Caspian Strawberries Bean

“Alright, Squid, are you ready to choose?”
“Yeah.”

“Caspian.”
“Capsweean.”

“Gilead. Like from the hymn Mama likes.”
“Geeyeead.”

“Tiberius.”
“Tibeerus.”

“Okay, Squid, which name do you like?”
“I like strawbewwies.”

“Aaaaalright.  DragonMonkey, how about you? I already know my favorite, and Daddy’s favorite… which one is your favorite?”

“Capsian.”
“Caspian?”
“Yeah. Capsian.”

Three votes Caspian, one vote for strawberries.

Caspian Strawberries Bean he is.








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Not-Hodor is Here

Good grief, he’s finally here.

I slept like the dead last night.  I wish I could say it was because I’d been up for two days in a happy excitement….

But, honestly, it was because I was so nervous.

When did I become a nervous, fretful person?  The 8 year old tomboy in me is so disgusted.

Wednesday morning Not-Hodor (as much as I love that name I took one look at him as he got off the truck and realized, “Wow.  He does NOT look like a Hodor.  Like, at all.  Well, that sucks.  What do I call him now?”)  was due to be picked up around one pm.

At 10:30 in the morning I received a call from the transport company.

“Hi, is this Becky Bean?”

“Yes.  What’s up?”

“Well, our drivers called CHP about the road your horse is on, and it’s just too tight for them to make it.  So we can’t go up the road and get your horse – you’re going to have to trailer him down to meet us at the mouth of the canyon.”

“Uhhh, that’s not possible.  I’m up here in Oregon.  Are you sure?  I’ve seen semi trucks on that road lots of times.” 

Inwardly I was thinking, Geez.  I booked this almost two weeks ago, and did follow up calls to make sure there were no issues. I was very specific about where he is located.  You couldn’t have looked into this yesterday?“Well, maybe you can have your parents trailer him down?  We can’t bring our rig up there after the CHP advised us not to.”

“No, sorry, we won’t be able to make it up.  Unfortunately, you’ll have to meet us down there.”

“If we hadn’t rescheduled to today, that might have been a possibility… but my mom is hundreds of miles away in Orange County, and my dad is two hours away, moving RVs.  We only have the landlord there to help him load.”

“…maybe call a friend?”

“I guess I can try?  It’s been almost ten years in that area, but maybe I can find someone?”

So began an incredibly stressful couple of hours.  They flat-out wouldn’t come up.  We flat-out couldn’t come down.  The whole time as we tried to fix things, I did alternate research….. and realized that if he didn’t make this transport, the chances of him making it here in time for me to be able to take him to the clinic were about nil. 

Eventually one of the dispatchers realized that her daughter lived near where  Not-Hodor was located – so we called up the daughter’s husband, and he was able to trailer him down to meet the transport at the mouth of the canyon. 

Only he needed cash to get it done, because he was broke and needed to buy gas.
Only there was no one on hand to give him cash.

Etc, etc, repeat ad nauseum.

It was a fun time  I’ll cut out the several hours of trying to coordinate movements from the trailer company, my parents, the guy doing the short trailering, someone who would bring him money, etc, etc. 

When I finally confirmed Not-Hodor was on the big rig and headed north (Huzzah!), I let the trailering company know that there was a change of plans as to where he was being sent…. because the barn I shopped for and had chosen was now closed due to an outbreak of strangles.

Surprises were more fun when I was a kid. 

“Surprise!  We bought you a new backpack!” was a lot more fun than, “Surprise!  Your new barn has a highly infectious illness running through it!”

Yesterday morning, after driving over to double check the new barn had room for a big rig, I called up the transport company.

“Are we still on for 1-3pm drop off?  If not, let me know. I understand things happen.  I’m just going to have my kids at the sitter and don’t want to keep them there unnecessarily long.”

“Yes, it’s 1-3.  The driver will call when they get close.”

“Okay, sounds good.”

I arrived at the barn at about one.

By two I abandoned hanging out in my car, when my dislike of faking being social with strangers was overcome by how stinking hot it was in my car, in the sun. 

If it was the barn I was going to be staying at long-term, I would definitely have made a huge effort… but yesterday the idea of chatting with new people just sounded exhausting.  I hate small talk. 

“Nice to meet you!  How’s your day going?”

“I’m exhausted and really itchy.  Even though the poison oak on my private parts has finally faded away, I got a new batch of it all over my arms and legs.  Even worse, the puss is getting everywhere, and that’s just gross….wait.  Where are you going?”

No, I didn’t say that.  But it’s what came to mind when someone asked me how I was doing- and then while they stood there, waiting for an answer, I had to raffle through my mental box of “Boring but safe replies” to throw at them.

I seriously hate small talk.

To make matters worse, I’ve discovered that I’ve completely forgotten how to speak horse.  I feel like a complete beginner – and I sound like one, too.

“So, what kind of horse do you have?”

“Uh, he’s a big grey – part Iberian – maybe Andalusian, maybe Lusitano -and part Tennessee Walker.”

“Oh, he sounds great.  What are you planning on doing with him?”

“Uh… ride him?  On his back?  Maybe lead my boys around on him?”

“No, I mean, are you a gamer?  A 4-H-er?  Barrels?”

“Uh… I just want to sit in the saddle?  Trot around, and maybe canter some?”

Eventually I snuck off and found a tree to sit under, where I could read Shogun (again) and wait.

Finally, at four pm, I gave up and went to pick up my kids— who had missed their naps and were dangerously grumpy from being over-tired.

Finally, a little after 5, the trailer showed up.  It was a pretty legit trailer – each horse was cross tied in their own expensive-looking box stall, lots of clean bedding – I’d probably go with the trailer company again, even with the issues.

Between chasing the kids and general business, I didn’t get any pics of him unloading. 

I led him to his microscopic box stall (they are in pasture during the day, and stalled at night), and gave him a moment to drink and eat before leading him out to the pasture area that’s now his (for now, at least):

It looks green, but there’s really not much to eat… which is good, because it means he can stay outside all day instead of being dry stalled to avoid founder or colic.

I took a couple of pictures, just to prove he was here, but he looked tired and kind of gaunt in most of them.  He came off the trailer pretty thirsty – that boy is going to have to learn it’s okay to eat and drink on a trailer.  He’s also a bit too thin – which is definitely not my parent’s fault.  When my mom had her accident they had to leave the mountain in a hurry (obviously), and leave the landlord to throw feed at him.  She owns a bunch of easy-keeper 14.1 hand Quarter Horses – I don’t think it was on purpose, but he just wasn’t getting enough for his size. 

That’s okay, I like fattening up horses.

My boys were in awe that they actually owned a horse.  I didn’t tell them he was coming… mostly because I didn’t want to hear “IS HE HERE?  IS HE HERE TODAY?  WHY NOT?” a bazillion times a day.

The fact that they had a horse, and that they get to visit him every single day was blowing their minds.

“See, howrse?  See my twuck?  Look!  It’s monsta-twuck!  Look, howrse!  Look my monsta-twuck! You wike my monsta twuck?”

“I love you, Not-Hodor.  I love you so much.  You’re my favorite horse.  I love you. You’re pretty. You’re a big horse.  I love you.”

Even better, Not-Hodor seems to really, genuinely like kids.  He could have “grazed”  anywhere in the pasture, but chose instead to graze right by the fence…despite the fact that every time he got remotely close enough to touch, two skinny little pairs of arms shot through the fence, straining to touch him.

Eventually I decided to quit torturing him with all the noise and activity and we all went home for the day.

This morning the DragonMonkey came bursting into my bedroom at crack of dawn.  “C’mon, Mama.  Get out of bed.  Can we go see the horse?  Please?  Let’s go see Not-Hodor.  Can I ride him?  Can I walk him on his leash?  Please?”

On the one hand… go away, child.  I’m in bed.  You are up waaaaaaaaay too early.

But on the other hand….

We headed out of the house at a little before 9 to get to the barn, which is less than 2 miles away…. and we made it there by a little after 11 after meltdowns, and early naps, and even some lovely pukings.

Getting to the stables used to be easier before children.

I also discovered it’s nearly impossible to lunge a horse and take pictures and/or a video at the same time.  Maybe after Not-Hodor and I get some practice? 

I did get a somewhat decent video, that shows off his movement a little bit.


The video on my phone is much higher quality (although still just as bouncy)… anyone how to upload to Youtube without losing quality?

I’d forgotten how calm he is – he doesn’t ground tie yet, but he’ll respect the leadrope in the hands of a very tiny child, so I bet I’ll have him doing it by tomorrow or the next day.  I led both boys around on him and then rode him for a little bit. 

He’s just as nice as I remember, with the only downside being that I have no idea what cues to give him to let him know that trotting is okay. I get the impression he thinks it’s wrong to trot under saddle, and it’s something I’d like to fix.  Any time I try to correct his trot (ask him to collect), he thinks I’m getting after him to gait.

Don’t get me wrong, his gait is a dream to ride, but since you have to really push him to stay in it, and the second you relax he breaks into a walk, I’d like to work on his trot, which comes effortlessly to him.   Even with work on his muscles and regular exercise I don’t see him being able to keep that gait up over lots and lots of miles (cough, endurance, cough.) 

I asked The DragonMonkey to take a picture of me on him for the blog, and he did.

So, here you go:

I look good on him, don’t I?

Yeah.  I don’t know what I expected.

The only bad thing the horse did in the two and a half hours we were there was try to roll while I was leading the DragonMonkey around on him (WITH a saddle on). 

To be honest, I wasn’t sure if he was rolling, or if he was laying down to take a nap (I swear I saw him settling down, rather than preparing to roll), but I wasn’t going to just let him lay there to find out which it was.  That’s one thing I absolutely won’t stand for, so I reprimanded him pretty convincingly – hopefully he won’t try anything like that again.

For the record, I’m very proud of the DragonMonkey.  He hopped off without me telling him to, dashed to a safe distance while I convinced Not-Hodor for about 2 full seconds that laying down with a saddle/rider on was a horrifically scary, potentially fatal mistake (lots of noise and backing him up.)  As soon as we were settled again the DragonMonkey came trotting up on his skinny legs, with zero fear, and asked to get back on.

We’ve come a long ways from the kid who freaked out when he touched a sticky peanut butter sandwich.

Anyways, it was pretty incredible, getting to spend the morning with a horse…. MY horse.

Tomorrow, when I go ride him again, the stirrups will be exactly where I left them. 

Those of you out there who constantly borrow horses and saddles, like I did for seven years – you  know exactly how exciting that is.

Anyways, here’s a bunch of photos of Not-Hodor.  I’m sorry I don’t have better conformation photos, but some idiot took about 10 minutes squaring him up PERFECTLY for photos….  and then proceeded to take a bunch of 1 second videos instead of pictures of all his angles, as the phone was set to video instead of camera. 

Some idiot didn’t have the heart to do it twice.

Anyways, here’s a bunch of pictures… although, I admit, they’re more a reference for me than they are for you.  I can’t wait to see him not only chubby, but all muscled up.

 Crappy picture, but it kind of shows his presence at the trot.

 The Squid is MUCH further away from him than he looks in this picture – also, I did a test run and with even a minute amount of pressure the leadrope slips from his fingers.  I’m not planning on making this a regular thing – I just hadn’t figured out where the hitching post was in this barn yet, and if I put the rope on the ground he tried to follow me.

    I love greys, but I’m kinda sad that hind stocking greyed out – I think he used to have four socks. I bet he was pretty flashy (not that dappled grey isn’t.)

I’m in love with his neck.

              This is the DragonMonkey.  Squid’s feet don’t even reach the bottom of the saddle skirt.

A different “Between the Ears” pic – The Squid smiled like this the entire time he was on his back.

His stall, like all of them, is located right on the arena.

I couldn’t get him to stand right on the cement, which was disappointing, because the light was much better for pictures, and the wet made my cell phone show his conformation better.  He kept hunching his back legs up underneath himself, like they are in this picture.  It took me a long time to figure out this is his “HOLY SH*T I’M TERRIFIED.  PLEASE GET ME OUT OF HERE” face – he was too well behaved to do anything but silently plead at me.  I wonder what happened in his past?

He’s sunken around his tail – free feeding and beet pulp/rice bran will help that.

His cloudy eye.

You can see why I can’t call him Hodor. 

I’m hoping to have a name picked out by the end of this weekend, because I can’t keep calling him “the horse” or “Not-Hodor”.   

T-Minus One… No, Wait… Two Days?

Friggin’ horse transport companies.

They’re running a day behind and won’t be picking up Hodor until Thursday, instead of tomorrow.

We all know why.  Despite what they say, it’s because they found one more run to add to the list.  On the one hand, I understand it’s a business, and I don’t reeeaaaaalllly blame them – it’s a business, and they need to make money.

On the other hand….

DUDE.  You can’t push it back a day.  I’ve been waiting seven years.  One more day after seven years is an eternity.

Of course, when Hodor does get to my new barn, he’ll get out of the trailer, glance around… and then load right back up on another trailer to go to a different barn located about 10 miles away.  For the first time in 23 years, my new barn closed its doors to incoming borders – they’ve got some kind of weird equine flu going around, and they don’t want to chance anything. I appreciate that, but I admit I’m a teensy bit disappointed.  Once everything clears up they’ll trailer him back to his new stall.

On the other hand, it’s definitely a good safeguard, because I don’t want him to get sick…..

SEEING AS HOW I GET TO TAKE HIM WITH ME TO MUGWUMP’S CLINIC IN MONTANA.
 (I know I’ll be cussing his height when I have to remount after a long ride… but look how tiny and petite I look on him! I’m a dainty fairy of a girl.  It’s obvious I wear a size zero and weigh less than my husband – you can tell from how delicate I appear in this picture….. also, also, he’s a little parked out/hollow backed because this saddle was a VERY poor fit for him – we found a much better one later on.)

Yeah.  I’m kind of tipping the scales on the luck-o-meter lately. 

Summersmom (whose little sister is the person who cuts my hair – and DANG she does a better job than anyone I found down in Orange County) has a friend who is willing to drive us, so all we need to do is split gas.

Holy crap.

In a little over a week I’m going to be loading up MY HORSE into a trailer and taking him with me to Montana for four days of pure riding and no children.

Just…. wow.  Seriously, wow. 

I love my husband  He’s currently working 12-14 hour days (some days even longer) to make this happen for me.  He’s pretty awesome.

Also, in other fun news, after my sister read my last post,  she sent me this email:

“When you described Hodor why did you leave out the Andalusian?  I think that half of him is more prominent than the TWH.  If my memory is correct, and not saying it is, he was described as an Andalusian/Walker mix….probably TWH.  Of course, my memory can’t be quite certain if it was Friesian or Andalusian….I just keep leaning towards Andalusian.”

Breed means nothing, really.  if I know what label to apply to him, it’s not going to change his conformation (which I think is awesome) or his personality (which I also think is awesome).

But….

Dude.

C’mon.

It’s a LITTLE bit cool that I had some kind of Iberian horse (even if it’s just a half breed, like me) just fall into my lap by accident.

On a side note,   I loved all of your comments on my last post – it’s kind of cool to be celebrating with a bunch of people I’ve never met “in real life”.  You guys all rock.

…..And then I feel almost lost, because soon I’ll have everything

It’s kind of amazing to me that I started this blog in 2006.  Sure, it was only the last few days of 2006, but still.  I didn’t realize it had been so long.  It’s 2013 now.

Time sure flies when you’re busy squeezing out angry babies, doesn’t it?

A lot has changed.

I was only 25 when I started this blog.  Now, in a couple of weeks, I’m going to be 32.  During that time I got married, had a a kid, got an office job, had another kid, helped The Bean through school, moved out of California to Oregon…. And those are only the big points.

In other words, I’ve done a lot of living.

And now I think it’s time to make another change.

Dear Internet, meet my new horse.

Oh, yes.

You read that right.

My.

New.

Horse.

Here is his backstory:

My parents bought a membership at the dude ranch where I used to be a wrangler.  The head wrangler at the ranch was a bit of a horse trader – and I mean that in the bad sense of the word.  My stepdad met and fell in love with the big grey gelding, and she encouraged them to buy him.

Don’t get me wrong – he’s a *GREAT* horse…. it’s just…

The gelding was 7 (he’s 8 now).

And he is 16.2 hands (I think?  I need to measure him.)

And he had ONLY BEEN GELDED FOR THREE OR FOUR MONTHS when they bought him.

Did I mention my stepdad is a beginner rider over 60 who is a professional Santa (and thus, due to the holiday season, the horse would be unridden in a pasture for at least a quarter of every year?)

In other words, yes, I mean “horse trader” in the most negative sense of the word.  Who the heck sells a gigantic, recently gelded baby to older beginning riders? Even if they really love his personality? 

I think my parents lucked out, and I think they have excellent taste in horses and could recognize the gem that he is, but it’s a situation that could have gone so much worse than it did.

So, we don’t know much about his back story – the horse trader bought him from “some Mexicans”….or something?  I’m not sure.  I will say that whoever raised him did a great job – he has excellent ground manners, and if he was ever used as a stud, there doesn’t seem to be any sign of it.  He has an old eye injury to his right eye – it’s cloudy, but he definitely still has vision in it.

He’s said to be a Tennesee Walker, and he does gait nicely under saddle (although you have to really urge him to keep him in his gait), but he doesn’t do it at liberty.

To be honest, I don’t know – he may be Tennessee Walker, but I really wouldn’t be surprised to find something else in his genetic haystack – he has some pretty fancy movement, especially at the canter – the Tennessee Walkers I’ve met didn’t have very elevated movement in front, but then again, I’m not very knowledgeable about the breed.

 

When I went down to California last February I was able to spend quite a bit of time riding him.  Because of the Santa holiday season and some moving chores, and everything, it had been about four months since my stepdad had even had a chance to put a saddle on him. 

I was impressed by how calm he was, for having spent so much time in his stall.  He had a lot of energy, but he was too well-mannered to really do anything about it.  It felt like sitting on a very well-behaved firecracker – he never took a single misstep, or even jigged, but you could tell he would happily ignite, if you asked him to.  I was very impressed with his brain, and friendly attitude.  By the end of my time there, with getting out of his stall regularly and being ridden often his energy level was much, much lower.  If I had been given a choice, I might have chosen a different horse for my parents (something in its teens), but the gelding had what was most important:  a calm, friendly, forgiving nature.  Even though he was younger than I preferred for them, he wasn’t actually a bad match, provided they turned him out (they moved to a place with pasture soon after, which solved everything.)

His gait was wonderful to sit, his trot was horrible (the western saddle I was in was too small for me so I couldn’t post, and all that beautiful movement was hard to sit), and his canter was like something out of a dream – the elevated movement and restrained power made it feel like I was riding an Andalusian, or some kind of heavily dressage-trained horse. 

Overall, he was just a really nice (and tall!) horse, and I was happy for my parents. 

…… and then, about three weeks ago, my mom was kicked by a cow.

I know, it doesn’t sound like much, but it was one of those freak accidents that just go wrong.  She ended up with a compound fracture (where the bone is sticking out of the skin) and the medical care she received in Bakersfield was like something out of a horror film (bone was out and exposed for about 14 hours, splinted with cardboard and towels, forgetting to give her any pain medicine following her surgery, etc.) The surgery itself to fix her was botched so badly that there’s a specialty team at UCI who may have to redo the entire surgery.  They had to move back down to Orange County to see what happens next.

In other words, they are out of horses for the forseeable future.

And that’s where I come in.

They need to find a home for their gelding…. I’m looking at getting a horse…..

So, yeah.

He’ll be arriving on the 17th.  I found a little self-care barn near my house – it has turn out during the day, and small little box stalls.  It’s a tiny little thing, with no trails, and the only arena it has was kinda cramped-feeling compared to some of the huge ones in other barns I saw…..

But it is, hands down, the most kid-friendly barn I’ve ever been at in my entire life…. which means that I can drag The Squid and The DragonMonkey with me there during the day, instead of trying to sneak away to see the horse like I’m conducting an illicit affair.

So, I’m getting a horse.

I know I should be more excited, and jumping for joy, and using huge capital letters in bright bold, and red, and flashing colors and everything, but I feel almost subdued about the entire thing.  I’m worried about getting too excited about it, because it doesn’t seem like it’s actually going to happen – like there’s so much that could go wrong.  I don’t think I’ll actually let myself believe it’s happening until I get the call from the horse transport company that he is loaded, and on his way. 

Because, honestly…. once he’s here, that’s it.  I’ve achieved all of my life goals.  Oh, sure, I still have other life goals – I want to be a published author, and run a half marathon, and compete in endurance, and learn a third language, and travel overseas, etc, etc…..

But it’s just… if you read this blog, from my first entry in 2006, until this past year, it has had two prevailing themes:

  • I want to move out of California (check mark on that one)

and

  • I want to own a horse again  (check mark on that one on July 17th.)

Dude.

I’ve got nothing left to complain about. 

Like, nothing.

I don’t know what I did to deserve all this, so I guess I’ll just grateful.

PS:  I know I keep calling him “the horse”, as if my parents didn’t name him (they called him Roman), but I’m planning on changing his name (sorry, guys!).  The truth is that I’m leaning towards Hodor.

I LOOOOOOOVE the idea of going out to the pasture, leaning on the fence, and calling out “Hodoooor…”.  (It’s from Game of Thrones, for those of you who don’t get it.)

I’m pretty sure I’d still be snickering about it, years down the road.  Also, he’s a big, grey giant, kind of like Hodor.

On the other hand it’s also kind of a silly name, so I need to see him in person before I settle on anything, because it might not fit him.

If any of you have any cool name ideas, feel free to pass them along.  I admit I’m heavily biased towards cool names that start with the letter “B”, because I think it would sound cool if I ever win any endurance awards.

“And the award for most awesome goes to Becky Bean on Bucephalus…”

Anyways, there you have it.

I’m getting a horse – and it’s not some nebulous, really far-off date, either. It’s in a week.

Crazy, huh?