The Horse Forum banner
281 - 300 of 372 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
8,961 Posts
Discussion Starter · #281 · (Edited)
So you did, @gottatrot - sorry, my bad! I just re-read the last page of your journal and there it is! I knew you were riding other horses and thought you'd said somewhere yours were out of action. I knew why Hero was, but was scratching my head about Aria. But there was Aria photo and all! She doesn't look like a pony in the picture but you talk about her as a pony so I must have skimmed and gone, "Someone else's horse!" 🎃

So I read it again. Isn't the brain funny - sometimes it sees what it expects to and not what is there, even if it's clearly there. Or it skips stuff that's there. We used to do this demo with students which actually is fun to do anywhere with anyone you know. You get people to take off their watches and put them in their pockets - assuming they wear such a thing, which less and less people seem to. And then you give them a piece of paper and ask them to draw their watch face from memory. This is something many people look at multiple times a day for years. And yet most of us have very little idea what our watch faces really look like because what our brain focuses on when we're looking at our watches is reading the time off them. So unless someone is really in love with their watch or has spent time studying it closely in the past, they're usually head-scratching trying to draw the face and laughing when they compare their finished drawing to the real thing!

Well! 😄 Hard drive error.

How lovely you're now properly trail riding with her - and had your first canter! I think that's a good way to introduce canter, just doing it when the horse naturally would in the terrain. And she looks happy and pleased - you both do! Good to hear Hero's issue is responding to treatment and I hope he will continue to.

On a related note - our 10yo dog Jess started Pentosan injections last Christmas because she had gone acutely arthritic. The first round made her so much better! Then it declined again with time so she was back to spending nearly 24/7 on her sofa even when I was going out - that was so not her. The vet said to bring her in every two months if necessary for repeats. I am doing this. She got a bit better again with time and started being more keen to come out in general, not just when we said, "Broom broom!" - outing with car and hiking away from home, which she never ever turned down yet.

But something else happened three weeks ago. Because she's an old dog she has a few lumps - some of them lipomas, some apparently foreign bodies. She had one such near her tail, for two years, about the size of a large marble and under the surface rather than protruding. The vet said that if they don't bother the dog it's best to leave it until there's a good reason for a general anaesthetic, and then those things can be taken out while you're fixing a bigger problem. And that lump near her tail was hard, round and encapsulated.

Three weeks ago she was looking a bit distressed out of doors and came running to me. She was licking next to her tail. I had a look and at first I thought it was an embedded tick that she had bitten off. There was a little pink area and a depression in it. But she was reacting rather strongly, so I palpated around and realised that the old lump was under that pink area, and I massaged it gently. And then something disgusting happened - toothpaste-like stuff started coming out. So we had an evacuating abscess, two years after it formed. This is a good thing...but very late, it had been inert all this time.

Many years ago I watched a veterinarian evacuate an abscess on a rabbit, about the size of a golf ball, endless amounts of very smelly lumpy toothpaste-like stuff coming out just like toothpaste from a tube. I had a bit of an ick reaction to toothpaste a while after that. 🤢

Jess' abscess wasn't smelly, but it's amazing how much came out, just like toothpaste. When it was finally done I got some antibiotic eye ointment out of the fridge and filled the evacuated cavity with that. Then lavender oil on the surface because it's antimicrobial, soothing and stops dogs licking. It healed uneventfully in a week.

Today when we were walking the dog and watching her throwing around her old haggis of a soccer ball and catching it and pouncing on it and shaking it with wide-eyed fun and lots of athletic moves, and wagging in delight at our part in the play, we remarked how she's not been like this in years. This morning too, she was all bright and playful on her sofa when I said good morning, and she ended up rolling on her back, wiggling, making snapping sounds with her teeth and getting so "crackerdog" she put her own front leg in her mouth until I got her a toy, which was then thrown about. Just as she used to do when a young dog. We've not seen her limping in over a week.

So we think it's a combination of things, including the Pentosan, increased eating of raw fruit and veg we offer her, the fact that she now always waits for us to lift her up on her sofa, gentle walks every day we aren't hiking with her or she's accompanying the horse. But we are also thinking that not carrying a pocket of pus around in her may have been very helpful. It was encapsulated, but that doesn't mean it wasn't leaking endotoxins these two years. And we all know how things like periodontosis can leach endotoxins which can actually damage heart valves etc.


In other news, @Knave, I have in a small way this evening joined the club you and your big girl are currently in. Just in a small way... I was rugging Julian when he leapt sideways because of something blowing about in the storm. Straight onto my toes, where he stayed until my strangled scream rapidly moved him off me, and I mean rapidly, which meant even more force temporarily applied, and in a shearing way...That reached about an 8 on the pain scale, and lasted a while. Nothing broken, but when I finally took off my sock after the animals were fed, I saw the cuticle had been torn off the nail of my big toe and the skin scrolled off its first joint, just superficially. That first joint and the adjacent toe's is hot and swollen, and I dare say I will get a purple toe nail, my first in years.

And it's exactly the same toe that Sunsmart jumped on in 2009, and on bitumen, when I first led him around his new environment when he came down to Albany before we had this smallholding, and he spooked big time at an Appaloosa! He'd never seen one of those before. 😱 👻

And that was also exactly the same toe that our first ever horse, in Europe when I was a child, jumped on, also on bitumen. How do I know? It scarred the nail bed, and I have the resulting groove to this day. Must be my lucky toe!

Not to mention my lucky foot. This is the side that got the badly sprained ankle back in 2009 when I jumped off Sunsmart without looking at the landing strip first, after riding back to a landline to get help for a rider with a broken collar bone - and I landed right on a fist-sized rock. And this is the foot that had the three broken bones in it from my accident in 2018...

I must be footed, not just handed. I'm right-handed, but I reckon I'm left-footed and that my left is the one slightly forward when I stand, thus giving horses splendid opportunities to jump on it. You know how most horses are footed when grazing, and have a side they prefer to stand forward? Greg our farrier friend reckons that it results in slight differences in hoof shape that accentuate as they get older.

My left hoof is definitely trying to change its shape I think!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
9,151 Posts
Yikes, very odd on that abscess but what sweet relief! Glad to hear Jess is back to being frisky!

Your watch brain teaser made me think about a brain game I used to play with an old friend I worked with after I graduated college. We both liked road trips, and tried to stick to the backroads so we'd be driving through some interesting small town or landscape, and stay quiet for 5 or 10 minutes just watching the world go by. Then we'd compare notes on the things that caught our attention. Without fail, we always noticed and highlighted different things, even though we'd be in the the same car in the same place. Isn't that funny?
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
7,365 Posts
I am happy for Jess at the relief she must feel. We do a lot of draining abscesses, and it’s not my favorite thing. Yet, I probably would have enjoyed it if it weren’t for the smell. I do enjoy removing ingrown hairs and the like. It’s just the smell with an abscess… oddly I’ve never had much a sense of smell either.

For your question- I think it was simply luck. I am not any good at confirmation. Cashman I picked because he looked gentle I guess. I don’t know. There were these videos of the horses, and he was one the better ones. I was shocked in person that he was a giant! He wasn’t the best broke, but he was close it seemed. Queen I followed this dressage foal guide, and it was about movement.

I don’t think a mustang is bred for anything besides survival. I’m assuming there are many different types of animals. There are definitely many looks to them, and I was raised on stories of mustanging and the horses they caught.

The no neck horse I talked about is a mustang. You should imagine him. He’s not tall, maybe 14hh. From behind his cinch he looks normal. Maybe even well built. From in front of the cinch the neck and shoulder seem to be one part, thereby making each non existent. Maybe one would see a massive shoulder, but really petting him and studying him the shoulder is wrong.

His neck is about six inches long, and then his head is normal. One vertabre sticks completely out the side of his neck. Anyways, he was wonderful! You would think he would be unathletic, but that wasn’t true. He was kind and good. I rubbed his neck and he decided we were best friends. He tried to be expressive, but he can’t turn his head all of the way around. Neatest thing! It was as if he belonged stuffed in a museum like all the lupin calves, but here he survived and has this excellent life!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
8,961 Posts
Discussion Starter · #286 ·
Brett just told me that today is Robert Smith & Mary Poole's 34th wedding anniversary, so here's a few songs on the occasion. These two met in high school drama class and Brett often says he wishes Richard Fidler would do an interview with Mary because that would be so interesting. She's very private but we bet she'd be fascinating to hear on one of the Conversations podcasts - and we mean outright, not for her connection to a public figure.




Here's one Robert Smith wrote in his late 40s, which has embarrassed a lot of fans because too much information etc plus cultural stereotypes about how you're supposed to be knitting after the age of 35. I thought this was a fantastic thing to write and wrote reams in its defence on a fan forum. Someone has to set the record straight and this song certainly did that. This is for anyone 40+, married and still breathing.


And last not least - this is the song where Brett always says, "And then Mary asked him to take the rubbish out, so he wrote this!" 😇

 

·
Registered
Joined
·
8,961 Posts
Discussion Starter · #287 · (Edited)
Here it is again live - such a wild ride - and fabulous facial expressions.


We may as well have Anniversary, though it's not necessarily about a wedding anniversary at all - really interesting lyrics. The cover of this album is Robert Smith as drawn by one of his many nieces and nephews when they were little.


And because it's a difficult proposition live, we went looking for it.


Fabulous band and I never knew this from their radio songs. ❤

Here's a song famously written as a wedding present for Mary.


And because the forum formats allow five clips per post, we'll go out with a dark number about love and loss, written for the film The Crow. The film is about a couple who are murdered by gang violence on Halloween, the night before their wedding. One year later he returns from the dead to avenge the death of his love.


The drumming and guitar on this are outstanding. I once listened to this on my iPod when burning a bonfire at night when it was pitch black with the sparks flying into the air and that was incredible... when that guitar in the midsection started, it felt like liftoff and flying.

Music is so wonderfully humanising. Happy anniversary to this singer and his wife. ❤
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
642 Posts
Thank you, @gottatrot. :) What's happening with Aria at the moment? I seem to have missed why you're not working with her just now. Is she OK? Or do you have really stormy weather or something - like we have today?

@Knave, do you think the smoothness is because both of them are from mustang stock plus selected by you for conformation, temperament etc? QHs were specifically bred for short sprints, cow work etc and probably aren't as all-round as mustangs or as amenable to activities requiring continuous exertion rather than bursts and rests?

@TrainedByMares, we've not heard from you a while - hope everyone is well at your place.

Today is stormy, otherwise I'd have been up for more trotting. On the good news side, Brett is so much better, and stopped coughing two days ago. He went back to work yesterday. His PCR came up negative for everything they tested for, including SARS, influenza, RSV and a few others - so we don't know what it was because he probably stopped shedding by the time he had the test. He has his appetite back too - he was off his food for two weeks - so we had celebratory gozleme with orange/fennel/radish salad on Thursday night - those are Turkish spinach/feta pockets - there's abundant spinach in the garden just now (and also a rabbit I need to turn into a roast grrrr but I don't have a gun and we can't find the burrow).



Very easy to make - just do a wholemeal pizza dough in the breadmaker, with a little olive oil in - then roll out rounds and fill with steamed spinach/silverbeet, crumbled feta, and lots of freshly ground pepper (four-colour pepper is so good I've never gone back to just one colour). Cook in a hot frypan in a good splash of olive oil. It's ready super quickly and tastes amazing.

This is fennel and orange salad:

...but it's even prettier and tastier with radishes cut into it. Dressing is just lemon juice and olive oil, although the Moroccans like to put pomegranate seeds all over it as well.
Thank you for thinking about me @SueC . Not too much positive to report so I have been quiet. A week ago the contractor doing windows and siding on our house discovered significant rot in the walls, floors and roof of our house. Since then, it has been eat,sleep, work. I am trying to keep up with reading my favorite journals.
Property Cabinetry Building Window Wood
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
8,961 Posts
Discussion Starter · #289 ·
@TrainedByMares, I'm sorry to hear you've got structural issues to sort with your house - it's a huge job and would be so unexpected. And it's not like any of us on smallholdings don't already have neverending to-do lists. You don't need something major just dropping on you like this. But shiitake happens, and in time hopefully it will turn into good compost...

And just because you're male and may not be used to ranting or venting to your friends like many of us women are, I would like to present you with ten complimentary ranting/venting vouchers. I know a lot of guys like to be head down, tail up, push it down and get on with it, but feel free to share the negative too, instead of having to be a good-news, positive-thinking beacon all the time. Also should you like to curse for the benefit of your blood pressure, I have a kit you can use that doesn't violate forum policies:


We want to have your back around here. Positive vibes beamed from the Southern Hemisphere.

@Knave, now I need a photograph...just trying to visualise. The shortest-necked horse I ever rode was a friend's modern-bred Standardbred rescue, who was lovely to trail but because I'm used to horses with long long necks, it was a bit unsettling to feel like I was at the edge of a cliff, especially on the down transitions...

How are your injuries healing up? How's big girl?

I have a true story for anyone who needs cheering up...
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
8,961 Posts
Discussion Starter · #290 ·
OK, so this was something I wanted to post for everyone while I was on the theme of love, anniversaries etc. I related it elsewhere and thought you might like it too.

CAROLINA'S STORY

When I was a kid I read this novelisation of a true story about a 13-year-old girl who had gotten orphaned in the earthquakes in northeastern Italy in the late 70s. I felt that very earthquake as a littlie, but we were quite a way northwest of the epicentre and it only shook our furniture. Carolina lost her mother when the house collapsed - the father wasn't in the picture, having died years before in an industrial accident (and all of these details and the ones that follow were true). She had nobody left in the world and went to an orphanage. Then there was a drive to foster kids from the orphanage out to families for school holidays, to help them find some kind of joy again. The person who fostered her for the summer was a bachelor of around 50 who ran a shop selling devotional items for Catholics, who had a housekeeper, and also a local young schoolteacher offered to help look after Carolina for the summer, to make the case why this would be a good placement even though it wasn't a traditional family for her.

So she went there and just lit up the life of Antonio the bachelor, who by the way had a really high BMI and always thought that would be offputting to women. She was well looked after by the three of them (the teacher would pick her up for day outings several times a week while Antonio worked in his shop) and it helped her recover from some of her terrible memories.

She asked Antonio why he was a bachelor, since he was such a kind man and had his own shop and house etc. He told her the back story of having been engaged as a young person to a girl who died in an accident. He drowned his sorrows in food and wine and when he looked up again in midlife, he felt he was now too old and fat and what woman would possibly be attracted to him.

But Carolina had noticed that Antonio had a thing for her orphanage director, a widowed lady in her 50s. She put him on the spot about it and asked why he wasn't doing anything about that, and out came all these ideas about being too old and fat and losing his hair and the Signora was so beautiful and elegant and educated, what could he possibly have to offer her? Nothing Carolina could say changed his views about that. When she got back to the orphanage she put her head together with two of the other orphans who had been fostered out to the same town (different families) over the summer, and they concocted a plan.

Long story short, they played matchmakers for these two adults they loved. Initially they wrote fake anonymous love notes on Antonio's behalf, accompanied by flowers and left on the Signora's doorstep. They'd saved up holiday pocket money to be able to afford the florist, and they were trying to confirm their hunch that she was interested but also too shy etc. They were studying her reactions from various hide-outs, and when they were sure she was interested, they held an intervention meeting with Antonio in a café where he bought them all ice-cream and they insisted he had two glasses of wine before they got to the serious topic they wished to discuss with them. When he was sufficiently tipsy they told him what they had done and that the Signora was interested and now it was his turn, also they couldn't afford any more flowers so now he would have to do the flowers and cards.

He ummed and aahed and so forth, and kept saying. "But I'm fat and ugly, the Signora doesn't want to marry an Obelix." So Emilio, the boy, said they'd thought about that and he'd developed a fitness plan for him. (ROFL. All this was true, the author overhead these people's story in a café and got talking to them, took down the salient points of their story and made a young people's novel out of it.) So Antonio had to sign up for gym membership and to read nutrition books from the library and undertake to eat less spaghetti, while they would continue to smuggle flowers and notes onto the Signora's doorstep, this time really from him.

Anyway - their plan worked. The two started exchanging letters, and had some meetings, and eventually they did actually get married. After their wedding they asked the now 14-year-old Carolina if she wanted to live with them. All three of them had lost their prior families in tragedies, and it seemed to them they could have a shot at happiness together and be good for each other. Carolina accepted. It was such a wonderful story it had to be told, so the writer did exactly that. Not just because of the happy ending, but to talk about the reality of tragedy and how people can heal, by being kind and thoughtful to others in similar situations - and importantly, how people's harsh ideas about themselves can get in the way of their own and other people's happiness.

Isn't it funny though? So many kind people with many good qualities wonder what others would possibly see in them, while the posterior orifices of the world act like they're entitled to relationships, are God's gift to women, etc.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
8,961 Posts
Discussion Starter · #291 ·
FOLLOW-UP TROTTING SESSION

The sun is shining, the ground in the pastures is sodden, the wildflowers are coming out in force now. Spring is in the air. Bees are buzzing, lovesick magpies warble all night under the full moon, Tawny Frogmouths go oooom-oooom-oooom, several different species of frog are calling.

Since Brett stopped coughing, he's been ravenous and making up for lost time in the food department. When we're not having main meals he's snacking on carrots, apples, snowpeas, assorted nuts, crackers etc. And now he craves sunshine and exercise, so out we went horse, dog and all to reprise that first extensive trotting session from Thursday this fine Sunday morning, and after lunch we're off to the beach.

Things went much the same as on Thursday except he's feeling totally solid already with all of this - no impending-rocket-liftoff moment of misunderstanding. He started by offering a pace again, which I let him do for a stretch and was then able to encourage him to convert to a trot - using the same seat cues I used to do that with Sunsmart, Chip and other "ambidextrous" horses, timed into a slowdown at the point where a horse finds it easier to trot than to pace given the option. And then I was, "Oooooh, look at you trot!" because while he paces efficiently, his trot really is something else. 😍

He was eating up the ground with his strides, while at the same time being relaxed and smooth - this may be 25-30km/h but it's nowhere near the 50km/h they do at full stretch. And he wanted to keep on going, and he would do laps and laps of this if we had enough dry sandy tracks to do it - which by October we will have. He was snorting and saying, "Let's go!" but also happily responding to slow-down cues, to requests to return to a walk, etc. His turns are getting excellent. When I asked him to trot on or to increase his speed, he was, "Yippee!"

I think we're going to have a fun spring/summer...and actually, I could start riding on my neighbour's block to the south of us, he has a huge grassed ridge which is out of the sodden flats and up to traffic already. So there's a plan. When the horse strides out like that you really need a bigger stomping ground. The horse feels so solid with the walk and trot and basic cues that I'd now be confident to take him on group trails if there were other riders near me. When you have a horse like this, the possibility of horses bolting in groups doesn't bother you. He's independent and he's sure-footed and doesn't care about the rest of the pack, as was the case for Sunsmart - he's had plenty of group outings on the racetrack and there he always did his own thing.

For variety we looped back the other way today, through the Enormous Boggy Patch and onto the Swamp Track. And who should turn up as I'm looking over my shoulder to watch Brett crossing the Enormous Boggy Patch in his gumboots, but Nelly and Ben, trotting rapidly to catch up with us! :) What a lovely surprise.

So on the way back home, the horse and Brett walked, while the donkeys, in single-file with us, kept up excited little sewing-machine trots and hooted under their breaths, as donkeys will. You say, "Hello, Ben! Hello, Nelly!" and they do the semi-honks which are about equivalent to a horse's low nicker. And they do it in reply every time you're talking to them. 😍

Coming into the Middle Meadow we were suffused in the scent of Brown Boronias which grow in the bushland in the north-eastern corner of the block - a scent as floral and generous as jasmine flowers, but brighter, more complex. And on the grass it was back to puddles and soddenness - we really shouldn't be riding on it, but we stick to the animal highways in the pasture, the little tracks they use when moving from one area to another rather than when just grazing.

Brett jumped Scary Brook and Julian jumped after him, which earnt him unanimous human applause. And then we were back by the house, where I dismounted on a relatively high un-soggy bit of pasture, removed the horse's tack, and rubbed his ears - this bit is turning into a routine sort of post-ride love fest. As I picked the saddle back up off the ground, Julian took two big steps away from me and then sank down to roll in the grass. That's a post-ride first - now that he's getting sweaty, he's going to roll!

The best thing about it is that I can sense in the horse an interest in doing all of this and exploring the wider world. He'd like to trot longer, go further, see what's over the next hill, and together we can. His enthusiasm is transferring to me. ❤
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
8,961 Posts
Discussion Starter · #293 ·
I'm so glad there was an author present and overhearing Antonio and Maria's offer to Carolina in that café and that he dived in there and got the back story, @knightrider. They had all come to Gemona after the wedding to lay flowers on the graves of Maria's previous husband and Carolina's mother and to remember them. Lorenzo, the boy Carolina was sweet on, was with them and talking about studying architecture at university so he could help rebuild Gemona and the earthquake zones. I first read this book when I was 10, so Carolina seemed very grown-up to me! This was a book I read again and again and again through childhood and later adulthood because the central message of kindness and hope is just so nourishing, and also the characters are just gorgeous!

Lots of humour too, like when the housekeeper gives notice after 20 years of service because of a crisis in her own family and a disgruntled Antonio gives her parrot Volfango Amadeo secret language lessons, teaching him profanities! 😂

I told the above story to a circle containing shy people, one of which was a bachelor in his 40s who was just the nicest, kindest guy and so fond of his dog, but when I asked him about dating he said he is a Michelin man and he thought it was a bit late now. It has always bothered me that nice people like him remove themselves from the pool while nasty pieces of work are out there dating and thinking they are a great catch - I could tell you stories but I bet you've seen it too.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
8,961 Posts
Discussion Starter · #296 · (Edited)
FICIFOLIA ROAD TO CONSPICUOUS CLIFF

Today we finally got around to doing a proper hiking expedition. We had planned at least half a dozen of those for the fortnight's holiday during which Brett ended up being ill, a month ago. I've been home for so long I've wanted to scream - I normally only get out to town once a fortnight, although we usually hike or at least go on a local beach walk twice a week, but I'd so looked forward to our hiking holiday that I ended up with serious cabin fever. All I wanted for the whole of last week was to get away and go somewhere I've never been. And today we finally could.

We had a glorious weather forecast and headed out to Ficifolia Road near Peaceful Bay to do a section of the Bibbulmun we've never done. You can see it marked in green on the map.

Our first major walk this year was heading in the opposite direction and it's recorded in our hiking diary here if anyone wants to know what red-flowering gums look like during flowering season, or what the landscape looks like heading north from here. We've done that side twice, in fact, and I have been itching a while to get on the southbound section at Ficifolia Road.

As usual, we took a few crew photos when we got to Ficifolia Road.


Please note the artfully tilted horizon on the next photo. Also - yes, we do often just have to leave the car by the side of a road walking sections of the Bibbulmun track.

Next I was impersonating a vampire. We actually had several shots of this but didn't want to scare people who look at our online photo album, so we limited ourselves to publishing the most scary-looking picture, followed by one of laughing about it after.


And then we were off.



From prior drives up Ficifolia Road and from perusing the map, for some reason I expected this to be a mainly flattish walk through coastal heathland. Well! What we actually got was lots of woodland, not to mention uphill-downhill-twisty-turny walking - and tons of wildflowers the whole way, though I must apologise in advance for not having the time to do much close-up floral photography today.






Purple wreaths of Hardenbergia were everywhere...

The vegetation variety was just fantastic - including a stand of Karri of the coastal rather than the forest ecotype in the background of the above photo.

After a while we got to more open country and could start seeing the surrounding landscape.

We then spent much of the time walking on some sort of dune ridge, with lots of grass trees scattered around.


 

·
Registered
Joined
·
8,961 Posts
Discussion Starter · #297 · (Edited)

Even in this photograph you can see the immense variety of botanical species just on a macro level - and if you get down and really investigate, you find hundreds of understorey species. To a native European, the biological diversity in the remnant vegetation here is breathtaking. The South Coast is a biodiversity hotspot - or what's left of it, because sadly, apart from a fair bit of the immediate coastal strip near the Southern Ocean, the conservation estate is piecemeal and only a small fraction of what was there just 200 years ago. Over 80% of the Southwest's flora and associated fauna have already been wiped out for what Westerners call development in that very small amount of time. For 60,000 years before that, the Indigenous Australians stewarded this biodiversity.


Satellite image of South-Western Australia. Remnant forest and woodland areas show up as dark green. Actively growing pasture and cropland show up as light green areas around the coast. Pale areas are dry agricultural land after the finish of the inland growing season. Reddish areas to the right of this are uncleared inland areas. You can see for yourself that European settlement wiped out most of the native ecosystems in the arable parts of South-Western Australia – in less than 250 years, which is a mere blip in geological time but seems to many like forever. Image from https://earthobservatory.nasa.gov

So there on that map the damage that we've done shows up loud and clear, although most people are so used to looking at images like this, and seeing largely denuded landscapes, that it seems normal to them. To a biologist this is as depressing as an X-ray of a lung riddled with cancer is to an oncologist. We know what it's supposed to look like, and it's not that.

At this point I'm going to play a song which we had on in the car going to this hike, because it's topical.


Scream and you scream
This is not a dream
This is how it really is
There isn't any other this
Is not a dream


Though positive thinking is important to get us through everyday life, it's also vital not to end up with a toxic positivity that doesn't allow us also to face very difficult facts. We humans generally live in very small bubbles that insulate us from looking at the big picture. Also we are like frogs in a pot of water that's being brought to the boil slowly, so there isn't that shock reaction that you'd have just getting dropped into a pot of boiling water, even though the end is the same.

And because my husband and I live remote and quarantine ourselves a fair bit from the media etc, it seems to us we're forever getting shocked by the boiling water splashing over us when we get another little snippet on the state of human affairs coming through. If you don't live in the middle of the stink, you sure can smell it when you get near it. We are no longer habituated to what we were habituated to once - and it's such a bad idea for most of our species to be habituated to this stuff and see it as normal and, by implication, just the way things are, pass the butter. If you don't cultivate an outside perspective, you'll find yourself habituated to all sorts of disturbing things, and you'll be swimming upstream trying to see a bigger picture.

Returning to today's photos - here's a dead grass-tree disintegrating and serving as habitat at the same time.


Hibbertias...

We then came into a valley with a boardwalk crossover that meant nobody had to wade through a swamp today. And just on a side note, do you see the grass-tree growing on the steps down to the boardwalk? The one with the 2m trunk? If you look at the growth rate of these plants, they take 50 years to even form a stem, and the stem grows upwards at 0.5 - 2cm a year. So this specimen is around 200 years old, meaning that when it was a little seedling just starting out, the majority of the Southwest of Western Australia was still covered in native ecosystems like this. And in its lifetime, more than 80% of that was bulldozed. This should lend a little perspective to the rather short concept humans tend to have of time.


And then we were on the home stretch within cooee of the coast!


We talked as we walked along this bit, about how happy we always feel to walk in intact nature as it's supposed to be, away from the scarring on the earth that has been imposed by broadacre agriculture, industry and urbanisation. The biological riches of these areas are mind-boggling and took millions of years to evolve. This is nature for millions of species, not nature stripped away to serve but one. When we walk along in places like this, the ratio of humans to landscape is about right and there is a pervasive sense of balance.







At the very top of that hill is Conspicuous Cliff, which the area is named after. We plan soon to be going to that actual place - we'll drive to Conspicuous Beach, and walk from there, up and along that ridge and over to Rame Head and the camping site there, which we previously walked to from the east (documented second-up in the hikes here). Then we will see if the bees still have a nest in the camping hut, as they did last year!

There's some finale photos to come, from the lookout.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
8,961 Posts
Discussion Starter · #298 ·
Near Conspicuous Beach, we joined the Lookout Track.


Jess got there first - and she's been here before!

This is Conspicuous Beach:


Here's our destination-point crew photos.


This is such a lovely husband. ❤ Pretty decent wrapping paper and incredible contents!

Here's what happened next. Brett took the camera to do some photos of me. While he was getting ready to take photos, I played a practical joke on him and told him his fly was open, when it wasn't. He found this out by visual inspection about the same time I laughed riotously at having tricked him. However, I am not the only one of us who is an imp. Can you guess what he did next? ...unzipped his fly, took photos and got my reaction. And yes, by the way, he was wearing underwear. His, not mine (although I do sometimes ostentatiously offer him the loan of mine when he is running low). 😜


And then it was time for the return walk.

That was my last photo, just of the view as we started heading back. It was a really gorgeous day today - we felt the sting of the sun for the first time post-winter solstice. I was wearing sunscreen, but we didn't want to be on the beach in peak UV so didn't go down today. Instead, we walked towards the shade of the woodlands we had traversed earlier, and drove to an ice-cream place near the Parry Beach turn-off, which is also a meadery. Proper ice-cream made onsite with these people's honey, no multinationals, food additives or dodgy substitutes involved - served up in an old-fashioned cone. We had two scoops each, as we do each time we stop by this place - and one of those scoops has always been hazelnut for us so far, because we're both mad about their honey-hazelnut ice-cream. Because of this, we are getting through the rest of their flavours rather slowly. Today Brett's second flavour was coffee, and mine rosewater and almond. 😋

We sat in the sun eating this wonderful ice-cream - it created a real holiday mood. When we got to Denmark, it was 3pm and past the UV peak, so I took Brett out to a place he'd never been before, which gave Jess a swimming opportunity at the same time - I didn't have a camera with me for this one, but here's a photo a friend took last time I was there, of me wading.

One of just the channel:

The pontoon bridge you cross at the start of the walk to get to this place:


A few more days like this will be a welcome restorative.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
8,961 Posts
Discussion Starter · #299 · (Edited)
HOMESTEAD HAPPENINGS, CANNONBALLS AND OUR FIRST HOME-ALONE RIDE

Ten days after the previously reported ride, I finally had a chance yesterday, with the weather and energy levels smiling on me, to do the home-alone ride that Julian and I were ready for.

Yesterday was terribly busy - early in the morning I dropped Brett off to work and then saw my GP to arrange some minor surgery on an injury. This has to be done by someone who specialises in hands (because they don't fancy accidentally cutting tendons or nerves). Then I visited the nursery to get seed potatoes and three more fruit trees, 25 native seedlings for gap-filling our road verge rehabilitation project, and various other bits and pieces - now the planting can begin on the weekend. Since the rabbit(s) totally ruined my attempts at growing broccoli and kale this year, I've given up on the winter brassicas and will be planting potatoes early in their place instead. If I had a gun, I'd be making rabbit stew as well, but instead we're going to fumigate and close their burrows - if we can find all the exit holes.

We get this problem every seven years or so, that the myxomatosis and other viruses brought in to control the feral rabbit population (introduced along with foxes in colonial times so the toffs could go hunting on horseback and make believe they were in Old Britannia) no longer do their job and the population explodes. Feral rabbits do terrible damage to the native vegetation plus uncollared fruit trees and any vegetables and ornamentals they can get their teeth into, and turn the ground into a moon surface with all their digging. Bill used to snare the rabbits, back when he was living off the land - I really would prefer to eat them, but think snaring animals is unkind, and our friend Tim, who was here when we last had a major rabbit problem and is a good shot as well as appreciator of red wine and herb rabbit stew, now (rather fittingly) lives in France.

When I got home from town I decided on the spur of the moment to ride, and to do it straight after lunch, before a whole bunch of other chores needed doing. I guess I could have planted potatoes instead, but it was too hot to dig and we've decided to have a gardening weekend anyway. Julian was in the upper garden while I had lunch, and afterwards helped me chase cattle out of the garden's lower tier on our way to the tie rail. He just has to look at them and they run. He was antsy from being in the garden by himself longer than he'd wanted to stay, so once I had him tacked up I walked him around the back of the house and a little down the track until I felt he was settled.

Then I got on him and had a pretty uneventful ride. I was thinking, "Wow, this feels comfortable and quite established, despite the 10-day hiatus!" There was only one little thing - at one point he was acting like he had an insect on his muzzle. This does actually happen, in the paddock and while riding - he was flicking his nose and snorty - and then I got it in my head, "What if it's a bee?"

I immediately had a minor mental conniption at the idea, accompanied by a feeling like I was being dangled over the edge of a dangerous cliff. @Knave apparently knows all about this. It is nearly spring here, and our horses occasionally get attacked by bees when they're going about their business during the day. You'd not want to ride what happens next, and I've never had the misfortune to. But Julian is in a class of his own there. Chasseur just runs off at a gallop like he's got a horde of pterodactyls after him. And so does Julian, but he was a sprinting specialist on the track. Chasseur AKA Buzzy is a French Trotter cross - that breed are the endurance, long-race specialists of the trotting breeds, traditionally doing 2500 - 3200 metre races instead of 1609 - 2150s, and he took after that line, as did Sunsmart.

Julian, however... he's a rocket-liftoff sprinter, with enormous turbocharge. He goes from nothing to flat out in an instant and was clocked doing 400m sprints in 26 seconds - that was his special ability, the sudden whoosh that left others wondering what had just happened. And I've never ridden a horse quite like him before. Romeo too was a sprinter, super-fast, same speed over 400m and even faster than Julian doing 800m - and Romeo was Julian's uncle - but because he was a big, lanky horse it took him longer to get from zero to flat out than it takes Julian, who's small and muscular and has a proverbial bee up his posterior.

With Romeo you had a tiny bit of warning; with Julian you don't. My Arabian mare was of similar build and proclivities, an excellent gymkhana horse, and she too could therefore literally explode from zero to flat out - but she did not have quite the amount of gunpowder with which Julian seems to be hypercharged. I witnessed him doing things in the paddock that made me wary about starting to ride him in the first place. When he suddenly takes off after standing companionably with you in a field, it's viscerally frightening - and I'm used to racehorses and hot heads, and have been known to enjoy a wild ride on a horse turned loose to go at its own pace when it wants to fly, especially when I didn't feel quite so mortal earlier in my life.

I'll give you an idea of what I mean. Several years ago, Julian had an incident with a rug. I was taking off the maroon rug he was wearing in those days, when a wind gust flapped the neckpiece I'd just undone the first catch on and he went into instant blast-off from a standstill, thundering off into the middle of the field. The leg and belly straps were undone but the chest strap and lower neck strap were still done up. Because he was running, the rug blew up like a spinnaker and flapped around after him, which frightened him even more. The rug then turned around the neck so it was like an oversized bib, which he was running on. He shredded that rug into pieces while I looked on gobsmacked from a distance. I collected him half an hour later, when he'd calmed down enough to allow himself to be approached, to undo the little remnant fabric collar he was still wearing around his neck.

It then took two years before I could rug and unrug him again without having him first on a tie rail, and later just on a lead rope. He decided rugs were sentient beings with intermittent evil intentions. To this day I can't pull a rug straight off him like I can every other horse I've ever had. I have to fold the neck piece backwards and the back part forwards so the rug is lying folded over his middle, then slide it off like a saddle. With that arrangement, he is happy. Also I now always undo all the neck and chest straps before I go near the leg and belly straps.

About a week ago, we had an encore performance of "flying carpet ride" - I had just undone all the neck and chest straps when something suddenly bugged Julian, and zoom. Not again! Aaargh! He'd been normal for so long, nothing had been flapping in the breeze, but there was something that suddenly went click in his brain even though a moment before he had been 100% calm and engaged in friendly small talk with me. And then, just like that - BOOM, a 500kg cannonball was getting fired right next to where I was standing. The ground shook and a massive object went hurtling past me like I was standing at the very edge of a platform with the Intercity speed train rushing by unexpectedly because it didn't stop at this station and I'd not seen it coming because I had my back to it and was plugged into an iPod. Out of the blue, this rushing of air right beside you while the ground shakes under your feet, and you go a bit pale and queasy thinking about what just happened.

This time the nice new rug survived with just one tear in the lining - very lucky. And he's OK again already with rugging and unrugging. But I am sure you can now understand why it is that I had a little mental conniption when I was riding Julian yesterday and contemplating whether he might have an insect in his ear or a bee beginning to take exception to him.

Well, it wasn't those things and I live to tell the tale - probably just a midge or a beetle or something else less of an invitation to cataclysm. Apart from that occasional nose-fling and snort, he did relaxed ground-covering walking, enjoyed having his shoulders rubbed while riding along, and we had several wonderful extended stretches of trotting - at the speed offered, which was, "Hey monkey, this is fun, let's go!" - the high end of a pacework speed trot, around 30km/h, so the wind really does rush by you and I'm thinking maybe I need aviation glasses for riding this horse. Jess, of course, is also delighted at the sudden development of faster rides, and I have to watch her so she doesn't get run over while she comes to terms with the fact that this horse is a faster sprinter than she is these days.

It is fun to ride like this, and Julian is in many ways safer when going at speed than when walking along. First of all, he never stacked it in his harness training or racing - even with emus on the training track with him as a young horse. Now that gets most horses, but it never got him - he decided instantly that he has to race them, and would pelt after them if they were going in the same direction. Thankfully, if they were racing around in the opposite direction, he'd continue his own programme unbothered and avoid collisions. Emus are like very fast, oversized racing chickens, except in the breeding season, when the males decide they have to attack things. On the track, they enjoyed parity with horses doing pacework.

So it's not that Julian is at all timid, especially when he knows what exactly is there. It's just that he's very reactive and explosive about noises or movements when he doesn't know why they are happening. Most noises and movements, he does understand the source of, but like everyone else in this world who's not turned off their brains yet, he's still learning. He does learn rapidly, and when he's not got a flapping pterodactyl attached to him, he reins his own explosions in again within a second or two.

This brings me to the main reason going at speed is often safer than walking, particularly on an explosive horse like Julian who is also a seasoned sprint specialist - because when you're already going at 30km/h, he can't accelerate as rapidly and unpredictably as when he's at a standstill, having already reached half his terminal velocity. Granted, when you reach these speeds you also have to take sudden decelerations and direction changes into account - but those are less likely than rocket lift-offs, in part because a horse feels safer during an alien invasion when it's already running than when it is standing still. Also - I think most of us who have been riding (as opposed to plodding) for decades have by now developed rather serviceable sticking-to-a-horse-when-anticipating-rapid-braking autopilots.

So I'm happy to ride Julian at a flying trot, and indeed, when Sunsmart was just starting on trails, I deliberately put him into a trot if I felt he was getting too looky or I thought there was something in the environment he might take exception to if we hung around for long enough. The nice thing about these fast trots, compared to galloping, is that they are beautifully balanced and stable to ride, and make the horse steadier with direction changes if startled than if you were riding the same speed at a canter or gallop.

Further into the session I began to encourage Julian to try out some more moderate trotting speeds, and he happily obliged. I walked him up the ridge and noticed then that he was out of breath from his efforts, but not nearly like they are when actually race training. It's good to know I'm going to get some of his spare, ahem, rounding off him in time for spring flush. Last night I locked everyone up for the first time, into the utility paddocks and driveway. They can graze the driveway strip and snack on straw (essential for donkeys, and also nibbled by horses) - I will be restricting grazing for Julian and all donkeys for the next 6-8 weeks, by reducing pasture access and employing muzzles. Also Julian will be able to do some proper conditioning now that we are at the trotting stage.

I dismounted on the ridge because of the pointy rocks, and we walked and talked. He's learning to avoid rocks and what "watch your feet" means (@Knave won't have to do this with her mustangs, who didn't grow up on in sand yards and on manicured racetracks). I could have jumped back on when the track turned sandy, but decided to walk with Julian instead, eventually heading for the sand patch behind the house, where I untacked him and he instantly held a personal rolling party - one of the best spots on the property, deep clean sand made loose from being a cattle sunbathing area (and by some miracle they're not soiling it - it truly is a miracle if you know cattle, who do number ones and twos freely into their own hay, the farm dam, etc etc). Then I rubbed the sand off his face and paid some attention to his ears, before he sauntered back over to join his friends in the meadow.

Milestone: Julian's first ride home alone. No worries.

And now the rain has stopped just in time so we can head out into the garden. You can thank the rain for this essay du jour...
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
4,671 Posts
Because he was running, the rug blew up like a spinnaker and flapped around after him, which frightened him even more. The rug then turned around the neck so it was like an oversized bib, which he was running on. He shredded that rug into pieces while I looked on gobsmacked from a distance. I collected him half an hour later, when he'd calmed down enough to allow himself to be approached, to undo the little remnant fabric collar he was still wearing around his neck.
I love the way your write!
 
281 - 300 of 372 Posts
Top