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Jessica Pierce has been at 2 events

HostFollowersTitleDateGuestsLinks
San Diego Zoo599,123@109454142323344169041 is back from his trip to St. Bees Island, Australia, and he's eager to share what it's like to work with koalas in the wild. Bring a question or two and come chat koalas with us!Koala Hangout x2 with Zookeeper Rick2012-11-16 02:30:0030  
Fraser Cain961,882To celebrate the landing of NASA's Curiosity Rover - the Mars Science Laboratory - we'll be running a special live hangout.  In conjunction with @106911959181067745693. We'll have all your favorite space/astronomy journalists on hand to discuss the mission in depth, and celebrate the landing live, when it happens. Join Fraser Cain, @109036978092446954908, @108952536790629690817 and @102887292457967781591 for this special event. Over the course of this 4-hour Google+ Hangout on Air, we'll interview members of the Curiosity team live in the hangout, as well as other special guests from the @111419948721791453320 and the @108759765804984663877. @109479143173251353583 and @107051665537162034944 will be on location at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory to interview members of the engineering team, and show you what it's like to be at NASA during this amazing moment. We'll update this event as we lock down more of the guests and participants. See you there! You can follow the hashtag #marshangout   (this will replace our regular Sunday night @100902337165997768522)Google+ Hangout - Curiosity Landing Coverage2012-08-06 05:00:004861  

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Top posts in the last 50 posts

Most comments: 9

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2015-07-17 04:38:06 (9 comments, 11 reshares, 106 +1s)Open 

One of my riders with speech problems and a language barrier will blow kisses as a way of saying Yes. She does this a lot, in nearly every interaction. The other day, oddly, she didn't do it at all with people, but had a million kisses for the invisible birds chirping in the trees around the arena. Blowing kisses from horseback like royalty.

Occasionally something will happen that I can't let myself fully process in the moment, because I can't afford to totally lose it in front of a rider who might not understand. And I need clear eyes to do the job. So I observe and remember, at a bit of an emotional remove, then think about it later, in private. It's necessary.

This girl always rides Snap, who she adores and is so sweet to. At every pause, she leans forward to rub her neck or stroke her mane. If we stand still for more than a moment, she really gets into it,... more »

Most reshares: 11

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2015-07-17 04:38:06 (9 comments, 11 reshares, 106 +1s)Open 

One of my riders with speech problems and a language barrier will blow kisses as a way of saying Yes. She does this a lot, in nearly every interaction. The other day, oddly, she didn't do it at all with people, but had a million kisses for the invisible birds chirping in the trees around the arena. Blowing kisses from horseback like royalty.

Occasionally something will happen that I can't let myself fully process in the moment, because I can't afford to totally lose it in front of a rider who might not understand. And I need clear eyes to do the job. So I observe and remember, at a bit of an emotional remove, then think about it later, in private. It's necessary.

This girl always rides Snap, who she adores and is so sweet to. At every pause, she leans forward to rub her neck or stroke her mane. If we stand still for more than a moment, she really gets into it,... more »

Most plusones: 106

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2015-07-17 04:38:06 (9 comments, 11 reshares, 106 +1s)Open 

One of my riders with speech problems and a language barrier will blow kisses as a way of saying Yes. She does this a lot, in nearly every interaction. The other day, oddly, she didn't do it at all with people, but had a million kisses for the invisible birds chirping in the trees around the arena. Blowing kisses from horseback like royalty.

Occasionally something will happen that I can't let myself fully process in the moment, because I can't afford to totally lose it in front of a rider who might not understand. And I need clear eyes to do the job. So I observe and remember, at a bit of an emotional remove, then think about it later, in private. It's necessary.

This girl always rides Snap, who she adores and is so sweet to. At every pause, she leans forward to rub her neck or stroke her mane. If we stand still for more than a moment, she really gets into it,... more »

Latest 50 posts

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2015-07-22 02:42:28 (1 comments, 1 reshares, 15 +1s)Open 

This is Libby, the sweetest, who gets nervous in the wash stall. When she first came to us, she had an awful skin condition that required a lot of medical baths, which must have hurt. A bath hasn't hurt her in a year, but she still gets scared. 

This is what treats are for. Treats help a lot. It's a moment of distraction, a pleasant thing to contrast with a scary experience, and a way to communicate to the horse that I'm on her side. A lady with pockets full of treats couldn't be all bad, even if she's a giver of baths.

We are low on treats, is what I'm getting at! Once again I am asking the amazing internet for help. I just reworked our amazon wishlist - http://amzn.com/w/F4UQRDA3K6VT ; nothing over $20 - and had the great pleasure of removing grooming brushes, shedding blades, hoof picks, and wash supplies. Thanks largely to you people, we are doing pretty ok... more »

This is Libby, the sweetest, who gets nervous in the wash stall. When she first came to us, she had an awful skin condition that required a lot of medical baths, which must have hurt. A bath hasn't hurt her in a year, but she still gets scared. 

This is what treats are for. Treats help a lot. It's a moment of distraction, a pleasant thing to contrast with a scary experience, and a way to communicate to the horse that I'm on her side. A lady with pockets full of treats couldn't be all bad, even if she's a giver of baths.

We are low on treats, is what I'm getting at! Once again I am asking the amazing internet for help. I just reworked our amazon wishlist - http://amzn.com/w/F4UQRDA3K6VT ; nothing over $20 - and had the great pleasure of removing grooming brushes, shedding blades, hoof picks, and wash supplies. Thanks largely to you people, we are doing pretty ok on all those things for the moment.

Because people keep asking (thank you!), our current needs are:

- treats! 

- fly traps, please help me destroy my nemesis the fly

- electrolyte pills, which I just found out are a thing, and could make such a difference for all our horse people. It has been in the 90s every day for weeks here, and some of our instructors are out in it all day. I feel my brain power draining away after a few hours so I really don't know how they keep going. These pills seem more practical than Gatorade. Plus we are all so sick of Gatorade.

As always, thank you all so much for helping, reading, sharing these posts, or caring at all about these horses and what we do. It means more than you could know.___

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2015-07-20 20:09:30 (0 comments, 0 reshares, 14 +1s)Open 

Mikey, who has never once looked impressed.

Mikey, who has never once looked impressed.___

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2015-07-19 18:22:53 (1 comments, 0 reshares, 24 +1s)Open 

Oh hi Gallagher.

Oh hi Gallagher.___

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2015-07-19 01:59:00 (0 comments, 0 reshares, 14 +1s)Open 

Cotton, who had gotten too skinny, but who has put some weight back on and is acting much less like a crabby old man these days. Almost even sweet.

Cotton, who had gotten too skinny, but who has put some weight back on and is acting much less like a crabby old man these days. Almost even sweet.___

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2015-07-18 17:27:58 (0 comments, 0 reshares, 21 +1s)Open 

Zorro.

Zorro.___

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2015-07-18 16:51:09 (0 comments, 0 reshares, 16 +1s)Open 

Sweet old Jack, who nearly every time will amble over to his window to be petted, even if he's in the middle of eating dinner, just because I ask him to.

Sweet old Jack, who nearly every time will amble over to his window to be petted, even if he's in the middle of eating dinner, just because I ask him to.___

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2015-07-18 00:06:05 (1 comments, 0 reshares, 19 +1s)Open 

In the beginning I was painfully clueless as to horses' facial expressions. I remember feeling so frustrated and illiterate when an instructor would say "what's got this horse upset?" when I could see absolutely nothing going on in his face.

It didn't take too long to pick it up, because it's actually not all that hard. I'm sure there are still subtleties that escape me, but mostly it's like reading a dog. Wild eyes, pinned-back ears, and bared teeth all mean the same thing; so do droopy eyes, relaxed ears, and a floppy mouth that goes nom-nom-nom (this is hilarious and my favorite way of knowing for sure that a horse is content).

This is one of a long series of photos I took of Snap looking PISSED before a bath the other day. She gathered a bit of a crowd, because everybody walking past stopped to say, whoa, what's up with her? There was no good... more »

In the beginning I was painfully clueless as to horses' facial expressions. I remember feeling so frustrated and illiterate when an instructor would say "what's got this horse upset?" when I could see absolutely nothing going on in his face.

It didn't take too long to pick it up, because it's actually not all that hard. I'm sure there are still subtleties that escape me, but mostly it's like reading a dog. Wild eyes, pinned-back ears, and bared teeth all mean the same thing; so do droopy eyes, relaxed ears, and a floppy mouth that goes nom-nom-nom (this is hilarious and my favorite way of knowing for sure that a horse is content).

This is one of a long series of photos I took of Snap looking PISSED before a bath the other day. She gathered a bit of a crowd, because everybody walking past stopped to say, whoa, what's up with her? There was no good answer.

The thing was, she wasn't upset. She's impossibly sweet-tempered and I think she knows she has a good life. I haven't seen her upset in probably six months; certainly not now. Her mouth was loose; she sighed and went nom-nom. She nuzzled into every affectionate gesture. She likes to be bathed, and we sweetened the experience with room service: treats and handfuls of hay. While being petted or fed, her ears perked up and she looked happier, but the second we backed off, she went right back to this furious glare. Because the rest of her body language never got the least bit upset, I feel ok about finding it funny.

I can think of three explanations: she liked the attention so much she got mad when it stopped, baby girl just has resting bitchface, or she was clowning. This is after all a horse who knows the spot on my ribs where I'm the most ticklish, and will nibble me there every time she gets a chance. They are just funny weirdos all around.___

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2015-07-17 23:07:51 (1 comments, 0 reshares, 16 +1s)Open 

Luke.

Luke.___

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2015-07-17 21:40:33 (0 comments, 0 reshares, 23 +1s)Open 

In moments of downtime, I love to see who automatically gives affection to the nearest horse. (Almost everybody.) I love to see a woman give big hearty pats to a horse, like he's a doggie.

One day I was in a lesson with a lot of stops and starts, and every time we paused, the horse leader would swing the end of the lead rope back and forth, brushing Snap's front hooves. It took me a minute to see that she was trying to keep the flies away. I think that's when I realized I liked that woman; Snap already loved her.

This is someone bringing out the special soft brush, not because Gallagher needed cleaning, but because he likes it.

In moments of downtime, I love to see who automatically gives affection to the nearest horse. (Almost everybody.) I love to see a woman give big hearty pats to a horse, like he's a doggie.

One day I was in a lesson with a lot of stops and starts, and every time we paused, the horse leader would swing the end of the lead rope back and forth, brushing Snap's front hooves. It took me a minute to see that she was trying to keep the flies away. I think that's when I realized I liked that woman; Snap already loved her.

This is someone bringing out the special soft brush, not because Gallagher needed cleaning, but because he likes it.___

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2015-07-17 18:09:35 (0 comments, 0 reshares, 17 +1s)Open 

Princess Lily.

Are they happy? Yep.

Princess Lily.

Are they happy? Yep.___

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2015-07-17 04:38:06 (9 comments, 11 reshares, 106 +1s)Open 

One of my riders with speech problems and a language barrier will blow kisses as a way of saying Yes. She does this a lot, in nearly every interaction. The other day, oddly, she didn't do it at all with people, but had a million kisses for the invisible birds chirping in the trees around the arena. Blowing kisses from horseback like royalty.

Occasionally something will happen that I can't let myself fully process in the moment, because I can't afford to totally lose it in front of a rider who might not understand. And I need clear eyes to do the job. So I observe and remember, at a bit of an emotional remove, then think about it later, in private. It's necessary.

This girl always rides Snap, who she adores and is so sweet to. At every pause, she leans forward to rub her neck or stroke her mane. If we stand still for more than a moment, she really gets into it,... more »

One of my riders with speech problems and a language barrier will blow kisses as a way of saying Yes. She does this a lot, in nearly every interaction. The other day, oddly, she didn't do it at all with people, but had a million kisses for the invisible birds chirping in the trees around the arena. Blowing kisses from horseback like royalty.

Occasionally something will happen that I can't let myself fully process in the moment, because I can't afford to totally lose it in front of a rider who might not understand. And I need clear eyes to do the job. So I observe and remember, at a bit of an emotional remove, then think about it later, in private. It's necessary.

This girl always rides Snap, who she adores and is so sweet to. At every pause, she leans forward to rub her neck or stroke her mane. If we stand still for more than a moment, she really gets into it, stretching to reach as much of Snap as she can while still in the saddle, rubbing and scratching in intense circles, really getting in there with her fingertips. The horse goes blissfully catatonic.

I was standing alongside, watching this energetic, loving massage, and I'd just thought, I bet that feels wonderful, when the rider leaned over and scratched me on my shoulder, the same way. 

Surprised, I looked up, and she blew me a kiss.

This rider, who has unfair challenges and the name of a princess, treated me like a bird or a horse, like a living thing she loves. I couldn't have felt more acknowledged, chosen, cared for, anointed, or perfectly present in the moment, and I let myself feel every bit of it.___

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2015-07-16 02:32:36 (1 comments, 0 reshares, 12 +1s)Open 

De-gunking Luke's eyes.

De-gunking Luke's eyes.___

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2015-07-16 02:06:32 (0 comments, 0 reshares, 12 +1s)Open 

Gammon.

Gammon.___

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2015-07-16 01:30:39 (1 comments, 0 reshares, 17 +1s)Open 

Snap. I don't even know.

Snap. I don't even know.___

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2015-07-15 01:15:17 (2 comments, 0 reshares, 29 +1s)Open 

Gallagher.

Gallagher.___

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2015-07-15 00:00:28 (0 comments, 0 reshares, 15 +1s)Open 

Easter.

Easter.___

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2015-07-14 22:54:22 (0 comments, 0 reshares, 14 +1s)Open 

Princess Lily. Sometimes they're shy.

Princess Lily. Sometimes they're shy.___

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2015-07-14 22:24:38 (0 comments, 0 reshares, 11 +1s)Open 

Gallagher loves Barbara.

Gallagher loves Barbara.___

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2015-07-14 16:32:29 (0 comments, 1 reshares, 15 +1s)Open 

Party barn photo shoot.

Party barn photo shoot.___

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2015-07-14 15:50:23 (5 comments, 1 reshares, 39 +1s)Open 

Summer makes every single thing harder. I'm not outdoorsy and I cannot seem to acclimate. I sweat like you wouldn't believe; every shower I take is epic.

So although I am still having a good time, it's been a while since it felt, I don't know, majestic and dreamlike. I got spoiled by having that feeling every day, back when I could think about anything other than this unreasonable climate.

My favorite thing is being a tour guide, whether that's giving a friend the full, proper tour, or leading a visitor around for a few minutes. Either way, showing off my horse buddies and sharing why they're special helps me remember how much I love the place, even when the humidity is at 400%.

The other day I was done, drenched, and heading for my car when I saw two kids who didn't belong. I don't know nearly all the kids who take lessons with us, but I know... more »

Summer makes every single thing harder. I'm not outdoorsy and I cannot seem to acclimate. I sweat like you wouldn't believe; every shower I take is epic.

So although I am still having a good time, it's been a while since it felt, I don't know, majestic and dreamlike. I got spoiled by having that feeling every day, back when I could think about anything other than this unreasonable climate.

My favorite thing is being a tour guide, whether that's giving a friend the full, proper tour, or leading a visitor around for a few minutes. Either way, showing off my horse buddies and sharing why they're special helps me remember how much I love the place, even when the humidity is at 400%.

The other day I was done, drenched, and heading for my car when I saw two kids who didn't belong. I don't know nearly all the kids who take lessons with us, but I know the look of one who doesn't: it's a combination of being thrilled to be in a horse barn, and nervous about whether it's actually ok to be there. It's surely how I looked for my first few months.

I asked these kids if they were looking for somebody, and the older one said, "Um, well, we... is it ok, is there maybe a horse we could... pet?"

I said there are about 40, and they would love it if you did.

I found their mom, okayed it, and took these kids on a tour. I said it was no trouble because I was going around to check on the horses anyway, which was a big ol lie.

It was the best. The older kid, a girl of about eight, was a great noticer of small things, and asked good questions. Why does that one have different colored eyes, what do they eat, are they happy? (determined by skin color around the eye / hay, grain, and snacks / yes, and here's how to tell)

I was glad it was right after dinnertime, because right before dinner is when some get a bit anxious, and may whinny, pace, or rattle their doors. It's a brief anxiety, erased with hay, but might have been hard for this kid to see, as all her questions centered around how the horses feel and what their lives are like. She was kind of amazing. Her brother was sweet, but too shy to talk, and only wanted to gently touch each horse's nose with one finger.

We took our time, handed out some treats, petted all the guys who wanted to be petted, and just admired the other ones, the girl hoisting her brother to get a better view into the stalls.

We went to see big man Luke and the kids said WOW and were thrilled when he brought his enormous head down to their level to blink and sniff at them.

We ended with Jack, of course. I hammed it up a little; I was having such a good time. I said ARE. YOU. READY!? Their eyes got real wide and I opened his stall door! Like, a crack, no big deal, just so they could lean in and get nuzzled by his sweet face. We petted that guy absolutely as long as those kids felt like petting him. It was a while.

This tour was a good reminder that the sweat is always worth it. I don't quite know why, but the part that made me tear up later, happened when we were done, as they were heading back to their mom, and the girl leaned down to whisper in her brother's ear, "Jacob. Say 'thank you.'" There was no need to thank me. Less than none.___

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2015-07-13 22:16:45 (2 comments, 1 reshares, 17 +1s)Open 

Mr. T. I don't know much about this guy, but I hear he's compassionate.

Mr. T. I don't know much about this guy, but I hear he's compassionate.___

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2015-07-13 20:24:31 (0 comments, 0 reshares, 17 +1s)Open 

Beautiful Tonka.

Beautiful Tonka.___

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2015-07-13 19:08:10 (4 comments, 0 reshares, 27 +1s)Open 

Princess Lily, on her first day as a party horse. She did great.

The party was not great. It was awful, thanks to awful people. The (awful) kids mostly had a good time, but I was unable to satisfy a bunch of entitled, rude adults.

Whatever. There was this one kid who was different. I assume she was beautiful but all I could see was her huge smile. That was the first thing I said to her: whoa, great smile, you look super happy!

She said, "I'm so excited about horses and I rode one before but it was a long time ago and horses are the best and this party is the best!!"

Chloe was the best. I did what I needed to to keep the other kids occupied, but Chloe got the good stuff: the special glue, my prime anecdotes. It wasn't much but she definitely had a good time, and it kept me sane. I will try to let this part of the day be what I remember. Thanks,... more »

Princess Lily, on her first day as a party horse. She did great.

The party was not great. It was awful, thanks to awful people. The (awful) kids mostly had a good time, but I was unable to satisfy a bunch of entitled, rude adults.

Whatever. There was this one kid who was different. I assume she was beautiful but all I could see was her huge smile. That was the first thing I said to her: whoa, great smile, you look super happy!

She said, "I'm so excited about horses and I rode one before but it was a long time ago and horses are the best and this party is the best!!"

Chloe was the best. I did what I needed to to keep the other kids occupied, but Chloe got the good stuff: the special glue, my prime anecdotes. It wasn't much but she definitely had a good time, and it kept me sane. I will try to let this part of the day be what I remember. Thanks, kid.___

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2015-07-10 22:33:57 (1 comments, 0 reshares, 20 +1s)Open 

I used to be nervous of Nash, because he's famously a biter. Then someone who adores him said, "what? no, he's a big sweetie!" and told me his deal. Apparently he's so into affection that when you stop petting him, or turn your back when he wants your attention, he'll nip. Since I learned this, I'm just real careful on that last nose pet, and now we're buddies.

I used to be nervous of Nash, because he's famously a biter. Then someone who adores him said, "what? no, he's a big sweetie!" and told me his deal. Apparently he's so into affection that when you stop petting him, or turn your back when he wants your attention, he'll nip. Since I learned this, I'm just real careful on that last nose pet, and now we're buddies.___

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2015-07-10 21:46:25 (0 comments, 0 reshares, 26 +1s)Open 

Summer.

Summer.___

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2015-07-10 21:20:39 (0 comments, 0 reshares, 17 +1s)Open 

Pinky.

Today a cashier asked me why I was buying fake flowers and I said "to dress up a horse" and couldn't make her believe I was serious.

Pinky.

Today a cashier asked me why I was buying fake flowers and I said "to dress up a horse" and couldn't make her believe I was serious.___

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2015-07-09 20:32:23 (3 comments, 0 reshares, 37 +1s)Open 

The other day started off as a disaster and by the time I got to the stables I was vibrating with tension and anxiety.Then I walked into the barn to find eight of my favorite horse people together, a rare sight that made me happy even before they said oh she's HERE, we were just talking about you!! Someone had a sewing request* that was unfortunately beyond my abilities, but still it was nice to be thought of.

*don't leave nuts in your backpack anywhere around a squirrel. Shredded!

Later in the day, a lesson instructor referred to me and herself as a team, with regards to the approach we're taking with a particular rider. I hadn't been told that before, and considering this instructor's education and experience with kids and horses, that was a ridiculous, massive compliment that I'm going to do my damnedest to live up to.

Jack hugged me back. ... more »

The other day started off as a disaster and by the time I got to the stables I was vibrating with tension and anxiety.Then I walked into the barn to find eight of my favorite horse people together, a rare sight that made me happy even before they said oh she's HERE, we were just talking about you!! Someone had a sewing request* that was unfortunately beyond my abilities, but still it was nice to be thought of.

*don't leave nuts in your backpack anywhere around a squirrel. Shredded!

Later in the day, a lesson instructor referred to me and herself as a team, with regards to the approach we're taking with a particular rider. I hadn't been told that before, and considering this instructor's education and experience with kids and horses, that was a ridiculous, massive compliment that I'm going to do my damnedest to live up to.

Jack hugged me back.

And later I received the rarest gem: the approval of a teenager.

I have a couple of teen riders with a range of social difficulties, and I try so hard to make sure they know I'm on their side. This can lead to some labored, awkward conversations about intentions and feelings, but it's always worth it.

I was trying to clarify something with one of my riders, and she was like, "why are you asking this," and I said it was to make absolutely sure we understood each other, because if we miscommunicated about this thing, she might think I didn't care about her feelings.

She half-turned toward me, looked at the ground, and almost whispered: "I know you care."___

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2015-07-07 16:36:12 (0 comments, 0 reshares, 36 +1s)Open 

Gammon.

Gammon.___

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2015-07-03 18:28:25 (2 comments, 0 reshares, 29 +1s)Open 

Pinky's total lack of enthusiasm for this crown.

Pinky's total lack of enthusiasm for this crown.___

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2015-06-27 22:51:10 (0 comments, 0 reshares, 15 +1s)Open 

Tucker sleeping.

Tucker sleeping.___

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2015-06-26 22:39:33 (1 comments, 0 reshares, 27 +1s)Open 

In order, I guess I'd want to marry

1. nobody
2. a horse
3. "probably some lady?"

So the ruling doesn't affect me personally that much, except it does. Man is it nice to feel like we're one step closer to a more reasonable, relaxed, interesting, free future.

I also liked this, which parked beside me at the Ikea today.

In order, I guess I'd want to marry

1. nobody
2. a horse
3. "probably some lady?"

So the ruling doesn't affect me personally that much, except it does. Man is it nice to feel like we're one step closer to a more reasonable, relaxed, interesting, free future.

I also liked this, which parked beside me at the Ikea today.___

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2015-06-26 03:52:16 (0 comments, 0 reshares, 20 +1s)Open 

Luke.

Luke.___

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2015-06-25 22:29:39 (0 comments, 0 reshares, 26 +1s)Open 

Sweet man Tonka.

Sweet man Tonka.___

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2015-06-25 19:47:13 (1 comments, 0 reshares, 19 +1s)Open 

Jack is back home. The therapy barns were low on space, so he's been rooming with the boarder horses on the far side the property for a few weeks. He's only used for pony parties, not lessons, so lots of people didn't realize he'd been un-retired, which meant I've had the vast pleasure of telling the story over and over of how he's come back to us. Since he isn't used much, most people don't have such an attachment to Jack, which means I probably come off as a little nutty about this, but I don't care, he's the best and they're missing out.

When various construction and stall-refurbishment projects got sorted out, there was finally a spot for Jack in the proper barn. But it wasn't the same spot he used to have, next door to his best friend (true love?), Summer.

I was briefly disappointed to hear this, until I realized he's just across... more »

Jack is back home. The therapy barns were low on space, so he's been rooming with the boarder horses on the far side the property for a few weeks. He's only used for pony parties, not lessons, so lots of people didn't realize he'd been un-retired, which meant I've had the vast pleasure of telling the story over and over of how he's come back to us. Since he isn't used much, most people don't have such an attachment to Jack, which means I probably come off as a little nutty about this, but I don't care, he's the best and they're missing out.

When various construction and stall-refurbishment projects got sorted out, there was finally a spot for Jack in the proper barn. But it wasn't the same spot he used to have, next door to his best friend (true love?), Summer.

I was briefly disappointed to hear this, until I realized he's just across the aisle from Summer's stall, with a clear view. I'm pretty sure they gaze at each other all day long.___

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2015-06-25 01:18:03 (2 comments, 0 reshares, 27 +1s)Open 

I had to snatch my first rider off a horse today. Kind of funny that in nine months I've never had to do that. I help train volunteers in how to do this every month, and the "emergency dismount" is a large part of why we use sidewalkers in the first place. If something goes sour with the horse or the kid, a sidewalker has to be ready to just snatch em up and get out of there.

One of my big fears is that I won't be alert to danger signs, that a disaster will happen and I won't take action quickly enough to help the kids I'm entrusted with. (When my mind wanders during a lesson, I repeat my secret mantra: somebody else's baby.)

Today, although I was sad, tired, and distracted, I did it right. Pinky was itchy from flies and sweat, and anxious about a bad storm sweeping in. On her best days, this rider will try to dismount every time her horse pauses -... more »

I had to snatch my first rider off a horse today. Kind of funny that in nine months I've never had to do that. I help train volunteers in how to do this every month, and the "emergency dismount" is a large part of why we use sidewalkers in the first place. If something goes sour with the horse or the kid, a sidewalker has to be ready to just snatch em up and get out of there.

One of my big fears is that I won't be alert to danger signs, that a disaster will happen and I won't take action quickly enough to help the kids I'm entrusted with. (When my mind wanders during a lesson, I repeat my secret mantra: somebody else's baby.)

Today, although I was sad, tired, and distracted, I did it right. Pinky was itchy from flies and sweat, and anxious about a bad storm sweeping in. On her best days, this rider will try to dismount every time her horse pauses - she's a "jumper." There are communication barriers with this kid, so reasoning with her doesn't work.

Today's situation never got dangerous. I don't think it really counts as an emergency dismount. Near the end of the lesson, the rider got upset and flail-y, Pinky seemed more stressed, and I suddenly had this feeling of "I need to get you off this horse now." I didn't ask permission, I just told the team what I was doing and scooped her up.

I'm short, so I was lucky in that this was our smallest horse and probably our smallest rider. She was weightless as a kitten.

It was not a big thing. I have had way scarier moments alongside a truly spooked horse. Possibly nothing would have gone wrong here, had I left it alone. But the rider's dad (who I adore because of how much he loves his daughter) had also noticed the bad agitation of both kid and horse, and I think he'd just begun to worry. So although it was perhaps not a big thing, I will admit that as I walked toward him, carrying his tiny girl, I felt a little bit like Superman.___

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2015-06-25 00:03:20 (0 comments, 0 reshares, 26 +1s)Open 

I needed cheering up so I went to see Gal, who does the best version of my favorite horse noise, the nicker.

Nickering is a friendly hello type of thing, and our horses (maybe all horses) have caught on that it's a good way to ask for snacks. It's a sweet, hopeful, cute noise, the sort of thing horses say in cartoons.

Gal's is the best. It's flutey, feminine, and soft. It's not by any means a noise she reserves for me - she doesn't know me very well, and when she's feeling talkative, she murmurs to pretty much anybody who walks past her stall. When I give someone a barn tour, though, I can rarely get her to make a peep. I don't know if that's her being shy or mischievous. Sometimes I can't get her to do it when I'm by myself, even if I do the awful thing of pretending to have a nonexistent treat.

Today I hardly had to try. I said,... more »

I needed cheering up so I went to see Gal, who does the best version of my favorite horse noise, the nicker.

Nickering is a friendly hello type of thing, and our horses (maybe all horses) have caught on that it's a good way to ask for snacks. It's a sweet, hopeful, cute noise, the sort of thing horses say in cartoons.

Gal's is the best. It's flutey, feminine, and soft. It's not by any means a noise she reserves for me - she doesn't know me very well, and when she's feeling talkative, she murmurs to pretty much anybody who walks past her stall. When I give someone a barn tour, though, I can rarely get her to make a peep. I don't know if that's her being shy or mischievous. Sometimes I can't get her to do it when I'm by myself, even if I do the awful thing of pretending to have a nonexistent treat.

Today I hardly had to try. I said, Hey Gal, what's up? and didn't even hint at having an apple. She whirled and came to me so quickly that this was the best photo I could manage. The whole time I petted her soft nose, and yes, while she crunched up many treats, she said the longest string of funny, musical horse syllables I've ever heard. Like she knew I needed it.___

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2015-06-24 23:27:00 (2 comments, 0 reshares, 28 +1s)Open 

Prop comedian Gallagher.

Prop comedian Gallagher.___

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2015-06-24 17:35:32 (2 comments, 0 reshares, 20 +1s)Open 

Mikey and Luke, 100% aware that I had a bag full of apples.

Mikey and Luke, 100% aware that I had a bag full of apples.___

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2015-06-22 18:27:58 (0 comments, 0 reshares, 15 +1s)Open 

Snap. It's not a bad life.

Snap. It's not a bad life.___

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2015-06-22 18:08:11 (1 comments, 0 reshares, 11 +1s)Open 

Elmo.

Elmo.___

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2015-06-21 01:30:48 (3 comments, 0 reshares, 18 +1s)Open 

I've worked at parties where we've used Summer, and have visited her a million times in her stall, but I'd never actually been her leader until the other day. While grooming her, she was perfectly sweet as usual, with much adorable nuzzling of her rider, a seven-year-old girl who was thrilled by it.

When we saddled her, though, she got a bit anxious and fussy. She sort of faux-nipped at the rider, meaning she nipped the air near the rider. No big deal, but it hurt the kid's feelings, as they'd been snuggle buddies one minute previously. We had a little talk about not taking it personally (which is hard for me too) and we got past it.

As I led Summer up to the arena she shook her head around, stopped walking a few times, and generally made it clear she was unhappy. When I halted her so the rider could mount, she didn't stay halted, which is a super big no-no and... more »

I've worked at parties where we've used Summer, and have visited her a million times in her stall, but I'd never actually been her leader until the other day. While grooming her, she was perfectly sweet as usual, with much adorable nuzzling of her rider, a seven-year-old girl who was thrilled by it.

When we saddled her, though, she got a bit anxious and fussy. She sort of faux-nipped at the rider, meaning she nipped the air near the rider. No big deal, but it hurt the kid's feelings, as they'd been snuggle buddies one minute previously. We had a little talk about not taking it personally (which is hard for me too) and we got past it.

As I led Summer up to the arena she shook her head around, stopped walking a few times, and generally made it clear she was unhappy. When I halted her so the rider could mount, she didn't stay halted, which is a super big no-no and something that personally drives me up the wall. A horse not walking on command is annoying, but not stopping on command can be dangerous. She only did it a few times, and when I gave her a stern enough QUIT IT, she looked ashamed and settled a bit.

I had a theory, but didn't want to project my own assumptions. I asked the instructor what the f was up with Summer and she confirmed, "oh, that'll be about Jack."

Just as she said this, Summer pawed the ground, flung her head back, and let out the saddest, most desperate whinny.

Whinnying is rare with us. It's meant to communicate over distances, and our horses are always pretty close to each other. It can also be an anxiety thing, and because our program is great, the horses don't have any big worries. The only times I've ever heard whinnying are when a meal is very late, or during scary storms, and I'm told there were some understandably frustrated horses during the quarantine last winter, when they'd been cooped up for weeks. In nine months I have never once had a horse whinny while I was holding her rope.

So it took me aback. It was loud. I was going to ask the instructor what on earth was going on, when I heard another small, faraway whinny in response. It came from over a hill, down a path, and inside the boarder barn on the other side of the property. There were walls, trees, and outbuildings in between these two horses, plus the ambient hum of traffic, kids, and other lessons going on. But that wasn't too much for Summer to call out to Jack, for Jack to hear her and respond, and from that moment, Summer was her usual calm, sweet self.

I am told that becoming herdbound (forming such an attachment) can be an obstacle for a trainer or leader, as it can keep a horse from being obedient, which is of course not great. I didn't enjoy the part where I wasn't listened to, and had Summer's behavior gotten any worse, it might have posed a safety hazard. I know I'm romanticizing things, and it's partly because I love Jack too, but it's still hard for me not to think of this as something pretty special. ___

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2015-06-19 00:51:54 (1 comments, 0 reshares, 17 +1s)Open 

Zorro, looking freaked out (but really just excited about the smell of a treat).

Zorro, looking freaked out (but really just excited about the smell of a treat).___

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2015-06-18 23:06:47 (2 comments, 1 reshares, 13 +1s)Open 

Snap, having some doubts about her impending bath.

One of our riders has language difficulties, a heavy Eastern European accent, and a special pet name for Snap. Though the leader is the one actually controlling the horse in this particular lesson, we encourage the rider to use verbal commands too, when appropriate, to be a part of the process and to foster a connection with the horse's movement. Our command for "go" is "walk on."

All of this is why, once a week, I get to hear someone enthusiastically exclaim, "Vulcan Snippy!" about a hundred times. And every time - every time - the rider says it, she leans forward to pet Snap's mane so gently. Goot Snippy.

Snap, having some doubts about her impending bath.

One of our riders has language difficulties, a heavy Eastern European accent, and a special pet name for Snap. Though the leader is the one actually controlling the horse in this particular lesson, we encourage the rider to use verbal commands too, when appropriate, to be a part of the process and to foster a connection with the horse's movement. Our command for "go" is "walk on."

All of this is why, once a week, I get to hear someone enthusiastically exclaim, "Vulcan Snippy!" about a hundred times. And every time - every time - the rider says it, she leans forward to pet Snap's mane so gently. Goot Snippy.___

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2015-06-18 22:14:20 (0 comments, 0 reshares, 15 +1s)Open 

Because many of our riders are fragile, unsteady, inexperienced, or small, we need the horses to be unflappable. They generally are, but scary noises are still scary, and while actual spooking (the dangerous stuff that could get a rider thrown) is rare, nobody blames a horse for being startled by the unexpected.

Such as: someone dropped a helmet right next to Happy, which hit the concrete at just the right angle to make a really loud CLONK.

I happened to have my arms around his neck at the time, which is how I know that the guy did not even twitch. I let go and he just blinked at me, like, ain't no thing.

Because many of our riders are fragile, unsteady, inexperienced, or small, we need the horses to be unflappable. They generally are, but scary noises are still scary, and while actual spooking (the dangerous stuff that could get a rider thrown) is rare, nobody blames a horse for being startled by the unexpected.

Such as: someone dropped a helmet right next to Happy, which hit the concrete at just the right angle to make a really loud CLONK.

I happened to have my arms around his neck at the time, which is how I know that the guy did not even twitch. I let go and he just blinked at me, like, ain't no thing.___

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2015-06-18 21:56:35 (0 comments, 1 reshares, 21 +1s)Open 

Gallagher, eating a shower.

Gallagher, eating a shower.___

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2015-06-18 19:51:20 (6 comments, 0 reshares, 8 +1s)Open 

Here's the side I finished. The clippers got too hot and I wasn't able to get everything, but I was pretty pleased with what I did. Someone else finished him up the next day, so dude is finally all handsome and smooth and cool(er) in this awful heat.

Next on the haircut list, I hope, is Summer, Jack's special lady. I didn't realize it until lately, but she's super shaggy and has to be hot. Some breeds are hairier than others, some of them haven't finished shedding their thick winter coats yet (wtf), and as horses get older, they usually grow more hair. As our horses are all a bit older, pretty much everybody has too much hair for this heat.

Our program has an amazing huge crew of people who love the animals. But haircuts are a challenge because they're time-consuming, and people and horses are all on a pretty strict hourly lesson schedule. So haircuts are... more »

Here's the side I finished. The clippers got too hot and I wasn't able to get everything, but I was pretty pleased with what I did. Someone else finished him up the next day, so dude is finally all handsome and smooth and cool(er) in this awful heat.

Next on the haircut list, I hope, is Summer, Jack's special lady. I didn't realize it until lately, but she's super shaggy and has to be hot. Some breeds are hairier than others, some of them haven't finished shedding their thick winter coats yet (wtf), and as horses get older, they usually grow more hair. As our horses are all a bit older, pretty much everybody has too much hair for this heat.

Our program has an amazing huge crew of people who love the animals. But haircuts are a challenge because they're time-consuming, and people and horses are all on a pretty strict hourly lesson schedule. So haircuts are usually left til the end of the day, which means someone has to stay late and then go home SUPER hairy (horse hair inside the bra). I don't mind doing it, and neither do lots of other people - it's just a challenge to get it done with 40 horses.

The other very stupid challenge is lack of clippers. We have one crummy pair and one amazing pair, which are personally owned by a lesson instructor. She let me use them on Jack and I bet she'll let me use them again, but I don't have unlimited access to them.

For this reason I think I may start some sort of gofundme deal to purchase a new set of clippers. They're expensive - Amazon has some for $800 (!!) and the "reasonable" ones tend to be around $200, which is still crazy. I'll be doing more research on this before I set anything up, but wanted to mention it here in case anyone has brilliant suggestions, thinks it's a horrible idea, etc.

As always, I hate to ask for donations, but sometimes there's no other way. And I've seen too many sweaty horses this week to not try and do something to make them feel a bit better.
___

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2015-06-18 19:33:02 (0 comments, 0 reshares, 5 +1s)Open 

After Jack had a little nosh and got his act together, I got to learn how to clip horses! I've been wanting to do this for a while.

This is what he looked like after half a haircut that someone else gave him. I mean no disrespect to her when I say he looks mangy as hell here. Not her fault. Clipping is a slow job and often gets interrupted by the horse's or the person's schedule. Sometimes the clippers overheat, or the horse has just had enough. So a haircut is often spread over several days, which might not be consecutive, and this is why I'm always having to explain to concerned party parents that the pony does not have a skin condition.

Anyway, this is "before."

After Jack had a little nosh and got his act together, I got to learn how to clip horses! I've been wanting to do this for a while.

This is what he looked like after half a haircut that someone else gave him. I mean no disrespect to her when I say he looks mangy as hell here. Not her fault. Clipping is a slow job and often gets interrupted by the horse's or the person's schedule. Sometimes the clippers overheat, or the horse has just had enough. So a haircut is often spread over several days, which might not be consecutive, and this is why I'm always having to explain to concerned party parents that the pony does not have a skin condition.

Anyway, this is "before."___

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2015-06-18 18:53:33 (4 comments, 1 reshares, 8 +1s)Open 

Nobody can look quite as woeful as Jack.

We needed to get him into the wash stall for a haircut. He amiably put his own head into the halter, was perfectly happy to amble down the barn, then ground to a complete stop, six feet away from where he needed to be. He didn't seem agitated or scared, but he 100% was not going into that wash stall.

His exasperated leader handed me the rope and said, "Here, you're his person, you try." While that was flattering, it carried zero weight with Jack. Not moving.

It had been a while since I'd had a horse be that obstinate and immovable. There's no winning a tug-of-war with a horse who has made up his mind, but there are a lot of gestures, commands, rope swats, etc. that almost always get him moving. I tried every trick I knew, two other women did too, and ultimately the only thing that worked was a bribe. I always... more »

Nobody can look quite as woeful as Jack.

We needed to get him into the wash stall for a haircut. He amiably put his own head into the halter, was perfectly happy to amble down the barn, then ground to a complete stop, six feet away from where he needed to be. He didn't seem agitated or scared, but he 100% was not going into that wash stall.

His exasperated leader handed me the rope and said, "Here, you're his person, you try." While that was flattering, it carried zero weight with Jack. Not moving.

It had been a while since I'd had a horse be that obstinate and immovable. There's no winning a tug-of-war with a horse who has made up his mind, but there are a lot of gestures, commands, rope swats, etc. that almost always get him moving. I tried every trick I knew, two other women did too, and ultimately the only thing that worked was a bribe. I always hate to do that, but we had stuff to do.

I think this sad look is partly about not wanting to be in the wash stall and partly about my running out of treats.___

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2015-06-18 02:40:58 (2 comments, 0 reshares, 20 +1s)Open 

Boarder barn. I don't know a thing about any of these guys, I was just excited to come around the corner and see this happening. Six!

Boarder barn. I don't know a thing about any of these guys, I was just excited to come around the corner and see this happening. Six!___

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2015-06-18 02:13:57 (2 comments, 0 reshares, 13 +1s)Open 

A therapeutic lesson almost always involves a lot of stops and starts, to work on the rider's balance or core muscles, to work on her stop/go commands, or to alternate the riding with a different exercise. Yesterday we were doing all three, which amounted to stopping about a million times, and every time we held still, poor Snap was being eaten alive by flies - they were the worst I've seen so far. (No home remedies please; we have tried them. Nothing works. I'm not sure fire would work. Summer just sucks.)

During each pause, the horse leader did a very sweet thing: as a fly deterrent, she swung the end of the lead rope back and forth past Snap's front ankles, apparently her most delicious spot. It helped, and also made me feel less silly for the times I've blown in Gallagher's face to keep the gnats off him.

One of my riders cancelled, so with that spare hour I... more »

A therapeutic lesson almost always involves a lot of stops and starts, to work on the rider's balance or core muscles, to work on her stop/go commands, or to alternate the riding with a different exercise. Yesterday we were doing all three, which amounted to stopping about a million times, and every time we held still, poor Snap was being eaten alive by flies - they were the worst I've seen so far. (No home remedies please; we have tried them. Nothing works. I'm not sure fire would work. Summer just sucks.)

During each pause, the horse leader did a very sweet thing: as a fly deterrent, she swung the end of the lead rope back and forth past Snap's front ankles, apparently her most delicious spot. It helped, and also made me feel less silly for the times I've blown in Gallagher's face to keep the gnats off him.

One of my riders cancelled, so with that spare hour I bathed Snap, thinking a clean horse usually attracts fewer flies. (Fail)

Scrubbing the legs is super awkward because you don't want your feet to be anywhere the horse's feet might decide to be. Ask me how I know. But scrubbing filth and fungus takes a while, and I can't just bend at the waist and hang out in a right angle for twenty minutes. I've developed an inelegant squat/lean that works, but leaves weird muscles burning the next day. They really should brand the stables as a gym.

I was working on her last ankle when I felt warm liquid coursing around my neck. I thought someone was messing with me or I was being peed on. Nope, it was sweat. An insane, disturbing quantity of sweat. Given that I am fresh off a heat exhaustion adventure, I cut the bath short.

We went for a graze and I took this photo, by which time the flies had rediscovered her. I tried.

The title of all my posts for the next two months may be Summer Is So Hot You Guys. Sorry about that.___

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