Looking back at last year’s blog entries, I see that I have slacked off quite a bit on writing here. Tonight, recovering from a sore throat that ended with laryngitis, I’ve got a bit of unencumbered time. Normally, I’d be in adult ballet class, sweating away, but my voice is still gone, my throat still a bit sore, and I decided to stay home.
The leaves have passed the peak gold—I think the best day was Sunday, when Alayne Blickle of Horses for Clean Water was here for a workshop organized by my horse club, University Equestrian Network, with the help of Interior Horse Council, Interior Horsemen’s Association, the UAF Office of Sustainability, the UAF Alumni Association, and Camp LiWa, where the workshop was held. I’m adding their links so all seven of my readers can check them out. It was a gratifying collaboration. Alayne had lots to offer us: ideas for dealing with run-off, ideas for incorporating native plants into a horse property, solutions to manure and mud issues, barn and facility design. She had the impressive ability to listen to our complaints and excuses about our situations without sounding critical—there are limits to what we can do depending on budget, time, availability of help, but I think we all came away seeing that our horses can be a part of a larger network of growing things. Here at Mattie’s Pillow, I sometimes look at Mattie and Sam as manure producers—a valuable commodity among my gardening friends. I can’t always keep enough manure here for my greenhouse and raised beds—especially once spring rolls around.
I took Alayne to see several horse properties while she was here and the blue sky and gold leaves set off the day and the good conversation. I look forward to following up on the ideas she inspired.
The summer’s riding is pretty much over, though the days are nice enough for trail rides—if only I weren’t sick or so busy at the beginning of the semester. I’m looking forward to groundwork again this winter, polishing up those areas that have gotten rusty in the rush of summer’s saddle up and go pace. Sam is looking better now than he did a few weeks ago, now that I’m adding Vitamin E to his diet. I’ll still have him tested for Cushings—and I’m reading up on all that will involve for him and for me. It would be nice if his shaggy patchy coat this year could be attributed to a vitamin deficiency, but it hardly seems likely with the fancy supplement he gets (Platinum) and the fact that he’s done so well on it till now. We’ll see. An older horse has special nutritional needs, and at the last tooth floating, it seemed like he might not ever be rid of his wave—he’s getting short in the tooth, which is what horses get after getting long in the tooth, since they have a finite length of tooth that grows out and grinds down over a lifetime.
So, I’m shifting the way I think of Sam. He will probably not ever go back to his youthful glory, but he needs to have a job or purpose for these later years. He’s too much of a scaredy cat for much trail riding, and he continues to be the trickster in all things. I may try teaching him actual tricks, now that I have a better understanding of what that takes. Perhaps learning more about clicker training this winter will help.
As for Mattie, she had a good summer’s training at the Intro A, B, C level. She’s 15 now, and gradually developing a twist in her stifle at the walk that may be a problem down the road. She’s mellowed out lots, though still has her ears-back style. Ground work is in order for her, too, this winter. I’ll try to take her out on the road a few times before the dust settles and we are in full winter. It all goes by so fast.
The moon is half full, now, fuzzy behind some low clouds. A neighbor’s dog has adopted us—she was up on the deck with Jeter when I came home this afternoon, her creamy Lab head peeking below the deck benches beside his curly chocolate head. She’s young and goofy—I put out a sign on the road and called the shelter to leave my number. I expect someone is looking for her, but we walked her around the neighborhood, and she doesn’t seem to have a clue where she belongs. The leaves are spinning down from the trees—there’s gold above and gold below. It’s a dizzy time, full of smells and motion, brilliant light and deepening darkness. We’re teetering on the edge of the season.