Thursday, April 30, 2015

Not a Petting Zoo

I don't know that I have ever experienced anything like the complete disregard of personal boundries as I have experienced in the past several years. I read a blog about this subject a couple of weeks ago (FB I think) and the author was discussing the public conception that dogs are public property somehow and available to be pet and loved and teased at will. For me, it isn't just the dogs, but the horse as well.

Random pictures of his loveliness.

So far, I have been chased by boys on bikes waving sticks and yelling something about catching the Unicorn. I've had boys on bikes leave the sidewalk to ride across grass while yelling something about the magical white unicorn. Thankfully, they were not waving sticks and my magical white unicorn travels faster then they can on grass. I've had little boys (six or seven) threaten to throw rocks at us while we are riding by in order to make the horsie go faster. (That's when the Momma voice is most effective." Boys are all about the chasing, killing and claiming of the magical white unicorn.

The girls however, are worse. They race towards us, arms wide, squealing in sheer joy at the sight of the magical white unicorn. They are usually shedding scooters, bikes and skateboards in all directions. They are usually dressed in sandals or open toed shoes (which gives me nightmares, thank you very much) and are acting the total fool in their approach. So we are faced with squealing, gyrating hordes anytime we are on trail.

Now, don't get me wrong, I was horse crazy as a little girl. There is not a point in my life where I did not want a horse, want to be around a horse, want to be touching horses. Even when I declaimed I would never ride again, I still wanted a horse. I can remember knowing where any horse in the immediate area was, even after I had horses of my own, but I do not ever remember wanting to chase and kill a horse, or run up to it in flip flops and throw my arms around it's neck.

I think the worse part is the parent's are encouraging this behavior. 

Last night, a young boy about seven or so was playing with a soccer ball with his dad. They kicked the soccer ball toward me and came racing after it. I moved Ashke to the edge of the park we were riding around and kept an eye on the ball. Not that I think he would do much, but better aware and prepared than caught off guard. The man started gesturing toward me and talking to his son. The boy hung back and shook his head no (smart boy). I could hear the guy saying something about how he should come pet the horse. The boy did not want to. We rode on before the man could do anything else.

On the way back was a woman and her daughter (ten or so). The daughter saw us from clear across the park and came over riding her scooter, with her mom close behind. I was riding a single track trail through the grass. The girl threw aside her scooter and came racing toward me, arms waving. I asked Ashke to dance sideways (this is a trick I learned with Queenie - a sensitive horse can always be made to appear fractious with a tightening of the legs). Ashke already knew we were headed home and became a bit bouncy at the conflicting requests (forward from the legs, slow from hands and seat). I moved off the single track and began to circle around and the girl followed us, saying "I want to pet the horse." Ashke went lateral at that point and I said to the mom, "He does not like kids." The mom said, "she just wanted to pet him." And I answered, "We are not a petting zoo." This may become my favorite line of all time on trail.

It seems that just like dogs, people in public venues believe horses are fair game. When I rode a lot with N, she would always stop and let people pet Cali, but I would not. Ashke likes adults okay, but he really doesn't like kids. And just like the little girl in NY (?) who got her fingers bit by a police horse, I don't want to risk Ashke hurting someone. Yes, I do have liability insurance, but I also believe it is my responsibility to keep Ashke from being in a situation where he might hurt someone.

Thankfully, he is always willing to run like the wind to get away, if need be.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Monday Night

A few days ago, I was at the barn at the same time as C. She boards her horse, Bretia, right next to Ashke and we've chatted several times over the past few months about Working Equitation and trail riding. Bretia is a Connamara pony, and the sweetest thing. C does jumping and flat work on her and Bretia sighs and complains of boredom. C has been really interested in doing the Working Equitation and thought it would be a great change of pace for Bretia. So last week sometime, we made arrangements to ride together on Monday night.

Monday night is notoriously slow at the barn and with the spring weather we've been having, the indoor has been pretty empty. There is a family with three mustangs that join me quite frequently (the youngest woman is working with a year and a half old mustang gelding and she's taught him to lay down) and enjoy working through the obstacles with us. Last night, because of the rain, the indoor was busier than we've come to expect, but everyone there seemed to find the obstacles fun and easy to work around.

C helped me set up obstacles and we got Babe out and set up. (I've decided he needs to be adjusted. The ring and quintain are too tall to be effective, so I'm going to have J help me adjust on Sunday). We had Babe, the corridor with the bell, an L shaped sidepass, three bending poles, two barrels and a gate. (We also need to make a gate with M one of these days.) I also found an old garbage can to use to hold the garrocha pole, but we need a better way to weight it at the bottom. Once the course was set up, we went in to get our horses. We were back in the arena by 5:45 (not bad, actually).

We warmed up around the outside of the obstacles and Ashke was a mess. He was spooky and distracted. He wanted to race and he did not want to move with contact. We spent some time standing in the corner with our butt to the wall of death, with him quivering and stomping his dismay. I did get a decent enough canter for two circuits (allowing him to make the circles in the middle of the ring rather than at the ends) in each direction, but then I was done with trying to get him to focus. We moved onto the obstacles instead. Although, even then, he was a basketcase around the barrels and the poles. I think he was thinking we were going to canter them, but what I was asking for was trot work. I didn't drill, instead we moved to other stuff.

He was incredible in the corridor and I barely had to direct him to get him to back the L shaped obstacle. The sidepass was solid from both sides and in both directions (L shaped too). The gate he was calm and receptive. He knows that obstacle very well and although it wasn't flawless, it was pretty darn solid. All of his fear of the rope is gone. We did the garrocha pole and the bull, but mostly worked on just riding past the obstacle without shying away.

C and Bretia worked on all of the obstacles. Bretia was having problems with understanding what C wanted, so they broke down the more difficult obstacles into smaller parts. At the end, Bretia did the gate correctly and I think with a little practice, she will be rock solid on that. I coached C a little bit on walking through the gate before making the turn. Ashke used to panic that he was going to hit his butt walking through, but now he knows he can step forward and then back up to position us correctly and is no longer worried about the stand hitting his butt.

On the sidepass pole, I think we should have left it a straight line to begin with. Bretia was a little confused about what to do with the poles (she's used to trotting or jumping stuff lying on the ground) and where her feet should be. I got off Ashke and helped her and C get through the obstacle (Bretia was trying really hard) by directing her head and cueing her side. We went through twice and I realized we had started too difficult for Bretia and probably anyone else who hasn't been practicing this for two years.

After the obstacles we stripped tack and turned the horses loose while we put the equipment away. Ashke started playing with the big ball, lost himself in the excitement and ended up running into the panels against the wall, slid over the top of the ball and got himself completely fubar'd. Nothing like high-centering yourself on a red and black ball. Seriously. He kicked and stumbled his way out of it, snorting and blowing at the ball. I was worried he had hung himself up, but the other two women watching didn't think his legs had gone inside the fencing. He was moving fine afterwards and there were no scrapes or swelling.

The best part of last night was talking to the BO afterwards and getting on the calendar for Mondays (I'm responsible) to host a WE play time with obstacles. We are going to start every other Monday and see what happens. C will help me and we can get the other riders to help set up and tear down the obstacles before and after we ride. It will be awesome and give Ashke a solid practice through the obstacles at least every other week. C said there are a lot of riders that are interested in working obstacles, so she thinks there will be some solid interest.

Sunday, April 26, 2015


Today was an awesome trail ride. We went to Chatfield again, but rode North after crossing the Platte, rather than riding south. I really wanted to try circling the Reservoir. We asked forced T to come with us, since his Godmother was up from Colorado Springs and we haven't forced him to ride with us since October. It was supposed to be partly cloudy, but no rain, and I knew the majority of the trail was sidewalk, so it seemed like a good time to make him come with us.

Additionally, K met a woman two weekends ago (at a spook busting clinic) who boards at SQA and who really likes to trail ride. K got a hold of her and let her know we were riding at Chatfield. When J and I pulled into the barn, PJ was already hooked up, had her horse saddled and loaded and was chomping at the bit. Unfortunately, we still needed to wait for the farrier who was at TMR trimming Eddy at that point. PJ unloaded Margo, her 16.2 TWH (and drop dead gorgeous) mare and took her out to graze while we waited. Thankfully, a barefoot trim does not take very long and Ashke is always a gentleman, so we headed out to get K and Eddy not too much later. PJ followed us over to get Eddy and then to Chatfield.

At TMR, it took two minutes to load K's tack (she puts it in the back of her jeep so we pull up and load) then had to find her and Eddy. Two weeks ago at the Spook Busting Clinic she finally found a tool to help her with Eddy. Eddy's biggest issue is controlling his head and shoulder when asking him to do something. He has bowled K over and pulled away from her, yanking the lead rope out of her hand, and she hasn't been able to stop him. At the clinic, K bought a Monty Roberts halter.

(From Monty Roberts Website)
This is what I tried to make for K, using parachute cord. This was much more effective.

K paid $55 for the halter but she said for the first time ever, she was able to control Eddy. Every time he tried to bull over her or pull away, she was able to bring his nose around and make him face her. By the end of the clinic, Eddy wasn't even trying any more, even around the parachutes or tarps or plastic bags (Eddy's kryptonite). With Eddy in the halter, K led him on the trailer the first time with no shenanigans. It was a fine moment and a real exhibition of K's persistence in making Eddy into a fine trail pony. I would say she got her monies worth and then some. Note to self: sometimes it's the right tool or technique that makes a difference in performance.

Twenty minutes later we were pulling into Chatfield State Park. As holders of a State Park pass, we pulled right through, but then had to wait for PJ to make it through the other line. PJ was smart and bought a State Pass, so next time we go, it will be easy. Cherry Creek State Park is on our list for Mother's Day weekend with J and myself and maybe PJ, if she's interested in going. And we need to finish riding the entire ride at Barr Lake State Park. Maybe we will have hit them all by the time we are done. ;p

Tacking up was pretty quick, and then we were on trail by noon. First up was crossing the river, with Margo leading. Margo's story is pretty interesting. She is TWH, pinto, mare. She was bought at 3 by a man who rode a lot, sent to a trainer for 90 days, and then brought back. Three weeks later the man who bought her had a heart attack and died. Margo was put out to pasture. For years. Then a husband and wife at SQA looked at her as a riding mount for the wife. She was a little too much horse and they settled on a TWH gelding that looks a lot like Margo. Again, she stayed in the pasture. PJ owned a little Appaloosa mare (rescue) who kicked through her fence and broke her leg the day before PJ was flying to France. She had to be euthanized. When PJ got back from overseas, she was still mourning the loss of her mare. The woman from SQA who had looked at Margo originally, had a very powerful dream about Margo. She was standing in the field crying because she really wanted a job and her own human. The woman told PJ she had a horse PJ needed to meet. It was love at first sight and Margo got her job.

Anyway, Margo led through the river (which was higher than last time) and out the other side. We crossed the road and headed north.

The footing was excellent. And Chatfield is getting really green.

K was riding Eddy in the first solid shank bit I tried on Ashke (the one that rubbed the corner of his mouth) and he was really good in it. He didn't toss his head as much and was very soft most of the day. 

PJ on Margo. I swear that mare snorted in happiness for the first five miles.
She and Eddy were having a contest.

Margo has a full fly mask designed specifically for riding.
We might need to get one.

We were traveling pretty fast, with a lot of trotting and cantering in the mix. 

J was able to take some video early, before T got real angry and frustrated with the ride. 

Video proof that T was with us.

So we had a 16.2 h TWH, a 15.1 h Arabian and a 14 h Hafflinger. 
All three horses were so happy to be out on trail.

 Chatfield is even more beautiful in the spring.

T loves to hide his lower leg on the back of his seat. He then tries to pedal his bike with one leg. I think if we got him clips he would ride like that for a long time. It looks really freaky from the front. One of the ways in which he entertains himself on a ride.

The horses were all very up for the first half of the ride. They really didn't slow down until the final three or so miles. 

We trotted and Margo gaited. She was a wicked running walk.
Or we cantered. A lot.

The trails were all new and climbed from the lower part of the Reservior to the top of the Dam. 

We headed west to Wadsworth, and then the trail turned north to cross one of the creeks that feeds into Chatfield. Our first bridge crossing was uneventful. 

The trail headed up. There was a lot of yucca in the grass, which meant that Ashke spent at least some of his time at the canter jumping brush. One of the times he was going to cut to the right, I thought left, and he squirreled the jump to the left. I lost a stirrup and PJ said that was a very interesting form for both of us.

We moved off the sidewalk and cantered up the hill. Ashke moved a little bit faster than we had been and Eddy started to race. I could hear K saying, "Too fast Eddy, too fast." but they all slowed at the crest of the hill.

Around the north side of the Res.

J has such a great eye for photos. 

We reached a dirt road heading up and we moved back into a canter. Ashke was sooo smooth and relaxed without rushing at all. It was such a smooth wonderful ride. He did shy at a couple of bushes, cross cantered for a couple of strides, then I touched him with my outside heel and he flipped his front to the new lead. It was fairly smooth and we didn't have to slow. 

We topped the hill and came back down (think wide rolling hills) and there was a small creek that was flowing fast at the bottom. Ashke and I started into the water and then we stopped. I asked PJ and K to back up as I was going to get off. There was a pair of sunglasses laying in the water on top of a rock. They looked expensive. I could only really see them when sitting on Ashke. I stepped into the stream (thankful for high topped waterproof paddock boots - my feet stayed dry) and picked up the sunglasses.

Score! Polarized. Online price $225. J knew what they were when she saw them.
I had no clue, until J said they were a pair she was thinking about but they were more expensive than the Oakleys she settled on.
No scratches or damage.  

I gave them to T as a replacement for his Oakleys that were destroyed by Lily the second day of High School, but I might have to take them back, since they look really good on me. I also told T that his glasses had been destroyed, since we had been waiting for him to ask where his glasses were. Usually we don't keep secrets like that, but he had had such a horrible start to High School that we didn't want to make it worse. Ashke drank really well as we crossed the stream. I'm very happy with his willingness to drink at every water spot. We seemed to have learned from our experiences.

Just after that, we stopped for lunch and let the horses graze. The weather started to get snarly and spit some rain. J couldn't find T's jacket (packed in his camelbak) so T put on her screaming yellow jacket on with his skin tight muscle shirt on the outside.

K ready to get on Eddy again. 

PJ on Margo ready to ride. This mare was very well conditioned. She was moving out with Ashke, with no issues. I could see her doing a 25 LD with ease. She loves to go.

After lunch, we had one more climb to the top of the dam. I have no idea how high it is, but it is pretty far up there. The road we were riding up was packed dirt and a gradual rise, so I let Ashke move to a canter, then leaned forward and told him he could gallop if he wanted. We hit a decent 20 mph run and tore up that hill. K said later, she just held on and let Eddy gallop (her first time doing that with him) and Margo cantered up behind us. She has such a big stride I'm not sure she had to gallop. At the top, we met up with J, T and Tia. The sidewalk down was long and looked like a lot of fun. We sent them ahead at full speed, then made our way down at a walk. 

On the north side of the spillway that becomes the South Platte on the north side of the dam.

We stayed on a dirt trail while the bikes stayed on the road.

 All of the cottonwood trees are in leaf. The willows are in leaf.
So much green.

We crossed another bridge, then headed east toward the dam, planning on skirting the base of the dam on the East until we met up with the trail on the East/South that we were riding last week. (We could make of this a 35 mile or so ride, in a big loop.) We left the highland prairie and moved into trees and shade.

 It was such a gorgeous ride. 

At the base of the dam was a gravel road. T was not impressed. We, however, loved the road and cantered up the slight grade three abreast. This is not easy with the mare in the middle, but we managed it. K and Eddy were on the grassy verge. There was a post and a sewer cap on top of a low concrete foundation. Eddy went to the left. K went even more to the left, hung on the side for a bit, then came off when Eddy turned to the right up the dam. PJ and I had slowed our horses, which helped slow Eddy, and luckily K was not hurt in the fall. Eddy stopped and waited, while K got to her feet, assessed herself, then got back on. I had seen the pipe seconds before Eddy went sideways, but didn't have enough time to shout out a warning. K was a trooper.

After the fall, J, T and Tia decided to climb the very steep bank to the top of the dam. The gravel road was creating issues with the boy's junk. And he wanted to see the top of the dam. It was a great decision.

There was rain in the background, he had just carried his bike up a huge hill, but he had a somewhat smile on his face because he was on top of the dam.

Big Ass Dam and growing boy.

And J in all her colors. They were much happier to be up.

And then they weren't on the top of the dam any more. They left J guarding the bikes and went down the face of the rocks.

Gives some idea of both scope and steepness.

While at the water's edge, T found a stick. More like a pole. He strapped it to his pack and carried it all the way back to the truck.
He was so happy with his find. I swear all we need to do is give the boy a stick and let him play. 

The hardpacked road we were on curved East and then South, running alongside a railroad track. It was a siding and it had a set of railcars and four engines sitting there. The engines were running but not moving. Ashke got very anxious and edgy. At the southern end, where we could get past the dam and back down into the Park, it was Dam abutment, road, tracks with maybe six inches between. Made me very nervous, since I know Ashke does not like trains. The trail down into the park was also very steep, slick, and with a lot of loose rock. PJ and K stayed on, but I got off and hand walked Ashke down. I didn't feel it was fair to ask him to handle the terrain and my weight and our balance with a bum leg. He had been so good, with a light, easy canter, a decent working trot and a swinging walk that I wasn't going to chance him stepping wrong and hurting himself.

We made it back across Plum Creek (will have to ride out and explore that area in more detail at a later time) and headed back. 

Back at the Reservoir for a drink. Ashke drank well and Margo drank from the edge without getting her feet wet. Eddy lipped at the water but didn't drink.

Headed back to the trailer under darkening skies. It held off and blew over. 
Lots of verga.

Looks like it should be raining, right? Not a drop although it did get kind of cool. 
The bikes and their riders headed straight for the trailer down the road, while we followed the singletrack across the prairie.

By the time we reached the trailer, J had buckets of water and wet mash set out for Ashke and Eddy. She told me later that she needs to know what PJ wants for her mare, so she can have it ready for them too. We striped tack while Ashke painted everything he could reach with his mash, stored our stuff and loaded the ponies. It took maybe ten minutes to unload K's tack and Eddy at TMR, then we headed to SQA. Ashke got a quick groom, a clean stall, his left over mash and an extra flake of alfalfa. He seemed happy when we left.

My Equitrack app lost the GPS signal at the place where we stopped for lunch. At that point we had traveled six miles in a little over an hour with an average pace of 4.97 mph. We rode for three hours and 45 minutes or so. I guestimate our mileage at 18 miles, give or take. 

The three of us made a good riding group. None of the horses took issue with another, there was no squeeling or bad tempers and we traveled at the same pace comfortably. PJ and K are easy to ride with and easy to talk to. The horses did fabulously as a group and handled all of the obstacles, including 65 mph traffic less than 50 feet from them. We crossed water twice, four bridges, hills, road traffic, bikes and dogs with no problem at all. Eddy (with one exception) was a rock star and Ashke seemed to enjoy himself. 

T enjoyed being able to stop, throw rocks into the water, find himself a stick, climb up and down the dam, and mess around without being focused on constantly moving forward. J said that he's not going to be happy unless they can geocache or indulge in boy stuff on the ride. Going forward we will incorporate more of that into the ride. He was just so happy after he found his stick.

I tried using my saddlebags on the back of the saddle. I think I will need to get a longer saddlepad so the bags don't rub his hair behind the AP pad I am using. He wasn't sore where they were rubbing, but I don't want to create any problems. It was much easier for me to use the saddlebags, and my shoulders didn't hurt as bad when I was done. I liked using them for my lunch and to carry my rainjacket. I will definitely be using them going forward.

Ashke was in fine shape today. No stocking up and a great attitude. It was raining so I put his new rain sheet on him and will see him tomorrow. We are supposed to have rain through 5 pm tomorrow.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

What Ashke Means

There is a new guy working at the barn. Every time he sees me he gives me a huge grin and a little wave. Today when I got to the barn he was on his way out. He grinned and waved at me, then his eyes widened and he looked like he wanted to share the best story ever. He said something along the lines of me being Ashke's owner, then kind of stammered in his excitement and asked me if I knew what Ashke meant. I started to tell him where I found the name and he interrupted me and said, "No, no. It means something in my language. It means boy in Navajo." It was really awesome. So, the two meanings I know are Beloved Boy. And he says it "Ash-kay" with the emphasis on the final syllable. Anyway, Tiger introduced himself and then headed for his truck. Such a radiant smile and great energy. Made me want to adopt him.

Tuesday night was the first ride in ten days and Ashke was Magical. He was loose and swinging and able to maintain every gait I requested. He held his left lead on the canter. He snorted every time he stopped. We were so in sync that I could think of stopping and he would slide to a stop. It was really fun. We rode for about an hour and then I put him away.

Tonight, it was cloudy but not raining, so I saddled for the trail. We rode seven miles in an hour and a half. I think 4.4 mph may just be out trail speed and I'm okay with that. I'm dealing with so much with his right leg, that I have once again parked the idea of competing in an endurance race. We will trail ride and if the issue is what I think it is, we will try and rehab the right stifle. I think the information that the surgery was on the left was incorrect. I found the scar and the right stifle is twice the size of the left. It would make a ton of sense if that was the case, because there doesn't seem to be anything really wrong with the left stifle. (So, yes, Kitty, you may have been right when you suggested it might be his stifle.)

We rode the trail across the street. When we got to this hill we did five sets up at the gallop/canter and trotted down. There were three logs in the trail that we jumped on our way up. We stopped at five, since I didn't want to overdo it until I know for sure what is going on with his leg. Then we rode to the far end of the trail by the soccer fields. On our way back we were cantering in the grass field and I asked him to turn with the same cue I use for the walk pirouettes and he managed a very tight, uphill turn at the canter. It was amazing. I don't know if he was doing it right, but the fact that we could execute a tight turn on the left lead was enough for me.

It sprinkled a little on us before we got home. He was super spooky, probably as a combination of not being ridden out for three weeks and the heavy storms that were in the area. It made me a little grumpy. But then he gave me some really nice canters and a couple of really nice jumps, so I couldn't be grumpy anymore. I really love having this park across the street.

Sunday, April 19, 2015


April is the birth month of both of my boys, and while Ashke is featured prominently on this blog, T really is not. T's birthday has always been a big deal. We have flown my mom out to spend a week with us on T's birthday, since he was born. We do a fancy dinner, gifts, events and enjoy a week or so of family time. This year was no exception. T opted for Fogo de Chao, a Brazilian restaurant, where the rib eye and filet mignon was to die for. It was so good. We took him shopping for his gift and he picked out a new pair of Beats noise cancelling headphones and a pair of Bose in-ear headphones for running. Ashke got a double mash and extra carrots for his day.

I thought I would share some pics of T growing up. He turned fifteen this year and my fear and anxiety about posting his pics on the internet is decreasing. He is such an amazing young man and he makes me so proud. He wants to be an Environmental Engineer and has worked hard his Freshman year to make that dream come true. He lettered in Cross Country and has continued to run in the off season to maximize his chances at making the varsity team. He is still working on figuring out the girl puzzle, but as he gains height and after his voice changes, I think he will find the playing field has changed in his favor.

So, to be warned, there are a lot of pics coming. You don't have to go through them if you aren't interested. I think he's amazing and wanted to post an anthem to him.

T was a serious collector of stuffed animals. I'm sure he had almost a 1000 of them.

Snowshoeing at almost three. He didn't last long.

This was a sled that he snuggled into. It worked like a travios, with two long poles fitted with a hip harness that pulled him behind me. We used it the first winter we took him cross country skiing when he was eight or nine months old. His face was the only thing exposed on that trip and he slept through the experience. We had a great time at Glenwood Springs.

About four years old with Joey.

Four and a half with Red at two weeks old.

T started Tae Kwon Do at four. He advanced to Low Blue by the time he was seven. 
Then he started second grade, his instructor moved away, and I started work. 
He never went back to it.

He has always had the most incredible eyes.

 Fifth birthday. Carriage ride downtown with the Grammie

 Grumpy. Estes Park with Grammie.


 Not trying to look Amish. Kind of freaked the boy out though.

T was doing an exercise in Tae Kwon Do and slipped while running, landing on his forearm. There was bruising and some pain, but no swelling. He was able to use the arm normally and it didn't keep him awake. He went to Kindergarten the next day like normal. When I showed up to pick him up his arm was discolored, swollen and obviously broken. I asked him what had happened and he said he went to pick up his backpack, grabbed a strap and yanked and something in his arm snapped. He spent the rest of the day with his head on his desk, crying. He had a greenstick fracture of his left ulna. He was much happier once it was cast.

He loved hanging out in the dog crate with Joey. Broken arm and all.

His Darth Maul phase.
You can see the beginnings of his Padawan braid behind his right ear.

 Yellowstone. At six

Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone behind us.

The reason I finished the ride after my very serious back injury.
We were not offered helmets at all.

Christmas 1st Grade. He cleans up nice.

 Spring he turned seven and the day my best friend packed her truck and left for Oregon.
T's Godmother (one of two)

 Estes Park, 2007

 Learning to Fly

 T was about one the first time he saw a kid on Heelies (shoes with wheels in the heel). He asked and asked and asked. We told him when his feet were finally big enough we would get him a pair. He was five when we found a pair of size ones that fit him and he learned to skate on them. At seven, we got him aggressive inline skates. He took to it like a fish to water.

He talked at one time of becoming sponsored, but inline skating does not have the following that skateboarding does. 

 He really loved to skate.

Self-taught and absolutely fearless

 The bar he is jumping is at least twelve feet from the edge of the bowl. He had asked if he could try it and we had said no (images of shattered body parts floating through our minds). I looked over at his run and he jumped the darn thing. 

And then he jumped it again and again. I have a video somewhere of him jumping it doing the Flying Squirrel (touching both skates with both hands behind your back)
He was amazing. Then he got an Xbox and the skating stopped.

Brown's Canyon, all day rafting trip. Absolutely Boss!
This is one of our all time vacation high points. T was so great on this trip. We high sided the raft and he did exactly as he was told to counterbalance the raft and get us out of the hole. 

 He went through the long hair shaggy phase. You can see the braid hanging on his right shoulder.
When we went to Disney World, he got picked to fight Darth Maul. The padawan that picked him stopped and asked him about the braid. He proudly answered that it was real. 

He also went through a phase where his hair was dyed red. It really made his eyes pop.

 Camping at Tarryall. See how long his braid is?

 Stopped off at the Grand Canyon on our way home from my Grandmother's funeral. Seemed a fitting way to say goodbye.

 Oregon Coast, with dark red hair.
He originally wanted to die his hair black, but because he was pre-adolescent, it turned out blue. The school threatened to expel him, even though it was an accident, so we took him to the salon. They applied orange to the blue (counteracts the color) and then dyed it dark brown. He ended up with blue, orange and brown streaks in his hair. 

This color, however, was awesome. We died it the weekend after the end of school and let the color fade over the summer. This was the Oregon Coast in June.

Our last camping trip with Red. 2011.

In honor of Red, T cut off his hair and his braid.
Some day I will get it framed with a picture of his girl.

 With the Xbox came a new obsession. Halo.
Cosplay Assault Rifle from Halo 3.

Our first attempt at a Master Chief/Spartan cosplay costume.

 And then we upgraded the look. 

Great for the Halo Midnight Release party. 
Talk about making an impact with gamers. He rocks.

 T on the big rocks at Vedauwoo.

 Archery with a 45 lb bow.

We still have the stick. And he's still wearing that shirt.

Melting Pot, birthday celebration.

When T was ten or so, he came home and asked me about our using a donor to conceive him. I told him what we knew. He asked if we were the only ones who could use that donor. I said no. He turned to me with tears in his eyes and asked "You mean I might have a brother?" I said yes and told him one of the reasons we had picked the donor we used is because he had at least one confirmed pregnancy.

After that conversation, I started looking into Donor Sibling Registry. I got registered and one day in Joann's I got a phone call from a woman who had a lifetime membership with the Registry. We discovered that T has seven half-brothers and one half-sister. He met five of the brothers on line and his sister through email. When he was twelve or so, his brother Zachary (T's middle name is Zachery) came to the Denver area and they got to meet. They were so much alike, it was kind of scary. They hit it off really well.

 I have no words.

 T would run and play with Ashke until this happened.
Then he stopped.
I think Ashke still misses him.

His interest did not last long. Although he is still willing to listen to wait we are working on.

We were really excited about the space to play at TMR, but honestly, he just outgrew it.
Especially when there is Xbox to play.
I must say, it is easier with him being big enough to stay alone, or entertain himself. He has become so self-sufficient in that department.

The Oregon Coast a second time. Spent hours at the beach flying our kites, walked the tidal pools, played in the ocean, and did a bit of sight seeing.

 J and I had planned to walk in together, but he asked if he could walk J down the sidewalk, so they did that at the beginning of the ceremony.

Such a handsome guy. We done good.

Always so happy.

Except before school.

Eight grade Graduation Picture

1st Day of High School.
He was not happy. His first two days were horrible, but then it settled down and he found that he really likes being in High School. He likes that he has classes with students from all four grade levels.
Getting hit on by the Senior girls didn't hurt, either.

 He has such a big heart and loves all animals.
He wants to be an Engineer, save the world from ourselves, and use the money he makes to run an animal shelter for abandoned animals.

 The Force is strong with this one.

 Parkour. T style.

 His third Cross-Country meet.
I think he may have found his niche.

 We went to every one of his races. He did really well and lettered as a Freshman.
We are still making him run and race in the off season, trying to help him find motivation is hard.
Especially when Xbox is calling.

 Guilt tripping him into going on a bike ride with us.
He liked it but it was really the only time he went all summer.

Won First Place in his division in December.

I can't begin to tell you how incredibly proud I am of the young man he's become. We are managing the rocky shoals of puberty and increased demands on him in school with humor and love and trying to forgo the anger. He has stepped up to the plate in the best way. Our life is filled with so much joy, because of him. I struggle between sadness at watching him grow up and away from me, to know that soon another woman will be first and foremost in his life, but I also feel such awe at the man I see coming out in him. Someday, not too far in the future, I will watch him drive away to college, or walk down the aisle with his chosen love, and I will let him go try out the wings that we have taught him to use. It's humbling and terrifying and amazing all at the same time.

Happy Bday, T. Love you so much.