I’m still working on the details of an actual YouTube vlogging channel.  Surprisingly I’m not upset about actually talking on camera as much as I am mortified at how often I slip into the rut of using the same words and phrasing over and over and over again.  It’s something I’m working on while I sort out recording and editing logistics.

Anyway… I figured I should follow-up with a little “this is what I thought about this” review of the books I chose for Booktubeathon 2015!

  1. Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman.  This was my choice for a book with blue on the cover.  I am a huge Gaiman fan, as is J and I actually had to wait for J to finish reading this book before I could start it, which is why it was the last book I actually read!  Neverwhere tells the story of Richard Mayhew, a fairly average, everyday Joe sort of guy, living in modern-day London.  Richard’s life is pretty “meh” in general with a few quirks.  Through a random act of kindness Richard finds his world turned upside down and slips through the cracks to the world below.  In the vein of Stardust we are transported to a world where things are just ever so slightly different and Richard finds his senses overwhelmed and his abilities to cope with an altered reality tested.  It is an excellent book, one that I greatly enjoyed reading.
  2. Serafina and the Black Cloak by Robert Beatty.  This book is set in and around the Biltmore Estate in Asheville NC and follows the story of Serafina as she tries to solve the mystery of the disappearing children on the grounds of the estate and come to terms with her shrouded past.  I enjoyed this book in part because I am familiar with the house and grounds having visited the house many times and having been horseback riding in the woods where much of the action takes place.  It is a fast paced, quick read and definitely one that I will be passing along to Xander.
  3. The Trumpet of the Swan by EB White.  This is the classic tale of the voiceless trumpeter swan Louis.  I am currently reading this book to the children for part of their school time and other than having to explain a few “out of vogue” words, it’s been an enjoyable read that has sparked much conversation and even a couple skits.
  4. Such Sweet Sorrow by Jenny Trout. I had high hopes for this mash-up of Romeo and Juliet and Hamlet but alas it only really achieved a “meh” level of greatness.  The book was the readable but not riveting story of Hamlet helping the distraught Romeo travel through the Underworld to rescue Juliet.  I think had this book been written as a general fiction instead of YA it would’ve had greater depth.  I would recommend it to tweens or early teens or as a casual throw-away beach read.
  5. Juliet Immortal by Stacey Jay.  Obviously I was on a bit of a theme with the Romeo and Juliet thing!  Another YA selection, this was my choice for reading in one sitting.  Another variation of the classic tale, the story opens with the Romeo and Juliet’s wedding night then progresses to the future where Romeo and Juliet are now agents for opposite sides of a ethereal war between good and evil.  The story follows Juliet as she becomes aware of the truth of her past and the consequences of her actions.  I found it to be a decent story, another light beach type read.  There is a sequel to this book that I have not read yet but I may pick up in the future.  Overall I liked the book and could see it being a good read for the middle school crowd.
  6. Kissing Shakespeare by Pamela Mingle.  This was my choice for book I wanted to read, which is funny as I only purchase books I want to read.  This is the story of Miranda, a fledgling actress trying to live up to the pressures of her famous acting parents.  The book opens with her angst driven meltdown after bombing on the opening night of her high school’s production of Taming of the Shrew.  Miranda is approached by a fellow student who turns out to be much more than he appears and she finds herself back in time and attempting to woo Shakespeare away from a career ending life in the monastery.  I had anticipated this book being another throw-away read but surprisingly it turned into quite a good story that managed to draw a few feels at the end.  I would love to see a sequel to this story as Mingle left the door cracked for future adventures that I hope come to pass!
  7. Death Note by Tsugumi Ohba, art by Takeshi Obata.  This is a Manga that I have heard a good bit about over the years.  I was not really overjoyed with this story.  Light is an annoying sociopath thinking that he’s solving the world’s problems. L is an annoying investigator-savant that is trying to locate and identify Light in a string of worldwide murders. The only interesting character is Ryuk, the bored Shinigami that drops his death note to be entertained by the human that finds it.  I would recommend watching the anime instead of reading the manga as I found the story progression to be boring and repetitive.  The physical book is quite striking as it the black edition, but that’s not really enough of a reason to search for this book.

So that’s my run down of the 7 books I read last week.  My favorite of the lot would be Neverwhere, but then I’ve been a Gaiman fan for a long time.  I look forward to doing more reviews in the future :)

So I’ve just really been getting into the whole BookTube thing over on YouTube.  Sort of surprisingly I found out about the BookTubeathon just as it was beginning and was able to actually participate!  That like NEVER happens.  Here’s the challenge…

1) Read a book with blue on the cover

2) Read a book by an author who shares the same first letter of your last name

3) Read someone else’s favorite book

4) Read the last book you acquired

5) Finish a book without letting go of it

6) Read a book you really want to read

7) Read seven books

So the above challenges had to be completed this past week and here are the books I read for each challenge…

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  1. Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman
  2. Serafina and the Black Cloak by Robert Beatty
  3. The Trumpet of the Swan by EB White
  4. Such Sweet Sorrow by Jenny Trout
  5. Juliet Immortal by Stacey Jay
  6. Kissing Shakespeare by Pamela Mingle
  7. Death Note black edition by Tsugumi Ohba, art by Takeshi Obata

Lots of reading and I think I am technically cheating with Trumpet of the Swan but I’m counting it anyway :)

I promise there will be update pictures of Fawkes soon.  Every time I’ve set aside a morning for horse work something, namely rain, has conspired against me.  My optimistic daily habit of wearing breeches in the hopes of an impromptu ride have long since faded… I feed in slip on Keens now… I’m not even sure where my boots and chaps are anymore.

Honestly, other than setting up feed I haven’t been doing much with the horses.  My late evening rides have been hijacked by the boys evening Doodle trail rides on their bikes.  I’m very proud of them and how Beckett has progressed to riding a geared bike and is forming dreams of riding the Tour de France.  I love seeing the fire of passion in his eyes and dimly remember that feeling myself when I was 9… All those dreams… just waiting for my time.

At some point “my time” slipped by without my notice.  Admittedly I made choices that ended my wild and carefree days of youthful freedom.  And I do not begrudge them… much.   I was 25 when Sophie was born, firmly ensconced in a tiny riding career that had allowed me to work with local horses and teach lessons.  Sophie turned the world upside down, in a good way, and I was slowly figuring out how to do horses and be a parent when we discovered that Sophie wasn’t exactly typical and I felt that I needed to focus all of my attention on her situation and what it meant for the future.

So slowly, without me really noticing it at first, my time started slipping away.  Equestrian me took a backseat to parent me as I embraced this new chapter.  I watched my horses age… Spring in his 30s, Aimee just behind him.  We adopted our sons and furthered embraced this new path.  Then my horses began to die and I realized how tied to them I would always be.  Inconsolable depression followed by the realization that Equestrian me had been gone for so long that my riding skills, were dormant and rusty.  A transitional horse was purchased and… oh the joy!! Lady rekindled that fire and drive!! The passion that had taken a backseat to Mommyhood was still there!  I was back, balancing those two halves of my life like a pro… so many horses entered our life at that time and I was so happy.

And then it all fell apart.

With Baxter’s death part of me crumpled up and died too.  Of course I went on to ride again, finding a happy place with Pip after a very hesitant start. Things were good for a while… we rode so much and we made plans of how 2015 would be the year that we would finally SHOW! and COMPETE! and finally go out there and put it all on the line.

Of course that didn’t happen.  Martha became unwell and I could not rationalize asking for the time to go riding.  I could not be so very selfish in such a difficult time.  The stress of trying to keep everybody happy erupted late in the year and I closed the farm, asking boarders to leave which effectively severed friendships at the time.

From Nov 9 to today I’ve ridden 8 times.  I’ve been out to work with the horses, I’ve held them for farrier and vet visits.  I’ve played with the foals… but riding just doesn’t exist anymore.  Those big dreams for 2015 disappeared under the glaring eye of reality.  And the realization… my time has passed.  All those dreams and hopes for what I would do when I grew up… at some point I grew up and forgot to do them.  I was so busy trying to keep everyone else happy that I sat with all the tools I needed for my dreams in my hands, but failed to use them.  There’s a lesson there friends.

So now I sit, admittedly sad, scrolling through facebook pics and memes, maintaining the illusion that I’m still “in” the horse world with witty horse centered posts… it’s all a lie.  I want to be in that club but my time ran out and my dues are late…. I’ll stand here by the sidelines and cheer my friends on as they accomplish their riding goals.  I’ll vicariously ride with them all as they fly around cross country courses and dance in the dressage ring.  I will follow the training of everybody’s baby and laugh and cry with them at their antics and foibles.  I will offer advice when asked and act as the sounding board when needed. I will be available for emergency cavaletti transportation.  I will watch and I will soar with them as they fly so high.

But it’s no longer my dream.

Back at the beginning of February I heard about a gelding that had been relinquished in a high-profile neglect case down in the lower part of the state.  It was indicated that he was an Irish Draught by Rockrimmon Silver Diamond.  Immediately I was intrigued as Guinness is also by Rockrimmon Silver Diamond.  I knew that finding RSD babies around the Carolinas wouldn’t be that uncommon since RSD stood in NC for a while, but I was still curious.   So I called and talked with the vet in charge of his care and discovered that he had been standing as a sporthorse stud for a farm in the Charleston area and was slightly underweight and in slightly poor condition but would be gelded soon and they really wanted him out of their facility as soon as possible.

I was not in the market for a new horse.  Heck, I hadn’t ridden all winter.  So I politely asked if there were any photos and she sent me this:

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Well… doesn’t that horse look a bit familiar?  So I politely asked her to keep me in the loop and quietly walked away feeling that surely some other person would come forward for an ISH.  A week later I again hear from the vet.  The gelding had been done, evidently no one else had come forward and was I still interested??  Ugh…

Tentatively I spoke with M and J and we reached the decision that this boy had been put before us for a reason and started making the arrangements to bring him home.  We rearranged paddocks, set up his quarantine pen and started to fish around for a trailer to use.  I will not go into the horrors of trying to find a trailer to bring home a recently gelded stud horse that I don’t actually know.  Understandably nobody was eager to have him onboard.  So we made the decision to just use the old beat up green trailer.  Our wonderful neighbor David did a quick check over it to make sure it was safe and that all the electric components were working and even tho it was a mess cosmetically, it was safe and tall enough to bring home our new boy.

Valentine’s morning we headed out!  J and I had a good drive down and realized rapidly why the gelding needed a new home asap.  Living between the interstate and an airbase/airport isn’t exactly the most ideal life for any horse. So we pulled up and after parking amid what I think was a dog/cat adoption event and overhearing more than one person ask “how big is the dog you are planning on getting??” we were redirected to the barn were I met our new gelding.

This was my first look at him.

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What I saw was a profoundly depressed and unhappy horse.  Obviously he and G share a common look, but where G has the look of a horse that has lived the padded life of a privileged, beloved show horse, the new gelding, while polite, looked tired and weary.  As J put it “he looks like he’s seen some things”.

So I filled out all the legal paper work while J changed out his halter and put on his travelling clothes (cooler and boots).  I wasn’t entirely sure what he would have to say about loading up on the little trailer but after a look around he walked up meekly and munched on hay while I secured the ramp.  I couldn’t decide if he was that “OK” with the whole thing or if he just didn’t care anymore.

An so we began our journey back home only to realize that we were insanely hungry and needed to stop immediately for lunch.  J, the intrepid puller of trailers, negotiated several multi laned highways to get us into a large parking area behind a Chik-fil-a.  I decided to hang out with the gelding while J went in to order.  I opened the escape door and stood talking to him, nonsensical blathering of nothingness, just to let him hear me and hopefully keep him calm. Immediately I noticed a change in him.  He nosed all over my face, whoofed through my hair, nuzzled my cheek and really latched on to me as a person he was interested in.  I took out my phone to update M about our progress and this happened…

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I continued to talk and babble on to him and suddenly a car pulled up beside us!  I was a little nervous as I had read a lot about his case on our way to Charleston and I knew that there were some hot opinions about it.  The couple in the car stopped to comment on how much my horse must love me because they could see how relaxed he was when I talked to him. I told them that he was a new acquisition and they were surprised as they had thought that we were a long bonded horse and rider combo.  They wished us luck and safe journeys and again I noticed how the gelding was definitely warming up to both J and me.

So we continued home with me asking J every 5 minutes if the gelding was ok.  I think it made for a long trip for J even if he didn’t complain :)

Somewhere along the drive home I decided that Fawkes would be a perfect name.  I did not like the name he came with and I felt like he needed a new name to start his new life.  So Fawkes, the name of Dumbledore’s phoenix, seemed perfect!

Anyway, we made it home before dark and spent a good 30 minutes hand walking Fawkes around to work out his travel stiffness before putting him up for the evening.  He was polite and courteous, even with the wind blowing fiercely.

Then next day we spent shoring up shelters as wintry weather was forecast.  As I was feeding Fawkes his morning feed I noticed his sheath was grossly swollen.  I placed a couple phone calls to the vet and ended up driving to TR as the sleet and frozen rain started to pick up medicine at the vet’s office.

The weather tanked during the night and we awoke to an icy wonderland!

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Fawkes didn’t seem to mind at all.  He didn’t even think the children sledding on the ice was all that interesting.  He did spend some time making kissy faces with Noorah.

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Already looking like a different horse!!

The swelling in his sheath gave us several days of concern as did his very ugly gelding incisions. I’ll spare you the pictures, trust me they are gross.  I had pretty much daily phone calls to the girls at the vet’s office to make sure we were on the right treatment path.  It was a tough time as my instinct said that I should cold hose his sheath area, but my common sense said that cold hosing in single digit temps was potentially dangerous!

A week or so in Fawkes turned grumpy and moody.  He was unhappy with the horses in his neighboring paddocks.  He was unhappy with me.  He was unhappy with the boys changing his water.  He was unhappy with J feeding him hay.  Everything caused penned ears and unhappy eyes.

I spent some time just observing him and noticed that he was repeatedly pulling at his turnout and biting at his shoulder.  So with a modicum of trepidation, he is a big boy after all, I walked up to him and started scratching his shoulder under his blanket.  Initially he had his angry face on, but then it melted away and he started leaning into my hand as I scratched.  So I took off his blanket and started scratching all over his shoulders and as far down his back as he would let me.  Initially he would let me go as far as his withers but after a few minutes he was ok with letting me scratch him pretty much all over.  Unfortunately in the middle of our bonding session a car pulled up in our drive-way and I had to leave him but as soon as I came back to the fence he backed up and invited me to scratch his butt.  We have daily scratching sessions now and the unhappy grumpy mood has disappeared.

Fawkes has also been having weekly sessions with Nicole of EquiZen Horse Therapies.  I really have to say that these acupressure sessions have worked wonders on all my horses and Fawkes is no different.

Fawkes is learning what it means to be a pampered and loved horse and seeing him really blossom has been amazing!!  He’s gone from being a dull and grungy, unhappy horse to being a shiny, personable, gelding with a little bit of a sense of humor that pops up from time to time.  I can’t wait to see what the future holds for him!

 

 

Things are finally getting back to “normal” here at the farm.  Coming to terms with Martha’s sickness and subsequent passing has been difficult for the entire family.  I have resoundingly closed many doors and enthusiastically opened others and those decisions have taken some time to sink in.  Closing doors always requires a time of healing and regrouping and this time it was no different… adding Martha’s death to that and I shut down to full on hermit mode which was exactly what I needed.

I am thankful for the friends that gave me space and let me heal.  I’m equally thankful for the friends that showed their true colors and allowed me to walk away with no regrets.  I’m thankful for the friends that have stood waving on the horizon, not pushing or demanding but quietly waiting until I return to the land of the social.  And I’m thankful for the new friends that have popped up, not demanding an all or nothing relationship but letting me hang out and just be a part of the group.

It’s been pretty common knowledge that I haven’t ridden in several months.  This has actually been a good break as it has allowed me to realize a few things about my riding habits.  I have always had a riding companion outside of my household.  I also have a tendency to make that companion’s riding more important than my own.  So many times I would come in from a ride frustrated because the entire ride had focused on problems my riding companion was having, or on goals they were trying to achieve and my riding had consisted of following or keeping up.  The few times I was actively working my own horses semi disastrous, confidence shaking consequences ensued.  So I quit trying.

My hiatus from riding has let me see this more clearly and has also allowed me to set goals which are a little scary, but I think attainable.  I’ve also had time to tweak my horses’ feeding regime, which had a sudden and frightening overhaul at the first of the year when our feed supplier made drastic changes to their pricing that put them well out of our budget.  Days of research, headaches, lack of suppliers, price point issues… the horrors of figuring out how to feed 16 horses so that their nutritional needs are met without breaking the budget followed.  Currently the horses are on a couple different feeds and we’ll see how that turns out (possibly a review in the future).

We did add a new horse to the farm.  I will be blogging about him soon.  He is Guinness’ half brother and came from a neglect situation in the lower part of the state.  I don’t always change horse’s names when they come to me but in his case I felt that a change was in order so I named him Fawkes after Dumbledore’s phoenix.  I have taken some flak for essentially naming him “Fox” but it only takes a few minutes in his presence to realize it’s the perfect name either way.

Tonight the time changes which will facilitate many of the changes we are hoping to see on the farm.  Longer days means more daylight and more daylight means a return to riding!

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