27 Days

Two months have passed since James and Kate Cooler left North Carolina to spend the summer in Montana. They’re training green horses and yearlings at the R Lazy 6 Ranch in Lewistown, holding clinics and demos, and honing their colt-starting skills for the upcoming SEFHA Colt Starting Challenge on October 19.

Kate and James in Montana

Kate and James in Montana

I feel melancholy every time I pull up to Flintrock Farm and see the space where James and Kate’s horse trailer used to sit. I miss the sight of James teaching Deuce to stop on a dime, or Kate cantering Kleo in a graceful arc. I miss the thrill of watching them play with horses in training, a tremendous source of learning for those of us hanging on the fence. I miss their dogs, Cali and Ginger, and their affection for me as “the biscuit lady.”

And yet I’m thrilled that James and Kate are having a western adventure. Really, I am.

It’s just…I miss them.

Internet and cell phone access to the mountains of central Montana is spotty, to say the least, so I haven’t been able to connect with them often. But we’ve been collaborating on the next issue of Cooler Horsemanship News, which will come out in September. They’ve sent me some breathtaking photos for the newsletter, so I urge you to subscribe if you’re not already on the recipient list.

James and Kate will be back at Flintrock on September 20 or thereabouts.

Twenty-seven days to go. Just 27 days.

Heading home?

Is that North Carolina in the distance?

Double Wash Sunday

Mystic has been on stall rest for two weeks due to a strained tendon in his foot (actually the vet called it something scientific, but this is my translation). For a horse that doesn’t like being stuck in a stall, he’s been surprisingly accepting of his confinement. He gets to spend a few hours in a small paddock during the day so he can stretch his legs and eat niblets of grass.

The upside to stall rest is that Mystic stays pretty clean. I’ve been giving him a weekend bath anyway, partly because I’m a compulsive horse washer and partly because it gives me something to do with him. We can’t do groundplay, we can’t ride, so we do baths.

Yesterday I did my usual: I hosed him, soaped him with Quic Silver, rinsed him off, flicked away surface water with a scraper. He looked amazing: his speckled white coat was luminescent.

Then I put him in a round pen so I could muck his stall (the downside of stall rest).

The round pen

The round pen

“I have to go clean your stall,” I told Mystic. “Do not roll in the mud while I’m gone.”

He looked at me; I looked at him. I felt we’d established an agreement.

Off I went to make his bachelor pad more presentable. I checked on him from afar a couple of times; he was happily grazing. I congratulated myself on my efficiency: clean horse, clean stall, good day.

Then I went to get Mystic.

He had only half-kept his promise.

Here's the good side

Here’s the good side

I don't know why I'm smiling

I don’t know why I’m smiling

There are two sides to every situation

There are two sides to every situation

And so it was time to go back to the Quic Silver and the hose. This time the washing took longer. He’d absorbed a lot of mud. But we got it done.

Looking for another patch of mud?

Looking for another patch of mud?

Clean horse.

Busy Sunday.

Until next time.

Gloriously Imperfect

A friend once told me I like to “hot rod” things–a Tom Wolfe-ian phrase for souping up an existing object. By that standard, my little house here in Greensboro is the ultimate hot rod. A couple of months ago I sent photos of it along with a first-person essay to O.Henry Magazine. To my delight, they accepted the essay and sent photographer John Gessner to immortalize my house. The results are visible in the August issue of O.Henry, which is available in print for free just about everywhere and is also online.

John Gessner photographing my house

John Gessner photographing my house

If you run into my sister Liz, she’ll probably have a bunch of copies in her bag—that’s how it was last night when we strolled downtown Greensboro for First Friday. She showed the article to everyone she met (and she knows a lot of people!) while I stood to the side, slightly embarrassed and mostly thrilled. Thank you, Liz, for believing in me, bringing me to Greensboro, and carrying me in your handbag.

Click here to view a PDF of the article (be patient: it loads slowly). Or go to O.Henry Magazine online and view pages 56-61 of the August issue.

Here are a few of my own shots, just for fun.

Front hall

Front hall

Kuan Yin mirror

Kuan Yin mirror

Hallway altar

Hallway altar

Mantel detail

Mantel detail

Bedroom detail

Bedroom detail