Sunday, August 30, 2009

They've Multiplied!

No, Aeolae wasn't pregnant but now it looks like not 1 but 2 horses will be moving in within the next few weeks. A little more than a week and a half ago the idea of having a horse around here was nothing more than a pipe dream we took down occasionally, dusted off and re-realized that it wasn't going to happen anytime soon. My, how life can change quickly.

Aeolae's companion, who was known as Blaze (we're changing his name), originally was going to go home with a friend of my friend but unfortunately life has dealt her a bad hand and she can't take him anymore and my friend's husband is afraid of her acquiring too many critters to look after. She's got fibromyalgia like me and although sometimes those who care about us irritate us by trying to take care of us, which sometimes comes across as interfering and a lack of faith in our abilities or knowledge of ourselves, we had to agree today that we do appreciate our menfolk trying to take care of us and not let our expectations of ourselves as superwomen get out of hand. She's got 2 llamas, a horse and lots of Angora and other long haired bunnies, whose fur she spins aqnd weaves, so she might be close to hitting critical mass in what she can take on while working 2 jobs, training 2 horses andtheir people and pursuing her multitude of hobbies. Those of us with fibro, and probably people with other chronic pain/fatigue conditions, have to keep busy though otherwise we really feel the pain and tiredness and it truly runs us into the ground. In fact, the worst time for me is at night when I stop doing stuff and try to go to bed and really ache. One can only take so many pain meds. But I digress.

Back to Blaze or rather Samwise as we're going to call him. My friend asked me yesterday whether we would be interested in taking him. It would make life easier in many ways - the 2 horses are herd bound and it was going to be time consuming and difficult to get them separated without them grieving for each other which would cause problems; fall is soon to be upon us (if it's not already here) with winter hard on it's heels this year. Also there's the fact that where they are now is not exactly on the way to anywhere for either my friend or Mark and I and both of us are burning a bit of gas going out there; moving them within the next couple of weeks would save on gas and make training easier. Means I have to get my butt moving though to get their accomadations ready especially as they'll be ready to move much sooner than Aeolae by herself would be. Way too much to do; I could really use the rain to hold off.

Samwise (pictured above) is a Quarterhorse cross gelding approx. 15.2 hh (~62" at the shoulder). He's a chestnut roan (white hairs mixed in a reddish brown coat) with a white blaze and stockings. Although Blaze is a good descriptive name for him, he needs a new name since he bears several scars and almost no hair on his face from the trauma he suffered at the home he and Aeolae were rescued from; the one before where we're getting them from. Aeolae has white lines on her face, scars where the straps of her halter were way too tight, and we are told that the scarring on Samwise comes from the family's disturbed child soaking a rag on a stick in gasoline, lighting it and pushing it into his face. I suppose we could call him Socks or Buddy for his other prominent markings or personality since he is so friendly, but something more dignified seems in order.

Buddy made me think of friend and the phrase "speak friend and enter" from the inscription on the west gate of the Mines of Moria in the Lord of the Rings jumped into my head. Mellon is the elvish word for friend which sounds kind of cool if you put the accent on the first syllable but I know that too often he'd get referred to affectionately as a melon-head or something similar which kind of shoots the dignity objective. Anyway, Samwise in LOTR is a very homespun character who has great heart, loyalty beyond measure, and no small number of smarts; not a bad description of this horse. I've probably really over thought this but names are important.

It didn't hurt Samwise's chances of us taking him any either that he is a bit more bidable and less willful than Aeolae at this point which, although he definately needs training, means he just might be useful this fall in helping around here. The fact that he is a larger horse than Aeolae and prefers women to men also means he'll make a better mount for me as I am not what one would call petite and frankly I was getting a little jealous of the attention Aeolae was lavishing upon Mark while I'm putting in at least as much work as he is working with her and getting her home ready. In any case, I couldn't see Samwise facing the same fate Aeolae was of getting put down because another home couldn't be found. I don't see him as being that much more work but this is going to be something of an adventure and a bit more of a strain on the budget than we planned on. It's all a matter of what's important though; hay vs going out - is there really any question?

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


I have learned more about horses in the last 4 days than I ever thought I wanted to know. Ever since Mark and I and Dad moved up here Mark and I have thought about keeping a horse or 2 to help out since our physical limitations don't allow us to do a lot hauling, carrying etc. He's also had concerns for years based on his analysis of society from a military intellegence perspective that things might break down within our lifetime to the point where it would be in our best interest to be self sufficient. A horse makes that a whole lot easier.

Over the years we've looked at the horse-for-sale ads posted on the feed mill bulletin boards but between the cost of the horse, the cost quoted in books of taking care of a horse and the fact that the last time I, the more experienced of the 2 of us re: horses, worked with anything of the equine variety was 25+ years ago, the idea has gotten repeatedly shelved. That was until last Wednesday. A friend of mine has a relative who basically abandoned her 2 horses and goat and if it wasn't for the neighbors of this woman and my friend who took it upon themselves to step in and take care of the livestock, God only knows what condition the animals would have been in. I have absolutely no patience for people who have no regard for and feel no responsibility towards those who are dependant on them. Finally this woman asked my friend to find homes for the critters - no easy task as horses are relatively plentiful around here, the economy is such that most people can't take on another mouth to feed and the horses have basically been lawn ornaments for the last few years receiving barely adequate care and no training - meaning that they're saddle broke but not easy to work with.

The goat, who is a real sweetheart, got herself a good home with one of the neighbors and has become the close companion of one of his children. A friend of my friend has been smitten by one of the 2 horses, Blaze, who can be seen here, and has the skills necessary to make him into a well behaved mount so he's found himself a home. The other one, whose picture is up top, we're calling Aeolae (ay-o-lay). She is rather high spirited, a bit stand offish and has managed to get a bad reputation among the horse people around here to the point where no one would take her. When my friend mentioned last Wednesday that her probable fate was to be euthanized (rather than sent to auction) because a home couldn't be found, I had to at least consider the possibility of giving her a home. Now is not the time we'd choose to take her - first snow could be as soon as 6 weeks from now and finances could definately be better - but we have the basic housing, the local costs of keeping a horse are within our means and with the help of my friend, who is an accomplished trainer, we have a decent chance of making her into a fine workhorse and mount. This is one case where we're definately not looking a gift horse in the mouth, at least not too closely, especially as she comes with trainer, help to ready this place for her and the loan of much of the equiptment we need until we can either make or buy our own. The whole situation has the feel of a God given opportunity both for our benefit and to do a mitzvah by caring for one of God's critters and saving some people from heartache - my friend is rather fond of her but can't take her.

Mark chose her name, which used to be Windy, as a feminine version of the Greek god of the winds - Aeolus. It has a much softer sound than Windy, no bad thing around a horse that needs all the calming she can get, and I find it interesting that the Greeks thought of the winds as horse shaped spirits. She seems to like it; I was over there Mon and she at least appeared intrigued at hearing it.

Last Fri Mark went to meet her and she took to him really well. That's due in part to her noticing one of the first things I noticed in him - his outward calm but forceful presence. He exudes command and she definately needs a leader of the herd she can respect. She walked very nicely next to him and he had little problem with her getting pushy. Me on the other hand, she walked all over - literally. It wasn't malicious and I was stupid for wearing sandals out there, I know better than that, but fortunately she didn't cause any damage except to my ego. She's a youngish and big horse, 13 yo and ~15 hh (~5' at the shoulder), and is solidly built being an Arab/Thoroughbred or Quarterhorse cross and used that to push me aside more than once as I was walking her. I'm a little nervous of her, which I'm going to have to get over in short order, and her and I are going to have to work on the fact that I rank above her in the herd. I'm somewhere going to have to find it to act larger than life and quit being afraid of getting hurt or she's going to learn that I'm no one to respect. I don't need that from my horse; I get enough of it from the rest of the world. The thing is that she isn't a dumb horse - that may actually be part of her problem; like me she's sometimes too smart for her own good and gets bored and rebellious. I think communication will occur and we will get along. It'll be easier when Blaze isn't there to be sticking his big nose into the situation and getting Aeolae into trouble.

Tonight we're going out with my friend to work with Aeolae again and hopefully I'll fare better this time. Last night she let me come up and rub her although you can see her uncertainty as to where I fit into her life. Her and Blaze are very dependant on each other and she's probably going to grieve some and act out when he moves to my friend's farm until her friend can take him. It's good though that we can leave Aeolae where she is for a few more weeks yet as we need that time to get the 'barn' ready, run fence, arrange for hay and all the other things I don't want to have to think about getting done before she arrives; too much to do in too little time with too little energy and undedicated money - I trust in Hashem to provide. At least she'll be able to deal with some of her separation issues in a familiar atmosphere.

One of the things I've learned lots about is the natural horsemanship method of training where the trainer/rider works with horse psychology to get the horse to do what is wanted rather than force. It's liable to take longer but will produce a much better horse. I had heard of the Horse Whisperer and ran across this type of training in Mercedes Lackey's Tarma & Kethry stories but had no idea that the practice was so widespread. I think it's more humane and treats the horse not just as a tool to be made to work as desired but with the dignity due any creature that has the capacity to cooperate in an endeavor.

Stay tuned for more tales of the breaking in of Aeolae; although I'm sure she'll do her best to break us in. It's a good thing I enjoy learning and a challenge. Mark's (and occasionally my) thoughts on horsing around can be found here. I'm off to read the stack of books my friend gave me as homework. Darn, I feel like I'm back in college - work my butt off all day, study all night, sleep sometime. :)

Monday, August 24, 2009

Welcome to my new blog

This is my second blog, the first being Thoughts of a Jewitch, and I've created this because sometimes there are things to say which have nothing to do directly with spirituality or religion which is where I've been trying to keep the focus of Thoughts of a Jewitch - at least tangentially. I've noticed that I'm struggling more and more to make plain the spiritual associations with things I want to talk about lately and rather than lose readers who go there to get a Jewitch perspective or a least a particular Jewitch's perspective, because there's too much other stuff, I'm bringing the other stuff over here. A perfect example of this is the entry about the joys of wildlife sharing the same living space as us.

The plan here is to write about living in the western upper peninsula of Michigan, specifically in the Keweenaw, life on our 58 acre homestead, my interests in old-time skills and my views of the goings on in the US and the world.

I hope you enjoy the entries and find them entertaining, informative, thought provoking, affirming or any combination thereof. Thanks for stopping by.