Wyoming

You only live once, right?

That is what I said to R at some point in May when she asked if I wanted to go to Wyoming and ride the Tetons and Yellowstone.

Life is about saying YES, remember?! It is too short not to. One day is today.

I could try to describe this trip, but I really do not think I could do the beauty of God’s artwork justice. If the pictures can not, how on earth could words? All I can say is, like I am pretty sure I have said before, is that mountains, like storms, have a way of reminding you of your place here on earth.

It was a full spectrum trip that involved the luxury of Jackson, Wyoming and the ruggedness of the crunch of frosty mountain meadow grass underfoot when you first step out of your tent in the morning.

We flew in and out of Jackson and spent those two bookend nights there in two different nice hotels. We enjoyed two of the most fabulous meals at a steak house and an Italian restaurant. We definitely said yes on our two nights here. No holding back and it was worth it!

We spent the middle two days and nights riding and camping in the mountains. We rode three different horses each. Most of the horses were of at least some draft blood and we loved it. We rode all day. We ate outside. We made smores. We got in the cold rivers and creeks in addition to the hot springs. We drank champagne in the water and red wine with dinner. We soaked in the scenery.

Enjoy our trip to Wyoming through pictures.

Walk in love, dear readers! I hope you enjoyed the view!

Transformation

Need a pick-me-up?

Or a reminder for how old you are? No, forget about that, let us get back to the pick-me-up part!

I have just what you need. This will surely do it.

It is Thursday after all and we all know how I like alliteration, even if it is a social media thing…it is Transformation Thursday!

Anyway.

April, May, and June are an animal birthday trifecta over here! It just occurred to me. So much to celebrate!

My Lito turned eight (WHAT?) in April.

Cheetah girl will turn seventeen (again, huh?) here in five days.

Merley bob will be a big fat two on June 17th.

Where has the time gone? This is more than just a time warp.

Get some more coffee or tea and enjoy. The work will be there when your break is over.

Let us begin.


My Lito man.

From this…

I first saw Lito about thirty minutes after he was born. I about fainted when I first saw him.

He has really grown up! He was big from the start and he has not stopped being big!

To this…

He hated that birthday hat, so do not ask him about it. He hated it so much in fact, I could not even bring myself to post the pictures on his birthday.

He has grown into his legs, but he is decidedly tall at about 16.3 hh! I do think he is still getting wider. At least I really hope so. He is a slow developer, so we will see!


My Cheetah girl.

From this…

I started riding Cheetah when she was in her four year old year and she became mine at some point during that year. These are the earliest photos I have of her from her three year old year. At one point, my friend T found some foal pics of her, but unfortunately they are lost on an old computer of mine that I long ago lost entry to. Those pics were at an ugly duckling phase to say the least, so I am not too upset about it! Now her three year old pictures, well, that was decidedly not an ugly duckling phase.

To this…

She looks the same to me now as she did then.

This was her yesterday. It is a terrible picture, yes I know, but I do not care. She was dirty and hot and bothered by the mosquitos. She is out of shape as she has been out of work for months.

She may have some arthritis that plagues her and she may have some gray over here eyes and on her legs, but she is still my girl. My queen. She has given me so much and she continues to give. She has carried me through so much. She may not get as much of the spotlight these days because of Lito, but she will always and forever be my number one. We are still working through her arthritis/lameness issues and I do hope to have some news to share soon. My prayer is that we can get her comfortable and sound without having to give regular medication. It is a process.


My Merley.

From this…

To this…

Does that photo look familiar?

Well…

That would be because we have done this photo before!

Clearly at different times of year though! Same dog, same tree. Different year, different sunset.

I bet he will be a firecracker for years to come! I just hope he does not give me too many gray hairs. I am pretty sure he has already given me a few. That however, is a story for another day.


Do not forget to smile and breathe today. Forgive and have grace.

Walk in love, dear readers.

Regularly Scheduled Programming!

Happy Friday, dear readers! As I promised, we are back to our regular scheduled programming. Are not you happy?!

Yes, yes, I know you are!

If you are new around here, our regular programming includes adventuring musings starring one or two lineback dun horses and a certain rambling, mongrel bird dog!

Many of our adventures are set in the hill country of Texas. It can be quite difficult to express the true feeling of being there if you have never experienced it for yourself. It has such feeling and the pictures very rarely ever do it justice. The sights. The smells. The feeling. Many here in the state call it God’s Country. Really, I feel that way about the whole state. But, we sure do like riding the hill country as long time readers can attest to. We travel there at least once a year and I really enjoy sharing our rides there with you, even if to just share a change in scenery through my horses’ ears.

Lito’s first time to travel there was to a ranch in the heart of the hill country that my family and I used to spend quite some time on when I was younger. We went with our best friends and my Darcy girl. We actually went there a couple of months ago, just me, my Lito, and Merley, for a weekend with family. I shared some photos of that trip the last time I wrote to you. I did not take very many pictures on that trip, but the three of us had a lovely time. The feeling was…I just do not know…as if we three had been traveling the world and riding trails alone our whole lives. Lito and Merle really have each other figured out, use each other out on the trail, and seem to gain confidence from each other. Lito felt very grown up.

Then of course there are our bigger group rides once a year that take place in a more southern area of the hill country. The first year I went, I took Ike. I took Lito the last three years and each time it was an even better ride. Unfortunately, the 2020 ride was canceled (which is how we ended up going to Lake Sam Rayburn to ride), go figure that! We have been sending up all the prayers for a 2021 ride!

For our most recent adventure a couple of weeks ago, Lito, Merle, and I went to a new to us part of the hill country. We went with some of our good riding friends to Parrie Haynes Ranch Equestrian Center outside of Killeen, Texas. This group has been here several times and it is open to the public! This place has cabins, electrical hook ups, water, and nice horse pens. There are many trails that are pretty well marked and there are some challenging places! I think we did some of the more difficult riding I have ever done there.

Man, we just had a great time!

Lito has been taking posing lessons from Merle. Odd that this time I caught Merle’s eyes open!

Merle came along just to hang out, as there are not many horses that are used to his antics and energy, but he seemed to have just as much fun as everyone else. Both Lito and Merle settled right into camp on Thursday evening.

We rode. We ate (very well). We drank. We laughed (a lot). We shared. We watched the rain. Felt the sun and the wind. I could have stayed! I can not wait to go back and ride the places we could not because of the rain.

I took pictures when I could. The hill country has the best blue skies.

For a lot of it I wish I had a GoPro! Climbing hills and rocks does not allow for taking pictures while riding.

We had one afternoon of rain, but other than that, the weather was stunning. Especially on Sunday.

Lito and I led the way most of the time, which is funny since we had never been before. Lito has taken to prefer the front with his big walk.

There is this one open field dotted with beautiful oak trees and tall, golden, waving grass speckled with bluebonnets. It was pure magic. I am telling you the pictures do not do it justice!

All of this adventuring really makes me want to travel even more to different places!

Have you been on any fun adventures? With or without horses? Or read of any good ones recently? Tell me!

Walk in love, dear readers!

Where In The World Is…

…Carmen Sandiego?

Ha! No no no. Not Carmen Sandiego!

My Cheetah! Where has my Cheetah been?

Who me? Who you lookin’ at?!

I have heard some say that not only have I been somewhat absent (sorry!), but so has my main gal, Cheetah! In my defense (in truth this is not much of a defense, so just go with it), I was exposed to the ‘rona and I still have no idea how I did not contract it. Everything just came to a stop for a couple of weeks while I quarantined it out. I can not complain much about that though as Merle and I just camped out at the farm. Even with all the rain, mud, and cold, I can not complain about it. At least my manure spreader was working!

Anyway, I shall tell you where exactly Cheetah has been.

First, she gets the heat of the summer off every year because, well, she deserves it. That and the fact that she breaks out in hives when I ride her under tack in the heat of the summer ever since I bred her. So she gets to spend the summers frolicking and grazing and getting stuffed with treats while being groomed.

Then, I mentioned a while back that she was experiencing some on and off lameness in addition to a soft tissue issue (hey look, I am a poet!) that popped up some time during the summer. We tackled this check ligament issue first as we could see it. The remaining lameness that presented was somewhat odd and perplexing (well not really, in the end, go figure) and did not go away with time come the end of our prolonged Texas summer.

I then called my vet back in for a full lameness evaluation. I had a pretty good idea of what the problem was after some time to observe (hey, actually using my brain), the lameness presentation itself, and her age. He performed the lameness evaluation (on a terribly cold and almost wet day, sorry no pictures!) including a couple of blocks and some x-rays to ensure we were correctly and completely targeting the issue. This was all a first for me after a whole life of having and riding horses.

All of that to say, my girl is finally starting to feel her age! At almost 17 years young. She has arthritis in her front coffin joints. In the end, I think the check ligament issue on her right front was caused by her compensating for the arthritis in her left front being more painful than the right. Once the diagnosis was made, we quickly made a plan with both my vet and farrier to help make her feel more comfortable.

The first step was getting her coffin joints injected. Another first for me! And let me tell you, it is pretty creepy how easily the needle goes in. The came on Christmas Eve morning. Merry Christmas, Cheetah! Christmas Eve was another very cold and windy day, but luckily, my vet’s clinic is not far from the farm.

After being shaved and thoroughly scrubbed clean, her joints were successfully injected and bandaged.

She was happily back home and resting in her cozy stall by 8:40 AM.

Middle sister K and I proceeded to have way too much of a good time that night and stayed up till 2 in the morning! Even still, we were up early to tend to our charges. A toddler for her and animals for me! After feeding, I took Cheetah’s bandages off and took her out to hand graze in the yard.

Then a couple weeks after her injections, we decided to put her in a slight wedge shoe to improve her angles and to help relieve some of that pressure on the joint. My farrier and I had actually been independently thinking of putting her in a wedge even before this.

I am happy to report that she is no longer feeling her ‘age’! She is back to moving like a million bucks. Therefore, we can start her slowly getting back into shape and getting back to adventures. Woohoo!

Given how long she has been out of work, her age, and the resulting issues, we decided to go for another new thing! A couple weeks at a rehab center! I wanted her to have a low impact, strength building start back to make sure to not over work anything too quickly in addition to hopefully knocking the edge off before I actually start riding her again. I have more hope in the former!

Anyway, AquaPlus Equine Center is a new, state of the art hydrotherapy facility with an aquapacer, CET saltwater spa, pool, and exerciser walker. They are professional, open in communication, and good horsewomen. I was very impressed. Cheetah seemed to settle right in.

Cheetah has enjoyed two weeks there building her core back up. We opted not to swim her in the pool to keep her from hyperextending, but I could see a change in her top line and hindquarters even within the first week.

I pick her up tomorrow and I am so glad to have my girl back and feeling herself. We are officially ready to rock and roll! Tentatively. Scratch that. Knock on wood. Cross all the fingers. And toes.

How about the rest of the crew you say? What have they been up to?

Well, Lito and I go on many little adventures followed by margaritas and Mexican food when we are not riding at home. I am currently bit shopping. I know there has to be a bit out there that he likes better than what I am using or have used before. It is proving to be a little tricky as he has a big tongue and a low, soft palate. I have a few different ideas of what I would like to try, but if anyone has any thoughts or ideas for us, let me know! He also gets many treats.

Merle is wondering when his trip to the spa will be or when he is getting another treat. Most likely the latter.

No matter how goofy he is, he is just so cute and handsome. He gets the pleasure of coming most places with me still and I love it. He is currently at day camp with my Aunt M because my HOA is tearing down and rebuilding a brick wall attached to my townhouse. He loves this as he gets a big yard to play in, cousin dogs to play with, and lots of attention. More attention than I can give him while in the office working.

The rest of the herd is doing well too and seemingly have been enjoying all the extra attention they have been getting all year. A positive thing to come out of this strange season!

Well, enough for now. Go get another cup of coffee and have a lovely day!

Walk in love, dear readers!

It Is A New Year.

Yes, indeed, that is fact. It is a new year.

This morning I am sitting in a warm house with coffee and homemade pumpkin bread after feeding and mucking out the barn. A perfect time to talk with you, dear readers!

Say peace out to 2020! Say it all you like if that is what brings you joy. I won’t lie and say it does not bring me joy.

Peace out like Merle flying out of this water trough.

But, today is a day just like any other though, and many things in this earthly world we live in do not exist within our human schedules and boundaries. A new year in itself, this new year or any other, or a new day for that matter, does not guarantee change on its own or forgiveness from the very life we live. Forgiveness from its hardships or its joy. Its light. Its peace.

That my dear readers, is up to you.

Every day you have a choice. A choice to see and be good or not. A choice to love. A choice to see the joy. A choice to be happy. It is that simple. That is the AHAmoment. One of those keys to life.

Be the change you want to see. If you want greater change of any kind beyond yourself, look within your very person first.

Live the life you wish to see.

Peace.

Love.

Joy.

Be grateful for every morning you wake.

New Year’s Day sunrise.

New Year’s Day or any day that I wake up and am able to breathe and see the sunrise, is a blessed day.

I thank Him for it.

Be grateful for the cleansing and growing rain. For the warming and invigorating sun. Both that give us life. Being happy in it and all the gifts of life like this dog. Even if it means wearing rubber boots more than not, trudging through the mud scooping up horse poop. Really, it could be worse! It could be flooding, for instance. Or burning.

I thank Him for it. The gifts of rain, sun, and my Merle. And yes, the poop too!

Oh to be happy like a dog! That is our ultimate goal!

Be grateful for your very life. Take time for yourself and do not be selfish. You can do you while still showing up for your people. Considering them. Be grateful for the people in your life and be grateful for the things in your people’s lives! Each of us in on a unique walk together to the same place. You are not meant to go through exactly what someone else is. Embrace and enjoy it! Community and fellowship is a big part of what makes this life what it is all about.

Classic head shadow does not distract from that mover and shaker.

I thank Him for the people and animals in my life. To be able to do what I love with people I love is one of the greatest blessings!

Slow down and enjoy the little things. Build your life around what brings you joy. Ride more horses. Fish more waters. Hike more paths. Drive more roads.

Seriously though, these blue skies!

Lay in the leaves with your dog. When was the last time you played in the leaves??? Inspire the kid within you!

Take more pictures of your actual life. Your actual view. Or draw. Or paint. Or play.

Take the time to hand graze your horse and have quality time. Have quality time with your people. Linger over your coffee. Slow down and enjoy the meal. Count all the colors you see.

Be grateful for your perspective. You are unique and uniquely made for a reason and a purpose!

I thank Him for it!

Do what makes you happy. Be with who makes you happy. Brings you joy. Sparks inspiration. Sees the best in you. Does not take you away from what is good and right. Supports you. Sees life the way you do. Does not shrink from challenges.

You only get one life. A life made up of days, hours, minutes, and seconds. Do not waste a single one. You don’t get any of them back. You might not have tomorrow.

Mad or angry?

Forgive! And then step on.

Find yourself frowning?

Smile!

Are you seeing the dark? Or the negative?

Look for the light! The positive!

Getting mad at someone who just cut you off?

Blare some happy music!

It is all about perspective. Your choice!

Walk in love, dear readers. Embody it!

Let others see and feel it.

They will in turn do the same.

That is the way you inspire change.

The 9 Days of Christmas, Day 3.

Day 3!

The Saturday before Christmas.

Cheetah says to enjoy your day, do something for you.

We are getting wonderful rain today. Everything is getting really clean around here with the rain we have been getting.

Sun is out tomorrow and that means riding with friends!

Share your Christmas babies with everyone!

Oh, right. Less words.

Walk in love, dear readers!

Onward & Upward

Yes, 2020, you have been a gem so far.

I can not help it with these memes, sorry, I am not sorry. They are just so apt.

Really though, at this point, I want to scratch out ‘2020’ in that first one and put in its place, ‘The Whole Of The Past Twelve Months.’

Well actually, ‘The Whole Of The Past Twelve Months And One Day.’

A year ago yesterday was one of the worst days of my life. I had to make that terrible awful decision and actually act on it. My life has not been the same since and I do not think it will ever be the same again, and not just because of that fateful day.

“Until one has loved an animal, a part of one's soul remains unawakened." - Anatole France

I miss everything about her and us. The words will not even come now, a whole year and a day later. That fateful day I had no choice. None.

That day I had to set my Darcy Girl free from her pain of this earthly realm. There was absolutely nothing else I could do. I had to do it for her. She was not even six years old. That is one of the hardest parts I think. We were supposed to have so much more time.

I have been doing a lot of thinking over the last year and a day (and not so much writing). It has been quite a year and it went by in a flash, but lot has happened.

That thing there I mentioned earlier. Choices. Yes, that one. We take that right and privilege for granted. That is one thing I know. Choices and time, that is what I have been thinking a lot about.

A little after Darcy’s day, before traveling all over kingdom come of this country over the summer (hey, I rode horses, caught fish, and got a Merle pup!), I blathered on here on AHAmoments about how life is about saying yes. Not just yes, but YES. Remember that? No? It does not matter, it seems silly in retrospect, but I did. I went on about saying yes to things and people and living what is left of your life because it is a gift that can be taken away at any moment. You know, beyond our control, out of our hands, not our choice.

Not long before Darcy’s day, I made a big bet (completely unrelated to Darcy) that had a very big chance of not working out.

An incredibly long story short, that bet did indeed turn out to be a losing bet. I was lied to and cheated on. Deceived. Taken advantage of and disrespected. My time was wasted. I got severely disappointed (hey, still kinda am). Mad. Angry. Sad. Mad at myself as well.

But you want to know what? Yes, I know you do. I have no regrets. I still believe those things about a yes life that I mentioned even still. That is the only way to live a life. It is too short not to. There are more important things than all that other stuff. I would not have a Merle pup or a Lito man if I did not believe these things. Where would I be without those two!? Or my Cheetah!? Even with Darcy. What if I did not get her when I did? Who would I be and where would I be without having had her in my life???

"No philosophers so thoroughly comprehend us as dogs and horses."~Herman Melville⁠

The truth is, just like this very life itself, none of it is on our time frames. That is for the Man Upstairs. AHAmoment and do not you forget it.

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My loving boy, Merle. A more beautiful soul never existed. He is a lover of all beings. My chief blessing.
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They seem to like him just as much.
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You see, I indeed did make that choice. Or choices, rather. Nobody else. That is on me. The choice to bet on a person knowing it had a high chance of not working out. If I am being honest, I even felt it deep inside in that hidden place, despite all the words, that it was not going to work out (hey there, gut feeling Holy Spirit, sorry I did not listen you. I am still learning.). I did not listen to it, I wanted it to be different. The way the words (not actions) sounded. It was supposed to be great. You do not win if you do not bid, right? That is what they say. I trusted and said yes. It was my choice. I believed and fought for it.

Here is the thing. I can make another choice right here in the story. And I have. I vowed to myself to continue to say yes and be open in life and opportunities and adventures and, yes, people. To live life in the front row. To learn and be better. Like I said then, I will say it now, I have lived a third of a lifetime (if I am blessed enough to live to old age). I have zero desire to waste any of it, or any more of it.

Lito wanted a rest under his favorite pecan tree. I always oblige. I am generally feeling the same. This is me, not wasting my time.

I have learned and am still learning from my past and all the life that I have lived over 31.5 years. That is what is making me smarter and wiser, so long as I listen to my gut feeling. Learning what He needs me to for His purpose. You have to ‘watch their actions,’ as a wise women told me. Not the words. Believe what you see and what is shown to you. Make the choice to learn it and leave it.

Do not take your time or choices for granted.

Life is still going on all around us whether or not we are going with it. The choice is yours no matter the situation, do not waste it. You can get wrapped up in all the rest if you want. Get mad and angry. I did for a little bit. Then step forward and on. Forward is always the answer, just like with horses. Leg on.

This is also me not wasting my time and my life. Churchill put it best. Except, I was riding bareback.
I have ridden this road since I was 9 and it never gets old.

All of that to say, that, even with all of that, the storms we go through (and we all do go through storms), they do not last. For anyone. We have so many rainbows. So many silver linings. So much wonder and light. So many blessings. That is right, WE. All of us. There is a reason for all of it, a greater purpose. We are learning through the journey to that purpose.

Like I said, I would not have Merle for not that awful day a year and a day ago.

Onward and upwards, my friends.

Learn from yesterday, live for today, and tomorrow is a new, blessed day! Go be your best self and be good to people.

Walk in love, dear readers, I hope these images of my loves brighten your 2020. Or Last Twelve Months And One Day.

Anyone still there? Tap. Tap tap.

Look! The pecans are coming! It is all in the natural way of things.