Saturday, March 27, 2010

Springing Ahead...or Not

Not quite yet, but soon...
So it's not spring yet.  The calendar lies.  The time change has us all frazzled.  Horses line up at the gate for dinner starting around 3:30 in the afternoon just in case the sun might be in the wrong position for unknown reasons.  It's 70 degrees one afternoon and 21 the next morning.  This can't be right.

But spring has definitely sprung in the horse catalogs!  I'm already dog-earing all the pages I won't actually order from because I have so much stuff now I don't know where I'd put one more bit or another hot-pink waterproof sheet (though I must say that Dakota looks stunning in his despite Zip's refusal to look at him for fear of being blinded).  I've already ordered and received the cool-as-poop vibrating de-fuzzer from Andis.  It works!  Duke looks a little less dirty carpet and a little more furry pony, and the vibrating action made him back up against my leg and sigh.  I'm going to count that as a positive response, though one can never be too sure with mini's.    

I also bought the first jar of Tri-Hist of the season.  Pokey's pasture heaves are in full bloom even if the pasture isn't.  Mold comes first before flowers.  It's the law.  But before I digress too far, I want to point out that I have a wonderful vet who actually writes prescriptions and doesn't charge me for the effort.  If yours doesn't, if your vet insists you buy all of your script meds at jacked-up prices out of his or her private stash, you might want to have a discussion.  My last vet kept me on the hook for three jars of Tri-Hist a season at double the catalog price.  When pressed, he kindly offered to send off scripts, but at a charge of $25 per and for only one jar at a time.  

[ASIDE]  Vets, I know you need to make money.  No one resents you for that.  But if you're going to run a sideline business as a pharmacy, you need to put that right out there on your business card.  I expect to buy emergency drugs--oral antibiotics, eye drops, procaine penicillin and syringes--from you.  But the bulk stuff that I use year after year on your recommendation....  C'mon now!  [END ASIDE]

Back to spring, it's time to check out all of your stuff that's been sitting rotting and collecting dust all winter.  Make sure that that pile of strap goods and harness, saddles and boots, also contains your attitude and your basic horse skills.  You don't think you let any of that dust over and get crunchy this winter?  Then you're not really thinking.

Since the last time you checked, have you aged?  How about your trusty horse(s)?  Has there been some news on the wire about studies on subjects like equine vision, treatments for various ills like arthritis (yours and his), or training methods?  Have you read a magazine or a book lately about anything horse-related?  

Duke stands wherever there's a cookie
Now's the time, while you're between seasons and your back is aching too much from spring cleaning to allow for much riding, for you to really assess where you and your horse stand.  Get that winter blanket off, check for boo-boos, get those feet done and make sure he's wormed, then spend some time flipping through the equine news before you leap right back into whatever you were doing when winter befell you.  

For me, this means deciding whether or not I want to continue to pretend that 1) I enjoy driving, 2) I'm still balanced enough to consider jumping anything higher than a ground pole, 3) that I truly "get" dressage and have the ambition to work with that, and 4) that Zip will one day just go back to being the cool horse he used to be without further drama.  I will (I swear!) read all of the training books I bought during the first blizzard, and I'll use (faithfully!) the hints contained therein.  I will stop trying to get Cliff to learn to ride "the right way" and let him have fun on Dakota just meandering around free of head-sets and seat position parameters.     
Cliff and Dakota...meandering
 I'm swearing off even considering rescuing a horse, or adopting the three free ferrets (plus cage) I found on Freecycle, or getting a puppy or a bunch of goats or a llama.  Instead I'll figure out what the best way is to make use of my horses.  There's got to be some way to put Pokey to work as a therapy horse.  It's her calling, and I need to give her a job before her little tumor grows into a big one and the point becomes moot.

Four "Green" Myths Debunked

It being sort of spring and all, a person's fancy has to turn to the environment.  There's something very attractive about freshly-greening grass and trees in bud, and this seems to bring ecological issues to the forefront in minds, even as poorly-focused as mine.  So it seems like a good idea to grab a few pointers from Fortune Magazine and CNN which recently debunked a total of 25 environmental myths.  In an effort not to confuse and confound, I'm only going to deal with the first four, which are pertinent and which shocked the hell out of me, personally.

1.  Bottled water is NOT safer than tap water!  Nope.  Not at all.  Of course those of us in the twigs who have wells ought to occasionally have our water tested, but for the rest of the country, tap water is far more closely regulated than is bottled water.  So if you're keeping a fridge full of the latter (mea culpa!) for yourself and your friends and family, you might consider just putting a paper cup dispenser in the tack room and making sure there's a working faucet or hydrant nearby.

2.  Locally grown produce is NOT better for the environment!  It seems that in reality, if the local produce is trucked to your store or farm market using smoke-belching vehicles or was grown in greenhouses that were high-carbon-footprint facilities, you're no better off buying the local stuff than you are picking up the  items that are grown in areas that don't require green-housing or an over-abundance of fertilizer degrading the soil.   It's up to you to find out how your food is being produced and transported.

3.  Not all organic foods are created equal!  The organic food industry is still largely unregulated, especially on the local level.  To assume that no pesticides were used in the production of that bunch of carrots you're stuffing into your equine pets is to make a very dubious assumption.  

4.  Meat (that's cattle, you know) accounts for 18% of the greenhouse gases produced in this country!  Want to see things a little greener?  Try eating more green stuff.

5.  Don't put plastic in the microwave no matter what you've heard unless the label specifies "microwave safe"!  It's tempting.  You bought that little nuke unit for the tack room so you could reheat that cup of tea or soup or desperately-needed coffee.  If you stick to ceramic containers, you'll be a lot safer from leaching bisphenol A.  Not a proven cancer-producer, but BPA will disrupt your hormonal system.  The last thing we horse women need is hormones more disrupted than necessary.

If you want to see the other 20 debunkings, you can check them out in the original article:  Green Myths Debunked.  I, for one, am done with serious concerns and off to Tractor Supply for a new tractor seat so that my spring cleaning will be just a tad less injurious to my...uh...dignity.

Lest we forget....order my new book today!


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