Saturday, April 19, 2008

continuing adventures in lunar fullness

It's been another very full day on November Hill.

Rafer Johnson decided he wanted to venture further afield than the barnyard yesterday while I was finishing up mid-day chores. I found him outside the tape we have up, marching around the compost bin, standing on a little mound in the edge of the woods, surveying his donkeydom.

Salina was okay with it until she realized I wasn't, and she went to the tape and began to call him. He just looked at both of us.

I got some butterscotch treats and a lead rope and called again. I really wanted him to come to me and get a nice treat, and he did. But when I went to walk him back underneath the tape, same way he'd gotten out of it (probably not the best thing to do on my part) he balked. What? You want me to go under that potentially live wire? No! I quickly realized this was a good moment to go along with the drama, so I acted like the tape was hot, undid it carefully, and we walked through together. Salina went along with this charade and stepped back a few steps as I set the tape aside.

That particular tape is meant to be replaced by a gate, but the horses respect the tape, so it's worked its way down the list. I think Rafer Johnson is raising it back up again!

All day yesterday I had crazed felines in the barn. The nest of birds has hatched out and they are nearly constantly cheeping frantically for food. The mother bird comes and goes frequently but by the sounds of it, she has many babies to feed and it's an endless job. The cats are beside themselves. This nest is high and well protected and the cats can't quite believe it.

I came in finally to do some work on my novel. My goal to get through a hundred pages this weekend was, shall we say, a bit over the top, and I was feeling stuck again with this new material. I gave myself a little bit of time to settle in and write, but it wasn't working. So I decided to do something I typically never do - time myself. I had to write for 20 minutes, no matter how badly or how silly - to type into the next scene for that long without stopping to think.

Thirty minutes later I had written a decent scene. This whole section of the book is proving difficult because it's tapping into my own "writing issue" - caution about going over the top, or getting overly dramatic with the story. In this case that caution is really blocking my forward motion. But I'm pushing past it, page by page.

Yesterday afternoon my daughter and I went out to ride. Keil Bay got groomed head to toe, including mane and tail being totally brushed and combed out. I'd helped my daughter get Cody tacked up, and by the time I was ready to tack up Keil Bay I felt like I had no energy left. There was a moment or two where I considered packing in the ride, but I decided to push past it. I put his forelock in a pseudo-braid and into the arena we went. I think because he looked so fancy, and had warmed up so well, plus cantered left extremely well (it's his harder side), I felt like trying something new. Something we'd never done before. "I think I'll do a flying change." I half expected my daughter to nix this idea for me, but her enthusiasm and assumption that I could do anything I wanted gave me a boost. 'Okay! I'll watch!"

We tried it three times going up center line. Each time I gave the cue, I felt the little bump that meant Keil Bay was changing leads. Each time, though, he broke into the trot out of that stride. The fourth time I was getting sloppy so I decided to canter up center line, break purposefully to trot, and then ask for the opposite lead. He did that perfectly, so I stopped there. I should have started with that and built up to the flying change. The day had a sort of wild air to it though, and I had decided to go right for the top.

The best part came next. My daughter decided to try the same thing with Cody. He's green to this, but they did a good job trying. I was thinking it was time to dismount and call it a day, but my daughter, in her characteristic desire for more riding, exclaimed "Wait, it's time for our victory lap!"

She led the way around the arena on Cody, in a big bold canter. Keil Bay and I followed. We kept going around and around, and Keil Bay got a little excited and tried to catch up to Cody. I have not cantered that much continuously since I started back riding several years ago. And nothing fell apart. By the final lap I was calling out "woo hoo" and absolutely loving the excitement. I'm thinking about hiring my daughter to be my riding coach. :)

A very interesting aspect of the day was that it began with an unusual bird sighting. I was sitting here in the garret and heard the most incredible squawking and fussing. It went on and on. Finally I got up and looked out the window. Two large crows were chasing a red-tail hawk out of the tree right outside my window. I was intrigued, but it's only today, a full day later with the little struggles from yesterday laid out before me, that I get the message. As important as I believe it is to start my days with intention (to create the day), I also believe that reviewing the day adds a wonderful depth that I would otherwise not have.

Our day came to a close at nightfall. I wanted the horses to have as long a time as possible turned out before the rain hit, so we took chairs to the front field and sat beneath the trees. My son came out to join us, which was a nice treat. We visited with each horse and Rafer Johnson in turn. (Rafer pretty much planted himself with his head in one of our laps and demanded that his turn never end) and as the horses moved gradually up toward the barn, we picked up our chairs and followed. A half hour later, they had moved us right up to the gate, and the rain started. As usual, they are truly in sync with everything around them. By simply following them, we too came into sync.

We all had a much earlier bedtime than the night before, and I'm happy to say, Corgyn and Apollo Moon were in sync with my need for sleep. I awoke on my own this morning at 7 a.m. And we begin again with a new day ahead.


the7msn said...

What is it about donkeys and hills? A Napoleon complex? Rafer cracks me up. He and George might be brothers of different mothers.

If you don't hire your daughter as your riding coach, I will! I so need that extra push now and then. Don't you just feel like John Wayne riding across the plains whenever you've got that nice canter going? Good for you for going there.

billie said...

I'm not sure what it is about hills. He would make a good hiking companion though!

I'm sure she has room for a few more clients. :)

The wonderful thing about yesterday is that it completely carried me back to myself at my daughter's age - when a great big endless canter was the best thing in the world. Sometimes when I feel Keil Bay draw himself up to go faster, as he did yesterday, I tense up, but this time that didn't happen. It was such a free feeling.

When we first moved here and were talking about how to celebrate our first winter solstice on November Hill, my daughter wanted to "gallop the horses bareback down the power cut holding candles."

:0 I wasn't quite up for that one!

Grey Horse Matters said...

You always seem to have such busy days full of so many different projects, yet seem to enjoy yourself immensely.
I love the pictures and of course that little Rafer is so adorable.We have caught our horse Blue standing in the dumpster on the pile of manure.
It's nice that your daughter gave you a little push past your comfort zone and you felt like a kid again. That's a great feeling. My daughter is my trainer and she never pushes me(probably thinks she'll get me killed) anyway, I'm the one who is always saying,let's do more, but she likes to take it slow, one step at a time. Have a great night.

billie said...

Arlene, a dear friend sent me a quote once from a novel she'd read that went something like: The days fell down like ducks. (meaning they passed as quickly as those ducks in shooting galleries)

For some reason that has always stuck with me. I don't want my days to fall down like ducks! I try to squeeze all the juice I can out of every one of them - not by cramming them full but by really being "in" the day.

The best days and the longest lasting are those which don't have much on the agenda. Those are my favorites.

LOl about your daughter taking one step at a time in the training. My official trainer is more in that camp, and I guess the best thing is to have a balance. Between my daughter and the trainer, I'll get pushed to canter wildly AND improve my seat. :)

I wish you had a photo of Blue in the dumpster on the manure! What a goof! How in the world did he get in there?

Grey Horse Matters said...

Great quote and your philosophy. It was easy for him, we had just given him a bath outside and had him drying in a kind of catch pen behind the barn where the dumpster was, the dumpster had a ramp for wheelbarrows to get in and he just walked up the ramp onto the pile and stood there surveying his domain. It was hilarious and I wish we had a camera, this was about 3 yrs. ago when we leased a different barn.He is an absolute character compared to the rest of them.

billie said...

Camera or not, I bet you will never forget that sight!

He sounds like quite a wonderful character. Every barn must have at least one. (or more, and then it gets really crazy... :)

Victoria Cummings said...

I love the photo of your daughter and Rafer. They look like they are dancing. There's something so relaxing about sitting and watching horses graze, isn't there? I love to just hang out with them and do nothing.

billie said...

It's true, Victoria, sitting with them is very peaceful. We end up being surrounded by our four plus Rafer - one comes up and then another and then suddenly they're all huddling close. Every now and then my daughter sits on her pony while he grazes, and ends up laying down on him. It's a sweet, sweet thing to see.

Rising Rainbow said...

Why is it they can duck under to escape but not to return to the scene of their crime? I have had the same experience here with a couple of escape artists and they do exactly the same thing. "Oh no, I couldn't possible duck under could be hot!" Horses, donkeys, it doesn't matter, they all have the same MO.

billie said...

MiKael, I suspect this tendency wrt the Mysterious Disappearing/Reappearing Tape is related to the "that tarp is Evil Incarnate when you're on my back in the arena, but boy, it's my best friend when I'm grazing the barnyard and the lush grass is just underneath the edge" syndrome.