Warm Day

We had a nice, warm day today. Isaiah made sure to keep nice and busy with all kinds of adventures, indoors and out.

Isaiah’s fun started with an adventure through the wilderness with Max. He pulled out some binoculars (which he calls “goggles”) and a toy hunting knife. With a little help, he had the knife tucked into Max’s collar and raced through the house with his binoculars, looking for things he could cut down with the knife (all pretend). When he found something, he’d jump up and down, wave his hand and yell “Max! Need my knife! Max, come!” Max would trot over and sit patiently while the knife was removed from his collar, used and replaced. I’m not sure who had more fun, between Isaiah’s shrieks of joy and laughter and Max’s tail wagging so hard his whole body shook. I managed to stop the long enough to grab one photo before the game continued.

Adventure

My adventurers

Next on the list of adventures was a trip to the track for Isaiah to practice riding his bike. He’s been pretty nervous about it, not wanting to ride without someone holding onto him, even with his training wheels. After a while, I convinced him to try it on his own and he discovered that it was actually pretty fun to be in control of the bike. By then, the sun was setting and it was getting cold, so it was time to head for home.

Bike

''I doin' it!''

We stopped by to say “hi” to Babe and Trina on our way home. They were both thrilled to see us. Babe was a little miffed that I forgot to bring her any bread, but she survived and was happy to accept the hay that Isaiah scooped off the ground for her. She gave him some kisses and we headed home to get ready for bed.

Babe

Buddies

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Isaiah the Cowboy

Isaiah has started riding Babe. He says it makes him a cowboy and is quite excited about it. His therapists are thrilled that he has access to a good horse to ride because it will help both with physical strength and some of his sensory issues. It does seem to be quite calming for him.

Riding Babe

Bringing the saddle

Babe is one of the horses that my friend rescued a couple of years ago. Last summer, she was finally healthy enough to start riding, so I rode her a bit then. Now that she’s entirely healthy and strong, she’s proving to have a lot of spunk, but her previous therapy training is really showing, too. She’s amazing with little kids and very calm.

Riding Babe

So happy to be riding

When Isaiah rides, he has his own saddle, though it still doesn’t have short enough stirrups for him. He doesn’t get to use a bridle because he would tug on the reins all the time, so I just put a halter and leadrope on Babe for his rides. She happily walks along with him for as long as he wants to ride. He wears his helmet whenever he rides. The chances of him falling are very slim, but I believe it’s better to have him dressed properly and safe, just in case, than to be unprepared and pay for it.

Riding Babe

Happy kid, happy horse

Riding Babe

''I a cowboy!''

After rides, Isaiah pets Babe, offers her grass and sometimes helps with grooming. He doesn’t always get to groom her because some days, he goes home with my mom while I take a turn riding. He loves every step of the process.

Riding Babe

Riding is so fun!

Riding Babe

Leading Babe after his ride

Babe, the Model?

A guy Cali works with wanted to get a picture of himself in full regalia with a horse, so she volunteered Babe. I took some pictures of them and thought I’d share. They aren’t as good as I’d like, but the weather wasn’t great and Babe wasn’t a fan of her passenger, so she wasn’t cooperating well for posing. It’s kind of fun to have old-fashioned pictures, though.

Babe

Riding Babe

Babe

Standing with her

The Night the Horses had an Adventure

I decided to go riding for the hour that was left of daylight. Cali has been letting Babe out of the corral to eat hay out of her trailer, so she comes trotting out of the corral without a halter. We went riding, had a pretty normal ride, though I’m finding more and more that this is not a lazy horse, this is a fast horse.

I brought Babe home and ready to go back into the corral with Misty and Jade. Since Babe wasn’t wearing a halter, I didn’t have a lead rope in my hand and entirely forgot what a useful tool it was turning her out. She balked at the gate (pretty typical) and Misty pushed from inside and knocked the gate into me. Normally, I would have waved the lead rope at her and she would have shied back into the corral, followed by Babe. But not tonight. That would be too easy. And definitely not worth blogging about!

All three horses took off to Rusty’s, which is just across the street from the edge of Cali’s yard, but half a block from the entrance of the corral.

Thankfully, Rusty drove by and saw me trying to catch them. First, he asked if he should charge Cali for grazing her horses on his land. I told him Babe wouldn’t let me catch her and Cali wasn’t answering her phone. He said I’d be fine and pulled up to his house, but apparently kept watching. A few minutes later, he realized that Babe really was not going to be caught.

We managed to corner Babe and Rusty tried to wrap his arms around her neck to keep her from moving. Babe was having nothing of that. Instead of trying to go forward and drag him along, she went up. She didn’t actually rear, but she threw her head high enough to lose him.

By then, it was dark enough that we could really only see Babe, since the other two are black, Rusty he grabbed his truck to follow them with headlights. We decided to try tricking Babe into thinking we had grain because she’ll do anything for food. Rusty had some feed buckets in the back of his truck, so I scooped some rocks from the road into it and shook it, so it sounded like grain. Babe fell for it, but pulled away before I could get a rope around her neck. She fell for it two more times, the last time, getting caught. Once I got the lead rope around her neck, she wasn’t going to try to go anywhere.

I walked Babe home, yelling “come girls” over my shoulder the whole way. They followed to the driveway, but the neighbor’s dog barked and growled right under Misty’s feet, so she and Jade shot around Cali’s house and back to Rusty’s yard. They did that lap two or three times.

I’d called my mom’s phone for help, since I couldn’t get a hold of Cali, so my dad was there. He couldn’t really help much with catching the horses, but did eventually get a hold of Cali. She was at work in a town fifteen minutes away, but said she was able to leave long enough to catch her horses. I told Rusty that she was on her way, so he said he would just keep his headlights pointed at the girls to keep track of them and wait because there wasn’t much point in running them constantly until she got there.

Cali showed up, checked to make sure Babe and I were ok (she was more worried about injuries than the fact the horses were out), then walked toward Rusty calling “come girls”. Jade came trotting over and Cali told her to get her butt in the corral. She obeyed. Misty acted like a nut, refusing to go through the gate, but Cali chased her in and locked the gate.

Cali seemed to think the whole thing is pretty funny. She said it’s happened to her a lot over the years and horses will be goofy from time to time. She wasn’t sure from my dad’s call whether they’d broken the fence or gotten out through me and was glad to hear they’d just slipped through the gate and everyone was alright.

So, everyone is safe and (mostly) injury free. I got slammed with the gate, but it just knocked the wind out of me. Later, Babe stepped on my foot, but that’s nothing new to this horse person. The horses are back where they belong, ready to enjoy a restful night after a fun adventure. I’d love to hear the conversation when they get reunited with the rest of their herd, who’ve been living in a nearby pasture! I’m sure they have an even better story to tell than I do.

A lesson was also learned tonight. Well, a couple. I learned how to bring in a group of horses, thanks to Rusty’s help. And, most importantly, I learned… Drumroll, please! Never turn Babe loose after a ride without a lead rope in hand, even if I didn’t need one to get her out.

And, just for fun, a bonus video of Babe when we first got to the rodeo grounds. I always let go of her when I open the gate because she waits nicely, then walks herself through while I close it. Today, instead of stopping about ten feet into the arena, she kept walking. Apparently, she thought I was following her and looked pretty surprised when she turned around to see me waiting. I managed to get a few seconds of video of her after she’d turned toward me.

Babe’s Story

I want to tell you about the sweetest appaloosa mare you could ever meet. I’ve only known her a year and only have some of her background before that. Some, my friend, Cali, and I have managed to piece together from working with her, like her obvious skills in western pleasure.

Cali goes to horse auctions from time to time. Most visits, she just admires the horses and finds out what horses are going for at a given time. Every once in a while, though, she comes home with a very special horse. Or two… Or three…

Last September, Cali went to an auction with her daughter, not expecting to buy any horses for herself. Instead, she came away with three. One, she now hopes to sell, but the other two are an important part of this story. An appaloosa mare (with papers and fully trained) was brought out, with her new foal. The mare was supposedly a good riding horse, wonderful with children. What Cali noticed, though, was how horrible she looked! This 23 year old mare was extremely emaciated and weak. The foal at her side looked better, but not nearly as plump as most foals. Cali couldn’t stand to see horses treated so badly and purchased the pair for $130. She found out that the mare, Babe, had been donated to be used as a therapy horse with disabled and/or low-income children. She was kept in a large herd, in a pasture that was nowhere near big enough to properly sustain all the horses. Her extreme weight was explained by her age and the new foal, Romeo.

Cali brought this pair home and put them in her friend’s unoccupied pasture, where they wouldn’t have to fight stronger, healthier horses for food. She immediately contacted a vet to find out exactly how to care for them and bring them back to a healthy weight. She also contacted the local sheriff to say that she had extremely thin horses that she had just rescued, still wearing their auction tags. She didn’t want any trouble if (or, more likely, when) someone noticed the horse’s condition and called the police. Next on the agenda was to come see me. She couldn’t have new horses and not inform me so I could see them! She also wanted pictures to document their recoveries. Unfortunately, I didn’t get any decent pictures until she’d had them about a month. Those who know about rehabilitating horses know that just one month can make a huge difference!

Babe and Romeo

Babe, about a month after Cali rescued her, still wearing her auction tag on her butt

Babe and Romeo

Romeo, about a month and a half old (Romeo is half Fjord, creating his coloring)

Babe and Romeo

Babe and Romeo together in the pasture

Babe and Romeo

This shot doesn't look as bad, but, trust me, it's the light playing tricks

Babe and Romeo

A sweet picture of the pair, in spite of their condition

Over the next several months, Cali worked to get the horses healthy. Little Romeo grew and gained weight steadily, between being young and starting out in better condition than his mother. Babe took longer, but, slowly, but surely, she made progress, too. As I watched her, I wondered if she’d ever look like the pictures Cali had been given. She just looked so bad! I could see all her bones, sticking out sharply in all directions.

By this summer, Babe was looking pretty good. Cali decided to take her out and see what she could do. It was quickly determined that she was, indeed, a quality riding horse. Cali told me that I could ride her, but this summer was so insanely hot, that we didn’t want to take the horses out. So, Babe got to relax in the pasture for a bit longer. Finally, this fall, we were able to start some riding. We took Babe and Jade to the rodeo arena before going anywhere else. Babe was happy to be out riding and so beautifully behaved!

Babe and Romeo

Babe, this summer. Look at that glowing coat!

Babe and Romeo

Such sweet, gentle eyes

Babe and Romeo

Looking good. Even a little chubby, maybe

Babe and Romeo

Romeo, considering what mischief to get into next

Babe and Romeo

Romeo is growing up!

Since that ride with Cali, I’ve had Babe out riding several times, sometimes with Cali, other times just me and Babe. Isaiah has even been able to ride her (with me) a few times! If I’m going out alone, I just take her to the rodeo grounds because there are no dogs or kids coming racing in under Babe’s feet to make trouble. Since there’s nothing really to worry about there, we can both just relax and enjoy the ride. As much as she likes to just wander slowly, Babe also enjoys moving faster. When we’re at the arena, she’ll start bobbing her head and looking at me if I keep her at a walk for very long. As soon as I say “ok, let’s go”, she’s happy to pick up to a trot or canter and keep that pace for a while. The more I work with her, the more I see of her training. While, somehow, she never learned to ground tie, she does know how to square up, change gaits by the slightest touch or even a verbal cue (“trot”), speed up if I lean forward, slow down if I lean back and lead without a rope. I learned about the no-ground tying and perfect leading at the same time. I tried to take a step away from her to take a picture and she dutifully followed by my shoulder! I put the reins over her neck so she couldn’t step on them and started walking. She followed me all around the arena without me saying a word or touching her! She also leads nicely with a hand on her neck. Riding Babe with Isaiah has shown her experience with children. If he starts to lean to the side, she slows down and waits until he’s properly positioned again. She’s so gentle with him on the ground, too. She doesn’t get impatient with his somewhat sloppy brushing or spook when he moves to fast or talks to loudly.

Babe and Romeo

Only the best horse can be trusted with my sweet boy!

Babe and Romeo

She's my best friend

Babe and Romeo

''Me a cowboy!''

Babe and Romeo

Making sure to teach Isaiah from the start how important it is to care for your horse (even if she isn't really yours!)

Babe

At the rodeo grounds yesterday (sorry about the quality, it's a phone shot)

It’s amazing to see how much Babe has changed in just a year, with a caring owner. She’s such a loyal, wonderful horse that I just can’t imagine hurting her! I will never understand how she got to the point that she did, but I’m so grateful that Cali happened to be at the auction that day and was able to buy her. Now she has a safe and loving forever home. She’ll be ridden until she’s too old, then spoiled rotten in the pasture to the day she dies. Life will always be good.

Riding Babe

I spent my weekend enjoying my four-legged friends. Cali asked me if I wanted to go riding and I jumped at the chance. We took Babe and Jade to the rodeo arena last night, just for some practice before any serious riding. Jade hasn’t been ridden in years and was barely started in her training when she was being ridden. Cali spent our time at the rodeo arena doing ground work and helping Jade remember how everything works. Jade did great and obeyed directions without much protest. The only time she acted up at all was when she was asked to canter on the lunge line. She kicked up her heels a bit, but still didn’t truly buck or cause real trouble. By the end of our evening, Cali was able to get on her for a short ride.

Riding Babe

The beautiful Babe

While Jade was relearning the basics, Babe and I had fun riding around the arena and just relaxing. At first, Babe thought the announcers stand was going to bite her. It took some talking and slow approaches to get her to walk by it. By the end of our ride, she was perfectly happy to canter right by it, without slowing down or acting nervous.

Riding Babe

All tacked up and ready to go

Today, Cali and I headed off to check out a fun riding competition that a friend’s horses were in for a while before our ride. There were a lot of kids and teens riding and the events were mostly silly. They looked like they’d be tons of fun to ride! Next time there’s one in the area, Babe and I may go and try it out. We won’t win, but it would be fun. There were some really pretty horses riding out there, so it was even more fun to watch.

When we got back from watching part of the competition, we got Jade and Babe ready for a ride. Cali decided she wanted to use a different bridle than she’d used last night because it seemed stiff and a little fragile. She sure didn’t want to be on an untrained horse with no bridle! We’d promised Isaiah that we’d bring Babe by the house so he could ride her, so Cali just led Jade to my house and worked on changing the bit while Isaiah rode.

Riding Babe

Isaiah sitting on Babe for the first time

Isaiah was ready and waiting for us when we got to my house. He saw the horses coming and started to cheer and jump up and down. By the time we actually got to the house, he was more calm, but wanted up right now! My mom held him up so he could reach to pet Babe, then passed him to me. He was so excited to finally get to ride a horse! He grabbed the ends of the reins and announced he was in control, as he waved the ends around. At one point, he told me, “Mama, me a cowboy!” When it was time for him to get off, Isaiah was so sad! He started to cry. After being promised he could ride again sometime, he decided it was ok for Babe to leave. For now.

Riding Babe

''Me a cowboy!''

Cali and I took Babe and Jade outside of town for a nice long ride. Cali walked Jade for the first while, giving her a chance to decide that being out wasn’t going to kill her. Once she was calm, Cali mounted and we were off. We wandered along country roads for a while, with Jade slowly getting the hang of what she was doing. At first, she jumped and acted nervous about everything. By the end, she’d decided that the world was not, in fact, out to get her and that going riding could be pretty fun. When she got nervous, she’d just get really close to Babe for reassurance. My foot got a little squished a couple times, but we all got through the ride in one piece. And no one fell off. So, it was a success!

Riding Babe

Setting out

Riding Babe

Beautiful landscape

Riding Babe

Happy Babe

2011 in Review

It’s been a very busy year. The excitement just never seems to end with a toddler in the house! Isaiah is always learning something new or discovering something wonderful. Being around him is like discovering things all over again because I get to see them through his eyes.

Since so very much has happened, I can’t possibly cover it all. If you really want to know all the details, most of them are stored away in previous posts. Today, though, I just wanted to give some highlights and share some of my favorite pictures.

January

Our New Year’s was fairly uneventful. Isaiah and I were both awake for it. This was Isaiah’s first New Year. He didn’t find anything to be all that special about it. He was only up because it was time to nurse!
This month was Isaiah’s first birthday, too. He had a horse themed birthday party with friends from church and the 4-H club I help with. He spent part of the party trying to get his little hands on the decorations because they looked so fun. He had a wonderful time at his party and made the expected mess of his cake.
Right before Christmas, my uncle got very sick and was in the hospital for several weeks. There were times that the doctors were sure he wouldn’t make it, but, after many, many prayers, he started slowly recovering. During the time he was in the hospital, two of his kids came to stay with us so their mom could be with him more.

Playing party games

February

This month brought Isaiah’s first haircut. He really needed it! He sat on my lap and grinned at the girl as she cut his hair.
Baths became a common occurrence, as they were sure to bring a smile. One brought extra giggles because Thomas accidentally jumped into a tub full of water. Oops! He was one soggy kitty.

Isaiah and his kitty

March

Happy birthday to me! I turned twenty one this month. Not that it’s all that exciting, since I don’t drink.
I got some really cute pictures of me and Isaiah together one day when we had the house to ourselves. He loves to goof around for the camera if I can just catch him in a pleasant mood (preferably, right after a nap or nursing).
Sometime in March, spring decided to make its first appearance, so we started spending more time outside.

Ok, maybe I took too many pictures...

April

My parents’ anniversary is in April. My dad had to be out of town for it, though. He wasn’t very happy about that and we celebrated early.
One of my friends had a baby the day before my birthday (why couldn’t she have waited one more day?) and had a baby shower this month. Isaiah and I got to go and I had so much fun cuddling her baby. Isaiah liked her cousins and spent the day following them around.

Isaiah with baby Penny

May

Isaiah and I were loving the spring weather and spent most of May out and about. The park is within walking distance, as well as other fun places to play or take pictures. I bought a mei tai for our walks that promptly fell apart, much to Isaiah’s dismay. He kept begging to ride in it, so I found a pattern online and made my own. I now have two that I’ve made and we absolutely love using them.

Our Eventful Walk, May 24, 2011

Such a cutie!

June

By June, Isaiah and I had settled into a pattern of going out after lunch most days. It was a good way to get Isaiah worn out for his nap and the fresh air was good for both of us. Some days, going out wasn’t an option, due to weather. We found plenty of ways to entertain ourselves inside, too, though. Isaiah loves crafts!
And, of course, we can’t forget DJ’s birthday! He had a fun day.

Rainy Day, June 21, 2011

Bubbles with Gram

July

The 4th of July was tons of fun. I love the parades and fireworks. I took Isaiah to a neighboring town to see their parade, as it’s always worth the drive. He thought it was pretty amazing! He learned a new word that day–“truck!!” Everything on wheels was suddenly a truck. He wasn’t as into the fireworks. He liked the daytime stuff, like parachutes and snakes.
We went to a hand game, too. I’d never been to one before, so it was a fun, new experience. Isaiah thought the fry bread was the best part.
The biggest highlight of my month, though, was getting to go trail riding. I had a great time enjoying my friend, the horses and being out in the middle of nowhere for a few hours.

Riding Barney, July 3, 2011

Me riding Barney

August

Go Fish came to a sort of nearby city this month. Isaiah has been listening to their music for quite a while, so we decided to load up and go. It was a free concert, so I figured if he was overwhelmed and had to leave, it wasn’t any real loss. In the end, he loved it! He even recognized the guys from the countless YouTube videos and grinned at them in the autograph line.
This was fair month, too, so my mom and I took Isaiah to check it out. He really loved all the animals, although he found some of them a bit intimidating.
This month wasn’t all fun. We all had to say goodbye to Barney at the beginning of the month. He got sick suddenly and, in spite of lots of care and visits from the vet, couldn’t be helped. He’ll certainly be missed.

Getting to see Go Fish up close

September

September brings fall with it, which means lots of geese. We made several trips to hang out at a nearby lake so Isaiah could see them. He found it all so fascinating. He would have happily gone out in the water, following geese.
Isaiah is a very creative child. He loves all forms of art. When he found a pen with my school stuff, he had no trouble figuring out what to do with it–he made his legs pretty!

Ink, September 17, 2011

Pretty legs

October

Since Isaiah had already discovered he could draw on himself, my dad added a new twist. He brought out a black light and we used highlighters to draw on our hands and arms. Isaiah was amazed at how it worked. My yellow highlighters are so faint that we couldn’t even see the marks until they were under the black light.
I took a language development class this semester. One of my assignments was to write a children’s book. I have very little drawing skill, so I decided my best bet for a nice book was to pose Isaiah and take his picture. It turned out really well and I even ordered a print copy of it to give him for Christmas.

Dressed Up, September 25, 2011

All dressed up

November

Luke came to stay with us for a few days at the beginning of the month. I’m not sure who was more excited about that; Isaiah or Luke! They were thrilled to spend as much of the day as they could playing together. Isaiah even learned a couple of letters and colors because it was so much more fun learning it from Luke. While he was here, the house next to ours was torn down. It’s been condemned for years, but hadn’t had anything done with it. The timing was perfect. Luke loved watching the big equipment working on the job. Of course, Isaiah was in heaven, too! They spent most of the day watching, then Luke wrote about it as part of his homework (this is why homeschooling rocks).
Our month was filled with fun and adventures, but I won’t even try to list them all here. Thanksgiving was relaxed for us. We didn’t do much as far as a traditional celebration because DJ had to work. We had our dinner a few days early, then just hung out on Thanksgiving day. My dad came out with me and Isaiah for a while and took some great pictures of us, since the weather was so nice and he had the day off.

Fun, October 27, 2011

Just being cute

December

Christmas is one of my favorite times of year and the preparation and fun started by the end of November. Isaiah loved helping with the decorating, especially putting ornaments on the tree. We started a new tradition, too. Two elves came to stay at our house for a couple of weeks. They had tons of fun while they were here and Isaiah couldn’t wait to find them each morning!
Isaiah was old enough to be extremely excited about Christmas morning. He lit up when he saw his new kitchen. It took a while to convince him there were other gifts to open! Then, the next day, all our extended family came for a visit. In all, it was a great holiday!

Day 4

Playing with his elves

Looking back, this has been a fun year. There have been some ups and downs, but that’s how life is. There are a lot of things that I hope to never forget. At this rate, next year can only be even better, right? Happy New Year!

I Hate Saying Goodbye

Beautiful Barney died today. It all happened so fast! One day he was healthy and playful, the next he was super sick. The vet diagnosed an immune disease (that I can’t remember the name of) and treated him for it, but said he was afraid he’d also developed cancer. The treatment helped for a few days and Barney was completely back to his old, playful self, but then they stopped helping at all. The vet came out today to put him down so he wouldn’t have to suffer anymore.

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Barney loved to play games. Here, he had come to me, run away again and stopped to peek at me over his shoulder. He thought he was so funny!

I spent an hour or so every day out with Barney after finding out that he was sick. Before that, there were days I missed because I got busy, but I didn’t want to lose any moments with him. Once he started the medication, he was about the same as before he got sick, so we were able to play and cuddle. Yesterday, though, it was like he knew he was going to die. He kept coming up to me and putting his head against my chest for cuddles. He nickered at me a couple of times and gave me several horse hugs (he would put his head behind my shoulder and pull me in with his neck).

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Pretty boy

Barney will definitely be missed around here. He was Isaiah’s favorite horse. Before he got sick, we’d been talking about how he’d be able to teach Isaiah to ride in the next year or so because he loved Isaiah, too. He was so gentle with Isaiah and seemed to understand when Isaiah was intimidated by his size. He’d drop his head to the ground, like he thought it would make him seem smaller. It seemed to work because Isaiah worked up the guts to pet him after that!

Suicide Prevention

Isaiah and Barney

I spent a lot of time in the pasture with Barney. The other horses picked on him a lot, so he usually grazed in a different part of the pasture. That made it easy to spend time with him without interruptions. Barney was such a friendly horse. He seemed more like a cross between a puppy and a human than a horse sometimes! He would have happily followed Connie right into the house if she’d let him. He was absolutely spoiled and loved to follow people around in the yard.

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He had such big, soft eyes.

I only got to ride Barney once before he got sick. I’ve never ridden a better horse! He paid attention to what I asked him to do and was so comfortable to ride. He was pretty picky about who got to ride him. If someone rode him that he didn’t like, he’d get into an awful mood for days and let Connie know how mad he was that she let someone else ride him. I’m so glad he liked me enough to let me ride him. We’ve been buddies since the day we met, so I’m not too surprised that he was happy to let me ride.

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My one ride with Barney

Before Connie got Barney, he was an international English style show horse. He’d been shown so much with no time to just relax and be a horse that he’d reached a point where he hated being in an arena at all. Since he obviously didn’t want to be a show horse anymore, Connie made it her goal to make sure he got as many chances to “just be a horse” as possible. She introduced him to the concept of trail riding and eventually managed to teach him that there was no such thing as perfection on the trails, so he might as well relax. He reached a point where he absolutely loved going out on trails because he was free to look around and enjoy his surroundings and his rider, instead of worrying about how he was performing. She taught him to do some basic team penning and took him to some relaxed “play days” events where he got to ride some fun Western style events. He really loved team penning once he figured out what he was supposed to do. Once it clicked, he was so proud of himself and just didn’t want to stop!

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Ears perked forward, excited to be out on a trail

August 4, 2011

Me with Barney

In between various fun riding events, Barney was a spoiled pet. He spent more time “mowing” Connie’s yard than he did in the pasture with the other horses. Any time she was outside, he was always close by, watching. He’d follow her around, looking for any chance to get a scratch or pet. When he heard her coming out of the house or pulling into the drive, he’d come running to see her and whinny.

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Looking for Connie

As hard as it is to lose Barney just a couple years after meeting him, I’m so very glad that he ended up with Connie. In the time she had him, he was the happiest horse that ever lived. I watched him go from a stressed, over-shown horse to one that just loved living life. He was from good bloodlines and absolutely gorgeous and knew that full well. He was so very proud. Now, thanks to his years with Connie, he was also very, very happy. She and I both loved him so very much. I already miss his hugs, silly antics and cheerful greeting.

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''Hi! I'm so happy to see you!''

The County Fair

My mom and I took Isaiah to the county fair today. We decided that it would be best to avoid the weekend, when things would be more crazy, since Isaiah gets overwhelmed easily. When we first got there, he was a little uncertain and went back and forth between me and my mom, holding on tight.

County Fair

Feeling a little nervous at first

We headed out to look at animals and Isaiah started to relax. First, we came to someone getting a sheep ready to show. When she saw Isaiah watching, she brought the sheep over for him to look at. She told him he could pet it, but he wasn’t quite sure he wanted to do that! He admired it from my arms for a while, though.

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A sheep (I think it's the first he's ever seen)

Next, we went through the cow barn. People were grooming their calves for the show and the cows were all left in their stalls alone and very unhappy. They kept calling for their babies! The noise was a little overwhelming, even for me. Isaiah really liked the few calves that were still there, though. There was one calf having a snack. I told Isaiah it was having milk just like he does and he looked at me like I was crazy. When it stopped nursing and looked over at us, its face was covered in milk!

County Fair

Isaiah liked the calves because they were closer to his size

We went over to the exhibit hall to look at the 4-H stuff. Isaiah wasn’t very interested in looking at projects, since he wasn’t allowed to touch any of them. I saw a few things that he might like to do as crafts in a year or two and enjoyed looking at the kids’ photography entries. Isaiah discovered the golf carts (for workers to get around the fairgrounds) at the back of the building and decided they were much more interesting. He spent quite a while admiring them and really wanted to climb up onto them.

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Found a good place to sit and rest for a minute before his next adventure...

When we looked at the vendors’ tables, Isaiah was excited to discover that one group was handing out temporary tattoos. He signed “please” to the lady who had them and selected a tractor. When I told him to say “thank you”, he signed “love you” instead. I brought Isaiah to the bathroom to change his diaper and put the tattoo on his arm. He was extremely curious about the entire process. After I pulled the paper off his arm, he started trying to pick up the picture on his arm. He couldn’t figure out why it wouldn’t move! Pretty soon, he decided it was cool and went racing out to show it to his Gram.

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''What happened to my arm??''

After a quick break to get some lunch, we went to the petting zoo. I always loved spending time at the petting zoo when I was spending hours at the fair for 4-H. Since it’s free, it’s a great way to spend some time! Isaiah was pretty interested in all the animals. It took a little while before he decided it was safe to touch them, though. He wandered through the petting zoo with his arms wrapped around my leg. He did eventually decide that it would be fun to try touching animals, though. He liked petting the donkey and letting a goat lick his fingers. He was afraid of the pig, but wanted me to touch it, so I did. He thought that was funny.

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I petted the pig... By Isaiah's request. (I'm not a fan of pigs or chickens... Especially chickens.)

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Isaiah believes this is the best position for observing new things

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''I touched it!''

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The donkey was so friendly! He's new to the petting zoo, but he doesn't act it. He loves people!

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''What's that goat doing?''

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Being licked by the goat. It was convinced that we had something to feed it!

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Admiring the chickens with one of his many new friends

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Pony!

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Isaiah knew exactly what to do with this!

Before we headed for home, we went back to the exhibit hall to see if our friend, Caden. Isaiah had never met her before, so we didn’t want to leave without seeing her. She was just getting to the fair when we got over there. Isaiah liked her immediately! I guess that says something for what a cool person she is. He showed her the pond outside the exhibit hall that he found so fascinating and they talked about the fish in it for a while. Then, we let Isaiah play while we talked for a while. It was so great to get to see her!

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Another new friend

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Isaiah telling Caden all about the wonders of the fair

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At least three planes flew over while we were talking to Caden, so low that we had to stop talking until they passed. My dad says it's the kind used for refueling other planes. Cool!

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Another friend. Have I mentioned just how social Isaiah is?

All too soon, it was time to pick DJ up from work and head for home. Isaiah would have happily stayed at the fair all day. I remember plenty of times doing just that when I was in 4-H. Soon enough, Isaiah will be a clover kid and can do some of the activities at the fair. I’m glad he enjoyed his first trip so much!

The Rodeo Parade

Every year, on the Sunday of the rodeo, there’s a parade. Since it’s a small town, the parade isn’t especially large, but it’s still fun to go to. I left early to take pictures of the 4-H club setting up their float and find a shady spot to watch from. Soon, I was joined by my parents and Isaiah.

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The 4-H float

Isaiah was excited to be watching the parade. As soon as he saw the first float, he started bouncing and pointing. He was especially thrilled when some of the people started throwing candy. It didn’t take long for him to figure out how to run out and collect some. The first time he did it, he was confronted with a small dilema, though–what to do once he had a piece in each hand. He figured out pretty quickly that he could hand it off and grab more.

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''Look! There's something coming!''

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Picking up candy

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Showing off his candy

Isaiah’s favorite parts of the parade were the trucks and horses. Each time a truck came, he’d yell “tuck!” and point to it. He could hardly contain his excitement when a semi came through. It was huge! Isaiah was in heaven.

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A cool old truck

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Watching with Mama

All too soon, the parade was over and it was time to head for home. Isaiah kept trying to run back out and show us that there was more candy in the road. Sorry, bud, that candy’s been driven over. Yuck! On our way home, we ran into some of the horses from the parade heading back to their trailer. Isaiah loved getting to see them again.

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Watching the horses the second time around