I started decorating for Christmas yesterday after work. I put on my Spotify Christmas playlist entitled ‘The Reason For the Season.’ It all really lifted my spirits and today is a new day!
For a new influx of happy/fun/positive on this Thursday, I have for you some of my past years animal Christmas photos! It is December 1st after all. I will take some new ones soon. This is to prep you. I know you are just too excited. If you are well behaved, I might rustle up some old Christmas photos of us sisters all in matching outfits…that is a real hoot.
Have you ever taken funny Christmas photos??? Share them with me!
Walk in love, dear readers.
Darcy is a good sport.
Look what I made baby Lito man do. Maybe not such a baby. This was last year when he was 2.5+ yo. Yes, those are jingle bells. He is a good boy. I am mean.
Darcy’s story is truly a special one. At least to me anyway, and not just because she was the absolute best dog on the face of the earth. A dog of a lifetime.
It begins with a ‘long story short’ kind of deal. I was ready for a dog. I was wrapping up my first year of grad school. If you have put two and two together, you have gathered that at this point (I suppose that is dependent on my story telling skills, which are not that great, but let us not focus on that at the present moment) I have 2 horses and am in grad school. Perfect timing for a puppy! I would not recommend it for most people. I arranged a deal with my eldest sister to get a female puppy from a litter sired by her Irish Field Setter (because I love her dog) as her stud fee. She was to give the pup to me. Here comes the long story short part. The litter did not make.
It was August at this point. I was pretty upset. I broke a cardinal rule and had already bought a collar with a name plate. What did this mean? Do I not get one? Do I try to find one? If I was going to get a puppy, now was the time. I would have plenty of time to train a puppy while in school before I had to join the full time adult world. I needed to either get one now or wait till I was settled in a job. I am not one for waiting once I get my mind set on something if you have not figured that out yet. I decided to ask and look around. If I found a puppy that somehow was available and filled the necessary qualifications, I would THINK about getting it.
My chances were next to none. Most field bred, bird dog litters are only bred when the breeders know a full litter is committed for. I decided not loose heart and began my search for a Llewellin Setter (basically a specific line of field bred English Setter) which is what I really wanted in the first place. I grew up with English Setters and they are easier to find than the Irish.
One thing led to another and I got in touch with the owner of a stud dog in Minnesota that sired a litter with a few puppies still available. She put me through a little bit of an interrogation until she heard my story and figured out I was not making an impulse decision. She deemed me worthy enough to get me in touch with the owner of the dam…in Michigan. That is really far from Texas, but I figured it was worth a call. If anything, they might be able to recommend me to someone in a more reasonable location.
Darcy’s sire, King.
Darcy’s sire, King.
I called him on a Sunday on my way home from the farm. We talked for almost the whole hour drive. It was great. I had a feeling. I had a feeling about the dogs. I had a feeling about him. I had a feeling about the owner of the stud dog. It all just seemed right. I needed this puppy that was not even born yet, but I could not let my feelings get away from me. I had to be logical and practical. Despite my ‘feelings,’ I had never met either of these dogs. I had always intended to get a dog from down here that was used to the climate. Anyway, How does one get a puppy from all the way up there to all the way down here without spending more than the cost of the puppy???
Daisy, Darcy’s mother. Darcy runs like this.
Darcy’s dam and grand sire.
A proud bird dog.
The next day I called him back and expressed my concerns. Now, here is where it gets really good. He tells me that it is really no big deal. He just so happens to be driving right by the stud dog owner’s house right when the pups would be 7 weeks old (which would be within the week before my birthday). He already spoke with her and she just so happened to be driving all the way down to Ft. Worth that very next day he was driving by and would be happy to bring the puppy along for the ride. He said not to worry about it, they would work it out to ensure the pup had a good home with me. How crazy is that?! It was fate. I agreed to drop my down payment in the mail that day.
Fast forward to the beginning of October and my mother and I drove up to Ft. Worth to pick up my Darcy girl. I chose a ‘D’ name after Darcy’s mother, Daisy. Darcy came from Pride & Prejudice because I am obsessed with Jane Austen and that particular novel. With Darcy cuddled in my arms, my mother and I checked into a fun hotel for the evening. Middle sister came to meet the puppy and spend the night as she lives in the vicinity of the Metroplex. We had a grand time with takeout for dinner and right before bed, I look over at my bag and what do I see? Darcy is curled up in a ball IN my bag, looking at me. It was at that moment I KNEW I made the right decision. I had found the sidekick I had been waiting for.
The first weekend home together we loaded up and went to the farm. She learned everything from riding in the back of the pick up to being around the horses to drinking out of a water trough. The rest really is history, as they say.
She was at my side ever since. I took her everywhere I could. In the last weeks of her life, after getting diagnosed with cancer, I took her to work with me every day. She had a huge personality and was extremely expressive. She hung out at the barn with me and went with me on all my rides. She was my farm buddy and was so so good at it. I would not have changed a single thing about her.
I am forever grateful and I feel so blessed to have had her in my life, even if it was only for less than six years.
My gal pals
I hope y’all liked Darcy’s story. Do any of you have wingpups that do with you what you like to do?
Thank you to everyone that commented with support on Friday! I really do appreciate it more than you know. I am going to focus on taking it one day at a time and try not to worry about things that are out of my control. I am going to focus on remembering to pray and tell Him about my worries. Give it up to Him. Why is that so hard??? New day, new week, new attitude. I am starting this work week out well. I came in early today have gotten a lot of work done while listening to Nelo, Penny & Sparrow, and The Head And The Heart to keep me on track.
This weekend was good to get away and get my center/focus back. I got in some chores and rides, but I spent most of my time just absorbing the essence of horse: watching them graze, listening to them eat, breathing them in, and spending an exorbitant amount of time picking burrs out of everyone’s manes and tails. My fingers still hurt. While on a nice bareback ride with Cheetah, I noticed this little guy, just chilling.
The niece and nephew were there as well. Niece LOVES horses. A girl after my own heart!
When I got back to town Sunday, I got the Darcy dog bathed. She truly hates baths, but man does she love the toweling off part! It is so funny. This is Darcy’s day light savings look while I waited for the pumpkin bread to bake and laundry to do itself. I think day light savings is harder on them than us. She wanted her dinner earlier than the old time! Poor Darcy, she has it so rough.
That face just gets to me, I tell you. I almost caved and fed her early. I said ALMOST.
What is that you say? You heard me mention baking pumpkin bread? Yup, you are correct. I baked pumpkin bread yesterday! No experiments this time. This is a tried and true recipe that I grew up on. You can tell by the state of the cook book. Just look at all that love. I am pretty sure it was me that colored scribbled on those pumpkins. Thank you to Frances Robinson of Mobile, Alabama for this recipe in the Southern Living 1985 Annual Recipes cookbook!
We eat pumpkin bread all year round in our family. We always make a double batch because more pumpkin bread is always better and it makes everyone happy. You see those lines there crossing off two items in the recipe? Those two items are chocolate chips and pecans. My mother is strictly against those in her pumpkin bread. It does not sound all that bad to me, but somehow I can not bring myself to add them. Funny how that works. If we do the glaze, it is for Christmas or Thanksgiving…and we add chopped pecans. Pecans are OK on the outside, just not on the inside according to mother. It makes a really nice Christmas gift. Just picture it: beautifully baked pumpkin bread, drizzled in a spiced pecan glaze, wrapped up in clear cellophane and both red and green ribbon. Gets me all excited for Christmas! Sometimes, like yesterday, I do half all purpose white flour and half whole wheat flour. I think it adds a lovely texture and makes you ‘feel’ like you are healthier…ha. I just love these loaf pans. They show as much love as the cookbook.
Well, that is all for today. Thank you, dear readers, for being you. I wish I could share this pumpkin bread with you. Oh well, more for me! What did y’all do this past weekend?
Stay tuned this week for Lito’s story. Click here for his dam’s story and here for the intro to this new series I am doing if you missed them last week!
I will try and keep it short and sweet on the word front. We know how I can be a bit…long winded. Yes, I surprise myself. Another fun thing about blogging. Anyway, I got in tree rides this weekend. These days that is pretty good!
So, first. I rode the mare horse. That is what my dad affectionately calls her, ha! Cheetah. Cheetah Beetah. The Beets. She goes by many names. On Saturday she was my angel girl. She was being so sweet and was surprisingly focused and relaxed for just coming back into working regularly. This might mean she will be not so great for the next ride, but I am not going to focus on that. I am choosing to focus on the good and allow the good to come through on our next ride. AHA moment. I round penned her briefly to get her warmed
up before I even mounted. She seems to appreciate that most of the time. In the beginning, I thought she might have had a broom stick up her bum as she was doing her best old west bronc impersonation. It was not a very good likeness, but for me it was quite comical. Once I mounted up it felt almost like I had been riding her every day…except that she is pretty out of shape which is to be expected. She was relaxed and forward off my leg and seat, very between my legs, thinking not reacting. On the aids, if you will. I kept it pretty basic so we could stay well seated within her brain. If I start to ask her too many questions before she is ready, we move straight into the reactionary running side of her that has no bottom to the tank. She was the perfect Appendix Quarter Horse, the best of her full 50/50%. Man, it felt great! We did some big relaxed circles with some yielding in both trot and lope/canter and then called it a day to go for a cool down walk/hack up to the front gate and back. I wanted to continue going, but I decided it would be best to finish on a positive note…another AHA moment. We have all the time in the world for longer rides when she is back in shape and going consistently.
Pre-ride photos…It was one of those crazy foggy days where the fog does not clear for hours.
Pre-ride photos. She was not amused.
Pre-ride photos. I have a photo just like this when she was 6mos prggers.
My gal pals
Cool down walk and post-ride photos…
Follow the Darcy.
LOVE HER EARS!
Look at that bird dog point.
Cookies for Cheetah! LOOK at that face!
Then I rode Second Chance, Chance/Give Me A Chance, Chance. I am not sure which descriptor name I like more. His name is Chance and we took a chance on him. He has worked out very well for us! He has his quirks, like they all do, but once he realized we were team players, he blossomed. I need to show you his ‘before’ pictures. Anyway, he was pretty darn good too. He is a very lazy horse and I am not sure who worked harder, me or him. If he could get paid for stopping and resting in the shade, he would be a rich…err…horse. Just the thing we want for beginners! We had a good arena work and then went down to check the cows. He is your typical ranch style, grade QH. Built like a tank with an unknown history. The poor guy already has half a winter coat (makes me worry that winter is going to be bad!) and needed a good hosing off after our ride. Good thing it is warm enough for that.
He likes checking cows.
Look at this tank.
Last but certainly not least, I rode the Lito Man. He was pretty good. Not as amazing as he has been, but certainly not bad. I was a little all over the place, so it was mostly all me. It was is ninth ride I believe. We worked in the arena first. It lasted a little longer that I wanted it to, but I was looking for a good stopping place. He is very hard to get forward in the arena. Anyone else with young horses have this problem? I think I am going to get a friend to come out and ride another horse while I ride Lito and get a good forward pasture ride soon so he can see what it is all about. After the arena, we took a walk to the river and back. Here is his pre-ride shot. Can you see his 50% PRE blood? He deserves more text, but I said I would keep this short and I have not! He will get his own post soon.
What positives did y’all have this weekend that you are going to focus on?
Before I discuss the matter of tack shop tent sale, I have something for you. It has been a busy short week at work (yay!) and Friday has ‘snuck up’ on me, so I bring to you this Flashback Friday moment of my Darcy pup! Those paws kill me!
Yes, I have several pictures of her sleeping. It is the best way to photograph a bird dog. They just move too fast! …..and yes, I also have several blurry, half of a dog, funny faced, or empty photos like these…
I have so, so many of these. Sometimes they turn out pretty well…most all of them are airborne….They are all a pretty accurate representation of her personality.
Anyway, next Saturday is the local tack shop’s tent sale! (Sorry, that was a bit of a tease) I am turbo excited…not that I need to do any more purchasing for my horses, but you never know what kind of deal you can find on something you really need! Yes, NEED. Rest assured, I will let you know what I get. I usually get something. Hey, it is not every day they have a big sale. This Saturday I might actually go buy some clothes for myself…that is not as fun as buying pony things. I also have a little bit of niece and nephew babysitting to do. Then it will be off to the farm for me and the Darcy Doolittle.
Have a safe and fun weekend, dear readers. What will y’all be up to??? Do not forget to take a moment to breathe deep and see and feel the wonderful things! Can you feel fall trying to sneak its way in?!
As promised, today I have brought you a little something about me, but first I want to do a little bragging. Yesterday I went out to ride Bella the buckskin. Man was she great! They always get worse before they get better, as they say. She was very relaxed, was better about keeping her shoulder up, and was straighter. Her walk and trot are really coming along and getting more adjustable. The canter/lope has a ways to go, especially to the left. It will come with time. OK, OK, on to what I promised.
Oil & gas geologist by day (hey, it pays for…hay. Ha! See what I did there?) and seeker of the flame by, well, all the time.
A few things you might be intrigued to know about me: ~I have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. I try to live my life the way He intended and walk the path He created.
~I struggle with what my true vocation is.
~I have a masters in geology.
~I am a 9th generation Texan and yes, I am proud of that. Love this great state.
~I am a horse person. I have two heart horses of my own. Self trained…Well, really they train me.
~I am also a dog person. I have one dog.
~My animals make me a better human.
~My family and friends are my world.
~I am a self-proclaimed music junkie. I dig Texas, Red Dirt, Western, and Classic Country and Americana…and R&B…and Classical…and Gospel…Mariachi…Most of what I listen to does not fit in any one box. Go figure.
~I read incessantly about horse training, horse/human relationships/history, and faith. Throw in a few sappy romance novels, too.
~The parallels between horses and life are astounding to me.
~I never want to stop getting better and growing as a rider. I do not limit myself to one riding discipline.
~I like to share what the Lord and my animals teach me. Those are both one in the same, aren’t they?
~I do not like to have my picture taken, but I LOVE to take photos and I secretly want people to like my photos.
~Sometimes I think I was born in the wrong generation. However, air conditioning sure is great.
~I love to cook and bake.
~I can not spell!…and my grammar can be rather sketchy. Please be gracious and forgive me my mistakes.
I love my job and career, do not get me wrong, but horses are my true passion. People ask me all the time why I did not turn horses into a career. I made the conscious decision when I went off to school to study something that I both liked and would ensure me a good career, awarding me the freedom to follow my passion wherever it led. In my life, I have met a few people that turned their passion into work and lost the love in the process. It was both visible and palpable. I also know people on the other side of that coin. People that have built a career from their passion and have not lost the love. I did not want to lose the love, so I chose a different route. Was this the right choice? I do not know. You can bet on one thing, I will let you know when I learn the answer.
I believe that God speaks to everyone in a different and personal way. For me, it is through animals, nature, and music…horses in particular. One day, I hope to figure out why that is and use it for good. The similarities of working with horses and living life is a truly beautiful and astounding thing.
They say my love for horses began the moment I first saw a horse and has only grown since. I was that kid that everyone knew as ‘that horse girl’ and I just never grew out of that ‘phase.’ I am probably more horse crazy now than I ever was. It stems from somewhere deep in my genes, I think.
My Great Uncle took this photo of my Grandmother on her pony, Pinto. I just love it.
My Grandmother with her pony, Pinto.
My maternal grandmother.
My father’s side of the family.
After much begging, my mother finally allowed me to start riding when I was about six years old. I started out showing Saddlebreds with my sister, the same way my mother and grandmother learned to ride. I only got 30 minutes a week, but I lived for that half hour. We showed lightly on the local circuit. I must go find these photos. I was so wee sized on those tall horses and I thought you had to completely stand up in the stirrups while posting!
My family then purchased a farm and some ranch horses when I was nine years old so we could be raised as they were; spending every weekend out in the country. Those horses, one of which we are fortunate to still have at over 30 years of age, taught me what it means to be a horsewoman and a better human being. I rode, and still ride, at least once a week. Yay for weekends! I spent three summers in Mexico taking dressage and jumping lessons from three different international trainers. I really took to the dressage and am still passionate about learning more. I am eternally grateful for this experience because it made me the rider I am today and taught me that in every ride we are teaching the horse something, good or bad. There are some of these photos somewhere too…I am the youngest kid…my parents were tired!
In high school, I joined the local 4-H Horse Club where we participated in clinics and shows in various performance and speed events.
Fresca, my palomino ‘heinz 57’ mare I had growing up. We were good at carrying the flag in the opening ceremony.
Fresca, y palomino ‘heinz 57’ mare I had growing up. Here we are competing in western pleasure. She was not a western pleasure type horse!
When I went off to college for my undergraduate, I was not able to bring a horse with me, so I joined the polo club my freshman year. I still love to stick and ball! I then interned for the director of the university’s equestrian center where I trained program and sale horses, assisted in horse sales, led summer horseback riding camps, and helped run local horse shows. I got to ride two to three horses a day! Every day! I still dream about it *sigh*. While working there, I found and worked off the payment of my dun Appendix Quarter Horse mare, Cheetah. Her name suits her personality.
Stripes for days.
The fourth and final year of my undergraduate degree, I helped my friend start and run her private boarding and event horse training facility. When I moved back home with my mare, I bred her to a PRE (Pura Raza Espanola/ Pure Spanish Horse/Andalusian). The perfect thing to do while in grad school! My father would still beg to differ with me on that one. She foaled in 2013 and gave me the best dun colt a gal could ask for. His name is Manolito, I call him Lito. I now have the breeding bug bad!
Love at first sight.
I lied, there can be too much cuteness.
He has his mother’s ears!
He has grown to over 16 hh. and likely has more to go. I have lightly started him under saddle and, eventually, we will go to some dressage and working equitation shows. I might even bring his dam along and put her through her paces. These days I am just trying to figure out how to have my career and advance my horses while navigating life…trying to fit in a social life here and there. It has it’s challenges that I am sure many of you can relate to.
Man that is A LOT of talking about myself. Now I am tired. This weekend is my nephew’s 4th birthday party and I will then be running away to the farm to unplug and ride my horses! You will definitely not hear from me till Monday. Have a great weekend, interwebbers!
Wednesdays have become my favorite day. What is that you say??? Wednesdays are not your favorite??? Well, I have a pretty good reason…
Wednesdays after work I make the hour long drive to the farm to see my ponies for the evening! No, they are not technically ponies for all you technical folk. They are all taller than 14.2 hands. Well, except for Petunia the donkey, but her ears make up for it. I have not seen them since last Wednesday because I went to the bay this past weekend, and I am DYING! It is like I have reverted back to childhood, bouncing off the walls till my horseback riding lesson. It will make for an interesting work day. My Darcy dog is also full of herself for lack of full out running. Darcy and I did go out to ride a client’s horse yesterday after work. A cute as a button buckskin mare. Her name is Bella. Bella the buckskin.She clearly wants cookies…which she got. She is fun to ride. She tries really hard and wants to be good in addition to being a quick learner. Oh, and she is so smooth! I could trot fence lines on this horse all day. Bella was distracted yesterday and was not the best, but that is OK. Every day is a new day. I know her potential. The other barn horses were also acting funny and the mosquitoes were BAD. We just did our work and ended on a good note. The next ride will be better!
Going to go work hard so I can enjoy myself this evening!