Tuesday, December 30, 2008

12/29/08 Great to be Riding

Convinced I could canter Ransom both directions, I chose my western saddle for the ride. Knowing full well I wouldn't have the confidence to canter right in my english saddle. I figured Ransom would either adjust, or have a huge bucking fit. Either way, I needed to know if he could handle it.

He acted like that wasn't his first run in a western saddle. He responded great. Since I didn't have to focus so hard on myself, it was easier to ride & read his reactions.

Things I learned
*Ask for canter, then sit light. Don't sit solid or deep - he'll just go faster
*Close reins & pulse rein & thighs for downward transitions
*I was able to use Half-Halt that finally worked like every instructor I've ever had intended
*If I sit light, I can get a sitting trot. The instant I sit deep, and "lean on my pockets", he speeds up considerably
*Plenty of breaks and pats make a happy horse - He thrives on positive feedback. I might try to find sugar cubes & carry some in my pocket for a while. Let him know that when I get it right & he responds, I really appreciate it.

We worked for nearly 45 minutes, and had a blast!!!

Caught Romeo out in the pasture, way in the back. Jumped on him bareback, and let him carry my lazy behind back to the gate. I saw him smiling at Ransom... "See, dude.. she trusts me.. It'll take about 2 years, if she's the same with you as she was with me.. But she'll get there."

Romeo and I worked for another 45 minutes. Walk, trot, canter, in the smaller pasture. Worked on a few rollbacks with great response, as well. He was sweaty & exhausted by ride's end. Good for him, too..... I still saw smiles when I turned him out after the work.

Got a little more arena-widening work done. Posts are started on one long side, most of the leveling work is done too. Finished my day with a hot bath & a long massage. A great day off overall.

12/28 Ransom Spooks

I saddled Ransom, intending on a solid ride. However, we were greeted by deer running across the pasture, and 4-wheelers on the neighbor's property. These were both things Ransom wasn't expecting. When the deer came in, he slammed on the brakes, turned & faced them, ears up. I let him stand & watch. Then, just as quick, other side of the pasture, the kids & 4-wheelers were whizzing by. I felt him tense. So I dismounted... I could see his chest shaking. Poor kid got scared, and wasn't sure what to do.

I stayed off until the commotion went away, then remounted. A little more walk & trot work, then called it done. Total work-work was probably only 20 minutes, but total time was nearly 40. He got flat-scared, and since it was our first ride on my property, I sure wasn't going to ruin it for him.

Romeo was of course, more solid. It was his house, his pasture, and his momma. He was obviously pretty happy to have me back, giving at all three gaits. We got in about a 45 minute work-out, full of all kinds of work. I focused on basics, since I wasn't sure how much ride he'd had while I was gone. I think he was happy to have me again as a partner rather than a boss or trainer.

Back in Texas

I arrived in Houston around 11:30pm Friday night. Safe, but exhausted. Parked my little bottom at a LaQuinta Inn south of the city, for the night, a little before 1am. There was no way in this life I was going to drive the extra few hours to the house, not without fear of a huge "fall asleep at the wheel" accident. The hotel was one I'd been at before, and I was a bit disappointed in the evening check-in attendant. Her attitude suggested I had ruined her peaceful night, and I wasn't in the mood to play. I've commented as such to the hotel manager and in a random survey. Hoping there will be resolution in the future with a better attitude when I arrive.

Arrived at home Saturday morning well-rested. Les came over, we fixed some fence wire that was grounded. Happy to have hot fence, we went to the vet to pick up the little furries. All were glad to see their Momma, well fed, well loved, and tired. Brought them home, a little play time, then off to their puppy crates so Momma could go get the ponies.

Both boys were pretty darn happy to see me. Pretty darn. Ransom nickered his way to the gate, Romeo quick behind him. I got my scratches & nuzzles in, then caught Ransom for a ride.

Rode english in Les' round pen, with a cold front full of thunder & lightening off in the distance headed our way. Got in about 40 minutes of solid walk & trot. I was considering canter when the lightening got closer, and called it a ride.

Things I learned -
*Ransom likes leg - off! He will adjust to my stride on seat alone. Ask for gait, then leave him alone. Don't nag... no reason to. Any added leg pressure in any particular gait means "gimmee more".
*Stop cue still isn't clear in my mind. I feel like I ask, then 6-8 strides later, I get the change.

Weather broke yuckie cold before Romeo got his ride. He was clearly pouting, and angry with me, too.

Got both boys loaded (along with their menagerie of junk), and settled back at home.

A long busy day, but I settled to sleep in a bed full of housepets, with horses in the pasture less than 100ft from my bedroom window.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Holiday Update

I'm sitting in Atlanta, with a few thoughts. My 3pm departure from PA was delayed until 525pm. The 6pm departure from Atlanta to Houston is now scheduled to leave Atlanta at 1030pm. The airport bustles with folks running to their gates, others wandering aimlessly. Then there's folks like me, plugged into wall outlets with computers & cell phones, bumming wireless internet access. Here are my gathered thoughts from the past few days...

The horses will see me tomorrow. I don't usually realize how much they ground me, until I'm not around. When someone else gets to feed them, gets to pet on them, gets to sneak them cookies, it's not th esame. I need that routine - with all of my pets. I still wake up insanely early every morning, but with no chores to do. It's awkward, and doesn't suit me. I've gotten into a habit of being a responsible caretaker, and it doesn't fit to not have chores to do.

There isn't much scarier than landing a plane in fog. As we began our descent into Atlanta, the fog increased denser and denser. It was a scary thing - white fuzz blocking the light beams off the airplane wings. The plane made landfall pretty abruptly, wheels slamming into the asphalt. The whole landing was frightening, something I'd rather not do in fog again for quite a while.

Having had luggage delayed in Pittsburgh, and now sitting in Atlanta, I'm reminded - I HATE Delta Airlines! For the years I lived in SC, they were the best deal for cost, and usually convenient for time. But in the past four years, I've only flown with them twice, and both were a disaster. I made my plans too late, and have learned my lesson never to do this again. I will plan months in advance, and I will insist on flying Continental or USAirways. There's no reason this many customers should have this many issues... especially during the holiday rush.

Time with family is good, but again, I'm grounded in my routine, and I like being in control of my own comings and goings. I've grown up enough now that I don't really enjoy having to wait on someone else to tell me "what I'm doing next." Too many other people were making too many decisions for me, and the stress was overwhelming. Sitting in the airport, waiting on someone else to make my decisions, is a bit relaxing. Nothing I say here will be "wrong", and I won't offend anyone so much that they'll delay my flight more. I can look at people here, random strangers, and smile mildly in their direction, and the response won't matter. If they smile back, fine. If they glare at me as if to say "you freak, stop staring at me!", that's okay, too.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Holiday Cheer?

I'm in Pennsylvania again, freezing my breeches off. There isn't enough clothes in my whole closet to warm me in single digit temperatures. This is NUTS! Anyways, I'm here visting family, missing the kids.

News is the boys are doing good. Romeo and Ransom have been pasturing together, and rumor is Romeo is "Big Dude" in the herd. What a riot! Little pony Romeo bossing around masive hunter Ransom. I can only imagine the thumping Ransom's getting. Just hope they stay safe while they do it.

Yesterday I ordered Ransom a bit (slow twist full cheek) and saddle pad (Medallion wither lift fleece). I thought seriously about putting him in a soft bit like I have, but then realized it'd be easier to train me than the horse. As long as I'm on easy contact, that bit won't be so severe. I have a show photo of him going in a 3-ring elevator, which I have no clue how to ride with. Time to reprove my "soft hands" Susan keeps talking to me about.

Miss the boys... Miss the warm(er) weather. It's good to be with family, but each year I feel my "family" is in Texas...

Monday, December 22, 2008

Introducing Ransom

Gotta Love the face that says "it's frigging cold, you took my blanket off, and I don't have a job today. Why are you standing here and not riding me?!?!?"

Sunday, December 21, 2008

1992 Appendix QH Tidal Wave AKA Ransom

I talked to Barbara, owner of Blue Ribbon Meadows. We discussed through email a lesson horse she had named Buddy. He is 17.0H tall, and was teaching little kids & beginner adults. I made plans to take Chewie for a trade. Then Buddy found a new home (I found out later, this was for the best, for many reasons). I talked to Barbara, and she must have heard my desire and need for a quiet mount, because she called many times Friday night.

Finally, she introduced me via phone to Ransom, an older lesson horse that's "seen the countryside and is ready to settle down with one person." He's a teenager, coggins say he was born in 1992 - teeth pretty much agree with that. His show name is "Tidal Wave." He's jumped in hunters & jumpers, takes an easy bit, and carries around little lesson kids, now in his semi-retirement, after being shown all over the US.

I figured I'd be in over my head on this smart horse, but wanted to know in my heart I tried. On the ground, Ransom was a gentleman, although a bit pushy leading. Tacking & grooming, he was a saint. I stood by and watched while Ms Barbara's groom saddled him. We went to a covered arena, where two other ladies were riding. The groom explained Ransom has been carrying all kinds around, and he won't do anything bad to me at all.

I donned my helmet, and crawled on. Les stood by, watching intently. We walked, we walked, and walked. I mustered courage, and tried to sit his trot. Holy Moley! He took off! Scared the willies outta me! I finally got him stopped, and tried again. Turns out Ransom likes a posting trot, and will adjust his stride to the post. OOH! He's so freaking smart, he was reading me. The more tense I got, the slower he got, carefully adjusting his body to each move I made. I felt he wasn't going to let go of me, but he was waiting on his "stop cue". Barbara explained that "If you squeeze your thighs & use those knee rolls, he'll stop." Sure 'nuf, Ransom shut down in a matter of feet. I laughed inside - he's the opposite of Romeo. You squeeze Rom, hold on! He'll go go go! You squeeze Ransom, he stops.

As Chewie & the groom entered the arena, I felt my focus change and fear rise. Les suggested we head to the round pen. I had a rhythm with Ransom by then that wanted to canter, but sure didn't want to do it in a large arena full of other horses.

We cantered twice in the round pen. Ransom was short & Uphill in his stride. I figured out how to squeeze to slow him, but until I did, that first canter, he shortened and shortened and shortened, but didn't let go of me for a second. No buck, no fart, no twisting. He just proceeded forward.

He's a neat horse. I have taken pictures, and he's every bit 16.3H. Blood bay, dark front legs, back legs blend red to black to bright white socks & hooves. Black mane, black tail, with red points. He's adorable.

Can't wait to ride more!

Chewie's New Life

I started with him, and I learned a whole lot. When I got Chewie, he didn't know the first thing about turning on leg contact, he wouldn't give to a gentle bit, and absolutely ignored the word "whoa". We came a long way. No matter how much courage I'd muster up, no matter how much training he had, I still would get terrified in my heart everytime I'd canter him. It didn't matter how small the space, my heart would race, and my whole body would tense up. I couldn't control it. I tried trainers, clinics, reading books, taking lessons, different farriers, chiropractic work, accupuncture, supplements, lunging, ground driving, and days just walking around on him bareback. But the thought of a canter on his back scared me to death.

I thought it was the fear of canter. Then Romeo (& others) taught me it wasn't me - it was me with Chewie. We weren't the pefect match, and he needed to be put to use.

Saturday, I took him to Blue Ribbon Meadows in Katy, TX. There, a beautiful young lady hopped on him (hunter saddle, french link eggbutt bit, no helmet, blue jeans & boots), and I got scared thinking about what he might do. He was a saint. I watched (aboard another horse) at a distance, my heart pounding. "Don't do anything stupid, Chewie. The barn owner likes you, please don't be stupid." And he wasn't. They looked magical. She was a rider with a solid seat & light hands. Chewie gave to her, showed he was out of shape, but responded to all of her requests. He had a gorgeous flowing big stride, and good control.

Farewell , my friend. My eyes well up thinking that you're gone. Romeo and Ransom will take your place. Romeo will become my confidant - the shoulder I cry on when work and life sucks. Romeo will be that horse I slip cookies to "just because I can." Ransom will become my hunter mount, and we will jump together.
Farewell, my friend... I will be back to see you again someday... maybe even take you for a stroll.. But not until I find my balance, my seat, and my confidence..

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Mending Me, Mending Friendships

I'm healing... Slowly. I overdid coming to work yesterday, and I paid dearly for it last night. By around 8:45, I was dead tired asleep on the couch, dogs cuddled around me. It was pretty nifty relaxing, too. Woke up this morning feeling a bit better, and headed out the door. I'm on some work-provided sinus meds today, and they seem to be making a bigger difference.

One offer for trade on Chewie for what would be a "step up" horse for me. Unfortunately, that's not the direction I wanted to head.. So I offered my regrets.

I sent a note to an old acquaintance about Chewie's sale, and we're talking again. She's got a few more connections and a few more leads in the hunter world than I do, and may have some leads on a lease for the big guy.

I'm toying back and forth. Sell him, trade him, lease him, keep him. This isn't an easy decision, and I'm still not comfortable with it.

Fortunately, if the market keeps up as it is, he'll probably stay at my house until something changes.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Chewie is For Sale

Listed on Equine.com, Dreamhorse, and a few other little sites. HAH... I just thought of something...

If he doesn't make it to the Fugly Horse of the Day website, I guess I have a better shot of selling him, right? =) If he does get there, I ought to delete all selling offers and abandon hope of finding him a new family ....

LOL... Must be the antibiotics wearing off...

12/17/08 Where Have I Been?

Saturday - Rode a little bit, but nothing too intense. It was horrific windy - the 20-something mph winds that seem to blow one sideways... Romeo, bareback, nothing too serious, though.

Sunday - Les and I have this plan to widen my arena to 70ft wide. We worked on it, got most of the posts pulled and the fence tape down. Area was disced heavily, and it's beautifully soft sandy dirt back there... Unfortunately, the harsh winds continued, and turned my back pasture into a dust bowl. No riding... Too windy.

Monday - after work, I stopped at a walk-in med clinic - Sinus Infection, as I had feared. Drugs, drugs, drugs.

Tuesday - stayed home, watched the horses from the window in their turnout blankets. More drugs, sleep, and good home cooked food.

And here we are at today. I won't be riding again today. While the weather is cooperating, my health isn't, yet... I question to myself if I should even be in the office today, spreading these germs and nasties all around the lab. *cough cough* Mild fever and Tylenol doesn't seem to be hitting it. Darn it...

So, I'm sick, and too stubborn to admit I'm sick. Darn it!

Monday, December 15, 2008

12/12/08 Lesson

Arrived at Susan's place just in time for my lesson to start. She saddled up a senior ottb at her place, and off we went. We walked through a good solid buncha trail obstacles. Poles, ground poles, over the bridge, through the L-shape, around the barrel pattern. All of it without a hitch. Romeo was bored, but listened to all of my cues, without any problems. He even walked up to the mailbox, after a few efforts. He never spooked at it, which was great. Susan's horse got cookies for walking to the mailbox, and Romeo watched nearby. When I got to the box, Romeo quickly tilted his head, looking at me, as if asking, "Mom, Okay, where's MY cookie? I did it, didn't I?" I agreed. I'm looking forward to being able to tack up, and walk him to the string of mailboxes at the end of my street to get the mail.

We checked my eventing saddle for fit, and my guess was correct - it didn't fit quite right. But it's not the saddle - it's the padding, or lack there of. Susan looked at my english pads, and explained they're not fluffy enough for his back, with the muscle tear up by his withers. She suggested I use my western pad, english saddle, and Tom Thumb bit. "Only change one thing at a time, and since you said he wouldn't stop in a complete tack change, let's just change the saddle, and then the rest of it a little bit at a time."

He was much better when I only changed the saddle. He stopped when I asked him to, and felt more like himself walking around. Definitely more like Romeo, and less like a nutty speed demon without brakes. I'll look a little goofy for a while, tack all mis-matched. But we're not headed back to any shows for a while, so I'll be content looking silly and learning how to balance again in my english saddle.

Next week, we're meeting again, but it'll be a feed lesson, with Romeo staying at home. Susan has what looks like a pretty neat feed program, and I would like to learn more.

12/11/08 Look! There's Something There!!

*laugh* Romeo's got this cute way of getting my attention, and it's all ears.

We were loping around my pasture. I was riding him amongst the weather, wind, and sunset. It was getting cooler every minute we rode, but I wanted to get the ride in pending Friday's lesson. As we were loping, in one spot, he kept looking outside my pasture, towards some tall grass & trees. I knew the stray momma cat had been in the grass, so I figured she was hunting something.

Before that same spot, after about the fifth time passed, I let him halt, and look. Just then, four deer, one after the other, wandered out from the trees, crossed under my fence, and wiggled across the pasture. :) Romeo was saying , "Momma! There's deers over there! I can smell 'em & hear 'em! Momma! I don't want them deers spookin' you, so I'm trying to warn ya!" Good boy, Romeo, good boy.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Favorite Christmas Carol?

The Christmas season is here. Our home performance of the church Christmas choir cantada is complete, and our 'away' performance will occur on the 21st. I'm in the small women's group, scheduled for next Tuesday. All this festive-ness makes me want to listen to Sirius 81 Holiday Holly. I heard my favorite Christmas carol today.

Little Drummer Boy

So what is your favorite?

And, to quote Jeff Dunham & Walter, "I've been waiting to say this for four years now! It's MERRY CHRISTMAS!"

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Gripe Session - The "Youth of America"

Quite frequently, I read about, or hear about, "this generation".... or "my generation". We're called selfish, irresponsible, weak-minds that don't know what "real work is".

I'm sick of it. I am going to start replying, "Fine! Hate me! But keep in mind, my check's getting garnished for your Social Security. So shut up, or I'll quit working, too." =)

If you're in the older population, I'm sorry you grew up without the internet. If you're reading this, you have it now. I'm sorry you grew up without hundreds of TV channels. If you watch old MASH re-runs, you have those channels. I'm sorry you had a manual labor job as a kid. I painted fire hydrants, I know what work is. I went on a mission trip, contracted mono on the trip, and was sick half of the ten week adventure. I had three part time jobs my senior year in college with a full course load.

What I won't apologize for, is my work ethic. Just because I don't jump in head-first to a problem doesn't mean I'm lazy or stupid. It just means I am smart enough to know that it's better to think about a solution before possibly breaking the situation more. I'll lug horse grain, stack hay, clean house, cook a good supper, and mow my grass like a normal citizen. I keep gas in my truck, and the inspection current. I pay my bills on time, and over-pay when I can in an effort to get ahead.

Keep griping about me and "my generation". The more you put us down, the less motivated some will become. Those unmotivated folks won't pitch into SS nearly as much as you want them to.

In The Weather

My winter isn't hardly a cold season like it is many other places in the country. It's my own little weather, filled with hot, humid days where the skies suddenly grow eerily still. Then, all of a sudden, the wind bursts in from the north, gusting sometimes to 35mph, tree leaves & limbs thrashing in the air. Temperatures will drop sometimes 20F degrees in ten minutes.

That was what I started my ride with last night. Just as I started to saddle Rome, the Schwan man came to my driveway. I hurried up & ordered the few things I needed, then got back to getting ready. As I tightened my girth, the wind howled, with that screechie noise through the trees. I mounted up anyways, figuring we would have quite the ride.

Romeo must have seen and been ridden through some tough times in his life already. He didn't flinch at the harsh winds, didn't blow by any tree leaves flying in the sky. He just cantered along. Refused to start on the right lead headed right, but did his own little flying change in a tight circle. We had a pretty strong conversation about turns on the forehand at the end of our work, but he finally realized that being hard-headed wasn't going to get me off.

I dismounted after 45 minutes of work, in the dark, under the north winds & moonlight.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

What's the Economy Doing to You?

My company is closing plants. Some permanent, some temporary. Contractors are being sent off without pay for some determined time. Some of my co-workers are going to be laid off in 2009.

This sucks. There's no other way to say it. It just sucks. I've been trying to be strong, focusing on doing what I can do, and not ruffling feathers. Anytime someone's asked for extra work, I've been saying "yeah, sure", and eagerly getting it accomplished.

But with so much not running, there's little to keep busy. I don't have enough vacation to just disappear until January 2009. I was told I wouldn't be forced to take time without pay.

The whole thing is a total mess. We had economic crises locally, and some of it I'm convinced was due to the Hurricane evacuations. It wasn't our fault the storm blew away some of our sites. We sure didn't do it. It's not my fault Oil prices went through the roof.

If the "shut down, lay off, and close" plans continue to surface, I just might put up the following on our CEO's corporate blog..

Mr X, How's about you take a $1 salary next year, refuse to take your stock options and bonuses, and keep some of my colleagues employed? We don't need much. It sure would be nice if you'd stop running those damn TV commercials about how much you care about people. You might care about clean drinking water in some African country, but you could obviously care less about the US Employees who fund all the research pet-projects you embrace. When the top 10 in management take $1 salary for 2009, then and only then, will I understand why my boss has to choose which of us stay, and which of us go.

No, it's not horse related... Yet. This economy keeps up, I'm going to have to sell Chewie for even less than I already want for him. Crap and double crap!

Monday, December 8, 2008

12/7/08 Re-Establishing the Brakes

I hauled Romeo to Les', and we added Amigo to the trailer and sailed off.

Les rode Romeo to start, me on Amigo. I have said this before, and fear my readers may become bored with it, but I LOVE RIDING AMIGO! That horse only lopes on one lead, it's not a rocking horse lope, but once he's in it, it's a dream. I could sit and canter him for an hour, easily, and not get bored. I can feel every hoof hit the arena ground, and by glancing at his ears, I can tell exactly what he's paying attention to while he's going. He is listening to me, and staying on the rail, but those ears are paying close attention to everything else going on everywhere else around him. The fire training grounds near the arena was filled with workers & trucks, putting out a few propane-controlled blazes. "Practice", Les told me. I kept loping Amigo, and he complied.

Romeo got a few pretty serious reminders what "Whoa" was all about. I told Amigo once, "Wow, buddy. It ain't pretty, so let's just get on passed him & ignore it, huh?" Les told me at one point, "He thinks he can do his own thing, and take off anytime he wants. It's nothing you did wrong, he's just seeing what he can get away with. Give me a few more minutes with him, and you can have him back."

We switched saddles eventually, and I told Romeo, "No more funny-stuff. I don't care what you thought you learned at the parade, that's over. It's back to just you and me, and I refuse to take any more crap."

I asked for walk, and halt. It was beautiful, much like when I originally got him back. Same for the trot. Then we tore into a nice big canter. It started out pretty quick, and about 4 circles later, I said to him, "Whoa", almost under my breath. Complete halt in about 4 feet. He was back to his old self.

Les and I loosened our saddles, and took a snack break. I got back on as the cowboys were coming for team roping practice, and cantered what seemed like a hundred circles around the arena. With the break and the temperature dropping, Romeo got a little fast again, his head high in the air. I stayed after the canter until his head started to lower, and I could feel his footfalls. I asked for "whoa", and he slammed on the brakes. We worked on canter left, we worked on canter right.

While the ropers did their thing, I walked around a bunch. Also helped push the steers back up twice. Les has had bronchitis pretty bad, and finally was able to rope. Lots of happiness there. We called it an early evening, and I got home much earlier than normal.

Total work for Romeo, a few hours under saddle. Total "hard" work, probably 45 minutes. I know I got his attention.. He was much better behaved while we just stood around at the arena watching. Calmer, better attention, ears flicking back to me to make sure I didn't need anything from him. A much happier horse.

12/6/08 Saddle Fit, and Brakes

Tacked Romeo up in my hunter saddle, and headed to the arena. I was pretty confident he'd stop in his snaffle bit, so I mounted pretty confident in the arena.

He had other plans. He was walking through my "whoa", and when I got that better, I went to trot. Romeo instantly turned into that stupid speed demon he was at the June show - sprinting for the gate, whizzing around the arena, refusing to listen to "whoa", or any other halting gestures.

I took him back to the trailer, switched to my tom thumb bit and western saddle. Then off to the round pen. I figured if he wanted a run, that's what he was getting. He took off in the round pen like a complete nitwit freak. Ran and ran and ran. He seemed to calm down, listened to "whoa" again, and I went back to the arena.

Still no brakes. He galloped around the arena as if that round pen work hadn't happened. It was pretty intense. I felt all over my tack, but still "in the middle". He started to finally break gait to the trot, so I pushed him a little harder, then asked for halt. It took a whole lot more bit than I ever want to use on him. Just about then, I saw Les' truck pulling down the road (I had Sugar at my place from Friday night, the full intention we were going trail riding - he didn't make it to my place until nearly dark, so the ride didn't happen).

I took Romeo up to the trailer, and explained what kind of ride I had. Les said, "Let's look at that english saddle of yours, and see if there was a problem and he was just upset about it." He was right - it sits slanted back, much farther back than my western seat does. The back of the saddle seems to need elevating about 3". There are pads available for this sort of thing, I think. Les also said, "He might be stirred because of the weather, or your tension from Friday. He's probably just messing with you. I'll ride him tomorrow."

12/5/08 Not Ready for Nights

Plain and simple, I saw all the lights, all the commotion, sirens going, we were assigned the front of the parade, lineup was crazy, the additional horses in the parade (those that were not participants in the other parade I was in), I froze. The fear eventually got to Romeo, and he refused to stand still. I chose to let someone else ride him, and they were fine. Watching the parade, there were quite a few riders drinking, well-intoxicated, and horses all doing their own thing. Sugar was even tense, side-stepping most of the route. There was a horse-drawn buggy in front of them, and a band of wild motorcycles behind. I've made great progress, I'm not nearly as scared as I used to be, but I'm not ready for that much chaos at night.

No pictures, either. Romeo did look pretty darn cute, but nobody was around to take pictures, and I didn't take my camera.

Friday, December 5, 2008

12/4/08 Romeo More

Chewie seems to be doing better on the left hind ankle. At least while he was galloping around his pasture, making sure I knew he wasn't happy I was riding Romeo. I will check him sometime this weekend (in whatever small portions of free time I have).

I knew daylight was limited, so I got right after loping around on Romeo. A great ride, with good response & relaxed manner from him. Chewie would act up each time we got near their adjoining fenceline, Romeo looked over his way a couple times, but no reaction. Some neighbor kids were walking behind my pasture, and a few cars went to the neighbor's house, but he still didn't do more than look. He does that "hard looking" a lot. Susan said it's because he was a stallion for a while. Having the stud-horse behavior, he would have been looking around a lot for a "ready mare". That, combined with his personality, makes him very "lookie" and alert to things around him, but not reactive. Susan said "When he wants to look, let him. Don't force him to quit looking. He'll let you know when he's seen enough of whatever he is looking at."

We finished up our ride through the trail obstacles, and a bareback walk to the barn. About 40 minutes total before the sun set, and the colder temperatures settled in.

Christmas parade tonight. I hope I get more awesome pictures... We're both going to be festively prepared for the event. :) I'm going to pretend to be an elf on a reindeer... we'll see how good that goes.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

12/2/08 Romeo

Whatta Man! He still impresses me on each ride. It was a blustery cool evening, and nearly 5pm before I mounted up. I yapped on the phone while in the walk & trot, in figure eights, circles, stops & backups. He was a champ.

Ended my phone call long enough to lope circles in both directions. Yee HA! Woo... he felt fast to the right.. fast fast fast! It was probably bad balance on my part, because the scenery wasn't whizzing by in a blur...

Walked him through the trail obstacles, over the bridge, backed up in some swurvy lines. Unsaddled, groomed, put on his halter, cribbing collar, and attached some cotton reins to the halter. Mounted up bareback for a walk back to the barn. All of a sudden, the neighbor's hunting rifle sounded through the trees. I leaned forward, felt my body weight shift right, grabbed a wad of mane to catch my balance, and, to my complete surprise, he stopped. Completely halted, right in place. He felt my hand on his neck, and he knows that's the "emergency halt" cue.

Absolutely awesome! In a small panic, I did what I would automatically do - grab mane for balance. That mane-grab, along with my balance shift, and he stopped to catch me. :) Neat-o pony!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Things that Make me Giggle

I enjoy watching comedy on TV. When there's a decent comic on Comedy Central, I'll stop and watch. I might smile, chuckle softly, but that'd be about it.

There is one comic that makes me laugh out loud, hit pause, rewind, watch it again, and laugh some more.

Jeff Dunham

If you haven't see him, check out the video clips on his website. This guy is a RIOT! I laugh watching re-run re-runs. I can record it, and watch it three consecutive times, hear something new each time, and laugh flat out loud every time.

Check it out!

11/30/08 Trail Obstacles

Tacked up Romeo, and we worked all at the walk, over the bridge, forward and back through an L-shaped pattern, in and out of some old white buckets (pretending to be orange cones). He did pretty good. His back-up out of the L got over-done towards the end, and he would overswing his hind end around too far... Things to work on.

Someone in the neighborhood was practice shooting a shotgun, and when I took Romeo to the pasture to work on canter, the gunfire increased. I felt him tense up, ears headed every direction, head up in the sky. So we worked on staying calm, and plenty of walking around, all the while waiting on him to relax. I yapped on the phone with my mom during most of the ride. Romeo took it all in stride, and began to relax.

A good hour's work, though nothing above the walk. "Mind work", as Susan calls it.

11/29/08 Playing Cow

Les delivered a handmade wooden bridge to the house, a flat one, made from an old wooden pallet. We dumped it in the side yard, and repaired a plywood stall wall that Chewie pulled off.

Then we loaded Romeo, and hauled to his house. He grabbed Amigo, we loaded up in his trailer, and off we went to the arena. We were going to play with the steers, and nobody else got called that we'd be there. This would be what the day before was supposed to.

Amigo tracks cows like a madman! He stayed right on their hip, often bounding one way or the other before the cow would move. It was hysterical fun to ride. I spent most of the time in the saddle hanging onto the horn tightly, trying really hard to keep my reins loose and my rein-hand on his neck. He galloped down the arena a few times. Les insisted "the Old Man only gave you about 10%. If you had your spurs on, he would've cut off every single one and kept them from running back to the herd." It didn't matter, I had an absolute blast, and got my cow-horse therapy in the form of outright squealing giggling aboard the OldMan.

Les rode Romeo, and said while he didn't track great, he did "lock on" to one steer, and when the steer stopped wiggling around, so did he. Les never got upset with Romeo while teaching him, and when Romeo got it right, and tracked up, Les was praising the daylights out of him. "Good boy!", patting him on the neck. Romeo's eyes looked bright, ears pricked forward. He knew he'd done good.

More work will be needed in this area if I intend on ever helping move cows out in a pasture, or the like. But a fun day overall.

11/28/08 Roping Hand

After my lesson, I scrambled home, tended the smaller family members, and hauled Romeo to the roping arena. Plans were to track cows, and Les and I intended the trip to be very low-key.

Then Les called R, told him we would be there. R called Mr D and M, and next thing we know, we're wrapping the steers for roping practice. The full intention of the trip was for us to goof off, Les wanted to steer-stop on Sugar, work on her rate, and let me goof off on Romeo. None of that happened.

I worked the chute a while, watching Romeo stand tied, as bored as I was. I got to ride a bit more, and tried to push the steers back to the chute by myself. That didn't go so good. They ended up getting away from me, and it took a lot longer than it might've if I would have had help. I was a bit annoyed - it was supposed to be a fun day, that turned into a roping day, and turned into me being a "non hired hand". R and Mr D didn't even express any appreciation for the work I did helping them. R offered up his fifteen cents on all things Romeo. My saddle didn't fit right, I wasn't wearing spurs, and I need to learn to throw a rope. Saddle fit is fine, thank you. I don't need spurs, and don't intend on having them on, also, thank you. And I don't really want to be a roper, so bugger off.

A frustrating evening, since the plans we had didn't pan out. I suppose I'm "earning my stripes" with the ropers, having to learn how to do all the workings and goings on. Unfortunately, that would be great if I wanted to be a roper... I just want to ride.

Monday, December 1, 2008

11/28/08 Lesson #2

Susan was as giddy happy to see us for the second as she was for the first. It's funny - she must often give lessons to little kids. She trains students like Ken McNabb does horses - wild rewards for the slightest try. It just about makes me laugh inside when I hear, "You did such a good job! That was fabulous!", and it's in this slap-happy tone of voice. I find myself mid-lesson wanting to sing aloud, "I'm a Little TeaPot, short and stout... Here is my handle, here is my spout!"

I was silly proud of myself when I entered the square pen and got to show off what I'd learned.
Things I did well
+legs were forward
+halts were better
+hand was up and I lifted up on the bit better

Things I need to work on
-"Help" less. Rather than pester & nag and help Romeo on every stride, I need to ask him to do it, then leave him to do it.
- keeping legs forward

Next lesson is scheduled for December 12th. She explained we are ready to work out of the little pen, and will begin working on trail obstacles.

Thanksgiving 2008

I arrived at Cowboy Les's house early, around 10am, with Chewie in-tow. Romeo was already there, sporting short feet & new shoes. I could hardly contain the enthusiasm. He galloped across his pasture to the gate, nickering & snorting at me. My boy was happy to see me! How awesome!
Turned Chewie out into a little paddock, and gave both the boys hay to occupy their minds. I went inside, and began helping with the cooking preparations for the meal. Family and their children all began arriving, and we all settled in the kitchen and living room to feast.

Turkey for you, ham for you, and chicken for me! I have this incredibly foul turkey allergy, which causes me great digestive distress when I feast on it. No giblits in the gravy, no turkey-based stuffing, please. I'll pass... as my body would go into overload & complete disruption should I consume it. I ate heartily on my chicken, chicken-based cornbread dressing, home-made mashed sweet potatoes, corn casserole, rolls, the works. Many dessert-like things I also should not have consumed, and I did it anyways.

Les and I saddled Romeo & Sugar to lead the nieces & nephews around the pasture. One of the nieces had her own idea on Sugar, turned her away from Les, leaned forward, and squeezed. Yup! You guessed it! Les and I hollering "pull back! Pull back! Touch her neck & pull back!" as Sugar took off out the driveway, across the road, and down the road a piece. The little girl bailed, fell to the ground, with Sugar turning on the forehand, planting all four hooves, staring down at the little girl saying, "What you doing down there, human? I'm up here, I was in control!" No injuries to horse or rider, for that we're thankful. Romeo behaved like the perfect leadline pony for a little girl named C. I let her demonstrate Romeo's great brakes a few times, and laughed at his face when she hollered, "WHOA!" He slammed to a stop, eyes all wrinkly like, "Momma? She yelled! What'd I do??" cute boy... and well behaved.

We found Chewie in the paddock with a small scrape on his left hind ankle. He appeared to be favoring it, but we weren't sure. Later on, he looked sound and a bit impatient he wasn't in on the riding or saddling action. Les took him to the round pen, free lounged him a while, and he appeared sound & good to go. He saddled him up, lounged a bit more, then tied him to the "post of knowledge". We waved all the guests farewell, a bit grateful they were going. We could get the guests gone, and get to the real reason for the day - Riding!

Les crawled on Chewie, cantered him in the round pen like a real pro. Chewie threw his head a bit, but I figured it was the curb chain he didn't appreciate. They went out to the pasture to ride a while. Chewie finally did what he usually does - blew up to a rearing fit when he decided that was just about enough work for one day. Les stuck both legs (and spurs) on each side, and they bounced a bit more. Les stayed on, and Chewie gave in, and the cantering continued. He and Chewie worked for nearly an hour plus some, and then Chewie stood unsaddled & tied for a while.

We got back on Sugar & Romeo, and took them for a leisurely ride around some crop fields. They wandered through black gumbo dirt mud, hooves sticking in the tarry dirt. Good long ride, nearly an hour, mostly at walk, and it was great. The sunset was gorgeous, and made the day worthwhile.

After more laying back & relaxing at the house, fed the boys, and then wandered myself and my boys back on home.

A much better Thanksgiving than years' past, where I've eaten alone, or spent a few awkward hours in someone else's home where I felt like a shadow rather than a guest. One of the better holidays of the many I've spent away from my blood-relatives. Les and MG are becoming like family to me, and I'm pretty thankful for that this year.

11/24 - 11/26

I rode both horses Monday and Tuesday. Romeo walk, trot, canter in the pasture Monday, trail ride Tuesday. Chewie walk, trot, canter in the round pen. All in Western tack, all through a variety of paces. Average work 45 minutes to an hour. The rides were good overall.

Romeo supported me in some fear on Tuesday's trail ride. There was some bad communication between the other trail rider and myself, and I ended up in some places I didn't feel were safe. Romeo stepped in a deep, small, missing covered city-hole as we walked through town. It didn't appear to do any damage to his leg, but scared the daylights out of me. I did get some canter in an open old ballfield. He was a great horse, despite his timid rider.

Tuesday evening, I delivered Romeo to Cowboy Les's house, for four-shoes to be set on Wednesday.

Wednesday, I tacked up Chewie, and repeated the work of the days previous. He was stiff and a bit uncooperative, just about refusing to neck rein figure8s at the trot. I was annoyed, and allowed him to stumble all he wanted to due to laziness. I figured if he wanted to be lazy, he would stumble, and it would be his fault, not mine. He finally complied, but it took over an hour to get his attention.

11/23/08 Lesson #1 Susan

I arrived at Susan's barn after missing her driveway. I've learned that my trailer hauling skills are improving in increments... getting a bit better each time I have to put it somewhere complicated.

Things I liked on first impression...
-grass was well mowed & cared for
-no wild accumulation of tractor-junk anywhere
-she was dressed to ride, except for the sneaker-shoes

Things I didn't like on first impression...
-her stalls were a mess, filled with poop atop of rubber mats
-her tackroom was overly cluttered with too many saddles & empty feed sacks
-the poop stunk

I saddled Romeo, while she talked to me about the basics. I pretended not to notice while she analyzed my saddle pad, my saddle, my girth, the breastcollar, and even the bit I used. I pretended not to pay attention while she fussed with my saddle, checking for proper fit. I even pretended I didn't see her check the curb chain for proper adjustment.

She led us to a smallish square pen, one side at a slight angle towards the barn. I again pretended not to notice while she watched me lightly climb on my horse. The little things... I figured.. "she's making sure I can safely at least mount.... She doesn't know what I do know or don't know." I agreed in my mind on the way there I would pretend I didn't know diddly squat, and let her tell me all about every little thing there was to tell me.

She asked that we walk forward, and halt. Her "halt" is on thigh pressure, which I'm still not entirely sure Romeo can feel through the saddle tree. We walked and walked and walked, and halted a dozen or more times. We then weaved in and out of three cones, with a long story about pole-bending, and barrel racing (my guess is she looked at my barrel saddle & assumed that was my aspiration.. not knowing I bought the saddle for security & comfort only).

After almost a half hour, we picked up a trot. "Finally", I thought in my head "I get to ride". The trot sessions were short, but beautiful. In a few moments of tense panic, I did lean a bit forward, but otherwise, I did good.

Things I did well...
+soft hands, so I'm told
+paid attention, and looked happy to be in the saddle
+quiet legs

Things I needed to improve
-Legs in front of me, allowing the saddle fenders to fall naturally, rather than pulling them back to where dressage-legs would go
-Halt with thighs
-Pull up on the bit, rather than back for changes
-Work less, and allow Romeo to do the work

A good hour overall. Her horses were nice, and sweet enough in their stalls. I didn't like seeing that much poop in the stalls, though. YUCK!

11/22/08 The Roping

Romeo and I attended in full fashion. We didn't work the cows, we didn't push them around, we just rode. I got in the middle of the chaos. I walked, jogged, and loped, all in the chaos of a variety of rider skill and ability. A few folks were clearly training their horses in the warmups, and I stayed far out of their way. A few others rode from their feet, standing in the saddle, and I stayed farther away from them.

We loped all over the place in the arena, and in a small warmup area behind the arena. There were horses everywhere, people everywhere.

And we had fun fun FUN!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Christmas Opportunities

It was a cold afternoon out Christmas scramble shopping before the holidays. I was home from grad school just a few days before the big day, and didn't have my shopping done. Mom and I spent the day out spending my money I didn't have on gifts for everyone - so no one in the family could say "Jennifer didn't bother to think of me this holiday - she was too selfish, I suppose", or some other ill-intentioned remark... especially for the poor grad student who was earning below the national poverty level...

We were checking out in line at Wal-Mart. All our spoils were settled on the rolling rubber mat that auto-scrolls up to the checkout. Two women filed in line behind us, setting down all kinds of toys & little clothes. One was older, one was younger. I heard the younger one say, "Mom, we can't afford all these gifts this year. We've already explained it to the kids, and they said they understand. Santa has to take a year easy to catch up."
The older woman said, "No bother. We're doing this anyways. I don't know how, but we'll figure something out. Those kids shouldn't have to understand what hard years are. We will figure it out, sweetheart, don't worry."
I was heartbroken. Here I was, using what little tuition stipend I'd saved, and I was buying half-decent things for family that didn't need a darn thing, while this mom was trying to buy gifts for little kids with a harsh reality to face.
I leaned into my mom, and said, "Mom, did you hear that? I know I shouldn't eavesdrop... but it's sad." I explained what I'd heard.
As the clerk scanned our things, she gave me the total, and I paid up in full. All cash. Mom looked at the clerk, looked back at the two women, and dug through her purse. She pulled out some amount of cash, I didn't see how much. There were at least three twenty-dollar bills in the pile. She folded it up neatly, and, as we walked off.. said to the clerk, "Here. Put this towards the next people's bill. Don't tell them where it came from, and have a Merry Christmas."
We left the store. I was nearly in tears. "Mom, that was so sweet. I can't believe you did that."
Mom said, "I do that every year. Each Christmas, I end up in line in front of somebody like that. I hear what they say, like you did, and I reserve Christmas money every year for that situation. Take note, and do it yourself. You will be blessed Christmas morning thinking of the kids tearing open gifts that were really from Santa."

And I have. Each year, I look at how much I have to spend for the holiday. I make a list, include all of the family and close friends. I handmake some gifts, I personalize others. I set aside a little cash, and stick it in a safe spot in my purse. Each person gets something that is useful, or necessary. I don't buy "hang it on the wall without a use" gifts often. I eavesdrop, I listen in, and I stare at what's on the checkout lines around me... And for the last five holidays, I've had one of those families behind me in a checkout line, and every year, I've been Santa.

Charity - Whose Responsibility Is It?

I'm going to preface this... If you don't wanna argue politics, skip the details. If you do, keep your response comments clean enough small children can read it & not ask questions. Cheers!

Who do you give to? How much? How often? I'm a regular giver, but at church mostly. If there's a toy drive, or a food drive, or a physical "giving" campaign, I try to participate. When Hurricane Ike blew in, I organized a gift card drive at work, and participated.

All that being said, I get bent out of shape sideways when I see begging. Begging on street corners, begging in restaurants, begging in grocery store parking lots. Begging on the internet, too. I reguarly see folks that, while not Bill Gates or Oprah, aren't suffering; however, because they don't have the nicest house on the block, or the means to have high speed internet, satellite cable with premium movies, or the latest Blackberry cell phone, beg. It burns my bum! I hate seeing people begging! I hate it more when they beg on the internet - behind this wireless curtain where, I can't see if they physically need what they say they need. "I'm starving and might be stuck living on the street, so please feel bad for me." I can't do it! How do I know you're bad off? How do I know for sure you're not sitting on vacation in a nicer house than my double-wide, lapping up cable-speed internet, surfing the web all day roving for sympathy?

It's not the government's responsibility to provide charity-care for those able to work. It might not be a fun job, it might not be a high-paying job... But if you can physically think for yourself, there's work to be had. I'll admit, it ain't gonna pay for high speed cable & internet... but it will keep beans & rice on the table and the heat on low. If you need help, seriously need assistance, get your rump to a church, and get involved. If you've got the calories to beg on the internet, there's certainly some calories there that can be burned entering data in the church computer, or visiting the shut-ins in a nursing home.

This concludes my rant of the season... I usually get one neat God-driven opportunity to help someone every Christmas. It's a tradition I picked up from my mom, and I've done it every year since I've had a full-time job. See the next post.. If I've offended, or caused you pain, I am sorry. I am entitled to my opinion.

You know what they say about opinions? They're like armpits - Everybody's got at least two, and usually, one stinks. Cheers all.

Friday Fill Ins

1. The last band I saw live was Newsboys.
2. What I look forward to most on Thanksgiving is friends & trail rides.
3. My Christmas/holiday shopping is not even started, but I have a mental list for most family and friends.
4. Thoughts of what to do after work with the horses fill my head.
5. I wish I could wear regular jeans without folding the bottoms up.
6. Bagpipes blow. (That is funny!)
7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to Riding Romeo in pasture, Chewie in the round pen, tomorrow my plans include shopping for new jeans & helping at the memorial roping and Sunday, I want to get off to a great start at my new lesson!

11/20/08 Chewie

I think the shoulder was a game to get out of work. Anyways, it was an unsuccessful effort with me. I did wrap his legs with polos before work, hoping any scuffle temper fit he'd throw in the round pen would be muted by the leg protection.

I didn't warm him up as fiercely as Les did, but eventually got him at the same high gallop. One thing Les wanted him to do was at "whoa", stop going at the rail, come to the pen center, and stop. I needed to remind Chewie of the game with a lunge line, but after a few minutes, he remembered. He went forward nicely, and on "whoa", came in, licking & chewing. One time he got out there really fast, tearing around the pen kicking up dust. I said, "Whoa!", stepped just in front of his shoulder, and he came in, breathing hard. I let him stand for a few minutes, rubbing him all over and told him what a good boy he was. After he caught his breath, we went back to it. The "whoa"s were easier after that. I took off the line, worked on it some more, and also worked on transitions up & down. Put his french link snaffle in, climbed on bareback, and worked on neck reining at the walk, and rode a while at trot on the rail. I was searching for the lameness Les described, but there was none to be found. I think he was messing with us...

One friend suggested saddle fit. I mentioned it to Les, and commented, "I didn't feel anything bareback, so that might've been it. You have other saddles.. Let's check those out, huh?" He agreed to try others.

Romeo has a busy weekend ahead. Let me dig up some hot coffee somewhere's... I'll find the Friday Fill Ins, get that accomplished. I've got a rant in my head I need to phish out, so ya'll will have to tolerate my temper tantrum. Sometimes society baffles me, and if I don't type it out, someone over the holiday season may hear my opinion too loudly.. that would be bad.

where's the coffee???????

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

11/18/08 Respecting the Bit

Tacked Romeo in my Western saddle, English bit. I love my hunter bit - It's a loose ring snaffle, steel with a copper french link in the middle. It's so flexible, and the copper brings out nice happy horse-spit!

I wasn't really sure if he'd obey me in the bit, stopping on "whoa", without a lot of bit pressure. His go's and whoa's were great! His neck reining, well, that left a gap. I think the english bridle, with the nice cotton web reins (I Love holding onto, they're so soft!) wasn't enough. I have english leather reins, and it might be time to use them, or pick up a pair of rubber reins.. something. Anyways, Romeo didn't want to obey neck reining cues for flip, even with added leg pressure. I think it was that the cotton reins weren't getting through his winter fuzz to his skin. Not sure... But I cantered him neck reining, and direct reining. Had my elbows bending on light contact and all. Both leads, both directions. It was a pretty neat feeling. Reins in each hand, legs securely on the horse, his mind totally on me. He had his ears turned on me more last night than he has in a while. We wrapped up with a walk down the road, plagued with goofy redneck neighbor whistling (at the deer, I assume, looking for antlers to shoot at; sad for him, they're a herd of does.. he doesn't know that I guess), and another neighbor trolling behind me in his 4-wheeler. I waited a couple times, thinking he'd pass, and Romeo could get a look at the ATV. No such luck... Oh well. Total work about a half hour. Not as much as I'd wanted, but good enough.

Talked to new instructor Miss Susan. Western saddle, western bit (tom thumb), and fat-jeans. Les was asked not to attend, so she can see me all for herself, without any fear of me "worrying what my friend might think of my riding." She doesn't know that Les has seen me at my worst, and has a knack for forcing me a bit past comfortable just to develop more confidence. That's okay... we're still on schedule for noon Sunday. I can't wait!!!

I think Chewie was faking-me out. I poked his shoulders.. both sides, in fact. He gave, but it was more a "Gimmee a cookie, witch" give than it was a "owwie that hurts, stinkie!" give. I think he isn't in pain any more than normal on his ever-changing right front.

need hoof pictures need hoof pictures need hoof pictures... if I type it over and over and over I'll remember, right??

Ya'll have a ducky good day. If you live where the snow flies, bottle some up for me. It's been cool here, and I wish there was white stuff to go with it... better than just "cold" with no particular purpose.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

11/17/08 Update on All

Chewie's shoulder still sore. Dangit... I'm having serious "sell the horse" thoughts. He's great, when he's great. Those are far between. Les insists I sell him online. I don't want to do that... There are a select people or three I don't want anywhere near him, because I know he won't be treated well. I don't even feel like discussing the matter with them, or having their notes in my inbox... Might shoot an email to the lady I got him from. I don't know... I'm almost getting too much pressure from Les to "get out of the habit of feeding a horse I can't use for anything or get any benefit from." My real hesitation is I don't want to give him away for nearly nothing, and I don't want him in an abusive cowboy home where he winds up with spur marks all over him... Hard to ferret out evil people...

Shorty came home. Report is he was staggering & weak wandering around the pasture, but ate supper grain & breakfast hay. Vet said "get him a salt block so he'll drink more." UM! Great idea, but if the horse won't drink because of cold weather, salt won't convince him. Anyways... he's back home & I look forward to seeing him again soon. I hope he isn't ridden in a while, but that's incredibly out of my control, and I hate that.

Romeo and I worked in the pasture before dark. Walk, Trot, Canter. I put a ground pole out, and asked him to canter over it. He was a little stickie, but eventually did it mid-stride without fuss. It was pretty neat to get him over it, and give him the reins in front of the fence. Sort of let him figure out where to put his feet. Total work about 45 minutes.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Shorty Goes Home Today

Les called the vet for an update, and they said, "Oh Yeah! He's good. You can come get him." Just like that... No details, no updates, nothing. I had utmost respect for these people, they were so polite, so kind,, all of that.

They called us once Sunday to let us know he was comfortable... that was it. Then suddenly today, it's "all better".

Is that normal? Are vets normally that uninformative?

Anyways, D's going to Bay City to pick the fellow up today. I'll be happy to see him standing back in the pasture at Les' house munching on grass & hay.

Chin up, Shorty.. I missed ya!

11/16 Ride Away!

After we settled Shorty at the vet's, we drove back home, made supper plans, and took off to my house.

Les tacked up Chewie, and they headed to the round pen. Les pushed him pretty hard at canter & gallop around the pen, and then added a lunge line to teach Chewie at Whoa to stop & come to the pen center. It looked harsh, but knowing what he did with Romeo, I assumed it would be okay. Les got on Chewie to ride, and immediately said to me, "He's lame, something's wrong." He said it was on the front left hoof. He got off, and I got on (in his saddle & bit). Chewie to me felt stiff, but there was no head-swinging at all at trot, either way.

Les said he "didn't want to torture or punish him", and abandoned the notion of work at canter. They walked & trotted a bit in the round pen, then went to the arena for more of the same. Work was solely on neck reining. I noticed Les was asking for neck rein much higher towards his head than I have. He got off, I got on, and while hew as a bit stiff, he still seemed to respond a bit better to me. Worked on circles & figure-8s walk & trot in the arena. Les unsaddled him at the house, and poked & pushed on Chewie all over, certain he'd find lameness in the left hoof. No such luck. The sore-spot was on his right shoulder...

I don't know what happened... Maybe the pushed warmup was too hard on him, and he over-extended trying to get out of Les' way... maybe he just wasn't physically fit enough for what was asked of him. Perhaps the strain occurred because he thought he could do more with the right leg & hoof than he can yet. Either way, Chewie stood tied while we caught & rode Romeo.

Les rode Romeo first, took him to his pasture, and immediately asked him to canter out. Romeo obeyed cheerfully. He was a saint... demonstrating I've worked very hard on him, and I guess I've done okay. I crawled on him , and worked a bit on canter up & down transitions. Romeo wanted to toss his head straight upwards for both transitions. I initiated about a dozen transitions, and he started to get it right. He'd drop his head for both, and seemed to glide in and out of the canter a bit more. It's something to work on until the lesson Sunday.

Les saddled Chewie again, and we went on a walk/trot trail ride up & down the road. One of my neighbors was driving aggressively down the road, came around a blind turn, and spooked both of the horses. We got them back calmed down, walked some more, and turned back for home. Walked the pasture fenceline a few times through the trees, and one time I looked back, I saw Chewie buck a bit with Les. He thought Chewie was being mean, I think he was just saying "Get that curb chain off my chin, and let up some rein pressure so I can just walk calmly."

The day was not as I expected, at all. I thought Chewie would be ready for the workout, and I guess I somehow thought Les wouldn't ask for the world from him. Neither was the case. I've considered leaving Chewie in my own lacking training abilities a while, just riding him myself. Then I fear he'll get bored with my round-pen canter, and my figure-9s trot in the arena. I am worried he's going to be this fussy for much longer, and fear that his feet aren't ever going to be right... I've thought about selling him, buy I don't exactly want to give him away, either. I have invested a lot of time and money, and I still can't do everything I want to with him.

Ahh.. stress... I hate it. But I will make no decisions today, but instead wait a while longer, let him rest from yesterday, and maybe it was a fluke, and he'll be sound & sane again soon.

Sick Shorty

Went to Les' house in the afternoon to help him paint the laundry room. We got the whole room painted, two coats on the trim, and called it done to dry a while.

Went outside to feed, and found D's horse Shorty laying down on his side. He was barely breathing... Les got him upright, and put his grain in the bucket. Shorty walked over to it, but didn't eat. We put him in a paddock by himself, and he laid down again. Crap!

Les hooked up the trailer to the truck while I walked Shorty in-hand. I got Shorty to poop a little bit, but it looked really painful when he did. We drove him around a while, and got a little more poop, but when we'd stop his feet on the ground, he'd try to lay down again.

Called D, and adventured on a 5-hour drive & stop rotation around the county. We'd load him up, drive him around, unload, walk in-hand, load, drive, repeat. The cowboys tell me the driving around "usually rattles the colic loose." I wasn't convinced, but he's not my horse, so I couldn't say much. Their regular vet was out of town, and not taking calls.

By 9:30pm I was exhausted, having been up since 4:30am for Chewie's appointment, and after having a very full busy day. I suggested a call to my vet in Victoria, and we could all drive up there together. D resisted, and didn't want "another vet working his horse. He'd be fine." I suggested we drive to my house, where I had some Banamine paste. Give Shorty the paste, and then drive him back home. They agreed, which confused me. They didn't want to drive to the south end of town to a vet's, but they'd go to the north side of town (farther away) to my yard for medicine. Hmmph. Arrived at home, gave them the whole tube. They gave Shorty one dose of Banamine, and headed back home.

Sunday morning, I called Les to check on Shorty. No good news. When they got home, he looked like he was improving, so they called it a night. Les got up Sunday morning early, and found Shorty laying down, again. I called every vet I knew in Victoria, nobody wanted to treat the colic call, or they were on vacation. Les found a vet in Bay City (ER horse hospital), and they agreed to take him. D said, "Do what you've got to for him, even surgery. I have to do something at church today, but go ahead." Again, I was puzzled.. D rode in the trailer all night Saturday, refusing to leave Shorty's side. But church calls Sunday morning, and he wouldn't even come see the horse. Hmmph. Whatever!

I drove to Les' house, and we drove to Bay City. The news was half-good, but of course not great. Shorty had a normal pulse rate, slightly elevated temperature, but cooperated so well with the appointment, the vet was optimistic. He was incredibly dehydrated. They gave him a shot of something to relax the stomach cramps, took some blood samples, tubed him with mineral oil. I've never seen that before - up the nose into the tummy. YUCK! The vet chose to keep Shorty for a day or two, wanting to see him urinate two or three times on his own before releasing him. He believed it wasn't a twisted gut, but rather an impaction. We got back in the truck, and left the little guy behind. I didn't get to see the vet try to "clean him out" from the back-side, something I thought I might see. Les figured the vet did that right after we left, and didn't want to scare me with the examination.

I have learned a lot about colic, now... perhaps more than I wanted to. At least if it happens to my horses, I will know some of the basics. I have an idea what things to do before calling a vet, and I also recognized I will call the vet early rather than late. Had we called on Saturday night, we might've prevented the dehydration, and possibly prevented the ER trip Sunday.

Need to restock my first-aid medicine kit with another tube of Banamine. Glad I had it, even if it only brought Shorty a brief relief.

11/15/08 New Feet & Romeo-Ride

Loaded Chewie up at dark-thirty, and headed out for Mr. Don's house. I really do need to get pictures this time... The appointment went great! Don was happy to see some of the progress Chewie has made in growth & balance. He commented in his trimming of the right front "This looks a lot better than it has. The bruising is getting trimmed out, he's not so sensitive on it. We're clearing up whatever was causing that laminitis-looking mess. He's not 100%, but it's getting better."

It was a pleasant appointment. We talked a bit about Romeo, and he mentioned a product to me designed for easy-keepers. It's called "Barn Bag", and it's from a company in Al. Supposed to have all the vitamins & minerals horses need in it, and then calories and starches are to come from whole oats and hay. Interesting concept, and something I will check into.

Took Chewie home in the windy cool weather. It was a snappy windy morning, northern front blustering through the area.

Caught Romeo, rode him about a while. I free lunged him in the round pen for about 15 minutes, out of complete curiosity 1)what he'd do in the round pen, if he'd still blow-up & be goofy, which he didn't, and 2)get the goobers out from not being ridden, then being asked to work in cool weather. He was great. Rode him for about a half hour, walk, trot, canter. Great ride, lots of easy transitions, cantered left & right without issue. I have learned if I ask for canter now on the straight-aways, he gets his lead, no head-leaning necessary. Don't even really have to concentrate on squeeze with my outside leg. It was a pleasant 45 minutes with him. I stayed in the pasture this ride, and didn't wander down the roadways.

11/14/08 Shots & Coggins

Didn't ride Thursday due to dog-hunt. Didn't ride Chewie Friday since he was six weeks due for feet trims, and I didn't see a reason to cause something bad to happen & ruin him before Saturday's appointment.

Romeo was due for shots & coggins on 11/23, the day of my first lesson. So I took him in Friday.

Current health is good. Cresty neck, vet says take some weight off. Not sure I understand. His neck's been like it is since I bought him - I think due to staying a stallion and breeding a few times before he was gelded.
Vitals good. Eyesight good. Legs & back still strong.
He got all of his shots. Coggins bloodwork taken, and a minor dental float.

Loaded him back in the trailer, and headed out. The vet jokingly said to me, "If he works cows, we might need you a time or two to help us move some cows. Help the cows get used to the horse, and help the horse get used to the 4-wheeler we've been using." Not such a bad idea. Might follow-up on that, since I trust him pretty good.

11/13/08 MacKenzie... Bad dog!

Went out to feed the boys, and I took the dogs, like I normally do. Didn't think much of it, as I let go of Kenzie's flexi-leash. She normally stays right around the stalls, comes when I call her... Yeah, you all know where this is going.

Off she went, like a flash. She dove into the pasture woods, ran down the fence line, and ducked underneath the neighbor's barbed wire fence. I took Allie with me in hopes she'd at least come back to see the other dog. No such luck. I called and called, and drove up & down the two roads in the neighborhood, called, and called, and called. Nothing.. Well after dark, I gave up, and went inside. Had a friend come over & call along with me, still no such luck. Nothing we did was getting her to come back home.

I went to bed, frustrated. Woke up a few times not able to sleep, but figured Kenzie had layed down somewhere in the shadows, and would be easier to find in daylight.

Got up 5a.m. Friday morning, took Allie outside for her morning dailies, and there was Kenzie, standing on the front porch, leash dragging behind her covered in sticks & rose hedge. Took her for the morning walk, and brought her back inside.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

11/11/08 Chewie

Tacked up, off to the round pen. Dark clouds were looming... and my nerves got frayed. Goofy neighbor (who defines Jeff Foxworthy's Redneck culture, and confirms it for me every time I see or hear him rustling next door) decided to shoot at something.. twice, actually. Once while we were standing at the trailer, I swear it was a hunting rifle, gunfire towards my house. Scared the jeebies out of me.. he's too close to be shooting towards my house...

Side rein warmup - with a lot of canter work. He fought the side reins a bit to start, then got increasingly better. I wanted to ride, so I walked back to the front, plugged the lights in, and crossed my fingers I still had two lights. Bingo! Two lights on the pole still work, and the round pen is fully lit. I jumped on, and walked him out, yapping on the phone the whole time. The hunting rifle went off a second time while we were out there, and I just didn't want to chance it going off a third time while I was on Chewie's back, asking for a transition. Nutty neighbor.

Worked him about 45 minutes total. Cowboy Les and I have been talking a lot about working with Chewie, and I'm trying to figure out when to get Chewie to his place for training. Romeo's so darn cooperative now, and I flat out enjoy riding him. I want Chewie and I to have that much fun together...

Rains are glooming up the skies again today. No worries - we need it. I still haven't had so much at the house to be sploshing in puddles to reach the barn. I won't complain about the rainfall until I have to wear galoshes and splosh my way around, with the round pen under water..

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Neat Day, and It's Vets Day

It's neat how I can walk in here to my desk, blog some sad song lyrics, and then just as quick, let them go. I was cheerfully greeted in what I feared would be a miserable day. Good conversation, and spent the middlest part of my day with an ex installing new lab equipment. There was initially enough tension in the room to cut cheesecake with a chainsaw, but it subsided, and we were almost getting along, having a complete conversation without saying a word... Much more relaxing than I anticipated.

But anyways, moving along.. "Back at the Outhouse, things are piling up..." =)

I read Mrs Mom's update, and realized, I'm a slacker.. It's Veterans Day. Thank you to our veterans. I'm going to list a few I know..

Thank you Carl A, for serving overseas, in secret intelligence, snooping in on the bad guys changing their boxer shorts
Thanks Dad, for having the courage to do what I don't
Thank you, Uncle Butch, for your service
Thank you Grandpa J, for your commitment, and example to your sons
Thank you Robin, for your service in the Reserves

Winter Rain

I've got occasional rainstorms at home, and downpours in my head... Listened to my Miranda Lambert CD today on the way in... this song pretty much sums up what's on my mind...

I don't want to see you or feel you
I don't want to look into your eyes
I don't want to touch you or miss you
I just wanna love your memory tonight

I can't handle all this pain
All we ever do is fight anyway
Why we even try I haven't a clue
With hearts involved there's way too much to lose

I don't want to see you or feel you
I don't want to look into your eyes
I don't want to touch you or miss you
I just wanna love your memory tonight

You were something else to look at
Your intentions they weren't all bad
You tried to make me something I wasn't
Lord knows there ain't no future in all that

Horses got rained on yesterday - Good for grass, great for the hay order I've got waiting. Pooey for riding. Trying to sort out feed options for Romeo, and considering a few upcoming ride options... Ya'll have a duckie day.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Book Tagged

  1. Grab the nearest book.
  2. Open the book to page 56.
  3. Find the fifth sentence.
  4. Post the text of the next two to five sentences.
  5. Don't dig for your favorite book, the cool book, or the intellectual one - pick the closest.
  6. Tag five people to do the same.

Principles of Instrumental Analysis 5th Edition, Skoog, Holler, Nieman

3B Operational Amplifier Circuits

Operational amplifiers are used in circuit networks that contain various combinations of capacitors, resistors, and other electrical components. Under ideal conditions, the output of the amplifier is determined entirely by the nature of the network and its components and is independent of the operational amplifier itself. Thus, it is important to examine some of the many useful operational amplifier networks.

I am a nerd I am a nerd I am a nerd....

I'll tag a few of you tomorrow.... hide if you can. =)

A Goal Accomplished

I guess in the weekend recap it didn't even occur to me to mention the goal I've had since I bought my first horse... I finally did something I've been wanting to do.

Friday evening, riding with Les, as we turned just off the roadside on the first turnrow, it's more like a dirt grass road than a tractor path. Anyways, I shortened my reins a little teenie bit. Les asked me, "Are you going?" I replied, "Will it be a problem?" He said, "Nope. Go for it."

I squeezed Romeo up into a lope, and off we went. It felt slow, so I kissed & squeezed for more. It was a breeze-in-the-ears gallop, flying down the little lane. It was a long straight shot, no place for holes or surprises. The family Jack Russell, Ginger, was running out in front of us, and I kept Romeo going..

It's been a huge dream and goal for me to have the courage to gallop across an open space, looking nowhere but out ahead, wind rustling through my ears, nothing to worry about, no fear, no distraction, just an all-out run. And we did it...

Whatta whatta rush! Wheeeeeeeeeee...

Next goal? To canter in a warm-up pen with other horses around at the same gait,, fearless. Les and I both cantered a bit together Friday night. He said to me, "Keep up with me now", and squeezed Blue into a lope. Blue launched upwards before shooting forwards, and it caught me off guard. I did get Romeo into a lope, and he certainly acted like he had tokeep up at the same speed.... But we did it. It wasn't relaxed, nor was it pretty, but we did it. That's the first step...


Weather was wonderful... I have decided that Romeo's so easy to ride, it's high-time Chewie get with the program and become that agreeable.

Tacked him Western, and gave him a good, hard warmup in the round pen. Lots and lots and lots of canter, hard canter at that.

Took him to the arena, and we worked on all neck reining, walk, and trot. All on a loose rein, lots of figure eights, lots of circles, lots of serpentines, and all on a loose rein. I pushed him on with my legs a little, and got most of my turns off of neck rein & leg pressure. More leg than I'd like to use. He stumbled a bit, and by the end, finally started picking his feet up enough to not be stumbling. About a solid hour's work - he was tired when we were done, because he quit arguing about turning on leg, and also stopped easily when asked on breath instead of sharp rein.

Caught Romeo, took him to the pasture, walk, trot, canter right, canter left, a little more trot. Again, had to push him on to keep him in the canter - might be a response to the 10% feed he's on. I'm entirely not sure what to be feeding him, because I don't want him hot & stupid, but I have a feeling the 10% sweet feed just isn't enough to keep him motivated. I don't want to ride in spurs, but it might be necessary. Not entirely sure what to do .... He and I cooled off with a walk-out down the road a bit farther. Neighbors next door spooked him up good on the walk back - tamping poles into the ground (or something,,, I didn't stare to figure out what goofiness he was doing), and clothes flapping in the wind. I stayed calm, with Romeo's head up in the sky, ears and eyes wide, trying real hard to just gallop home & get away from the boogers. No big deal, I kept telling him..

Quiet night - Watched some tv, had beans & cornbread for supper, relaxed & snoozed to bed early.


Spent the morning cleaning house & running errands. Before I knew it, it was 12:45pm, and Les & MG wife were in the truck in my driveway.

Loaded Romeo, and we went to Les' mom's house to trail ride a while. Wandered their cow pastures, hay meadows, shooshed a few deer. The biggest adventure of the ride was the small deep ditch. Les had been leading the ride, and I guess didn't anticipate the ditch- surprise. MG & Amigo ambled through it just fine. Les & Sugar had to hand-walk through it, after some serious arguing that ended in Les getting off & hand-leading her through it. Romeo hesitated a bit, but overall, went through it good. Les & Sugar were right at the other side, and I had to run into some bushes to keep from running into them. Dangit! I now know when I'm trail riding, if there's an obstacle, make the way clear before proceeding on. We rode for quite a while, mostly at a walk, but it was a good ride.

Celebrated Les' weight-loss efforts with a supper trip to Texas Roadhouse. I called it the "220 party". Les had been telling me, "I drop to 220#, I'm taking you girls out to dinner." I kept asking him, "Is it time for the 220# Roadhouse yet??"

I ate too much, or drank too much, either/or, I got a little sick, but was much better after we got home. Fed the kids, and curled myself up on the couch. A good day overall.


Scrambled home from work, fed Chewie, watered the dogs, and ran on my way... Romeo in-tow, to Les' house.

We tacked up, and off we went. Me on Romeo, Les on Blue. Blue was rather full of himself, jigging along the roadside. Short ride along a few turnrows before the sun set. I got some good gallops out on Romeo. *giggle* Had to push him to keep him going on. What a fortunate problem to have. Finished up back at the house, and I rode in a pasture lot past dusk. Could barely see where we were going before I hung up my saddle pads.

Dinner, massage (sleep), woke myself up long enough to drive home.

Good ride, good food, good company..

Friday, November 7, 2008

I've been Tagged

Book-Tagged, that is. I'll get to the details here soon, but to pique your interest (and demonstrate the level of nerdy-ness I often shield ya'll from)... Here's the first book I looked at in my office.

Principles of Instrumental Analysis 5th Edition, Skoog, Holler, Nieman

Warning to all the following readers - It ain't horses. I'm an Analytical Chemist by career and paycheck... Pg 56 is in Chapter 3 Operational Amplifiers in Chemical Instrumentation

Bet'cha can't wait for that book detail... *giggle*

Friday Fill Ins

1. My blueprint for success includes a secure horse that knows how to move out, but also how to stop without overreacting to rider fear.

2.Sugar-Free Lifesavers, tropical fruit flavors was the last candy I ate.

3. The best facial moisturizer I've ever used is Cetaphil, Sensitive Skin.

4. Hot Stone Massage, from Woodhouse Day Spa can be good therapy.

5. I'd like to tell you about my snowmobile rollover incident from my childhood.

6. Being very Independant is my strongest characteristic.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to trail ride with Les and a massage, tomorrow my plans include housework chores, laundry, and another ride on both boys and Sunday, I want to enjoy a peaceful nap late afternoon!

Reassembling my Life

Coming back home has been refreshing. As I moved here four years ago end of November, I wondered, "What am I thinking? This is too far from anything I've known. I can't be this far from everything I am used to. Family being so far is bad enough... I'm not like anybody here."

I've quickly fit in, got a good job, and good friends - All things I didn't have much luck at in South Carolina. Here, I get ribbed with Yankee jokes, get jostled for being a little girl learning how to grow up, and it's all in jest. Nobody seriously insults me, or jabs me for being single, independant, and addicted to my horses. My pets are my life - They're four legged children, and they know it.

I was off work Wednesday, and decided the day was theirs. All of them... for being in the pasture with basic care and no affection, and for being locked up in little vet pens, with food & potty breaks. I walked the dogs, loved ferociously on the cats, and played with the horses.

I caught Chewie, and planned on only free-lunging him in the arena. He was such a champ, I moved him all over the arena in varying circle sizes. Since that wasn't a big issue for him, I decided to make it more of a challenge, and put four ground poles along one rail. He trotted them, walked them, jumped two or three at a time, and even cantered a couple. He was having a blast, and I was having fun watching him. His total work was about 40 minutes. He did a lot of licking & chewing during the work, so I think it was a good time for all.

Tacked Romeo up, and kind of braced for a fast ride. I planned to ride him as long as it took for an easy canter I could sit comfortably, both leads. When I asked for his first canter, I thought, "I didn't warm him up long enough at the trot, and he's probably going to fly, but here goes nothing." He was a dream. Romeo cantered on like he'd never had a day off, and within about six strides, I gave up the saddle horn, and focused on where he was headed. We cantered left, cantered right, and finished up working on speed adjustment to the left. In twenty minutes' time, I had his full attention, a canter I was sitting in securely, and his brakes were amazing. We finished up the work with a long walk and a little trot on the side of the road. I even got good trot on the roadside, something he wouldn't agreeably do in the past.

A great Wednesday with the kids...

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

It was a Trip

And a half. I'm in Charlotte now, half-way back home. The trip was one I needed to make, but not one I can say I enjoyed. I was asked, "Will you miss being home?" and I answered, "I won't lie. I'm looking forward to getting out of the middle of this mess." Maybe unkind, but honest.

Had the chance to ride Sunday afternoon with a co-worker of Mom's. He has a 20 YO AHQA mare, Caramel, and a 2YO Percheron-Paint cross, Orion. I rode Caramel extensively, walk, jog, lope. Very sweet, well trained pleasure horse. She responded to every cue I gave, including leg & seat cues. Very relaxing and encouraging that I haven't lost my knowledge of how to ride a trained horse. Also rode Orion just a little, and learned how much I don't know about riding an untrained baby. I asked him to turn left, bit and leg, he refused, I thumped with my right leg, he crow-hopped. He landed, I thumped again. *giggle* He turned. Caramel was just what the doctor ordered on Sunday afternoon... much appreciated. I have a short video clip and a picture I'll get out here eventually.

USAirways surprised me with a middle-seat from here to Houston - An unfortunate surprise. I would have much more appreciated an aisle or window (as I thought we paid for), and even tried to upgrade to First Class, but no success. The middle it is. I didn't get a boarding pass for this second flight in Pittsburgh, and here, when the lady handed me the boarding pass, she said, "It's not a great seat, but you have one." I thought, "What the heck?! That wasn't what I paid for... oh well. It's not worth the argument. People are stupid!"

I am blessed... and I'll be very relaxed in my home-state, even if it does mean being stuck in Houston traffic headed home. I will leave you with the same message I'm sharing with everybody I talk to today...
Vote Early
Vote Often!
Can't complain for the next four years unless you participate!!!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

I'm in Philadelphia, Musings on my HomeTown

"Half way Home". It's going to be a stressful trip, I can already feel it. Please pray for peace... for me, and immediate family. Dad just said to me, "I really admire your strength for choosing to come home knowing what you're walking into. You're a good kid." Here's hoping that's still the case in a few days.

Plans are to stay in town and depart Tuesday. The kids are all boarded and/or cared for at home. I'm going to miss my boys terribly.

Here's that loping video of me & Romeo. Yee Haw Buck-A-Roo!

He's in the "wrong lead", but we had a blast!!! There's a bit near the end with a little trot work, and a little rollback or two. I did the trot because this was the second video clip, and I wanted to make sure he doesn't get in a habit of "walk, trot, canter" in that order and always quit after canter. I need to focus on going back to trot-work and play with some collection work after the canter. Cantering those circles loosens up his brain, and his body. He gets really focused after the canter, and always trots & backs up sweeeeet.

As I titled this, I'm in PHL airport, and I strongly dislike this airport. It's not well mapped, not well labelled, and, unless you know exactly where you're going, it's quite hard to navigate. The people are friendly, enough. That's what's great about Texas... everyone is friendly. I can smile & say "hi" to anybody in TX, and they smile & say "hi" back. No questions, no curious glares, no untrusting responses. It's a great place to live.

In this family mess, I have realized how great I do have it in Texas. Good job, great hobby (ability to afford a hobby that ain't cheap like knitting or sudoku puzzles), great friends like Cowboy Les, and generally, I feel safe everywhere I go. I can't remember a time in TX I got the "scared heebeejeebie" feeling that somebody was following me. Oh, well, there was that one time .... ah, well... the police were at least polite when they came to answer my call. I generally feel that I have more than one or two people I can "call on" if I need something. It's far from PA, and a bit warmer than I wanted to live, but I really do like it there, and plan to stay as long as there's work.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Mourning A Loss

Please remember my family in the coming days as we mourn the loss of my grandfather. He just turned 93, and had been ill for many months. He is survived by my mom, aunt, uncle, and a number of grandchildren.

Our hope rests in knowing he is no longer suffering, and is at peace with The Father.

I'm working on a plan to get home to visit family for a few days for this, and other family issues that need some attention. Thoughts and prayers for safe travel will be greatly appreciated.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Weather 10/28 in South Texas

Farmer's Almanac & Fuzzy Horses might tell the truth this year. It's 36F at the airport, according to the weather gadget on the right column of the blog. It was 37F according to my truck-o-meter when I pulled out of the driveway.

First night last night for light turnout sheets. I always laugh at Chewie's reaction when I pull it off in the mornings before leaving for work (appx. 5:30am). He always turns his head back to look at me, with a face that says, "Are you Nuts?! It's still c-c-c-c-cold out here, Momma! Please put it back on!"

Poor boys.. Get that winter fuzzing complete. It's gonna be cool again tonight. Winter's on the way, kids, so get your fuzzy jackets out!

10/27/08 Chewie & RIP Squirrel

Squirrel story comin' up. =)

Tacked up Chewie, had a beautiful warmup. It was cooling down outside, so I expected minor blow-ups. I got a little one, but nothing severe. I jumped on & rode a while, lots of trot transitions. A little canter left to get his joints loose (and to make sure he realizes I'm going to consistently keep asking for the canter).

Mike my hunter co-worker showed up, suited up in his leafy camo, and set up a "ground blind" in the pasture. No deer killed last night - they see me and don't even hesitate or run off. My plain clothes give them comfort, I guess. That camo scares the beejeezers out of them, because Mike shows up in camo, and they split for the hills.

Getting the boys supper, Mike was still setting up shop. I went to refill Chewie's water bucket, when I found a yuckie discovery. "Mike, come here... Get that thing out of his water bucket, please!" There was a squirrel, dead, in his water bucket. Mike removed the squirrel, and the water, and I hosed it out & refilled.

RIP Little Furry Squirrel

Monday, October 27, 2008

Saddle for Sale

16" SemiQH Bars, Wintec Western, Brown,

A few years old
Moderate use, but in great condition
Available for $200 plus buyer pays shipping

Up for sale because #1 I bought a new barrel saddle,
and #2 it's too big for my little tooshie

I'm Not Alone, Afterall

I've been reading a lot of other blogs, and their bad luck and big falls.

The Eventing Percheron tops the list with her latest show videos. It's not for the weak, so don't look if you don't like to watch people fall. Glad to hear she is okay, and also glad to hear Brego fared well, and jumped again.

Of Horses & Men wrote vaguely about a big fall, with broken bones. Yuck! Whatta fall.. It's hard to tell from the blog entry what really happened, but I'm glad to hear her horse is okay, and she isn't hurt worse.

Training the VLC (FHoTD) wrote about all the things that adults think about that children riders take for granted, and commented that not only are kids unbreakable and flexible beyond reason, they have remarkable balance, and this innate sense of "how to stay on" when the horse has other plans.

FSSunnySD wrote a book review written all about a lady falling off her horse & working through the courage to get back on.

These have all given me confidence. Wow, that reads really rude & insensitive. That's not what I mean at all. What I mean is, reading about other adult riders going "splat" is giving me hope in two ways. One, it says "It's okay to go splat! Everybody's doing it." Secondly, it says, "I'm not the only rider on the planet to have my mind shook out of it's socket for falling. A lot of other people fall off their horses, in hunter saddles, on the flat, over fences, trying to be brave, trying new things. They get back up, dust off their hunt coat, dust off the horse, check for wounds, and get back on.

I'm glad to be sticking in the saddle. Admittedly, I wish it were my hunter or dressage saddle, and I wasn't "hiding" in that deep-seated barrel saddle, but for now that'll do. I'd love to be in the show ring in a flat class, or cantering over little fences. Right now though, I want to learn how to canter my horses with confidence. We'll work on the fences later.

10/26/08 More Steers

Caught Chewie early before church. Light lunge, hard work. Lots of work at trot. Sitting trot, posting trot, little jog, and extended trot. Multiple transitions, lots of hard-whoa, and a few turns on fore & haunches. A little sidepass, long & low trot to cool down. Total work about 40 minutes. He did good... having Saturday off because of poor planning on my part.

Rode Romeo at the house mid-afternoon. Walk, trot, canter, and a little extended canter. Worked on leads, canter left and canter right. My seat was a little better to the right, still work to do. Hosed him down after his hard work, and scrambled off to obedience graduation.

Class graduation was easy & quick. MacKenzie did great.. She finally stood on command, and while it was probably a fluke, and she doesn't like doing it at home, I can hope it'll be good enough for the vet or an emergency when I need her to do it on command. I'll try to post the picture if I can.

Ran home, unloaded doggie, fed Chewie, and loaded Romeo. Headed out to the roping arena again. This time, we had an audience. I worked the roping chute a while (earning my stripes with the cowboys), and grabbed Romeo to bring the steers back to the top. I didn't give him a lot of time to think about reining or trotting, I just kissed him up into a lope. One of the times I whizzed by Les, he said, "Are you coming or what?!" I heard Mr D in the background holler, "Cain't you see she's loping her horse around! Give the cowgirl a minute to warm her horse up! She's loping him! Check that out!" *giggle*

Les said to me after a bit, "I want you to track a steer out of the chute down the arena. If I didn't think you were ready, I wouldn't let you do this. Try to stay behind him, and keep up. No matter how fast he does, you keep after him. Ride aggressive." The steer came out of the chute, and Romeo and I didn't react quite fast enough. He was about 20 feet in front of me, and it felt like we were flying down the arena. I could hear Mr D in the background, "Chase him faster! Get after that steer! Go go Go!" *laugh* Got to the end of the arena, and I forgot to grab Romeo's neck for the halt... just pulled back on the reins and it wasn't real successful.

In Les's saddle (two sizes too big, saddle horn wrapped so large it's hard to hold onto), I jumped on Amigo, and loped him around for a warm up lap. Les says, "Next steer is a score-cow, and it's yours." The steer came out of the chute, and Amigo the roping horse, knows his job. In fear, I held him up a little bit, and he answered with an easy lope down the arena. It felt different. On Romeo, I feel like I'm doing all of the thinking. On Amigo, I'm holding on and letting him do the work. He was purpose-driven, much different than Romeo.

Loped Amigo around some more, only barely holding on to the saddle horn. The saddle is too big, the stirrups don't adjust short enough for me, so they were flapping in the breeze. The cowboys kept chasing steers during my loping warmup, so I was able to lope around gently enough to keep an eye on what they were doing, and Amigo thinking about me and not steer-chasing. Felt pretty good... It was neat to think that, a few months ago, any canter Amigo gave me felt big, fast, and scary. Last night, it felt slow, and effortless. I was kicking him with a lot of effort to keep him in it. I felt like a little kid on a big slow horse in a big saddle... and with the balance of a little kid. It was strange.

Tracked on Romeo a handful more times, and each time, it seemed to get better. One time, he was flying trying to catch that steer. I let my mind focus only on the steer, and a loose rein. I kicked Romeo into his gallop, and forced him to catch up. Got to the end of the arena, and I grabbed his neck to make him WHOA. He stopped much better with each chase. The last steer he refused to listen & stop, and I put him in a very hard back up to where I'd asked for the halt I didn't get. He did overall work hard and try hard. Most important, I had a blast.

Good thing I had fun, too.. Because I got to bed late, and I'm struggling this morning. Hosting a Global team meeting in 5 minutes... *yawn*, and I'm exhausted.. It'sa gonna bea long day. =)

Everyone have a duckie day. Itsa gonna get cold tonight. Bring out the pony-blankets, first of the season. Hot tea (& splenda) for everybody...