Wednesday, November 25, 2009

"Four-leggeds"

This time of year, with the holidays, I think we're more apt to count our blessings. Tomorrow, on Thanksgiving Day, it may come up at the dinner table or maybe later over coffee and pumpkin pie. Some of us won't say a thing but will keep our thanks to ourselves.



Not me. I'm thankful for the life I live with my "four-leggeds". People are right up there on the grand list of priorities, of course, but at times it's the horses and the donkey, the cats, the dog and the wildlife that sustain my life. They're always there --- nuzzling, purring, nickering, munching.



They watch you with soft eyes of understanding.



And they're good listeners. Non-judgemental and full of wisdom.

If you listen closely.



Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Achy Breaky Neck!

I've found the fountain of youth --- for my neck. I've just discovered THE answer for the raw, red, sore neck I get when I carry my favorite (not light!) camera-I-love 'round my neck.

A gorgeous camera strap cover. How totally KEWL!



Made 'specially for you (as in custom, babe) by Shealynn, you can find her and her awesome talent at *SHEY*[B] . She's an Arizona photographer who loves to sew. I think she's come up with something pretty clever.

I'm thinkin' order pronto for Christmas! Order for yourself, your mom, your sister, your girl cousins, your grandma and the gal next door who feeds your cat when you're out of town. Heck, order for folks who don't even know they NEED one of these darlin' strap covers. Someday someone will give said person a new camera. They'll put it around their neck (gleaming ear to ear) and say, "Gawd, this HURTS!". The entire future with their new camera will be crushed because of the pain caused by the stiff, crusty, poky camera strap. (Besides, it's black and not making a fashion statement of any kind.)

That's when you'll smile and slyly pull the cushy glamorous strap cover out and hand it to them. It'll make you a hero, a conqueror of camera strap pain.

And downright thoughtful.

There's only one thing that'll make the ordering painful, for you. There's so many fabrics to pick from, it may be next to impossible to pick just ONE! Ahhh --- decision, decisions.







Shop on, brilliant gift giver, shop on!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Heavenly Justice

She was just a 3 year old and she was mine. With a name like "Heavenly Justice" and me being a cop, well, how could I loose? In the horse racing world I'd learned any coincidence with anything about racing and it could be used as a good luck charm...and her name did it for me.

Bought late in the winter she went into training at a little run-down horse farm in the Kent Valley. Looking at the place you'd have to cringe some. No gleaming buildings, no modern composite training track. What the barn lacked in luster, though, it gained in caring, knowledgeable people. Horses were crooned to as they were fed. After workouts warm water baths were given and kind, calloused hands massaged tired youngsters' muscles.

The day finally arrived for Heavenly Justice to meet her public at Emerald Downs. It was a day I'd never forget as I watched my girl start her trip toward the saddling paddock.

First stop, the "test barn". At the beginning of every race the horses are brought to the barn and identified. The ID steward checks under the upper lip of each horse to look for a tattoo. Yup, she was who we said she was.



The "pony horses" waited outside the test barn. They would meet the horses after they left the saddling paddock to guide them to the starting gate.



Led by her groom she headed toward the paddock. She was curious and knew what was going to happen soon. She was going to be a race horse.



I thought it suiting my beautiful filly was 'pretty in pink' that day. The saddle cloth for the 8th pole position is always pink, but it had special meaning for me. (Yeah, there goes that superstition stuff again!)



Her admirers oooed and ahhhed as she was saddled and paraded around the ring. I stood in the paddock on the "8" spot, showing I was her owner. I grinned from ear to ear as I heard folks talking about the "good lookin' bay".

Mine.

"Riders UP!" was the command from the paddock steward.



A one handed boost from the trainer and Juan was in the saddle. One of Emerald Downs' leading jockeys at the time, he was confident enough to change is name on the back of his helmet to "One".



While the pony horse led my gal to the starting gate I smiled as I watched the tote board light up. She was in the 8th post position which meant the 8th slot out from the rail. Not where I would have wanted her, but, hey, not my choice. Just seconds before the start of the race the board showed her odds at 1 to 6. Not that bad for a first time starter in the 8 hole.



They're OFF!

Ha---you were hoping for pictures of the race? No way, I was too busy jumping up and down and screaming. But I do have a picture of the finish!



Out of 10 horses entered, Heavenly Justice took 4th on her first out! Another furlong and she would've caught the leaders.

Big superstition...I don't bet on my own horses. But that didn't keep me from accepting the payout at the end of the day for her 4th place finish.



I was a richer person for the experience of owning a race horse. Not much to take to the bank, but richer just the same.

Friday, November 13, 2009

A Hunka-hunka Burnin' Love

Meet Blue.



Blue has two loves in his life. One is his master and mistress, Bryan and Bekah (my son and daughter-in-law). The other is (drum roll, please) --- HUNTING!

Recently Blue demonstrated his love for hunting on Banks Lake near Steamboat Rock State Park in Washington. I don't know about you but it's a major goose bump moment to see a dog do what he was meant to do. It doesn't matter if it's a live (well, kinda) mallard or teal or just a decoy. Blue's so into hunting and retrieving anything from the water. It's hypnotizing to watch him work.





Splash!



I swear --- Blue must have a hidden outboard motor with him as he churns toward the decoy.



Gotcha!



Look what I found waaaaaay out there in the water! Is this what you wanted? Huh? Huh?



Please, please tell me you'll throw it again. I live and breathe for it.



Mom? Dad? I love you soooo much, but most of all (and I know you won't mind me saying this) --- I love HUNTING!

It's OK Blue Dog, that burnin' kind of love is perfectly acceptable.

Love ya back!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Lie Down!

Meanwhile, back at the farm, the Whiteman farmstead that is...

"LIE DOWN!"

Where in the world did that come from? Oh, I get it, "we" are herding sheep today.

The players:

The sheep. A Southdown, some Shetlands and (say this three times really fast) a Border Leicester/Polypay cross. Whew, couldn't we have just called them somethin' like Lambchop or Backstrap or Ribeye?



The rookie. A Border Collie named Gus with a zeal for herding. Only thing is --- his body gets a little ahead of his head sometimes, if you know what I mean.



The master. Another Border Collie named Nip. Nip knows what to do, does it when asked and adds a flair all his own.



The objective: move four sheep from one pasture to the adjoining pasture. The dogs will move them out one pasture gate, turn the sheep to the right and into another pasture gate. I'm the gatekeeper. Simple, right?

Dorothy, commander of all things herding, asks Gus, the rookie, to bring the sheep around. I am sure she said something in "herding-speak" like "Gus, go get the sheep!"



I didn't hear what she said, but whatever it was...it got Gus' attention and he took off.



LIE DOWN! Gus does exactly what Dorothy asks of him. This calms him and the sheep (ever so slightly) so the gathering can be done in a manner NOT resembling a wild horse roundup.



Gus takes off again and OOPS!, the sheep have found sanctuary in the miniature horse herd. One sheep was overheard muttering under his breath, "If we just stand pretty and swish our tails as we're grazing, maybe that blasted dog won't notice us."



Can miniature horses herd sheep? Chrissy, the little pinto seems to think so. Do I hear someone humming, "Gitalong little sheepies...?"



The job needs to be done right and done now. Bring in the master, Nip.

"Wait, wait...," which I'm sure means "Don't herd the sheep yet."



On cue Nip moves in, gently urging the sheep out the first gate and recovering them when they head down the wrong lane. He conducts an about-face and sends them into the adjacent pasture. I close the gate. I smile.

And nod, "It's a pleasure to work with you Sir!"

After a job well done Nip has some energy left to play with Titus (rookie guardian dog wannabe).



Herding sheep is just a warm-up for a little rough housing with this big fella.



On the farm, life is good.

Monday, November 2, 2009

The Four-leggeds of Sonnybrier Farm

Our good friends, Ron and Dorothy Whiteman, live in Elma, Washington and raise lovely and talented miniature horses at their Sonnybrier Farm. Other critters grace the farm and fill it with joy and lots of laughter!



Not what you think! Mattie (a rear view) is the senior sentry on the farm. A guardian of sheep, it's her job to teach the younger up-and-coming guardian wannabes what their job may be someday when she isn't in charge any longer. Mattie excels at sleeping, keeping one eye open for anything that needs her attention.



Speaking of wannabes...here's Cooper. He's not a Sonnybrier four-legged but spends a lot of time at the farm with his owners. Cooper, a miniature Australian Shepherd really wants to herd sheep. From what I understand, that's not going to happen any time soon!

The herding equation at Sonnybrier is made up of sheep, "the herded"...



And dogs, "the herders" --- Nip and Gus (his visiting buddy). More about them later.





The green pastures at Sonnybrier are home for two dear girlfriends, Jessie and Zette. "The Girls" have spent most of their lives together and could certainly tell some interesting stories.





Jessie has her very own herd. Some of the miniature horses have decided she's a horse to look up to!



Ahhh, serenity at Sonnybrier Farm. Next time we'll stir things up a bit and get rowdy! Stay tuned...

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