Monday, June 25, 2007

a question

why do you think that North Americans view a man who is besotted and willing to do anything for a woman as Pussy whipped while in other parts of the world that same man would be admired for his gallantry?

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Does anyone else have a problem with this?

A while checking my email at Yahoo I came across a e-bite for a new *designer* cat. A toyger. Yes, that's right, the cutesy idiot people who came up with labradoodle and cockapoo oh and let's not forget shichons(purposeful???? cross breeding with an 'oh so cute' name *GAG*)have struck again with, can you figure it out? TOY TIGERS.

Being a tiger fan and suitably in awe of tigers... Real tigers, with orange and black stripes on their skin and fascinating eyes and powerful jaws and massive paws and oh yeah, weighing upwards of 500 lbs. I had to have a look at least. Because I'm also suitably in awe of the abject stupidity of some people.


Are people truly so gullible that they will actually buy these? Short answer... yes :(.

Not only will they line up to buy these, there will likely eventually be a micro version, suitable for popping into your purse ala paridiot and chihuahuas. Eventually there will even be a micro lion complete with his own little pride of micro lionesses. Pursesized savannahs will abound.

Why why why do people see the need to do this? Microsizing perfectly respectable animals. Animals that can and should remain able to rip off your ridiculous head and do horrid things to your body. WILD animals. IN THE WILD.


I am not against zoos. I see them as a necessary evil in a world that while becoming incredibly tiny and accessible to many still remains a huge mystery to most. Not petting zoos (although I do confess to a burning desire to go to Tiger Island in Australia some time in my life) but real as close to natural as possible habitats, where the animals can be observed. Safari type zoos, more than caged enclosure types. I'm all for being the one in the cage for my own protection, rather than walking free while the animal is caged.

But back to my point.

Reading further through the website I see a plan of purposeful breeding with photoshopped possibilities of eventual changes to the breed. I don't really disagree with breeding for a purpose. One of my favourite breeds is essentially man made (actually most of them are if nothing else but by a group of interested owners/breeders breeding for a particular type) however I don't and will never see the point in microsizing animals for cuteness factor.

And what the hell is wrong with a society that thinks it's okay to put a dog in a purse as a fashion accessory anyways. Sorry, I know I'm behind the times on that rant but it's been bugging me for a very long time. Not only do I object to Paris Hilton on principle and not out of jealousy...I'd be embarrassed to be as morally bankrupt as she appears to be... but it's scary for me as the mom of two young daughters that people such as she might be a role model *MEEP*

Monday, June 04, 2007

Mikey and me.

It's no secret that I'm a sucker for a sob story. It's also no secret that I enjoy working with horses and love the feeling of triumph and success when I turn around a cantankerous type or so called bad horse. How cool when it all comes together.

A couple of years ago, shortly after we started training for C. she brought me a couple of older boys that hadn't yet found homes. They're nice horses, one a very light palamino/grey and the other a copper sorrel. Bullet (the pal) is racy and elegant, would look great under english tack and has attitude out the yinyang. He's able to leap tall fences in a single bound and has a way of tossing his head that would make him ideal for film if he were black.

And then there's Mikey. They called him Big Mike, to differentiate between him and Yellow Mike. He's a rather ordinary sorrel coloring. Attractive head, nice blaze down from his forehead to his nose. No snip and only the hint of a star. Solid. Strong. Not overdone and sleek when he slips into his extended trot.

Willing too. "Try him in a lunge," C. told me. I did. He moved out immediately. Willing and able to understand even my hamhanded signals. I asked him for a lope and the transition was smooth, 2 strides and he was in full gait. Same thing coming back down, no jerking or hesitation... if he were a car he might well be well, maybe not a ferrari maybe a viper. Raw power but controlled. No finesse to it, but only because it's not yet applied.

Yeah, I'm a fan.

C. then told me his story. Yard pet foal to easy break horse, sold as a working horse to a pen checker at a local feed lot who used him well and trained him up right. Then he had the chance to go south and rather than take his horses he boarded them at the lot, for use. Someone either put a wet cinch on him or had a wet wet day and didn't check it. He galled (cinch burn scar of white hair on his belly 4" wide by about 15" long side to side :( ) poor guy was likely mad with pain. And they rode him still. He turned mean, or so they said. Tried to kill off a cowboy or two who were intent on 'fixin' that sombitch' They rode him and rode him and he bucked them off. C. took him back. Rescued him more like. Took him to a local trainer who did well with him. Until the day there was a blow up (seems someone decided they needed past the buggy and honked and honked till there was a wreck) Mikey took a broken stay in the gut. C. again took him back and put him out to pasture. But now... I was his chance, she said.

I looked into his eye. You never really know but I fancy that I can tell when there's meanness there, and I didn't see one tiny bit of it. I fiddled with him and he let me do a lot. I didn't push but I did put my foot in the stirrup and let him feel my weight. He shifted his front legs to square up and stood stock still.

Over time I did little bits with him here and there. Not enough, but each time was successful. No wrecks, no blowups. D. was up on him the 3rd day we started seriously working with him. I blew into his nostrils and he snuffled me back. I told him in a quiet whisper that he had to behave because I couldn't ride him till he was proved safe. I swear he nodded at me. Could be he just liked the jingle of bit too, but I'm sticking with nodding. D. climbed up, both of us watching Mikey's head, me ready to hang off the bridle like an ornament, D. ready to bail out at the slightest sign of trouble. Mikey's a big boy, muscular, heavy but agile. You wouldn't want to take the chance of being tossed by him. I sure wouldn't. Mikey shifted his balance. Squared up his front legs and uncocked his hind leg. He stared at me and I back at him. Slowly I passed up the reins to D. letting Mikey see me do it. "Let him ride you," I murmured and stepped back. Mikey stood still. Up till now when I'd stepped back he'd squared to me and moved with me. A dance of sort, training he received from someone else. A matter of distance and parameters. Stay x distance from me and all will be good. If I move back, move forward till x distance is maintained. I play with it, sometimes and we dance. Stepping back and forth and side to side facing each other. But this time, I had handed off control and Mikey's ears flicked, once, twice then again and he turned his head, feet still firmly planted and snuffled me again. Then D. rode him. A few steps forward and a turn to the left, then another few and a turn to the right. The idea is to keep the horse turning thereby making it harder for them to buck if they are so inclined. It's also a great opportunity to teach or reinforce leg aids and reining.

Here's a short video of Mikey and D after this session. Mikey's wearing no bridle or halter and simply going for a wander around the corral. Mean horse...yeah... dun think so. (NOTE: link is fizzed, I'll fix it soon)

My time being not so easily arranged I didn't get to do much more with him. An opportunity came up for him to be trained as a bulldoggin' horse. C. talked to me, asked me what I thought and I thought it was best for Mikey. A chance to re establish himself as a good horse. I cried after I hung up the phone but knew it was for the best.

Now he's back. The bulldoggin' training didn't happen, so he had a nice holiday on pasture and he's full of green grass. On sunday we were out to the ranch. I wanted a crack at him, and C. had promised me that rather than meating him if the bulldoggin' didn't work out (life is like that here, horses are a commodity and not just pretty animals in the field, they cost money to feed and shoe and vet and must make money one way or the other) she'd give me one more crack at him.

Sometimes when karma is knocking I get a little hard of hearing but this time I heard loud and clear. Mikey was back, grab him my little voice said. I proposed a deal to C. and she agreed. The fix was in. If I could get on him and ride him he was mine. So sunday was the day. He acted up in the slab fence corral. Reminiscent of the feedlot I'm sure. And again when people hung over the fence in the other corral, again, memories of when he was to be 'fixed', I'm betting.

I lunged him and he got it together. The intelligence was back, evident in every motion of his head as he missed nothing. Tacked and looking good, a little hunched looking cause of the extra weight he's packing, we led him out. D. fiddled with him a bit then gave me that look. I stepped to Mikey's head and talked to him, snuffling and chatting, stroking his nose and focusing him on me. Slowly D. got into the saddle, settling in to an ear flick and the familiar shift of balance, squaring up his front end. I breathed again and relaxed. D. sat still and I stepped back, asking Mikey to step up. 1 stride 2...whoa I said and he did. D. still silent and still in the saddle, only providing the weight while I 'rode' Mikey from the ground using only my voice.

D. climbed off and I'm sure C. breathed a sigh of relief. While we stood around and spoke D. climbed up again and off and all was okay. After a time C. headed up to the house and D. took Mikey (I thought) to the barn to untack. "Hurry up or we'll get caught," his voice came around the corner of the barn. "Say what now?" I asked walking around the corner. D. had walked Mikey into what we use as a mounting block and grinned at me. I stepped up onto the cement platform and slowly put my foot in the stirrup. Letting my weight lean on the saddle I stepped down again. Then into the stirrup again and swung my leg on his rump, sliding it, and still he stood, stock still, patient and uncomplaining. Many horses fidget in that spot. It's tight and they are impatient, ready to go, eager to be off. Not Mikey, he was willing to wait. Finally I was sure, I'd watched his ears and was willing to bet the farm. I swung up, settling into the saddle without even the teeniest of flutters in my stomach at mounting a horse known to be unpredictable. I was so focused on not scaring him I forgot all about my own fear of mounting a strange horse. I sat there for a triumphant moment then remembered to breath. Slowly I dismounted and once I was back on the cement I let out a whoop and hugged Mikey around the neck. "He's really my horse," I breathed and grinned.

More on Mikey as his and my journey continues. Stay tuned.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

I guess I'm just selfish ...

Special K (scroll down she's been posting and I haven't) has a valid and very astutely written point about how we in the First World live in a bubble of comfort not enjoyed or hardly even dreamed about by the resoundingly large number of people that comprise the rest of the world. (I've never gotten that whole first third world thing by the way, I mean what happened to the second world?)

As I said, and do say with all due respect to K's incredible grasp of the English language and her extensive vocabulary that I admire and covet every time I read her posts, she makes a very valid point.


I don't care.

Say what you will, I'm *T*I*R*E*D* of people telling me how I should be more charitable, more considerate of those who live without the amenities and conveniences that I do. I have what I have because my grandparents settled in Canada. They worked hard to get here, and did so to benefit not only themselves but to give their children a better life. I have the opportunity to have so much more than they ever dreamed of giving to their offspring and it's up to me what I do with it. (yes, I'm aware that some in other places in the world do not have the right or ability to do as my grandparents did, that really isn't the point in what I'm saying.)

I don't =owe= anyone anywhere else for anything, especially not as an apology for having more than they do. I can have a cold and feel sorry for myself without having to think of those dealing with worse illnesses than I have. I can be hungry without feeling guilty about having the ability and opportunity to buy food to fix feeling hungry. And I can knit a hat because I want to, and save it for myself or for someone special to me without feeling guilty that someone somewhere doesn't have a hat.

I knit. I like to knit. I like to crochet and tat and use thread and needles to create other fabrics/bits/extras whathaveyou. I do not HAVE TO KNIT FOR CHARITY to have the right to knit. I knit for myself, because I enjoy knitting. Not because I owe someone a hat because they are cold.

Let's not misunderstand me here. I give to charity. I work for a charitable organization that's non profit and goes well out of its way to make sure that all have the same. And I see the inequalities right here on the streets of my own little home town every day. I do what I do about it, in my way, in my own time and without need of fanfare or accolade. And you know what really sucks? Even as I take this stand about not having to, I feel the need to defend myself by telling you that I do things for charity that don't involve knitting. bah...

What really offends me is this damned holier than thou attitude that so many of my fellow crafters adopt. "I'm a *good person* because I knit 734 hats for the homeless this weekend..." I mean, really. Great, good, I'm sure that the homeless (at least some of them) appreciate that contribution to no end. But.. um.. .why are you telling me about it? Why are you holding it up like some badge that you won?

Knitting is mine. FOR ME. Because I like to do it and because I like to bestow my loved ones and friends with handmade gifts that show them I've thought about them and value them. Why would I cheapen that sort of gift by handing out my talents to just anyone willynilly?

Bah. Excuse me while I go cheer at a rodeo.