Friday, July 24, 2009

Friday Book Review: Rodeo history international

First, an apology - I haven't managed to read anything blog-wise this week, so I'll have lots to catch up on this weekend, I'm sure. Still haven't added an internet connection at the apartment, and cribbing from the neighbor's really weak one is very spotty. Must do something about that soon!

So this week's book caught my eye at work, and I just couldn't resist spending an hour or so with it. What do you get when you combine a rodeo crazy cowboy, WWII, and a bunch of very confused German livestock? Entertainment, evidently.

Third Army Cowboys by Jack Lloyd
Stationed in Germany at the end of WWII, a then nineteen year-old, PFC Jack Lloyd was occupying himself working in a hospital dispensary when he heard that some boys in a Texas unit were throwing a rodeo as a send-off for their major. Unable to get leave, he went AWOL in order to ride. The rodeo's a success, but the going-AWOL, not-so much.

Fortunately, Jack's rodeo experience and the entertainment value of the rodeo saves his butt and Jack ends up tasked with putting on rodeos across Germany as part of the Third Army Special Service.

And so begins an odd tale of a thrown-together bunch of motley bunch of cowboys from across the United States (and one displaced Frenchman) headed by by the young private with little to no experience in wrangling this sort of project.

You sort of have to read between the lines, as Jack has undoubtedly left a lot of details out, but it's still quite a trip. Just imagining the spectacle from the German perspective - not to mention the poor milk cows and oxen that get shanghaid - albeit briefly - into masquerading as rodeo rough stock...

It's around 125 pages, but it stars cowboys from South Dakota, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Kentucky, New Jersey, Texas, and a few other places in between, doing what cowboys mostly do: raising cane and cowboying up. For fans of rodeo and history, it's an interesting read.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Friday Book Review: living lucky

Not much time this week, and not much computer access (the non-work kind) either. Note to self: must do better there!

So, I'm dipping into the children's books, and this one's definitely and oldie-but-goodie!

The Blind Colt by Glenn Rounds
Originally published in 1941, and republished a quite a few times by Scholastic, this slim little paperback is charmingly illustrated and just as charmingly written. Born to a range mare running the South Dakota Badlands, a small grey colt discovers the world in all it's spiky, soft, sweet smelling and uneven wonder. Gradually, his world intertwines with that of a young boy, Whitey, who, along with his Uncle Torval, happens upon the youngster still with his mother.

As he's blind, Uncle Torval sees the colt as wolf-bait and maintains the kindest thing to do is shoot him. But Whitey pleads the colt's case, and (as with many children's stories) does a bit of sneaking around and ultimately proves his point with some assistance from an old gelding and one of the ranch dogs.

Althougth story doesn't progress much beyond the point of the colt's salvation, Rounds' postscript notes that the blind colt's tale was inspired by a his own experience.

A word on the illustrations - if you haven't ever run into Rounds' pen and ink line drawings (they're dotted throughout the margins in most of his books) do yourself a favor and check him out. Your local library is sure to have one or two of his books in the children's section, and many of his stories are still in print. While no one would ever accuse any of his horses of being "pretty" (or his people, either!), they sure do have character!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Oops - wrong location!

I said SD State Fair was a possibility for showing this fall, didn't I? We've taken horses up to the Arab show there several times over the years - in fact I spent my "honeymoon" there, but that's a story for another day....

Well, unfortunately, the SD State Fair runs the week before Labor Day, and classes are in session then, so I'm definitely working and so is T. But a closer look this morning (I'm a bit more awake) proved the fair booklet to be for the Sioux Empire Fair which runs the second week of August when I am off. The Arab show there is a Class A, sanctioned show. :(

We're definitely not ready for that one! And I tend to have issues with cost - not how much they charge per se, but how much it costs me! Since I rarely show and if I do, it's for fun and the experience is good for the horses, but I don't actually expect to win anything, I don't feel I need to spend an arm and a leg on it. Maybe someday!

But in addition to the Arab show, the POA show, the AQHA show and the Morgan show, the hunter/jumper show, oh, and did I mention the miniature horse show? They also have an open show with reasonable class entry fees. An added benefit? T could take Rufus, too, if he wanted to, rather than just Amyra and Sunny being eligible.

We'll see...

Saturday, July 11, 2009

This is how I felt today, too. I spent quite a while out with the ponies. I missed them this week. I haven't decided yet if I'll relocate Sunny up to Aberdeen or not. I'm leaning toward no. I'll be working a four day week once school starts this fall, and 10 hour days won't leave me much time for riding, especially once the days get shorter. And I'll be down here on the weekends unless the weather is really bad this winter. For now, I may just have to suffer through lack-of-horse until the weekends.

So the deal with the job is that it's a good one - nice people to work with, flexible job description that matches my skill set and is going to be challenging enough to keep me on my toes - right up my alley. The snag? It's 2 1/2 hours away from home. Too far to drive daily, so I now have a cute little apartment about 5 blocks from work.... Not ideal, but with the economy the way it is, I'm lucky to have found something so quickly and so (relatively speaking) close to home.

My first week was... long? The first few days were paperwork, annoyingly tedious and frustrating. Insurance, proof of citizenship, check the boxes, fill in the SS#s... Bleh. But Monday they'll actually come configure my computer, and I'm starting to get the hang of things otherwise. I have files to sort through and lots of manuals to read. Fun, fun, fun - and I'm not being entirely sarcastic there. I'm not the only new person, so there's lots of change coming, and I get to be part of it.

But enough about work. In the also-good news column, if I do decide to show at the SD State Fair this year, I have the week off. So now I just have to decide if the weekends between now and then give us enough time to get ready.

Rufus - somebody asked Rufus.
Yes, our horse family has grown to 3. The newly christened four-footed critter above now belongs to T. Rufus is currently staying with our friends the vets, as they a) volunteered, b) have the room and c) we were reluctant to introduce another gelding into the mixed herd at the farm at present for several reasons. T and J the vet will be riding together in my absence, so that works out very well.

Rufus has thus far proven himself to a nice steady boy. He's at least part Arab, although we don't know much about his history. What is quite obvious is that he's been handled a ton. And T's quite taken with him. So now we can ride together, although we're going to have to track down a saddle that fits both T and Rufus a bit better fairly soon.

Friday, July 10, 2009

The Friday Book Review (returns) - a psychic connection

No, not with the horses. Sorry, if that's what you were hoping for! Maybe another time. :)

Morning Light by Catherine Anderson
Clairvoyant Loni MacEwen is looking for a bit of peace and quiet when she buys an old house in Crystal Falls, Oregon to be closer to her sister. A bad experience has left her shaken and questioning her talent. But the small town seems like just what the doctor ordered. Since childhood Loni has had visions of a handsome cowboy, but although her gift has otherwise been fairly accurate, the man has never materialized - until Crystal Falls, when she bumps into him (literally) in the supermarket.

Quarter horse breeder Clint Harrigan is a no-nonsense, straight shooting kind of guy. So when the pretty brunette from the supermarket appears on his doorstep to inform him that his young son has been lost in the wilderness and only he will be able to save the boy, he's nothing if not skeptical.

A fairly brief lead-in has the pair heading off to participate in search and rescue operations for an orphaned boy lost in the Oregon wilderness. Expecting nothing horse-related when I picked the book up, I was pleasantly surprise to find myself reading what appears to be a fairly well-researched amount of information on horse-packing.

The horses have eminintly impractical names (at least I wouldn't want to be hollering them in!), but the actual details of practical care and handling are well-written and realistic.

Neatnik, environmentally conscious Loni's interactions with practical-minded, bachelor Clint are entertaining, and the story has enough suspense to it to keep the pages turning. All in all, this was a pleasant surprise.
I wasn't expecting this to be my book of the week - in fact, I haven't been reading much at all lately as busy as everything has been. But since there were horses and I actually managed to finish it....

Hopefully life will dial back a bit soon and I'll have more time to get some pages turned without feeling like I'm neglecting something or someone!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Moving day

Today for me, yesterday for Rufus. After 4+ inches of rain on Friday when we'd planned to move him over, yesterday was only partially rainy. The weather forecast called for scattered morning showers. We had showers with occasional scattered dry spots.

Rufus will be staying with our friends the vets for the time being. I wasn't keen on introducing another gelding to the herd at the farm, and J really doesn't want any more horses on her pasture at present. This way T will be able to ride with them while I'm not here, so it works out well. We can trailer one way or the other on the weekends when I'm back.

Rufus was not pleased about getting into the trailer by himself, and expressed his displeasure with his standard evasive maneuver which seems to consist of backing up and popping his front feet off the ground. I circled him, thankful I'd attached the LONG leadrope, occasionally offering him the opportunity to load in nicely. After only a couple minutes, when we walked up to the trailer he stepped right in. We'll be working more on that, and on some longeing, as he tends to shoulder in toward you when sent round.

At the vets' place we saddled up and went for a ride. Rufus will have one pasture mate for the time being, a very laid back, very pretty buckskin mare. We figured introducing them that way wouldn't be a bad thing. After about 8 miles they were happy to be home and when we turned them loose they walked over to stand hipshot in the shade nose to tail.

So I got to ride Rufus. I think he knows quite a bit more than he's telling, and we'll be figuring him out for a while. He's not as smooth as Sunny (don't tell T!) and at present he's a bit confused as to where he lives so decided he wanted to turn in at every farm we passed. It's pretty apparent that he's gotten away with some barn sour behavior at some point, and now he tests occasionally. He didn't have quite as much luck balking with me, and I think the less luck he has, the less he'll try it.

Afterwards I stopped over at the farm to check on the herd. The mosquitoes are getting really bad. Hopefully we'll have some dry days and some heat for a while and dry some of them up!

Friday, July 3, 2009

It's raining, it's pouring...

No one's snoring here, though. I just discovered the living room wall is running water. The roof is on the agenda this summer. I think it just moved up to the top of the list. Bleh.... When it slows down a bit I'll have to go check the gutters on that side.

So... my packing for Sunday is mostly accomplished. I have to figure out what work clothes to take yet, and double-check my list again. I'd hoped it would be nice today and we could get Rufus moved, but instead I'm staying busy with house cleaning. The cats are thrilled - NOT! They migrated downstairs to get away from the vacuum.

T & kids headed for Kansas to spend the 4th. Sure has been a lot of packing & unpacking going on here lately!

But I had a nice treat to break up my packing & cleaning - a friend from... wow, kindergarten on (!) and her family stopped by on their way back from the Black Hills. Her boys are getting so big! They couldn't stay long, unfortunately, as they had a long drive ahead of them, but it was great to see them, and the boys had a chance to let off some steam from hours in the car.

Yesterday was garden day and new shocks for the Blazer. And I mowed. We also got Rufus wormed. He needs a 4-way and his West Nile, too, but the vet clinic was closed by the time we headed that way, and TSC was out of 4-way again. Rufue was very polite about the wormer and continues to not mind being sunblocked. Amyra was not thrilled to have her coating applied. I suppose it must smell bad, although it doesn't seem to me to have much odor.

Sunny, Thunder and the girls are all fat and sassy. I think Sunny was disappointed not to be heading out for a ride, as he whinnied after me as I left.

You know, it really sucks
to finally have two horses ready to go
and not be able to ride when I want!!