Going again

Saturday afternoon I sat behind a table and announced times at a barrel race. It’s been months since I’ve done this. It was a little refreshing watching the exhibitions and see the new horses and new people running. I was a little shocked by the number of new faces at the race and how many I didn’t know. That’s a good thing right?

I haven’t entered a barrel race in probably 5 years. My horse got old, and was (what seemed like) constantly hurt. Plus I had 2 young kids to chase around and struggle with finding childcare besides pawning them off with their grandma. I’ve written before about not going to any races. I’ve promised myself a million times I’ll get another one going.

Saturday I felt a little inkling of wanting to ride again regularly and start another horse. Someone asked me if I was going to run that day, and I jokingly replied, “On foot! I haven’t rode in months.” I had a little bit of a conversation with my sister and told her I don’t want to put time and investment in a horse that I don’t know if it can run fast enough to scatter it’s own shit.

I guess it’s because I feel like my time is so valuable now, that I don’t want to waste it. But I am wasting an opportunity to get another one trained because I can’t get out of the house. I’m already a crappy housekeeper and cook, and it’s really a chore to be able to get a meal on the table, kids bathed and to bed on time and homework done before it’s 9 p.m.

It’s taken me this long to not have guilt about retiring my mare and not running any more. I sure hope it won’t take me another 5 years to get over the guilt of leaving things undone in the house to go ride. I never cared before I had kids if the house was clean, dishes were done and supper was made. Now there’s 2 little boys who always need something from me.

Someone made the comment to me the other day about how the kids come first and I should just get over it if they need something before I do. I was completely annoyed. Mom also needs to do something for herself and be some semblance of what she was before kids. She’s not there just to be someone’s Mom. She was a person before kids and she’ll be a person after those kids are grown and gone. I will provide, protect and nurture those boys the best I know how but I also don’t want to have to lose myself in the process. And if that means taking a couple hours a week to ride then so be it.

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My retreat

It’s funny how a personal possession can become part of your identity. Sure I know this is just a horse trailer that I’m writing about, but to me it was really something more.

I was a little fish out in the big world with my first real job following college graduation. Mom and Dad had provided my sister and I a lot growing up. From horses to saddles and pickups and trailers. When I graduated from college, slowly they wanted me to find my own way and pay for my own stuff. I wasn’t spoiled by any means, but this was a tough pill to swallow. During college we had a nice Cherokee 3 horse trailer which we both loved and shared. We’d sold our previous trailer and put a down payment on the Cherokee. A decision had to be made at one point, and my sister was able to take the trailer and continue paying on it. So I was left to find something of my own.

I borrowed a trailer for a while and caught rides with other people. Lucky for me I had a friend who was selling trailers at the time in Tulsa when I was living in Woodward, Oklahoma. My then boyfriend, now husband and I decided to partner on buying a trailer in 2003. Ideally, this trailer was just what we were looking for, but my only hangup was it was red. GMC red to match the previous owners vehicle. No where near my favorite color.

What we bought was a S&H 3 horse gooseneck trailer with a small dressing room. If it could talk, it might just tell you all the miles and places it went once we pulled it home from Tulsa in March 2003. From barrel races to ropings to moving us from Oklahoma back to Kansas. Just too many to keep track of.

It very well may have been the ugliest trailer at the rodeos or barrel races, but in reality, it’s not what you pull up at in, instead what you lead out of the trailer. That red trailer many times only had one horse in it but it helped me qualify for the Kansas Professional Rodeo Association finals several years.

More than once that red trailer gave me a place to reflect after a bad run or rejoice after a great one. A number of times I sat on the fender and cried because my mare was hurt or needed doctored. Several times we made the trip to Oklahoma State University’s vet school for colic. One of my most vivid memories is getting to O’Keene, Oklahoma and being pulled over by the highway patrol because I was speeding through town during the middle of the night to get her to the hospital. The return trip from her colic surgery was almost as terrifying because I was so worried about her getting so sick weeks before. But we made it home in one piece. Like we did hundreds of times following.

Another time we’d went to a February barrel race in Chickasha, Oklahoma and when it started snowing on the way home we had to find some where to stay the night. Praise the Lord for friends who let you crash at their place and put your horses up for the night. Mike successfully unfroze the dressing room door so we could get our bags out.

In the weeks after I had my first child I often needed a break and a reprieve from the smothering times of early motherhood. I’d sneak out of the house at nap time and sit on the fender and ponder my existence or bawl, which ever came first.

I could go on and on about the trips I drug that trailer down the highway but I’ll spare you. Getting rid of this trailer is like losing a piece of my being. Since having kids and not running barrels for the past few years it feels as though pieces of what used to make up me are leaving one by one.

So last night after I cleaned out the ugly red trailer and packed all my belongings away I sat on the fender and had one more good cry and reflection. I’m still not ok with this piece of the old me leaving but I guess it leaves a spot for something new.

Losers live forever and the good die young

The title of this blog is a line from one of my favorite Jason Boland and the Stragglers songs, Pearl Snaps. I can’t help but think how appropriate it is for the last couple of weeks.  It’s always the good guys or the good horses who go too early.

A friend of mine recently lost her husband after a horse wreck at a ranch horse competition. He held on for five days before succumbing to his injuries. While I knew Nicole better than her husband, it didn’t help me from grieving. Today was the funeral, and I think for at least my husband and I it hit especially hard. Similarities exist that make it easy to compare.

Walking into the church I couldn’t help but notice the crisp, white pearl snapped shirts many of the pall bearers wore. Along with their tanned hands, sun-kissed faces and ears and the obvious dents in their hair lines from hats. Chris’ hat, rope and leggings had lovingly been placed atop his casket – never to be worn by him again.  Later I noticed a hat under a chair with a program sitting in it and behind me I heard the emotion coming from a friend. I’m not real sure why things happen to good people who have so much life left to live.

Usually I find comfort in knowing someone has gone “home” to be with the Lord, but this time I struggle with it. Those two boys need their dad. Nicole needs her husband. The boys need him to teach them how to hold a rope or become the horsemen he was. My husband said Chris would have made a good old man, like many who were in attendance today. I believe that too.

During the service the pastor read a prayer Roy Rogers would read before his Riders Club meetings. It sure gave me comfort today, and I’m sure it did others.

Lord, I reckon I’m not much just by myself,
I fail to do a lot of things I ought to do.
But Lord, when trails are steep and passes high,
Help me ride it straight the whole way through.

And when in the falling dusk I get that final call,
I do not care how many flowers they send,
Above all else, the happiest trail would be,
For You to say to me, “Let’s ride, My Friend.”
Amen

The family also prepared a video of photos from Chris’ life and I was ok up until they started showing photos of his young sons. Then it was all over but the crying for me. Literally.

As we were leaving the church, people were milling around and I heard the distinct sound of shod hooves on concrete. I looked around to see Chris’ horse saddled and being led by a family friend. How appropriate and sad all at the same time. We watched as the horses followed the hearse up the hill to the cemetery. We couldn’t bear going to the graveside service.

I often try to gather something from a church service (or a funeral in this case). I feel as though I need to be better at letting those around me how much I do care. It’s hard for me to physically say how I feel, when it’s much easier to write it down. Hence this blog. But I will try. You just never know when it will be your turn to ride away.

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Chris Moore with one of his sons. (Photo shared on Facebook.)

Innocently enough

Last night while changing the youngest boy’s diaper, my oldest came in and asked, “Mom, why don’t you go to rodeos any more.” I’m sure the expression on my face told it all, but I said to him, “I don’t have a horse to ride.” He cocked his head and looked at me in disbelief. Then went on to tell me matter of factly, “You have a horse out in the pen.” He didn’t look like he believed me when I told him she was too old.

The rest of the evening I thought about what he’d said. After I had him my riding and barrel racing slowed way down. I went to a few races and rodeos for a couple of years, but injuries to my mare kept us on the sidelines more than I cared to admit. My horse was aging and I feared the day where I’d have to retire her. Fast forward nearly 5 years later and my horse is basically retired (and seemingly enjoying it) and I’ve gotten over (depending on what day it is) not getting to ride as much or go to a barrel race and enjoying my boys while they are still little.

After our conversation I told my oldest boy, some day I will have another horse and will go to some more barrel races. And no, it’s not something I am telling myself to keep me sane. When they reach an age where I won’t have to worry as much about sending them with their dad to the farm (which they kind of do already now) I will have a horse of my own again. When I gather enough pennies to buy a horse of my own again, I will. It’s just going to take time. And I have to be patient and have a plan.

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January 21

Amidst the music, people talking and the normal sounds of a Friday night concert at a local bar I heard my husband say to a friend he hadn’t seen in quite a while, “everything I’ve done in the last four years hasn’t been by my choice.” I knew exactly what he was talking about, and have to agree with him.

Four years ago today his dad, Steve, died. Our lives were forever changed. I’ve started to dread this day simply because it’s such a hard day for me to deal with.

I’d known Steve while my husband and I were dating in high school and later when I was in college. After graduated college my husband and I got back together after being on again and off again. We lived together for 7 years before we got married in 2009. So it’s easy to say I spent a lot of time around my father-in-law. Probably more time than around my own parents just because we lived close together.

He helped cultivate my love for red beer and sitting in the shed shooting the breeze. I’d like to believe he understood my horse obsession more than my own husband because he’d go watch me run when he had time and he cried right there with me when she tried to cut her foot off and had to make a trip to the vet with his pickup since my new-to-me pickup hadn’t gotten fitted with a gooseneck hitch yet. (He later bought me a B&W turnover ball and helped install it.) A few years later her rescued my sister and I when we’d broken down in Ashland and needed some diesel fuel and help getting my sisters truck started. There wasn’t a time when he was not around. Hell, I still have his cell phone number saved in my phone and I’ve had two different phones since he’s been gone.

Even though I still miss him every single day, there are good things that have come from him being gone. My husband has had the opportunity to have a cowherd, managed the way he wants to and have produced some pretty nice heifers and steers. He’s also got to raise a wheat crop that was one of the best the Scott Farm has ever been able to – even after three years of ugly drought. He’s also gotten to show his boys what it’s like to be a part of a farm – both the good and the bad. And for that, I’m proud. It may not have been our choices to live without him, but we’ve been able to deal.

This quote popped up on my social media feed this morning and it helped get the tears out of my eyes and the lump in my throat. “If you don’t leave your past in the past, it will destroy your future. Live for what today has to offer, not for what yesterday has taken away.” As much as I don’t want to leave him in the past, I have to.

Until we meet again, you old fart.

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Steve at the farm with his dog Dolly.

Have you noticed?

Have you noticed it’s getting light earlier in the morning and staying light until well past 6:30? I have.

(And I choose not to notice that I haven’t blogged in three months.) 🙂

They say people tend to get more depressed when there are minimal hours of sunshine during the winter. I have to agree. I get home from work and the next thing I know it’s the boy’s bed time and I have an hour of peace before I have to go to bed myself. My hour to myself is not usually productive at all. Heck, last night I spent it enjoying a beer, sitting in the dark and watching crap on TV.

I used to rush home and spend my hours to myself riding and working with my horse. I could do what I wanted, when I wanted. I didn’t have to worry about having a babysitter or that the youngest boy would implode because he was hungry or feeling particularly clingy at the moment.  Oh, my how times have changed.

I did notice that the time changes on Sunday. So maybe I will have a little more daylight to do outdoor activities when I get home from work. We will see if the boys become willing participants in Mom’s wanting to ride and if Grandma will be a willing babysitter after her daytime duties end with Chance. If not I’m afraid this momma just may implode herself!

My boys and their horses

At our house we have three mares. They are very similar to one another – two bays and a brown – all with not a noticeable amount of white on them. If you didn’t know the differences you would be hard pressed to figure out who was who.

There’s Kate, my husband’s old mare. I’m not even sure her age, but she’s a tad grumpy, fat as a hog and will remind me how hungry she is during evening feedings by bumping the gate if I don’t move fast enough. Then there’s my mare, Mare. I never really had a name for her and always just called her Mare, Sis or Sweet Pea. I’ve had her for a long time, and my heart jumps a beat whenever I can’t see her from the window. The youngest of the three, Baby, as my husband calls her, is just that. She’s a little wild, hasn’t been rode much and is full of it. I’d like to start riding her, but I’m scared..

Most every night oldest son and I will go feed the horses. He get’s rather upset if he can’t “help.” Recently he’s gotten better and wants to carry the buckets and dump feed. He still doesn’t realize how powerful the horses are and how they could hurt him. I have to remind him to get his head up and watch where he’s going.

Chance is nearly 8 months old and LOVES the horses. His eyes get big as saucers when he gets close to them. He gets all excited when he gets to sit on them. I adore his excitement when he’s sitting on the back of my old brown mare. She takes it all in stride as he’s screaming “riding” her and pulling on her mane.

The other day, on a night when I actually go to ride, Shaun wanted to ride too. I asked if he wanted to trot and he was confused. “Do you want to go faster?” I asked. I received an enthusiastic, “YES!” We had to video it to show his dad. I think he was pretty proud. I hope some day the boys will enjoy horses as much as I have.

Chance on the old brown mare.

Chance on the old brown mare.

It’s been how long?

A few weeks ago in the mail I received a membership renewal for the Better Barrel Races association. Knowing what it was I didn’t even open it. The thought of me not riding my mare and going to barrel races hit me the wrong way that day, so I just tucked it away and forgot about it.

I have been a member of the BBR for a number of years, and have attended their World Finals in Oklahoma City several times. Last year I renewed knowing that I was already pregnant with Chance. I intended on riding after he was born, like I did with Shaun. I did ride most of the summer, but the last barrel race I went to was Labor Day 2013. My mare got sore after that and we didn’t get her feet figured out until nearly fall. By that time I was big and fat, so I didn’t get back on my mare until April of this year.

Now it’s already mid-August, and I can’t tell you the last time I got to ride. Between two kids, a full-time job and other activities, there’s plenty of room for excuses. Not to mention my horse is missing shoes, and I’ve missed the horse shoer the last three times he’s been here. I don’t know that she’s missing getting rode, but I know I am missing getting to go to the jackpots and rodeos. I look at the rodeo results and photos and think back to the last 10 years or so when I went to the Kansas Pro Rodeos. Now I wonder if I will ever have a horse to take to the rodeos.

My old mare is 22 this year, and deserves the best. Shaun keeps asking which horse is his and I tell him they are all OUR horses. I just can’t let go of that brown mare quite yet. I really don’t want last year’s run to be our last together, but she’s given me 16 great years and doesn’t owe me a thing. So if that run was our last together, I can accept that. She will have many more runs with Shaun and Chance hopefully.

2013 BBR World Finals, Oklahoma City, OK.

2013 BBR World Finals, Oklahoma City, OK.

Struggling

Maybe you could call it a mid-life crisis, or maybe it’s an identity crisis. Not sure what I want to call it, but lately I’ve been struggling. Struggling with who I am and what I want to be. Work is the same, and I enjoy going to work every day. At home, it’s harder. I have a 3-year-old and a 3 month old. It can be a challenge since my husband works 40 miles away and has farm chores down south after he finishes at his full-time job. Quite a bit of the time, it’s just me and the boys.

Flash back 5, 10 or even 15 years ago, and you would find me a lot more selfish than I am now. I was concerned with was what rodeo or barrel race was next and how I’d spend my next paycheck. As much as I hate to admit it, my horse was my number one priority. I can think of a dozen or more times where I spent my last dime to buy feed, a needed supplement or pay an entry fee. There was more than one occasion where I skipped a family function to go to a barrel race or a rodeo. There was more than one time when I went by myself because no one else wanted to go with me.

Now I’m lucky if I get to ride my horse once a week. Twice is a stretch sometimes. I sometimes have a willing babysitter, but I don’t always want to extend her too much. Other times I just don’t have the motivation to line up the babysitter, distract the 3-year-old and take the half our to ride and enjoy it. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy riding and competing. You can bet your sweet ass I miss the adrenaline rush. I guess that’s part of my problem. For so long, barrel racing defined me. And now I’m not that person. Sometimes I don’t like it. I haven’t competed since September and I’m missing it. Bad.

Back when my horse was ten years younger it killed me to miss a race. I absolutely hated sitting at home. Now, I live vicariously through those who still get to go. My mare’s 22 and she’s got bad knees and ankles. Sure I’d like to run her again, but at the rate I’m going she’ll be 23 before we go to another barrel race. That is if I ever get off my ass and ride.

I ran across this on a friend’s Facebook today, and found it way too appropriate. I need to stop waiting and just do it.

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Stuck

I haven’t blogged for two and a half months. I can’t decide if I want to continue to write on this blog or not, but part of me thinks I ought to. My brain tends to get clogged up with unnecessary junk from time to time, and I’m beginning to think that is unhealthy. I looked back at a few of the blog posts on my list that I started but never finished, and many of them spin negative. I’d like to say I don’t know how that happens, but then that’d be a lie. My mom was negative, some of my coworkers are and eventually I become that way. Sometimes I try not to be, other times I just really don’t care.

In the past months a lot has happened. Kashe the Corgi disappeared and has yet to return. A couple of calls to the neighbors merited nothing. Countless miles driving around the “neighborhood” found nothing. A couple of days after he left, the neighbor to the north called and said they had found a dead dog in their pasture, but wasn’t too sure if it was ours because it was pretty weathered. In my mind Kashe went to find a better place so I wouldn’t have to make a decision to put him out of his misery. He was blind and had trouble hearing. He didn’t eat the best and was sleeping a lot. He’s been with us since 2003 and before we got him he didn’t have the best of life. I’d like to think he had a good time with us for the 10 years we had him. He went to countless rodeos and barrel races, and was my favorite. I will miss the stubborn, rowdy guy.

Also during that time announced that Shaun is being promoted to a big brother. “Number 2” as I have been calling him, will make his appearance in February 2014. My husband is excited, and I have my moments. I sure don’t miss being up in the middle of the night with a crying baby, drool or the spit up. I survived the first, I guess I can probably survive another. I just have to make it that far first.

Because of a sore horse and being pregnant, I haven’t been on my mare since Labor Day. She ran pretty good at the barrel race that day, and even though I felt like Whiplash the Monkey, I managed to stay on and not embarrass myself too much. Then a couple of days later we got some rain and consequently one of her front shoes got sucked off. I didn’t know it and when I found it I was already planning to leave to go on a work trip. The horseshoer called while I was gone and he managed to get it tacked back on when he was in town. Between then and a day in mid-September when I actually had a babysitter and could ride I found her sore. And she’s still sore. Even after a set of new shoes and pads. Guess we will see. Muddy pens again this week aren’t helping her cause, but maybe by the weekend the fence around the horse trap will be safe again and she can spend the winter turned out some. I just hope she can stay safe turned out with the other two fat mares.

Now that we’re on the downhill slide to the end of the year, I guess I better get after getting a family photo taken so I can get Christmas cards ordered. It’s not even Halloween and it seems like marketers are already cramming it down our throats. Seems like once it’s the week of Halloween, they skip right over Thanksgiving and go straight to Christmas. Boo.

Until next time.

Sweet Heart Slew

Sweet Heart Slew