Country Life

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What’s that noise?

Faint rustling followed by squeaks and gurgles of a baby fussing came from the feed and tack stall next to the booth where Mister and I sat at the horse event. Exchanging an knowing glance with my husband I went to investigate.

Pictured above is what I found. Our daughter with this sheepish look sprinkling hay on her little brother who was supposed to be asleep.

Our family often jokes about the saying, “Were you born in a barn.” Although not born in one, our kids spent a good portion of their childhoods in either a barn, an arena, or outside and nearby while we did our chores.

Four legs, manes, tails, and everything horse best describes our daughter’s likes.

For a few years, a spring horse took center-stage in our bay window. She spent endless hours in that saddle, her stare focused outside, and her eyes glazed with little girl daydreams.

The toys that entertained her while indoors were all horse related. My Little Pony’s, Lego stable sets, and the jeep, horse trailer and horses for her Barbie’s. Even the multi story, upright, Barbie house Mister made her, of course, had a floor level barn included.

She was happiest outside, even if just watching the horses eat or roam the pastures. As an adult, she still spends her spare time outside with her horse or in the barn.

She recently posted this picture and description on Instagram. (@candie214)

Pretty sure this is why I like watching people ride, I spent hours on those tires.

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If you look close, you’ll see the small child saddle I’m riding in so I could take the edge off “Dr. Pepper” before she rode.

In her I see the younger me. Doing barn or farm chores was, and is, rarely considered work and when given a choice they trump household chores.

To us horses aren’t a hobby, they are a lifestyle. Location has changed this for me since I live at a lake resort now, but it’s still her way of life.

This is “Nugget” Her current, young, Quarter Horse Gelding she’s training.

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We were blessed as parents to have children, especially teenagers, whose passions meant they were happy at home.

Our son’s interests changed from horses over time and if you haven’t already, check out my post, “Our Version of a Norman Rockwell” for a glimpse into what makes the male’s of our family tick.

Did you have a childhood passion?

Do you still enjoy it?

Habits, Good or Bad

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Does anybody else have their next day planed before going to sleep? How common is it being a regimented planner, or do most people get up and let their day simply unfold?

I can’t imagine doing that, not even on vacation.

Since grade school, I’ve made daily, weekly, monthly, even seasonal lists. My theory for how this started relates to my horse competing and training days.

Oh so long ago, at age seven, I got my first pony. Star, and I are pictured above.

My parents didn’t have a horse background. Check out my Bio Page for how this came about. Our family lived in the city, so the little gelding was boarded at a local stable.

I fell in love with everything horse, and by age 10, I entered my first Barrel Racing event.

Passion kept escalating, and it became apparent I wasn’t going through a phrase like people suspected. In a few years I out-grew the Shetland, and a slightly bigger gelding, an ex-chariot racing pony replaced him.

There never was money for riding lessons, so I read all I could, listened, observed, and studied others who rode at the stable. Occasionally, I would ask an experienced mentor at the barn questions. With trial and error, I began the self-taught venture of re-training my racy mount and honing my horsemanship skills.

Learning this way came with great benefits, I gained a feel, or understanding of horses. Often, I could sense changes in their behavior before they became issues.

Together, the feisty Welsh-Thoughbred and I became accomplished at showing in Western Pleasure, Equitation and Trail classes.

As a teen I worked part time and saved for a young, unbroke, registered Quarter Horse. My parents surprised me when they paid the remainder owing and had him delivered on my fourteenth birthday.

For me, this is where planning and setting goals really began. Still, without outside help the gelding and I worked hard. Together we learned, and became a very competitive and successful duo in Western and English flat classes, Jumping, Driving and even gymkhana events.

Many other horses and breeds followed in my almost 40 years of showing and training.

I believe daily goal lists began because of the need to plan and schedule conditioning and fine tuning between shows. It was vital to have horses peak at the right times while giving them their deserved down time too.

I may no longer strive to perfect a horse’s training but the habit of making, to do lists, carried into all aspects of life.

I thought this behavior might ease when we retired at the lake but it hasn’t. What has changed are items on my, to do list. They’re simpler, mostly hobbies, crafts and chores. I’m not as structured, getting distracted from a chore happens often and is no big concern. Some things remain on a list for long periods before getting checked off.

But a day without getting even the smallest thing accomplished feels like a wasted day for me.

Do you plan your day or week in advance?

The Hill Has Eyes

zombie-flamingo

October Changes To an Innocent Pink Flamingo

I was the last one left awake inside the darkened house. On my way to bed, I entered the kitchen. An almost full moon cast enough glow in the back pasture that as I passed the patio doors, horse silhouettes on the hilltop came into view.

Their poses stopped me mid-stride. Staggered in line, they stood all facing the same direction with their heads held high, ears pointed forward.

I mimicked their stillness. Each beat of my heart came faster than the last as I waited for them to return to grazing. I knew what their actions meant when they didn’t. Something or someone was up there.

Should I wake my husband? No, I could handle this. On tip-toes, I jogged to the back door. I grabbed a flashlight, slipped my bare feet into cowboy boots, and covered my knee-length satin nightie with a quilted flannel barn shirt.

The yard lights were already off and I didn’t touch the switch. Outside the flashlight remained dark in my hand. My goal wasn’t to scare away, what or who, intrigued the horses. I had a hunch about the goings on up there and hence a plan in mind.

Again I tip-toed, this time across the backyard. My caution worked, the horses interest never diverted my way. When the barn became a barrier between me and them my pace quickened. Now, only the hill remained an obstacle, and if I stayed low and quiet, I should make it without drawing attention.

The closer I got to the top, voices became louder and clearer in a hushed yet understandable two person conversation. Although odd for the situation, it was laced with barely contained laughter and giggles. I had figured right. I knew these culprits and what they were doing.

Familiar with the surroundings, I crept forward unseen. I waited and listened getting a sense of the person’s whereabouts.

When they sounded near, I sprung from my crouch behind a fallen tree with a roar loud enough that the snoopy horses spun and fled down the hill.

Caught in the act of innocent revenge, two of my best girlfriends almost dropped to their knees with startled screams followed by muttered curses.

On this late Saturday in October, the husband and I had arranged for these two besties to do our evening chores under the pretence we would be away. When in actuality we spent hours staging the barn as a haunt in favor of Halloween’s approach.

We strung rubber bats in the darkened paths to light switches. Rubber mice and snakes got placed and positioned in or on things they needed for feeding the hay and grain.

Dressed in dark coveralls, the husband and I hid concealed by the water-tank behind the barn. From there we heard them encounter our gags and props, and their squeals and comments entertained us. The most fulfilling reaction happened when they slid the back door into the hay shed open. We had a stuffed bedsheet rigged to fly at them like a ghost and the shrieks that caused made our efforts worthwhile.

To have this plan work, our truck had to be off the yard. That afternoon the husband had driven it up a steep trail and parked it in the bush by the back pasture. We figured it could stay the night there and so we planned to retrieve it the next day.

Knowing my girlfriends, when I saw the horses acting strange and watching something, I guessed they had figured out where the truck was.

When I jumped out and interrupted them, it already had balloons tied to the mirrors and streamer decorated bumpers. The toilet paper wrapping had just begun.

I’m uncertain how long the three of us exchanged stories, laughed and visited that night on the hill, but the sun rose not long after I went to bed.

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Halloween for me, brings on fond memories like this, of fun times with family and friends.

With our young children, we did the traditional, dressing-up, decorating the yard, and door to door “Treat or Treating.” Although, being in the country meant we drove them house to house. Often a couple dads or moms rode together while the spouses stayed home and handed out treats. A get together at one of their homes afterwards usually followed.

Once our daughter and son got older, we traveled into the city for “Fright Night” at Fort Edmonton Park. Either our kids brought along friends or we met the oldest daughter, her husband and their children there.

Actors and volunteers haunted the historic buildings and sites with different levels of intensity. They handed out treats to the little ones, and had activities scattered within the park. We enjoyed hay rides, blazing bonfires and hot chocolate which warmed our chilled bodies. It was always a great time.

As a family we loved dressing-up for Halloween. It took weeks to plan and put together costumes and often we had themes for the night in the city. Here are a couple.

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From “Tombstone” the Earp’s & Doc Holiday

wizard-of-oz-halloween From “The Wizard of Oz”

Have you ever decorated a homemade haunted house or yard?

Or Have you been through one?

Passion or Simple Pleasure (Horses)

 

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Passion Started Young

Crossing the threshold into the building I inhale a long, slow breath through my nose. A hint of sweet alfalfa hay greets me first, then it mixes with a scent so unique, I can think of nothing to compare it to. This odor can cause people to crinkle or cover their noses with distaste, it makes my heart flutter with joy though. The smell of horses is refreshing, revitalizing, and overpowers my daily worries.

Moving deeper into the barn I enter the tack room. My nostrils twitch with delight at an added fragrance. Leather, some new but most aged and oiled. A rich homey scent that candle and cologne manufactures try to duplicate but in my opinion they never quite succeed.

The sight of work worn saddles always triggers my admiration but in this room it’s reflection that causes me to pause. I know by experience the number of hours, days, even years it took to get them broke-in to their current comfortable state. A few, I’ve owned for over forty years. Fond memories surface, and I crave another ride.

            I no longer live in the country where I spent hours a day with the horses, yet I’m thankful I can still return for visits. Now though, it’s the youngest daughters new horse “Nugget” that greets us with a soft nicker.

Nothing soothes the soul like the satiny feel of a horse’s coat or the unbiased companionship formed when you show them kindness.

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“Nugget” for short

The above paragraphs may seem like a dramatic explanation of a simple scene, but it comes from my heart.

What I feel for these majestic four-legged creatures is, Passion.

Long-lived and Forever Strong.

If you ask a horse owner, “So, do you ride Western or English?” And their answer is, “I have a saddle with the thing in front to hold onto when it gets bumpy.” I think it’s fair to assume they own a horse for simple pleasure, it’s not their passion. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with that, it’s just an observation.

These are 2 of the previous long time family members.

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“Bear and Cisco” R.I.P.

Do you enjoy Horses? 
Are you passionate about a hobby?
What is your hobby?