Saturday

Peace With Everyone

Here's this week's entry for Wordless Wednesday (Saturday edition). Photo by Nickers and Ink.





"If it is at all possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone"

(Romans 12:18, NIV).


Love poetry? Click here to visit Linda Ann Nickerson’s poetry and humor blog, Nickers and Ink.



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Wednesday

Fragile Finery - Grace and Glory Can Be Costly


(Written upon request of Three Word Wednesday’s prompt on “glass,” question,” and token.”)


Fragile Finery –
Grace and Glory Can Be Costly

A lovely filly, made of glass,
Without question, bonny lass,
Pranced through classes, without par,
Ever graceful superstar.
Leaving others at impasse.

With perfect braids and flexing poll,
She lured the judges to extol
Lovely form and elegance,
Poise and beauty, all at once,
Capturing both heart and soul.

Despite her stunning ways, alas,
This finest filly, Sassafras,
Token flaw, she did possess;
Refinement carried to excess.
For she was made of fragile glass.


Love poetry? Click here to visit Linda Ann Nickerson’s poetry and humor blog, Nickers and Ink.

Click this link for “Fragile Finery –Grace and Glory Can Be Costly.” Or click here to subscribe to an RSS feed for this writer's helpful Helium content. If you wish, click here for a free subscription to this author's online AC content, so you won't miss a single post!

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Friday

The Hope of Spring

Here's this week's entry for Wordless Wednesday (Friday edition). Photo by Nickers and Ink.




The Hope of Spring



The snow may fall, deep all around,
And yet we know, spring may be found.






Love poetry? Click here to visit Linda Ann Nickerson’s poetry and humor blog, Nickers and Ink.

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Monday

Struck by Luck – A Riding Pass on Surprise in the Grass


Struck by Luck –
A Riding Pass on Surprise in the Grass


“The only sure thing about luck
is that it will change.”

Bret Harte
(1836 – 1902)


We galloped ‘cross the countryside,
The perfect afternoon trail ride.
Beside a creek, we paused to rest
And lounged awhile in grassy nest.

Our horsey posse was content;
To sit a spell was our intent.
We sighed to see a day so fair,
Empowered by fresh country air.

The horses drank and gaily grazed,
As on the shore, we simply lazed.
We picked up clovers, just for fun,
And plucked the leaves off, one by one.

“He loves me, yes; he loves me not,”
Provided our best food for thought,
Until I found a four-leaf clover,
There beside our ride layover.

Suddenly, like chimpanzees,
We all were on our hands and knees,
A-hunting through the wild field
To find another lucky yield.

To our surprise, the land was filled
With four-leaf clovers, yet untilled.
What caused this region to enchant,
Just downstream from the power plant?


Love poetry? Click here to visit Linda Ann Nickerson’s poetry and humor blog, Nickers and Ink.

Click this link for “Struck by Luck –A Riding Pass on Surprise in the Grass.” Or click here to subscribe to an RSS feed for this writer's helpful Helium content. If you wish, click here for a free subscription to this author's online AC content, so you won't miss a single post!

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Sunday

Common Myths About Cats

Common Myths About Cats
It is nearly impossible to spend time at the stables without becoming acquainted with at least a few barn cats. Our family recently adopted an abandoned kitten, found atop a haystack.
For horsey folks and animals lovers of all kinds, The Mane Point offers a Cat Quiz today.

Test Your Cat Knowledge.
Can you determine which of the following statements are TRUE or FALSE? (A link to the answer key appears below.)
1. If a cat purrs, it means he is happy.
2. If a cat falls, he will land on his feet.
3. Cats have nine lives.
4. If a black cat crosses your path, you will have bad luck.
5. Cats are among the smartest of all animals.
6. Cats balance with their whiskers.
7. Milk is good for cats.
8. Cats detest water.
9. Female cats are calmer and more affectionate after they have produced a litter of kittens.
10. Pregnant women can get sick from their cats.
11. If a cat rolls on his back, it means he trusts you.
12. If you can outstare a cat, he will respect you.
13. Cats cannot contract rabies.
14. Cats are good for your health.
15. Cats are dangerous around infants.
16. Cats are evil.
Check Your Cat Answers Here.

How many did you answer correctly?   

Did you try to answer all of the questions before you peeked? After all, curiosity killed the ____ . . . well, never mind!

Match Your Cat Knowledge Score Here.
How many questions did you answer correctly?
1-4  - You always wanted a pet, but never had one.
5-8 - You are possibly a dog person.
9-12 - You have cat-lover potential.
13-14   - Your cat has confidence in you.
15-16 - You’re a true feline aficionado.


Love poetry? Click here to visit Linda Ann Nickerson’s poetry and humor blog, Nickers and Ink.
Click this link for “Common Myths About Cats.” Or click here to subscribe to an RSS feed for this writer's helpful Helium content. If you wish, click here for a free subscription to this author's online AC content, so you won't miss a single post!
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Thursday

Down Time (for Wordless Wednesday's Thursday edition)


Here's this week's entry for Wordless Wednesday. (Photo by Nickers and Ink.)


Love poetry? Click here to visit Linda Ann Nickerson’s poetry and humor blog, Nickers and Ink.

Or click here to subscribe to an RSS feed for this writer's helpful Helium content. If you wish, click here for a free subscription to this author's online AC content, so you won't miss a single post!

Spring Is Coming! Time for Foaling! (for Wordless Wednesday)

Here's this week's entry for Wordless Wednesday. (Photo by Nickers and Ink.)


Love poetry? Click here to visit Linda Ann Nickerson’s poetry and humor blog, Nickers and Ink.

Or click here to subscribe to an RSS feed for this writer's helpful Helium content. If you wish, click here for a free subscription to this author's online AC content, so you won't miss a single post!

Sunday

The Horse and His Girl – A Prodigious Pair

The Horse and His Girl - A Prodigious Pair

Kindred Spirits?


There is something about jumping a horse over a fence, something that makes you feel good. Perhaps it's the risk, the gamble. In any event it's a thing I need.

William Faulkner
(1897 – 1962)


My daughter is a force of nature. From the moment she arrived, this kinetic kid has galloped through each day with gusto. As a baby, she nearly never crawled. She sort of scooted for a couple of weeks before she got up and ran. And she has never stopped.

Most parents observe their children closely to discern their special talents and giftings, so that they may steer their offspring in a constructive and productive direction. Certainly, I did this. I carted her off to swimming lessons, gymnastics classes, soccer practices and other high-energy activities. After the first week or two, however, each event became a battle of our very strong wills.


An Equine Notion

Finally, we discovered her passion.

A trailerful of ponies arrived at a neighborhood birthday party. My little towhead affixed herself to a sorrel Haflinger, and she would not let go. Finally, the ponies were loaded up to leave, and the children were summoned to the backyard deck for cake and ice cream. Still, my daughter refused to leave the pony! She stood by the open window of the trailer, stroking his mane and face.

The next morning, I signed her up for horseback riding lessons, and we have never looked back.

Actually, this made perfect sense. This child has always jogged and jumped and even steeple-chased through our home and our hearts. She even set up jump hurdles for herself and for our dogs. Why would she not be passionate for ponies?


Perpetual Motion

The first lesson told all.

A kind instructor led my seven year old up and down the barn aisles, introducing her to each equine occupant. Then it was time to prepare her mount. Patiently, she showed my daughter how to fasten the saddle’s girth on the quiet old quarterhorse and strap on the splint boots to protect the horse’s forelimbs.

Bridling the mare, the trainer handed the reins to my eager little equestrian and allowed her to lead the horse into the indoor arena.

Hopping up onto the mounting block, my second grader swung a leg over the top of the liver chestnut horse, and she was off. Although the instructor kept her on the lunge line for the first session’s exercises, the riding lesson was clearly the highlight of my youngster’s life to date.


The Magic Potion

That evening, as our family gathered for dinner, the inevitable happened.

“Can I have a horse?” she asked.

Based on our history of event hopping, we decided to proceed with some caution. We suggested that she might have a horse when she turned twelve. That seemed like forever to all of us. Surely, she would lose interest long before then.

However, from her eleventh birthday on, my daughter searched the world for her exceptional equine. And she found him, just three months before her twelfth birthday arrived.


Quick Promotion

With my preteen safely tucked into the school day, I loaded up our trainer for a field trip. We drove across the state line to visit the horse of my daughter’s dreams at a jumping stable. As we entered the arena viewing area, the barn manager was giving a group riding lesson.

“There he is,” I said, pointing to a sleek bay thoroughbred, as he entered the jump course with his middle-aged woman rider. He looked just like his online photo.

Just then, as he cleared the first jump, his passenger dropped a stirrup and bumped him accidentally with her spur. The horse didn’t skip a beat. Instead, he added a step to make the next jump.

“That’s the horse for your daughter,” our trainer whispered to me.

A retired racehorse, out of the lines of Man o’ War and War Admiral, this gentle thoroughbred gelding had been a little slow for the track. As a result, he had learned to go English and jump. He was perfect for us.


Horse Devotion

I quickly made arrangements for the thoroughbred to join our family, while trying to keep the secret from an anxious preteen. Scanning the internet, she noticed that this particular horse had been sold. My daughter was heartbroken, as she began searching for a substitute.

Finally, his arrival date came. Somehow, I managed to escape to the barn alone. As the trailer pulled in with our precious cargo, I called home.

“We have an emergency at the barn,” I said. “Come quickly!”

My horse-crazy daughter walked into the stable aisle, right up behind the horse. She ducked under the cross ties and looked at me, puzzled.

“I want you to meet him,” I said.

She whirled around and stared into his gentle face. I have never seen her speechless, before or since that moment, but she was.

That afternoon, she was aboard, riding and racing and cantering and clearing hurdles of all sorts. And these two have never slowed down.


Matched Emotion

As gentle and forgiving as this old boy is, he will jump the moon for her. He will race through meadows and across miles, if she flicks one calf muscle upon his side.

Still, if she enters his stall, in her flannel pajamas, and finds him laying in his soft shavings, her thoroughbred will allow her to curl right up next to him.

Kindred spirits? I should say so.


Click this link for “The Horse and His Girl - A Prodigious Pair.”

Love poetry? Click here to visit Linda Ann Nickerson’s poetry and humor blog, Nickers and Ink. Or click here to subscribe to an RSS feed for this writer's helpful Helium content. If you wish, click here for a free subscription to this author's online AC content, so you won't miss a single post!

Wednesday

Break It to Me Gently - How to Halter-Train a Foal

Break It to Me Gently -
How to Halter-Train a Foal


Young horses are a delight, but they can also be a challenge. Hooves fly! Heads toss! How can you hope to put a halter on that young horse?


Start early!

It is never too soon to start handling and training a young horse. The best time to commence is while he is still small and willing to trust you.

Ideally, human contact begins almost immediately with the newborn foal. Establishing ground manners and a tolerance for handling cannot begin too soon. Many equine practitioners endorse foal imprinting – as owner and foal get to know and trust one another from the beginning. This also gives the owner a chance to tactfully and gently establish dominance.

It is important to build tolerance and trust from the beginning – to let the foal and dam both become accustomed to your presence, while they are still in the stall together.


Focus on the Mare First.

Begin by addressing the mare. Grooming is a good way to start. Before long, the curious foal will wonder what you’re doing. He may even approach you. Groom him gently as well, using a soft brush or curry. Be sure to stay by his front end, as you do this. Foals can move quite quickly!

When you are ready, approach the foal with gentleness and confidence. Rub his neck and withers, and work your way up to his face. Stand to one side of your young horse while you do this, then move to his other side as well. Try to avoid sudden noises of movements, so he is not startled. (This can go a long way towards preventing him from becoming face-shy.) Allow the foal to get to know you: your voice, your scent, your touch, and more.


Attract the Foal with Attention.

After a day or two, with sufficient and consistent handling and practice, most foals will grow used to your presence. At this time, you can take an unbuckled foal halter with you into the stall. (A leather foal halter is the safest, as it will tear away, if it becomes caught on something.) Of course, a broken halter is easier to fix than an injured young horse.

Approach the foal. Stroke his neck and mane, as before. Try to have him between you and his dam. (A stall wall can also be a helpful boundary at this point.) Stand at the foal’s side, and slip the halter over his nose. Do not come at him from the front. Foals can quickly become terrified, and rightly so, when objects suddenly approach them head-on.

Slip the halter strap over his ears, and buckle it gently. Pet him and praise him softly. Then step back, as he is likely to wiggle a bit. After all, this is something new, and he needs a few minutes to figure things out. You may even wish to step quietly out of the stall for a while until your young horse settles in with his new accessory.


Set Yourself Up for Success.

If the foal resists this procedure, it may be necessary to enlist a strong assistant to help hold him for the first time or two. However, a foal must not be wrestled into wearing the halter. This can be extremely dangerous to horse and handler. (A foal’s skeletal structure is still forming, and his neck is delicate. Also, his baby hooves can quickly fly. Although they are little, they can do a fair amount of damage!)

It is far better to allow the foal to become familiar with the halter and with human handling than to force the halter in one session. If necessary, you can distract the young horse with grooming and attention and reattempt the haltering a little later.


As he grows, you can even teach the foal to lead.

This is best done early, before he has the opportunity to learn independent habits. Many foal halters have catch straps, which you can use to practice leading in the stall. (At this early stage, a lead rope might add an unnecessary tangling hazard.)

The foal must lead willingly. Do not attempt to drag him along, as this may injure him severely. (A tug-of-war could even prove fatal to a foal.) If the mother is leading alongside, he will most likely follow willingly.

With a little patience and practice, you will lead your foal safely and willingly.


Click this link for “Break It to Me Gently -How to Halter-Train a Foal.”

Love poetry? Click here to visit Linda Ann Nickerson’s poetry and humor blog, Nickers and Ink. Or click here to subscribe to an RSS feed for this writer's helpful Helium content. If you wish, click here for a free subscription to this author's online AC content, so you won't miss a single post!

Monday

Land Mines - A Rhyming Prep to Watch Your Step!


Land Mines -
A Rhyming Prep to Watch Your Step!

There is an eagle in me
that wants to soar,
and there is a hippopotamus in me
that wants to wallow in the mud.

Carl Sandburg
(1878 – 1967)

We live beside a danger zone,
So watch before you tread.
And when the grass is overgrown,
The obstacles embed.

Bare feet are not advisable,
As everybody knows,
And things unrecognizable
May seep between your toes.

We live out in the countryside,
Where animals are found.
So watch before you slip and slide
And step over that mound!


Click this link for “Land Mines -A Rhyming Prep to Watch Your Step!

Love poetry? Click here to visit Linda Ann Nickerson’s poetry and humor blog, Nickers and Ink. Or click here to subscribe to an RSS feed for this writer's helpful Helium content. If you wish, click here for a free subscription to this author's online AC content, so you won't miss a single post!

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