Reverie

Ugh, I skipped doing errands at lunch to write my blog post. My plan was that when nighttime came I would only have to do a little editing on it before spending the majority of my pre-bed writing time working on my book….

And the computer ate it. It didn’t save.

So, I guess, I’ll try writing this blog post again.

I’m gonna do it with a grumpy mood though. So THERE.

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Second Update:

Literally three times I have been finished with this post, and then I try to add one last picture from my phone onto the WordPress app, and it adds it…. but then when I open it up on my computer (because I can type faster than on my phone), I find it has added the new picture as well as reverted to an older version of my blog post.

I’ve literally typed this dumb blog post four times. At this point the words don’t even seem like real words. Computers hate me today. I’m going to hit publish the second I’ve finished and stomp off to bed.

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I have enough names to fill a whole barn of Morgan Horses.

I can’t believe how good some of you are at names – every time I thought I was done adding names to my shortlist, in would come another one. The response to the poll was amazing – a million thank you’s.

There were quite a few names that I loved that didn’t quite fit her. I loved the idea of naming her Chimera, because of its definition, and because of her two different colored eyes. I also liked Gargoyle (sorry, Aarene, I thought that was an awesome name) and Kelpie, and a bunch of the suggested names. I find I’m especially drawn to mythological names, and there are so many good ones out there.

There was only one problem:

Look at that. That’s a sweet, sweet face.

That’s a friendly face.

That’s the kind of face that likes you to go in the barn at night and hang out while you read a book so she can wuffle your sleeve.

All the names I really liked were just not her – they were too hard sounding, and she is not a hard horse.

I thought maybe it was because was so young, but Scandia Morgan Horse Farm had a second foal last Saturday – another chestnut colt. I guess it was just the year of the red foal for them?

Anyways, he’s an absolute beauty, and his mother is also drop dead gorgeous, but that’s to be expected at this barn. I went to go see him, and was amazed at how different their personalities already were. He wasn’t bad by any stretch of the imagination – he was just into everything with a friendly curiosity, and already had a devilish little sense of humor.

You could actually see him trying to decide. It was like watching the world’s tallest redheaded toddler. “Should I be good?……I should. I really shouldn’t nibble on her sleeve. She told me no. I shouldn’t……… yeah, no, I’m gonna try it. I just need to see what’ll happen.”

It made me doubly glad this little girl came out a filly. I always thought that colts didn’t start acting like colts until they were a little older, but apparently they’re colts right from the very start.

So, yeah. This little girl is flashy, but she’s also just really sweet, and for all that I kept trying to hang flashy names on her, they just weren’t fitting.

It’s a little disconcerting when a 5 day old horse is better at taking selfies than you are.

I thought about it for a while, about telling which were the other names that I almost picked for her, but I decided against it. There’s a reason for that. After I told the Squid what I was going to name the filly, he looked horrified. “No. No, that’s not right. That’s not a good name. We need to find another one.”

When I finally told him he didn’t have a choice, he looked disgusted, with all the deep-seated, honest judginess a 7-year-old can muster.

So far DragonMonkey seems to love horses the most out of all my kids.

I realized that if I started listing my second place, and third place, and fourth place names, then people might start commenting how I should have named her such-and-such instead, and I’m just still too sensitive to shrug it off.

I know, laugh all you want, but let’s see you get your dream after 30 years of daydreaming about it, and see if you aren’t overly protective those first few weeks.

She’d just spooked at the sound of the hose water hitting the bucket by her head – but even though she looks nervous, I feel like I can really see what she’s going to look like as an adult in this picture.

It’s really, really hard to take a selfie with her, because she’s already getting so friendly. Also, I’m beginning to realize the world is firmly divided into two camps: those that love blue eyes, and those that find them creepy.

Anyways, as you can tell from the title, I’m going to call her Reverie. Scandias Marvelous Reverie.

rev·er·ie
ˈrev(ə)rē/
noun
    1. a state of being pleasantly lost in one’s thoughts; a daydream.
      “a knock on the door broke her reverie”
      synonyms: daydream, daydreaming, trance, musing;
      • MUSIC
        an instrumental piece suggesting a dreamy or musing state.
  1. archaic: a fanciful or impractical idea or theory.

And now I own one.

I know it seems like I’m obsessing a little bit, and I am. It’s just… I’m planning on owning Reverie until I’m in my mid to late 60s.

That’s a long time… and I’ve been waiting for a horse like this for decades. She’s not even a week old yet – the world can let me be infatuated for a little while longer. She’s only going to be this little and fresh once.

Day 346: The List

Baby horse needs to get here soon.

I mean, there’s a lot of reasons why Baby Horse needs to get here soon, but the reason I’m referring to is so I can know the gender and knock half the names off The List.

Yes, it has capitals now.  It’s not a list.  It’s The List.  By the time I’m finished honing it down and obsessing over it, and choosing one single name from it, it might even be THE LIST.

About a month or two after Sparkles was confirmed pregnant, I began collecting names. I mean, this is a horse who could be around for 30+ years.  I need to find a name I love.  And so, I began a collection.  If I heard a name I liked, I put it on The List.

If I read a name in a book and I liked the way the name sounded, I put it on The List.

If I remembered a character I adored, or a story that meant a lot to me, or a phrase that I thought encapsulated what this too-nice-for-boring-ol-me foal meant to me…it went on The List. I know there are some people out there who can look at an animal and just get a feel for what that animal’s name is…. But that’s not me.  I’ve never been blessed by that ability.  Hence: The List.

Eventually The List was 70 plus names long, and I began weeding.  Of course, the problem was that for every name I took off, I found another I liked just as much and added it on. Lately, with the foal due ANY DAY NOW, I’ve started to get serious.  I mean, out of 70+ names, there ought to be a few that I didn’t like as much, or that wouldn’t work as a horse’s name, even if it was perfect.

For example: Farandolae.

If I ever got a tattoo, it would be of a farandolae. (Well, either that or Calvin and Hobbes – you know, the scene where the two of them are lounging that tree?  That’s a close second, if I were to ever get a tattoo.)  Anyways, back on track.  What’s a farandolae, you ask?

A farandolae is a made-up scientific term from A Wind in the Door, the third book in Madeleine L’Engle’s Wrinkle in Time series. In the book Charles Wallace is becoming sick, and nobody can figure out why.  Eventually it becomes apparent that a great evil is convincing the farandolae in his mitochondria to not “deepen”. When they are young, farandolae are allowed to float around, moving here and there with nothing tying them down.  It’s natural for them, but as they mature they are supposed to grow roots and attach themselves to one spot in the cell in order to do their work and keep the cell healthy.

But they don’t want to.

They listen to the voice of darkness which encourages them to avoid being tied down.  “Fool.  Once you deepen and put down roots you won’t be able to romp around as you do now… you’ll be stuck in one  place forever… and you won’t be able to move ever again.”

In the climactic scene where good argues against evil, one of the older, rooted Farandolae says in return, “Now that I am rooted I am no longer limited by motion.  Now I may move anywhere in the universe.  I sing with the stars.  I dance with the galaxies.  I share in the joy and in the grief.  We must have our part in the rhythm of our world, or we cannot be.  If we cannot be, then we are not.”

I think this means a lot to me because I never really wanted to “grow up”.  When I saw people with their full-time jobs, and their passel o’ kids, and their mortgages and their sensible lives, I shied away.  Even as it was in the process of happening to me, I shied away. And no, I’m not saying that route is for everyone… but for me it was something life needed me to do, and I never wanted to.  I could see it looming ahead, and I fought it, because I thought to throw down those roots was to lose my freedom, and to lose the beauty of my carefree life.

As I grow older, I realize how wrong I was, and how right that older, rooted Farandolae was.  I am no longer limited by motion – now I can move anywhere, and be anything.

The concept is such a huge life lesson I’ve had to learn, and so beautiful to me…

…And just awkward as heck to say and harder to spell, and dude, do I really want to explain something so personal every time I introduce my horse?

And therein lies my dilemma – trying to balance my need for a name with meaning vs a name that’s actually spellable and that I want to say out loud on a day-to-day basis.

Garibaldi? Roheryn? They’re cool… But again, I’d have to repeat myself over and over when introducing the horse.

Paladin?  It’s PERFECT….. oh, wait.  Stupid Mugwump stole it first for her dog.

Pickles?  Story?  I LOVE THEM BOTH, and they’re on my list for personal reasons…. but they also belonged to a friend’s animals, and it seems almost disrespectful to keep them on the list.

Bramble? Pretorian? I like the way they feel when they roll off my tongue, but they don’t make me that excited, so I should probably strike them from The List.

Wanderlust? It’s perfect in meaning (rather than travelling the world with a backpack I am travelling Oregon with my amazing Morgan!), but horrible in reality.  How do you even say it out loud?  What was I thinking? Wander isn’t bad, but…. but Lust?  Lusty? “Hey, Bean, dinner’s just done and there’s a few minutes before bed… can you watch the kids for a while?  I want to go to the barn and groom my Lust for a while… she’s a dirty, hairy Lust.”

Yeah, that’s a definite scratch.

Precept? I think the only reason his made the  list was because I was listening to Jim Butcher’s Codex Alera series on audiobook and I liked the way the narrator said that word.

StayGold? I really wish I could make Robert Frost’s poem into a name, because it’s been a staple in my life since I first read it when I was 12 (Nature’s first green is gold, her hardest hue to hold….) …but it’s awkward, and again, a lot of responsibility to put on a young horse’s shoulders.

Name by name, oh-so-slowly I’ve been weaning down that giant list,  and I finally have it down to just over fifty.

Fifty.

Fifty potential names…..for just one little horse.

I have had WAY too long to overthink this.

Promises (to Keep)
Miles to Go
Chantilly
Sonora Webster
Madmartigan
Elora Danan
Remington
Sangria
Haven
Amity
Epona
Thistle
Keeper
Icarus
Epiphany
Daydream
Paladin
California
Paksennarrion (Paks)
Cloud
Alleluia
Gilead
Zion
Banner
Zuriel
Hobbes
Kelpie
Scorpio
Gulliver
Pilgrim
Voyager
Bard
Peregrine
Pippin
Rohan
Gondor
Hodor
Troubadour
Siren
Trouble
Ronja
Ronin
Epiphany
Warrior
Centurion
Saffron
Apoya
Mariachi
Alegria
Elegir
Wander
Haven
Frontier
Pilgrim

And then, of course, right when I was patting myself on the back for making it even shorter, Aarene had to go and add another one to the list: Fairy Bramble. Bramble I’d already struck from the list, but Aarene pointed out that if Sparkle manages to hold on to her baby until she arrives this weekend, Fairy would be a perfect name, and Fairy Bramble an even better one.  Aarene will be crashing at our place, since she’s the official storyteller at our city’s Fairy Festival…. hence Fairy Bramble for a name.

So, I guess, it looks like I’m still adding to That Danged List.

(I couldn’t find any applicable pictures for this post, and it seems boring without any pictures, so here.  Here’s a couple of gratuitous pics of the boys riding Carrots.)

DragonMonkey on Carrots

Squid on Carrots

 

 

Choosing the Morgan Foal

Sparkle is still pregnant, so I am doing the waiting thing.

 

Sparkle

I hate the waiting thing.

The reason I dislike waiting isn’t so much that I’m impatient.  It’s more that waiting gives me time to think, and when I start thinking about things, I start talking myself out of them.

It’s not so much that I’m having second thoughts about the Morgan baby, it’s just more that I’m having a bunch of thoughts about everything that could possibly go wrong.

It doesn’t help that everyone – and I do mean everyone has a story about how buying an in-utero baby has gone wrong for them. At this point, I’m beginning to wonder if it’s a standard social response that I am just learning about.

Person 1: “Hello, how are you?”
Standard Social Response: “I am fine.  How are you?”

Person 1: “Ah-CHOO!”
Standard Social Response: “Bless you!”

Person 1:  “I bought an in-utero foal.”
Standard Social Response:  “My friend bought an in-utero foal.  They were breeding for color and got solid – an ugly, mean-tempered, solid colored horse.”

or:

“My friend bought an in-utero foal.  They were trying for a trail horse and it never matured over 12 hands.”

or:

“I bought an in-utero foal.  We were breeding for calm disposition and good conformation.  The foal came out spooky with crooked legs.  And fangs.  Also, it wasn’t a foal at all – it was a bicycle, with rabies, and it ate children instead of hay.”

I think if I hadn’t boarded at Scandia Morgan Horse barn for a couple of months, I might be more worried.  One of the things that made this easier though was spending time with all the horses.  There’s not one in the herd I wouldn’t be delighted to own –  not one with a crabby attitude, or ugly conformation.

Do you know what was hardest part of this whole thing?

Choosing.

The choosing was really, really, really hard.  It was actually just the choice part that was hard – the planning part was amazingly fun. Then again, I hate choosing pretty much anything.  Whenever I make an absolutely choice it always feels less like I’m getting something than it does the death of possibilities.

I gotta tell you, that kind of outlook on life drives my Type A accountant husband nuts.

Anyways, the daydreaming and planning was pretty much the most fun I’ve ever had on any project, ever. It was kind of like playing real life Pinterest, only instead of photos of kitchen command centers or nursery decorations, I was playing with horses.  I had little design boards with different mare/stallion matches, and what their previous foals looked like, etc, etc.

Kathleen was there to help me and answer questions, and ultimately I relied on her experience more than my own planning.  I mean, their barn was inducted into the Morgan Horse Breeder’s Hall of Fame back in 2011, so it would have been dumb of me to ignore all her experience.

She’s a woman of fewer words, given to understatement rather than overstatement.  It took me a bit to figure out the code.  “That cross might not be for you” was code for “That’s the kind of cross which would do explosively in a show setting at Grand Nationals and sweep away all the competition but would be waaaay too fiery to be much fun as a backyard horse.”

“That foal might be too refined” was code for “Dude, it’s gonna be pretty as heck, but built like a twig compared to what you want.”

After a lot of hemming and hawing, I finally had it narrowed down.  I was going to pick one of Kathleen’s mares and breed to Marvelous Intrigue.

If that picture looks familiar, it’s because I’ve posted his picture on this blog once.  Or twice.  Or maybe five times.

I just really like that stallion, and I’ve liked every one of his babies that I’ve seen.

Once I had the stallion figured out, all I had left was to choose the mare. Ultimately I narrowed it down to two mares – a mother or her daughter.

….Aaaand that’s where the process stalled for a while.   just couldn’t make up my mind which mare I liked more.

Scandias Heartsong

Scandias Sonata

They were actually mother/daughter (Sonata is Heartsong’s daughter).  Choosing between them was incredibly difficult.  Heartsong was a little bit bigger, and had a reputation for being calmer on trail.

Plus, she’d alread been bred to Intrigue, and if you’ve known me for any length of time, I had the biggest crush on the resulting colt, Anthem:

I mean, look at him. Isn’t he perfection?  He ended up huge for a Morgan – 16 hands, and is pure gorgeousness.

The thing was, I really, really, really liked the way Sonata was put together. I liked her conformation better , I loved her wide, dark eyes and pretty little head.  I liked the way she pushed forward to lean into scratches whenever I visited her over the gate.  I liked her hip.  I liked everything.

The problem was that she was a little smaller than Heartsong, and Kathleen pointed out that first foals tend to be smaller than resulting foals.  Plus, she was a bit spicier.

I mean, Caspian cured me of ever wanting another ridiculously tall horse, but I do have to take into account the fact that I am 5’8”, and even if I magically lose all the weight and end up the same weight I was in high school, that’s still about 150/160 pounds without tack.  Egyptian Arabs are not  in my riding future.

By the time I was making this decision I was no longer boarding at Kathleen’s, so I finally asked if I could go out and look at the mares in person and see if I could break the tie.
After that hour scratching on them and observing them in a field., my mind was made up:

I had absolutely no idea which one would be better, and I wasn’t likely to come to a decision anytime soon, no matter how many pictures I took or how many hours I spent with them.

So I decided to go with the proven cross.  There was literally nothing I didn’t like about Anthem (aside from the price tag – he was for sale, but waaay out of my price range), so why try to change anything?

I wrote Kathleen and email, gave her a deposit, told her I’d like to cross Heartsong with Intrigue, and we set the wheels in motion.

And then it got sad.  Marvelous Intrigue, who was nearing 30, passed away.  He just didn’t have another breeding season left in him.

It was a very sad time for his owner, and for the Morgan World at large. I tried to remind myself about that every time I tended towards selfishness, because seriously.  I was so bummed.  I had gotten SO CLOSE to owning one of his foals… only to have the dream jerked away at the last minute.

Also, after so many hours spent researching, it was a bit frustrating to go back to square one…. Okay, maybe not totally square one. I still had quite a few crosses in my “Morgan Breeding” folder on my computer.

After a little hemming and hawing, I decided on what I thought was the next best thing… which is kind of an insulting way to describe the quality of foal that’s about to be born (“Well, I guess you’ll do…”), and not at all how I feel about it now. It’s just how I felt at the moment, in the wake of Intrigue’s passing.

I decided to cross Sparkle, who is actually Intrigue’s daughter, with Kathleen’s stallion Trademark.

Scandias Trademark

Scandias Trademark

Scandias Trademark

Scandias Trademark

You can read more about Trademark HERE.

I liked this cross because I still had a chance to own a part of Intrigue – a grandson or daughter, if not an actual son or daughter.  Plus, Trademark is a proven sire.  On the Facebook group there’s a whole album of Trademark foals, doing pretty much every discipline under the sun, doing it well, and doing it gooooorgeously.

 

Even better, Kathleen had bred Sparkle to Trademark the year before ended up with a very pretty red stud colt named Marvelous Mark (M&M).

 

 

There’s not much to dislike there.

Anyways, Sparkle finally came into season and she and Trademark did the deed, with the final cover occurring on May 15th, 2017. Six weeks later they did an ultrasound check, and I was the proud owner of some grainy footage of a little wiggly foal embryo.

It all still felt very surreal and far-off at that point.  The foal wouldn’t be coming to my barn until at least September of 2018.  There was plenty of time to think about it.

Life being what it is with four kids, the months slid by quickly, and now we are at the point where Sparkle is due any day.  I’m actually having trouble wrapping my brain around it.

I made a trip out there on Sunday.  Originally it was to bring the boys along, and let them meet Sparkle before she gave birth and generate excitement…. But when Sunday rolled around they were squirrelly and hyper and getting on my nerves, so I decided to leave them behind.

Mom of the Year award, I know, I know.

I’m not sure what the purpose of my visit was, really.  I wanted a picture of myself with Sparkle before she gave birth.  Maybe I also wanted to convince myself that it was real, and that this foal was happening, I think?

Heck, maybe I just wanted to reassure myself that the foal wasn’t going to be born a flesh-eating bicycle with crooked front spokes.

On the way to the foaling shed I passed by Marvelous Mark (MnM), the full sibling to my unborn foal.  I was pleasantly surprised at how big he was – wide backed and solid, significantly taller than he had been back only a couple of months ago, with a pretty little head and a deep red coat. He glanced at me pleasantly, ears pricked forward.

I did not reach through the slats of his stall to pet him, as he is a two-year old stud. Maybe he would be a perfect gentleman.  Maybe he would be bored and try to see what he could get away with.

I value my fingers, so it wasn’t worth the gamble.

Then again, since I’m missing a chunk of muscle in my left arm from where an angry stallion bit me and tried to drag me into his stall to trample me, I’m a bit warier around stallions than most.

I passed through two other barns, all wide open aisleways and picturesque brass nameplates on doors.  When Caspian was there he made the stalls look ridiculously tiny.  With the Morgans in them they looked sizeable.

Sparkle was in the last barn, in one of the foaling stalls (complete live feed video camera!)  She was in wonderful shape, bedded down deep in straw. Well, I mean, she was in wonderful shape for a very pregnant mare.  She wasn’t going to be completing any 100 mile endurance rides any time soon, but she could probably win some “wide back” awards, if there was such a thing. She was marvelously pregnant and looked as comfortable as one can be, with about 100 pounds of foal all wadded up inside.

To be honest, after going through a twin pregnancy I don’t think I’m ever going to be able to look at a pregnant animal and feel anything but sympathy for them.

I scratched her neck, and her super wide, flat back, and her belly. I glanced at her bag – already full with milk, although not waxed (most mares will develop a kind of waxy beading of colostrum about 24 hours before they foal.)

She ignored me for the most part, and drove her face deeper into her pile of hay, munching with a steady determination.  I sympathized.  Pregnancy hunger.  It’s real, yo.

Kathleen waited outside the stall and chatted with me.  The mare across the aisle is due two weeks after Sparkle, and she’s also in foal to Trademark.  Scandias Dancer is a beautiful mare, taller than Sparkle, but built with a little more refinement.

 

She’s the last filly by UVM Coming Attraction, out of….

<taps mike>

Is anyone event paying attention to all the names anymore?  I’m sorry.  I am pretty much just blogging all of this for future Becky, so she can have a quick reference guide down the road.

Anyways, Dancer is absolutely GOOOOORGEEEEOOOUUUUSSS, but a little too much horse for the kind of backyard riding I tend to do, which is why she never factored into my “who shall I breed” planning.

She’s also a maiden mare, so even though there’s only 2 weeks between the mares due dates, it’ll probably be a little bit longer than that.  It’s kind of a relief that I’ll have another foal to compare mine against. I have to admit, I’m not very good with foal conformations.  They all look kind of…. Adorable? to me.  I just can’t eyeball them the way I can an older horse and see what they’re going to turn out like.

Unless I can see a photo, and then compare it to the photo of ANOTHER foal, my concept of foal conformation boils down to, “Oooh, look at that one!  It’s bigger.  And that one’s running around – look!” which is anything but technical.  With a foal of a similar age, who is also by the same stallion, it will be great to be able to compare the two to each other.

Per Kathleen my foal will be “sturdier”, which is good – I’m hoping that he or she will inherit some of Sparkle’s size and flat, broad back…. but I imagine I’ll be over the moon with whatever comes out.

I still feel like this is almost too much of an indulgence.  Now that it’s almost here, I feel….  Guilty? Like I need to apologize, or over explain why I’m doing this?

I mean, let’s call this foal what it is:  an extravagance.  There is literally nothing I do that requires me to have a horse this nice. I don’t show, I don’t do endurance (with four young kids, I wonder if I ever will.) The biggest riding aspirations I have are that I would like to have a costume and ride around in some kind of SCA event, and I’d love to look into Working Equitation. I don’t have to go breed some fancypants foal to do any of that.

And yet… It’s hard to carve out space for yourself, as a mom.  I am not anywhere as footloose and fancy-free as I was in my 20s.  My days are filled with schedules, and packing school lunches, and helping kids with homework, and wiping snotty noses, and quick-grab-a-snack as we dash out the door, telling toddlers to get off the table or don’t pull the cat’s tail, he’s gonna scratch you. I have a full-time job, and a car payment, and a mortgage, and dentist appointments, and tire rotation appointments, and a plan to pay down all our debt.

These are all good things.

They’re just not terribly exciting things.

I have quite a few friends whose lives have taken a very different path than mine has – the kind of path I always imagined mine would take.  I see photos of their travels, and I am filled with longing.  I see them exploring the world – all the corners of the world, meeting all manner of humanity, tasting all sorts of new foods, plunging headfirst into new adventures.  I see them… as I sit on my dented couch in my nice suburban living room, surrounded by cheerful, happy children who need and need and need until I sometimes feel sucked completely dry.  I see them, and I remember how it felt to be so free.

I think that’s also what this foal is to me – not just a chance to start a horse from scratch the exact way I want, and not just a chance to own a horse that’s the exact breed I’ve wanted for years and years…

It’s a chance to do something zany and exciting, for no other reason than because I can.

If I were traveling the world with a backpack I wouldn’t have all those boring, necessary appointments…. But I also would never, ever be waiting for a made-from-scratch Morgan foal from a barn I once only dreamed of visiting.

And that is just a really, really cool thing to be doing.

First photo of me with the foal…. still in its wrapping. Sigh.

Four.

I’d be lonely, if I weren’t so busy.

I have at least three blog post drafts that start off with this line, which I feel is a really excellent way to sum up how the past few months of my life have gone.

The problem is that I start writing to catch everyone up on what I’ve been doing, and the next thing you know it has turned into a maudlin LiveJournal post, circa early 2000s. It’s not that I mind that type of writing. It’s more…. it’s not really how I wanted my post to be.

Besides, it’s not like anything complain-worthy as even happened to me. I think the only hard thing is that back in December the Bean and I took a look at our finances and how much his job was charging us for insurance for our family of 6 and realized that the time had finally come. I needed to get a full-time job.

I’m not gonna lie – it wasn’t an easy decision. The twins weren’t even two years old yet, and to be honest, I’ve really been enjoying parenting them. They’re so laid back and easy to get along with….either I’m getting more relaxed at this parenting gig. Maybe third and fourth time is the charm?

Also, in order to get a full-time job it meant I had to leave my dream job: the library. If you don’t know why that was so hard for me, then you haven’t been reading this blog very long. I’m pretty sure if you cut me open, fiction books and pictures of pretty horses is all that would fall out.

Suffice it to say, I just really, really, really liked working at the library.

Before you feel too sorry for me, let me jump ahead to the punchline: I got the exact job I wanted (pretty much the only one I wanted, aside from a job getting paid to read books while hanging out in a barn): Front desk person at City Hall. The hours are great, the benefits are wonderful, my coworkers are fantastic, and I’m still part of the library family, so to speak.

I mean, there’s just no way to feel properly sad about something like that.

Unfortunately, even if it went as smoothly as possible, it has still been difficult. I started my job right at the beginning of The Bean’s busy season, which means that while his paycheck is around, I only glimpse him occasionally (usually after most of the kids have gone to bed). It also didn’t help that this has been an absolutely rotten flu season. Trying to juggle a new job with four kids who seem determined to pass around the same illness, over and over, has been demanding.

Oh, what the heck am I saying?

Trying to juggle a full-time job with four kids, forget adding any of the rest of it, has been demanding. Sometimes it feels like every single hour has already ben scheduled. I’m turning into one of those people. I have a calendar now, and I schedule things on it.

I know. Gross.

Anyways, with this new schedule, although my weekends are free, I tend to spend those catching up with the kids. It really doesn’t leave a lot of time for socializing, All the children’s meetups that people schedule are during the day. There’s no time to meet up during the week. Weekends seem to be about playing catch up.

I used to rely on social media to fill my friend gap, but lately….

I’m sorry, but there’s just only so much screaming I can take. More often than not, it feels like all Facebook can do is either scream about its opinions, or drag out whatever roadkill of a travesty has happened in the news the past week and obsess over it an unhealthy amount until a new piece of roadkill is found.

Rumor has it that there are happier, less angry social media places to be, but I can’t bring myself to look into it. I like Facebook. I’m comfortable there.

Besides, while I can be awkward with people…

…the idea of researching new social media apps just to have friends is kind of depressing in and of itself.

I still keep up with a few people, but for the most part I’ve been reading, caring for my giant brood of children and animals, and daydreaming about horses.

Speaking of horses:

Did you know I have three of them in my backyard?

I know, I know.

Caspian is doing well – fat, happy, and enjoying living the life of a horse who gets to hang out with horse friends and rarely be ridden.

Honestly, it looks relaxing. I’m kind of jealous.

Back in early summer of last year I picked up a friend for Caspian, who desperately needed one. He spent all day pacing, stall weaving-nervously in a 100×50 paddock, nervously scanning the horizon as he fretted.

He was one set of opposable thumbs and an axe from turning into Jack Nicholson.

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It was unhealthy for him and depressing for me to look out my window and see that, so I began visiting auctions and looking on Craigslist. I stumbled onto Jupiter, a scrawny, wormy, too-thin yearling with some of the worst hooves my farrier had ever seen. Watching her trim him that first time was so gratifying – old abscesses oozing out, curled up toes getting straightened as she trimmed him back.

To be honest, I was really concerned that it might leave some kind of lasting damage, they looked so bad. (SPOILER: he has the best hooves of all of my herd, and hasn’t been lame yet, KNOCK ON WOOD.)

He fit the slot perfectly – someone to keep Caspian from spiraling further into horsey insanity by himself on my property, young enough to give me a chance to work with a young horse and teach them ground manners, lunging, etc, and pretty enough that when the time came, I might not have too hard of a time finding him a new home.

Ten Month Before/After

All was doing well, until February, when I stumbled on a pony: Carrots. I found her on while doing my weekly Craigslist scrolling (surely I’m not the only one that drools over horses I never plan on buying?) Something about her face just called to me, even if she lived an hour away. I called up the owner and asked if I could go meet her, drawn to her on a strange impulse….

But, unfortunately, someone else got there first.

I shrugged, and decided it wasn’t meant to be, and went back to work the following Monday….

Where one of my new coworkers came up to me. As it turns out, she lives only a mile from me. had seen that I had posted on Facebook about Carrots, and was willing to sell her to me for the original price.

A week later I had the pony in my backyard.

One month Before/After (before on bottom)

She was thin and wormy, but so friendly, and a much prettier mover than I expected.

To be honest, three horses was always my goal, so impulse the buying wasn’t a problem in terms of that. I have the space for them, I have the funds to care for them right and by the end of next summer I will have finished fencing in most of the lower pasture.

Three horses is not the problem. It’s four horses that’s a problem.

Yeah. Four horses.

Rewind your clocks more than a year…. all the way back to February 2017. We had lived in the house less than a month. Caspian was still being boarded at a barn, the twins were just under a year old, the walls of the new house were lined with boxes, and DragonMonkey and Squid were watching TV in the living room.

I was washing dishes, staring out the window and daydreaming about how amazing it was going to be to finally have the paddock finished and Caspian out there, grazing, in my own backyard…….. when the Bean approached. .

He stood there staring at me, holding Finn on his hip, a silent, waiting presence.

I looked up.

He opened his mouth, closed it, and then smiled jovially. “So…. so, before you get mad….”

I turned off the water, grabbing a dish towel to dry my hands and turned to give him my full attention. “Oh, Lord.”

“No, no, it’s not… it’s not a bad thing, per se. I just… I just wanted to let you know, ahead of time, because that way we could always communicate with each other effectively, and I –”

“Bean, just spit it out.”

“There’s a motorcycle.”

He stood there, almost vibrating with excitement, and I couldn’t figure out how to respond. He was obviously, so, so, so excited. If you’ve ever met the Bean, you know he doesn’t get to that point very often. He also doesn’t do things on a whim, like I do. His daydreams consist of researching. If he was standing there in front of me with excitement oozing off of him so palpably, that meant he’d not only found a motorcycle, but he’d done price-comparisons, and probably dealership visits, and test rides, and….

And he was a CPA. If he knew we could fold it into our budget, then we could probably make it happen. So I had two choices:

I could put the kabosh on the whole thing, and feel like I was ripping the wings off a butterfly…..

Or I could say yes.

It was just…. He already had a motorcycle that he rode to work, every day, and I found myself getting jealous on the inside. I knew whatever motorcycle he wanted to bring home was not a practical one – it was going to be loud, and fast, and the kind of thing that served no practical purpose other than making his heart happy.

It wasn’t that I didn’t want him to be happy, it was just that I was envious. I know. I know, that’s shallow of me, and not a good trait to have. Even though the twins were so much more amazing than I had imagined, I still felt like I had lost a piece of myself during their pregnancy and that first year of round-the-clock nursing. I didn’t have anything to look forward to – no goals, beyond maybe one day sleeping through the night again.

I looked the Bean in the eye, paused, opened my mouth, paused again, and then blurted out, “Fine. If you’re getting a motorcycle then I’m getting a baby Morgan horse. From that Scandia Morgan place.”

I don’t know how I expected him to respond. I was throwing it out there, almost like a giant, verbal litmus test. How much did he really want this motorcycle?

“Deal! Deal. Yes. No problem.” He nodded his head two, three times in a row, and shifted Finn higher on his hip. “That’s fair.” He nodded again, paused, and then said with a grin creeping across his face. “Want to hear about the motorcycle?”

And now you know why I’m sitting here, more than a year later, checking my Facebook messenger frequently for updates, waiting to see if Sparkle (real name: Marvelous by Design) has finally foaled yet.

The Morgan Horse: They’re like Ducati Hondas?

“So are they all brown?”

“Well, I mean, Morgans can be almost any color, although until recently the splash gene….  wait.  Too much.  Bay.  That color right there in the video is bay, not brown.”

Scandias Mademoiselle

“They’re not the same?”

“Bay has the black stockings, and the black mane and tail.”

“But the base color is brown, so it’s the same, right?”

“I mean, I guess so.  Chestnut is the reddish color.”

Scandias Marvelous Mark

“What do they do with them, though?”

“Morgans?”


“Yeah, what’s their thing?”
 
“The Morgan horse is very versatile – they can do anything.”
 
“Yeah, but what are they known for?”
 
“Ummm… well, they’re kind of known for being good at everything.  They’re one of the oldest American breeds…. they’re very strong, with a lot of endurance and health and dependability, but they’re also fancy. So you get that flashiness, without having to deal with them being too hot and losing their brain.”

Scandias Trademark

“So… they’re like a Ducati made by a Honda?”
 
“….. Uh, sure. Yeah. That.”

“Okay.”

“They’re like…. a Kawasaki, but with a Goldwing comfort on a long trail…”

“WHAT?”

“I was coming up with a metaphor for you.”

“I already had one.  Ducati made by a Honda.  That makes sense to me.”

“I was trying to come up with a motorcycle analogy for you.  You know, to bond with you.”

“That was a motorcycle analogy.  What did you think a Ducati was?”

“I…. I forgot.  I heard Honda and thought car.”

“You thought a Ducati was a car???”

“Yes…. I mean no.  I mean, I was just focusing on Honda…. I mean, shut up.  You thought bay was the same as brown.”

 
 

Shallow Hope

This is so inconsequential compared to the big, important, “real life” stuff happening out there.

But.

Today my mom offered to watch the kids so I got in my car, backed out of my driveway, closed the gate, and drove very slowly to my new barn.

I arrived and took the long way through all the barns so I could walk and see each horse.  To be honest, I’m a little concerned this barn might ruin me for life.  It’s like…. if you had a 5 star chef cooking food for you every single day, would that make you appreciate food more, or would it just make all other food taste kind of gross?

At any rate, since boarding here is still new to me, I am like a 14 year old boy set free at a Playboy bunny convention (do those exist?  Eh.  Roll with me on my simile here).

 

Anyways, I took the long way to the barn so I could stare at all the Morgans, because some of them are for sale, so I better gawk while the gawking’s good.

 

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This is a yearling (Scandias Signature). None of her yearlings got the memo that they’re supposed to be gawky.

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One of these days someone is gonna buy Scandias Anthem…. and I’m gonna be so sad when they do.  In the meantime, I get to scratch on him whenever I want…. SWEEEET.

I arrived at Caspian’s stall (he’d just come in from spending all night out at pasture), took him out, and groomed him.

I saddled him, and led him to the roundpen and asked him to go around a few times to warm up.

I mounted up and rode, with the sun beating down on my shoulders and the wind making the summer flowers bend in the breeze.

I cooled him down and hopped off.

I groomed him again.

I said hello to Kathleen (the breeder/barn owner).

I picked Caspian’s stall and picked up his manure from the round pen.

I got in my car and drove home – slowly again, so I could know how long it might take me if there was ice on the ground.

…….

Wait for it……

And I did it all in 1 hour and 20 minutes.

Guys.

Guys, I know this is so small compared to some of the bigger issues some people face….. but I am feeling so hopeful for the first time in a long time.  I might actually be able to do this “mom of four” and “horse owner” thing after all.

New Barn and Morgan Horses

About a month before the twins were due, I received a Facebook message.  I’m too lazy to look up the actual wording, but the basic idea was this:

“Hey Becky, I know you’re going to have your hands full with twins and you probably won’t get as much horse time as you want over the next few months, so if you ever wanted to board out here, we’d be open to the idea.  We have plenty of turnout….”

The message wasn’t all that thrilling in and of itself – it was who it was from that made me all hand flappy with excitement.
You guys remember how excitable I was back in 2012 when I started researching barns around my new home in Oregon?

Remember how I wrote that one post where I went and called dibs on all the pretty Morgans that lived on a Morgan horse farm right by me?

Remember how I was drooling over contestant # 1 in my last post?

If you’re friends with me on Facebook, remember how I’ve been peppering my feed with constant updates about the horses over at Scandia Morgan Horse Farm, sighing and drooling?

Well, it was that farm who reached out to me.

I’d met the owner when I first came into town and had a chance to go out and groom a couple of times, but life got in the way of me doing anything more so I had to kind of drool from a distance.

Fast forward four years (can you believe I’ve already lived in Oregon for four years?!), and she wrote to me.

I sat on my answer for days, because I was completely torn.

On the one hand, Scandia Morgans was not only closer to me, it offered more turnout and was… well, let’s face it.  It’s a stunning barn chock full of stunning Morgans. Boarding at a place like that would be like The Bean getting a call from a parking garage in Portland, offering him a chance to park his car in an Aston-Martin-Only Parking garage.

And yes, the only reason I put that metaphor in there is because I’m still trying to explain to The Bean how excited I am over what just happened.   After close to 9 years together he gets a glazed look every time I start talking horse, but he still reads my blog, so I’ve got to work with what I’ve got.

Aston Martins, Bean.  Scandia Morgan Horse Farm is the horse equivalent of a barn full of Aston Martins.

Anyways, like I said, I sat on my answer for days. On the hand, all of the above…

But on the other hand, I was about to give birth to twins, and should I really rock the boat? I loved my current barn, and Caspian was receiving great care, and we’d already been there for almost two years. What if something happened and the new situation wasn’t a good fit?  What if Caspian decided to tear around his new pasture in the middle of winter and slip and slide through a fence, causing tons of vet bills at a time when we could least afford them?

What if, what if, what if?

I finally decided to regretfully decline the offer, mostly out of fear of the unknown.

Fast forward a couple of month.

I had Caspian in the cross ties, grooming him after one of my too-infrequent trips to the barn when the barn owner came up to break the news.  There was no rush, but she wanted to let me know that they were going to slowly be shutting down the barn to boarders.  Too much work for too little income… they were making decent money by offering up the indoor arena to clinics instead…. there was no rush but maybe I could start looking around for a new barn, etc, etc….

I raced home, logged onto Facebook, and shot out a message as fast as my fingers could type.  Was the offer still open?  Was there still space available? I knew she wasn’t going to be a boarding barn, but had been hoping to only have one or two friends keep their horses with her, so I was really worried I’d missed my opportunity and she’d already found someone else.

As luck would have it (in case you haven’t already figured it out) guess who just became the newest horse at Scandia Morgan Horse farm this morning? 🙂 🙂 🙂

Guys, are you hearing this?  I GET TO BOARD WITH AND HANG OUT AND SCRATCH AND LOVE ON THE HORSES I’VE BEEN DROOLING OVER FOR FOUR YEARS.

 

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I’m usually pretty good at picking horses out from each other….. but with these guys I keep guessing wrong.  They are almost all bay, and they all have the same pretty head and clean lines.

It was a little bittersweet saying goodbye to the old barn, since I’d had such a great time there, loved the care he received, and had spent more than two years boarding there…. but this new situation is too, too perfect for words.

The best part about the whole situation is that it’s not really a boarding barn.  The only horses there who aren’t Scandia Morgans are Caspian, and one other lady’s Morgans.  I know it sounds kind of antisocial to be so excited about the lack of sociability at this barn…..

But while I don’t mind chatting with other boarders, when I get the rare chance to spend some time with my horse, that’s usually what I like doing – spending time with my horse. I don’t mind talking with people I know, but at a busy barn you’re not only obligated to remember names (something I’m terrible at), you’re also obligated to make a lot of small talk with semi-strangers (something I’m equally terrible at.)  If I’m paying a babysitter or using up spouse points by getting some kid-free time, I’d rather spend my time riding or just enjoying the peace that horses bring, rather than sitting on a hay bale and talking, you know?

Wait… where was I, before I got all “get off my lawn” about being sociable at the barn?

Ah, yes.  So, today I moved Caspian to his new barn.  Although he had a minute or two of hollering out his welcome to the other horses during the long driveway up, by the time I unloaded him he was acting like he’d been living there for years.

That’s not to say there wasn’t a lot of nervous snorting and blowing – there was plenty of that going on…. but it was being done by the other horses as I led him down the aisles.

Horses may not see the same color as humans, but they certainly notice the lack of it.  Most of the young stock had never seen a grey horse before, and they were really unnerved by the giant, white, lumbering “ghost”.

His stall inside is a private box stall – but after he settles in, if he gets along with the other horses, he can actually spend a lot of his time out in the pasture (as long as the weather holds, but still, hooray!).

And, oh, what a pasture it is.

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I think this is technically the mare/foal field, but they all pretty much look the same brand of amazing.

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View from the roundpen- there’s another turnout pasture down below.

In fact, the whole setup is kind of like the barns I used to daydream about when I was a little girl – all red siding and tidy aisleways, neatly hanging turnout blankets, and brass nameplates.

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All the horses in the box stalls (they do rotational turnout) have happy expressions and move right up to come say hello/beg for scratches.  I find that so telling – it’s unnerving to walk into a barn full of horses with sour expressions.

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Every horse on her place has the same expression as this “Contestant #1 colt”… and it’s a good thing it’s a cute view,  because that’s the view you get of all the horses – good luck trying to peel them off of you. Their expressive, happy, sociability is a lot of fun after working Caspian’s stoic dignity for the past few years.  I feel like I’m surrounded by paparazzi, only they’re begging for attention instead of photos.

I may have even taken Caspian for a little walk around the barn simply so I could hear the delicious clop-clop of his hooves on the concrete driveway leading up.  There’s just something about that sound, you know?

The apple trees on the property are producing – any of the apples that fall to the ground are fair game to feed to the horses.

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Caspian thought he was in seventh heaven when I led him over to graze on grass AND apples.

In addition to an indoor arena, there’s a sizeable outdoor round pen right outside of his barn.  The footing was great – there were a few stray clumps of grass that had grown up in it since nobody had used it recently, which is just mind-boggling to me after having grown up using barns where there would be a line three horses deep to use a teensy, tiny turnout.  After letting Caspian mosey around his box stall for a little to see if he seemed upset (he didn’t), I took him to the round pen and asked him for a few laps.

I expected him to blow around, high-headed and snorty with the newness…. but he seemed really at ease.

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His barn (there’s more than one barn) to the left, giant indoor covered arena to the right.

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I couldn’t believe how calm Caspian was – here he was in a completely new barn, and he was acting like he’d been living there for years.

That’s not to say he didn’t cause a bit of a ruckus.  In addition to the “HOLY CRAP WHAT IS THAT THING?!” snorts from some of the younger horses, one of the younger fillies who was in the middle of a training session was so unimpressed with him that they had to take a break mid-lesson to come introduce her and prove that the Terrifying Grey Thing was actually a horse, so she could focus on her work.

As the two of them sniffed noses I remarked to the owner how at ease he was, and she brought up that she thinks horses can tell when they’ve landed in a nice spot…. and I agree.  It’s like Caspian took one look around and said, “Oh, yeah, this is just great.  This is really great,” and settled right in.

He’s come a long ways from the tooth-grinding, quietly nervous horse he was when I arrived.  Don’t get me wrong – my parents treated him amazing and his nervousness in new places didn’t come from them –  but at new barns he always acted a bit concerned that the rug was going to be pulled out from underneath him at any moment, that he might end up with a not-so-nice home.  The first time I moved him he ground his teeth for weeks, and chewed on the wood in his stall.  When we moved to the last stall he only ground his teeth a couple of times, and nibbled politely.

This is the fourth barn he’s been to since he’s been with me, and I think he’s beginning to let himself believe that just because he changes barns doesn’t mean he’s going to get a new owner with a completely new set of rules.

IMG_3465Update:  He settled in so nicely he’s already been turned out for the night, and I received what may be my new favoritest pictures of him, because she actually managed to capture the size of him.

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