Horse Drawn Wagons via Traveller Dave

I’m currently working on a drool-worthy, eye-candy Fantasy pick of Gypsy Horses from all over. Until that’s ready, I thought I’d share a site I found recently. These are photos of horse drawn wagons from a collection by Traveller Dave.

When asked for permission to use his photos, Dave ended his reply with this:

For those who live in houses, it’s a romantic lifestyle…but day to day reality is very different & using modern roads amongst thousands of intolerant stupid car drivers is always a risk !!

cheers

dave

Thanks Dave. Keep on truckin’ :)

Please visit Dave’s site for loads more pics. Links at bottom of post.

Traveller Homes:
Horsedrawn wagons page:
Traveller Dave:
Normally I would have more organic links, and links from each picture to its url of origin, but Blogger is giving me some trouble. Hey, Blogger? You ever hear the phrase “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”?
It wasn’t broken. Stop trying to fix it! Argh.
xo,
Heidi

Arizona Haboob

Have you ever seen a Haboob?

If you’ve watched the movie Hidalgo, you’ve seen a Haboob. There’s a scene where they have to outrun a huge dust storm. I mean HUGE. You may have been thinking, “Wow,  great special effects – that can’t be real.”
While the special effects were spectacular, I can guarantee you, storms like that are real. I saw it happen last week.
This is what it looked like:
This storm was over 60 miles wide, and reached a height of 3,000 feet. It engulfed the entire Phoenix metropolitan area, otherwise known as The Valley of the Sun. My oldest son and I were out running errands at the time it hit, and as it approached us, the cloud looked like something out of a sci-fi movie, a huge black monster eating everything in its path.
While haboobs are not uncommon for this part of the world, they aren’t frequent, and as many Valley dwellers have remarked, never this huge. Most people I’ve spoken to said that they’ve never seen a dust storm of this magnitude before. The other strange thing about this one was the behavior of the storm.
Usually when you see an enormous wall of dust move across the desert, it is accompanied by fierce, gusty winds that make you feel as if you will blow over. First the wind, then the dust, blowing hard. Then there will be a strong downpour, dumping several inches of rain in a rather short period of time. And the before you know it the clouds are gone, the desert has been scrubbed clean, and everything has this wonderful damp woodsy-deserty smell.
And there will be a puddle in front of our house about the size of Lake Michigan. This is all normal behavior for Arizona monsoons.
But this storm had the creepy, eerie factor of just…hanging there. The wind stopped, and with minimal rain, the dust didn’t have anywhere to go. It was like fog, only dry and gritty, and for days afterward, everything was coated in a fine powder.
The haboob reminded me of a movie I once saw about the dust bowl days, and in the film, this woman literally goes crazy because everything in her house is covered in dust; she opens the cupboard to get the dishes, and dust just pours out; there’s dust piled up in the corners of the room, drifts of it.
And while our house didn’t look quite that bad, it sure wasn’t pretty. Especially when you throw in dog hair dust bunnies big enough to build a new dog…Am I the only one who hates doing housework? I didn’t think so.
And sometimes during weather like this I look out at my poor little British equines.
Gypsy horses certainly weren’t made for the dry, dusty, dirty desert. One of these days when I win the lottery :) I’ll have a summer place with lush green pastures for them to frolic and skip in, with daisies in their hair. Until then, they’ll just have to suffer through it like the rest of us.
I mean, a few months of unbearable heat is better than snow, windchill and below freezing temperatures, right?
Right?

What’s in a Name? Part II; Equine edition

Read Part I Here.
Chroicoragh and Siofra came to me already named, and I loved both – feminine, fitting, and Irish Gaelic. Chroicoragh was named after her mother, Clononeen Chroicoragh:

Chroi was born in Ireland and came to the US on an airplane when she was six months old. Quite an education for a weanling, and maybe that’s why she’s so smart.

It’s amazing how a sweet little baby:
Can morph into a full-grown, beautiful horse:
(yes, it’s the same horse!
Many people will change a horse’s name upon taking ownership. Your “Wildfire” could be someone else’s “Rusty.” This happened with our colt. I thought and contemplated and researched and stewed for days, trying to come up with the perfect name, and then I figured it out: Arthur. I absolutely loved it; classic, masculine, regal – heck, Arthurian. And it just happened to be my dad’s name. Here’s the little stinker:
He was the cutest thing – such a chunky monkey, and the wooliest little horse you ever saw. I can’t wait to see pictures of him as he matures. He will be a fantastic stallion, lots of flash and attitude. The gal who bought Arthur is in east Texas, and changed his name to “Aubie,” after the University of Auburn mascot. Some people think knights and legends, others think sports. But that’s a prime example of names and meanings, and another of the many the differences between people.
Names are a popular topic among writers as well. When you have a story to tell, the characters involved have to be compelling; someone you reader can relate to, and a name can really help the character connect to the reader’s heart.
Here’s a few that come to mind: Holden Caulfield, Scout Finch, Elizabeth Bennett, Dorothy Gale, Bilbo Baggins, Harry Potter, Scarlett O’Hara, Sherlock Holmes, Lucy Pevensie, Jay Gatsby, Jane Eyre, Ebeneezer Scrooge (Does it get any better than that? Ebeneezer Scrooge?) Tell me there’s not one character in that list that you didn’t connect with somehow. And I would bet anyone reading this list could come up with at least ten more.
In writing my story, I have to say I was lucky when it came to my lead character’s name, because her name and the idea for the story happened at the same time. It just came to me all at once, like a lightning bolt. The side characters have been even more fun to create, and when the name comes, it helps form the image of the person in my mind. As I write, I see them; their expressions and reactions, how they walk.
I’m like a little spy, up in the sky of their world watching it all unfold, and writing it down. It’s actually a lot of fun. The hard part is when it gets foggy and you can’t see what’s going to happen next. Some people call it writer’s block. To me, it’s just a fog, a slight mist perhaps, that I just can’t see through quite yet.
But the naming of anything, whether it be babies, horses or fictional characters, is something that deserves a fair amount of thought and consideration. I usually have a pretty good idea of at least a few names to try. But this time around I was stumped. What to name this little creature?
For some reason I was drawn to floral names (Daisy, Blossom, Buttercup) but none of them fit. She’s very feminine – leggy and graceful, and sweet. I’d always liked the name Serafina, but it just seemed a bit much. Besides, Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner stole it. I even thought of Violet, since both of her eyes are blue, but the Afflecks stole that one, too. Buggars.
I also like the idea of sticking with an Irish name, but I figured it’s enough to have one difficult-to-pronounce, non-phonetical name. I have always included a pronunciation hint for Chroicoragh’s name (Cree-Core-ah), because it is a very unusual name, and because I can’t stand it when I don’t know how to pronounce something. J.K. Rowling drove me crazy with Hermione until she finally gave us a clue on how to say it: Her-my-o-nee.
People can get kind of carried away with the whole Gaelic thing, though. Don’t get me wrong – I LOVE it. I love all things Celtic. But for these purposes, it’s a little like salt. A bit of it is fine, for flavor, but too much is just overkill. I’ve seen breeder pages where every horse’s name is some sort of ancient medieval spelling of a name that no one has any clue how to say, and then they don’t even give you a pronunciation for it. Drives me crazy. Sjkjdhefb – there’s my horse’s name. It’s pronounced “Jim.”
Okay, why not just call him Jim?
So, in naming our newest filly, I wanted Irish, but not too crazy with the spelling, a nature name, and something feminine. When I knew Serafina wouldn’t work, and I found the name Fina at namenerds.com, I knew we’d found our name. Irish for vine, it’s different enough without sounding stupid, and easy to pronounce. Done.
So, Fina it is. I think it suits her, don’t you?
 
Update March 2012: Fina has been sold and her new owners call her “Athena.”
However, one of the benefits of registering your horse is that her name will officially remain
WestCelt Fina.
If you or someone you know is on the hunt for a name, here are a few sites I found helpful:
http://www.namenerds.com – Irish, Welsh, Scottish, and other unique names.
http://www.babynames.com/character-names.php – A great page from babynames.com, on naming fictional characters.
An interesting article Concerning the name Fiona
Just for fun:
And, Finally, when doing all of this searching around for names and their meanings, I came across this YouTube video of a band called Late Night Alumni performing their song, “What’s in a Name?” The singer has such a beautiful voice, and the topic was so fitting, I thought I’d share it with you. I think artists nowadays need all the help they can get, when trying to get the word out.
Enjoy:

Oh, Baby!

Here she is, folks! 
Meet Fina! 
I thought I was prepared, but this little stinker decided to surprise us. I’d been checking Chroi every night, all through the night for a week to make sure we wouldn’t miss the big event. Then on Tuesday, she started showing more promising signs. The area around her tail became soft, almost jelly-like, and she began “waxing.” Waxing occurs when droplets of colostrum dry on the udders and form a bit of a build-up, like wax dripping from a candle. By Wednesday evening, milk was flowing pretty steadily from her udders. Some mares don’t wax at all, and some will wax up to a month prior to foaling.
But when Chroi had Keira, she waxed the day before, and boom! Foal:
The night Keira was born
So Wednesday night, I didn’t sleep much, waiting for this new baby. I’d get up, put my slippers on, wander out to the barn in my jammies, peer over the fence, and… nothing. Then Thursday morning when I went out to feed, Chroi was just standing out in her stall as usual, waiting for her breakfast, calm as can be, with that baby still securely inside her big round belly. So I threw some flakes of hay to her & Keira and headed off to a doctor’s appointment with my son.
While we were gone, my neighbor went to check on Chroi and left a message on my cell phone: “You’ve got a drop-dead gorgeous filly over here! She’s black and white and has two blue eyes.”
So we rushed home, and this face greeted us:
She had just stood up.
What’s amazing to me is how, minutes after being born, a new foal will get up and immediately begin the process of trying to nurse.
She uses her whiskery little muzzle, trying to find the right spot…
Not quite…
wrong end…
A little help from Mom…
Success!
Her curly hair.
She’s all legs.
Newborn horses, like newborn babies, are a little gawky and awkward at first. But they get all cute and fluffy in a few days.
We’re so happy to welcome our newest family member!
I think she takes after her dad, Lenny.

The Home Stretch

It’s a little after 1:00 AM, and I just went and checked on Chroi. She’s not due for another eight days, but I figure we’re in the home stretch. She could deliver early, and there’s a storm front coming in from California tonight. Arthur and Keira were both born during a rainstorm, so I’m paying close attention to her as the barometer drops.

But she looks OK, I think she’s still got some time left. Although, she is showing that she’s more uncomfortable – shifting her weight, and laying down to nap. And she’s quite bitchy with Keira, too, chasing her off and not wanting anyone to mess with her.

Oh I remember those days! When I was pregnant with my first, by the end of the term, I was so miserable; puffy with water weight, my feet were so swollen that none of my shoes would fit; the skin on my belly pulled so tight I thought it would pop, and no matter how hard I tried I could not get comfortable. Like sleeping on top of a watermelon. I finally took to walking around the mall, for miles it seemed, just to kick-start my labor and get it all over with. Little did I know it was the last time I would ever have peace and quiet.
Just kidding. Peace and quiet is highly overrated, I’m sure.

But I can relate to the crabbiness. When you’re fat, puffy, and uncomfortably carrying a watermelon in your belly, you can get a little crabby. Keira better look out, ’cause Mama’s not having any of it. Chroi’s watermelon is more like one of those giant squash-pumpkins you see at the fair in the bed of a pickup truck.

Ugh. Poor thing.

Midweek Mish Mash

Well, folks, I have a few different things I want to let you know about, so I’m giving you a Wednesday quickie! ;)

1. Books!

First, I have to do some friendly promotion. My friend and mentor, Deb Ledford, has just released her second novel in a series.
Deb was one of the first people to encourage me to write – not only that, but to take it seriously, and to treat my writing professionally. I am indebted to her for her guidance and enthusiasm regarding all aspects of my writing, as are the other members of the Scottsdale Writer’s Group, of which she is the moderator.
I was honored to have been a part of Deb’s editing team, and proud to see my mentor reach her goal of publication. And now, as a cherry on top of her sundae, not only is she published, but has been honored with an award nomination! For anyone out there who likes a good, tight mystery that keeps you up at night turning pages, please take a look at Staccato and Snare, by Deborah J. Ledford, available through AmazonKindle, and Second Wind Publishing.
The first, Staccato, is a thriller set in the Smoky Mountains of North Carolina, and follows a piano prodigy as he pieces together the clues to find his girlfriend’s killer, and the deputy who is trying to solve the case.

“Deborah J Ledford’s thriller tears through mountains and music with a steady rhythm in perfect time with the maestro Alexander’s music room metronome … as readers turn STACCATO’s pages, quickly, crisply, sharply throughout Ledford’s Toccata-like virtuoso performance.”

    ~ Malcolm R. Campbell, 5 star review: “Knight of Words” Book Reviews

The second book, Snare, follows the same deputy, Stephen Hawk, as he helps a Native American pop star find the person who is trying to kill her. Snare has been nominated for the Hillerman Sky award:

“Performed against the backdrop of the picturesque Great Smoky Mountains of North Carolina, and New Mexico’s mysterious Taos Pueblo Indian reservation, SNARE is a thriller fans of Tony Hillerman will appreciate.”

“White-knuckle suspense at an electrifying pulse.” ~ Suspense Magazine

“Deborah Ledford’s expertly crafted SNARE is a gripping story of the price of fame and the haunting and deadly power of long buried secrets. It’s also a valentine to the landscape and people of New Mexico’s Taos Pueblo. A terrific read.”

        ~ Dianne Emley, L.A. Times bestselling author of Love Kills

They are both great reads and I highly recommend Staccato and Snare for you and the readers in your life.
In today’s tumultuous publishing environment, getting a book sold is more difficult than ever. Please support up-and-coming authors. I have provided a link to published friends on my left sidebar.
Disclosure – I receive nothing for promoting Deb’s books, other than good karma.
2. Update!
Second I wanted to give you an update on Chroi’s icky dermatitis condition. It had gotten to the point to where it was bothering her so bad that she was kicking her foot on the ground, and hurt herself. I think she bruised her hoof. Yes, that can happen. None of the idiot home remedies that I tried worked, and the itchiness and scabs just got worse. So the vet came out, and his recommendation, which I had feared, was to clip her feathers.

I know. Ugh.
So here’s what a Gypsy Horse looks like with shaved legs:

who wears short shorts?
Awww.
Luckily we just had to clip the feathers on her hind legs because she didn’t have any issue on the front legs. In addition to clipping, I have to wash her legs with a prescription-grade anti-fungal shampoo, and gave her antibiotics twice a day for five days. If any of you ever have to give your horse medication, here’s a good method:
  • dissolve the tablets in a couple tablespoons of water,
  • mix with a couple handfuls of sweet feed (oats and grains mixed with molasses)
to make it extra yummy, follow Mary Poppins’ advice, and (see below)
  • add a generous spoonful of brown sugar.
For Chroi, this worked so much better than trying to force the medicine down her throat – she actually loved it!

 

So she’s feeling much better, her infection is clearing up and even though she’s lost some feather, it will grow back. And she still looks pretty.
3. Baby Watch!

Which brings us to our next subject: BABY!!

 Chroi is due to foal in two weeks! She’s getting super fat, uh, I mean, great with child. As we get closer to the delivery day, her body shows signs that she will be ready:
  • Udder filling up with milk (already happening)
  • “waxing” of the teats, which just means some of the milk is starting to flow.
  • softening of the pelvis, right above the tail
  • slight decrease in appetite, which is a big one, especially for a pig like Chroi. When she’s not hungry, I know something’s going on!

I will keep you posted. Last time we had babies, they were both born during a rain storm, so we will also be keeping an eye on the weather.

Now, I just have to think of a name… any suggestions?

***

Chroicoragh is a perfect example of how “a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down.” I loved Mary Poppins as a kid. We had the soundtrack on vinyl, and used to sing along to it all the time. I miss the days when Disney just wanted to put out great films. And I mean how can you top Julie Andrews? She’s the best. Enjoy!

Training Day

I was contacted recently by some folks from Canada who were in Arizona for a winter break. They’d never seen Gypsy Horses before, and were eager to come by and see our girls. We had a very nice visit – I mean, have you ever met a Canadian you didn’t like? :)

I let Keira out of her stall, to let our visitors watch her trotting and running around the yard like she usually does, but she was so interested in our visitors that all she did was go from one to the other, sniffing, getting scratched, and munching carrots.

So I thought we’d go over to the round pen to maybe show off a little, and I let one of the guys, David, try her out. This was the first time she’d ever lunged off a line (I usually work with her at liberty in the round pen), and she did great! She was so curious, and motivated to please. It’s so fun to work with your own horses, but such a pleasure to be able to observe from the outside and see how they interact with others. I was so proud of her!

Thanks to George, Mary, David and Gabby for coming by, for the lesson, and sharing the video with me.