Here’s a pasture equation for you: Snow + Hungry + Bored = Curious Horses.

When we returned to Colorado after nearly two weeks in sunny Mexico, (more about that coming soon) we found snowy pastures and bored horses.

Horses graze. It’s what they do all day long.

It makes them happy.

It’s comforting.

A nibble here, a nibble there and before you know it, an entire day has passed. So obviously when there is nothing to nibble on, a horse gets bored.

And hungry. Those twice daily hay deliveries don’t last long. What’s a horse to do with the other eleven hours of the day?

Well they grow curious, vigilant really, and always on the lookout for the F-word.

That would be food!

I needed to give you this backstory to set the stage for the photos to come.

Golden-Girls-in-snow

The Golden Girls in their vacation accommodations

 

You see, we had to drive into the pasture to get to the Golden Girls, who spent our vacation in their own special “hotel.” They had room service and no one bothered them. They could munch hay as long as they wanted with no fear of a bigger, stronger horse muscling in. We took them grain before turning them into the bigger pasture.

Then we waited. The Golden Girls are dawdlers. At least the one named Pepper!

And while we waited we had visitors.

Curious-1

Uh..what you got in there?

 

Somebody was certain there was something to eat in the back of the pickup. It is the same kind of vehicle that delivers hay. Right??

Hello big goy? Got anything for me in there?

Hello big goy? Got anything for me in there?

Annie thought it looked pretty warm inside the cab. She wasn’t above begging!

Curious-5

Hey give me a hand. There must be something good in here.


If one curious horse is good, two are even better!

Curious-7

‘Scuse me. Could you pass the Doritos? Or maybe one of those hay cubes? Please,Please, Please..

 

2015-Valentine

Thinking of you this Valentine’s Day!

May you be safe

May you be happy

May you be healthy

May you live with ease.

And thank you for tuning in to read about life in the pasture with Two Old Horses.

jeanmcbride:

I”ve been going through some of my earlier posts and decided to share them now and then. Here’s one I did about Bad Hair Days. And can’t we all relate?

Originally posted on Two Old Horses and Me:

I’m not good at doing hair. It’s simply a set of skills I don’t possess. Oh, I think I’ve managed well enough over the years, thanks to great haircuts and a slew of product. That’s how hairdressers refer to gel, mousse, spray, and the other magic potions they use to make our hair shiny and gorgeous.

I am in awe of those women who know how to French braid their hair, or sweep their locks into a magnificent twist or some other updo. And anyone with curls goes immediately to the top of my list of big envy.

Looking back over my childhood, I realize that my mother wasn’t that great at doing hair either. Who knew this was  genetic?

Her lack of skill was a bit of a problem given that she had three daughters. She compensated by giving us Dutch bobs when we were little girls. You know…

View original 375 more words

skinny-girl

Winter is hard on old horses.

They use their calories for warmth or weight. It’s either/or, and the main reason we keep Miss Pepper blanketed most of the time. She can take a lot of heat. I think she gave up sweating long ago.

But when the weather gets warm, we remove her red blanket and let her old bones soak up the sun. We hope she revels in the heat.

Let me tell you though, when that blanket comes off, so does our denial.

It’s when we really see our bony old girl. It always surprises me. Somewhere in the recesses of my memory, she remains the strong, muscular alpha mare of the herd, the horse she used to be.

I remember her in her glory days.

 

It’s much the way I think of myself–though I was never an alpha.

I’ve had many conversations lately with my companion baby boomers about how we don’t think of ourselves as old. We still remember our glory days, when we were taking on the world. In our minds we haven’t changed, and are often shocked when we catch sight of ourselves in a mirror.

 

“Who is that person?” We wonder. “Surely it isn’t me. Where did those wrinkles come from? And that tummy?”

 

Like Pepper, my body has changed with my ever-increasing journeys round the sun. I’m not suggesting I’m ready to cash in my chips.

Far from it.

But like Miss P. I am learning to accept (with a modicum of grumbling) the adjustments my body is making.

 

How about you?

Isn’t it time we open this conversation?

 

Horse-at-gate

Over the weekend for two days, we watched this horse stand patiently at the gate, head jutting across the metal bar, waiting. His gaze never left the road ahead.

I suspect it was the road his friend walked down.

Away.

And now his self-appointed task was to remain vigilant until his friend returned. I don’t know how long this boy kept his vigil, but I have a good guess he stayed put until his pal was led back into the pasture. He certainly remained in place the entire time we spent with the Golden Girls, which thanks to Pepper’s slow eating habits, has stretched into a generous hour. Often more.

 Like us, horses have friends.

They form strong attachments, and protest loudly when that bond is interrupted. Like this black beauty, they will stand guard at the point of exit, and wait. And whinny loud desperate calls. And wait some more.

They find comfort and safety in their friendships.

Sometimes they form a small herd, like our Herd of Oldsters. Others are content with one BFF. As we’ve gotten to know the horses living in the pasture, we’ve seen several longstanding friendships.

Honestly, they make me smile.

Humans and horses are social creatures.

We have our own special brand of quirky personalities, desires, and a host of things necessary for our survival.

Right at the top of the list for me are the people who make up my community–friends and family who help me feel safe and nurtured in this sometimes-unpredictable world.

Our peeps matter to us. We need each other.

If I go too long without spending time with someone important to me, I notice.

Something feels “off,” not right with my world, though I may not be able to put my finger on it right away.

Eventually I’ll figure out that I need to connect. Re-connect.

If I’m taking good care of myself, I’ll reach out– make that call, or schedule a time to get together. It’s an important part of what keeps me centered and able to go on about my life.

 

Eventually this black horse ended his vigil. I didn’t actually see the reunion, but I’m pretty darn sure it happened. His friend was returned to the pasture, putting the axis of one black horse’s world back in place.

 

Is there someone you might want to call?

Now could be the perfect time.

Pepper-snow

Years ago, when my mother was visiting during a particularly snowy winter, she was walking down our snow-covered front steps, taking her time. She was going very slow, grasping the handrail for dear life and cautiously placing one foot in front of the other. I recall that I had a flash of a feeling–not anger, but perhaps annoyance, that was quickly followed by overwhelming sadness.

It was the first time I really understood that she was getting old. And I didn’t want to acknowledge it. Didn’t even want to think about it.

And honestly, the feeling quickly passed.

 

I hadn’t remembered that moment for years, until recently as I watched Pepper come in from the pasture for her grain.

On this day, there were five or six younger horses hanging around the gate. These are horses that Miss P. isn’t so fond of. So as I laid out the grain pans, she began her walk. She made a huge arc around the shed, walking slowly, her focus forward, as if ignoring the other horses.

I called to her, “Hey Pepper, where are you going?”

She ignored me.

I thought she might be planning to come around the back of the shed to the gate.

I was wrong.

She kept walking, plodding really, until she arrived at a completely different gate. Then, and only then, she turned her head toward me. “I want to eat my grain here, today,” she seemed to be saying.

By now, Chickadee had already come out the first gate and was happily chomping her grain, so I couldn’t accommodate Pepper.

I sighed.

Then I sighed again.

I took the lead rope and strongly encouraged the younger horses to leave. It took a few swings, but they finally got the message.

Then I climbed through the fence and walked down the hill to fetch Miss P. She’d been watching me chase the horses away and looked to be considering her options. Eventually she walked toward me and got to her grain.

Interestingly I experienced the same emotions I’d felt all those years ago with my mother.

A flash of irritation followed by understanding, then sadness.

 

Pepper avoids the younger, stronger horses because I believe she feels vulnerable, and unsafe.

Her body doesn’t work like it used to, and she can’t protect herself. Hard for an alpha mare to admit!

Her caution and vulnerability tug at my heart, and in many ways resonate with my own aging.

I’m not as sure-footed as I used to be, so in snowy weather I walk more carefully.

I suspect my mother is smiling at that one.

As I get used to living in a sixty-seven-year-old body, I want to be kinder to myself as I navigate the world with a little less confidence about my physical abilities.

Like Pepper, I may need to learn to take the long way around the shed. Thanks old girl for showing me how it’s done!

 

 

What makes you feel vulnerable these days?

 

 

Grain-slushies

Our Miss Pepper is a character in horse clothing.

She definitely has her likes and dislikes, and lets us know exactly what she wants. In other words, she has trained us well. I don’t think that’s necessarily how it’s supposed to go in the “horse world,” but in our little slice of the pasture, that’s how it is.

Lately Pepper has decided she likes to mix her grain with nibbles of snow. Sort of like a grain snow cone or slushie. She’ll dump the pan by flipping it with her nose, so she can mix grain with snow.

I’ve wondered if she’s thirsty.

Or if she likes the taste of cold grain.

Or if she’s simply bored and ready to mix things up.

Who knows for sure?

Chickadee powers through her grain like an out-of-control freight train racing downhill. That girl gets right to business and doesn’t raise her head until she’s finished.

Pepper, on the other hand, dawdles.

She’s the stereotypical Sunday driver as she takes tiny little mouthfuls and carefully chews them. Then she looks around, enjoying the scenery and behavior of the other horses, before slurping up another tiny bite. On these frigid days, we’d like nothing more than for her to hurry a little.

But hurrying is not in her plan.

Pepper is practicing mindful eating-something most of us could probably do more of.

As usual, she challenges me take stock of my own life. What a sneaky little teacher she is!

If a grain-infused snow cone sounds good to you, you’ll find us around noon in the pasture. I think Pepper will share.

Golden-Girls-xmas-2014-pm

From all of us at Two Old Horses and Me:

Jean, Rick, Pepper, Chickadee

& the Herd of Oldsters

We wish you the merriest of holidays.

And thank you for being interested in our little slice of life in the pasture here in northern Colorado.(Because what good is a blog if no one reads it?)

Thank you, thank you!!

P.S. If Santa needs two more reindeer tonight, he’ll find volunteers in the pasture :-)

heartbakerswtext

This year makes thirty-one years that two friends and I have spent a day in late November or early December baking cookies together. Somewhere early on, we dubbed it “The Cookie Bake” and it has continued for more than a quarter of a century. For weeks prior we search our recipe files, magazines and online recipes to choose the cookies we’ll bring to “The Bake.”

Last year we created a cookbook comprised of our favorite cookie recipes, personal essays, and tons of pictures. It was a big project, but so much fun to look back over our thirty years of baking together.

Now here’s the shameless self-promotion part!

If you are looking for a one-of-a-kind gift for someone who bakes, or loves to eat cookies, you can order a copy of The Heart Bakers. To quote my five year old grandson, “How cool is that?”We’ve received great feedback from last year’s recipients of the cookbook and wanted to share it with a broader audience.

Here’s how you can order one. There’s still time to make it a Christmas gift. Just follow this link.

 

And as a special treat, I’m including one of the essays I wrote for the book. It seemed especially appropriate given the focus of this blog.

Growing Old is Not for Wimps

I’ve been fortunate to know two remarkable women as role models when it comes to aging with grace, dignity and continuing passion for life. My mother, who died over twenty years ago at age 84, and my mother-in-law who is still very much alive and active, are my sheroes. My mother-in-law is fond of saying, “Growing old isn’t for wimps.” Of course when I started participating in the Cookie Bake all those years ago, I had no idea what the words meant. Not really. These days two of us are card carrying members of the Medicare gang, and proud of it. While we’re still in good health and great shape, the way we approach the Cookie Bake has changed.

Early on I was filled with boundless energy. It was easy to pack up the ingredients for the recipes I’d selected, along with the boxes of bowls, mixers, scrapers, cookie sheets and other assorted paraphernalia I’d need to bring my cookies into being. I’d load everything in the car and make the hour-long drive to Rebecca’s house. Neither snow nor cold nor icy roads deterred me. After all, I grew up in Wyoming, where learning to drive in snow is a rite of passage.

We’d stand all day mixing our recipes, portioning them out onto cookie sheets, jockeying for time in the oven, and then piling the finished products on cooling racks, talking and laughing nonstop.

Our tradition is to have nachos and beer somewhere in the middle of the day to give us a break and sustenance to finish. I always used to drink a beer and eat my fair share of nachos. I’m still good with the nachos, but not so much with the beer. Anymore instead of refreshing me, beer just makes me sleepy.

Gradually I began to notice my stamina wasn’t what it used to be. My legs and back grew tired from standing all day. I compensated by making dough for some of the recipes ahead of time. In fact, I think that’s when my affection for refrigerator cookies came into being. Sometimes I’ll even bake a whole batch or two and bring the finished product. Or I’ll bake the cookies and leave the final touches or decorating for the day of the Cookie Bake. Without really thinking about it, I realized I was selecting less complicated recipes.

At the end of the day after we’ve packed up our share of cookie bounty, cleaned the last bowl, loaded our things into the car, and said our goodbyes, we make our way to our respective homes. And because we don’t live in the same town, there is always an hour drive at dusk for someone, depending upon who hosts.

I’ve noticed the biggest change in my energy at the end of the day. I am literally done in. At home, I pile my boxes and bags on the counter, put away anything that must be refrigerated, and collapse into the nearest chair. I often have to close my eyes for a few minutes before summoning enough energy to do another thing. Truth is it’s closer to half an hour!

Perhaps the watchword of aging is change. In the Cookie Bake, as in life, I’ve had to become more flexible and open to adapting how I once did things. I’ve had to adjust my expectations. I wear more supportive shoes and make sure I get a good night’s sleep before the big day. I have to eat some protein to fuel me for the long day. I drink more water (and less beer!) I have to take more frequent breaks and allow myself to sit down. I’ve had to become more mindful about myself in the process, which come to think of it, isn’t such a bad thing at any age.

Chickadee-new-coat

Remember the book/poem by Jenny Joseph, entitled When I am Old I Shall Wear Purple? It has become Chickadee’s new mantra.

Our old girl has a new winter coat.

A bright purple one.

Up to now she’s worn hand me down coats that never quite fit her. But no more.

She is resplendant in purple!

It’s a heavy one to protect her when the temperature plummets – something I am certain will happen this winter.

She and Pepper are ready for anything. Pepper in red and Chickadee in purple.

It’s high fashion in the pasture.

For the horses, that is.

My pasture clothes are old and faded.

I wonder if the girls will let me stand beside them now that they are so fashionable.

I guess as long as I come to them bearing food, they’ll tolerate me!

 

What are you wearing this winter to keep yourself warm?

 

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