Monday, September 29, 2014

He's Got Some Buck In Him

Monday September 29 2014

I don't know if he'll ever be an easy horse to ride. So far, I can never just sit back and enjoy the ride, like I do on Jose. I've got to ride Dudley. Always using my legs and hands and seat to communicate, keeping him at a steady pace, staying alert. It's exercise riding Dudley. He can wear me out. I feel like I've run a marathon after I've ridden him 50 miles. And he's got a little buck in him.

It's always somewhere near the start of an endurance ride. Dudley and I rode Day 2 of the Owyhee Canyonlands with Carol and August. It was Dudley's third 50-mile ride this year, and we picked up the pace a bit, keeping up with Carol and August. The start was a single track trail up a steep hill. That's always good for getting a horse's attention right away. All went well until we got off that short steep hill and flattened out onto a two track road, where Dudley could see horses miles ahead of him.

He puffed up, got very big and tense, thinking this was some big important race (it wasn't), and I knew if he got his head down, he'd buck. He's bucked a few people off before, so he's got it in him, and I felt it those first couple of miles, like sitting on a lit stick of dynamite, not sure when it's going to go off. But Carol and August were great escorts, setting a good steady pace, giving us a good working rhythm to fall into.

After a couple of miles the Dude settled down and got to work with his big rolling trot, and all was well until about 8 miles, after we descended the steep hill down to Sinker Reservoir. Once we got to the bottom, he could see horses in the canyon ahead of us, horses above us descending the hill, then, oh no, a 2-legged monster!

Both August and Dudley were suspicious and spooky of photographer Steve Bradley, even though they've seen him countless times, and they could hear him talking so they knew that it was indeed Steve; so Carol and I had our picture taken together so that we would not individually get dumped in front of the camera. Don't the boys look fabulous together in Steve's photo above?

Dudley settled down the rest of the ride and worked well. He got tired the last 7 miles, but I wanted him to get tired. He walked when he needed a breather, trotted after August when he was ready. We ended up finishing 10th - Dudley's first Top Ten finish, thanks to August's excellent pace! Although, since there were only 14 horses, you could just as well say we finished back of mid-pack. It's just a number anyway - Dudley was pretty proud of his effort. He's just a big handsome beast I love to ride (most of the time)!

Dudley's favorite parts of endurance rides are still the eating parts

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Owyhee's Newest Celebrity

Wednesday September 24 2014

Sure, he's been on the cover of a few magazines, and he takes attention in stride, but Stormy really hit it off with the Owyhee Avalanche reporter that showed up here to do a story on Stormy and me.

Karen Bresnahan is one cool gal, an ace reporter and writer, and a kindred spirit. "The Horse Whisperess," she named the story that's in this week's Owyhee Avalanche paper, though with the editor's slicing and dicing (that's what editors do), both the title and part of the story changed a bit. (The title changed to: "Merri Melde: Owyhee's Equestrian Vagabond.") Karen brought me a copy of the full story she wrote; I keep it safe and hold it dear, because she got it just right about me and my love Stormy - Owyhee's newest celebrity.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Spirit Horse Christmas in September

Tuesday September 16 2014

I didn't start it! It's bordering blasphemy, but last week I saw a Christmas display out in a chain store in town, and had to listen to Christmas music already!

Therefore, as it's never too early for Christmas, don't forget Spirit Horse pins! Each is one of a kind, handmade of clay, wire, beads, and yarns picked up from around the world. They're fun and fanciful; they shimmer different colors in different light. You can bend the legs to stand straight, trot, gallop, or fly. Spruce up your outfit for dinner out on the town or the Oscars. Or hang your Spirit Horse in your home for good luck. You can also hang on your Christmas tree or Festivus Pole. Each one comes with a little hanger like you'd use for a Christmas ornament.

Each pin is approximately 3" long by 3" tall. . . not counting the long fluffy tail, $20 each and $3 shipping for up to 5 at a time. Contact me at TheEquestrianVagabond at gmail dot com.

[or link to album]

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Breaking News: Animals May Have Emotions

Tuesday September 9 2014

WBUR's Here and Now just ran a piece, "Do Animals Have Emotions?"

I've seen similar studies before, and the more I hear these, the more I wonder if researchers who take the time and money and thought to do these studies have ever spent any time around animals. If so, I don't see how they would even come up with these questions.

Being around dogs, it is blatantly obvious that dogs can be happy, sad, jealous, in love, have best pals. Our dog Austin who recently passed on to the next rabbit-chasin' world *knew* his time was up. One look in his eyes, and anyone (or, perhaps anyone who is not a scientist researching if animals have emotions) could see he knew it, and he was sad about it.

Not everybody is lucky enough to be around horses, but if you are, it's so obvious that horses have emotions. If there are researchers reading this who are considering undertaking more of these amusing studies, let me save you some time and money with these examples:

Finneas, Grandson of the Black Stallion, is conceited and he can get embarrassed, if he's humiliated in front of his subordinates.

Stormy is very possessive of me, and when I'm loving on him, he gets jealous when other horses get too close, even if he's risking a thrashing by another more dominant horse.

Horses can get mad, as Finneas did when I left for the winter; he thought I'd up and abandoned him, and when I came back he wouldn't let me near him.

If you've read Chapter 23 of my book Soul Deep in Horses, about my horse Stormy, you'll know all about how Stormy and Tex became pals. Even if Tex leaves for a while, he always returns to Stormy's side, because they are BFFs.

Horses can have fun; some of them love to play. Just ask Jose, the Owyhee Social Director, who gets the entire Chapter 22 in my book.

I guess this all might be news to some people, or, perhaps I'm missing something here, but, Do animals have emotions? Uh - hello!?

Friday, September 5, 2014

Peeping Dude

Friday September 5 2014

Sometimes Dudley has a free choice day - he gets to choose the trails we ride. This particular day, he chose to come back down our home canyon, and halfway down, since he never forgets the location of a food source, he chose to detour past Connie's house. Connie wasn't home, but he didn't know that. What he DID know, is that when Connie IS home, if he waits long enough, (and if I call to her to come out), she will come outside bearing horse treats.

The Dude walked up to her house, and waited for her to come out.
 He stood there and looked around and waited, and waited…

And when she didn't come outside, he walked up to her porch and waited…

and when she didn't come outside, he walked up to the windows and checked to see if he could see her inside.

He finally realized she wasn't home, so, disappointed, he ambled on homeward.

Don't worry, he got plenty of treats from me to ease his disappointment!