Monday, November 19, 2012

Everyone keeps telling me how fast these toddler years go by.  I don't know about the toddler years yet, but the toddler days are slipping away and I already find myself forgetting details that I never thought I would!! 
I can't remember the first time Ryder started saying "Thank you" without being prompted, but he does! No, not all the time, but he does and it makes me sooo proud every time!!  His manners are really developing. More than once now, I've heard him say, "Excuse me, Scout" to the dog when he passes by her!  Infact, Ryder has been interacting even more and more with Scout. I can't remember the first morning, he sat down to "read" his book to Scout, but now he does it all the time while he waits for me to get ready for work.  I can't remember when he got strong enough to hold the rope for more than one second when playing tug with, Scout, but he does all the time now!  The first time he fiigured out how to wrestle with her, he got down on all fours and started head butting Scout's front legs, Scout started swatting at him with her front legs and belly laughs emerged from Ryder's cute little mouth!!!
I can't remember what day that was, but I know they wrestled like that again tonight!!  Sooo adorable!
I have no recollection of when Ryder first became obsessed with busses, mostly school busses, but I swear it's been almost a year! His favorite things to play with are his busses and his animals. Lately he has been filling his busses with his animals, his horses, goats, sheep and cows. He wants them to "drive" and to "ride." He gets quite upset, when they won't all fit in his big bus. He loves his busses so much that they are the first thing he grabs to play with when he wakes up in the morning, after he comes downstairs and the first thing he grabs when we come in the door at the end of the day. I so badly want to play with him, but when he is playing with his busses, he is so happy all by himself that I hate to interrupt. Instead, I catch myself just watching him, smiling at how he has really started using his imagination.
 Every now and then Ryder will play with some of his toys that are not busses.

He has also become very partial to this tuque, handed down to him by our good friend, Bailey.

This bus is his fav!!!
I don't remember when Ryder's other obsession, horses, started, but I know it started with our visits to Dirt.  Ryder wakes up in the morning, talking about Dirt, or busses, talking about horses or busses and goes to bed talking horses and busses!  Ryder has recently started pretending to feed his horse (actually a purple unicorn) treats. He even brushes his "horse" with Scout's brush.  Sooo cute to see him, do with his stuffie, what we do with Dirt at the farm. 

Yep, he feeds his horsie "treats" from Scout's bowls.
I am happy to be living in the moment, and I know I can't write everything down and I can't take pictures of everything, but some things I can!

 Nic's latest visit was a fun one to remember!

 Another memory: making Christmas ornament "cookies" with Auntie.
I know this winter is going to be full of "firsts" and the joys of discovering things for the first time. I am excited to make all kinds of unforgettable memories with my little cutie!!

Kiss your babies, count your blessings and lock those memories into your heart!

Sunday, November 11, 2012


Friday, I had to say good-bye to one of the best friends I have ever had.  He was old, for a horse, 32 years, but that didn't make it any easier to let him go.  I can't remember how old I was when I got Shadow, but I must have been 12ish.  We rode together through the innocence of youth, the turbulence of adolescence and the caos of young adulthood.  Shadow knew all of my secrets, all of my dreams and all of my hopes.  Shadow had been there for me when I cried, when I laughed, when I made knew friends, found love, lost love and just needed to be alone. 
He was the horse of my dreams, black, beautiful and full of kindness.  He didn't have the most "spirit" of any horse I've ever known, no, that wasn't Shadow. He was slow, some might say lazy, unassuming and quiet.  He made me work for every lope, every gallop, every lap of every arena, but I wouldn't have had him any other way!!  We often compared his personality to that of Eyeore from Winnie the Pooh.  It was his super laid back/lazy side though, that made him sooo reliable, the horse everyone could ride.  I can't even count how many people had their first horse ride on Shadow's back. I can't count how many people's confidence and trust in horses was restored after spending half an hour riding Shadow through a wide open hay field.  Actually, riding through wide open hay fields was our favorite thing.  Shadow wasn't much for mountain riding.  Too much work, too clausterphobic, not his thing.  Get him in a hay field though and if you knew what to look for, you could feel him come alive.  He'd pick up a gallop a little easier for me when I asked him to run between the rows of mowed hay.  He'd pick up speed happily at the bottom of every hill, relishing the thrill of a gallop to the top.  Sometimes we'd go for a "hay field" ride with friends, or with Mom, Aim and Nic. Sometimes, we'd ride alone and just talk. Sometimes I'd take someone behind me, for a ride on Shadow, double.  Sometimes, just Nic and I would go and we'd sing and sing and sing at the top of our lungs, watching the horse's ears flicker back and forth listening to us.  Those memories are my favorite!  But there are sooo many. 

We showed through 4-H together.  He was my only 4-H horse from the time I was 12 until 21.  We were a team, he and I.  We started off pretty rough around the edges, but by the time our show career was done, we were not only showing in 4-H, we showed both hunter and western at open shows and Class A Arabian shows.  (Shadow was anglo-arab.)  Nic and Shadow even won a championship at Region 17 riding him side saddle. 
In his prime, he was absolutely beautiful!! This is a pic of us, lined up after a Western Pleasure class.  I have carried this picture around in my wallet since the day I got it from the photographer and I will continue to even now.  In my eyes, there was never a more handsome horse and there never will be.  This is my most favorite picture of him ever!!!
Most of my Shadow pictures are at Mom's house in albums.  Most of our memories together happened before there was such a thing as digital photography. I had to take a picture of this picture just so I could post it.  

Once I left for University, I joined a rodeo club and not wanting to miss out, but not having any rodeo experience at all, I drug Shadow along as my pole bending horse.  We had done quite a few gymcanas in our day and though we were never really fast, we were precise.  I figured pole bending was our best shot at not looking totally ridiculous! Needless to say, our rodeo career together wasn't as successful as out show career, but Shadow was the kind of horse you could try anything with.  Upon his back, I was never embarrassed or never felt out of place...not even among all of those long haired blond girls on their giant quarter horses.  Shadow and I were a team, sometimes we were winners and sometimes we were losers, but we were always in it together!!!

After University, I had the rodeo bug. I really wanted to rope.  Shadow was not big enough for this adventure, but I did take him to some arenas and chased around some steers just to get a feel for it.  I moved him to Sylvan Lake with me when I got my first job, even though, by then I also had a rope horse.  I could not imagine NOT having Shadow with me!!  It wasn't long after I moved to Sylvan that I met the Kentz Family.  They had just moved to an acreage and were just getting into horses.  They wanted to know if I could give them riding lessons.  Bailey was 4 years old when she started riding Shadow and Brooke was in grade 2.  He was their first horse ride, their first horse experience and eventually, he became their first horse.  A deal that involved one dollar and a promise that I would still be an "owner" of Shadow, being able to ride him, visit him and love him whenever I wanted, saw Shadow move from my place, to the Kentz Family acreage, AKA: Paradise! I continued to give them riding lessons, help them load him before each of their 4-H events, coach them through shows until they could do it all by themselves. Shadow was patient with them, teaching them everything they needed to know about owning a horse and in exchange, they gave him the best semi-retirement and eventually retirement home an old boy could ever ask for. I continued to visit him until the very end. I rode him every chance I got and I do not regret for one minute that I decided, when my life was too busy and too "roping" focused, to let the Kentz's love Shadow for me.  Connie became my best friend, Craig, and her kids are like nieces and nephews to me.  Shadow brought us together and I think that friendship might be the best thing he ever gave me!  My family and theirs have shared a lifetime of memories with the most amazing horse!!

I had always hoped I would have a child of my own one day, who might get to ride Shadow.  It looked for a long time like it might not happen (I didn't get to have children as young as I had hoped...) but it did! Ryder and I have been out to visit Shadow together a few times and Ryder did get to ride Shadow. Shadow got to see that finally all of my dreams had come true!! Having Ryder, sit on his back was an emotional moment for both of us.  Shadow knows how long I had hoped to be a Mamma and how desperately I wanted him to be alive to see it happen!! 

 The following pics were taken this summer
 This was not Ryder's first time meeting Shadow, but it was the first time he was able to walk up to him by himself.

 The most trustworthy horse in the world giving the most trusting boy in the world a ride.

Saying good bye to Shadow was not easy, but I am glad I got to be there to hold his "hand."  I had a few minutes alone with him "before" we shared a hug, some tears and a knowing in our hearts.  The actual "moment" was incredibly sad, but also peaceful.  Shadow went to sleep. His body remains at the Kentz homestead, but I know his spirit and his soul are up in heaven running free through endless hay fields!
It is impossible to write about Shadow and do him justice. I have 24 years worth of memories with him.  I could write forever and one day, I will write a perfectly fitting story about him, but tonight I just wanna close with my top ten memories of him right now, in no particular order....

1. Seeing him for the first time. I was a little kid. A black horse was my wish.  He was perfect....well perfect enough for me! :)
2. Riding him bareback...everywhere, all the time!
3. Going for rides with Nic (she on her own horse) singing out LOUD the whole time
4. Running through hay fields
5. Qualifying for the Arabian Region 17 Horse Show
6. Practicing the "Three Amigos" jumping over his butt from the ground...or a bucket.  We rarely made it successfully, but as long as he had a bucket of oats in front of him, Shadow would stand there all day and let us crash into his ass! :)
7. Riding under the old swing set, grabbing the top rail, swinging over it and landing back on Shadow's back!
8. Watching our boyfriends show off, by jumping all the way over Shadow.  They'd take a run for it and jump over his butt and clear over his head!  Again, as long as their was oats, he'd let us do anything!!
9. Riding him side saddle in my wedding dress to my first wedding (hey, I got the groom part wrong, but my ride was perfect! :)
10. Taking people for their first ride ever on Shadow.  I especially loved sharing him with kids he and I would give rides to whoever asked.

Rest in Peace, Shadow. You will never ever be forgotten.  Mom once said, "you will never have another horse like Shadow. You will never have the time or miles to put into another horse like the time and miles you have put into Shadow."  She was right.  Don't get me wrong, I love Dirt Face. He has been the perfect horse for me, for the time he has been in my life, but he is not and never will be, Shadow.

Kiss your babies, count your blessings and if you have a horse whose touched your life, hug him, love him and let him know how much better your life is because he is a part of it!

Sunday, November 4, 2012


Halloween!!! Phew! I survived the week of Halloween as a K-8 Teacher!! The anticipation of sugar is almost as crazy as the sugar high itself!!! Yikes!!! I will admit, that in order to keep up with the energy and excitement of my students, I had to indulge in plenty of sugar myself!!!
I do love the whole, Halloween experience, the dressing up, the candy, the spooky, the pumpkins and the black cats!!
This Halloween, Marty and I even got to dress up together for a Halloween party, something we love to do, but havn't done for a while.  I went with some friends as "The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" and Marty and his buddy, went as the guys from Duck Dynasty, the TV show. 

 One of the Turtles showed up late to the party, so she's not in this pic.

This year, we decided to take Ryder Trick or treating.  I figured we'd hit up a couple of the neighbour's houses and call it a night, but Ryder really got into it!! We had a friend and his little three year old daughter with us, so Ryder had a Trick or Treating expert to learn from. It didn't take him long to catch on. He'd always yell something on the porch at the door when Hayden did, though, I am pretty sure it wasn't Trick or treat!! He'd always say, "Thank you," though usually not until after the door was already shut and he'd scream if we had to empty his little pumpkin bucket a little so it wasn't so heavy.  He definitely knew there should be candy IN it!! We all bundled up as it was damn cold and foggy and damp that night, but we were all too excited to notice whether or not we were cold!  We lasted an hour, just doing our street.  I left a bowl of candy on our porch with a note saying, "take a few, but please leave some for those who come after you." I certainly was NOT gonna miss out on Ryder's first trick or treating adventure.  We hit up a few houses with bowls and notes on the porch too..not as fun as when someone opens the door, but I get it, those parents didn't want to miss out either!!! :)
 Just getting warmed up for the evening's events....putting stickers on my bucket

 Yep, there's a full snow suit on under that Lion costume!

 Got my bucket and I'm ready to go!!

 First, a warm, indoor, photo op with Hayden, the night's Trick or Treating expert.

 What? It get's better than a plastic handle? Candy, you say???

 Just heading out. Yep, Trick or Treating in Alberta, brrrrr

 Cutest little lion butt!

 October 31st, right? NOT December?? lol

 Trick or Treat!!!

 I got this!!!

 Nothin' like a little ride. That bucket gets kinda heavy!!

 Eating on the road!!!

As far as Ryder knows, there were only 2 suckers in his bucket. That's all he ate and that's all he's ever asked for!! Yummmy.  
So, whose eating the rest??? I'll never tell.....ha ha hah ha!

Kiss your babies, count your blessings and don't be afraid to enjoy a mini chocolate bar or two, or three, or.....