Blog .:. March 2011 4 Entries

Carrot Sticks—They Really Are Magic

19 March 2011 Comments

I try to live and let live as far as natural horsemanship is concerned.

Over time, I’ve come to realize that it’s just another discipline, and like most disciplines it has its valid points and it has its points that makes outsiders wonder WTF is wrong with the people who follow it.

You can say WTF about the Horsenality Charts. You can say WTF about rolkur in dressage. You can say WTF about hunters and over lunging. Or the peanut rolling in western pleasure. And on and on and on. Every discipline has crazy lemmings. Every single one of them.

So I live and let live. I can’t even begrudge the big NH names their brand-name equipment, because Anky has a line of saddles, Pessoa has a line of everything, etc etc etc.

I do roll my eyes at the “carrot stick,” but hey… I’ve also seen hunter people arguing passionately about types of lunge lines and how they are very different. So what do I know, anyway?

Well, today Ro demonstrated the power of the carrot stick. I now believe in it thoroughly.

I’d turned her out on the grass to graze for a bit. It’s nice spring grass. She resents being brought in from the nice spring grass, so when she sees me coming, she’s started to walk away. I’ve been working on this; I walk out to her several times and just pat her, then let her go back to grazing.

Today, I happened to have carrots with me. Ro never gets carrots, because I am a mean owner who never remembers to bring them from home, assuming I even have them in the house.

So when I had to go out to my truck to get something, I grabbed a carrot. I’d feed it to her and let her go back to grazing. People approaching = good things happening. Maybe I’d be able to catch her later.

She walked away half-heartedly, but I caught up and gave her the carrot. It was a big carrot.

Then I walked over to my truck. She followed me.

I grabbed what I needed and walked into the barn.

She followed me.

I stopped by her stall, where I had the other carrots stashed. She walked in her stall, turned around, and pricked her ears at me.

I showed her a carrot and headed out to her paddock.

She followed me.

They were all awfully big carrots. Not those baby carrots, but real carrots. Stick-like carrots, you could say.

And their magic is such that a pony will leave spring grass and follow me around the barn, just in case I have more on me.

I will never doubt the power of carrot sticks again.

Tagged: Groundwork, Horses - Ro

There’s something wrong with these pictures

14 March 2011 Comments

Here’s Onyx, of the Princess and the Pillow fame:

Here’s Pookie, my creaky old woman. That’s a rubber brush she’s using as her pillow:

I’m still trying to figure out why the young, fat cat gets the cushiest spot in the house while the arthritic one is banished to the floor.


Tagged: Cats, Cats - Onyx, Cats - Pookie

Video: Ro, Feb 2011

5 March 2011 Comments

These are recent videos, taken on a day when we were both a little tired and stiff, working on really staying straight between the aids, which had both of us a little tense. So—by no means the best example of anything. As always, you’re welcome to comment; you won’t hurt my feelings and the odds are, I’ll agree with what you have to say.

I could wait until we had perfect video to post an update, but I decided to go ahead with these because even though [excuses, excuses, excuses], I can still see just how far we’ve come and how much some things have improved. And that makes me super, super happy.


Tagged: Horses - Ro, Riding, Riding - Dressage

The Princess and the Pillow

2 March 2011 Comments

When I decided to get a second cat a couple years ago, I went to the shelter looking for… something. I wasn’t sure what. A quiet, mellow cat who wouldn’t antagonize my aging Pook, mostly.

What I found was a cute tortie just out of kittenhood and entering exuberant young cathood but who, sadly, curled in the back of her kennel, staring at the metal wall.

I thought she was depressed. I took her home.

I later learned she was plotting ways to escape and take over the world. I should have known—someone had named her “Voodoo” along the way. How much more of a sign does one potential adopter need, anyway?

By the time I discovered she had been legitimately incarcerated—possibly for murdering her former owners—it was too late. I was concerned about what would happen to her if I took her back and told the shelter people she was homicidal.

Eventually she mellowed and turned into a curious, mischievous cat who knows right from wrong but is not entirely certain morals ought to apply to her. Her murderous rage has been channeled away from humans and towards hair ties. We are making progress.

She remains convinced, however, that her station in life ought to be lofty.

She belongs on top of the book case. Or she would, if I would just move the boxes I put up there so she can’t make the jump. Failing that, she belongs on top of the computer alcove shelves. I put junk on those shelves. She tried the sideboard. I put junk on the sideboard.

Now I know why people accumulate knick-knacks: it’s to keep cats… if not on the ground, at least lower than the stratosphere.

This is a cat who will barely deign to stretch out on the floor. If she must be that low, she sleeps on the cat scratcher instead.

But all things being equal, she would much rather be someplace soft and cushiony.

Like the pillows on my bed. She loves the pillows on my bed.

But the other day, I fell asleep on the couch and, that morning, was running late. I forgot to put the pillows away. I left them on the back of the already cushiony couch.

I came home to a cat enthroned on a stack of pillows. She opened an eye at me and informed me that I could touch the pillows and die, or I could just leave them where they were, so she could enjoy the comfort due to her, and she might let me feed her later, if I asked nicely.

Pillows on the couch > pillows on the bed, by several magnitudes of cushiony-ness, apparently.

Last night I feel asleep on the couch again. I was feeling generous, so I left one pillow on the back of the couch for her, and stole one for myself.

My couch is only moderately comfortable, so when I do this, I inevitably wake up part way through the night and make my way back to bed.

Last night, I woke up, tried to roll over to get up, and realized things were a little… heavier… than usual.

I opened my eyes.

I had a pillow on my chest.

The pillow had a cat on it.

The cat was glaring at me, daring me to move.

The Princess and the Pillow had achieved Nirvana: couch pillows, human pillow, bed pillow. She had made a living, breathing, self-heating, rock-her-to-sleep bed.

I wiggled my shoulders a bit, hoping she’d get a clue. She flexed her claws, advising me to get a clue or die.

In the light of the TV, her face marking shone clearly: a big, yellow V. For Voodoo.

I scratched her head and went back to sleep.

Then, the next morning, while she was eating breakfast, I hid all the pillows. This cat needs a humbling.

She has seemed upset all evening. She’s had to settle for sleeping on the back of the couch. This is, apparently, not nearly as desirable as Pillow Nirvana. She keeps eying me from her end of the couch, calculating.

I’m not sure what she’s calculating, exactly. The calories in my dinner, to see if I will be fluffier and more comfortable by bed time? The relative level of humidity, to determine the loft factor in my hair?

I’ve gone from being the Lady Who Feeds and turned into Something On Which She Sleeps.

This cannot end well. It just can’t.

Tagged: Cats, Cats - Onyx, Cats - Pookie

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