Monday, October 12, 2009

My Favorite Horse and Spaghetti

The wind is whipping like a mother today; otherwise I was going to ride. That’s why I left Oklahoma. Because of the wind. It makes me feel uneasy. It makes me feel like a storm is coming, even when it’s not. Every time I feel sorry for myself for getting rid of my hundred-and-ten acres out there, a windy day happens and I feel better.

You’d think the horses wouldn’t mind the wind because they’re used to it, having spent time in Oklahoma. But they don’t like it either. I’m sure they feel uneasy as well, and perhaps they expect a storm. Or at least some branches to fall down and clonk them on the heads. The last time we had real bad wind, a storm did come and it knocked down three trees. They fell on the roof that goes around the tobacco shed, where I’d just thrown down some hay and where Bullet and Minnie had hurried over to get out of the rain and start eating. I walked into the barn and as quick as it took me to walk out the other side, the trees were down and the horses were all up by the barn looking in the same direction. They were staring at the tobacco shed, huddled together like crowds huddle on curbs and stare at accident scenes. The three trees were down, and the tobacco shed roof, two minutes ago above my head, was sprawled out beneath them like a bug beneath a shoe.

I could ride those horses out there if I really wanted to but it’s no fun in the wind. I’m a fair weather girl. I don’t like rain either. Or cold. Or snow after the first day. Any sort of precipitation or conditions that require me to put on anything more than a sweatshirt jacket. But it turns out I’m going to be riding in the cold this year whether I like it or not. Normally I take a break from riding from Thanksgiving until March and concentrate on family stuff. Do all the extras. Cook using actual recipes, play Scrabble, put up new curtains, go ice skating. Well, not really the ice skating since I tried that once when I was a kid and I’m not willing to try it again. I fell a hundred and twenty-three times. Of course I fell a hundred and twenty-three times when I was learning to ride too but that’s different. Anyway, you get the picture. In the winter, I do all those things that are fun or good to do but can’t shine riding’s shoes.

Not many things can. Kurt wants to get a boat someday and I agreed I would go out on it with him and in fact it sounds like a good time driving it across the lake and getting some lunch on the other side. But I’d really rather ride one of the horses up the mountain, even if I’d just done it yesterday, and look at the lake from up there. Because horses are like spaghetti. I can never get enough. I could eat it every day. I live for my spaghetti. I mean my horses.

One of my horses I can only ride in the winter. He has headshaking syndrome. Harley jerks his head up and down uncontrollably during exercise like he just got stung by a bee. It’s impossible to ride him. The first time he did it, while we were riding out in the field in Oklahoma, I thought bugs or seeds popping up from the grass were bothering him. I urged him on. He was so irritated that he tried to wipe his nose with his forefoot and he fell down with me on top of him! Luckily, he’s very athletic and he scrambled right back up before I even knew what happened. But it could have been bad.

Right away I knew what it was because I read a lot. I have a vast supply of bits and pieces of knowledge in my head, a little about everything, especially horse stuff. Though I never went to college. I’m a big reader. I like books about as much as horses and spaghetti. When I was a kid, I took out every single book in the library that they had about horses. Even if it was about English riding. I mean real English riding, from the actual England, where their horses wore rugs instead of blankets and I had to decipher the jargon before I could even understand the discipline. If there was a horse in it, I took it out.

They only let you take out a certain number of books on the same subject and I thought that was terribly unfair especially since nobody else was reading them. Back in those days, they stamped the card in the back of the book so I could tell that The Fundamentals of Horsemanship hadn’t been taken out in eight months. So I borrowed a couple of extras without checking them out and snuck them back in when I returned the others.

Some of this reading must have stuck because whenever there is something going on with a horse, nine times out of ten, I know what it is, and know what to do, though I usually call the vet because I don’t trust myself. Sometimes I get the vet out so I can diagnose it for him. But it makes me feel better to have someone out who actually went to school for this.

So right away I knew Harley had headshaking syndrome. And I called the vet anyway. He suggested a few different things. Nah, that doesn’t work. Yep, I did that. Nope, they tried that and studies show no improvement. No, I won’t give that drug because some horses colic on it. Etc.

Nothing works consistently or regularly with these horses. There is no cure and they don’t know what it’s from. It seems like all they know for sure is the trigeminal nerve in the nose gets triggered and your horse is basically shot. Not literally. Well, I guess sometimes, some mean owner would shoot his horse if he couldn’t ride him. But I was talking figuratively.

Some of these horses are seasonal and so I’ve been waiting for the right time, hoping and praying that Harley wouldn’t do it when summer was over and I could at least get some use out of him in the winter. Even though I am a fair weather girl, I would put on my ski mask, the kind that burglars wear, my thermal gloves and goose-down coat that you can’t move in and be happy that at least I can ride this horse sometime. I love to ride Harley. He’s my favorite. He thinks I’m his mommy and will jump off a bridge if I ask him to. He’s light and fast and he loves to run. It’s like flying, when you’re riding Harley. I would do anything to ride Harley. I would even ride him in the wind.


Christina said...

Hi Debi,
Thanks so much for stopping by my blog. I am a very devoted bunny mom as you are to your horses. Bunnies and horses have very similar digestive systems.

I too, love to read books. They are my best friends sometimes. "Sigh" I hate the Oklahoma wind too. One of these days I will be somewhere else but for the moment...... I lived in Vienna,VA as a kid. Beautiful state.

Becky Mushko said...

My trails are open. Come on over.

Leonora said...

With horse people, I think there's more to it than gaining the knowledge by reading. I think you all have a gift for the animal that just makes you know them. It's what gave you the desire to read all those books in the first place!
This is what I have observed in my daughter.(She's the reason we have horses) It wouldn't help me at all if I read all the very same books : )

Leonora said...

With horse people, I think there's more to it than gaining the knowledge by reading. I think you all have a gift for the animal that just makes you know them. It's what gave you the desire to read all those books in the first place!
This is what I have observed in my daughter.(She's the reason we have horses) It wouldn't help me at all if I read all the very same books : )

Beth said...

I'm not too crazy about the wind either, Debi. At our old place, we often got 60 MPH winds in the wintertime. I don't miss that. Harley is such a beautiful horse---here's hoping you'll be able to ride him like the wind this winter!

I'll be thinking of your Mom today.

sweetflutterbys3 said...

Harley sounds like a wonderful horse. I learned so much about horses just from reading your post!

Cynda said...

That is a beautiful horse! I don't blame you for riding him in the winter. I would ride him every chance I get. All your horses are beautiful. And I'm glad you're not in Oklahoma anymore!

Gail said...

When I read the flip flop/spotted donkey story, you had me hooked.

This is another wonderful post. I love spaghetti and horses too. I love wife beater Ts, books and animals in general.

I look forward to following your blog.

Rural Rambler said...

Debi Wild Thing is a girly girl?!

I have a thing about wind and you know when you were talking about similar things over at my place? Well I have lived in OK, and Virginia. You know I love books, the world doesn't spin without spaghetti but it has to have a big old meatball on top, I AM a fair weather gal(always have been actually)and I fell 123 times while learning to ride too! I love this post today, I am addicted to your sense of funny and I love your words made into sentences that make your writing. "The wind is whipping like a mother today"- this is the sort of thing that has me tapping my fingers on the nearest flat object available not so patiently waiting on your next blog entry! Hey Harley's not so fat but he sure is a gray and I see me some cute dapples!

CountryDew said...

I am glad you enjoy your horse, even if its not ideal. I do not like the wind, either.

Amy Tate said...

Your horse is GORGEOUS! I've always wanted a white horse with a black mane. BTW, I found a farm down in South Boston called Shangrila that looks interesting. Dad and I may ride over there for the day. Ever heard of it?

Jeff said...

What a wonderful post on the pleasures of riding horses. I have to confess that I'm a tad leery of the animals, myself. That is probably from an encounter as a young boy with the mule that the man who farmed my parent's land owned. At least I think it was a mule. All I know is that it was huge! The mule was actually well-behaved, but I was a wee lad and I've never forgotten how big and strong that mule was. I'm glad that all the effort you put into taking care of your horses is re-paid when you get to ride them!

Tammy said...

I love your writing... For me it's pizza. I could eat pizza everyday. :)

A was thinking about a friend who's horse had similar issues in the spring & it was related to the sun. Can't remember anything more. Unlike you, I can only retain a small, small bit of info & need someone else to fill in the blank. As I get older, I find myself playing charades WITH words. Trying to fill in the blanks.

I live in Nebraska and very familiar with those winds you mention. We start complaining in the spring. When the humidity gets us in mid summer, we are begging for a little wind! Then there is the windchill we have to deal with in the winter... remind me why I live here?

Good to see a new post from you.

Chris said...

I've had several horses but the one I rode the most years, Midnight, was a big white horse, white mane and tail that swept the ground. I loved him and he me and we had such big fun together, many adventures year round. The only time he spooked was on windy days; then anything would spook him. We liked to go on cold days and I'd use a bareback pad, warm seat!

Debi Kelly Van Cleave said...

Rural Rambler, yes, Wild Thing is all girl. Kelly renamed him, I mean her, Eclipse. Anyway, she's not wild anymore. She's a little purring machine.

We have a lot in common! I'm working on another story now. Hubby said, "Hurry up, the woman's tapping her fingers waiting for you!" Funny. Thanks for the compliment.

And yeah, Harley is huge. That picture was from last year. He won't let me post anything recent. He thinks the saddle makes his butt look big.

Amy, I have a horse friend who lives in South Boston. I'll ask her about Shangrila.

Tammy, yes, that's headshaking. Your friend's horse is photic. Thank God Harley is not because I love the sun.

Jeff, did he look like a cartoon character? If so, mule.

Chris, I can tell you had a special bond with Midnight like I have with Harley.

Everyone else, thank you so much for your nice comments! You guys keep me doing this.

Claudia Condiff said...

Gees girl, will you please do a book?????
I LOVE the way you think and consequently, write!
Spaghetti and horses...
I love it.

Debi Kelly Van Cleave said...

Aw, you're sweet Claudia. Thanks.

Gilly said...

You make riding sound like a real lot of fun! I have never even been on a horse in my life, and I am not about to start now! But they are magnificent animals, and I can quite see what enjoyment and pleasure you get from them. Long may it last, and may no more branches fall on them!

Sloan said...

It is obvious you are passionate about those horses. Everything is going to work out fine with the one who shakes his head. I know you will figure it out.

Motley said...


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