Friday, September 26, 2014

Wild Horses...sick of them yet?

These are pictures from last Friday... I saw them in three different areas, including on the side of the road...literally. They were only about a foot or two away and I was worried for their safety so when I saw there was an opening in the fence I encouraged them to go through it, but don't worry, I stayed on the opposite side of the road and didn't shout or make any commotion. My presence was enough to get them to move and then I left.

When I was driving around I saw this and it amused me...
It's a smart idea to bring your own mounting block, especially if you have a particularly tall horse or you're vertically challenged, but it just struck me as funny.

I was going to go to a Quarter Horse show tomorrow, but I've been sick the past few days and my lungs don't have very good capacity right now to be walking around so I'll just veg out and watch Dressage at Devon. I hope everyone has a good weekend.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

An apple a day...

I've never been a huge fan of apples.  They're a pain to eat whole and those Apple slicer doohickeys never work properly for me.  I've seen the packages of already-sliced apples, but the price is a bit ridiculous to bother with them.  I could slice them at home with a good knife then sprinkle lemon juice on them, but I don't like the way it makes them taste.  Yes.  I can be hard to please sometimes.  I admit it.

So, a couple of weeks ago my mom and I walked into Albertsons to do our weekly shopping and I noticed a floor stand containing Honeycrisp Apples.  I decided to buy a couple to see how they taste.  I'd heard of them before but since I didn't like apples I never bought any.
When we got home I went ahead and had a try and there was an explosion of flavor in my mouth.  At first I wasn't sure I liked it because it seemed awfully tart, but the more bites I took, the better I liked it.  Still, at $3.99/lb it wasn't something to be bought very often.  Last week we went to Albertsons again and I bought some more.  Then, I learned we had entered Honeycrisp Season.  Frys had them on sale for less than $2.00/lb so when we went there today to do our shopping I planned to buy more. But wait.  These ones were HUGE...quite a bit bigger than the ones from Albertsons.
Was that because it was now harvest time for them?  I don't know, but when I got home I just couldn't get over how big they were so I decided to do a size comparison and...WOW
They're almost twice the size. So I got a little curious about the history of this apple and looked it up on Google. Apparently, they're self-sterile, meaning they need another Apple tree to pollinate them. They were created at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities in 1960 but didn't really gain in popularity until more recent years. They're hybrids, not something Monsanto came up with. In 2006 they were officially named the State Fruit of Minnesota. Another thing that's really interesting is that the younger the tree, the bigger the fruit is and as the Honeycrisp tree matures, the apples become smaller. Chile and New Zealand have been able to successfully grow the trees so soon it is hoped that Honeycrisp will be available year-round. That's apparently why they're expensive. Their harvest time is so brief and it takes 5 to 6 years for the trees to grow enough to harvest and due to their popularity explosion, there's a bigger demand than there is supply. Once more places are able to grow the trees, however, the prices will come down. hopefully.

I hope everyone has had a good weekend. Mine has been uneventful. Laundry yesterday and shopping today. My mom and I need to win a big jackpot with the lottery so we can hire someone to cook, clean and do laundry for us. Hahaha. $7 wins just aren't going to do it, though. It's kind of funny how I don't like to do all the cooking since there was a time I'd wanted to attend Culinary School. My grandfather was paying for our educations but he had two rules: you had to go to a 2 year junior college first and then a four year in-state university. My dad (it was his dad that was paying for our college) wouldn't let me even ask him if he'd for it and I couldn't afford it on my own. A year or so ago my dad's sister and her husband were in town for a couple of days and I mentioned to her about cooking school and how dad wouldn't let me even ask my grandfather to pay for it since it didn't follow "Bubba's" (what we had to call our grandfather) rules and my aunt said Bubba probably would've paid for it if I had asked. Too late now. And when your dad is telling you that you can't ask Bubba to pay for it, you're kind of stuck between a rock and a hard place. What does all that have to do with anything? Nothing really except somehow I've ended up being the main dinner-maker person around here and I don't like having to cook all the time even though I'd wanted to go to cooking school. Hahaha

Okay. Well. That's it then, I guess. So, in closing, if you like apples and have never tried Honeycrisp (or HoneyCrunch from New Zealand), you should try one. You might like it.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

World Cup Bummer...

So, today, I was watching the American Gold Cup on and there were several of the big name Grand Prix riders competing such as Todd Minikus, Laura Kraut and McLane Ward was supposed to be riding, but he scratched.  Also this weekend was Spruce Meadows, which drew in Reed Kessler and Beezie Madden.   When you ride at that level, how do you decide which one to compete at?   Why is Spruce Meadows more of an interest to Beezie than the American Gold Cup?  I guess I should say congratulations to Jessica Springsteen for her double clear, but when you have supporters who can buy you a horse that's already won an Olympic Gold, you're expected to do well. Her parents were there so they, of course, had to keep showing them and talking about her dad.  Oh well.  It was pretty neat, though, that all six of the riders in the jump-off were Americans.  Briefly Todd Minikus looked like he might finish 2nd, but ended up fourth.  Bummer.  Still in the money and points, but...

Anyway, during the competition they talked about the World Cup in April 2015 that would be taking place in Las Vegas.  For one brief moment I got excited that I could actually go.  And when I saw that they'd be having Grand Prix level Dressage plus excitement went up even higher.  Then I looked at ticket prices and reality hit.  A single ticket for one of the events, either Jumping or Dressage, isn't too terribly expensive...$200...but how can I be expected to pick just one?  I've liked Show Jumping for a lot longer than Dressage, but there are a couple of Grand Prix level Dressage riders I wouldn't mind seeing in person.  They do offer combo tickets where you can see both events, but...that's where reality hit.  A combo ticket plus whatever they call the fee, is just over $400!!!!  Now, don't get me wrong.  I could afford that ticket if I wanted to, but...putting out that much cash, I'd feel I had to spend ALL of my three days there (the competition is longer than that, but that would be my time limit) and I have a feeling I'd get pretty bored after awhile.  I'd also need to see my friend who lives only 2 1/2 hours from Vegas but if I had to spend all my time at the horse show to justify the overall cost, I wouldn't get to see her except at night.  I can try to satisfy myself with local, free shows, but what's wrong with wanting to see the 'Big Boys' ride?   But there's no way a show in Arizona is going to attract Dressage riders like Steffen Peters and Jan Ebeling nor will our jumping competitions attract Margie Engel and Beezie Madden.   I guess I just need to whine.  Before I was born my parents were going to move to Florida with some friends but got hung up in Arizona with car problems and since both had family here so they stayed until they moved back to Seattle and I hatched.  If they had made it to Florida I would've had more big level shows, but no.  I'm stuck in the desert wasteland of Arizona.  Land of small, local shows.  I guess I shouldn't complain too much.  We do have shows.  Some cities/states probably don't have any shows.  Even though we aren't the Land of Arabians anymore, we do still have horse ranches and a lot of shows.  So I guess I shouldn't complain so much.  And I don't feel like I do... I'm just bummed that I can't go to a big horse show in Las Vegas in April.  It's not just the cost of the show ticket.  Currently Southwest only has their schedule open to mid-March and a round trip ticket to Vegas is more than $400 for mid-March.  I'm sure hotel costs will be astronomical during the show, to say nothing of rental car costs.

Oh well.  I'm done whining, I guess.  Thanks for listening.

Friday, September 12, 2014

A FABULOUS Friday!!!!

Wow. That's about all I can say about how my morning was. I am almost speechless. I had the day off work so I could go horse hunting in the morning then spend a couple of hours in a cold movie theater for opening day of Dolphin Tale 2. First I had to grab my hunting snacks of a couple of Six Cheese Bagels from Einstein Brothers and a Razmatazz Smoothie from Jamba Juice. Now that I start work at 6:30am and that's when they open, I don't get to enjoy them all that often, which is probably good. Hahaha. Anyway, I headed out on my 'route' and as I crossed the river I looked where they were last time, but no joy. But WAIT! They were in a big open area just north of the river so I had to get turned around and come back. I'd made sure to charge my camera batteries yesterday and I already knew there was a memory card in my camera. Missing both has happened to me a couple of times before. Not fun.

After taking some pictures I headed on up north and exited the highway heading east. Up ahead was a vehicle pulling a couple of trailers, which I quickly discovered were horse trailers. EMPTY horse trailers. There was a big stock trailer and behind that was a smaller bumper-pull. Momentarily I thought maybe it contained horses for the new riding stable I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, but then I saw that it was empty and I started to become concerned for the wild horses. A couple of weeks ago I read that a bunch had been stolen from a holding facility in Wyoming, I think it was. Eventually, though, he turned and headed towards Mesa. It was still an odd sight, though. A pick-up pulling a big trailer, pulling a small trailer and on a road full of twists, turns and dips. I was actually glad to find the bigger trailer was empty because I'd feel bad for the horses trying to keep themselves balanced on that road, even if the driver was going pretty slow and kept pulling to the middle of the road to let other cars pass.

From there it was to my next spots, but all I saw was an older dude riding a Mule. That caught me off-guard because I don't think I've ever seen a Mule in person before. I didn't realize how tall they are! We exchange waves and went in opposite directions. I headed back the way I came and that's when I hit my first pay dirt. This one area, there's a recreational area on each side of the road, both with it's own name, but part of the same river. I'd already gone to the one on the north side of the road so I went to the south one this time. I turned down the road and had to stop almost immediately. About ten feet in front of me was a small family unit: stallion, mare, and young foal. Maybe about six or seven months old. They were moving so I grabbed my camera and took a bunch of pictures. I then decided to go check the other side of the road again. I'd seen a large horse trailer go down there and I was curious. Turned out to be a commercial horse transport, probably local-ish, and the driver seemed to not really know where she was or where she was going. The reason I think it was a local transport is because of the type of trailer it was. Just a pick-up pulling a long trailer. All the other transports I've seen were semi-pulled or one big unit. So I turned around and headed out down the road and less than ten minutes later got my second surprise...a group of six horses along the side of the road. I've never seen them outside the fence line so, of course, I was worried about their safety since a spooked horse is a dangerous one and I was concerned some idiot would honk their horn at me or slam on their brakes when they spotted the animals and the noise would scare them and cause them to run out into the road. I parked my car on the opposite side and got out with my camera and just kind of stalked them for a couple of minutes. There was a break in the fence and two of them went through it so I tried to encourage the others to follow.  Once they were all on the other side of the fence they weren't really in a place I could photograph them without going to that side of the road so I headed back to my car and drove on.   It was just a really neat experience and I hope my pictures turn out decently.  Every now and then I think of doing one of those photo books with some of my better pictures, especially when I get an offer for a free one, but I haven't done it, yet.  I did one of some of my better zoo pictures and right now I'm not even 100% sure where it is.  Hahaha.  But I will try to get some pictures up for you on Monday.  Yes, I have a laptop at home I could upload them to and share them over the weekend rare than Monday, but it's just easier to do it from work.

Well, I guess that's it for now.  I'm about to look at the magazines at Barnes & Noble to see if I 'need' any hen head to the movies.  Hope you all have a great day and a fantastic weekend.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

World Equestrian Games...and other horse stuff...

Okay. So. The World Equestrian Games started a couple of weeks ago in Normandy, France. Unfortunately, the only way to watch it is to actually be there or to pay a fee and watch it stream live on the FEI website. Pass. I never knew there were so many horse-related...sports. And I use that term lightly. Driven Dressage anyone? Give me Show Jumping, Dressage and Three Day eventing any day. Vaulting is...I don't know. I don't get it. Yes, many horse sports have some degree of danger for the horse. The vaulters, too, but they put themselves in danger. It's their choice, but horses don't have that choice. Most sports, though, don't have people jumping all over the horse, landing on their backs after jumping in the air or have multiple people on them at the same time
Nor do most horse sports have the rider 'standing' on the horse's neck
Humph! What can I say? I just don't get it. I'd much rather watch this
Than a bunch of people in tights jumping around on top of horses. But that's just me.

So yesterday I visited the Stone Horses website for the first time in awhile and saw they have a plethora of pretty plastic ponies. Most of which I can't afford. They have several Marwari for sale, but this one I liked the most. Probably because he resembles Kalahkaari, even though I have that model and don't need two of the same color, even though they're not identical...
Not surprisingly, with the exception of the Marwari, all of the models I like are Ideal Stock Horses
And then there's Flannel PJs, whom I've always coveted and am surprised to see still available
His price has come down a 'few' dollars since the last time I saw him available, but he's still outside of my budget a bit. At least, though, he costs less than the first few. Dodge Ball, the Marwari, is $550 and Rum Runner, the first pictured ISH, is $500. The others range in price from $350 for Tardy Miss Smarty (brown paint) down to $80 for Mocha Marshmello Swirl for the last Appaloosa pictured, who is part of the 2014 line-up. If I could pick any one of them to make mine without concern for cost, I think it would be...I'd probably have to flip a coin to choose between Flannel pjS and Sideshow, which is the silver bay Appaloosa.

Today is Saturday...nothing much exciting going on today. Doing the dreaded laundry. In a bit I have to go get lottery tickets for tonight's drawing and some gas for my car. Yippee skippy. We had to turn the air conditioning on early today because it was already 85 in the house. My mom said it was a shame since the high was only supposed to be 101 today. I told her that the outside temperature didn't matter if the inside temperature was hot. We might get a storm tomorrow or Monday, but who knows? Still waiting for more definitive signs of Fall. The morning temps have been cooler, but the air doesn't smell like Fall yet. Don't ask me what Fall smells like because I can't describe it, but I definitely know it when it happens. Hahaha

I hope you all have a good weekend.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Age to start horses for riding...

Originally I was going to post a vent about the color of the new Model in Breyer's Big Cat Series named Kashmir.  I was going to say real Snow Leopards only come in white/grey with black spots, but when I was looking up pictures to use as reference I saw that Snows do, in fact, come in a tan-ish color as well so I nixed the post.  For the record, I don't plan on entering for it.  I think they should have done the series as the actual animal rather than a horse painted as a big cat
I didn't enter to get Kimbia for myself so I don't feel he need to keep the series 'alive'.

So I decided to change the topic of this post.  I had thought of doing it before, but didn't and now the subject has come up again.   It may not make me very popular, but in can live with that since this is MY opinion.  I'm not looking for a debate here, I'm just expressing my thoughts and opinions on the subject

A few months ago I got a catalog for horse products and in the catalog they had mini profiles for horse owners and their horses that use the products.  One of those profiles was for a reining horse and when I saw the age of the horse, I was shocked.   The horse was only two years old and he was already a champion Reiner.  WTF????  Not only was this poor animal being ridden at such a young age, but he was being shown in an intense manner.  One of the reasons why I no longer watch horse racing is because they are raced at two years old.  I was going to blog about that back when I first got the catalog, but never got around to it.  In the past couple of days, though, I became aware of a person on a message board asking about a back cinch for a Western saddle.  She mentioned the horse she would be riding was two years old.  It boggles my mind why someone would want to ride an animal that is so young.  In my opinion, horses should not be ridden until they are at least four years old.  At two you can do ground work and get them used to having a saddle.  Maybe put your weight on their back little by little by leaning on them, gradually increasing the amount of weight and then start the process over with a saddle.  I did an internet search to see if this was the norm...starting horses under saddle at two years old...and much of what I read was the opinion that three should be the minimum for starting them, but four or five was better.  Some people said they wouldn't ever buy a horse that was started at two and I don't think I would either.  At two years old, they're still pretty young.  They haven't finished growing yet and have the mentality of a young horse.  Obviously that's not the case with ALL two year olds and some might have a more mature mentality, but their bodies haven't finished growing and it's believed they could be irreparably damaged by starting them so young.

I know the person who was asking about the back cinch would not purposely hurt the horse and it surprises me the horse is in a school program to be ridden so young so I had to bite my tongue and not say anything.  I couldn't remain completely silent, though, and so I'm expressing myself here.  I can't say for 100% certainty that none of the horses I've ridden...and there's been quite a few...weren't real young, but the difference would be in doing it knowingly vs unknowingly.  I may have done it not knowing the age of the horse I was riding and she is doing it with the knowledge of the horse's age.  As far as I know, the youngest horse I've ever ridden was four and even that horse was a bit...I don't know what to call him.  He was kind of bouncy and all over the place.

Anyway, that's all I have to say.  Again, I'm not looking for a debate.  If you disagree, you can post that here, but be respectful.  If you have a list of Pros for why it's okay or a good idea to ride a two year old horse, other than racing, then I'd like to hear it.  You may teach me something.

Today is Wednesday, but because I worked Saturday and had Monday and Tuesday off, my schedule is way out of whack.  I keep thinking it's only Tuesday, but it's Wednesday and tomorrow is payday.  Hurray!