I wake up every morning to a view of the herd in the pasture.  I wear perfectly worn-in jeans and dusty cowboy boots. Mucking a barn full of stalls and emptying full wheelbarrows into the compost is the best medicine I know for what ails you. I clean hooves, brush the dirt off of eight good size horses and tend to  any wounds.  Scrubbing and filling two 100 gallon water troughs is an everyday chore in the summer. Walking the pasture to meet up with Beau and bring him in the barn is part of our morning routine to protect him from his sensitivity to grass sugars. We finish off that routine by grabbing a bale of hay or alfafa and throwing a couple leaves into his stall. 
If you just peeked in on me in the midst of my chores, you’d think I was a real cowgirl. But if you stood there a little longer and looked a little closer, you’d see me kiss every nose in the herd.  You’d see me lay my face on that beautiful flat spot between their eyes and talk to them. You’d probably hear me sing “My Girl(s)” at the top of my lungs with my arms around Beau’s neck watching his harem with him – or worse yet, “Candy Girl” (Sugar, ahhhh honey, honey) while laying on Sugar’s back enjoying the warmth of the sun. If it was a hot Texas day, you’d most likely catch me pulling out the hose to cool off my water lovers (even though they have two large ponds to dip in).  I have, quite accidentally, taught my originals (Sugar,Beau and Belle) to come to the back door and knock for a carrot. When we sit out back in the evening, Derby and Kit come on the patio and try to join us at the table. Kit wants a sip of wine.  Derby wants to sit in your lap.

In other words, I violate the personal space rule by allowing them to invade mine constantly. This is against all Cowboy codes.  The reasoning is simple:(1) safety is not possible when you’re laying your face on the head of a 1200 pound animal that may decide to look up (2) boundaries are essential when you are establishing who is in charge, which leads to (3) it's imperative that you are the alpha horse if you want to avoid broken bones and unnecessary bruises.  Horses, however sweet, are bigger and heavier than, well, YOU. Compare horsing around with a horse to see-sawing with a sumo wrestler - unless you convince him to put you down gently, you're in trouble.

I have basically turned our herd of horses into big dogs. Now that it’s time for our youngest ones to go into training, I am worried about how they will do with a real cowboy - someone that expects them to act like horses.  This is especially a concern with Rey. She is all cow horse – born and bred to work with cattle – no doubt she’s going to excel and LOVE her job….but she’s sensitive and sweet so I’m worried about her  "f e e l i n g s”. (I can hear the  cowboy population howling with laughter.) Even as I'm typing this, I'm hoping my horse friends don't read this far.

I’m professing this whimpiness to you because it’s time for me to COWGIRL UP! Putting it in writing makes me somewhat accountable. Our herd is well-bred and bright. They are healthy, completely socialized with humans and horses alike, and move beautifully. They amaze me every day with their communication and problem solving skills. The only thing holding them back is ME - a proud mom having a hard time letting her kids grow up. It's time for me to stop protecting them and allow them to shine. I’m taking back my personal space and throwing them out into the real world!………....tomorrow.


08/19/2012 2:54pm

Oh Jamie, I felt every feeling you were writing about. What a great blog! I would do exactly what you've done bringing them up and it would be just as hard for me to let them be adults too. Your life seems so idyllic now that you've moved out there with them.

If you ever have a chance to look through old pictures on your computer and see anything you think I'd like, would you send me an email? Your judgment in picture-taking is so close to my choosing pictures to draw, I trust anything you think would be worthy.
Thanks so much,

08/19/2012 3:55pm

Of course I will - I consider it such a compliment that you've been inspired by some of my photographs. What we really need to do is get together and just flip through them. There's thousands......You bring your artist eye - I'll supply the food. Meanwhile, I'll send you a few recent ones that make me smile!

Casey Jo
08/22/2012 1:29am

*sigh* Your life is a dream. Yes, cowgirls are tough and taught a no-nonsense mentality in most cases, but I think "cowgirls" could learn a thing or two from YOU. Nuzzling your face with that of a horse might result in a broken nose, but it's also a vulnerable moment when your horse's spirit and your own collide and your heart floats away to somewhere really special. There is a happy medium but I think you start laying down the law when Beau is sleeping at the bottom of the bed.  'Til then, I don't see the problem with overgrown, loved and disciplined pups.

08/22/2012 10:03pm

Casey Jo, You are the original "soft-at-heart", This comment made my day. By the way, Beau read this and is on his way....he prefers 2 pillows.

Casey Jo
08/23/2012 12:53am


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    My name is Jamie.

    I left the culdesac for the country. My life is run by two Welsh Corgis. I discuss the biggest obstacles life throws at me with a horse named Belle. My family has suggested that I consider having my camera surgically attached. I pride myself on the fact that my armchair psychology has only caused a few disasters. And I love to write. I am not certain if I'm finding my sanity or losing it. That's where you come in - YOU decide! 

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