Part 1//Why having horses is nothing like having dogs

writing

I’ve been super sick, so i don’t aim to organize this well and my point is liable to get lost here or there. But, as per my usual, I promise to get wherever it is that I am going.

It is hard to describe what love of a horse is to those who do not have/ride their own horses (pats self on back). One of the most common misconceptions is that the relationships equestrians have with their horses are akin to those people have with their pets. Ages ago, when I didn’t know better and made the occasional error of gushing or worrying out loud about Ryllin to non-riders, I found, much to my chagrin, that they tended to relate my feelings to their experiences with their dogs. It became clear to me then that non-horse people really are not able to understand what I am talking about. Horses are nothing like dogs, keeping them is nothing like keeping dogs, loving them is nothing like loving dogs, they offer more, they take more, they make you a million times more crazy. The real distinction between the relationships arises when it comes to horses that are really being used, the more rigorous the riding/sport the more involved and complicated the relationship tends to be. But I’ll espouse on that in Part 2.

The financial investment alone is a hundredfold. Combined with the time investment, which is so significant that for most of us it leaves little to no room for any other hobbies, horse ownership/equestrianism is elevated to the classification of a full on lifestyle. This is also one of the chief reasons many horse people are completely off their rocker. What horses offer their riders is also markedly different from the offerings of dogs, but that portion of the lesson will be delivered in careful detail come Part 2.

For now, and with all that being said, I want to focus strictly on physiological issues which separate horses from everything else pet-like, and how those issues affect the hapless humans endeavoring to manage them. Unlike dogs, horses are dishearteningly fragile. Most people don’t realize that horses can drop dead on a dime. It would seem that these animals had never quite acclimated, evolutionarily speaking, to domestication, and, despite their imposing dimensions, are utterly frail. Their bodies can be potentially riddled with a slew of debilitating conditions, many of which, if gone unnoticed or not properly addressed, easily turn deadly. The two most common sources of horse fatality are their guts and their feet. Horse feet are complex structures, somewhat poorly designed to withstand the rigors of supporting over 1000 lbs, especially when that 1000 pounds is hurling itself over obstacles or performing complex aerial maneuvers. The saying goes “No foot, no horse”, and it is quite literal, a bad foot means at best, a lame horse, and at worst, a dead horse. Lots of care goes into maintaining healthy feet on a horse, from shoeings and trimmings, to supplements, dressings and careful selection of footing. A foot can go bad in a day, dietary issues, bad shoeing, genetic issues, weather issues, ground conditions, stall conditions, etc. all can cause deadly foot disorders and diseases. You might say, what’s the big deal, one foot goes bad, there are three more. Be assured, a horse needs all four of its tiny feet to equally distribute its enormous weight, one foot gone, means the other three will go shortly thereafter, as they cannot take the horse’s weight in perpetuity. And no, horses can’t just lie around while it gets better, like dogs. A horse’s weight and intricate circulation/nervous systems prevent it from being able to lie down for long without dying. I kid you not, a laid up horse will basically crush itself from the inside, its organs will go out one after another under its own weight causing permanent damage to its nervous system and eventual death. So not only can a horse with a compromised foot not be ridden but often, the degeneration of the hoof structures is so severe that it has to be put down. A sport horse, who becomes too lame to be ridden, is a tragedy in itself, as the amount of work, time and feeling that goes into creating an effective riding partnership between horse and rider is massive, but when said horse has to also be put down, the dimension of loss is on another level.

Second most common and sudden horse killer, that all horse people live in constant fear off, is colic. Again, seems innocuous enough right? I mean who hasn’t had a little colic, a bit of constipation here and there, some gas? Well, if you’re a horse, the word colic carries with it weight equal to that of words like cancer or apocalypse. In short, due to the unique anatomy of equine stomachs and intestines, indigestion kills. Kills suddenly and mercilessly. So there is that. It’s definitely nothing like when a dog gets upset stomach and barfs all over your favorite duvet. Not only is a horse physically unable to regurgitate its food btw, i.e. throw up, but as I had mentioned earlier, it can’t even rest it off on its back, since even laying down for too long is deadly to horses.

Another thing to mention is that unlike dogs, horses cannot breathe through their mouths, so when they have a cold, or an allergy, they can easily suffocate and, again, die. For the same reason horses often croak from simple choking.

With these few example, I am trying to illustrate why dog owners have no comprehension of what goes into horse ownership. No one really understands what it’s like to be dealing with a horse health problem, how all consuming and exhausting it can be, except for horse people of course. And this is just one dimension of horse ownership, the highly redacted physiological one. It is also why horse love is nothing like dog love. The more attention and worry something requires, never you mind money, the more significant the place it occupies in our worlds. Just from the perspective of wellness, horses are infinitely more complex and demanding than dogs. After spending years worrying and obsessing about every cough and every limp, the feeling we develop for our equine partners is infinitely deeper and more involved than the fuzzy uncomplicated affections we feel towards our sweet canine companions. It’s just simple math. Involvement and investment is commonly proportionate to attachment and meaning. The harder we work at something, the more we value the product of our labor. In the case of horse ownership and equestrianism, a live, sound horse is the product.

—–>Part 2// Why Horse love is nothing like dog love // The partnership, the sweat, the guts, the glory.

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I’m sick & I hate it

miscellaneous

My fingers being blue is not a symptom of my ailment, don’t worry, I messed around with ink earlier. Although, as an athlete and a migraine sufferer I am used to counteracting pains, I always think that and act like I am impervious to the ruinous machinations of microbes. I am also under the dubious delusion that a lifetime of not washing my hands has developed in me a superior system of defense, impenetrable by commonplace germs. So once in a while, when they get me, it’s a real shock and a blow to my confidence. Although I had been pretty sick for a while, in true spartan custom I refused to break from my somewhat active routine. Two days ago I even took my steed out for a brisk 3 hour hack through the greenway park, pushing us both to pleasant exhaustion. Apparently, contrary to the saying, a canter does not cure all evils, as I had been laid up ever since. Miserably laid up with a fever and well beyond the protests of my stubborn will. Decidedly I am under siege. This is a hostile invasion and a violation, germs, and I demand thee to vacate the premises immediately..or else.

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On Las Vegas & getting old-er-ish or Tutus forever

writing

It’s 2 am in Vegas. After an epic weekend of hanging and partying with my besties, I’ve spent most of my last day here alone, marooned in my hotel room, binge watching Ally McBeal on Netflix and eating junk food. It’s what I call regrouping. Anyways, I am well primed for a depressing, esoteric sort of rant. I promise I will in the end have a point.

Being the neurotic, deep-&-over-thinking type I’ve always struggled with just about every aspect of the human condition. I think I had my first existential crisis as a tottering, slobbering toddler with many more to follow in its wake. I envy people who can glide through life largely unaffected by or unaware of the preposterousness of the entire ordeal, and I don’t say this disparagingly. Don’t they recognize that we are all literally born to hazard; the human experience, though punctuated by some occasional variant joys, is really one of perennial exigency and loss. Still, most just mosey on; they grow, grow up, they find joy, have sex, make love, squeeze themselves into various conventions of living (some with more ease than others), they grasp at satisfaction (however slippery it might be), search for meaning (or invent it), bury their loved ones, make or birth new ones, and, after brief quarter and midlife crises, they finally settle into old age. Seamlessly, living becomes about mitigating the pains and indignities of aging, bouncing grandchildren on knees, reminiscing about days long gone, afternoon naps and weekly games of bridge. Those are actually the lucky people. The unlucky ones might not even get to grow old, or they do, but alone, perhaps ailing beyond the assuaging powers of medicine or without the attentions of loved one. Yes, this is the price of living, it is at best a lottery, and in a way we’re always loosing, even when we are winning.

To many it just is what it is, and I envy the “is what it is” lot. They are the lucky ones. I guess they can also be seen as the “glass half full” people or maybe even just “full”. Though I do not possess their optimistic take on life, I bask in its warm glow like a cold blooded reptile sprawled out beneath the sun. I married such a sun, and every day he gives me the warmth and the stability I need to remain earthbound. In his infinite wisdom he lets me be me, do me, whining, sinking, grappling and struggling, all side-effects of my coping ineptitudes and my free spiritedness.

Although I am mostly just baffled by time’s passing…I, more precisely, don’t do well with what it means for me, the limitations it puts on me, and so I am always looking for answers in an answerless void, trying to reconcile the irreconcilable. I’ll probably go through life feeling forever like I’m missing something important but intangible, like wings or a unicorn; or maybe answers, or a time machine, a dead person, a path not taken, a thrill not had, a youth not fully realized and all too quickly gone. That last one, the one about youth waning, is at the center of all my current grumblings.

A couple of nights ago, while here in Vegas, I had occasion to not only feel 16 (as I always do) but act 16 too. I wore a rainbow tutu, took Molly with my friends (which I hadn’t done in well over a decade), made it rain at a co-ed strip joint, danced all night with a sweet, truly beautiful (inside and out) much younger boy and ate a mountain of French Fries on my bed before finally passing out, fully dressed, on a pile of ketchup packets and just in time for the sunrise. It was an indisputably fun, unforgettable sort of night, but in the end it left me feeling sad and dispossessed.

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It was a wrinkle in time, which, for the sake of all things right and orderly, had to be quickly ironed out. I resurfaced from it sorely aware of how little it belonged to me, and how soon there’ll come a time when It won’t belong to me at all. It’s not that I want to be 16 again, or experience any dissatisfaction with my life, really, I feel like the luckiest girl in the world just about most of the time. For all the things I have, most can only hope for. My family is my amazing everything, my husband is my rock & my best friend, my few good friends are more than just “good”, I have fun hair and even a pony 😛 etc. etc.; It isn’t that I want to be 16, it is simply that I never again will be 16, ever. NEVER. The gap is set to steadily widen, and widen it does. Simple enough, pathetic even, I know.

I am suddenly facing the looming limitations and expectations, which come with being fortunate enough to enter that wretched fourth decade of life, the one that marks indisputably the onset of adulthood. It has left me grateful, sure, but even more so, for a time, perturbed and kind of robbed. For most women who face their 30’s with uncertainty it is an experience which is something like a midlife crisis; for a woman like me, one stuck in perpetual childhood, it is worse. It feels like a merciless suffocation (not the fun kind), in most dramatic terms it feels like a dying of the light. I even had a nightmare last night about turning 31, a full on nightmare, I was relieved to wake up and remember that in reality there was a handful of months left before the event….but then I realized it’s ONLY a handful of months.

When I turned 30 this year, I did so with pronounced bravado, much more so actually than any of my previous birthdays, but I can honestly say that I am now having a painfully delayed reaction to it. I’ve had a good run of my 20’s, I like who I was and how I grew. I wasn’t a perfect human, but I learned life’s lessons dutifully, I strived for self-betterment, I sought quality and depth in most things. I can say that I am an ethical person, my integrity means everything to me, I am uniquely committed to living honestly, I mostly do the right thing, I say what I mean and more than I should…. but still, inside, inside I often just feel so little and so 16. And the further away I move from 16, chronologically speaking, the more I feel like a panic. Like something is moving in on me, grimly, and I cannot quell it. Neither can I properly incorporate it into my own-personal-human experience. I am lost in time, and time is no less lost in me.

Although the rainbow tutu belongs to me, I worry that I won’t belong to it much longer, and there in lies the crux of it all. Having cried into my ketchup stained pillow for a good part of the hour while typing this up, I feel slightly relieved, which leads me to believe that this whole rant might have been partially hormonal. Anyways, there is always Botox and lying about my age I suppose, that should buy me a few extra years. Tutus forever for me and mine. Tootle-loo.

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On writing blocks and killing mice

writing

I am having a hard time writing and by that I mean I am not doing it at all. I don’t want to join the ranks of those miserably irritating writer/blogger types who wine incessantly about their writing blocks, but ugghh if it’s not a block it’s a definite jam and it is sorely felt. The issue is that I really don’t want to write about nothing, so I am looking for something to sink my teeth into. Prattling on about the daily minutia of life is just not doing the trick right now . I am still mostly entertaining thoughts about nothing, i.e. Kim K’s butt, Kim K’s front, fat people eating Mcdonalds, Iphone vs. Droid, a virtual celebrity death camp app that I would like to develop, how I want to name all my future children “Todd” etc. etc…..Yesterday I did spend the better part of an hour thinking about the holidays and what they mean to people, especially those people who are without people; a short but meaningful inner monologue took place in the adult corner of my mind about relationships and how sad it is that so many seem to fall apart over just sex. That last one I might be able to develop into a sufficiently scandalous and substantive write up, but I am not holding my breath. In the end nothing cohesive materialized, brain chatter subsided and settled all dew like at the floor of my cranium. Can’t drink dew.

I am trying now to start writing again with a mind to stumbling onto something that is more than nothing and perhaps actually worthy of a few semi thought out sentences and their readers.

So, the other day I somewhat accidentally killed a mouse, my subsequent efforts to revive it proved in the end to be utterly futile and perhaps more harmful than not. I think I may have inadvertently prolonged its suffering and exasperated my own distress. Mice are the scourge of barns and tack rooms everywhere, and despite my best efforts to recognize all animals as innocent and deserving of life, I am prejudiced against them in the context of stables. As a barn person, I find it hard to see mice as anything more than galling, scurrying, pooping, manducating machines, undeterred by doors, walls or threats of violence and imminent death. My favorite sweater for example, that I still wear but only at home, had suffered complete disfigurement for their indiscriminate chewing, after I haphazardly left it on top of my tack trunk for a single night. Much of my tack, including pricy leathers and bridles had fallen prey to the insatiable appetites of mice invaders any time it was not properly stored or hung up. And actual feed? Forget about it, forget you know its name. Purina? Bran? Gold Standard? They will chew through every bag, every box and tunnel past most other containments, which wouldn’t really be that big of a deal, were they able to control their bowel movements. In case you didn’t know, they are not. They defecate it seems while eating, walking, sleeping and, I imagine, plotting. Mice are in this way just like babies… but don’t start me on babies. There is always mouse poo to be found ON my saddle, but this is only just gross and it merely vexes my delicate sensibilities. The poop they leave in the feed is a whole other issue, it renders the feed contaminated and often beyond use, it’s a real problem. Anyways, you can imagine how my relationship with barn mice is at best strained and certainly fraught with enmity, still my commitment to nonviolence means that I would never intentionally harm them or seek to displace them.

Long story made shorter, I found two mice in a bucket of feed, one jumped out and ran away the other ran in frantic circles around the inside rim of the bin, I deduced that he would jump out later, and if not, well I figured it wasn’t my problem and left him. When I returned 3 days later I found him still in there, he was apparently unable to find his way out like his buddy, maybe he was younger or white and unable to jump. For lack of water and excess of food he was in a terrible state, barely able to open his eyes or move. My heart sank, I did this and there he was such a pitiful thing, clinging to life. “God” only knows what he had gone through over the past few days. I imagined his dehydrated suffering, perhaps his fear, the dwindling of his hopes, and, honestly, became deeply sad. I don’t mean to dramatize. I realize that he was only a mouse, who was more likely to fall prey to a mouse trap or a barn cat than to live out his days into old age and retirement, but this seemed like the worst kind end for any living thing.I scrambled to get him out, scooping him up into a bowl, put a little water over his body then sat him down on a damp towel with his face resting on a little dish of water I fashioned out of an orange juice cap. I then put a tiny mountain of very wet feed right next to his face and covered him partially with a piece of cloth, hoping that he might feel more secure for it. When I came back in a few hours he had moved a little and was sitting a few feet away from where I left him. I was hopeful as his eyes were now half way open. I put him back into the safe zone with the water and the food and left for the day. The next day he wasn’t there. I thought, in my foolish optimism, that he had recovered and found the strength to rejoin his brethren, but a barn hand informed me that he had found him dead under a chair earlier that morning. My futile efforts to revive him probably only caused him more suffering and fear. There is something oppressive to any pointless loss of life. It’s like when you catch a glance of road kill or those skulls and bones in old paintings-the memento mori’, small but jarring reminders of how fine the threshold is between being and not being, how all things that are living must get dead. Life is always just a visitor who brings a gift, a gift which turns to dust when she takes her leave. I was there when he was so alive with a future ahead of him; there were many a bridles he could have laid tooth to, much feed to waste, maybe even baby mice to produce with Missis Mouse. I could have helped him out of that bin and spared him the suffering and the dying, but, for no particular reason, I just didn’t. 😦 I think the fact that I didn’t intend to kill him, but kind of did, is what’s actually upsetting here. I had never killed anything before via inaction, and I can tell you that it’s the worst and with an after taste of evil. Baring responsibility for that outcome without the preceding conviction or intent makes for an unexpected burden, miserable and surprisingly abject. Poor mouse.

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

Part 4: On lonely girls and broken hearts

writing

Our friendship rebooted itself with pronounced enthusiasm. Although I found myself quite busy with school and work, there wasn’t a singular occasion when I could resist his call. Many evenings we were together, and if, by some chance, I wasn’t able to immediately confirm or otherwise respond to his summons, I would find on my phone beckoning pictures of steaming coffee cups with my name scribbled on them,  valiantly pre-purchased  and sitting somewhere next to him, in wait of me. I, in truth, was quite transfixed by the entire ordeal, revived and whirlwind as it was. A long time Lonely girl, I found myself relieved for a time of my cumbersome Bête noire and with it my moniker. It wasn’t merely that I no longer felt as alone, or that he wooed me in that obsequiously sweet and wordy way of his; there was also the beguiling lure of innocence to the whole affair. The combination was irresistible and so singularly unique that, against my better judgment, I started to believe we had the makings of something special or at least something that would keep.

Often, at close of evening, we would return to my humble Santa Monica abode and watch together some respectable television programming. I think, somewhat amusingly, the program we watched most of was HBO’s Big Love. My couch wasn’t exactly petit but it necessitated the sort of proximity that, in all honesty, was best suited to romantic entanglements. Said proximity though did, after a while, contribute to a blurring of those proverbial lines which govern physical appropriateness and its limitations. One night he held my arm across his lap and my hand in his, some random other I rested against his shoulder, eventually, on all the rest, we laid together, perfectly melded, without an iota of space left between us. Sadly, I do not think I had ever before been so close to another human being, or so at home. With my head cradled against his chest I listened to the alien mutterings of his heart and was, to my own surprise , conspicuously, completely satisfied. It went on this way for a while turning into a kind of ritual between us.

The obvious observation here would be that the relationship was transforming into something more than a friendship, but truly it was not. Our prelapsarian entanglement was for both of us a kind of experiment in intimacy and diversion. It was this alchemy too that drove us to the climactic eventuality of touching lips. Although the sacrilege of this act, conducted as it were between mere friends, was satisfying, I’ll admit, we both considered it a bit of a fall from grace. Of all the moments we shared, our kissing is not one I remember. I don’t remember it what so ever. I only know that it happened because I recall my subsequent thoughts and our discussion of it. I couldn’t even say if it happened more than once, although my guess would be that it did.

At some point he invited me out to dinner with his family, the patrimonial half of it anyways, as his parents were long divorced. I got the sense that it had more to do with paternal approval than the advance of our friendship. I think he needed a prop to reassure Father of his red blooded American maleness, however counterfeit it was. I didn’t mind, the night was warm and the situation interesting, albeit seasoned perhaps with a subtle pinch of dysfunction. I was by every definition as obliging an actor in that theater as I was an unwitting one in the other.

J treated me always with exceeding care and gentlemanly regard. He had no money, but still insisted on buying my lattes. When he wanted me to watch Pan’s Labyrinth, he got it for me on DVD. His enduring attentions along with many small acts of kindness relieved me eventually and completely of all my reservations. If it wasn’t a seduction, it was a markedly assiduous and well executed persuasion. Admiration grew to a kind of lonely girl love and friendship transformed into a kinship, for me anyways. When fumigation rendered my house uninhabitable, I was all set to move for a short while into my aunt’s home, but J interceded, inviting me to stay with him at his father’s domicile in the Palisades. The rest of his clan was at the time traveling elsewhere, so the house sat empty but for him. I occupied his little sister’s room the very next day, it was a perfect fir, Goldilocks would have turned green with envy.

I believe we cohabitated for about a week or maybe a little longer. A charming little vignette, we were like two odd peas marinating in their special pod. We were, by my estimation, closer than ever. He didn’t talk much about San Francisco or this mysterious crisis that sent him scurrying back to LA, but the one person from his previous circumstance that he seemed to yearn for was a certain Berkeley professor. As I understood, they shared a singularly special intellectual kinship. One night he showed me their online exchanges and emails, his reaction while he reviewed them was more telling than their actual content, which frankly was somewhat beyond my humble comprehension. To say that he admired the man would be an understatement. I considered that this professor was to him, what he/J was to me, or perhaps more. It seemed possible that their relationship was not entirely or even at all platonic.

Things went swimmingly it seemed, until one day I literally went swimming. The first and possibly only time he treated me with sternness and irritation was over his laptop. I had dragged it off with me towards the pool, and the discovery of its proximity to water agitated him completely. While it was a perfectly reasonable reaction, as computers and pools are in fact an ill advised pairing, for the first time he was towards me not very patient or kind, and it sorely surprised me. In retrospect it might have been the beginning of the end, but I don’t know, it certainly seemed like nothing at the time.

In the interest of factuality and not because I think the event was significant or consequential, I must add that during my stay with him we did haphazardly take up our alchemic experiment again. It was a coital effort as anticlimactic in its commencement as it was in its near instantaneous termination. Without getting into details too graphic for my blushing brain, we suffered technical difficulties, amongst perhaps some others, which resulted in hasty and permanent abandonment of the whole ill conceived scheme. It was the most awkward undertaking of my entire sexual history, especially as neither one of us was particularly interested in it to begin with. Regrettably, since you’re wondering, we were at the time stone cold sober. Did we technically have sex, in the strictest and most reductionist definition of the act, I suppose we did. Did we in fact HAVE sex, no, absolutely not. And again, although this piece of the puzzle might seem of note, because so often the involvement of sex is, in our case and in my opinion, it was in fact completely meaningless and changed none of the implied terms of our friendship.

After the laptop incident, there was perhaps a small but perceptible shift in J, I felt like he withdrew some tiny part of himself from me, the warmest part. I was never a daft person, especially in terms of interpersonal relationships, so I quickly noticed a subsequent change in his mood. Although there were no obvious signs, I could feel that he didn’t want me there with him anymore. I tested the water and determined that my suspicions were correct, he wasn’t exactly asking me to stay. Marked by his sudden disengagement, I could feel for the first time between us a kind of ocean. Although it was unexpected, I wasn’t worried about it because I understood well the prevailing urgency of solitude, being quite prone to it myself. I didn’t take it personally either and, in the interest of friendly consideration, packed with great urgency. I am a huge proponent of giving the soul exactly what it wants when it wants it, and so I did my darnest to oblige his.

In the moments before my departure I was more worried about J, than myself, I wanted to relieve him of my company and all of its supplemental obligations as quickly as possible. I had no reason to believe that something was wrong, but my heart did bounce around a bit. I remember how it beat erratically inside my chest for no evident reason when he was ushering me outside, and how I tried to will it into abject submission. Still it sank some, it really it did. Once outside, we embraced briefly exchanging sweet goodbyes. It was as normal a parting as any, except that I could tell he was a million miles away. I had no way of knowing that I would never see him again.

Go to——->Part 5: On lonely girls and broken hearts

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