I have a brother. His name is Vince. Vince is a musician. Everyone say "Hi, Vince!"
This is the face Vince makes when hes trying to convey to you that he is unamused.
You may recognize it.
Mostly because I make the exact. same. face.
I posted a picture of Vince's unamused face because he is probably going to make that face as he reads this blog post.
While Vince may be my brother, I am a horse person and Vince, well, is NOT.
And by NOT a horse person, I mean really NOT a horse person. However, since I moved to Nashville, almost four years ago, I've been slowly grooming him to at least enjoy being in the vicinity of horses. I figure he might as well get used to being around them, because for the passion which with he hates them, he will inevitably end up marrying a horsewoman. Thats just the way life works, isn't it? Just like I'll marry a poor musician. And likely, a percussionist. Because I can't STAND percussionists. But as much as they make me crazy, it is a lifestyle with which I am comfortable, so I figure its a no brainer. And something about karma. Ah, karma.
So anyway, I'm grooming Vince for his future life with one of my horse friends, so whichever friend decides to marry him, you can pay me the training fee after the wedding when you realize what a good job I've done.
(Small interlude- spell check tells me horseperson is not a word, but accepts horsewoman. Coincidence? I think not.)
So, now that you have some insight into my brother's complete non-horseness, are you wondering why I gave him such a stellar introduction? Of course you are.
Since I've recently begun dragging my brother to more and more horse-type-events, he has stared to appreciate them more and more, and not to long ago, he shed some light on what made the difference. When I was a kid, I rode at a lesson barn, on school horses and I rode hunters. So, the only time Vince came to watch me ride was at horses shows- where horses were randomly drawn from a hat, so he didn't know who they were (not like he would have known, at that age, even if the horse was MINE), and all I did was line-angle-line-angle and then walk, trot, canter, reverse, repeat and the whole goal was to look JUST LIKE everyone else in the ring. No wonder he was bored! At least when I went to his baseball games, I could go play on the jungle gym!
An example of little-bitty Lauren doing a hunter class at a barn schooling show!
I managed to convince Vince (ha, conVINCE) to come take pictures at our first Mounted Patrol Desensitization Clinic last spring, and he actually got really into it! Who could blame him, though? As he explained, it was like a real-life video game-
There was a purpose:
scare the crap out of your horse complete the obstacle course.
There was drama:
Sam decided he was. not. going. over. the. bridge.
Ari tried to convince him it was okay.
There were guns. GUNS!
Yes, this is, in fact, me... shooting a gun. While sitting on my horse.
And he's looking on with only minor concern.
He also realized that we usually come with food:
And serious ass-kicking capabilites:
So, that was the first time I ever heard him convey minor interest in the whole riding thing.
He also realized that we're not all psycho. We actually have interests outside of horses. (Okay, thats a lie, but we fake it really well.)
got dragged went to Easter Dinner at Henry Horton (our favorite new holiday tradition), he disclosed the real reason he could finally begin to understand the whole horse thing. (Yes, ladies, he UNDERSTANDS. SNAP HIM UP!)
Easter at Henry Horton. Many lovely horsewomen.
And DJ and Vince.
Thanksgiving at Henry Horton. All horsewomen.
And Vince. He couldn't even find ONE non-horse friend to bring with him.
I'm grooming him for my friends, and he doesn't even try to return the favor.
Oh, what? You were waiting for The Reason?
Its not as exciting as you want it to be.
He is just now finally understanding that horses, like dogs, have their own personalities. They're not just walk-trot-canter-reverse-line-angle-line-angle robots. Now that hes hanging out with the same people who have the same horses, he is able to laugh at the stories about the silly things they do and input things that they would be thinking and all that. They're like... friends of friends.
Of course, we've always known that.
I remember the first time Mom saw Ari since I'd moved him down to Nashville. It was last year, actually, so it had really been awhile since she'd seen him. It was one of the times he was being kept inside during the day because of his uveitis flair ups. We were on our way back from Chattanooga and I'd called Anita to let her know we were close and if she'd leave Ari in a little while, I would treat his eye and turn him out. So, we got there maybe ten minutes after everyone else had gone out and Ari was PISSED. He was banging on his stall door, pacing, hollering and just generally having a tantrum.
When I came to the door, he actually greeted me in his horsey way, and I opened the door and put his halter on. He let me treat his eye and then I stopped as I was about to lead him out and talked to Anita and my mom. He waited patiently for about a minute and then stomped his shod foot right on the metal door ledge, which make a sound like a gunshot. We all jumped and turned and looked at him and he had this look of sheer indigence on his face. My mom laughed and commented on how she had NEVER seen a horse display so many different emotions... especially not in such a short time!
So, the reason I bring this up today is because Ari was displaying one of the many facets of his personality today. If you've ever met him, you know that he is lazy, unconcerned with much of anything and usually is so un-enthused that he drags his toes when he walks. When Stacy brought Taco out for a hack, she ended up having to work pretty hard to keep Taco from running circles around Ari.
This portrays his normal levels of enthusiasm.
Not today... oh no. Today was like walking a kite up from the pasture. When we finally made it to the barn, he turned circles in the crossties and yelled and acted generally feral.
I decided to longe him before I rode. That was wise.
When I sent him out on the line, he SQUEALED! He SQUEALED, ran off and bucked like a banchee, then galloped around 'till he was good an tired. Or at least winded.
I was hoping you could see his nostrils flaring in this pic, but you can't, really.
So use your imagination.
Anyway, I got on him, fairly certain that I wouldn't die. He was not GOOD, by any stretch of the imagination, it was remotely like sitting on a ticking time bomb. BUT, I utilized that to practice my meditation and took advantage of his... um... forwardness... to get some really fabulous dressage work. I had to stay cool, calm and collected and just really work on not getting frustrated and taking it out on him.
Sure, I really wanted to smack him upside the head with a 2x4 and yank his stupid, screaming, head-tossing face off, but I didn't. And that's what counts! I actually really got him to "sit" in the back end and get so light in the front that I could feel his toes flip out before they hit the ground. It was neat! His canter transitions were smooth as silk, surprisingly, and he seemed to be using himself better than normal. When Ari's working nice and light and balanced like that, I tell him that if he keeps it up, he can be just like his role model, Taco the Wonder Horse when he grows up.
Stacy and the lovely Taco strutting there stuff at MTPC '08
So anyway, today was a test-your-patience kind of day.
I also clipped Brandy. Brandy has the most violent reaction to clippers that I have ever seen in my whole life. They don't even have to be on. She just has to SEE them. If my clipper box is out when she comes in the barn, it is OVER.
So, I drugged her out of her mind to do a modified trace clip on her, much like Ari's, only way worse, since I was racing the clock and she woke up enough to run away from me before I could do the final touch ups. But the important thing is that she is considerably less yak-like than she was, and I should be able to bring her back into work without her getting drenched every time we think about doing something remotely work-like.
Yes, I even put her two sides in close enough vicinity that you can see how not-even-at-all they are.
The good news is, there's a saying:
"You know what the difference is between a bad clip job and a good clip job is?"
Also, notice how much hair she is missing? That is how much hair was attached to my body when I finished clipping her.