Me

Hunting & Dancing with Hounds

New Funny Farm content coming soon. But after a busy weekend, I can only proffer up a few pixs and captions.

On Saturday Brynn hunted untethered — “off the leash,” as she likes to say. In other words, without any speed moderation from yours truly.

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What does this mean?

It means that I’m dispensable.

I’m still useful when it comes to tacking up the pony, or tightening his girth. I am menial labor.

But in the hunt field, I am a nonessential employee.

Last week, Brynn was frightened to ride down steep slopes and cross creek beds. This week she was blase. Freed from the lead, she announced that I could fall in behind her. “You can stay back there,” she said, gesturing toward Rocky’s tail.

She’s a teenager, embodied in a kindergartener.

Which is impressive and annoying at the same time.

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Chatting on the hack home

 

In the meantime, Hadley is still honing her hound handling skills. Pictured, this isn’t Kennedy, but another effusive hound in the pack.

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Dancing with hounds.

Or just bonding.

Either way, it’s a feel-good experience.

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(Photos by Karen Kandra & Robert Keller)

Creature Comforts

Here are the facts:

  • The boiler, which drives steam into the radiators to heat the house, is kaput. Rusted out.
  • Replacement is neither simple nor cheap.
  • The house is very cold at night.
  • The dog sleeps in a 6- by 8-foot mudroom. With a space heater.
  • The dog is very happy.

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(Sorry, no image of dog-in-mudroom due to the graphic nature — i.e., cluttered mess. It’s just too grungy to photograph.)

 

The sound of autumn

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Circa, 2014

Last week, I heard the distinctive sound of fall.

No, not rustling leaves, but the steady, whirling brrrrrrrrrrr and the rattling clickety-clack from neighboring properties.

The sound of clippers, mowing through miles of horse hair.

Last week, spurred by warm weather, horse owners everywhere uncoiled their clipper cords, sized up their blades, and cleared store shelves of blade wash and coolant spray.

Most horses who work hard in cold months need a haircut; otherwise, cooling down takes hours. (Blankets make up for what’s been removed.)

In the best of circumstances, body clipping is a loathsome chore. A royal pain in the butt.

Why? It’s time consuming. The clippers easily clog and the motor can overheat; the blades dull with use. And if you don’t cut with meticulous care, your horse will look mouse-chewed and shabby.

For the human, it’s an itchy task; a raincoat and slick pants will help repel hair, but bits always find their way into underclothes.

Last week I heeded the sunny, warm days and contributed to autumn’s song.

But clipping Jazz wasn’t just onerous, it was perilous.

He’s a thin-skinned, squeamish Thoroughbred, so I sedated him last year. And planned to do so again. Unfortunately, Jazz currently has a skin infection (“rain rot”) which leaves tiny scabs. Removing them is uncomfortable — I tried in advance, but Jazz was intolerant. So I planned to clip them off, assuming sedation would override his discomfort.

I was wrong.

When I steered the blades into his scabby patches, dozing Jazz tried to kick my lights out.

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Sedated looks are deceiving…

But once you start clipping a horse — especially one freshly-bathed and temporarily tranquilized — you gotta finish. I spoke soothingly to Jazz, growled, hollered and tried cutting as gingerly as possible. Sometimes he’d issue a tail-swish warning, other times he’d just let hind foot fly.

Eventually, Martin restrained my horse while I plowed on, cursing a lot and dodging sporadic kicks. When done, I felt like a boxer who’d lost a match.

Jazz was quasi-clipped. The barn looked like a crime scene.

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Two days later I attached fresh blades and hacked off Rocky’s wooly coat. A veteran show pony, he was far more compliant.

When done, I stood back and admired my work.

Rocky looked much better than Jazz.

As though the rodents had spared him.

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