About a Girl and her Horse(s)

I could say I love horses, but that would be grossly inaccurate.

Saying I love horses is like saying, the ocean is damp. A gargantuan understatement.

I can remember riding the first pony I was able to call my own. Squirt was brown and stubborn. I was maybe five. Years later, a friend of ours was looking for a place to board her horse and since I was older, she felt he would be a good fit for me. He was a buckskin named Sir Twirp – and he was a Twirp, with a choppy gait, but he was fun. But he wasn’t mine. Neither was Pip, his stable mate and a lovely, kind and generous mount. He was perfect for me to learn how to show in the ring. He knew more than I did. But, sigh, he wasn’t mine.

Willow was mine.

He was a retired Thoroughbred whose coat glowed red when he was spiffed up. Looking at him was like looking at the sun. Sitting on him was like being on top of the world. I looked down at everyone else. I’m sure he’s the reason I’m drawn to tall horses. He was beautiful and strong and faster than a tween had any business riding. He probably could have killed me and almost succeeded when we were at a fair and he caught an eyeful of the gravel track that surrounded the fair grounds. He took off so fast, and so hard, that he could have given me whiplash. If it wasn’t for the quick thinking of a horse-savvy bystander, I may have grown up in Texas. He pulled his head down and kept him from leaving the fair grounds.

But Willow had health issues and needed more care than we were able to provide. It was decided to sell him, and also decided not to tell me – likely in hopes of avoiding the fit I would have pitched. Finally one day a truck and trailer arrived with some people I vaguely knew. I was sent to my room where I had the mother of all break downs. I could see the paddock from my bedroom window. I could see the new owner reach across and snap her lead on Willow’s halter. I remember yelling and crying so hard that I pressed my head into the window for counter pressure and ended up with a lovely crease in my forehead.

And anyone who knows me knows this; I. Don’t. Cry. Like I watched Old Yeller and didn’t cry. Like I can watch The Notebook and not cry. But put on The Horse Whisperer, and I have to have a moment. I don’t even know if I can buy a copy of War Horse because the scene in No Man’s Land is the only time I’ve ever cried in a theatre.

It took a while to get over Willow, but when I was older, and my parents felt I was more capable of caring for a horse, we tried again. We bought an Appaloosa filly and named her Darlin. She’s the one who planted me in a stone pile, but she was the sweetest thing otherwise. I worked with her for months to make her gentle; got her used to be handled and help put weight on her before it was time to get her under the saddle. I learned a lot about relating to horses, which I feel helped me later on when it came to relating to people. It helped me realize I like horses more.

When we left the farm, Darlin was sold, but I kept my tack. It would have been easy enough to sell it at our auction, but the idea of cutting all aspects of horse from my life was too much to bear. One day, I told myself, I’ll have a horse again.

Since then I’ve been blessed with very generous friends. They have invited me to go for rides (Thank you KW!) and even allowed me to roll around in their pasture fields to enjoy quality time with their equine (Thank you SH!) and I look forward to even more new babies with an upcoming session, (Hopefully next week SS?) Being around horses fills a piece of my soul. I actually have a physical reaction; tightening of the chest, faster pulse, a sense of contentment that is difficult to describe. I’m home. I watch old friends show horses in the local fall fair. I get the same overwhelming desire to grab a saddle and bridle and find the nearest bareback. It’s the smell of leather, of horse.

My boys know how much I love horses. Second Born Son, on one of our recent road trips, asked me as he admired a field of mommas and their babies; “Why don’t you just go out and buy a horse, Mom?”

I explained to him that owning a horse isn’t like buying a new toy or a lawn mower. Even buying a dog is less of a commitment. A horse relies on you every day. If you don’t feel like walking the dog, he’ll wait until later, but a horse needs you regardless of how you feel. There are no holidays. That aspect of my life is already tapped out. I want to be a great mom and wife, daughter, sister, friend and employee. There’s not much left of me after all of that.

Then there is the matter of cost. While I certainly don’t want my children to feel I am “doing without” because of them, the fact is there are priorities in my life and a luxury like making good on a childhood promise isn’t up there right now. It’s not say that it never will be.

I’m just more focused on their childhood memories.

Until then, I’ll rely on the kindness of friends for my horsey fix!

The “Easy” Way Out?

Today is Samson’s birthday.

In a couple of weeks, it will be a year since we put him down.  This random combination of thoughts came to me last week when a certain new item caught my eye.

Gloria Taylor is a British Columbian woman who lives with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease). She was the face of five plaintiffs who went to the Supreme Court to strike down the ban on assisted suicide in that province. The grounds were that the ban discriminated against the disabled because, get this, they cannot commit suicide on their own.

The argument was that an able-bodied individual could end their own life without assistance. For those dealing with terminal conditions, there comes a point in time when this is no longer an option. It’s usually at this later stage that the idea of suicide is much more appealing than the years, months, weeks, days, the individual has left as a prisoner of their own bodies.

Now I toyed with the idea of not writing this column, simply because it falls under one of those contentious issues, like abortion, religion and hockey. But I feel strongly about this myself and to be honest, I was excited when I heard the news.

When Samson was suffering, we could tell. It was as obvious as if he could verbalize the pain he was in. Most people would say they would not allow an animal to suffer, they would have the “put to sleep.”

I have watched loved ones die. I have heard some of them wish for death to come. I have heard of people whose family members have asked them to help them bring their end to them. How is ok for a dog to be euthanized, but I couldn’t do it for a family member?

To be fair, there are differences between euthanasia and assisted suicide.

1. Euthanasia –

: the act or practice of killing or permitting the death of hopelessly sick or injured

individuals (as persons or domestic animals) in a relatively painless way for

reasons of mercy. The word is Greek and means “easy death.”

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This can be a simple as someone withholding care or taking part

in the act of ending someone’s life. Notice how people and animals are lumped

together?

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2. Assisted Suicide –

: suicide committed by someone with assistance from another person;

especially : physician-assisted suicide

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This is a specific plan where a doctor provides the means for a person to administer

drugs or an act that will allow the individual to end their own life. Something

they could not otherwise do on their own.

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Thank you Merriam-Webster.

Immediately the battle cries were out for an appeal of this decision.

How can we allow these people who have suffered so much the “easy” way out???

Well I’ve got a thought for you. If you are saying the Court will not allow

anyone to take part in an action that will result in the death of another person, then they better get a lot more vigilant about methamphetamine dealers and producers, because THAT, my friend, is how a lot more people are going to die at the hand of another person.

It’s not like I don’t have a grasp on the concept of suicide. It has come close enough to me to know that there are times when I can see it is not the right option. There is pain and suffering for the family members left behind. But when we are looking at cases like this, how can it be a bad thing? Instead of an indefinite period of time where your family stands vigil for you, watches you waste away, is forced to have their last memories of you be tainted by the ravages of the disease that will ultimately claim you, you can have your time, prepare and allow a more humane procedure take place. Less drugs. Less hospital time. Less drama. Less trauma.

This topic first came to light in a big way back in 1992 when Sue Rodriguez, also suffering from ALS and living in Victoria, B.C., challenged the ban. She was denied the right to an assisted suicide, but in 1994, she was successful in finding an anonymous doctor who would help and she was given her assisted suicide that year.

“If I cannot give consent to my own death, whose body is this? Who owns my life?” she asked. (cbc.com June 15, 2012)

Indeed. Who?

The Call of Nature

In honour of Father’s Day this weekend, and as a general Public Service Message to Humanity, I offer the following Skill Testing Question:

Which is Correct?

A)

 

Yes, this is a toilet. In my house. My parents are ever so proud of the education and training they paid for that has allowed me the skill to post a photo of the hopper on the internet.

That’s not the point right now. We’ll get on journalistic high ground another time.

For now, the point is – this is considered the Universally Acceptable Position for a Toilet. It’s also known traditionally known as “Ladies’ Choice”. This way the female user will not have any issue using the feature. And by issue, I think the women readers will acknowledge the “Splash Down” is to be avoided at all costs.

~ OR ~

B)

 

 

This is the Universally Accepted Position To Indicate That Only Men Live in this Abode. The lifted seat allow more area surface for the male user. Why does a male user require more surface area than a female user, you may ask?

It’s simple really. Every since young boys were taught about writing their names in the snow, light sabres and Cheerios, they have required more surface area. Something to do with “creativity”. I’d it has more to do with poor eyesight and altitude.

I doubt our forefathers were caught “doing battle” in outhouses, however I’ve been wrong more than once this week…. But you have to admit, it is hard to imagine Great Grandma Ethel losing her load over the mess left out in the two-holer.

“CECIL! CEDRIC! How many times do I have to tell you that if you are going to make at the same time, you need to use the Hudson Bay catalogue to clean up after yourselves!!!!????”

It also has to do with the less fair of the species having the luxury of being able to use the World as their private urinal. Think of it like you would a cat. When you have a house cat, it uses the litter box and understands the niceties of indoor living. Once that cat goes outside, it reverts back to its most primal instinct and will be spraying all over the patio doors.

Just like men.

Once they get a chance to void in Wild Open Spaces, trying to get them to contain and restrain themselves is almost futile.

Because of the mess male users leave behind (again think of trajectory here, people) I have suggested these users assume the effective and tidy method of use that requires one to SIT on the potty. The negative feedback to this suggestion can only be the result of fear. Fear of falling off, that is. Which is why I’m working on copyrighting a toilet seatbelt.

In all seriousness, as the sole female on this property (Second Born Son wanted a female dog, but I told him I was the only bitch girl in the family.) I have had somewhat of an epiphany.

Is it fair for me to expect three males to keep the seat down on the toilet solely for my use and comfort? Whatever happened to Majority Rule? Being the truly democratic individual that I am, I felt that it was only fair that we find a common ground.

But no one liked the idea of the boys using a Port-A-Potty, so I had to come up with another solution. Which, if you will permit me, IS the correct answer….

 

C)

 

When you think about it – THIS IS HOW THE MANUFACTURER DISPLAYS IT! You don’t walk in to a show room with a stunning four-piece washroom set and the throne is sitting there with the seat up!

I hate walking in and seeing an open toilet. Call me crazy. To me, it’s just a big gaping hole filled with questionable water waiting to catch my earrings, cell phone, keys, infant child.

There should be no battle of the sexes over the loo. It’s a case of common sense and practicality. Both men and women would have to “close” and “open” the appliance to use it, so there is no discrimination!! I know – BRILLIANT, right?

Now that I have saved Humanity from this conundrum, I’m off to create World Peace.

 

 

Choices, choices…

“Regret is a useless emotion.”

This is my favourite quote. It came from my Journalism teacher, Bob Trotter, who would know a thing or two about the topic. I have applied this quote to much of my life. Including last night.

I had TONNES to do. Just got in the door, planning to grab a bite to eat and sit down to some photo editing and writing. After that there was a mountain of house work that I could get in to. Second Born Son had other ideas.

“Why don’t you come outside and do sidewalk chalk with me?” he asked. I was thrilled he had dug them out because I’ve come close on a couple of occasions to throwing them out. It seemed the boys have out grown it.

I had a choice here. Work, or be with the kid. The kid isn’t going to ask me to hang out with him much longer. I’ve already noticed a difference in his brother – damn hormones! Why do I work? To provide for my family. Isn’t my job as a mother include showing my kids how to have fun, as well as a strong work ethic? I’d been sitting at a computer most of the day – did I really want to sit down at one again?

I made a compromise. How about I take pictures of him doing sidewalk chalk? I am, as you know, still breaking in the new camera. He agreed to that – if we talked more about how to take pictures, because he’s going to be a photographer when he grows up, you know! He had already completed his drawing of me. (He always puts long hair on me, and yet as long as he’s been on this earth, the longest it’s been is to my shoulders.)

Then he decided he wanted to play Frisbee. We had done this earlier in the week since it was a great way to get his arm moving again.

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Great trip to the specialist. The fracture has healed and may take care of the complication I mentioned previously. He was told to start moving the arm and we have booked physiotherapy for him. We have one more follow-up appointment, but we are beyond thrilled.

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So we got the Frisbee out. Can Mom still shoot and catch a Frisbee?

For the record – No.

But it was a nice evening, so we spent some time goofing around with cameras, lights and Frisbees.

Then along came Roman…..

Funnily enough, from the day SBS broke his arm, Roman has been patient and gentle with him. He would lick his fingers and sit softly beside him. Now that the collar and cuff are off, apparently, it’s No Holds Barred. (Fear not – this is not the broken arm.)

Then, like most good things, it went too far, and someone had to “Drop the Hammer.”

“GENTLE Roman! Take it easy. GENTLE!”

Before you know it, everyone is friends again, and we are back to the game.  (A Fun Fact for you. First Born Son wore that shirt A WEEK AGO. He got it for CHRISTMAS!)

Speaking of FBS, he’d been holed up in his room working on a Culminating Project – one of three he needs to turn in within a week. Don’t feel too bad for him, he’s only got two exams and has had more field trips in one year than I had in my ENTIRE. EDUCATIONAL. CAREER.

Yes, I’m working on the bitterness…

So FBS came outside for a break and decided to join us, which was nice because he doesn’t “play” often.

We had a delay of game because Roman and SBS got into it…AGAIN!

SBS is the only one Roman treats like a chew toy. But SBS kinda likes it. Except for the dog-butt-in-the-face part. It was obvious Roman needed to burn off some energy, so FBS got out his toys.

Running…running…running….

SBS sat out on this because the ball is heavier than it looks and Roman will MOW YOU DOWN if you are in between him and ball. We watched “safely” from the sidelines.

After a couple of minutes, it was time to get in on the act, and a lively game of Keep Away started….

Before you know it, I’ve got three tired boys! Lots of laughs, lots of photos and lots of grass stained knees!

So, in short, I didn’t get the dishes done until 10. I didn’t edit the photos I took earlier in the week. I didn’t write the story I have ready to go. I didn’t fold laundry until 9.

…and I don’t regret the choice I made last night.