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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When they get you, they really get you

writing

Though I have many easy enough days volunteering at the shelter, there are hard ones as well.

Luckily for me, I am not the kind of person who greatly loves all dogs. I feel deep compassion for all of them, but otherwise I am almost as dog selective as I am people selective. Furthermore in an effort to steel myself against attachments I do my best not to get to know the animals. I have to remain stoic in order to be able to help them, the alternative would be completely falling apart. I fully expect that at some point in my life I will crack and dabble in animal hoarding, there will be an intervention of some kind, it’ll probably make it onto the news. Local woman on the run from authorities with her 100+ dogs in tow, armed with biscuits and not at all dangerous. Anyways….

During my volunteer hours I usually concentrate on getting out as many dogs as possible, I am all about efficiency. Once in a while though, it can’t be helped, I get caught inside a quiet moment in the shade of a tree with an animal who puts its head in my lap as if it belongs there, as if we are the oldest of friends. 

  He lays there quietly, listening to the earth like he speaks her language. He stares up at the sky, takes deep breaths of the grass, he is young, but he won’t waste his energy on spastic antics, no, he wants to take the world in best he can, while he can, he knows he might not be long for it. He leans into my hands, but does not coax their movement, my fingers press gently into his coat. He seems calm, but his heart is beating fast, I think from joy. I have to bring him back to his cage. Eyes close then open slowly to look at mine, then close again. By the next time he opens his eyes I am completely wrecked. That dog destroyed me for the duration of this entire day. I cried over him, I cried after him, I cried during dinner and I am crying now, as I write.

Update **** He’ll never be alone again. FullSizeRender copy 5

A kind of rewrite // The desert & her rain

art, writing

Photo: personal

The rain is falling. The melody of his decent permeates everything around. He pours down hard, with urgency, spilling into the earth, diving towards the ground, as if the two of them were epic lovers reunited after long separation. Long it has been. The desert has not seen her rain all summer, but there was another suitor. The sun has courted her without relief. At first he brought her light, then warmth, at last he gave her heat, then only grief, for he was not the one she yearned for. Scorned was the sun and scorching was his fury. Deaf to her pleas, he burned her flesh and did not spare her beauty. His final gift to her was death. Critters, birds, frogs scattered across her plains, all dead, bitter reminders of all that is unrequited in this world, all that we dread.

When earlier tonight the air grew still and thick, I knew rain had come back to her and readied for a flood. For hours nothing stirred. There was no wind or movement in the night, even the stars had hushed their glow while all the rest laid low in quiet anticipation.

At last he had arrived. He swept her up into his arms, as if no time had passed between them. He spilled across her body with abandon, covering every inch of her and leaving none exposed. He told her of his love and of his sadness, begged she forgive his absence, eased her pain, then pulled her back to life and clear of madness. He kissed her face, caressed her skin, nourished her wounds and wiped away the death, then he made promises again he would not keep and hushed her with the sweetness of his breath.

The many things I wish for today.

miscellaneous

“I wish finding likable people with whom I could socialize and build history wasn’t such a Cyclopean feat. That’s right, I said Cyclopean.”

You might be thinking, what does that horse picture have to do with this post? Nothing. It’s just a cheap ploy to get your attention, as often my illustrations are in fact.

Some days, amazingly, I don’t really feel like externalizing my vibrant inner monologue. On these days I just want to blend into the desert scenery, become a part of the landscape, disappear into a gerbil hole. But I am not a cactus or a gerbil, so I resign myself to eating tons of candy (has anyone seen those giant M&M’s called Megas? Incredible) and making lists. Here goes.

I wish my hair would quit growing, cutting it really puts me out.

I wish I could understand the attraction of Twitter & Instagram, but I fear I am falling behind and modernity is no longer in my purview.

I wish I could write plot as well as I can write emotion and dialogue, then I could identify myself as a writer & not just a writer type. But no such luck.

I wish I could mourn less those moments passing or passed, and celebrate more the moments yet to come.

I wish the hint of sadness which resides perennially in my heart would vacate its chambers, and move, preferably out of the country. I hear France is nice this time of year.

I wish people didn’t assume my boobs were fake, it really bothers me, because I really can’t stand breast implants and women who get them. Sorry women, not sorry.

I wish pointed words made themselves readily available when I need them, and not 3 hours later when I don’t.

I wish memory was a trustier, less precarious component of my intellect.

I wish Santa Clause was real and cancer wasn’t. I know that’s a bit reductionist. The heart wants what it wants.

I wish desiring and possessing weren’t mutually exclusive.

I wish finding likable people with whom I could socialize and build history wasn’t such a Cyclopean feat. That’s right, I said Cyclopean.

I wish syrup was a constant table side accompaniment like salt or pepper.

I wish once a month my uterus didn’t have to undergo such tremendous discomfort.

Mine and Yoohoo’s thoughts on Planes, Texas and God

humor, writing

So I am back on the plane, leaving Houston, baby. I’m happy to report that there is nothing for me to gripe about, as Yoohoo & I have a whole row of seats all to ourselves. No more will these airlines milk me for that additional 37$-45$ right before boarding for a better seat. I used that fancy college education and beat them at their own game, my mom’s so proud. I looked on my flight itinerary at the seats available for upcharge, but instead of buying one I took a screen shot. I was able to discern from the rather self explanatory seating chart that just like on my flight to Houston there was no shortage of these superior seats. Then I strategically, ignored the seat assigned to me and sat in the cluster of upcharge seats, figuring that even if by some odd chance, someone actually pays for one and bumps me, I can just move one row ahead to a similar situation without any fuss. It worked. Yoohoo and I flew peacefully, prostrated across 3 seats with not a soul bothering us the entire time. There was no mouth breather to my right, no Bible clutcher* to my left, just terrible airplane hummus and the gratification of finally getting our due and our elbow room. Yoohoo was pleased, as I am sure is evident from his facial expression. He insisted on taking that airplane selfie for posterity.

I saw some stuff on my trip, stuff that changed me. There were kids riding in the back of pick up trucks on the highways, with their buzzed heads bopping up and down as they peaked out over the edges of the truck beds.

There was no Groupon or Starbucks in Wharton, but there were cockroaches. I will say though that I don’t suffer from that socially conditioned aversion to cockroaches. I see them as just bugs with excellent adaptive mechanisms, at times I even find them charming, mysterious and impressive.

Men in Texas can and are not afraid to dance. More so, they ask women to dance. Which is very, very lovely. Something I’ve realized I’m missing in my neck of the woods. They dance with them respectfully, they don’t grind on them or try to cop a feel, in that way the culture appears to have maintained that elusive air of vintage romance and courtesy.

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Service industry moves in Wharton at glacial pace. I noticed that buying anything that requires packing of any kind, even as simple as being put away into a plastic bag is a losing proposition. After a while I just started saying that I don’t need a bag, grabbing whatever I was purchasing off the counter and bouncing out.

Apparently the community spirit is so strong here, that even pooping is a group activity. Rad & I did christen that bathroom, in case you were wondering.

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In the honkiest and only bar in Wharton there was the most modern jukebox I had ever seen. I couldn’t believe it. A flat touch screen wall contraption with some kind of a web library set up allowed you to run elaborate and comprehensive music searches to compile extensive musical cues. Perhaps this is more standard than I realize, as I rarely go out, but still, not here in backcountry. I’m sure they’ll create some kind of a sensor system on that machine going forward, as I took full advantage of its vast musical selection and filled the bar with N’sync and Britney Spears. Best 20$ I ever spent. Here is Rad doing her pool shark thang.

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There is smoking indoors and its ubiquitous, there is also totally gag inducing tobacco chewing. I don’t have any idea how this repugnant practice could have started, I understand the aesthetic appeals of smoking, the cigarette, the drag, the exhalation of smoke clouds… but tobacco lumps being tucked away into cheeks like tumors, the lip flexing to stretch itself over the unsightly protrusion; the spitting, hacking and expectorating. Ew.

This place is very environmentally conscious. Used tampons & toilet paper get recycled.

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I consider myself quite adaptable and somewhat fringy, but when Rad took me to Numbers, a dance club in Houston, for a hot minute I felt out of my element. Numbers turned out to be a Goth club. Although there was a definite leaning towards latex, leather, metal and wigs, the club was filled with people of many and varying creeds. Surprisingly the unifying theme appeared to be inclusion. A trans woman with a face mercilessly mangled by scars from an old skin affliction was like something out of nightmares and dreams. She danced beautifully, moving in the pulsating strobe light like liquid. Her 8 inch platform boots, cut out leather shorts with many straps, torn black tights, buckles, long curled nails, a black bustier cinching her in, black bangs and a tall long pony tail, were all a part of an elaborate costume either connecting her to or hiding her from the world. I could not tell, and failed not to stare. There were many others, all equally creative, different and alike. I danced amongst them thinking about their lives, I wondered what kind of a conversations we would have if ever I had the cause or the gull to speak with them.

A senior age couple dressed in every way like my parents in law or accountants, danced in the middle of the floor. They were completely at home, completely into each other, moving up and down in unison. He had a studded leather collar around his neck to which a chain leash was attached, she held on to its other end. Radhika danced around like a ball of wholesome energy, her blond curly hair in bows, her flowy little dress, she moved energetically as she does across the dance floor, bouncing of the unsuspecting dancing goths like a ray of erratic, directionless sunshine.

On the drive home we talked about God. Rad is very Christian while I am a well known heathen atheist. But it was one of the few conversation I’ve ever had with anyone on that subject where I really wasn’t compelled to roll my eyes uncontrollably or jump out of the moving vehicle. I understood her God, I understood the solace she finds in reading the Bible & in praying. I respected her open, flexible mind and reasoned that at the very least I owed her the same. She talked about the living word, about what one like herself could get out of it, the method by which she finds guidance in faith, the ways in which her worship connects her to the eternal and the limitless. We talked about true acceptance. I found her religion to be strange, as all religiosity is to me, but also beautiful. And therein learned something new about myself.

Rad & Zippy

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I am in the middle of NOWHERE…Starbucks is 28 miles away :O

writing

I have a few things worthy of reporting. Right this moment I am perched uncomfortably in an aisle seat of a US Airways plane. I paid 37$ extra dollars to change into this seat while checking in, as the seat that had been assigned to me was in the very tail of the plane. Tails of planes don’t bode well for me, uncontrollable nausea leads to rampant vomiting which leads to awkwardness between me and those hapless few seated near me. But now, in my +37$ seat in the very front of the plane, I am pissed, because the plane is half empty. I could have used my will and my legs to move into it free of charge. This is bullshit, Us Airways. I am done with you. *Shakes fist in air.

So where am I going? I am going to Houston, or rather Wharton, Texas! I had never been to Texas, but I just read that Houston is something like the first major U.S. city to have an openly gay & female mayor. A double whammy. That’s darn amazing to my thinking, and in Texas? Who could have imagined such a thing was possible? Progressive, inclusive thinking and a democratic election process based on merit, free from bigotry and sexism is like my catnip. So even though I have also been told that Houston is an utter shithole filled to the brim with pollution and strip clubs, I am very excited to visit this shining example of the modern age. First thing I discovered while peeing, that Houstoneans are quite a wordy bunch, where paper is lacking they see not an obstacle, but an opportunity. photo 3 copy

I love airports. I love them for a few reasons, but mostly because the people watching is superb. A complete spectrum of humanity is dished up in all of its glorious variety. If ever Aliens needed a good sampling of the human species they could just abduct the contents of one airport and be done with it.

I take airporting very seriously, I spend a dubious amount of time trying to figure out what to wear to the airport and doing something to my hair so that it falls just so atop my head. Most of the times allI can come up with are pajamas and unkempt pixie buns, but whatever I decide on has to fit the mood just right. It’s not so much a vanity thing, as an exercise in disguise. Alas, I am not at all happy with my outfit today. The airplane is very chilly, at least I am glad to be wearing long sleeves, as is my custom. One important rule of airport fashion is to wear things that offer full coverage to skin, as you simply don’t want to be touching anything here. Trust me.

Now for a little racism. 😛 Originally, before everyone dispersed evenly across the half empty plane, I sat in a row with two gentlemen. One very Asian and elderly, quite like Mr. Miyagi, the other very Mexican and somewhat surly.photo 2

The Mexican man is wearing a slightly ornate, pinstriped dress shirt; extra tight, dark navy jeans and a hand tooled brown belt to match his brown, alligator skin, sharp nosed shoes. He has on Prada sunglasses and a Louis Vuitton carry on, the checkered kind not the monogram. He keeps looking at me slyly but obviously, it’s not the slickest operation I’d ever been subjected to. I imagine in Mexico he is quite the stud, the ladies must get slayed by the barrel full.

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Both have some appearance of FOBishness, and I am not saying this derogatorily, it’s just an observation. To my surprise and thorough amusement, when the Asian man finally spoke to me, I discovered that his is the tongue exactly like that of my Californian compatriots, every bit of his diction and cadence smacked of a Malibu surfer dude. It made my brain giggle uncontrollably. A few minutes later the Mexican man had occasion to utter a few words as well, he needed to use the lavatory, and once again I blinked confusedly as he sounded like my college English lit professor. Perhaps I should quit racially profiling….naaah that’d be no fun. I love surprises. America, the land of so many and so varying, I love thee.

I am ready for this plane to land, I am almost entirely out of sustenance. So far I had eaten 2 bags of chips, a rather hearty sandwich, a bag of M&Ms,one of those hummus snack packs, some grapes and some pretzels. I have Bugles left and Sprees. I am starting to get weird looks from everyone who has me in their sights. I am a bored plane eater. Sorry. Jeesh. Shameful plane behavior, like gratuitous overeating is part of the airporting experience. A part I love.

Back to where I am going. I am going to Wharton to hang out & ride ponies with my friend Radikah at a Polo farm which is currently employing her. Wharton is a very small town as far as I understand, and now that I am driving my little rental car over to it, I have realized that it is 1.5 hours away from Houston and literally in the middle of nowhere! First thing I did was I Googled the nearest Starbucks. T’is 28 miles away, ladies and gents. That noise you just heard piercing the atmosphere, was my screaming. Although Raddy has extended her hospitality to me, I can’t stay with people ever, I can’t even share a hotel room due to my social issues, of which I have plenty. So I booked a motel room in Wharton 2 miles away from the Polo club. It’s one of the fancier options, as far as I could tell, from the overwhelming list of 3 in total. And walking into the lobby, I am not disappointed. Splendor, thy name is Country Hearth Inn.photo 4 copy

I have no plans except to enjoy some nature, to ride crazy Polo ponies to my heart’s content, embarrass myself trying to play Polo, partake in various tomfoolery with Raddy, on and off horse back, & of course try not to melt from excessive humidity that everyone talks about….excessively. I will be reporting every bit of my impressions on here. It’s going to be AWESOME. 😀

P.S. Right as I arrived a foal was born. It was equal part beautiful and disgusting.

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