Sunday, August 31, 2008

Lesson Horse

Just a few days after Yellow arrived in Spokane, I had some friends out to the barn to meet him. These friends were Becky, her husband Chris, and daughter Brooke (7) and Grace (4). Yellow, was also 4. Grace found that very entertaining.

Grace and Brooke brought their new riding helmets and I had been on Yellow enough that day to know he would be fine just carrying them on his back while he walked around the arena. And sure enough, that's exactly what Yellow did. Pretty soon each of the girls was in control of the reins, and I walked around with them, just in case.

Becky and Chris held a very strong point of view that if their girls were to ever get a horse, they must first understand all the work that goes into caring for one. During the months that the girls received "lessons," they were encouraged to groom, pick up after, and feed Yellow. There were a few times when the ride only lasted 15 minutes or so, because there was a lot of other care that needed to take place. As all of you with horses know, this is a very realistic occurrence.

When Yellow came to live on the farm in February, Brooke and Grace were pretty sad. Grace drew me several pictures of Yellow, most of them were of him getting to eat tons of apples (which the girls found out were his favorite!), and they write emails to check in on him.

In June, a former teacher of mine contacted me and told me her daughter, Audrey, was about to turn 5 and LOVES horses. Well, what 5 year old girl doesn't? She would love to pay me to let Audrey come pet the horse, brush the horse, feed the horse, and if it wasn't too much trouble, ride the horse. Of course!!

So on a beautiful Monday in June I got Yellow out and had my fiance saddle him up. We practiced having an adult ride behind the saddle because I knew both mother and child were anxious about riding a "big horse." He's 15 hands, only 2 inches taller than a pony, but most people don't realize that.

Audrey and her mother on Yellow.

Little sis Maggie and mom take their turn.

Audrey was quite nervous about getting on, and was very quiet. After her mom mounted and moved into position, we got Audrey in the saddle and off we went in a small loop in my back yard. After about 15 minutes, it was younger sister Maggie's turn. We took a short break to have some hot dogs and cupcakes, and then Audrey was ready to try it by herself. She was getting a little more assertive about wiggling her little legs to have him move forward, and gently pulling on the reins and saying, "Whoooooaaaaaa" to have him stop.

Just a week later another young lady, this time the daughter of a friend of my mom's, came over to ride the Amazing Lesson Horse. She was a lot more confident and sure of herself on my horse's back, and had lots of fun getting Yellow to go wherever she wanted.

Since these young cowgirls have ridden Yellow, he has also been ridden by many a novice cousin. He never loses his patience or his will. It's truly remarkable to watch a 5 year old horse respond to a 5 year old child the way he does. I will have absolutely no doubts putting my daughter on Yellow. And that will happen as soon as she can sit up on her own!

Cousin Brooklyn on Yellow.

Cousin Haley on Yellow.

Cousin Jamie on Yellow.

Cousin Tena on Yellow.

Me on Okie, because Yellow was too tired after all the cousins getting to ride him!

Friday, August 29, 2008

The name of the game is...


So I've been tagged by Middle of the Road. Apparently, she doesn't get enough of me every day and would like me to share some unusual facts about myself. Well, here goes...

1. I LOVE TV! I worked for FOX for about a year, and was much more in love with the atmosphere than my specific job. I'm hoping to go back to work for a TV station soon. I love knowing what shows are performing the best, what demographics watch what show, I love seeing good actors work with good writers, I love quality TV.

2. Before I got pregnant, I used to drink 2 coffees and 2-3 diet cokes every day. Caffeine addict!! I blame part of the reason I was so tired during my first trimester on the pregnancy, the other part on the absence of caffeine.

I sure love me some diet coke!!

3. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. I love the low-key, minimal planning of Thanksgiving. No buying gifts, just a wonderful meal with several of my favorite foods. I also love Fall, all the colors and the smell of apple cinnamon. So Thanksgiving incorporates all of that!

4. My favorite hobby is starting new hobbies. I love learning new things, getting new supplies, and becoming good at something new. This has included (in the last 5 years) rock climbing, golfing, wakeboarding, knitting, snowboarding, guitar, dog training, and getting back into horses after a short hiatus. Oh, and photography. I even downloaded instructions for turning your bathroom into a darkroom, just in case I ever have a spare bathroom! I might still like to do that...I wonder if I still have all the darkroom supplies...

The guitar I bought and played 3 times.

My candle making class...shortly after the class I purchased all the necessary equipment to make my own candles...but, sadly, never made a single one.

5. I have a designer jean problem. My fiance used to think what I spent on jeans was ridiculous. Until he got his first pair of 7s, and now he doesn't want to wear American Eagle jeans. I haven't bought a new pair in quite a while, but having spent so much money on nice jeans gives me EXTRA incentive to get back into them when Baby Grace is here!

6. I don't care for a lot of the natural horsemanship hooey. I know Pony Girl is a big fan, and we actually have a lot of similar ideas about things, but I don't think you need to make everything a game for a horse to like it. Some horses like work. Sure, some are more lazy than my perfect Yellow horse, but some horses like to compete! So I see our time together as "work," and work can be fun! Haha! And I don't "spoil" my horse. I don't feed out of my hand, I don't let him graze on grass (especially not with a bit in his mouth!), I don't have any tolerance for goofiness. Now, I say "spoil" not because the act in itself is going to do harm, but because that's what I see a lot of horses spoiled on. You know, the horse that is constantly trying to eat on the trail, or nips anytime a hand is near his face because he thinks that hand contains a treat?

7. I think I had a very special connection with Clinton Anderson. He came to a town nearby for his clinic, and we signed up right away. On the first day of the clinic, he was giving away prizes. He was sitting on Diaz right in front of me, and he started to ask a question about rollbacks. I shot my hand right up in the air and he said, "I haven't even asked the question yet! How can you know the answer?" to which I replied, "I bet I do!" and he said, "Okay, what is it?" I said, "Slow to turn, quick to get out." Well of course that was right! So I won an advanced riding DVD set. The next day I had him autograph it and I made sure he was going to do more horsemanship clinics in 2009. Rumor has it he's about done with the traveling clinics. Anyway, he said he was, and I told him all I could do for the next 9 months was groundwork so we should be pretty amazing by the time he comes back. He asked why and I told him I'm pregnant, and he told me to be careful. See? Clinton Anderson definitely cares about me. Me. He didn't tell anyone else to be careful. But he was concerned for my and Gracie's safety. We have a connection.

Okay, so that just about sums it up for my moderately interesting facts! In turn, I must tag a few unsuspecting bloggers, and I choose:

Adventures of a Horse Crazed Mind

Photog Chic at Equine Mine

fssunnysd at It's Sunny in SD


Flying Lily at When Lilies Fly

Thursday, August 28, 2008

My Excuse

My poor horse, Yellow, must think I've lost it. First, I'm riding him almost every day like we're training for some sort of Olympics. Then, I stop riding him for three months. Then, I start riding him sporadically, and start putting on some serious pounds which causes me to be off-balance, especially when posting. I'm posting a lot more frequently, and all of a sudden he's become a walk-trot loping. No rollbacks. No galloping into a sliding stop. And certainly no cattle work.

Worse yet, I don't even saddle him anymore! All of a sudden I would rather poke around riding bareback, or try this new saddle, a hunt seat saddle.

It's all very odd.

Yellow, it's because you have a sibling on the way. Well, sort of. If this baby comes out looking or shaped like you, I'm going to have a heart attack. But I did find out in April that I am pregnant, and have had to be cautious ever since. And who pays the price? My darling Yellow horse.

Baby Grace Lauryn Kendall, ready to ride, I think!

I had to wait for doctor clearance to be able to ride, and she said second trimester was safer. But I'm not allowed to lift more than 30 lbs, and throwing a saddle was completely out of the question. Well a fat-lot of good that does me! So I just started riding bareback if there was no one around to throw my saddle for me.

And then one day I became inspired...I remember back at the barn in Spokane, someone told me my Yellow horse had a lot of good English action. "WHAT?!? You mean I bought this western pleasure/roping/reining horse, and he looks like one of those sissy English horses that prance around like fricken unicorns?!?" No offense, to all you English riding folk. But it's just not what you expect to hear about your stock horse, you know?

We're riding western, but we look rather...English...guess those gals at the barn had a point!

So I drove my hiney to the local feed store and got a new dressage-style pad. I managed to find a larger girth (my former mare that I showed on in 4-H was not quite as...round, we'll say.) and my breast collar. I saddled up Yellow and explained to him that this wasn't supposed to be pretty, but functional. And it would hopefully help me get a little posting balance back. Or I would fall off, and in that case, he needed to drag me by my foot down to the hospital. I quickly told him the quickest route. Then I asked him to get up next to the fence so I could mount.

I wish you could see the look Yellow sometimes gives me. This was one of those times. I never have to use objects to get on, and he was just thinking, "Listen lady, if you can't mount from the ground, you really shouldn't be riding. Don't make me call your doctor."

"The Look" is something like this...

So, we headed to the riding area, doing one-rein stops all the way there. He seemed perfectly comfortable with this half-saddle on him, and oddly enough, I was comfortable too! I think I have better posture when I ride hunt seat, and it took some pressure off the belly.

We didn't ride for very long because it was crazy-dusty in our riding area. Quite the opposite from Pony Girl's riding area! Wanna trade, PG? But I did lope him in a few small circles...shhhh! Don't tell! He was EASIER to lope in this danged English saddle! Or maybe I was using my seat and legs more efficiently? Whatever the case, it was FUN!

I have only ridden English once since, and that was for our pony cousin roundup in Cle Elum. I have it on video, and it doesn't look too shabby, especially for not having had an English lesson in over 5 years, and being on a horse who has NEVER been ridden in that manner. But I think he likes it!

Looking mighty pregnant in Cle Elum! No wonder I have trouble balancing, I'm front-heavy!

Anyway, Yellow, I am very sorry that soon I will have to stop riding again. And realistically, once this little one is here, who knows how much time I will have to devote. We will remain members of the Back Country Horsemen, I would still love to take you to a Clinton Anderson 3-day clinic, and we will be joining the Yakima Valley Team Penning Club, and either get into team penning or sorting, or both. But, about this time next year, you're going to have to be your old, solid self so Baby Grace can get her first few rides in on you. Of course, I won't let her steer. I know you don't like to be tugged on, but it will be a lot like when you gave Stella her pony rides, except that Travis and Nana will be snapping about a million pictures and Travis will probably be a nervous wreck and threaten your life just before he hands our daughter over to me, sitting on your back.

From LtoR: Yellow, Travis, my dad, Rory, Me, Yellow's butt.

The good news, Yellow, is that we have the horse trainer looking for a small QH for Gracie. I have spent many nights explaining to the bouncing baby after a particularly exciting horse day that Yellow is Mommy's horse, and we will get her a beautiful horse of her own...just don't get too excited and start thinking Mommy will give you Yellow. Mommy and Daddy will give you a lot of things...Mommy's horse is not one of them.

Cowgirl Baby Shower...yep, this baby is being raised correctly right from the start!

On a side note, I have to say that while I am not yet a parent, I have heard that many horse training techniques can be directly applied to children. Is this true? What techniques might some of you parents or aunts or uncles use?

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Hey Stella!

I have a wonderful helper on the farm. Her name is (get ready for this) Stella Louise Madonna Ashley Nicole Carmit Jessica Kimberly Melody Jaquish Kendall. And no, I'm not joking. I can say the whole thing, in that order, as many times as you would like.

Stella in her Halloween costume.

Stella will be celebrating her 3rd birthday on September 15th. Her father was a yorkie, her mother was a poodle, therefore she is a yorkiepoo. I received her for Christmas 2 years ago, and it has never been her choice to leave my side since.

Stella, 12 weeks old.

Unfortunately, last summer, she had to come stay with my parents on the farm because I was moving around in Spokane and struggled to find a place that would allow dogs. I just knew if each of these landlords could meet my little Stella they would feel differently about allowing dogs in their rentals!

Anyway, that summer is when Stella really became a farm dog. I was concerned about her getting out of the fence and getting on the hiway, but she never once challenged the fence.

Farm dog in training, herding geese at Manito Park in Spokane.

Yep, Stella had all those geese headed back for water in no-time!

During that summer Stella got to go on a camping trip where she had the very important job of picking out scrapbooking papers, ordering lattes, and keeping chipmunks, squirrels and large bugs out of the camp. I'm told she was fabulous.

Stella on a latte run.

Stella in her pink camping sweater.

Stella helping with scrapbooking layouts.

Stella did get to come back to Spokane for a while, right around the time Yellow arrived. I would take her to the barn with me and she would run up and down the aisle, keeping all the birds up in the rafters. The horses would stick their heads out of their stalls and watch this black, bouncing object run back and forth, back and forth. Then, she would come over to Yellow in the crossties, and I would pick her up and Yellow would smell her. At first Stella was scared, but then she realized, "This is just a big puppy!" and would give him kisses right on the nose!

In the indoor arena Stella had a chair she would sit on and watch me ride. Most of the time she watched quietly, but one time she was whining quite a bit. So I rode Yellow over to the chair, reached down and grabbed Stella's harness, and hoisted her up in the saddle with me, and off we went. Of course, Yellow doesn't neckrein so steering was interesting while holding a 9 lb. dog, but I think Stella really enjoyed her pony ride! A few of the other boarders were so impressed with her abilities they snapped some pictures! Of course, they didn't give them to me, so I have no proof...I guess you'll just have to believe me.

When I moved home this summer my little farm dog began helping me with all sorts of chores. We feed the horses, she picks up hoof trimmings after a shoeing, she LOVES anything having to do with the garden hose, so watering horses is another favorite job. As a matter of fact, she is even laying next to me right now, helping me write this blog. I'm tellin you now, if you do not have a farm dog to help you with all sorts of chores, large and small, you should get one.

Stella in my lap, Ernie on the floor, ready to load up the Pro Hauler.

Friday, August 22, 2008


People! People! People! Last week I re-watched one of my favorite movies of all time, and definitely my favorite western, McLintock.

John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara team up in this western comedy that lacks the goofiness of Blazing Saddles, but absolutely has its fair share of chuckles! I don't know how old I was when my mom brought this movie home, but it's one of those I probably quote more often than I realize.

The story is about George Washington McLintock, a well-off rancher with a rather callus way of dealing with women. His wife, Kate, comes back to the town of McLintock to welcome their daughter home from school. She has been off attending swarees with the Governer. For some reason Kate has a lot of contempt toward her husband, but always with a sly smile behind every insult. The story is of McLintock and Kate rekindling the passion their relationship once had, through mud brawls, drunken serenades, and finally a big city celebration with a rodeo and "march" down the main street!

John Wayne's son, Patrick Wayne stars in the movie, as well as Jerry Van Dyke, who most people will remember as "Luther" on the TV show Coach.

Some of the better lines from McLintock include:

George Washington McLintock: If these settlers get burned out, there'll be a lot of hollerin' that this country is too wild to be a state. We'll go on bein' a territory some more, with a lot of political appointees runnin' it according to what they learned in some college where they think cows are somethin' you milk and Indians are somethin' in front of a cigar store.

George Washington McLintock: I know I'm gonna use good judgement. I haven't lost my temper in forty years, but pilgrim you caused a lot of trouble this morning, might have got somebody killed... and somebody oughta belt you in the mouth. But I won't, I won't. The hell I won't
[belts man in the mouth]

Drago: I'm sorry Katherine - that Katie just slipped out from times when I remember you as being nice people...
Katherine McClintock: Are you going to stand there with that stupid look on your face while the hired help insults your wife?
George Washington McLintock: He can't help it - he's just ignorant. He doesn't know any better than to tell the truth. And I can't help this stupid look. I started acquiring it as you gained in social prominence!

And finally:
George Washington McLintock: Don't say it's a fine morning or I'll shoot ya!

And here is one of my favorite scenes from this beloved movie...don't worry, no spoilers here!


Yellow is the name of my horse. No, not his actual name, silly! His registered name is Skips Sport (who comes up with these?!?), and then he has his barn name, and then there is his color: Yellow. When I first heard about Yellow, the horse trainer said, "I got this yeller horse I think you would like." That's the way my horse trainer (aka The Cowboy) names his horses. In all the time I spent with The Cowboy, I think my mom's colt was the only horse he had a name for that was not color related. Of course, "Sumbitch" is not something we wanted the little colt to be called, but if you tried to ride that little horse, you might have had a similar name for him.

I rode The Cowboy's rope horse, or, "that big bay horse." I rode "that appy horse." And finally, I bought "that yeller horse."

Did I mention Yellow can rope too? Well, the cowboy can rope...Yellow can chase a cow or a donkey. This donkey's name is Leroy!

I was pretty intent on giving Yellow a very sophisticated barn name. After all, shortly after I purchased him I moved him from the country life he was accustomed to to a fancy-shmancy barn in Spokane, WA. Our side of the barn was mostly reining horses with a few dressage horses mixed in. Surely "Yellow" on his stall card would never fly! Not next to horses with real barn names!

Yellow's arrival in Spokane.

Now, I'm not saying I don't like his barn name. I gave it to him, and it works. I combined his registered name with a person very close to me, and it suits him. It's easy to call out in a pasture, easy to use with nicknames, all the things a good barn name should be. It's kind of like our city alias.

But then in March, I moved him back down to my parent's farm. And soon after that, my mom got a new colt. Amazingly, "Sumbitch" didn't work out the way we had hoped. So her chestnut colt came home, and to help my dad remember who's blanket fit who, we adopted the saying "white fleece on Yellow, green fleece on Brown." And thus, my horse became Yellow once again.

Yellow and Brown, hanging out on the farm.

Yellow is a simple kind of horse. He comes from every Skip, Skippa, or Skipper horse you've ever heard of. He's 15hh and slightly long, but everything is proportionate. The main thing about Yellow is, he has a lot of "try." That's a phrase I think even non-horse people can understand. Yellow will try anything. If you have a leg or a rein on him, and he's not sure what you're asking, he's not just going to stand there. He will do something. He's almost never goofy (sans the 2 months he was on stall rest and then I decided to break him out and chase a mechanical flag while still in my work attire...bad Palomino Girl!) and loves to go to work. I wish I could say the same about myself!

All in all, Yellow is my dream horse. And who gets to have his/her dream horse at the ripe ol' age of 24? Well, me, I guess.

A cousin recently told me that my mom's horse, Brown, needs to learn that the sun does not rise and set on the butt of that yeller horse. Well, clearly I disagree!! And I'm sure there are plenty of you who feel the same way. I had another cousin tell me that all she had in the world was her husband and her horse. Well, to that I say, "Who needs the man when you've got a Quarter Horse?" Of course, shortly after saying that I found a man worth keeping around...but even he knows to respect my time spent with Yellow. That is Palomino Girl and Yellow time, not anything else.

Note the Ipod headphones? I don't like to be bothered by anyone or anything when I'm with Yellow.

Last week at our cousin horse camping trip, we decided to each do a routine to a song that represented either the cousin or the "equicuz," as we call them. My song? Yellow, by Coldplay. Chris Martin wrote it for the yellow-haired beauty in his life, Gwyneth Paltrow. I rode to it for the yellow-haired beauty in mine.

Look at the stars, look how they shine for you. And all the things that you do.

What song would best represent you and your horse? And what kind of a routine would you do to it?