Thursday, September 30, 2010

Book Review: "Half Broke Horses"

I just finished up a really good book called "Half Broke Horses" by Jeannette Walls. It is a true life fiction novel, telling the story of Jeannette's grandmother, Lily Casey Smith, a real life pioneer and horse woman.

The story starts at the turn of the century and follows Lily's life story, which included helping her father train horses as a child, riding 500 miles on a horse to teach in a remote one room school house, some time in Chicago, racing horses and playing poker, surviving as a rancher's wife/taxi driver and learning how to fly.

It is always interesting to me that in the 40's and 50's people were still living without indoor plumbing and electricity in rural America. The stark contrast between Lily's life in the Southwest and her life in Chicago, really highlights the differences in the country's development in this time period. This book also gives a good perspective of America's transition from horses to automobiles.

There is one particular quote that I love in the book, and reflects my general feelings on successful parenting (and horse training):

"Kids were like horses in that things went a lot easier if you got their respect from the outset rather than trying to demand it after they'd started seeing what they could get away with."

I highly recommend this book. I got it at our small library, so it should be easy to find.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Lip Reading

There is a lot of talking among friends that goes on at a horse show while we warm up our horses or are waiting our turn.

Casey is not afraid to strike up a good conversation with anyone that happens her way.

She had a particularly good conversation this past weekend that had the person she was talking to laughing so hard she about fell off her horse.

Casey: "Did you know my horse has numbers and letters on his lip?" (race horses are tattoed on the inside of their lip for identification, and our horse Johnny is "off the track" as they say)

Other person: "Oh really? Can you read horse lips?"

Casey: "No, it's just numbers and letters"

Other person: "Can you read people lips?"

Casey: "No, but I can read my brothers mind!"

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Why I'm a Ding Dong

Every 2nd Tuesday of the month at 8am I lead a meeting that people dial into from all over the world. I have to get to work on time on these days so I can get setup for the meeting and be ready to go. I don't have a backup, if I'm not there, all the people will dial into nothing. So I usually get up super early, just to be sure I can make it there with traffic, and hopefully have time to get a drink before it starts.

Today, I left my house at 6:45am for the 45 minute ride to work, which gave me a 30 minute cushion. This is the route I normally take:

View Larger Map

But right there where the I40 symbol is, usually backs up every morning so I decided not to risk it, taking back roads instead around that area, meeting back up with 40 beyond all the traffic. I kept hearing traffic reports about a wreck in that area, so I was so proud of myself for being so smart to go around. This is the route I planned to take:

View Larger Map

So I got to where I was to get back on the highway (at "B" above) and was about to declare total victory over the traffic... but was not paying attention... and got on going the wrong direction...heading back home! I realized my mistake about 100 feet onto the ramp, when the weight of my error hit me like a ton of bricks. I knew that I would now be forced to travel 6 miles in the wrong direction, with nothing but a traffic jam going the other way.

So I had about 6 minutes to think about what I'd done and my options before I got to the next exit.

I contemplated backing back up the ramp, a maneuver I've only seen attempted by one other person (my dad), but decided it was way too risky.

I contemplated crossing the median, but the traffic was way too heavy going the other way.

I did frantic complex mathematical calculations in my head, trying to calculate driving times of various routes.

I talked to myself.

I consoled myself.

I went through the 7 stages of grieving.

I asked God for answers.

And if I could have I would have banged my head on the steering wheel the entire time.

The way I figured it, I had 4 options:
1. Get to the next exit, get back on the highway going the right direction and get stuck in the traffic,
2. Find my way back over to the back road that I had taken before
3. Go home to do the call from home.
4. Get on the next plane to Jamaica, and call it a day.

I did not know if either option 1 or 2 would get me to work on time, but I figured even if I could get there, I would have 5 minutes to sprint into the building and boot my laptop up.

I actually decided to try to make a run for it with option 2 (though option 4 was tempting)...but the traffic light at the end of the exit ramp took away my 5 minutes, so I decided to just go home in utter defeat.

So this is the route I took, I was on the road for exactly 1 hour and got nowhere.

View Larger Map

I managed to lead my meeting successfully, even though I had a massive headache by that point, probably due to some serious teeth clenching, white knuckle driving.

When I had a break in meetings, I decided to attempt to get to work again. I turned out of my driveway and traveled about 400 feet only to see huge "Road Closed" signs blocking the road. So I had to turn around and go in the opposite direction from where I needed to go on some back country roads, where of course I got stuck behind someone hauling a trash can standing up in a pickup truck going about 15 miles per hour. I came very close to just giving up and going home for the day, but I eventually made it there.

If our road had been closed on my way back in on my first attempt, I think my head would have exploded. So I'm thankful for that!

So if there is such a thing as a "Ding Dong" award, I think I deserve it for today.

Friday, September 3, 2010 is SO Cool!

For those of you who are not aware, we lost our pony LuLu last weekend. We all have taken it really hard, but Casey has taken it the hardest. LuLu was the horse that taught Casey how to ride, and was Casey's barrel horse.

Here they are when she first started to ride LuLu by herself, she had just turned 4.

And here she is this year, running barrels on her.
We never realized old LuLu could move as fast as she did for Casey.

Here they are at their first rodeo this spring. This was LuLu's first time ever in this kind of environment, she never even batted an eye...that's what made her such a good horse.

Casey Hiser/Lulu 04302010 from Bob Fitzgerald on Vimeo.

When posted on Facebook this week asking how people cope with a horse's loss, I posted a comment about Casey losing her pony, and how when asked if she wanted to skip the next show or ride a different horse, she said she "wanted to ride, cuz that's what cowgirls do". They responded that they wanted to send her something to wish her luck, which I thought was so, so kind of them.

We got their package today, and I can honestly say that they went above and beyond. They sent her a box
full of cool things...much more than I ever would have imagined...

...2 ball caps,

...a really nice note, with a gift card...

... a pink brush (how'd they know she loves pink?)...

...a pink hoof pick and a tail bag (her new horse could really use one!)...

... a cool t-shirt and a bunch of lollipops and candy...

and best of all, they got her a big, ole smile!!!

I would like to say a HUGE thank you to CoolHorse and I would encourage all of you to checkout by clicking here They really went above and beyond, and I think they deserve our business!! (Plus they have some really cool stuff!!)

I got this duvet cover a couple of weeks ago as their special of the week. I LOVE it!! I've been searching for something like this for 15 years!

Through divine intervention, God brought us another horse for Casey about a month ago. We weren't looking for a horse, but knew we would soon need to retire LuLu. We decided to get Dotty, because kid safe horses like her don't come around too often. Little did we know why God brought her into our lives. She has really helped Casey get through this tough time, giving her something to look forward to in the future. We're excited to see what Casey and Dotty will do. We sure are proud of her cowgirling up this week!

Casey/Dolly from Bob Fitzgerald on Vimeo.