Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween! A Pumpkin Tale

Well, let's see. I have been tagged by OnTheBit with a Ghost It Forward. Now I have not been able to recall an appropriately ghostly story to share, nor have I found (or had time to create with Photoshop) a good, "ghostly" picture but I do have a memory to relate about how we used to get our Halloween pumpkins when I was a kid. So here's hoping this is in the spirit of "Ghosting It Forward".

When I was about 11 or 12 years old and had my first horse, Tally Ho, we used to trail ride all over the West Hills park in Huntington, NY. If I had a buddy riding with me we would even cross the road in front of the stable and go into the wooded land on the other side of the park. 30 or so years ago, you would be able to ride through the woods and not be cut off by the housing developments that now cover much of the land.

One of our favorite places to ride to every fall, was a small farm next to a well-known riding school called Mrs. D's. This farm was next to a boy scout camp ground which is still there today, even though both Mrs. D's and the farm are long gone. The farm was off limits (of course) but there were trails around it if you wanted to ride over to Mrs. D's. However, this farmer would have a very nice crop of pumpkins growing in the back section of the field, right next to the entrance to the trails that led to and from Mrs. D's.

We would ride over after school, being sure to wear our nylon school windbreaker jackets. You know - the kind with the snaps up the front and the drawstring around the bottom. When we got to the edge of the field, we'd dismount, snap up our jackets and pull the drawstring around the bottom tight and tie it. Then we'd collect as many small pumpkins as we could find and put them in our jackets. The jackets acted as a "bag" to hold them next to our body. Then we'd take off our helmet and choose a pumpkin the size of our head and put it in the helmet, using the elastic chin strap as a handle to loop over our arm. (back then, that's what passed as safety headgear, LOL. Even funnier is the irony in that we were riding bare headed in order to protect our prize pumpkin!)

Now, the challenge that you had to do all this and somehow scramble back onto your horse before the farmer noticed what was going on and sent his dog out after you. Visualize the drama of trying to climb onto a horse with a jacketful of pumpkins, while trying to keep another pumpkin in your helmet as it's dangling from your elbow by the chin strap! Now imagine a barking dog tearing across the field after you and you can imagine what the horse is doing.

Did it EVER occur to us to have one guy dismount and get the goods, then hand them to the guy on the horse to do the jacket stuffing? Nope, because then in your greedy, pre-teen mind you'd only be getting half as much loot!

If we managed to do all this and get back to our barn without mishap, we'd proudly display the smaller pumpkins on the wooden ledge that was in front of each stall to hold brushes. It was like a badge of courage to have them there because everyone knew where they were from and what you had to do to get them!

Ah, good times.

Every autumn when the air becomes chilly and the leaves change color, I think of the pumpkin raids. So I hope you've enjoyed my not quite a ghost story but definitely in the spirit of the season!! (I'm not sure who to pass this one on to from here, perhaps I'll let the ghost rest here until next Halloween.)

Friday, October 24, 2008

Doggie Dressage

I just saw this for the first time. Breathtaking! You will be amazed at the beauty of the haunting music and the bond between the dog and the handler.

What Have I Been up To?

LOL! Okay On The Bit, you got me there! I have been AWFUL about keeping up with my posting! Yes, I have been busy to my eyeballs these weeks. My kids are mostly to blame, hello - who knew doing homework with 2 kindergarteners would be as time consuming?! My boys are in a dual language immersion program so they are learning Spanish and English at the same time. It's really cool and they are taking to it so well but it's homework from 2 teachers for 2 kids and it all adds up!

I have my next hunter pace coming up November 9th. Hoping just the weekend riding is enough to keep Monty fit for it. I had to pass on the Dressage show and stop the dressage lessons. I was having some difficulty fitting the lessons into my schedule and also things have been getting tighter with funds around the household. I really enjoyed riding with Miss D, I feel Monty and I both benefitted greatly from her input. However, I decided to direct my lesson money solely for the boys right now, they really LOVE the riding and look forward to their weekly lesson.

Their big day is approaching. November 1st is their first horse show! The stable where they take their lesson is having a little schooling show. My boys will be doing the leadline Walk and Walk/Trot. It's such a weird feeling to watch them riding with my long-time H/J trainer. I remember how tough he was with me, yet he's having FUN with them! I switched them from the stable where they first started riding when I saw how much they were taking to it and my trainer said he would take them - but only because they were my boys. My H/J trainer, who I'll refer to as "the Master" from this point on (LOL) doesn't take on little beginner kids but since the Master and I have been together for over 30 years and are more family than business he agreed to it.

I think my kids have surprised him. I also think they amuse him. The best was when he was teaching Harrison on the longe line. Harrison started watching a girl on her pony in the ring. The Master called him to attention and told him he must pay attention to his trainer, not others in the ring. He then jokingly told Harrison, "you know, your mom never listened to me when I told her what to do". And to that Harrison answered, "Oh, I know, she never listens to me, either."

Thanks kid.

The Master burst out laughing at that one. He came over to me and smiled and said, "I love little kids who toss their folks under the bus. He's gonna do great!"

That made his day... kind of made mine too!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Picture Proof from Hunter Pace

Okay, I couldn't wait to post so here's one of the proofs from the photographer. The photo is © Leslie Wilson, Photographer. I will order copies of this and the other proofs and then post the other two.
This is from the first fence. Monty looks super-cute, I look like I need to drop a few pounds and take few refresher jumping lessons. But we sure had fun!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

A White Friesian?

So today I was wondering, could a white Friesian horse exist? Maybe an albino or something? Seems the answer is 75% yes. The story begins like this;

"If you're familiar with Friesians, you know that some of them suffer from inbreeding problems. Thirty years ago, the German-based Hillner family received permission from the Dutch Queen to cross-breed several Friesian mares with Jalisco, an Arab stallion standing at stud at Gestuet Marbach, to get some fresh blood into the breed. Exactly one of the foals turned out grey -- a stallion named Negus. After he had spent the first twelve years of his life un-trained, he changed hands.

His new owner, Sylvia Parduhn, started schooling him and was very pleased with his "bomb-proof" character, which allowed her to start riding a stallion at this advanced age. Parduhn also bred several mares with him, and again, one of the foals turned out a grey stallion -- Nero, the now fourteen-year-old horse who impressed the Equitana crowds not only with his color but also with his exceptional gaits."

And you can read the full article here: Nero - The White Mystery Friesian.