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Author: Mikki

Book Review: Chosen by a Horse

Book Review: Chosen by a Horse

Chosen By A Horse BookYes, I know I’m supposed to be writing my own novel, but I started this book a while back and wanted to finish it. It was really, really good, but have the tissues handy if you read it!

Chosen by a Horse is a memoir by Susan Richards. She agreed to foster a Standardbred mare and her foal when they and nearly 40 other mares and foals were confiscated by the SPCA from a farm where they were abused and neglected. She brought this mare, Lay Me Down, back to her own farm even though she lived alone, already owned three horses and Lay Me Down was so sick she had no guarantee of survival. The foal was inexplicably returned to the abusive owner (apparently to be surrendered to a vet to whom the owner owed money), but Lay Me Down eventually recovered from the malnutrition and lung infection she was suffering from when Ms. Richards brought her home.

You would think that a horse who had been abused, nearly starved, and denied medical care would be the either the meanest or most skittish horse on earth, but Lay Me Down had a big, loving heart and over the following months, she helped Ms. Richards – who had a past just as horrific as Lay Me Down’s – open up her own heart through caring for this wonderful horse.

I won’t give away any more of the story, because you really should read it for yourself. It’s a really good book; very well-written and touching. I will tell you that when I got to the end, I was reading it in bed next to Bill, who was already asleep, and I was sobbing so hard I was afraid I would wake him. So you’ve been warned – grab a hankie with this book.

You can preview the book right here (affiliate link)

My one and only complaint is that there was only one photograph, on the title page. I sure would have loved to see some pictures of Lay Me Down and the other horses (Hotshot, Tempo and especially the lovely Georgia). But I guess Ms. Richards is more like me than Bill – at our house, Bill pretty much takes all the pictures, and I prefer to live the moment rather than photograph it.  Apparently, Ms. Richards feels the same way, and only takes pictures when the moment demands it, such as the one on the title page (in the book, she talks very specifically about taking that one photo, and why).  But she paints such a vivid picture with words that you can imagine everything in your head almost as well as if you did have a photograph to see.

All in all, Chosen by a Horse is one of the best books I’ve read, fiction or non-fiction. Definitely a must-read.

A Just Plain Great Idea

A Just Plain Great Idea

Uncovering America by HorsebackBill found this story on, and I found a direct link to their blog: Uncovering America by Horseback.

Bill Inman and his Thoroughbred-Quarter Horse, Blackie, are traveling across America to prove that America is still a good place, despite what you see on the news every day. As their blog says, “To ‘Uncover America’ and document the adventure, horseman Bill Inman is traveling across America on horseback, slowing down the pace to find interesting places, individuals, groups and history that inspire pride or lift the spirit. This adventure will show the American public that we do have something to be proud of, and nothing is impossible as long as you try.”

They left their home in Lebanon, Oregon on June 2, 2007 and hope to end up in Hendersonville, North Carolina by Christmas. I hope you’ll read their blog, and the story where we originally found it at I also hope you’ll consider clicking on the “Support” button on the Inmans’ blog, because this is definitely a venture worth supporting.

We’ve spent all morning trying to figure out how we can just pack up our horses and join Bill and Blackie, but it looks like we’ll just have to experience it through their blog. ๐Ÿ™ Stupid jobs – always keeping you from doing the things you really want to do.

Our Third Horse

Our Third Horse

That’s right…I said third. We’ve been warned that horses are addictive, and that appears to be the case.

This horse is not actually ours. He belongs to a friend of a friend, and because of dispute involving pasturing and neighbor dogs, his life was in danger where he was being kept (long story, but the neighbor of the horse-sitter threatened to shoot the horses). So he’s staying with us for an indefinite period of time. His name is Sinbad, and he’s 26 years old. He is a complete sweetheart, and we’re told that he’ll let anyone ride him. We haven’t tried yet, but only because we haven’t had time.

The biggest challenge so far in getting a third horse has been dealing with the three horses trying to establish a pecking order. We thought Moonshine would be the pain, because she is so bossy with Valentine, but it turns out that she kinda likes Sinbad and Valentine is the one bullying him. Our guess is, Moonshine is optimistic that Sinbad can help her with her…er…”needs,” so she’s tolerating him (until she figures out he’s a gelding, and then she’ll be just as mean to him as she is with the worthless Valentine); and Valentine has decided that the new guy will be at the bottom of the totem pole because he’s tired of being the one getting bossed around. So for the first couple of days, poor Sinbad spent most of his time in the far back of the pasture, sneaking in for some hay and water when the other two were either locked in their stalls or not looking. It’s much better now. He’s been here for five days now, and as I write this they are all three eating hay near the barn, about 30 feet away from each other.

We hope this will turn out to be a really good arrangement for us. We have riding privileges with Sinbad, so if he’s as easy as everyone tells us, Bill will have a good horse to ride until Moonshine is fit to ride. Or until we get a fourth horse that we will actually own…then the Kid will have a good horse to ride too. Then when Sinbad goes home, we’ll have to get another horse…

Yep, they really are addictive.

More Trail Riding!

More Trail Riding!

Photo byย Carlee Dittemoreย onย Unsplash

I went trail riding again on Saturday. I’m sure you all will get tired of hearing about this soon, but I am still just so excited – I’m riding my horse! On a regular basis! It’s just so cool.

Anyway, I went with Shari and her friend/coworker, Christina. Christina happens to be a large animal vet, so I’m happy to be getting to know her better. ๐Ÿ™‚ We went to a place nearby that is just a nice, easy network of trails. They wander through woods, around cornfields and next to a lake. The weather was perfect, and the horses were all very well-behaved.

Shari brought her gelding, Rabbit; he’s a Quarter Horse, about 15, maybe 15.5 hh. I had my 16.2 hh Tennessee Walking Horse. And Christina had her 17 hh Thoroughbred, Wilson. Can you just picture that? Since Bill, our official (and only) cameraman, didn’t come this time, you’ll have to picture it in your head. To help you in your imagining, though, Rabbit is a bay, Valentine is of course black, and Wilson is a dappled grey. He’s a former racehorse who also was a show jumper, and Christina rides him with English tack. What a motley crew – Shari on her Western saddle, in jeans and a baseball cap; Christina on her little English saddle in breeches with half-chaps and a riding helmet; and me on Shari’s nice trail saddle (looks like a Western/English combo) in jeans and riding helmet. You wouldn’t think we’d make be a good trail group, but we did. The horses all got along famously, and as long as we were only walking, things went pretty smoothly.

Every once in a while, though – okay, several times – Wilson wanted to go just a wee bit faster. Valentine wasn’t going to take that laying down. He was like one of those drivers you encounter, who isn’t going too fast until you try to pass them, and then they speed up. The faster Wilson went, the faster Valentine wanted to go. And let me tell you, a 17 hh Thoroughbred can go pretty darn fast.

I’ve learned something else too: a former show horse is not necessarily a good trail horse. My horse, as I’ve mentioned before, was a fancy show horse. He was what you call a “big lick” Tennessee Walker. That means he was one of those horses with the big ol’ pads on his front feet, keeping his back end way down and lifting his front feet way up in the air. Pretty impressive in a show ring, but not so very practical for everyday walking. What I’m saying is, he has one gait that is really, really smooth. It’s called a “running walk.” All his other gaits are, shall we say, uncomfortable for the rider. His walk is okay – rougher than a normal horse, but tolerable. His trot is really bouncy. His canter makes it nearly impossible to stay in the saddle. We never made it to a gallop, thank goodness. I think a project in the near future will be to find someone who knows how to direct a gaited horse, so I can learn how to keep Valentine in that nice running walk. I could sit that all day.

We also took our horses into the lake. That was an adventure. Rabbit would not go – Shari had to get off and lead him reluctantly in. He has a “thing” about water. Wilson would absolutely not go. Christina got off and tried to pull him in; he pulled her out. She got back on and Shari and Rabbit stood behind, with Shari slapping him on the rump with a crop as Christina tried to get him in. No way, sister. Finally they settled on getting him to stand at the water’s edge, which he finally did. And Valentine? The first time we tried, I got him to the edge but he turned around. Then after the Wilson fiasco, I tried again and he went right in. I was so proud – two experienced horsewomen, and I, the novice, was the only one whose horse obeyed with no trouble! Later, we found a better, smoother beach and all three horses went right in, and had a high old time, pawing and splashing. We can’t wait for summer, when getting splashed will be fun for the riders too.

All in all, it was a really great day. Can’t wait for this Saturday! I wonder where we’re going?

Meeting the New Neighbors

Meeting the New Neighbors

I think I mentioned a few posts ago that our neighbor had recently fenced the property across from us to give his cows more pasture, and that Moonshine really doesn’t like them. It’s hard to tell exactly what she’s thinking, but it’s pretty obvious that she doesn’t approve of their presence. The first day they were there, they didn’t come close enough for us to see them, but I guess she could smell them. She spent a good part of that day facing toward the field with her ears pricked forward, snorting. The next day was our big ride in the round pen, and she could see them then. Every time she got to that spot in the arena, she’d stop and stare.

Well, it’s been over a week now, and she seems to have gotten a little more used to them. It’s a good thing, too, because she got a good dose of cow socializing over the weekend when we camped at a cow farm. Valentine and Moonshine were penned right next to the cow pasture; the cows could, and did, put their faces right up to the horse pen. She seemed okay with that. Whew.

So Moonshine’s not spooked by the cows anymore. Valentine never cared about them at all. Our dogs, on the other hand…we’re sure one of them (and we’re pretty sure which one of them) is gonna get kicked in the head. And there’s a better than average chance that one of us, or someone who visits us, will at some point back into the cow fence. Moonshine’s not the only one that’s put out by the new neighbors.

Camping with Horses

Camping with Horses

We told you we were going to keep doing this riding thing, and we have. After the big confidence boost we got last Sunday, we were feeling secure enough with our horses that when we were invited to go camping Friday night and riding on Saturday, we thought, “why not?” So on Friday night, Shari came by with her two horses in her four-horse trailer and picked up Valentine and Moonshine. We drove over to her mom’s 20-acre farm and camped for the night. The next day, we had a great campfire breakfast and saddled up the horses. I rode Valentine and Shari rode Moonshine. I had no trouble at all with Valentine; I rode him a while, then Bill rode him, then Shari’s uncle rode him. He was perfect.

Alas, the same cannot be said for Moonshine. After feeling like Moonshine was going to buck her off several times, Shari worked with her with the longe line for a while, then rode her again. She was better, but Shari still didn’t trust her enough to let Bill ride her. So poor Moonshine was put up in the barn for the rest of the day. Bill went home shortly after that. Poor Moonshine…poor Bill. ๐Ÿ™ I’ll let him tell more about that, and about Moonshine’s future (don’t worry, we’re keeping her).

But that didn’t keep me and Valentine from having a good time. Shari rode her gelding, Rabbit, and we rode around Mom’s fully-fenced cow farm for a while. That got boring after about a half an hour. By that time I was feeling pretty darn cocky, so Shari suggested we leave the confines of the farm, walk down the road a ways and head into the woods. So we did. It was so great! We found a nice trail, and I was able to take Valentine through creeks, up hills, over fallen timber, through brush – he was, I say again, perfect. We rode for a couple of hours. It was wonderful!

So, guess what I’m doing this weekend? Camping and horseback riding. How cool is that?

8 Things You Didn’t Know About Me – Mikki

8 Things You Didn’t Know About Me – Mikki

We were tagged by Show Your Pony to share eight things you might not know about us. Since there are two of us, we’ll both go. (Do we only have to do 4 each? ๐Ÿ™‚ Just kidding…) But after a year and a half on this blog, I can’t imagine there are eight things you don’t know about me already that you’d want to. But here goes:

  1. One of my first horseback rides was at Girl Scout camp. They asked whether I was an experienced rider, and either out of pride or naivetรฉ, I said I was and got a horse named Charlie Brown. He proceeded to take me under every tree on the trail going after grass to graze, because of course I couldn’t control him. I got a good chewing out by the camp counselor for misrepresenting my riding skill.
  2. Another memorable ride – although I don’t remember this horse’s name or even who I was riding with – was a ride from the woman’s home to a nearby park. To get there, we had to ride across Phoenix city streets (there were almost no cars). That mare was pretty well-behaved, until we got to an intersection that had recently been painted. There was nothing I could do to convince her to walk across the bright white “right turn only” arrow. That thing completely freaked her out.
  3. I’m going to write a novel next month. Wow, does that sound awe-inspiring or what? It’s not as cool as it sounds, but I should just let people think it is. November is National Novel Writing Month; check out for details. Basically, people all over the world try to churn out a 50,000 page novel in 30 days. No one else reads it, unless you want them to. It doesn’t have to be any good. It’s just kind of a challenge to yourself. If you succeed, you get a cool certificate. If you don’t, you tell yourself that next year, you’ll do it, by crikey!
  4. I have a tattoo. It’s a rose, and says “Bill.” That’s only shocking if you really know me. People who know me in person are always shocked. I guess I don’t appear to be a tattoo kind of girl. Anyway, just play along and say, “No way!” in your head.
  5. When I was a kid, I wanted to be a psychologist when I grew up. Then when I grew up, I wanted to be a lawyer. Then I worked for lawyers for 18 years and decided that wasn’t such a cool job anymore. Now I think I just want to be a cowgirl. ๐Ÿ˜‰
  6. When I was growing up, my grandma’s nickname for me was Grace. I don’t think she meant it as a compliment. I do, however, think it was fitting.
  7. The first time I rode my horse, Valentine, I fell off. Well, not exactly while riding him; when I got off, my foot caught in the stirrup and I kinda fell out and landed on my back. Nothing was hurt but my pride – but Bill did get the whole thing on video. And no, we will not be posting that footage. Ever.
  8. I met and had my picture taken with Patrick Swayze at the Scottsdale Arabian Horse Show in 1992. I’ll have to dig that photo up and post it here.

So, I guess you’re supposed to tag some more blogs here, but I think everybody we know that’s animal-related has already been tagged. Except for these (and I think it’s fair that Bill and I share these, don’t you, since we know all the same blogs?):




Horses, Cows and Goats, Oh My!


Triple H Horse Farm

Hey, You Can Ride These Things!

Hey, You Can Ride These Things!

Riding ValentineYesterday, our horse friend Shari (I know we talk a lot about her, but if it weren’t for her, we may have given up on this horse thing by now) decided that Sunday would be the day that we rode our horses again. So after a trip to a local festival, we came back to our barn and saddled up our horses. It was great! We took them in turns up to the round pen, first Valentine and then Moonshine. Shari used the longe line and whip to get a feel for how they were going to behave (or not!), then hopped on and rode around the arena. She even took Valentine out and rode around our pasture. He was so good! Then I rode Valentine, first around the arena, then outside. He was good for me too! Then Bill rode him, in the arena and out. Guess what? He was good for Bill too! I’m beginning to think he’s not just decorative after all.

Then it was Moonshine’s turn. She was a little spooky, because there were kids running around and yelling, neighbor dogs barking, and – horrors! – cows in the field across the road! (In her defense, the cows are new. Our neighbor just fenced that field to give his cows more pasture.) So she did a lot of head-tossing, stopping and staring, and snorting. She eventually calmed down (when the cows were out of sight), and Shari and then Bill were able to ride her in the arena. Then, alas, it was too late to ride anymore, because it was pretty dark.

All in all, it was a very good and productive afternoon. We are much more confident now, and in fact intend to saddle them up again this evening after dinner, all by ourselves! We’ll let you know tomorrow how it went.

Yes, It’s an Infomercial, But…

Yes, It’s an Infomercial, But…

Horse Health FairYou can get some really good information from infomercials. You just have to exercise self control when it comes to the signing on the dotted line (or picking up the phone to order) part. We’ve attended Purina Mills’ Horse Owners Workshop events twice in the past, and enjoyed them very much. They presented good information about horse ownership in general, had a great guest speaker (Sam Powell both times), had free samples of various products (not just Purina), and fed us dinner for free!

The event coming up is slightly different. (Here’s a link to Purina’s site.) It’s a live video feed, so I guess there won’t be a guest speaker; I don’t know if there will be samples or not, but I hope so; and since it starts at 7:30 p.m. – and there’s no mention in the flyer – I suspect there will be no free dinner. All the same, we hope to learn some new things. Check out this link to find the Horse Health Fair near you, and if you’re anywhere near Lenoir City, Tennessee on October 18, we’ll be attending the event at Critter Country there that night at 7:30. Come on out!

And yes, the soft sell works pretty well on us…we feed our horses Purina Strategy. Darn infomercials. ๐Ÿ™

Just How Itchy Can Hay Be?

Just How Itchy Can Hay Be?

A few weeks ago, our horse friends, the Watsons, told us they had a source for hay. We were pretty excited because east Tennessee and everywhere around it has been in the grip of a major drought for months, so hay is getting to be alarmingly scarce, and expensive when you can find it. Jeff Watson knew someone at work who was cutting hay for the first time (the VERY first time) and would let us pick it up in the field for $2 a bale! There were wildly varying estimates of how much hay would be available, from about 250 bales to about 1,000 bales. The fact that the hayfield owner couldn’t narrow it down to within 750 bales should have been a red flag, I guess. Shari asked Jeff to make sure that the hay was good stuff; Jeff was assured that it was. So after a couple of weeks of scheduling problems, we finally made it out there about a month ago.

It was about an hour from our house. We brought 3 trailers in case the 1,000-bale estimate was closest. When we got to the field, it was about half the size of, and as hilly as, our own pasture. That is to say, maybe 3 acres with very rolling hills. What we could see looked to be about 150 bales. And the parts that weren’t mowed yet were just as brushy and weedy as our pasture, too.

An hour later, we had 189 bales and were glad there weren’t more. This hay is full of goodness-knows-what. There’s some good hay in there, but there are sticks and twigs and spiky stuff too. And something that we guess is poison ivy, because poor Bill ended up with a rash wherever he wasn’t covered, and I didn’t – it seems that I’m one of those lucky people who aren’t sensitive to poison oak or poison ivy, because whenever Bill, the Kid and I have accidentally blundered into a patch of either one, only Bill suffers (a little bit of trivia: we’re told that Native Americans are naturally resistant to poison oak and poison ivy, and I’m part Cherokee and Osage – as is the Kid, since he’s my…kid).

Anyway…so we have 99 bales of $2 hay, and we may have overpaid. Our barn is full (of hay that only I can touch), and the horses have been eating it for about a month now with no ill effects, but we are definitely going to look elsewhere for good hay for the winter, when their nutritional needs are so dependent on the forage we provide.

I just want to be clear, though – we are VERY glad to have this hay, despite the problems, and relieved that we have some when so many people are having to sell their horses because they can’t find or buy hay.ย  But, as is the case most of the time, you get what you pay for.