Monday, June 12, 2006

The Teaser Storm

As I type this, the torrential rains brought in by Tropical Storm Alberto are thrumming again my window pane. My wish for rain has been granted; now, I just hope that we get enough to put out the brush fire. Judging by the gray skies and soggy ground, that's not going to be a problem.

In the cosmic scheme of life in Florida, Alberto is just a "teaser storm." Sure, it's bringing bands of wind and rain, but after Hurricane Charley two seasons ago, it seems like nothing more than a really, really long version of our typical afternoon thunderstorms.

It's sort of like a practice run...Nature's version of a school fire drill. Even though we knew Alberto wouldn't hit the Orlando area too badly, people have taken it as a sign to make sure that their pantries are stocked. It's an excuse to inventory outside areas and build awareness of items that could easily be "gone with the wind." Are there batteries in the weather radio? The flashlights? Is the roof sturdy enough to hold up to a real hurricane? This first topical storm of the season reminds us that hurricane season is, indeed, here...that Charley, Frances and Jeanne in 2004 and Katrina in 2005 are not just distant nightmares. God forbid, history could repeat itself, and we all must be prepared.

Alberto has also served as the opportunity to rekindle another rite of the summer, at least in our home. When Halloween is coming, you break out the jack o'lanterns and corn stalks. With Christmas, it's colored lights, tinsel, and holly. With hurricane season, it's an obsession with The Weather Channel and (the hurricane tracking site). I've had my eye on NOAA ever since Alberto was in its infancy, fixated on its potential strength and projected path. Since my husband and I both work at home, TWC has been on our television non-stop, even though we could just as easily look out the window.

At least this storm is bringing us a lot of good, in the form of much-needed moisture. The first bands brought some rainfall yesterday, and I was ready to rejoice among the raindrops as they fell on the parched earth. I was at the barn, and the rain started literally as I pulled into the driveway. Living in Florida, I've learned that the bands bring their downpours in waves. I simply waited till the first wave past, then managed to get in some riding time before the next one hit. Figment and I waited that one out in the barn, then snuck in a little more work before another band unleased its watery load.

It looks like Figgie will have a couple of days of leisure now, and when the rain is over, the pastures should start coming in lush and green. He already thinks he died and went to Heaven; in Chicago, he was turned out in a dirt corral with hay, but now he spends his days grazing on fresh grass. It must be like the differences between living on military MREs and then suddenly switching to gourmet cuisine.

He has taken to life in Florida very well, although being torn away from his former herdmates has had a psychological effect. If I take him out of view of the other horses now, he gets quite agitated and whinnies for them frantically. It's something I'll be able to break him of in time, and meantime I'll cut him some slack...he's been through quite a transition.

I can't really complain about his progress; he works well in the round pen, and I've been riding him all over the owner's property, through the orange grove next door, and down the road. The next step will be a short jaunt to the state park to start getting him accustomed to the trails.

But that's not going to happen until later in the week; for now, I'm housebound and watching the rain. I don't mind being stuck inside one bit, as I know how much we need this water. It will feel so good to see the grass come up green again and see the water levels of the lakes rise back to where they should be.

I know it's wishful thinking, but how nice it would be if this were the worst we would get this year. Sure, that's unrealistic, but after the last few years, we could really, really use a tame one. Only about five more months to go.....

Learn more about Celebration on my website:

Saturday, June 10, 2006

I'm Wishing for a Hurricane

Okay, well maybe not a hurricane, but at least a tropical depression. Not a big, scary, destructive one, but just something that will dump a lot of rain on Central Florida. We should be in our rainy season right now, but the dry weather continues unabated. In addition to the low lakes and dried-out vegetation, we're facing a high threat of brush fires.

Hubby and I discovered the fire danger firsthand on our way to the barn this morning. 192, the Yellow Brick Road of tourism, was closed at the 429 toll road. We jumped on 429 and took it all the way out to 50. That was well out of our way, but we didn't feel like going all the way back to I-4, and we needed to stop at the Lake Louisa State Park ranger station anyway to purchase an annual membership. Since I board Figment, my horse, right across the street from the back entrance, the membership card will allow me to ride on their trails legally.

429 was shrouded in an eerie gray-black haze from the fire that burned not too far away, and the smell of blazing vegetation permeated the car. Thankfully, the fire didn't threaten any homes, but I'm sure it will have a big impact on the businesses located in the cordoned-off area.

We thought that the road might be open by the time we were done at the barn. No such luck....we whizzed down 192, thinking that we were safe because there were no signs or other warnings. But suddenly the sight of a patrol car loomed up out of nowhere, and we had to join the conga line of cars heading back towards 27. At the morning roadblock, there was a state trooper giving people instructions on potential alternate routes. This time around, there was no one.

We decided to take 27 to I-4, and since we hadn't had any breakfast or lunch and it was almost 2 p.m., we were hoping to grab a fast-food bite in the meantime. We couldn't really do a sit-down meal, since we were both covered with dirt and horse sweat, and I'm sure that we were scented with Eau de Manure.

There weren't many dining choices, so finally we opted for a Subway located inside of a gas station just before the I-4 interchange. The nearby fire should have warned me that we were close to the Gates of Hades, as we had stumbled on the Subway From Hell.

There were four people in front of us, each ordering multiple sandwiches. Normally that wouldn't be so bad, except that only one person was working and it was very apparent that he was paid by the hour, not by the sandwich. Actually, a second person was working too, but I use the term working very loosely. She made a few appearances, stared blankly at the line, and disppeared to some back area where her workday wouldn't be bothered by dealing with actual customers. At one point, she and the lone sandwich-maker did discuss where the kids meal toys were located, but it didn't seem to have much bearing since there were no children in the line. Of course, the people head of us might have been children when they first joined the queue, but if so, they had reached adulthood in the interminable wait.

One of the people in front of us stormed off in disgust, which probably saved us a good half hour of wait time. Since I had a lot of time to study my surroundings, I realized that we were in for a double dose of punishment. You get your sandwich at the Subway counter, but you pay for it at the gas register. I heard grumbles and groans that caused me to glance at the was surrounded by three puzzled cashiers who were staring at it blankly while it emitted a continuous high-pitched tone. Meanwhile, a line of customers snaked down the snack aisle and almost back to the cooler.

The people in the register line were definitely kicking up more of a fuss than those of us waiting for sandwiches. That's probably because the Subway customer wannabes all had become malnourished during the lengthy wait, while the people who had just stopped in for gas had probably eaten elsewhere and still had their strength. Even if it flagged, they could survive on snack food from the shelves among which they were forced to wait.

I noticed that when a person ordered a toasted sub, the sandwich maker apparently didn't realize that he could start on the next order while waiting for the sub to toast in the oven. Instead, he just stared blankly while each single sandwich cooked. Making two orders at once was beyond the boundaries of his limited comprehension.

My husband pointed out a plaque declaring that Subway a "Model Store." Just what it was a model of was not specified, but we both had some ideas. Oh well...eventually we got our order, passed the second gauntlet (the cashier line) and made it home to Celebration before too many months had passed.

Early in the evening we did get a nice, heavy rainstorm, although it didn't last too long. It might have been my imagination, but I thought I saw drinking straws poking up from the grass as the raindrops poured down on the parched brown lawns.

There is a tropical depression that is supposed to hit us early next week. Normally, I'm praying for the storm path to turn away, but this time around I'm doing a rain dance to attract it. It's not a destructive killer storm...sure, there will be some wind, but nothing worse than a typical nasty thunderstorm. The much-needed moisture will be well worth it. Storms aren't particularly pleasant, but fire is so much worse.

Learn more about Celebration on my website:

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

All's Well That Ends Well

Figment is finally home! He arrived at around 2:30 p.m. and stepped off the trailer looking remarkably calm, especially considering that he'd been in transit for over 48 hours.

He was sweating a bit and gave the ramp a suspicious look, but then he walked right down and followed me into the round pen. We put him in there for a while so he could trot around and stretch his legs, and he also rolled several times in the orange clay. He managed to coat his whole body with an orange tint.

The trailer was huge; he had certainly ridden to Florida in style! I'm used to small, two horse trailers or basic goosenecks, but this was a fully enclosed rig where he'd basked in air conditioned comfort in a roomy, padded compartment with all the hay and water he could want. It was large enough to hold 6 to 8 horses, but by the time he got to Clermont, he was all by himself. He'd had a companion for part of the way, but she had been dropped off first. He was sad about that because they became close friends during the journey, nuzzling and licking each other like two necking teens.

Now, at his new home, there were several other horses, but they were all out in the pasture while he was confined to the round pen. Eventually he'll be turned out with pasture buddies once he has settled in. For now, he watched the others from his vantage point in the round pen. He was acting so calm that I did a little work with him; I didn't ride him, or even tack him up, but I lunged him a bit and had him perform some tricks. He remembered things quite well, considering it's been almost three years since I've done anything serious with him.

He didn't look stiff at all, and he was much less confused that I had imagined he'd be. He'd just been plucked from his home of five years, and before that he had lived his whole life at another barn with his mother. Since he's been rather sheltered, I wasn't sure how he would react to so much change. He's much more resiliant that I ever thought.

I gave him a shower before feeding time, and he seemed to enjoy the spray of cool water. He stepped right into the washrack as though he'd been in one a thousand times, even though this was the first time ever. Next, I put him in his stall, and he got a bit agitated because the other horses weren't in the barn yet. As they were brought in, he neighed frantically, upset at the fact that none were stalled near him. But not to worry...eventually his new next-door neighbor was brought in, and they happily sniffed noses through the bars that separated them. They seemed to become fast friends, so hopefully they will become pasture buddies once Figgie starts going outside with the others.

He'll have to be started on pasture slowly, since he didn't get much grass in Illinois. The corral where he was turned out was all dirt, and the horses grazed on hay. Figment can't suddenly be given all the grass he wants at once without getting a tummy ache. It would be like letting a child loose in an unlimited candy store. He can have a bit each day until he's built up his tolerance for "rich" food.

I left the barn confident that he's settling in very well...much better than I had expected. The shipper kept reassuring me that most horses handle long distance transit quite well, but horror story scenarios kept dancing through my mind. Granted, there was the breakdown in Kentucky, but the horses got through that unscathed.

I'm hoping to head out early tomorrow in order to beat the heat. I wonder how long it will take Figgie to get used to summer in Florda. If he's like me, it won't be long at all.

Learn more about Celebration on my website:

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Will He or Won't He?

Will Figment make it to his new home on Wednesday, or won't he?

According to the driver who picked up the stranded horses, he should be rolling into Clermont some time around noon on Weds. That's not too far off the original schedule, which is pretty impressive considering the truck break-down.

My mind is more at ease because Figment got into the new trailer without much hassle; if he were truly traumatized, he would have probably refused to climb in another rolling metal box after managing to escape the first one.

I always wonder what goes through a horse's mind when it is trailered somewhere. When I was younger, I used to take my other horse, Cochise, to shows and local parades. I imagined that he thought the trailer was some sort of magic box. He'd climb in, get jolted around for anywhere from half an hour to a couple of hours, and then emerge in a totally different place. That has to be pretty confusing for an equine.

I think he understood the concept, year I had ridden in a parade and was preparing to bring him home. I had hired a trailer from a local barn, and they had to make multiple trips because it was a two-horse trailer and several other horses had also been brought out. Just as we approached the trailer, it started to rain. Another woman who had also brought her horse nearly broke her butt to rush to the trailer ahead of us and put her horse in. I guess she didn't want to wait in the downpour for the second trip.

Problem is, her horse refused to go in. He would barely even get close to the trailer. I stood by with my friend, who had come along to help with Cochise; we were all getting rained on while the woman struggled with her uncooperative beast. Finally, after 15 minutes or so, my friend couldn't take it anymore. She led Cochise up and said, "He knows how to trailer." She pointed him at the door, and he rushed right past the other horse and jumped in as if to say, "Out of my way! I'm getting wet! I know that this is the way home." Ah, the joy of a well-trained horse!

It usually takes some practice to get a horse to walk in willingly, especially in a small two-horse trailer. Figgie is being hauled in a nice, roomy four-horse model, but standard two-horse trailers look small, dark, and narrow to the equine eye. A horse is a prey animal that is used to being on the move in wide open spaces. Asking it to enter and stand "trapped" in a dingy, claustrophoblic area goes against its instincts.

But horses can be taught (or bribed) to do things against their better judgement. Through the liberal use of treats, I taught Cochise that a trailer was a good place to be. I've never tried to load Figment into a two-horse model, but hopefully now that he's had experience in a larger trailer, a small one won't seem too intimidating.

In addition to wondering how he views the trailer, I wonder if he misses Cochise and Serenity, his two pasture mates for the past five years. When I bought him, he was three years old and had never been away from his mother. For the first day, he galloped back and forth in the pasture, whinnying for her wildly. By the next day, he seemed to have forgotten all about her...he settled into his new home as though he'd lived there all his life. Hopefully he'll take to his new home in FL as easily.

Back in IL, Cochise doesn't seem to miss him at all. On the other hand, Serenity is quite confused. When the horses are out in the corral, they can go back into their stalls if they want to. After the trailer left, Serenity kept going into Figment's stall as though he were searching for Figgie. But he and 'Chise are buddies; they're both old farts who I suspect will quickly forget their young nemesis.

Meanwhile, the waiting game continues. Barring another breakdown tonight, I'm hoping that we'll be reunited within the next 12 hours. When I last spoke to the driver, he was just about to do a drop-off in Alabama and then continue on to Florida, with a sleep break worked in there somewhere, too.

Hopefully by tomorrow night I'll be describing our happy reunion.

Learn more about Celebration on my website:

Don't Ship a Horse on 06-06-06

As Figment motors his way towards Florida, I have been checking in on a FL discussion board for horse owners to keep my mind busy. I was getting especially worried last night, since I couldn't reach the driver by phone. Same thing this morning...I left two messages, but didn't receive a call-back. It had been more than 24 hours since Figgie climed on the trailer, so I was starting to get concerned.

On the horse discussion board, someone was joking about bad things happening on 06-06-06. For those who are not up on their Christian End Times superstition (or who haven't seen either the old or new versions of "The Omen"), 666 is Satan's number, found in the Book of Revelations. Therefore, although it's a bit of a stretch, 06-06-06 could be considered an unlucky day.

The discussion thread made me chuckle. I've always been the sort of person who would call a black cat into my path, and Friday the 13th tends to be a lucky day for me. I thought, "Uh oh, maybe I shouldn't have shipped Figgie on the dreaded 06-06-06. Maybe that's why I haven't heard from the driver," but it was a joking thought.

A short while later, the phone rang. It was the transporter's office, calling to tell me that the truck had broke down in Kentucky! Yikes! The horses were all fine, but now they will have to wait until a "rescue" rig arrives from Pensacola. Thankfully, the temperature is in the 70s, and there is plenty of food and water to keep them occupied until their journey resumes. Figment tends to be calm as long as he is around other horses, so he will be fine with his two new equine buddies that were picked up in Ohio.

Once again, I am convinced that God has a wicked sense of humor. Such irony! Oh well, at least it's better than the ice storm that I encountered with the cats, fish, and bird. I'm glad they broke down in a safe place with cool weather so they will be nice and comfy while waiting. For horses, "waiting" isn't such a bad prospect...for the most part, they stand around and eat all day, so what they're doing right now isn't too much different than their usual life. Figgie is energetic and likes to have space to run around, but I'm sure he can contain himself as long as he has a bale of hay in front of him.

I'm the one for whom the waiting is hell. I'm anxiously anticipating a phone call that will give me the newly calculated arrival time. It doesn't look like the impact will be too bad; if things go well, Figment should still arrive in Clermont some time tomorrow.

In the meantime, he's hanging out in the Bluegrass State, where perhaps some of his distant relatives are grazing nearby (he's 1/4 Thoroughbred). Or with any luck he's already hitched up to the replacement truck and working his way south once again. Meanwhile, his "mom" has learned her lesson. No more ridiculing superstition, hee hee!

Learn more about Celebration on my website:

Monday, June 05, 2006

Goodbye Mr. Figgs

My husband sent me more photos tonight to ease my worried mind. I needed that, since I haven't been able to get in touch with the driver. Hopefully he's not lying wounded by the side of the road next to a kicked-apart shell of a trailer as Figment runs wild down the expressway!

Since Figgie had only been on a trailer once in his entire 8 years on this earth, I was worried about how he would react. He was delivered to me as a 3 year old, but his mother was on board with him, so I'm sure that helped convince him to jump aboard willingly. Now he was being asked to climb into a dark, empty, unfamiliar space after climbing a hollow-sounding ramp. Goodness only knows that he'd think about that.

But from the photos, it looks like it wasn't a big trauma for him. Below, he is meeting the driver for the first time:

Having decided that he's friend, not foe, Figment follows him out of the corral:

My 29 year old horse, Cochise, watches from the safety of his stall. The old man looks pretty good, considering that he's the equivalent of a 90-something-year-old human!

Figment let off a pile of road apples before climbing in:


Figgie was eating hay within minutes of the above photo (right afterwards, the driver hung a hay net), so I don't think he was too upset. Goodness only knows where he is right now, as I type this. I remember my own Journey From Hell through the ice storm, but we're not too likely to have a repeat of that in June. Hopefully they made it to Ohio at some point today to pick up some friends so he can feel like he's part of a "herd" for the rest of the trip.

Tomorrow morning I'll try the driver again and see if I can get some news on how my "baby" made it through the night.

Learn more about Celebration on my website:

Figment and the Trailer

As an addendum to my last blog entry, here are some pictures of my horse Figment and the "equine limousine" that is transporating him to Florida:

Above is Figment gazing at the yard of the Illinois barn, unaware that this is the last time he'll see it. Soon, his view will be palm trees and orange groves!

Here, Figment is trying to sneak a snack under the fence. His old stall is at left, and his two former pasture-mates are inside the barn. He has no idea that he's seen them for the very last time. My friend's horse won't be sorry to see him go, as he loved to torment the poor creature. But he never dared to mess with my old man, Cochise, who is a very dominant horse even at the age of 29.

Below is the trailer in which he will spend approx. 2 days and 1200 miles:

The Critter Caravan Rides Again

It's been almost two years since the Critter Caravan rolled into Celebration, Florida, bringing three cats, two fish, and a bird from the condo in Illinois to the door of Duloc Manor. But even with six furred, finned, and feathered animals, our menagerie was not complete.

In addition to all of the above, I own two horses as well. One, Cochise, is an old-timer that I've owned since he was 4. He has now achieved the ripe old age of 29, so there's no way I would subject him to a 1200 mile journey. I board him at a friend's house in the Chicago suburbs where I know that he is well cared for. He's been retired ever since we moved to Florida, and he spends his days moseying around the corral with his elderly Saddlebred buddy (owned by my friend and also retired).

But my second horse, Figment, is young and ripe for work. I bought Figgie a couple of years before moving to Celebration ever crossed our minds. Cochise was getting too old for strenuous riding, and I was longing for a more "durable" trail horse. Two things muddied the waters a bit: 1) I prefer a horse that I've trained myself, and I'm getting a bit older and more fragile. When I bought Cochise, I was 16 years old, and he'd only had a saddle on his back once or twice previously. I loved the challenge of riding out his frantic bucking and slowly but surely turning him into a compliant (but still spirited) mount. But now, even though I wanted an unbroke horse that could be trained to my own specifications, I wasn't sure I still had the guts (insanity?) to physically accomplish that.

And: 2) The area where I boarded Cochise had changed significantly in the past two decades. Once it had been farmland and a handful of homes scattered on minimum one acre lots...most had considerably more land than that. Now it had turned into Suburban Subdivision Sprawl. The barn was a tiny three-acre oasis surrounding by continual construction. There is another small barn next door on one side and another home with a big land parcel on the other, but once you get beyond that, it's pure subdivision.

I don't take animal ownership lightly. I believe that when you add a cat, dog, or horse to your family, it should be a lifetime commitment. But would I logistically be able to keep a young horse for its entire lifespan in the Chicago area? The number of barns was dwindling rapidly, and the trails where I used to ride were now over-run with bicyclists, walkers, joggers, and ATVs. Even though my friends have no intention of selling, I was afraid that someday they wouldn't have a choice.

But Fate intervened, and one day while reading the local Penny Saver newspaper, my eye caught a Horse for Sale ad. Normally I read things like that out of curiosity and nothing more, but this one made me do a double-take. The Penny Saver isn't a usual venue for horse sales, and it's rare to see anything from a local barn, mainly because there are so few. But this horse was only a few miles away, and it was cheap, unbroke, and most imporantly, a blanketed Appaloosa.

Appaloosas are a breed of horse. Most people think of them simply as "spotted horses," but they are a lot more than that. An Appy doesn't necessarily have to be spotted; it's a major characteristic, but there are others such as striped hooves and a white to the eye. A horse can have a solid coat and still be an Appy if it meets the other criteria.

Cochise is an Appaloosa, but when he was young, his coat was almost solid bay (brown). He had a sprinkling of snowflakes on his butt, and they have become much more prominent over the years. His bloodlines go all the way back to authentic Native American roots (the Appaloosa was developed by the Nez Perce tribe), even to the point that one of his early relatives is listed on his pedigree simply as "Indian Mare." But due to the lack of spots, I've spent over two decades trying to explain to others that an Appaloosa does not have to be spotted in order to be purebred.

'Chise's "stealth Appaloosaness" served us well in hunter/jumper shows, where many judges don't like a spotted horse. They associate Appys with Western riding and some will not place them high in English show classes. Since Cochise looked like a cute little solid bay unless you got up close and personal with his rump, we managed to do pretty well in the local show ring.

But I must admit that my favorite Apps are the loud, spotted ones, and I had always harbored a secret dream that I would own a flashy Appaloosa someday. When I saw that the ad said "Chestnut with large, white blanket," I had to take a look.

My ever-supportive husband tagged along, and we both liked what we saw. The horse in the ad had just turned three; he was the product of an elderly Appaloosa mare and a young Appendix Quarter Horse stud (an Appaloosa can be out-crossed to certain other breeds and still be considered a "pure" Appy). The stud's owner wasn't sure he would know what to do, so he was turned out into the pasture with the mare. Nature took its course, and now I was looking at the result.

Figment was a lovely chestnut color with an enormous white blanket on his rump dotted with chestnut spots. He was just the sort of Appaloosa that had always cantered through my dreams.

Hubby thought it would be a good idea to have another horse to soften the blow when Cochise inevitably cantered off to that great big Pasture in the Sky. My friends were agreeable to boarding another horse, so Figment became the latest member of our family. I named him after one of my favorite Disney characters, the little purple dragon that has become the symbol of Epcot. Figgie always wears a purple halter in honor of his namesake.

I worked with him for two summers, although my busy work schedule kept me from doing as much as a I wanted. We did a lot of arena work but rarely made it out onto the trails. Then fate intervened again and we bought our Celebration homestead. The next three years were a whirl of visiting the construction, spending weekends in our newly completed home, and then the permanent Big Move to Florida. During that time, Figment enjoyed a life of leisure chasing the two old-timers around the corral, consuming vast quantities of hay and turning it into fertilizer, and just generally being a "wild" horse.

But now that things have settled down, I have finally made the arrangements to bring him to Florida. A little searching yielded a lovely boarding barn in Clermont, right across the street from Lake Louisa State Park, where I can trot along on nearly 20 miles of equestrian trails. There are 10 acres of pasture, so Figgie can graze contentedly all way, plus a round pen and arena where we can brush up on his training.

Now that we had selected a home, I was worried about the logistics of hauling a horse 1200 miles; I know that people on the show jumper circuit do it all the time, but I tend to be a worrywart where my animals are concerned. Happily, I found a Florida-based firm called "Equine Limousine" that was going to be in the Chicago area in early June. Their quote was pretty reasonable, considering the skyrocketing gas prices, and their trailer is truly cushy. It has running water, padding, air conditioning, a video camera for the driver to monitor his charges, and even a fire suppression system.

I didn't know the exact day of the pickup, since that would depend on when they arrived in Chicago, but I knew it would be this week. I called them on Saturday, having just returned from a week's cruise, and discovered that they would be arriving MONDAY MORNING!

My husband had hoped to be there for the send-off; he was scheduled to be in Chicago for the week, but his flight wasn't schedule to touch down till 10 a.m. on Monday. Oops! Thank goodness for Southwest's liberal change policy...he was able to change his flight to Sunday evening so he could report to me firsthand as Figment was packed into the trailer. Figgie hasn't been in a trailer since he was delivered to me five years ago, and his mom came with him on that trip. I could just imagine a horrible scene in which he absolutely refused to get in and was left behind in Chicago. Since I couldn't be there myself, I felt much better knowing that intrepid hubby was on the scene.

As I type this, it's Monday morning, and the horror stories that danced through my mind did not come true. After some initial reluctance, Figment climbed aboard the trailer. He didn't like the ramp much, which is common with horses because they don't like the hollow sound. But once he got over that, he clambored inside and immediately began munching on hay. He stamped his hind leg a few times to indicate his displeasure, but other than that he didn't seem to traumatized. It's a four horse trailer, so he'll be gaining two friends in Ohio, which I think will calm him down even more.

Since there are several stops between Chicago and Clermont, it looks like he won't be arriving until Wednesday night. I'll be on pins and needles in the meantime, but the driver is very understanding so I can check in periodically via his cell phone. With the video monitor, he'll be able to tell me exactly what Figgie is doing at any given time.

I'll update this blog entry tonight when I walk to the driver and when my husband sends me the photos that he took of the send-off. And hopefully by Wednesday night our little family will be complete in Florida (well, almost complete, since Cochise will remain contentendly at the same home where he's spent the last 20+ years).

I'm sure glad that we have a hot tub, because once I start riding again, my butt and legs are sure gonna need it!

Learn more about Celebration on my website: