Saturday, September 25, 2010

Ponies Ponies Ponies!! Part 3

There are great signs all around the HorseNet Horse Rescue New Windsor barn.

This barn cat is more like a lap cat.

Gobie following me down to the water trough.

It was a good visit! I scooped poop, cleaned a water trough, and picked burrs out of Gobie's hair. The cats were out in full, affectionate force. And the chatting during down-time was nice. I'm looking forward to the Open House later in October.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Photoshop-tastic: World Under Glass

This is the second version of my first assignment for Digital Imaging 2.

Heeeey.. I think I know that dog.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Ponies Ponies Ponies!! Part 2

The past two weekends I've volunteered at a local horse rescue in Mount Airy/New Windsor, MD. They're called HorseNet Horse Rescue.

I decided to volunteer because I missed being around horses, and there was something unsatisfying about the idea of just going riding, or leasing. I wanted to feel like I was not only getting "horse time" but was making some sort of positive impact.

The horse rescue is an hour and change from my house, but the drive is pretty nice on a Saturday morning. When you finally get to the New Windsor barn, a painted sign peeks out from the bushes.

The farm is fully fenced, of course, and the gate in has about a thousand signs on it. Keep Closed! By Appointment Only! But in the distance you can see horses so you must be at the right place...

The drive in is gravelly and usually a couple of horses are roaming around, mowing the grass as it were. Parking is pretty informal -- any spot on the side of the road seems to do.

Walk through a second gate and you're flanked by paddocks of horses. And they all seem like happy, well adjusted herds. And adorable herds.

Like the minis.

The farm is really interesting. The horse rescue rents it from a man who lives on the property, but they are responsible for the care and ownership of all the horses. The owner of the farm is a tremendous help, though, helping to move round bales of hay around to the different paddocks.

The out buildings are neat and sort of old-world. It's the kind of aesthetic I like and reminds me of some of the buildings in Pennsylvania or Salem or something. A nice departure from the red-brick, particle board, or aluminum siding that seem like the horse-housing norm. To me, there's something magical about buildings made of stone, mud, and weathered wood.

The topography of the place is pretty interesting. Rolling, dipping, all over the place. The barn is nestled in to one of the hills like a cute red gem. There are only a couple stalls, but they have runs attached to them. The barn is mainly used for storage, so the horses can enjoy pasture turn out.

The barn.

The two equine occupants are a mare and filly from a massive seizure of animals a couple months back. The mare was in rough shape, and while she is physically recovering nicely, psychologically she's still learning that people can be good. The filly is a love-bug, like baby animals tend to be.

When you enter the barn there's a mural with a white horse statue. It's sort of whimsical, and reinforces this feeling that you've somehow entered a magical land.

If they haven't greeted you by now, the barn cats usually make themselves known once you get near their food bowls in the barn. There are about 9 or so barn cats that roam the property. They are excellent mousers, and some of them are pretty friendly -- rubbing around your ankles for a scratch.

The barn is pretty cozy. Sort of dark, like barns should be, with dust and hay, and a satisfying and orderly clutter of tools and "stuff". The mare and filly who live in the run attached to the barn come in for a visit, and try to solicit treats. When learning to trust people, treats help.

Is that a smirk I see?

There are more stalls, but they don't have runs attached to them. They're used for storage, including hay, stray, wheelbarrows and so on.

There's a gate inside the barn that leads out to a paddock where there are more horses. That way, they can come in to a part of the barn for shade, or have the run of the pasture on the hill. There are a couple of horses in this area, plus an adorable donkey.

He's pretty sweet and mellow and a little unsure. I've never been around a donkey before, but there's something really endearing about this guy. Maybe it's the silly ears? or the cool shoulder stripe?

If you walk down the short hill, there's another paddock. It comes right before a green lake, which as far as I can tell, is in the center of the property. The fences are all supported by a bramble of weeds and out by the lake there are white gord shaped community birdhouses.

This paddock has my favorite horse in it, Gobie. He shares the long narrow space with another horse named Queen. They're both actual ponies, coming in at about 14 hands tall, give or take. At one end of the paddock is a watering trough.

Queen and Gobie, having a drink.

Near the middle of the paddock is the gate, where hay is chucked. This is usually where you can find the two horses.

I had liked Gobie from the start when I saw his picture online. When I went to visit him I noticed a bunch of burrs in his mane, thanks to those fence fortifying weeds. I was allowed to make getting all those crazy things out of his hair a pet project.


I'm sponsoring Gobie, meaning, each month I donate a dollar amount to defray the cost of his care. I'm glad I chose him. Hanging out with him in the paddock was really fun and reminded me of the good times I had with Cinder.

Pink little nose.

He ate hay, while I dutifully teased the burrs from his mane and forelock. We came to a happy respect for each other -- he let me move him around, I let him eat and bite at flies when he needed. It was a good balance that let us both do what we wanted. I appreciated his laid back attitude. He was mellow, but friendly and curious -- searching my pockets for treats, inquisitively nibbling the metal comb. He didn't try to run away, even when I asserted that he NOT eat the comb, and if he didn't enjoy the attention he at the very least didn't mind the interruption to his hay munching.

I usually spend about two hours at the barn. And with an hour commute each way, it eats up at least half the day. I'm massively out of shape so scooping poop in the paddocks, moving hay, folding blankets, and any other chores are a good work out.

When it's time to go I end up leaving feeling happy and healthy. Cody, the half blind black horse supervises the walk to the car.

On the drive out Viceroy, the draft horse who once pulled coffins at Arlington Cemetery, usually impedes the exit.

Beep beep, Viceroy.

It's easy to not be in a hurry to leave. But at least there's always next weekend.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Halloween Treats

Ladies the gentlemen, the latest Halloween treats, picked up by yours truly.

From Target (though they did not have the majority of their Halloween stuff out yet):

Chocolate candy bar. Dark chocolate made by Bloomsberry. Really delicious, velvety, cocoa tasting! A cackling good ride? I'm sold!

Pumpkin Pie flavored Poptarts. Delicious right out of the box, with festively colored sprinkles, but to DIE for when toasted. Mmm.. warm pumpkin pie.

You didn't think I'd forget Locksley did you you?

From Petsmart:

The purple set of medium sized Halloween Toy Assortment. Includes a tennis ball, two small rope toys, a vinyl bone, and a sturdy bat chew toy.

That's all for now!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Ponies Ponies Ponies!! Part 1

If you didn't know it already, horses are pretty much drugs to girls. At least some girls. Specifically, me.

Horses are something I keep coming back to and the only reason I can figure out is that there must be something inherently narcotic about them.

As a little girl I adored them, and refused to give up on loving them even when I figured out that my toys and storybooks had lied about them: horses were not magical, loyal best friends but real, live, instinct driven animals.
As a young adult I was committed to them. I bought my own horse. I stuck through learning how to raise and train her. I worked at a barn and I became a competent horseperson, trainer's assistant, and instructor.
As a grown up I'm seeking to make it up to them. I betrayed them (I moved away from the barn and sold my horse) and I owe them. But most importantly, I miss them.

This Saturday I'm going to visit HorseNet Horse Rescue in Maryland. Partly because I miss horses, and partly because I feel like I need to do a penance for the horse life I gave up.

But mostly because these guys are super cute:

I can't help it. I'm a junky.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Friday, September 3, 2010

Addiction + Addiction = Blog Post

We've established that I'm a Halloween junkie. It's also pretty well documented that I'm a nerd for pet-related things. Put the two addictions together, and it's a whole obsession in itself.

I swore I wouldn't get anything before October, but I didn't want to risk something being SOLD OUT. So I caved.

I visited not one, but TWO Petsmarts today to check out their Halloween swag. One shop had an abbreviated selected, but the other was pretty well stocked. I have to say, I'm pretty proud of my restraint. I only purchased one item there today. But I have to admit the restraint was fueled a bit by being overwhelmed by selection. So many great toys! I have to space out the Halloween bounty.

I came away with this:

Dog treats! They had another variety where instead of bat cookies they had pumpkin cookies, but these were my favorite. The ingredients are all natural. The cashier at check out admitted that the manager had them try one of these cookies and they were palatable, though not at all sugary like a human cookie.

The surprise find of the day, though, was at Old Navy. We stopped in on a whim and I--like a blood hound--sniffed out their Halloween products promptly. Imagine my delight when I found these:

Sort of a holy grail. Halloween pet toys, cute design, that glow-in-the-dark. Jackpot! The plush skeleton guy is too cute, and the bone glows entirely and has BATS on it. It's like they read my mind.

A side note: I have a dog and a bird. I've always loved the wonderous variety of toys and THINGS for dogs, but I've always wondered why birds and small mammals get the shaft. Where are the Halloween bird toys? The Trick-Or-Treat foodstuffs? Get on it, pet product producers of the world!

Of course, as I was treating my pets, I treated myself. Starbucks now has available their autumnal offerings. I had a tall Pumpkin Spice Latte today -- the first of the season. I also picked up an autumn designed travel mug.

I had held off getting one for ages because I knew Starbucks would come up with something cute and autumny and I wasn't disappointed. YOINK.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

I (heart) Halloween

I'll admit it. It's a little ridiculous that I start thinking about Halloween in July. But to be fair, I have to SUPPRESS thinking about Halloween until then. And to my credit I try not to talk TOO much about Halloween until September.

I love Halloween and that's all there is to it.

One of my favorite games is checking to see who puts their Halloween stuff out first.

The winner since I started playing this game has always been Michael's Arts and Crafts. They usually put their stuff out right after the 4th of July. To tide myself over I get something AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.

This year I came out with a grow-a-creature (black cat and ghost).

The runner up this year was Bath and Body Works. They have a whole line of Halloween and Autumn inspired scents. I'm still sad they no longer carry the 3 in 1 Pumpkin Pie product. But their other pumpkin-smelly stuff are pretty good.

To reward them, I had to buy something, of course.

Halloween themed hand sanitizer. Comes in five scents!

Petsmart is pretty prompt with their Halloween items, but it takes a while to get it all out there. Target is the real torture. They almost always have GREAT stuff, and they are almost always the LAST place to put stuff out.

Of course watching the influx of items is pretty fun, too. Visiting CVS and Rite Aide and other convenience-type stores and watching their seasonal aisle grow is a treat. This weekend I HAD to snag these:

Whitman's Chocolate Sampler - Halloween Cat.

Pez's Glow-In-The-Dark Halloween Bat Dispenser

I love the the Cat design on the chocolate assortment. There were other packaging designs, but the black cat in the witches's hat and the skull collar was too cute.

The Pez dispenser was a must have. I'm a sucker for anything glow-in-the-dark and I'm a big fan of bats. I was especially delighted by the detail of the bat head.

I can't wait for more things to hit the shelves.