My drive out to the barn this past Wednesday was wonderful because the sky was clear and I could really tell that the sun is setting later than it did one month ago. Yes, I do understand that the sun isn’t really doing anything — the sun stays still and the earth lurches around in an ovoid pattern but we’re too tiny to really be able to understand that in a day-to-day sort of way. So the sun comes up and the sun stays up later, all with the intent to make us happy. And in late January, driving west, it was doing a nice job of making me happy. That’s what I love in the winter — those first sunsets that you notice 30 days past the winter solstice.
Monthly Archives: January 2008
I started going through some old pictures this weekend. We tend to keep our pictures in boxes here at our house and some are labeled and some are not, so while dragging out the pictures is fun at the time, figuring out what the heck to do with them can be a chore later. I found an old photo of my dad as a child driving a goat cart, and that was pretty neat. I’m sure it’s completely posed and that he did not actually drive the goat cart, but it’s the kind of thing people used to do; plop their kids in goat carts, tell them to pick up the reins, and then whip out the Brownie and take a picture. Sort of like sitting the kid on a pony and sticking a cowboy hat on the kid’s head and taking a picture in the 40s and 50s. I like those pictures too.
Wish I had a picture of the first horse that I rode at the Crazy C Riding Stable in Mason, Michigan. Wouldn’t that be neat? I bet other people (I extend the invitation to our brothers despite the name of the blog) have pictures of when they were kids (even if being kid was, like, three years ago), seated on their first horse. The memories are good. Post ‘em if you got ‘em.
I thought some of my pictures were going to make me sad, like the pictures of my late father in his childhood, but they don’t. They make me feel human. So I’ve tucked a few them here and there, in amongst the book shelves, only visible from certain angles. A happy surprise to see loved vistas, pets, and people from the past: Oh look! There’s the beach! There’s the old back yard! And there’s that picture of a good face, right were I can see it any time I want. That’s the best one.
Quite recently, a friend and I went to the movies together except that we went to different theatres. The movie was Sweeny Todd (no need to link; you can find it easily enough) and we got our wires crossed because more than one movie house in town has the same name in the title (The Classy Campus-View, the Classy Homestyle, The Classy Downtowner — no disrespect intended; it’s my favorite locally-owned movie chain and long may it run) and she went to one and I went to another. It’s kinda neat, really — we were both watching the same move at the same time but just in different theatres. It was a nice feeling of linking, especially when I found out afterwards that that she was at the Classy Downtowner while I was at the Classy Campus-View. And we still have lots more dish to do over the film. To that end, I checked out a video version of the Broadway original, and after I watch it we can compare musical theatre/folklore/theatre history observations with one another.
It’s also nice to know that I’ll soon be seeing the same movie, There Will be Blood (again, you can find it), that popped up in a discussion the other day. Indeed, it gives me a frisson of happiness to know that the style of Daniel Day-Lewis is a possible topic of conversation at some future time, and that the topic will be a movie. Movies. They’re just the best, aren’t they? We learn how to behave from them (the Godfather phenom has informed the behavior of the original family in Sicily according to an author friend of mine) and in return, the movies take their queues from us. They are a mirror, the way the horse mirrors his rider and the rider mirrors her horse.
Nope, not a dang thing to do with horses and not much to do with barn culture as I have experienced it and I don’t hink horses have much to do with the SDS either unless there were some mounted police in Chicago in ’68. But I’m a Pekar fan. So don’t steal this book because stealing it won’t help the writer and the artists, but do read it and buy it (or the other way round).
Today we worked on how I hold my body when going to the right. I tend to collapse in and drop my right shoulder, and this became very obvious to Leah one day when I wore a sweater with a strong horizontal band across the upper back/yoke. Since then, I try to wear something similar so that Leah can more quickly spot what I’m doing. I do drop that right shoulder a lot (see post on “And all this time I thought it was the bra” or however I titled it) and of course I can’t tell that I’m doing it since I do it. So I’m trying to push Mo back outside to the wall with my inside leg, but *dropping* my inside shoulder at the same time which sends him a mixed message since dropping my (inside) shoulder is going to make him fall in to the inside. So today Leah had me place my left elbow at my hip (not cram it in there and hold it tight which is my instinct — Get a Bigger Hammer! Hang on Harder! Push More! — but just place it there). As soon as I did that, I quit dropping my right shoulder and voila! as they say, Mo could do what I wanted him to do. Neat, huh?
I got recruited to play Oregon Trail on FaceBook (I gotta quit hunting or I’ll use up all of the group’s ammo – I got a buffalo but that was beginner’s luck) and I’ve been thinking about how the land looks for people who need to go on a trip but who do not have a Rand-McNally Road Atlas, GPS, or an overall conception of how the earth looks from space. Then I unearthed my 1996 souvenir copy of the English translation of the Medieval Mappa Mundi. This classic T and O map of the world, ringed about with angels and God and Jesus, makes me think of how people look at the world and at their own piece of landscape, and what our enlightened view should do for our brains vis a vis us and the world – but often does not. So anyway, how far can horses travel in a day? I’m sure it depends on the ground and on the day, but if one was estimating how far it would take to get from Specific Point A to Specific Point B, how would one do such a thing? For example; assuming that one could work with the pre-industrial landscape of Central Ohio, how long did it take to get from Unionville Center, Ohio to Lithopolis, Ohio? It’s about 44 miles and in our current age, this is considered a doable daily commute. But what about Back When? The proposed terrain is flat, the old routes and highways are probably the same ones that existed 150 years ago in the era of farms, the rivers and streams haven’t moved all that much, and in the late spring, as long as one wasn’t in a hurry, it might even have been a pleasant trip and would have given one time to think about life and such as one sauntered along. Is there a formula or a figure for MPH for horses?
Yesterday was my birthday! I’m 48! I love being 48! It’s such an easy number to remember! It’s so . . . so . . . so darn even! Twice times four is eight! Half of eight is four! What I like best about my birthday is that I have permission to run around all day saying, “Today is My Birthday!” I want to buy some coloring books to celebrate — even though it’s the day after. So yesterday at my lesson, not only did Mo and I both experience the fruits of the of the InSynch clinic, but I got a great Christmas present from Leah’s girls: A picture of Mo all cleaned up for a show! It’s so sweet and he just looks like dynamite; the camera caught his face at such an angle that the delicate tracery of Arab is clearly visible in his large and noble head. Most of the time Mo looks like a stack of hair (even when he’s groomed), so the pictures was a nice surprise. Leah told me that one of her girls even pulled out a tooth to get money in order to afford the Christmas presents. I guess I must have looked pretty alarmed because she quickly explained that the girl’s tooth was loose to begin with. *whew!*
That’s a good mantra and I’ve employed it more than once when His Mo-ness has been in a less-than-cooperative humor. And when I remember to use the mantra, I hear Leah’s voice and think of how I usually hear that voice, from the ground looking up at me if she’s come into the ring to explain something to me, or from her seat on the mounting block. Since it’s winter, she’s bundled and swaddled in a long quilted coat and maybe she holds a mug of hot green tea as she say “Remember! Forward fixes everything!” When I tell the horse to go forward during a confusing moment (hungry barn cat, the spooking of another horse, strange noises from outside), then he knows he can depend on me and that I’ve got things covered. Well, I guess saying that the horse “knows” is kind of a stretch, but I’ve given him assurance in the form of a command that he understands and he doesn’t waste energy on trying to take care of the problem himself. Someone he trusts, the bossy mare of the herd or his rider, has directed him and the incident transitions easily into a non-incident. But what if I stopped, as I have done so many times, and stayed wallowing in the moment of everything going wrong? I think those moments are confusing for Mo, but they pass. As a former riding teacher said, “One-Two-I-Forgot” to explain a horse’s conception of cause and effect. But for a human (moi), the moment lasts and lasts and then starts reverberating with a bunch of other lousy moments (sometimes lousy moments from things unconnected to riding). It’s easy to do. We remember the past but can’t see into the future — but that’s the beauty of experience! We can learn from specific experience and can make inferences and pretty darn good guesses about stuff. So with Mo, I’ve learned that a spook is best met with a command to keep moving forward and then the bad scary moment passes and we’re on to something else. There’s a lot of faith involved in keeping this concept close to heart and then actually using it. So during the day, out of the blue I hear Leah: “Remember! Forward Fixes Everything!” And then I go forward.