Monday, February 28, 2011

Stall Swap Drama

Oh, how I remember being naive. It was just last year, when I thought, "Jeeze, Young horses must be sooo much easier to tae care of!"

Insert Foot into Mouth Now.

The lovely Gray Mare has been mostly that, lovely. Maybe not very trained, and sometimes very directionally challenged, but mostly, lovely.  But she has not been a very good girl when it comes to being a neigh-bor.  Originally she lived next door to Mickey, the tenderfoot-OTTB baby, whom she enjoyed terrorizing. Mickey would try to drink out of his water bucket, then reel back in horror as he noticed a grey muzzle approaching him, with savage teeth bared!

Since Mickey being dehydrated was not a viable option, a horse home swap was in order.

Step 1. Give Gray Mare a mare neigh-bor.

This arrangment seemed just fine. Friendly Mare, the new neighbor, became quite infatuated with Gray Mare. So much so that we are now sure that Gray Mare is an Equal-Opportunity lover... Lonely Guy  and Friendly Mare were now Gray Mare's herd, and she was the boss. All was well in the world. 

Until Lonely Guy needed stall rest...
Then there was stall rest. Gray Mare is not a very restful neighbor. She enjoys cantering around in her 12x24' stall, especially at meal times. With poor Mr. Lonely Guy needing stall rest, he had plenty of excess energy to inspire Gray Mare to new heights of stall airs-above-the-ground.  I only needed one incident to have a good enough reason to move my Gray Mare, and it came last Thursday, when she was lame and miserable. Her hock was hot and puffy, and she was most displeased when I touched it. She was very displeased when I cold hosed it.  She was not upset when she got three days off, and lovely extra meals with yummy orange flavored powder. Once I was satisfied that it was only a bruise, and she was going to live, the move was clear.
Movin' on up, to the East Side!
So the dust has landed, and so has the Gray Mare. She now lives accross the aisle from her former home, next to an adoring gelding who cries for her when she is out working. She is just a heartbreaker, and she seems pretty happy with that.  Poor Lonely Guy is now, again, Lonely.  Really Friendly Mare keeps giving me sad looks, that say "Why did you move my girlfriend?? I love her!"   See you Next time on "As the Barn Turns..."

Sunday, February 20, 2011

And in other news... NASCAR

I love NASCAR.  No suprise to some, maybe to others. I thouroghly enjoyed today's Daytona 500, with a 20 yearold, who nobody had ever heard of before, winning the race. On the drive into work the other day, me and the boyfriend were discussing the differences between F1 and NASCAR. 

In NASCAR, for those of you who may not yet be indoctrinated,  the playing field is very level. Cars are tested, analyzed and made roughly equivalent. Specs are enforced, i.e, engine compression volume, aerodynamic profile, and violators are penalized.  Yes, monied teams have an advantage, and can squeeze out some extra performance, but NASCAR is the American Dream-  anyone can win, even a 20 year-old with Woods Brothers racing.

Now F1 is diferent. The car has to fit into a "box", with fixed dimensions, and it has to use a certain type of engne with a set compression volume. And that is where the similarities end. F1 teams put in millions of dollars to maximize their horsepower and minimize their aero profile, except of course in the corners, where they want to stick to the track with maximum down force.  FIA, F1's organizing body, does not regulate the cars beyond the original specs, so there are two tiers of teams: the rich(factory sponsored) teams, and the poor(er) teams, which also can be described as the fast, winning teams, and the slow, rolling-chicane teams.  I mean really, when did you last hear of the Force India team getting even a podium??  You hear about McLaren-Mercedes, Ferrari, Red Bull.

So our conclusions were as follows: NASCAR embodies the American Dream, because it uses  level playing field approach. F1 enjoys the non-level playing field, because of the  "invisible-hand" type management. So American NASCAR is awesome, because it is more socialist than capitalist European F1.  I think some readnecks in Daytona might kill me for these remarks!

Political Rant- You've been warned!

   I am losing my patience with the political discourse, these days. I try to listen to both sides of an argument, but that has been really difficult when the many of the arguments consists of God, guns, and "No Abortions." Even when I have no problems with people having God, guns, and not wanting to have an abortion. I really don't mind what other people want to do, with their religion, their rights, their bodies, as long as they stick to what is theirs. I consider myself very tolerant. And I think that is kind of the problem in politics today.  Just because I am tolerant of whatever stupid trend/fad/belief/procedure you want to partake in, does not mean I am ok with it. I am Ok with it being confined to you. And potentially watching from a distance and laughing.

I am not ok when the morality police start demanding that I cede control of my person, purely because I have a uterus. As a federal governement employee, (no I am not using my work computer to write this, because that would be improper use of government equipment, I am using my 4 year old laptop with a sketchy keboard...), I am prohibited from having a health insurance plan that covers abortions. See here  However, because I am paid by the Feds through an unnamed prestigious university system, I think that I may  have coverage that is more comprehensive. But guess what, if I ever need an emergency D&C, I may get to find out, after a traumatic proceedure, that I get to pay for it, as well.  Purely because of who I work for.

Now I am sure there are many out there who will scream that their tax dollars should never fund  such a procedure. My tax dollars have funded many things I disagree with: putting our troops in harms way in a far away sandbox, subsidizing unhealty foods that promote obesity, dismantling science/arts/music education in order to turn children into little readin'/writin'/'rithmatic regurgitation machines, etc.  I haven't stridently complained, and I really should have. (Better late than never, right?)  So here I go:

Abortion is a medical procedure. It is never joyous, and not convenient. It is not something most women would choose to undertake, if they had other, better options, i.e., Plan B pill, or mifepristone, early term.  I did not choose an abortion, it is not my way, but I can not think of anything more cruel and inhumane than to sentence a woman to carrying a unwanted pregnancy to term, especially in cases of rape and incest. Being pregnant is not all joy and wonder- it is a hardship, and it is only the beginning.  So many people push the happy myth of carrying a child for adoption, but so many of these children are never adopted out, and end up in the safety net of Social services, abused and unwanted. I feel that children should be brought into this world, wanted and loved. If a woman chooses to carry a child to term and place it up for adoption, then that is a wanted child. 

And that brings me to the hippocracy. No thats not a typo- its just a really big hypocracy. I care about life, very deeply, but my moral system speaks to the heirarchy of life,i.e., the living are more important than the dead. A fetus is totally dependent on the mother for everything. If the condition of being pregnant is going to kill the mother, than the mother takes priority.  Simple.  And if someone states that they are deeply pro-life, then where is all the concern for life after birth? It is pretty obvious that the only life that is politically important is the fetus; once it becomes an actual child, well,good luck!  WIC benefits, welfare,  preschool funding, are all deemed not important.  Wars, which I think are fairly detrimental to life in general, are promoted, full stop.  Good health care, for all living humans, should be considered the most Pro-life legistlative action possible!

So I digress. I am very frustrated with the political world we live in. I hope that I am not alone. I hope that we, the tolerant, can impress on the world that we are not so tolerant of our rights being trespassed upon. I am sorry for such a downer of a post, I will now return to snarkiness and science.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

The day the mares all went crazy...

   Just another fabulous day at the barn in February. For those not in the know, that means it was windy, cold, cloudy, with a chance of bolting horses. Ok, more specfically, mares. Today, all the mares were nuts. I, being the relative mare newbie, didn't read the signs very well. She was fussy when I was brushing, tap dancing merrily around as I tried to remove the crud from her legs. She was still dancing when I was standing on the mounting block. She continued to dance as I aranged my stirrups, and got settled in the saddle.

 Now this isn't totally unheard of from the Gray Mare. Usually, we solve this issue by leg yeilding, lots of leg yeilding. To the wall from the quarter line, and back to the quarter line. Spiral in, out and in on a circle. Lots of me reminding her that it is really hard to race away when going sideways. Except today, she had an advantage- she was nuts, and believed that she could still run away, while sideways. I did the sensible thing, and dismounted and grabbed a longe line. Her exberance exploded out onto the line in bucks and leaps.

 After a while, I thought, "jeeze, she is looking calmer, I don't want to wear her out." Probably a bad idea. Got back on, got some good work, was feeling pretty confident that our madness was behind us, and then I was unfortuntely right: the madness was right behind us- in the form of a pony, in a run, banging her head on the fence. "OMG!!! DEFCON 5!! Run!!!" was the mare's thought. Next thoughts were "Bronc, bronc, bronc, crap, not enough muscle to pull this off, sliding stop like a giraffe"

By this point I had muttered (yelled) some unkind (R-rated) words, and was sitting deep into the saddle, pushing her past the  pony of terror. On the adivce of my trainer, and my better angels, we decided that 1) Gray Mare was wound up tight like a spring, and 2) she wasn't yet uncoiled after those shenanigans. Completing one good task would be enough to call it good for the day, so we made a circle next to the deathwatch pony. One tight circle lead to a slightly more relaxed circle, lead to a softer circle, and then I let her flow gently down the long side of the arena. Dropping my stirrups, I lept off, before she could find anything else to be excited about. Tack was removed, clapping sounds were made, and one very excited gray mare bolted off accross the arena, heels well above head at times.

I was not the only victim of crazy mare day. Ther were other incidents, some much more vicious than mine. I feel lucky that I stayed onboard. In that way, today turned out ok.

Friday, February 18, 2011


Welcome to my blog.  I am tired of having these conversations in my head, so I will write them down... a little about me.  I am a 30-something (oh god, really???what happened to my 20's?), scientist, mother, equestrian, in no real order.  I am blonde, so therefore, I have spent a lot of my time convincing other scientists that I am not the secretary...
I never really thought of myself as a political being, but in today's climate, I don't think anyone can afford to be apolitical. I believe in the power of government as a force for good, when done properly.  I believe in the power of the people,  by the people, for the people.

I have an amazing daughter and a fantastic boyfriend. If that means I am the poster child for the breakdown of American society, well, ok.   My family also consists of my herd of fourlegged children, the Dark destroyer ( aka DD), the White Toe Crusher (Gray Mare) and the tenderfoot baby. They are very unconcerned with the breakdown of society, and really want the carrot in your pocket.

I do crystallography. It's not metaphysical- it's physics. We'll talk about it, don't worry.Science is awesome!

So there you go, I hope you enjoy my thoughts/discussions/rants as much as I will benefit from getting them out of my head.