Thursday, January 22, 2015

Pony verses Horse: What's better for my child?


Finding a hobby that the entire family enjoys can be difficult.

And no, staring at the television does not count.

Brock would love it if the entire family spent our free time at SASS (Single Action Shooting Society) events. I vetoed that immediately. I don't think spending my Saturdays hanging out with old, handle-bar mustached men dressed in old west garb, shooting guns around my kids sounds like a dreamy day. CALL ME CRAZY. (Sorry to all my SASS readers, I'm sure you're not actually as old as you appear.)

Thing 1 would love it if the entire family traveled by airplane to all of the amusement parks in the U.S. and bought every toy ever made! Sorry buddy. No.

Thing 2 would love our hobby to be playdates, playdates and more playdates with his buddies. So sweet, that one. All I can say is that there is a reason I only had two children and never became a teacher- it's because two children is my maximum for a drug-free existence.

And since no one shares my desire to spend all of their free time sitting quietly, sipping antioxidants and reading, I picked horses.

So we have decided that our family "hobby" is horses!



In all seriousness, Brock and I initially bonded over our mutual love of horses. He owned two spoiled, sour things (one couldn't be bridled and the other couldn't be ridden- SUPER NEAT) and I had a perfect, 3 year old named Gus. Did I mention he was perfect? And handsome.

Gus-being handsome- and me in South Dakota.


Now that the kids are out of diapers and into learning and doing stuff without the need for 435 bulky baby accouterments, we have definitely picked back up on the horses.

Last summer, after riding three times every week, both boys progressed considerably with their horsemanship. We ended the summer by taking a family horse camping vacation in South Dakota. While we all had a really good time, I couldn't help but think that it would have been better (as in, we could have kept up with the group instead of falling behind and keeping pace with snails) if the boys would have been riding full sized horses instead of short-legged ponies. With the next summer coming up, Brock and I need to make some big decisions about what our family hobby looks like. By that, I mean, do we buy the boys horses or keep them on ponies?

What is a better fit for my children?
What is the best fit for our family?




Any horse parent has been confronted with this question. Horses? Or ponies?
When in doubt, make a list. Here are my lists of general* pros and cons for ponies verses horses.

* Of course every animal is unique and different, but I am generalizing for the sake of ease. Plus, stereotyping is fun and a real time-saver! 

PONY PROS:



  1. Considerably cheaper to feed. Horses need to consume 2-5% of their body weight in forage. Our 16hh horses weigh approximately 1,200 pounds, requiring a minimum of 24 pounds of  hay per day, per horse. My horses are not easy keepers and require more than that to look healthy. In essence, we feed 1.5 bales of hay total per day to the two horses (the currents bales we buy weigh approximately 55 pounds and cost $8.50 PER BALE= ~$383/month in hay alone for two horses). This does not include grain, supplements, medicine, veterinary or farrier costs. Ponies weigh half of that, and the feed is substantially less because they are the ultimate "easy keepers"- in fact, we have to be careful not to overfeed our ponies because they both have a history of founder. 
  2. Less expensive to keep in general (vet and farrier expenses- Brock does all their hoof work).
  3. Less manure to clean= less trips I take to the chiropractor!
  4. Lower height puts children closer to the ground when, not if, the child falls.
  5. Ridiculously adorable, can be sweet (DUKE) and easy to groom.
  6. Builds child's confidence with grooming, saddling and mounting. Thing 1 can catch, groom and saddle his pony all by himself.
  7. Fluffy. So very fluffy!
  8. Those tiny ears. Super cute! OMG! THEY'RE SO ITTY BITTY!
  9. Live long time. Very long time. We had two ponies in their 40's. Duke is 28. 
Duke after he rubbed his face into the snow.


PONY CONS:


  1. Slower walk- difficult to keep them paced with horses.
  2. Bumpier trot (Thing 2 always complains of tummy aches when he rides).
  3. Low height puts children at higher risk of being kicked by other horses.
  4. Burro-like stubbornness.
  5. Hard to lead, Hard to rein.
  6. Bad pony-tude (CLYDE).
  7. Can be frustrating for kids.


HORSE PROS:


  1. Often well-mannered.
  2. Easy to rein.
  3. Walks at a pace of other horses.
  4. High off ground, better for trail riding through creeks and over rough terrain.
  5. Smoother gaits.
  6. Safer around other horses.
  7. Can loan out to my adult friends.
  8. Can personally ride and correct attitude, if needed.


HORSE CONS:
  1. Eats more.
  2. Poops more.
  3. Costs more in every way.
  4. Higher off ground, making inevitable falls more dangerous.
  5. Not as adorable as a pony.
  6. Bigger, which can be more dangerous for little people.
  7. Bombproof, proven trustworthy kid horses are often elderly, requiring expensive specialty care and feed.


I think the answer is clear: I still have no freaking idea.

I like to include the kids on our big discussions and decisions, so I asked Thing 2 for his opinion. He said he wants to ride Duke around the backyard and a big horse on the trail. So it seems the solution is clear: HAVE ALL OF THE THINGS!

It's the same answer to all of my problems in life. MORE MONEY. Then we can keep ponies for fun in the backyard and for petting and adoring purposes, and get horses for trail riding. Bam! Thing 2 is so smart. I'm totally letting him do my taxes this year.

What would you do?

Those of you who say "Get a different hobby" are disqualified. Horses are in our blood- there's no changing that fact. It's like me insisting that I'm not a mouthy smartass.

For those of you in the same boat, good luck with your decision!

Peace, Love and Money Trees,
Johi










Saturday, January 3, 2015

New post, old sarcasm

I always love a fresh start. I'm the dork who gets excited about a new notebook and a fresh pack of pens (Precise rolling ball fine point, to be exact). I love the challenge of a blank canvas or an empty room. The opportunities are unlimited.

It's a New Year, which is a great time for new beginnings. I'm restarting today because, three days into this New Year, I've already destroyed 80% of my original goals and resolutions.  Plus I've had my fragile little feelings hurt a few too many times already. So I'm officially declaring today a do-over!



That's the beauty of new days- every morning is a clean slate, a blank canvas, an unused notebook. Too bad I'm not a morning person.

When I reflect on my recent time spent with my children, husband, and four pets in the close, very close, way too close confines of our tiny house, I no longer feel guilt for having peppermint crunch Junior Mints and red wine for lunch today.

I meant to say that I have cherished every single moment of 2015's forced togetherness, such as... 

  • Listening to my children's toy-crazed, pent-up manic play, which led to the inevitable shrieks of pain from the following fall, crash, tumble and head bump. Delightful! 
  • The constant re-positioning and throwing away of my thrashed Christmas decorations after the kitten decided to hone his attack skills. Memorable!
  • The never-ending employment of the broom, paper towels and Clorox clean-up wipes. Energizing! 
  • The ear-drum shattering barking of my dogs and that special moment yesterday when Black Dog ran into the street to yap at the police officer. Filled with pride!
  • Forcing the children into 400 layers of winter gear and out of the house for outdoor time which affords me to opportunity to listen to incessant whining about being tired and cold. Fantastical!

Yeah. Those moments are the ones that really keep me going when times get rough.

The grand finale 'treasured moment' was last night after I had spent over an hour cooking a delicious dinner that both kids refused to eat because they were too busy informing me that I was "mean". That precious moment allowed me the opportunity to walk silently away from the table with tears in my eyes, leaving behind the dirty dishes and the chaos of bedtime. I simply grabbed my book, closed the door of my bedroom and proceeded to read- ALONE- something I truly do enjoy.

So far the only real thing I've accomplished this year is cleaning my house- a daunting task not to be ignored. Of course I have repeated this task every day, as the people and animals that share my space do not share my desire for cleanliness.

Fuck it. January is overrated. Did I mention how cold it has been here? Let's just blanket statement it with "stupid cold". At least it snowed and snow is pretty. Who wants to build a snowman?

Today, watching the white glitter swirl outside my window, I am truly enjoying my home. Mostly because no one else is here. You see, today, for the second time in 15 days since Christmas Break, I am momentarily alone. Oh how I need this quiet serenity. In this moment, I vow to shrug off the bitterness of repeating myself nonstop to deaf ears. I vow to remove myself from the last few days of failure and frustration. This day, this hour, this moment is a gift. This brief bout of silence in my home is a freaking miracle.

*Cue Black Dog barking..

In honor of fresh starts, I have decided to make a new lists of new goals and resolutions for 2015; the first one is a bit lofty, the second is more attainable. I figure I will start working on these things once I finish this glass of wine. Or maybe tomorrow. I haven't yet decided.

Johi's Loftier Resolutions for 2015
1. I resolve to become a better writer, photographer and illustrator.
2. I resolve to be nice(r).
3. I resolve to be a better wife, friend and mother.
4, I resolve to talk and think less about people and more about ideas and aspirations.
5. I resolve to improve my horsemanship skills, my bow hunting skills and my ninja skills. (only one of these is true- you pick)
6. I resolve to accept love, reflect love and be love.

Johi's More Realistic Resolutions of 2015
7. I resolve to publish my children's book.
8. I resolve to properly savor my wine and food.
9. I resolve to sleep more.
10. I resolve to increase water and decrease sugar intake.
11. I resolve to have less facebook and more face time.
12. I resolve to reread the entire Outlander series (I'm already on book 3 of 7, so far so good).
13. I resolve to exaggerate and use sarcasm less, unless, of course, the story calls for it or something is really ridiculous.
14. I resolve to ignore the old urge to constantly criticize myself.
15. I resolve to repel the bad and attract the good- as in circumstances and people.


So there it is. Now the internet can hold me accountable.

And more barking. Crap. The husband has returned with the Things. Serenity, it was nice knowing you.

I mean, OH JOY! My family has returned! It's been so long since I've seen them! Almost an entire hour! And with that, # 13 is already shot to hell.

I just heard Thing 2 say to his father, "You're mean!"
It shouldn't make me feel better, but it does. Down with #2.

On a final and serious note, I have some wishes for you, my fabulous readers:
May 2015 fill you with more moments of true happiness and joy than you can even process. 
May you be blessed with health, wealth, peace and love. 
May you reach your goals and realize your potential is greater than you ever imagined.  
And because I'm actively practicing #'s 6, 14 and 15,  I hope it does the same for me, too. 

Peace, Love and New Notebooks,
Johi