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The-Look

In the horse world you can pretty much tell a horse’s mood by the slant of her ears. Upright and perky usually means life is good. It means “I’m curious, interested, attentive.”

Some horses can actually tilt their ears toward you, which means they are super engaged, or amused as heck. I often get the latter when I am with the horses.

They find me funny, though for the life of me I don’t know why!

The opposite of all this happy, happy is ears flattened close to the head. When a horse lays her ears back it almost always means, “Back off Buddy.” It’s a warning to others to stay away. It can be the prelude to a nip or a kick.

It’s serious business.

 Our sweet Miss P. is an expert at flattening her ears.

These days, she doesn’t hesitate for a moment about letting the other horses know when she’s not a happy camper. There is a whole crew of horses from the larger herd for whom she has no time. And when they come near, she unleashes the old flattened ears.

Sometimes she snorts for extra emphasis. She especially does NOT like any of these bad actors around when she’s eating.

Or when she’s going through the gate. That’s when we see something we’ve playfully dubbed, F**K eyes. And boy oh boy is she good at that. It’s “Back off Buddy” in spades.

Pepper has always been a no-nonsense kind of girl, but her lack of tolerance for her herd mates has escalated as she’s aged.

I can relate.

My husband tells me I have a human version of Pepper’s flattened ears.

“The Look.”

When he sees it, his typical first response is “Uh oh.”

Which, come to think of it, is probably prudent!

How about you? Do you have your version of “the Look?”

Wish you could flatten your ears like Pepper?

There are certainly days I wish I could.

Pepper-snow-grain

We’ve got snow.

Lots of it.

When I’m out feeding the Golden Girls I can’t help but notice the huge stretches of fluffy, white snow in the pastures not currently inhabited by the herd.

Mounds of clean snow often take me back to my childhood in Wyoming when we’d sometimes make snow ice cream. It always seemed such a magical thing to do.

Scoop up snow, mix in sugar, vanilla and cream and voila, you have ice cream.

Well sort of.

Fair warning to my husband: I’m seriously thinking about whipping up a batch today.

The other day Pepper got into the act in her horse manner. She kept dumping her feed pan, scattering the grain across the snow. Then one by one she’d nibble up each piece, along with a mouthful of snow.

Maybe she was thirsty.

I prefer to think she was making her own version of snow ice cream. I know it doesn’t look that appealing in the photo, but to her it was the height of deliciousness.

A little grain; a little snow. A gastronomic delight.

Whatever floats your boat!

Right?

Stay warm and remember:

When life gives you snow, make ice cream.

The-Countess

It’s official that Chickadee has joined our herd.

We have the paperwork and have had her first vet call. But that’s another story.

Today I want to tell you about her name.

She’s registered with the American Quarter Horse Association as–get this–Countess Chickadee. Her sire was Count Veto, and her dam was Rewards Chickadee.

Hence Countess Chickadee.

 

You can imagine all the fun I’ve had with this. It seems the Golden Girls are well matched as Miss Pepper also has “royalty” in her lineage from Lukes King Leo.

Don’t they seem like two old grande dames?

They certainly hold court, usually when they are hunkered down in the shed. And they have made it extremely clear to the rest of the herd that they are not to be trifled with.

 

I like that about women of a certain age, when they (or should I say we?) get comfortable enough with ourselves to know what we want and how to get it. And chief among those things on the “want list” is respect.

 

So thank you to the Countess and the Princess, yet again, for showing us the way.

red-coat-flirt

Give a girl a beautiful new red outfit, set her up in comfortable digs out of the cold wind and freezing temps, with all the food and attention she wants, and what does she do?

Well if she’s Miss Pepper, she flirts.

That’s right.

Our sweet old girl became quite enamored with the next-door neighbor—a big white gelding that was making eyes at her.

On the day I took this picture, Pepper actually walked away from her grain to go rub noses with Mr. Big. She was feeling pretty frisky.

Pepper, Pepper, Pepper…

What are we going to do with you?

My husband says, “Once a flirt, always a flirt.”

And between you and me, I get that.

What happens on the outside of our body has little to do with how we feel and think on the inside.

I can so totally relate to Miss P.

A new outfit can raise my spirits too; make me feel attractive—even sexy.

And red, well that just enhances all the feelings.

So to Pepper and all of us women of a certain age, I leave you with this downhome thought, borrowed from some wise philosopher I expect: “Just because there is snow on the roof, doesn’t mean the fire below isn’t burning.”

Maybe I’ll go shop for something red to wear.

How about you?

chickadee-reaction

And this photo of Chickadee?

She was a little disgusted with the whole flirtation.

I’ve been on that side of things too.

Haven’t you?

curb-service

If you’ve been reading the blog for awhile you know that we’ve taken Chickadee under our wing. She and Pepper have become good pals; we’ve dubbed them The Golden Girls. Chickadee is 32 years old—a year older than Miss P, so they’re a good match.

 

Chickadee and Pepper share some of the same issues. Both are skinny old mares. As horses age, keeping weight on can be a challenge. We feed Chickadee when we feed Pepper. It didn’t seem right not to, and Chickadee’s owner has given her blessing.

 

I guess we’re just used to feeding two horses!

 

Pepper is totally tuned in to us. Most of the time she’s waiting at the gate. And if not, she hears or sees us almost immediately when we enter the pasture.

Chickadee isn’t quite a well conditioned. If she isn’t close to Pepper when we arrive, sometimes she misses out.

Or comes running to the gate in a panic. “I’m sorry I’m late. It won’t happen again.”

She’s come to rely on that daily ration of grain. You can see in the photos, that she’s pretty ribby.

 

Notice how she's keeping one eye on Pepper as she finishes the last morsels of grain.

Notice how she’s keeping one eye on Pepper as she finishes the last morsels of grain.

One day when Chickadee was extra slow getting to the gate, Rick decided to offer her curb service, rather than bring her out to eat and then put her back in. Pepper was almost halfway through her pan of grain, so it seemed like a good idea.

 

We do have other things to do with our time besides hang out at the pasture, though the horses can’t fathom such a thought.

wet-1

Here in northern Colorado it’s been raining like crazy.

At first we were thrilled for the rain since the summer has been long, hot and very dry.

Then it’s kept on raining.

Day and night.

The ground is saturated. Every creek and ditch is filled to overflowing. The many rivers around us, the Big Thompson, the Poudre, the Saint Vrain have crested, turning streets into rivers, homes into swimming pools.

The small pond at the pasture is filled to the very brim. Last evening as I was feeding Miss Pepper, I watched as the facility owner struggled to get the pump working so she could divert some of the water into the field.

wet-3

It was cold, wet miserable work. Except for the three dogs who were there lending moral support. Those three were having a ball, chasing each other through the pasture, then every so often stopping to check on progress with the pump.

All told it took two humans, three dogs and one curious horse to get the pump working!

 

wet-corgi

The rainy weather has done wonders for Pepper’s appetite. Clean plate club last night. She needs those extra calories to keep warm.

 

I’m happy for the change of seasons, but does everything have to be so darned dramatic?

Ever get the feeling we’ve seriously ticked off Mother Nature?

 

Blessings to everyone affected by the flooding water.

 

Pill-Game-pm

There aren’t many jobs for an arthritic, senior citizen mare.

And truthfully Pepper has been quite happy being retired—what some might call a pasture ornament. She’s had her time in the sun with giddy-up and yee-haw.

Plenty of time.

Lately though I’ve had a thought about a possible late in life career for our sweet girl.

She could run a con known as the Shell Game.

You know… the game that consists of three shells (thimbles, plastic cups, walnut shells) and a small round ball the size of a pea. The operator begins the game by placing the pea under one of the shells, then quickly shuffles the shells around.

Once the shells are shuffled, the operator takes bets from the audience as to the location of the pea. If a player bets and guesses correctly, the player will win back double their bet (that is, they will double their money); otherwise the player loses their money.

However, in the hands of a skilled operator, it isn’t possible to win, unless the operator wants the player to win a round or two as part of the con.

It’s all about sleight of hand. That little pea gets moved around or completely removed without anyone seeing it.

And that’s where Miss Pepper comes in.

Every day she takes a pink pill to help manage her arthritis. And that girl can move a little pink pill around her feed pan like nobody’s business. One minute she’s happily munching away on her grain.

“This is it. She’s going to eat the pill,” I say.

But no!

Those amazingly sensitive prehensile lips can detect that little pill and totally avoid it.

I know she’s messing with me, pretending to eat the pill when in fact she’s tucking it under her grain.

In the end, most of the time, she eats the pill.

Though I have found pills under her feed pan in the back of our car. Don’t ask me how she pulled that off.

And a time or two I’ve found a pill on the ground.

That Pepper!

See what I mean about her being able to pull the con that goes with the Shell Game?

If she ever asks you to put money down on finding the pill, don’t do it!

Just sayin’…

Cute-Hair

Yesterday I introduced you to the little mare who does tricks for cubes. She’s a sweetheart – no doubt about it. She also has her mane braided – each braid tied off with a different colored rubber band.

She does tricks and has cute hair?

Wow!

She’s a double whammy of cuteness.

 

Seeing her started me thinking about self esteem and perhaps even more important, self-compassion.

Why is it so hard for us as human beings to feel good in our own skin?

It seems we do this constant dance of comparison. And when we engage in this form of self abuse, we only end up feeling bad about ourselves.

Because here’s the thing: there will always be someone thinner, richer, better looking, or in better shape than you. Someone else will always have a better job, a nicer house.

And yet we end up believing that if only we lost those ten pounds, or got a new hairstyle, or found a better job, or started jogging, we’d somehow be better people.

More worthy.

More lovable.

But what I’ve learned in my work with people, is  that most of us could care less about what we see on the outside.

People like us/love us for what’s inside.  For who we are rather that what we are.

 

And that litany of worry and comparison usually occurs only in our heads.

As far as I’m concerned, if someone puts those kinds of judgments on you, they aren’t truly your friend.

And if it’s you – well for sure it’s time to treat yourself with a lot more kindness and compassion.

 

Pepper says she’s down with that.

 

She doesn’t have braids in her mane or do tricks for food, but she’s totally comfortable being just who she is.

“Any glimpse into the life of an animal quickens our own and makes it so much the larger and better in every way.”

~ John Muir

Kaia-Pepper

Our friend Kaia recently shared  a few photos she took last fall when she made a trip out to visit the horses. As things turn out, it was her last time to see Bud.

Rick and I loved going over the pictures –  seeing someone else’s “take” on our two old sweeties.

I’ll share some of the photos of Bud another time. Today I want to give you this adorable interchange between Kaia and Pepper. Looks to me as if they are sharing a joke. Pepper is definitely smiling.

 

Girl talk at its best!

Pepper-glory days

I’ve been sorting through photos for the past few days looking for pictures for a project I’m working on. I’m also trying to cull and organize.

What to do with these pre-digital snippets of our life?

It doesn’t seem right to keep them stashed in boxes under the bed.

I got caught up in scrapbooking years ago and for a long time I faithfully cropped and decorated and journaled about our photographs.  I’m so glad to have those years of our life all organized and embellished. Looking through the books always makes me happy.

But somewhere around the time I got busier with work, I stopped making scrapbooks, and the pictures accumulated.

 

This organizing process is taking me much longer than probably it should because I keep getting dragged into memories.

This is my life stored under the bed.

I’ve loved looking again at my son as a baby and remembering each and every sweet moment with him. It’s been a blessing to revisit my mother and father, my grandparents, my aunt and uncle, my cousins. These are my people and it fills my heart to see them again.

 

I’m determined to get these boxes of photographs into some kind of order – no matter how long it takes. And then I’ll have to tackle the digital files – though I’m not even able to  think about that yet.

 

Along the way I’ve found some real gems.

Photos I’d forgotten about. Others that I remember but haven’t seen for a long time.

  • Me in my Halloween costume as a stripper – that one will NOT see the light of day on this blog. Ever.
  • My mother sitting on Santa’s lap
  • Too many adorable pictures of my son to even single one out.
  • Vacations and picnics and holidays
  • All of the animals that have graced our life.
  • Milestone events and run of the mill days

Everything is faithfully recorded.

I’ve laughed at the many “bad hair days” I seem to have had over the years. And longed for the lithe body of my youth.

But mostly I’m simply reveling in the memories.

 

The picture of Miss Pepper at the top of this post is one from her glory days. She was in her prime and looking darned good. Come to think of it, she hasn’t changed all that much.

She has no bad hair days or clothing nightmares to explain.

Something for which she can be very grateful!

 

P.S. What are you doing with all the pictures from your life? Scrapbook, boxes, frames??

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