell yourself that you aren’t the harshest judge of all.

Maybe now is when you acknowledge that your horse is your therapy. Let me kill that baby, too, while I’m being such a spoil-sport. Therapy horses have the hardest job in the horse world. Period. Being a show horse owned by a neurotic overachiever is easier than the being a therapy horse. They are saints. Until they aren’t.

The trouble with being stoic, as any stoic horse will tell you, is that anxiety will win in the end, unless we call it out.

So, here are my tips for competing in huge important shows or in your ordinary life:

First, get lots of sleep. If you can’t sleep, lay there deep breathing. When your thoughts turn to the destruction of the world as you know it, kindly go back to deep breathing.

When you get up finally, look in the mirror and smile. Sure, you look like the dog’s breakfast, but if you truly can’t smile, call a real therapist. Life is too short for excuses. It’s time to stop floundering in confusion and acid grudges and good intentions. Set an appointment and do your horse a favor.

Want to know my personal secret weapon? I keep low expectations. Not because of self-doubt; I consider it balance. We all run just a bit hot when it comes to horses. Our dreams scream in a silent dog whistle pitch that we can’t hear. Our love burns like a flame thrower next to a stack of last year’s hay. We’re not fooling anyone with our obsessive-compulsive passion. It’s better to bring it out in broad daylight and do some groundwork with our emotions.

Try the hardest thing and ask for less from yourself. Ignore the problems and celebrate the easy work. Reward the calming signals you give yourself. Just say yes. Sing with the radio, let your belly relax, and leave the dishes for later. Have ridiculously low expectations so you can constantly surprise yourself with your own goodness. Then look in the mirror again. Notice the wrinkles and the stained teeth as you smile and truly mean it when you say thank you.

Now you’re ready to go to the barn. Does your horse still have anxiety? Congratulations. You’re ready to become part of the solution.

 

 ….
Anna Blake at Infinity Farm
Horse Advocate, Author, Speaker, Equine Pro
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Photo Challenge: Shiny

Birdwatching in the dark
is an art practiced best
with no yard light. Start
just after the colors are
gone from the horizon and

the leftover sheen of the day 
lingers, waiting for the spark
of stars just dawning. Birds 
are easier to locate at this 
thoughtful time when the

beginning of dark quiets the 
trees. Of course you'll want 
to be near a barn. That's the
place where the wild world
intermingles with those we

like to believe are domestic.
"Look up," says the old white
gelding, and I do, seeing a
watermelon on a high wire. 
"She has no neck," I answer, 

"it's an owl," as she turns to
show her horns. Then she lifts
away without a sound, taking the
ghost gelding with her, leaving 
me the scent of mud and moonlight.
 ….
Anna Blake at Infinity Farm
Horse Advocate, Author, Speaker, Equine Pro
Blog  FB  Email  Author  FB  Tweet  Amazon
(WordPress Photo Challenge is a weekly prompt to share a photo–I enjoy twisting these macro prompts to share our micro life here on the Colorado prairie. I take these photos with my phone, on my farm. No psych, definitely not high-tech.)

Shiny

Horsewoman. Internet. Wine.

It’s been a melancholy week at Infinity Farm. I’d call it the dog days of summer but truth is that it’s been feeling like fall for a few weeks already. It’s getting dark earlier but some days it feels like the sun isn’t even up by noon.

It’s cool enough for a sweatshirt for the night barn check and the season change means mice are starting to move to the house like snowbirds to Tucson. Turns out the cats have all gone vegan or something. Living on a farm isn’t what it used to be.

So, I’m sitting in my writing studio with a mouse is staring at me from my bookshelf. I wonder if I have fought his ancestors, which makes me spend just a bit too much time considering the big questions: Politics. Religion. Who else would eat the poison before the mouse? Is he too big for a fly swatter? Must I always fumble the Tupperware?

Even more despondent, I give in and do that thing that a certain sort of person does late at night on the internet. I’m not proud of it. It shows a lack of character and if my mother was alive, she would slap my hand away…

First, I get a glass of wine –a thick Cabernet that practically stains my teeth. And some chocolate with almonds because I know where this is going and I’ll need some energy in a while. Then I push back in my reclining office chair, put my feet up, and pull the hood of my sweatshirt forward until it nearly covers my eyes. In the dim light, the glow of my computer is as welcoming as a campfire.

A big slow exhale with no need to rush. I’m alone, except for the old dog snoring like someone’s weird uncle. I decide to call it ambiance. One finger goes to one key- D -and the address line auto-fills. It isn’t my first time on this salacious site…

Dreamhorse.com.  To our kind, it’s like a shameless social group where they don’t check your income or marital status.

No, I’m not looking for a horse. None of my clients are either. Still, I leer. I ogle, tilting my head to the side as my eyes devour photos of sleek horses for sale in other states. And then I pour over the descriptions. Some sound as if they were written by a used-car salesman and some by horse-crazy girls. They are equally reliable. I know better than to take the words literally: Bombproof. Sixteen hands. Schooling fourth level. And the one that makes me go mushy… Needs experienced rider.

Oh, my heart. Shouldn’t horse ads have a literary category of their own, something between Crime Fiction and Romance?

After the wine is gone and many pages have been viewed, I doze off to that world where I’m not quite a horse and not quite human.


Available: Mature Gray Mare

Registered name: Shez Gotta Doit Herway   Barn Name: Anna

Breed: Grade, DNA test shows some of everything.

First schooled in Pleasure, Reining, and Trail. Currently a dressage schoolmaster with remarkably poor gaits. Not lame really. Just a bit uneven. Big hooves, good teeth, easy keeper. Not exactly uphill.

Classically trained, boss mare skills, and still sits a wicked reining spin. Veteran of all kinds of freestyle; loves to dance. Will tell you how to do it correctly and then stand around breathing until you take her cue. But no exceptions; she won’t let you on without a helmet.

Loves trailers, will stand for the right farrier. Will also kick when required but her intolerance for bad manners shouldn’t be confused with stubbornness. Prefers body work and a dirt bath to “a cookie.” No plans to retire. Dreams of hock injections.

Comes with two donkeys. And a goat. Some ducks that quit laying. A few dogs and some useless cats. And a small herd of horses, all more uneven than her.

Price: Private treaty, of course.


Writing a horse ad is only a temporary silly distraction but who doesn’t need that? Some of us tell the brutal truth and some of us flatter ourselves. (You wouldn’t be the first filly to fudge your stats.) How would your Dreamhorse ad read? At the very least, tell us your registered name.

….
Anna Blake at Infinity Farm
Horse Advocate, Author, Speaker, Equine Pro