Weekend Coffee Share

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How was your week? We’ve had a cold snap here in northern California. The nights have been below freezing, and the days have been colder than usual. I don’t mind the cold. (Even though I have been daydreaming about road trips to Arizona.) Is it cold where you are? Or can you smell the sweet scents of spring in the air? I’ve had many cups of coffee, and tea, every day this week. Would you like to share a cup with me? Coffee? Or tea? I have a strong pot of freshly brewed coffee, and the tea could be ready in a couple minutes. What do you prefer? If you’re feeling hungry it’s lunch in about 30 min, but we still have plenty of time for a hot drink first 🙂 What are we having for lunch today?  We’re having a southern style black bean soup, with lots of garlic, chili, and leek. There’s some (still warm) homemade flaxseed ciabattas to go with the soup as well. I felt that soup was perfect today. It was 27 degrees when I was out to my horse, Ghost, this morning. Probably even colder when I walked my dog, first thing when I woke up, but I didn’t look at the temperature then.

Is the coffee alright? Would you like sugar? Or cream? I prefer mine black, but I’d be more than happy to get some for you.

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This week I’ve come to a realization. The kind that makes me incredibly happy. My new horse, he wants to be with me. Yes, it’s true that he sometimes show fear about things that I ask him to do, but he really wants to be with me. How do I know this? I’ve owned Ghost for seven weeks today. (If there is such a thing as owning a horse, maybe they own us, but you know what I mean.) For a while he’s been sporadically greeting me with a long neigh when he sees me. Now he does it every time. I always acknowledge his greeting with my body language. If somebody strikes a conversation with me, before I physically can get to him, he does different things to get my attention; his focus is 100 % on me, he often walks, or trots along the fence line closest to me. When I do open the gate to his pasture, or enter his stall in the stable, he stands at the gate/door waiting for me. Without being asked he lowers his head towards the hand that carry the halter, to make it easier for me to put it on. When I finished tying the halter (I like rope halters,) he often lets out a sigh. I think he’s saying that he is in his safe place now. Which has always been my goal, for him to know that it is most comfortable with me. It has never been very difficult to get his attention, but he is becoming wonderful in keeping his attention with me. He does sometimes have opinions, and ideas about what we’re going to do. Sometimes I listen, sometimes I convince him that my idea is better this time. We’re still in the very beginning of our journey, but coming to the realization that my horse prefers my company, even with things going on around him, makes my world a better place. I feel very good about having this as a foundation to build on. In many aspects Ghost lacks experience, and is very much like a baby. Yes, that means lots of work ahead of us, but it also mean that he is very soft, and are looking for someone to show the way. That softness in his eyes isn’t something that you can buy for money, that has to come from inside. You have to deposit lots of love to keep the spirit intact, and nurture that softness, while shaping it carefully into the partner you know is in there.

I’ve been boarding Ghost at a training facility, and that have helped me in my initial work with Ghost. He was not halter broke when I bought him. Meaning he wasn’t used to have anything on his head, or move when feeling pressure of a rope. I’ve done all the work with him myself, but boarding him at a facility with a good arena (actually two,) and a round-pen, definitely made our first weeks easier. It is much easier to connect with a horse in a smaller/confined space, compared to being out on several hundred acres.

Our bond came to a test another time this week as well. The indoor riding arena was not being used. (I try to only use it when I know there isn’t going to be any activity there for at least 30 min, it’s so frustrating to have to stop in the middle of an exercise for a lesson. It’s important to me to always stop when things are going good.) I put up some orange traffic cones, and barrels, making a little obstacles course for Ghost. We’ve done it before,  but I try to make it a little different every time. This time there was still several people doing things in the stable around the arena. (The arena is in the middle of a horse shoe shaped stable.) There was loud music on, and horses being taken in from their pasture. Different kind of activities. Considering this I was amazed of Ghost’s focus. He really enjoyed this! I took the halter of, so he could of galloped away doing his own thing, the arena is quiet big, but he choose to walk with me through the obstacle course. We did this several times. I even started to bounce a big yoga ball ahead of me, in and out through the course, and back and forth with my daughter. In the beginning he did take a couple steps of course, more out of surprise, but he quickly came back, accepting the new element. It was a blast. An elderly lady that I often talk to at the stable watched us, and said I like this! I really like this! She came back from doing little things in the stable, and said this several times.

Now when Ghost and I have the connection I’ve been striving for, I am hoping that one day I will live in a place where he can live with our family. The photos of Ghost in this post is from yesterday morning. I like to come out to the stable when it’s quiet, early in the morning, to get some one-and-one time with my horse. It’s very valuable to me. I miss having a ranch of my own, having horses of my own living with me. It’s a very special thing, to be able to see them several times every day, just sharing a few minutes here and there. To more be a part of their life, than just an occasional visitor. I am grateful (extremely grateful) for what I have today, but that doesn’t mean that I’m settling for this!

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Are you reading something interesting? I tend to read more in the winter time. My goal this year is to read 52 books (more than 300 pages each.) My daughter and I read a lot together, both in English, and Swedish. It’s important to me that she sees how I treasure books, and with that learning new things. I believe that she will remember what she sees, and experience, more than what I tell her. Tell me more about your week? Did you come to any new realizations? I hope you’re having an awesome week, I’ll say my week is pretty good. This post is part of the #WeekendCoffeeShare, feel free to join us!

Love,

Ms Zen

Weekend Coffee Share

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Would you like some coffee? Or perhaps tea? The coffee is made, and I will have the tea kettle going in not time, if you’d rather have tea. There’s plenty of teas to choose from; black, red, green, and white ones. I’m on my second cup of coffee. It’s a dark roast, and boldly brewed. Strong, just like a like it.

How was your week? Mine was good. We’ve had strong winds here this week. Strong like trying to move my truck sideways on the freeway. My daughter and I have indulged in different school projects; such as a research project about Australia, Valentine’s Day history, rhyme words, remarkable Queens throughout history, what it takes to become a participant in the olympics, and how to research topics of interest on the internet etc. School wise, it’s been a great week!

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Ghost (my horse) is doing fantastic. On the windiest days I’ve adjusted the training, taking that into consideration. I have worked with him twice a day, every day, as usual. I only work him 15-30 min at the time. If we just play it can be slightly longer. I believe in consistency, and short, creative, session. He seem to thrive on routine. A lot of people around our neck of the woods are unfortunate to have the flu, making the indoor riding arena available, more than ever before. We’ve built obstacle courses there, and played with a big yoga ball, perfect for windy days. (You can see this weeks photos, and a short video of Ghost, if you head over to Instagram.) Yesterday it wasn’t quiet as windy as the other days, and I decided to work outdoors, in the round-pen. Since I’ve only had Ghost for a little more than a month, I’ve spent a lot of time working on gaining his trust. It’s true that I have asked him to do things, but more in a getting to know you kind of way. I feel that he trusts me fairly well now, naturally I will keep working on our relationship, but I’m upping the game a little, asking him to face some of his fears. It’s only by stepping out of our comfort zone that we can truly grow. Ghost is a sensitive horse, a very sensitive horse in some ways. He is intelligent, and it is possible to connect to his thinking side, of the brain. Did you know that horses have a thinking side, and a reactive side of the brain? On top of that you have to teach a horse everything from both sides, it’s not enough hat he knows that a plastic bag won’t eat him on the left side of the body, you’ll need to make sure he knows that it won’t eat him on the right side either. With Ghost it is easy to connect to the thinking side of the brain, but the reactive side is still very close. Especially with everything that involves ropes. I can hang over his back, and put my leg over his back, but if a rope touches his back, he is at the other side of the arena, or as far away as he can get, in the blink of an eye. I’ve been working successfully with silk gloves around it, but now when he trusts me a little more, I ask a little more of him. I’m being very carefully to not push too much, because he is so sensitive, but it is necessary that I help him overcome this fear. It can take as long time as it need to take, but I need to help him get through this. Before I do, he’s not going to be able to become a safe riding horse. We did have some major breakthroughs in the matter yesterday, but I am expecting this to take some time. Surely Ghost can have opinions about things, like where he wants to go when we are out for a walk etc, but when it comes to ropes, it’s not that, he is afraid. He’s been through something, at some point. Maybe someone have roped him when he was very young? Even though that doesn’t match the story I was told. Anyways, we will get through this. He is very trusting, and tries, even when he is scared. There was a lot of licking and chewing yesterday. He is definitely thinking, trying his very best. I purposely waited to deal with this, until I knew that he would come to me for reassurance, which he constantly did.

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I’m going to work a little more on this, and then I’m planning on spending lots of time long reining him. Driving him on the ground, with long reins, (sort of if I would have a cart, but without a cart. LOL.) That way he’ll have plenty of time getting used to ropes/lines on his body, before I start riding him. He will also build more muscles, and learn to be soft and supple, flex/bend, and steer easily. All of those things will highly benefit him (and me,) when I do start riding. I’ve also decided that I am not going to use the beautiful, heavy duty, F.Vela saddle I got last week for him. It weighs at least 55lbs, and I’m not sure it would be very comfortable for him. I might try to trade it for a more light weight endurance saddle. We’ll see. Plenty of time to think about that. Spring is just around the corner, and I am definitely going to take advantage of the warmer days, that soon will turn into hot days. Introducing new things to a relaxed horse by the end of a hot day, is something completely different, compared to introducing something new to a fresh horse, on a cold, windy day. If you’re not a horse person, I apologize for all this talk about horses. Can you tell that it’s something that I am passionate about? When I learned to read I read everything there was to read about horses, at the three libraries closest to where I lived (I was 5 years old,) and I mean everything. Growing up, and later having horses of my own, I still enjoy learning more about these fantastic animals. In the end it’s definitely the horses themselves that teach me the most.

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Tell me more about your week! Are you planning to have a garden this year? If so, please tell me about it! I’m not sure about my garden yet. It’s a complicate thing. I have access to 3 acres, that I can do anything I want with. I used to live close by, but I don’t anymore. I’m not sure what I am going to do about that. I love gardening, and I really do want to have a garden. In the heat we have here you need to water it twice a day, early in the morning, and late in the evening. The rest of the day is scorching hot. I would have to drag my daughter out of bed at 4am every morning. I just can’t do that. When you don’t live nearby it’s just not practical. On the other hand, there’s so much that you can do with 3 acres of excellent soil. I’ve been thinking a lot about that this week.

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Today we went on a great hike up at Mt. Shasta. The photos in today’s post are from that hike. This post is a part of the #WeekendCoffeeShare. Thank you for having coffee with me! I really enjoyed your company! Please come back soon.

Love,

Ms Zen

Weekend Coffee Share

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I usually have my coffee alone, at least in the morning, but I’d love to have coffee with you. Are you up yet? It’s actually almost 6am, Saturday morning..For now I would have to invite you to my living room. I think you’ll be rather comfortable there. I have a dream about a house on a mountain, with a porch, and matching rocking chairs, where I enjoy coffee watching the sunrise. I wish I could invite you to join me there. Maybe one day soon. I love watching sunrises, especially in the mountains, with an unobstructed view.

I just came back from walking my dog. (If you’re new to the blog, I have a 3 year old German Shepherd named Gretchen. She’s a rescue that I’ve had for a year. She came with zero training, and I’ve been working with her every day since she blessed me with her presence. I am very proud of her!)

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Our walk was slightly shorter than normal this morning, because we’re going on a hike in a couple hours. Where are we going? Funny you would ask that, I’ll share the photos with you later 😉

Before going on the hike, I’m going to see my horse. I currently board him at a stable about 20 min away. I try to go there in the morning, do a couple ground exercises, and take him out to a pasture for the day. Later in the afternoon I go back again, work/play a little more, and take him in for the night. I wouldn’t have to go there twice a day, I have all inclusive boarding, but what’s the point of having a horse, if you don’t spend time with him? It does makes a difference, especially with a young, inexperienced horse like mine. He knows that I’m his person, even though I’ve just had him for a month. I really like getting to know Ghost’s personality a little better for every day that passes by. He is very intelligent, a fast learner. New things makes him spook/freeze in one place. If he is allowed to stand still for a while, and compose himself, he will confront whatever the scary thing is. If he is put under any pressure, even a very light one, before I see the signs that he is ready (a lowered head in his case,) he goes into flight mode and tries to back away. He is not a terribly spooky horse at all, but he is sensitive. He’s 3/4 Arabian after all. He thrives on routine, and feels safe when he knows what’s about to happen.

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Yesterday my daughter’s lessons (I homeschool her,) took a little longer than I planned. When we arrived to the stable there were no turnouts available, they were all taken. Not ideal, but no big deal, if it only happens once in a while. I figure I’d take him for a long walk in the morning, play a little in the round-pen, and then repeat in the afternoon. That way he’d get to come out anyways, and maybe at some point there’s a turnout available. I start by walking him around the place where I board him. I ran into the owner that generously offers me to leave him in the round pen for a few hours, if I want too, she even offered to take him in for me later. I agreed. Ghost and I had lots of fun in the round-pen, and when it times for me to leave, I leave him there. He told me loud and clear that this is not part of our normal routine. I stayed nearby for  little while, keeping myself busy with little chores, until he settled down. Before leaving I groomed him for 30 min, leaving him with a good feeling. I had some errands to run in the vicinity of the boarding place, and I did plan on checking in on him before going back home. Before I got him, a month ago, he wasn’t halter broke. I’m the only one that handles him, and frankly I wasn’t sure that he was going to let the owner of the place catch him. She is a very knowledgable horsewoman, but a sensitive Arabian is a sensitive Arabian. They are very loyal to their person. (I don’t know what it says about me, having a German Shepherd, and an Arabian Horse? The two most intelligent and loyal kind of their breed of animals, one could choose to have in ones family. Is it my way of creating the family I’ve never had?  Who knows. I’m not going to have any sleepless nights about it. Though, it is true, that more than one man have told me, that he wished that he was my dog/horse ..lol.)

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When running my last errand yesterday, I get a text from the owner of the boarding stable, saying that Ghost doesn’t want anything to do with her, and she apologizes and says that she can’t take him in for me. Further down the road I want other people to be able to catch him, for safety reasons, if there’s a fire or another kind of emergency. For now it tells me something about the mind of my horse. That all the time I’ve put into him actually gained (some of) his trust. When I get there he is sweating, and I can tell that he’s been running around. He is not the nervous kind, and does not mind being out alone, in a place where he is used to be. He doesn’t usually run around mindlessly, like a crazy horse. He’s been happily alone in the pasture, and in the stable many times. He is not buddy sour. This was however a new place, the round-pen, where I’ve never left him before. This was out of his comfort zone. When he saw my truck pull in to the parking lot he started to call out for me. When I came to the entrance of the round-pen he trotted over, lowered his head and tried to put it in the halter, before I even opened the halter. That’s my boy. I am very proud of him too, and excited about our journey. We have so much to learn, and I really enjoy our time together. He is the reason why I haven’t written another blog post this week.

Ghost is not ready for a saddle yet, we still have some work to do. I’m not at all in a rush to get there either, as long as we keep learning together. We will get there when the time is right. My gosh, it’s only been 30 days so far. He’ve made HUGE progress, in this short amount of time. I did however, come by a beautiful saddle this week. It’s made by a famous artist; Frank Vela. He was the number one saddle maker in the beginning-middle of the 1900’s. He created handmade masterpieces for everyone who was someone, including many royalties. To come by one of his creations is very rare. I’ve been cleaning, oiling, and polishing the saddle thoroughly, and will oil it a few more times. Here’s some pictures of what it looks like now.

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The floral pattern is something extra, don’t you think? I’ve always been intrigued by old saddles. I like the feel, touch, and scent of leather. I like the thought of good quality that last for many, many years. It intrigues me to think about what horse the saddle been on before? Who did the saddle belong too? Was it a man, or a woman? I believe in this case it might of been a woman, going by the size, shape, and pattern. Of course this is just speculation, I could be wrong. Where did the little scuff on the cantle come from? It is a heavy duty ranch saddle. Maybe it belonged to a cattle rancher’s daughter, or wife? It’s made in Texas, where Frank Vela lived, and had his business. If only the saddle could tell the story. I am going to do more research about the saddle. What if I could find out who it was made for? All of Frank Vela’s saddle were custom orders to one specific person. Maybe I can find out. A lot of my thoughts this week have been about the saddle. I originally thought I was going to use it to put the first rides on Ghost. It is his size. It is a very sturdy saddle. Maybe I will, maybe I won’t. I’ve done some research, and the more research I do, the more I come to understand that it’s a very valuable collectors piece. I have been sitting in the saddle, feeling the leather move, underneath me (that’s another reason why I believe it was made for a woman.) It is almost like a living thing. It’s definitely not one of those assembly line made things. The saddle is somewhere between 75-100 years old, and in excellent working order! That says something about the quality alright. Even the sheepskin underneath is in excellent condition.

Sorry for hogging so much of the conversation! It’s been an exciting week 🙂 Can I get you some more coffee? I really want to hear more about your week! What’s going on in your life? What’s on your mind? Something fun planned for the weekend?

Love,

Ms Zen

 

PS. This is part of the #WeekendCoffeShare. Feel free to join it here!

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