Thursday, December 31, 2009

Golly Geez Where'd the Year Go?

It's nearly 2010!

Let me briefly re-cap my days to help me remember the details later.
Dec 20 - Sunday, shopping shopping, (massage), more shopping
Dec 21 - The St. Louis Gateway Arch
Dec 22 - Lesson over 2'3" fences, soccer game, R family gift exchange

Dec 23 - Travel to Pittsburgh

Dec 24 - The Strip District (sounds bad, don't it?), Christmas Eve in Beaver
Dec 25 - Christmas in PA - Ice Ice Baby
Dec 26 - Gift shipping & Hockey , Bucket List Bucket List

Dec 27 - Back to Texas

Dec 28 - Ransom over X's (If I can jump a stranger's horse over 2'3", I can hop X's on my own, yeah?)
Dec 29 - Recovering my life
Dec 30 - Waco for da day

And here we are. Dec 31. I'm back at work, and life is almost back to normal. All of it in its place, right where I left it.

I'm staying home tonight for Amateur Night. How about the rest of you? I've missed our lively discussions, and look forward to another entire year blogging my equestrian adventures. I'm going to spend the next few days contemplating setting some show goals for the year.

Monday, December 21, 2009

12/19 - 12/20

I can't get a simple plane ride. I swear!

Got to JFK Parking Spot early. Got to the IAH check in early. Waited in line, got the boarding passes, bags checked, all that happy jazz. Got through security without a hitch. Can you imagine? No beeping, no problems, no frisking, patting down, nothing!

Got near the gate, we decided to stop for lunch. There's a Schlotsky's , that'll work. We ordered, and we waited
and waited
and waited.
Fifteen minutes, I walked away from the counter. R went over, and discovered, they'd lost our order ticket. Reordered, and I leaned on the counter, staring at the lady until she got the #$*&^ meal fixed. Ate quick.

Got back to the gate, sat our stuff down, R went to the restroom, and when he was walking back.. The gate attendant said, "J and R, and ___, if you don't check in now, we're giving away your seats."

What?! Good holy grief! We were at the gate FIFTEEN MINUTES before depart time. They never called us. Just a last-call "give up your seats" call! I jumped up & hollered, "We're right here! Thanks for the warning! We're coming right now!"

So, we get in the plane, get seated, flight attendant walks up, and says to us & the two sittin' in front of us, "Okay, one of the four of you needs to give up your seat for that fellow over there with the baby. If you don't, he can't stay on the plane. He can't sit over there in the single window seat with the baby because there isn't an extra oxygen mask. So who's it going to be?" I looked right at her, and said, "No ma'am. He should have planned ahead."

I have a HUGE PET PEEVE about babies on airplanes. See, babies don't usually cost extra to fly. My little Schnauzer Allie? She's $200 round trip, to stuff under the seat in front of me. That just ain't right. Screaming babies should not be free, and furthermore, if you have a baby, you need to choose your seats appropriately. The child was NOT a surprise - you had plenty of notice that kid was there. So plan ahead!

We stayed in our seats, someone else moved, and the flight went on as scheduled. Arrived in STL without a hitch. Had another little snag with the rental car (Hertz rental co picks CHRISTMAS to try out "new fandangled computer system", and had no record of our reservation. We got him a confirmation #, and he suddenly found us. Got to the lot, and again, the car wasn't exactly as planned).

But we arrived at R's sister's house without any more disasters.

Sunday was simple, filled with time with family, gift shopping, and a little R&R. No, not Romeo & Ransom.. Rest & Relaxation, I finally got the "right R&R". R treated us both to a hour massage at Massage Envy, and it was amazing. The girl that worked on me, Amanda, did a fantastic job. Very refreshing.

Everybody here is at work or school today, so I don't know what the day brings. Might take in some tourist sights, might get to ride (there are fancy schmancy barns All Over the Place here).

Holidays Holidays

Where did I go? Where have I been?

Saturday morning, I bid farewell to my kiddos, left them in Jen's capable care, and headed off.

But where I'm at right now,
there's snow on the ground
and it is

COLD! =) R here with me to keep me warm, *whew*.

Now, to get started on those auto-postin' thingies, so I don't forgets nothin' 'bout da trip.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

12/15/09 It's A Deer!!!

Ransom in his hunt saddle, and me bundled up in a heavy coat, pink beanie hat & full chaps... Off we went to the arena.

I peered at the crossrail set up in the arena. I stared at it. I chickened out.

With the new shorter stirrup length, I'm finding the overall ride a bit easier. It's also getting a little easier to feel sunk down in my heels, especially at the canter. Working on moving with him, and not feeling so bouncy in the tack.

About 6 deer popped up into the pasture just outside the arena. I think they saw Ransom, and knew he was working. I also don't think they saw me. I ended up making a boogerload of noises, hollering at them, near them, around them. Finally, they scampered back off into the woods, two of 'em still standing in the pasture edge munching.

Now, did Ransom go bonkers-goofy-spooked? Nope, not one bit. He looked hard at them once, realized what they were, and went about his merry working ways. We played together for about 35 minutes. The sharp north wind, combined with some drizzly sprinkles cut our action short.

Still, much fun. A whole heckuva lot better than sittin' inside watching the weather channel. Even in the winter here, it's not super-cold, and with the right gear, is tolerable to ride outside.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Lyrics of the Day

Rich Mullins, Hold Me Jesus
Well, sometimes my life
Just don't make sense at all
When the mountains look so big
And my faith just seems so small

So hold me Jesus, 'cause I'm shaking like a leaf
You have been King of my glory
Won't You be my Prince of Peace

And I wake up in the night and feel the dark
It's so hot inside my soul
I swear there must be blisters on my heart


Surrender don't come natural to me
I'd rather fight You for something
I don't really want
Than take what You give that I need
And I've beat my head against so many walls
Now I'm falling down,
I'm falling on my knees
And this Salvation Army band
Is playing this hymn
And Your grace rings out so deep
It makes my resistance seem so thin

You have been King of my glory
Won't You be my Prince of Peace

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

12/14/09 It's a Cow ! ! ! !

Ransom and I played dressage last night.. However, so did the #$*^& neighbor's cows.

Stupid Cows!
Ransom had the "lookie loos" at the cows. I don't mean peek & get back to work. I mean head & neck in complete denial of forward and away from the cows. He was flexed OUT at the rail facing the cows.

I rode through it for nearly 30 minutes. In his cool down, he got fussy crabby again, and really stopped paying attention to me, as if he needed to know why the cows were coming closer to him. I dismounted and hand walked him over to the cows. I stood & waited with him until he started to drop his head & relax.

We ended up walking back to the trailer in near dark. Undressed & put his sheet on, in the dark. I hate winter here - dark & dreary. Not cold enough to be called winter, not snowy, not even sleet. Just dreary.. and dark.

When he did work, it wasn't too shabby. In the cooler temperatures, getting forward is really quite easy. Transitions aren't beautiful, but that's expected since my rides have been so irregular.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Getting Back on Track

Last week... It rained mostly, but
I got a bareback ride in on Romeo, concentrating on his "go" and "whoa". It was blustery with a cold wind whipping around the yard, and he in no way wanted to be working. He settled in, but I do wish we would've had enough dry land to lunge at that moment.

On one of the drier days, I lunged and rode Ransom bareback. Walk & trot. He did great. In all of the nasty weather, he's lost some muscle up by his withers, so I kept the ride short.

Thursday, I rode him dressage, w.t.c. It went really well. Made me a bit sad I'd decided to not show in Katy on the 12th, but we got a great ride in on the drier side of the arena.

Friday, it was a hunter day. I shortened my stirrups a hole, after the last lesson, hoping this would help my overall balance. Worked like a charm. Had a really nice ride. The wind was howling around the arena, but I've come to discover Ransom loves cooler weather. He moves out great, transitions great, and has a really nice forward going.

Otherwise, not much riding going on around here (thus the lack of blogging). R and I travelled to Eagle Pass yesterday, and I've got a funny Border Patrol story to tell later today or tomorrow. On the way home, we went to see Mister Tom the Hay Man. He had the latest batch tested, 21% protein. It's not as thin or quite as green, but as we were unloading & stacking, Ransom nearly tore two bales from our hands, grabbing mouthfuls. Both boys are seeming to be enjoying it, so mission accomplished there.

Countdown to holiday travel, 6 days. UGH. My gifts are mostly bought & shipped, with a little bit more to do. I'm hoping for a few more rides this week in & around directly after work. They might be short, but I need my "fix", before being away from the boys for a bit over a week.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Santa Has Been


12/07/09 I'll Settle For

A little grooming & mud scraping. Yup. I had the best laid plans when I left work.

Come hell or high water, the Good Lord willing & the creek don't rise.. I was going to either lunge or ride, but I was doing something. Somebody was getting their day sheet off, and I was going to get some horse time.

I bounded home, realized Ransom would have to wait another day, sliding just trying to walk around his pasture. I ran inside, hurried the dogs to potty, changed my boots. I was doing this. I ran to the trailer, grabbed my bareback pad, grooming things, bridle.. wait.. what's that sound??

Pit, Pat, Pit, Pat, thump, thump, trickle trickle.. Crap! That's the sound of More Rain, ruining my plans.

I stuffed the bridle & pad back in the trailer, and took my grooming things to Ransom's stall. I gave both boys some hay, and while Ransom munched, I groomed. I curried the mud off of his legs, combed his tail & weed-growing mane, and we had some bonding time. He nuzzled his head into my arms, smeared some horse-loving mud in my jacket, along with a little snot just to keep me honest.

I hope tonight meets my plans a bit better.

Monday, December 7, 2009

12/07/09 Weekend Recap

Too wet, and too frigging cold & drizzly to ride. Yes, indeed, it did snow on Friday. The grass was coated white for only a few minutes. I was too wrapped up in the moment to take pictures, pleased the ground was barely white.

I didn't ride this weekend, and I wish I had. Saturday morning was Christmas choir practice, followed by a marathon of Christmas gift shopping. Yes, folks, I'm nearly done. Three stores, a few hours, and I'm almost finished.

Sunday, choir Christmas, and then, it was drizzly, raining that nasty "too light to keep the windshield wipers from dragging", but "too frigging wet to make a ride enjoyable."

So I stayed inside, all weekend. I'm sure hoping this weekend proves a little less nasty, so that I can get at least some goofing around stuff in on Ransom. Maybe a mailbox trip on Romeo.

Plenty else buzzing around in my mind, but none of it blogworthy. Ya'll have a great day!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

A Weather Request

To all those Above The Mason-Dixon Line,

Can you please take back your winter weather? It seems to have taken a wrong turn, and dove waaaaaaaay too far south. Having lived here five years now, my blood has thinned sufficiently enough, I see the “S” word in my forecast, and I’d like to return it back to you where it belongs.

I don't believe this is entirely possible, but the weather people say so, and if it's really another wet and strong cold front (before the current one moves on), I suppose it could happen.

Time to scour the barn for extra layers for the boys. Low of, what, 27F Friday night? That's just N-V-T-S , NUTS!

December Begins - The Week

Won't be much riding this week, I don't suppose. It has been raining, and cold in our own little South Texas sort of way. Ransom has been wearing his turnout sheet and midweight all week, and has been playing a few games with me.

R installed some pull chain light bulbs in the stalls. We ran string from the pull chains along the top of the stalls, and down to my reach. This means every morning I can walk to the barn, pull the strings, and flip lights on in each stall. Cool, right? Ransom thinks so, too.

My darling, large, bay, genius horse, has decided how to turn the light on. Not so bad, right? Well, Monday morning, I went out to feed, his light was on. I flipped it off. Monday night when I got home from work, it was on again. Tuesday morning when I went out to feed? Back on again. Yesterday morning, I fiddled and fuddled with the string location, and got it just about to where he can't mess with it. This seems to be a good fix for now.

Of course, the humor can't end there. Yesterday, the weathermen were saying a high of 59F. That's too warm for midweight turnout, even with Ransom's clip. So I switched him to his turnout sheet. As I was taking the midwt off, he walked away, barely still attached. Where did he go? To the lighted area??? Oh no, of course not! Ransom went to the side of the barn that's in the dark.

And there, I undressed him & put his lite sheet on, by the moon light. Just like I'd done it before all the barn lights were installed. Silly Silly horse! To make matters worse, it never got above 53F at my house yesterday. So, the whole time, I never even needed to change his clothes.

I apologized to Ransom (and Romeo, who was in a similar situation of being inappropriately dressed *laugh*) right after work, as I put his mid weight back on, to which he yawned, licked, chewed, and nuzzled me.

When I left for work today, I left him and Romeo in their midweights, hoping the weatherguys are wrong again, and that 59F turns more into 53-54F. Ransom ate his breakfast slowly, putting his head over the stall wall to nuzzle & snuggle with me, I think in appreciation of me allowing him to stay warmly dressed this morning.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

11/28/09 Vacation Day 4 Lesson

A Lesson on the Lunge Line Hunt Seat...

My take home thought? I need to shorten my stirrups on that saddle, one hole, and leave it there. No matter what. I need to find my new point of balance with stirrups a hole up, and leave them.

I rode off the line a while, alternating between posting, sitting, and two point at the trot. I even goofed off and kicked my feet out of the stirrups to show off my new trot and canter out of the stirrups. Jen picked up the line, and attached it to Ransom. I also had her tie up the reins in the bridle, so I could concentrate completely on my balance, not worrying about his direction. That later proved to not be the best choice.

Heading right, I discovered that my back arches up in two point. It's going to take some brand new concentration, alternating between a arched back, and the correct feeling, stretching out my chest. We worked on this a while, and even moved around at canter, hands stretched out, and resting on my thighs. :)

Switched direction... Apparently my legs and mind were tired, because it felt like Ransom hit his "go at trot" button.... fast, short strides. That's not how Jen described it, but was sure how it felt. I tried posting, tried sitting, tried two point, and ended up with a death grip on the reins, even though my mind knew that wasn't going to help, at all.

After quite a while, I started to relax, and Ransom started to relax. But by then, my legs and back had other plans - to quit! :) I got a few circles of decent canter in (but not terrific), and some good two-point.

Lesson lasted about an hour. No jumping as planned... but plenty accomplished on the lunge line , which was work that needed doing eventually.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

11/27/09 Vacation Day 3 - The Disasters

*Laugh* Such an ominous title, isn't it?! I will calm those readers that are panicing - no I didn't get a flying lesson, no unintentional dismounts, no horse sickness, no dog or cat sickness. Not even me sickness. But still a pretty crummy day.

I grabbed Ransom in the morning, and relaxed into my dressage saddle. Whew! Long legs, deep stirrups, and a soft squishy saddle seat, we headed to the arena. The entire distance around was quite dry, and soft, so I avoided circles as much as possible on the low end. I rode far end circles, middle circles, and all the way 'round on the rail. All three gaits, collected as well as long & low. Even kicked my feets out of the stirrups a while towards the end, noticing the different leg muscles required to balance in the different saddle. Pretty neat stuff! Ransom seemed rather happy with himself, moving forward at the slightest cue.

Our really only "work to fix" was from trot to walk, trying to get it in a few strides without tugging tugging on his face. It improved as I went along.

In the afternoon, R and I made a very hearty attempt to stick ceiling tiles on my living room ceiling. See, I'd been offered a bunch of tiles for free, and it sounded like such a great idea - Get the leaking roof fixed (done months ago), and cover the entire living room with these tiles - covers the leak repair, and makes the ceiling look like new.

After nearly six hours
Three different kinds of glue
(Two of those on the carpet, from tiles falling glue-down on the floor)
And plenty of frustrated exclamations
We gave up

The tiles would NOT stick to the ceiling. There was no easy way to nail or staple them up without leaving ugly marks. One kind of glue appeared to be working, but then three tiles fell to the floor before we could catch 'em, and of course they fall glue down, leaving blue glue on my almost new carpeting. Bah Humbug!

Both of us frustrated, and about a dozen little tiles on the ceiling, we stopped to make a decision on what to try next. Off the ladders, from the floor, the tiles didn't really look good stuck up there. They were uneven, probably because the glue amounts weren't exact from one tile to the next.

I said I quit... and the tiles were removed. I've still got some glue patches on that part of the ceiling, to be all covered probably early into next year once the holiday spending frenzy has passed. I'm still entirely frustrated about it, wishing the tiles had worked, because it would've been quite nice. But oh well... We sure did try, and try hard.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

11/25/09 Vacation Day 2 - Thankful For

Burning legs... *laugh* Let me explain...

I got up & moving early enough in the morning to get Ransom ridden around mid-day. The weather was absolutely fantastic, moderate temperatures, plenty of sunshine, and I could hear the weed eater whipping in the distance... Wait, that's not distance. That's the rest of my fence line getting chewed to the dirt. Thanks R! You got my normal two days of weeding down to three hours, and the entire fenceline is clear, including those obnoxious tree limbs on the wooded side. Thank you thank you!

Ransom and I rode hunter. I had plans for a hunt lesson on Saturday, and wanted to remind my body how to ride in shorter stirrups, heels way down, balanced gently on my heels rather than seat. The start of our ride was incredible. Just fun! Rode all three gaits, no issues, no problems. In fact, I was able to transition in and out of trot sitting, from walk and from canter. Pretty neat.

I tossed each stirrup over the front of the saddle, and got right down to business. Every book I've read, every internet article I've studied, every blog I've reviewed, all say ... Got to be able to manage walk, trot, canter without stirrups before considering a safe jump. So, I got going into a trot, quickly realizing that a sitting trot was easier than a posting trot. Owwwie on the thighs.... :)

Knowing the trot was a lot of work, well, at least for me, I sat deep, and squeezed up into a canter. I found it quite easy to stick outside leg back without the stirrups interfering. NeatO! Bumbled up into a nice forward canter, legs stuck to his sides. I was giggling flat out loud, and even whoooping a "yeeha" a few times. Ransom stayed light on the bit, and steady in the circle I asked for, and I actually had to add some inside leg to keep him on the canter.

Fantastic fun! Both directions, all three gaits, stirrup-less. When I retrieved them for his cool down, my legs felt like they'd been stretched, because those stirrups felt much shorter... *giggle*

After the ride, a shower, and a little relaxing, R and I headed to Jen's house for a Thanksgiving feast! Thank you again, Ma'am, for fantastic cookings! Whoo Whee! Good Good foods! She fixed up a ham with my allergies in mind, much appreciated. Some other friends of hers came to visit as well, so the house was plenty full. A really nice time. Sure beats sitting at home alone like I've done in years' past.

Sore and tired, my legs singing their own tune of owwies, I settled in early to bed.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

11/25/09 Vacation Day 1 - Ransom

Later in the afternoon, I grabbed Ransom for a workout as well. I grabbed my dressage saddle, and put the monster to work. Brief lunge on side reins for a warm up, and we were at it.

I rode in the front two thirds at the canter, but used the entire arena for walk & trot. Back third was still a little too wet for my confidence at the canter. I didn't concentrate on test pieces, but in all of the walk, I'd allow him to stretch down, get five or so strides of it looking good, and then quickly take the reins back to a working collected walk again. In and out of trot until the transitions looked good, same for canter.

He was very good for the ride, so I finished off with some walk to canter. :) Absolutely so stinking fun! He takes about three steps at the walk, maybe one of trot, and right into canter. His head flies up, and they are by no means pretty transitions, but it's happening. That's the first step.

Rode for about 45 minutes. Lost track of time in the fun. R was over, chewing the weeds along the electric fenceline. My poor push mower again has given up the ghost of usefulness. He put a new blade on it, mowed a few sections of fence, and suddenly, it started spewing black smoke & died, again. Second time this year that poor critter mower isn't functioning. R worked ambitiously until dark, and put about 2.5 hours in weed eating fence line. Got nearly all of it done, which I found frustrating. Weed eating the fence myself last summer took nearly two days.... boys... grrrrr...

11/25/09 Vacation Day 1 - Romeo

I got enough of a late start to the morning, that Romeo got picked first.

Rather than let him goof off on another walk to the mailbox, I saddled him up, and headed to the arena. Just as soon as I took the halter off, and checked the girth so the saddle wouldn't fall off, he became this morphed creature resembling a bucking bronc.

And he took off! Bucking, farting, twisting mid-air, rearing up, running around the arena like a toddler! Funniest thing! I asked him, "Romeo, you sure you're the same critter I rode bareback at a trot down to the mailbox on Monday?! Whatta nut!" He ran faster, and sillier. Complete goofball.

After about ten minutes of this nonsense, I told him, "Whoa", and he finally walked up to me. See, the first dozen of those "whoa" requests, he ran by me, still tossing his tantrum. I caught him, put his bit on, tightened the girth, and hopped on. Instantly, he went right back to his mild mannered self, licking & chewing, and settled into a relaxed walk around the arena.

Rode for about 30 minutes. A decent amount of trot & canter, with some side passing, leg yields at trot, turns on fore and rear, and a little backing up & pivoting. Went mostly well. I know he's entirely out of shape, so I didn't spend many calories making him collect up.

Gonna have to work out some sort of a lighted round pen exercise for my little roan pony. Despite barely feeding the stinker, Romeo's a bit, um, chubby. :)

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

11/24/09 Ransom on the Line

His first day back on the job, Ransom enjoyed a solid lunging for about 40 minutes. Focused mostly on giving to the bit.

I upped the ante just a tad, and lunged off of my knotted rope halter. In his normal work on the bit & side reins, Ransom did rather well. In the cool-down, I took the side reins off, and worked only on down transitions.

He did NOT want to go from walk to halt without fuss. I said "whoa", stepped in front of his general motion, and then gave the knotted halter a huge TUG. A good dozen of those each way, and I finally got a halt with just "whoa".

Mission accomplished. And the beginning of a 5 Day Vacation!

11/23/09 Mailbox

Okay, so I've been MIA for a while. First, I wanted to give Ransom a break. Then, I went to the concert. Then, it POURED rain at my house, puddling almost the entire property.

So, with things finally dried out enough to get to the trailer door, I grabbed a brush, and Romeo's link bit, and walked to the pasture.

Brushed off the dirt, well, where my bottom would go. Took of his cribbing collar, put the bit on, and hopped on with great apologies. See, I'd had a stressful day at work, and I felt kinda bad even asking him to do anything. The day was bad enough that I worked late, got home about a half hour before dark began. That left no time for a saddle, and no time for a proper grooming. I just needed my hiney-time.

We walked around the house just a minute or three, to see what kind of goober mood he'd be in. Acting like he'd been doing this for years without a day off, Romeo rumbled straight down the road, head down, ears alert in every which direction. He went up the trail on the sharp corner of the road, the one where I always worry we'll run into a deer, dog, or 4-wheeler. When we got to the straightaway again, I leaned, squeezed, and prayed.

We trotted for a little bit, along the side of the road, until a neighbor's car approached. They slowed to a crawl, so I did them the courtesy of coming to walk. Walked past them, then quickly picked up trot again. When I ran out of "side of the road" to be on, and the gravelly dirt road was our only choice, we went back to walk as we approached the mailbox.

Suddenly, something got Romeo's attention. What's that! Oh My Goodness! It's a big purple & blue MONSTER! A horse-eating monster! No silly man! It's just the neighbor lady exercise walking down the road! She's headed this way, so you better get used to it.

I got us to the mailbox, and she passed us. She said to me, "Well, that sure looks like a fun relaxing way to go get the mail! You're getting fresh air, too! What a good idea!" And, it hit me...

I was on my horse
In barely enough bit to stop him if I'd needed to
On the road
Away from home
Side passing to the mailbox to grab the mail & stuff it in my coat pocket
And I was enjoying myself

What a far cry from my previously terrified rides, where it was all I could do to walk in a western saddle with a death grip on the horn, praying nothing bad would happen & send my butt catapulting to the gravel road.

Romeo and I alternated walk & trot the whole way back home. He was relaxed, and I let him go all the way to the buckle, trotting along in the dusk. It was approaching dark(er) when we got home. And I didn't care. I've accomplished another goal - walk,trot,bareback,away from home. We're well on our way, now...

Friday, November 20, 2009

1. We need sunshine!

2. I got my picture taken with three of the Casting Crowns crew last night, and it made me smile.

3. If you want my attention today, get in line! It's been one disaster after another at the office today.

4. I'm probably not riding Ransom this weekend because it's rained A LOT at my house today.

5. Massachusetts has a proposed 5% sales tax on elective cosmetic surgery; I think I don't care, since I don't live there.

6. A five day weekend makes for a happy holiday.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to bah humbug, watching it rain, tomorrow my plans include weed eating fenceline or working on the ceiling and Sunday, I want to enjoy choir and a combined Thanksgiving service!

11/19/09 Matt Redman, Casting Crowns

Absolutely blessed!

We arrived about 6:30pm, in the POURING RAIN. Meet & Greet was supposed to be from 6-7, but nobody was standing anywhere near the front, except for under the tents. Well, correction - there were a few rain-slicker diehard fans sitting in their chairs. R & I dove under the roof of the smaller stage.

About 7:15, they said, "Show's on, in just a few." At 7:25, or so, they got started up. Matt Redman was first. As he sang, I remembered where I knew that voice from.

I attended a Southern Baptist college convention in Eastern PA during my years at Geneva. We got to learn a lot of the new music from the first Passion conference, just a week after. Our music leaders for our event had snagged the music, and learned it all. The Sunday (last day), this fellow stood up at the morning music session, played "It's All About You", other students were clapping & hollering, all excited for whoever that guy was. He led the one song, and sat straight back down, participating in the event. It was Matt Redman! Holy wow! So his set of the show was a "walk down memory lane", back to college... when life was simple... and I could praise without any stress or worry.... wow.

Casting Crowns took the stage.... all six of 'em. What a sound! Incredible performance! Mark Hall (lead vocal) shared a lot of himself on that stage, telling us he's ADHD/dyslexic , and he usually sings to a teleprompter to help him remember his words under the stress of performing. Due to the heavy rains, however, they didn't plug the prompter in. When he admitted a little fear he'd forget his lines, I started watching his lips, listening to every word, muttering a prayer of thanks with each remembered word.

After they played, Meet&Greet was on! And, somehow, I don't know how, but somehow, R & I were near the front of the line. CD's in hand, they each introduced themselves, shook hands, took pictures, and signed my CD lyrics sheet. There's verses in there too, I hope to get to look up & enjoy seeing what they like most. A really neat moment - a bit more personal than the M&G earlier this year with ThirdDay.

An absolute incredible time of worship... And best, God held off the heavy rains for the duration of their show. It quit raining as Matt Redman was finishing up, and didn't start back up heavy again until our journey home.

I tease him for the camera that is almost always out & running during the concert, but I hope if I smile just right, R will share with us some pictures of the event.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Surprises & Special Events

Okay, so I forgot. I didn't remember a concert for tonight, and when I was reminded earlier this week, I was beyond excited.

I'm going to
Concrete Street in Corpus Christi, TX.
I'm going to see
Casting Crowns

I'm sitting
In the Second Row!

I'll blog about it tomorrow, but
I'm E-x-c-i-t-e-d!!!
Blog ya'll later :)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

I Stepped in It - Wind Farm Creates Jobs

I don't care if they create a dozen new permanent positions, and a few hundred temporary ones in the construction. There's going to be a new windfarm in Dallas, and that's a good thing.

No I don't like our current regime in government (and lest you judge, I don't like 'em locally, either). But far be it from me to complain about any job creation.

Someone tell me why the new work is so bad, please?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Show's On! 11/15 TL#2

We rode around at the free walk, watched other riders warming up, and two before me, Jen got us back to work, trotting figure 8s and serpentines. I had his attention, and I was just thinking, "Now's about time to canter a little", when Jen & R hollered, "Right before you scratched. It's your turn. Get in there!"

Yipes! So much for that! I'm not ready. Too late now! Let's get this show on the road.

In my courtesy circles waiting on the judge, she rang the bell quick. I told Jen, "I've got a full minute. I'm going to get his attention first." I trotted on the right diagonal, knowing that was our first turn off centerline. A few wiggles of the reins, his tucked his nose, and off we went.

1. Enter working trot, halt at X, salute, proceed working trot
Alrighty. I'm not ready. Too late to worry about it now. Hey! Judge ain't looking, AGAIN! Good grief. Ransom, halt all-the-way before I'll salute. All four hooves. Now! Okay, let's get outta dodge..
5 = halt on 3 tracks. careful not to pull rein; head twisted

2. Track right, circle 20m
I won't miss the turn this time. Looking right, Looking right. Good deal, Ransom, that was nice. Glance a grin at the judge, yup, that'll do for now. Dive on into the circle, and offs we go. Make that circle a circle. HEY! Look! A lady with a huge fancy camera. Alright, ain't no sense in being serious for that, too. Smile at the camera!
6 = needs ground covering stride

3. Change rein working trot KXM
Down the diagonal. Hi R sweetie! Neat! Let's smile at him, too. Oh heck, why be so darn serious?! I don't feel prepared, I wasn't warmed up, I know this test, Ransom knows the test. Let's just chill & enjoy the ride...
7 = fairly straight - needs more ground covering stride

4. Working canter left lead between C & H
In the corner, sit deep, squeeze. Wheee! That was solid and FUN!
6 = bit braced

5. E Circle Left 20m
Up into the circle, smiling, smiling, we're enjoying this! Lady with the camera taking more pictures, cool! Hi Jen! Hi Judge-Lady! Hi R! *heavy sigh of relief & peace* .. And just as I did, Ransom did the same, in a big slobbery sigh. I laughed flat out loud!
6 = circle to be rounder

6. Between E and K working trot
Settle into the reins, squeeze knees, tug on the reins. Gosh I need to quit having to tug so darn much. Something to work on at home, I think it's tension in my seat, I think I think.
6 = needs prep & bal

7. A medium walk
Settle in AT THE LETTER. Whee... this is darn fun. All of a sudden, I couldn't give a flip less. I am just enjoying the ride.
7 = smooth

8. FXM Long free walk down the diagonal
Spread my hands out, relax, glance & grin at the judge *cheese!*. The scribe is smiling! Awesome! I wonder if all the rides feel this good when I force myself to chill out! His head's dropping down, he's tugging a little on the reins. Oh well, at least he's stretching down & out. Get ready to pick the reins back up into the working walk. Back to Business, Ransom!
6 = shows some stretch. ask for more

9. M-C Medium Walk
Wiggle Wiggle fingers, creep up the reins. Hurry up! We're almost at "C". Eek! Yeah, that'll do for now. I'll gather more on the circle at trot, I s'pose.
6 = needs more march

10. C Working Trot
Squeeze easy, Judge lady is staring at me. I feel her judge-lady eyes peering straight through me. Wow, so this is why dressage is so pressure-driven. Guess I hadn't realized she really is staring at me. (Again, in the corner from C, was laughing at myself.)
7 = prompt

11. Circle Left 20m
Look at the big camera lady, smile at R again, Hey! Jen's even looking! Hi Jen! Smile at Miss Jen! OH Yeah... Make the circle round, Ransom. Outside leg, inside rein. Hey neat, I think he's bending his entire body around my leg. Cool!
6 = circle to be rounder

12. Change Rein working trot, down the diaganol
Diagonal, diagonal. How I wish you were straight. But no, Ransom decided this was the time to weeble-wobble. Oh well. Popped his cute little head in the transition of diagonals, too. darn it. Well, at least he's moving out. That's a for-sure, we ARE going somewhere.
6 = needs more ground covering stride

13. Between C and M working canter right lead
Last big transition, near corner, look down the long side, deep corner. Sigh, tuck the toosh, squeeze, Yeah! Lead's right, now keep him easy with tight toosh until the circle. Look around the circle...
6 = depart OK then braces

14. B circle right 20m
Canter the circle, Wheee! *thphpht* Ransom, I get it. You've got snot & slobber. Smile at the camera lady again! "Cheese!" Smile at R, video camera's still on. Wiggle the reins to keep him off my fingers, there we go. Circle's done.
6 = circle to be rounder

15. Between "B" and "F" working trot
Back to the trot, settle in the seat, tug tug TUG. Well, that transition was pretty easy. I can just guess how wore out Ransom is. I know I'm Pooped! Let's smile up centerline & call it done.
5 = comes off track

16. Down "A" centerline, halt, salute.
Okay, we're done! That was a freaking blast! I'm going to have to laugh more often in my tests. Heck, Judge Lady is kind of grinning at me. I wonder if she knows how absolutely UNserious this whole ride just was?! Good job Ransom, let's go hose off & go home!
6 = careful not to pull rein. horse loses bal; n/g straight (?)

Rider comments
Gaits = 6
Impulsion = 6
Submission = 6
Rider = 6
Attractive pair! Horse needs better relaxation in back & stretch over topline

Show's On! 11/15 TL#1

I'll write this up in bits & pieces. I forgot my tests at home, so I'll add judge's score & comments later on. For now, at least, please savor my memories of how the tests went, written just like those from the Oct 25th show.

1. Enter working trot, halt at X, salute, proceed working trot
We're going to head left, so let's circle on the left diagonal going in. EEK. That judge ain't smiling. She's scowling. Oh boy... Just grin at her & let's DO THIS!
7 = fairly straight

2. Track left, circle 20m
Left, yeah, left, we're going left. Hey, Ransom, I guess it'd help if I LOOK LEFT! Sorry, buddy, we lost a little forward movement there, didn't we. Sorry, man.
6 = needs btr bal @ "C"; circle t/b rounder

3. Working canter left lead between K & A
Oh Don't you DARE do what you did last month. Sit DEEP, squeeze those butt muscles, and give it to me, you super horse!
6 = a bit tense

4. B Circle Left 20m
Wheee! Look for the circle, look at the letters, smile at the judge, smile at R holding the camera. Oh this is MUCH better than last month!
5 = circle t/b rounder; counterflexed

5. Between centerline and B working trot
Heavy sigh, sit deep, try to relax my rear end, oops. Can't seem to relax my legs... Wiggle the reins down to a trot ...
6 = needs prep & bal

6. C medium walk
Yes, walk AT the letter. Got it this time. I can feel those judge-beady eyes looking RIGHT at me, yup, there she is. *siiiiiiiiiggggggggh* into the walk. Good job, mister!
6 = careful not to pull rein

7. Long free walk down the diagonal
Spread hands, wiggle, wiggle, Oop. he wants to break to trot. Don't do that, Ransom! Hold on. Oh my... it's MY FAULT. I'm holding on with my butt. Okay, relax my thighs, left, right, and r-e-l-a-x my butt. There it is. Let's try to not hold on with the hiney again in the ride. No wonder he felt so darn tense.
4 = horse to stretch down & out; allow w/rein. head wagging, none seen (?)

8. "A" working trot
Half-Halt, squeeze, Nice job hon. A little more head goings than I'd like, but at least I'm relaxed now. So sorry I didn't realize it before now.
6 = a bit hurried

9. Circle Right 20m
Look at the circle, look at the direction, relax my seat, add a little leg. Whowee! He's really going somewhere today! This trot is tons better than last month!
6 = tense short steps. needs ground covering strides

10. Working canter right lead in the corner
Okay, one lead down, one to go. We're almost done, Ransom. Lean back, sit deep, squeeze, PEEK, yup. got this lead, too! Yay!
7 = obedient

11. "B" circle right 20m
Look at the circle, look where I'm going, wiggle wiggle the hands, get off the forehand, Ransom. Tug tug TUG, there, now he's carrying himself. Ooop.. Squeeze the knees he's flying around the circle. Jumper dude! =)
6 = needs better bal

12. Between centerline and "B" working trot
Settle, *heavy sigh*, squeeze the knees again, settle down, tug the reins, there... easy into the trot, sweet!
6 = needs fwd thinking

13. Down "A" centerline, halt, salute.
We're nearly done. It's almost over. Wow that was a helluva lot better than last month. Ain't perfect, we've got much to do. I've got to learn to let this first test look effortless to the judge. Oh my, she STILL ain't smiling. Settle into the halt... Salute. OH! There! She's smiling now! My goodness... is that a forced smile she just gave me?! Who knows... But it's over.
7 = overshot ctr. halt fairly straight

Rider comments
Gaits = 6
Impulsion = 6
Submission = 6
Rider = 6
Attractive pair! Horse needs better relaxation in back & ground covering stride.

As I left the arena, I could still feel my legs tight. I relaxed them, peered over at Jen, who asked me, "It was better, right? Pat him, tell him Good Boy, something?! You did great! That looked awesome!"

At that moment, it settled in my brain. Our test was amazing. Much Much better than the last show, and in fact, it felt better than the TL#2 from the last show as well. He was really moving forward, he didn't toss his head all over the place, and he also wasn't leaning on my hands as much. I got just out of the arena, got ready to hop off, and Jen said, "Nope. Let's walk him over to the big uncovered arena, out by yourself, and walk him out a bit. There's a few rides in between this one and the next. Let's keep him moving."

Monday, November 16, 2009

11/15/09 Warm Up & Dressage Equitation

Our trip up there was uneventful. I drove, and was happy to do so with all the trailer lights lit, and the brakes working again. YAY! Almost no traffic for the trip up, again, awesome conditions. Hit a few rain sprinkles on the way, but nothing so bad to slow the travel.

Arrived, got my stall and things organized, and changed clothes. Whether nerves, weather, or breakfast, my stomach was in a bit of a disagreement with the rest of me. We all got Ransom dressed & ready. Jen lunged him & put on the side reins while I finished dressing & relaxing my tummy.

Warm-Up went GREAT! As the first train of a few that day approached the show grounds, Ransom didn't even look up. I could hear it approaching, and he perked his ears, but never moved his head, never took an iffy stride, not a bit. Good Boy!

The EQ class was called, and it was me and the same rider as before. How cool is that?! I rode by the judge, smiled in her general direction, but she didn't look up. Barbara and I had talked a week earlier about this judge, and she told me to "do all I can to be nice & friendly, ride by her table, smile, tell her, "Good morning", anything to be polite." I did all that, though she didn't look at me. Darn it! =) Ah well, anyways.

The Judge called this class WAY different from the last judge. We rode "follow the leader", and she held a bullhorn and very softly called out changes to us one by one. For example, she said "D, extend the trot down the diagonal", then told me the same thing as I approached her at "C". Strange...

She asked us to
Extend the trot
Change direction over the diagonal at trot
Free walk
Canter on the long side
Canter in a corner

In the canter-left, she asked me to canter him on the long side, I went into a circle to pick it up, got the lead, came out of the circle, and Ransom broke gait to the trot. I asked him to canter on long side, he picked up the wrong lead, and when I realized it, I asked him back down to the trot, and for canter again in the corner. Correct lead again, I proceeded around the arena (stuffing another circle in there since I was also trying to stay out of the other girl's way).

Very strange.. It was a "follow the leader" style, and we cantered together, which could have made for a train wreck. At her time to provide comments, she told me the following:
Good job sitting up straight
Good job getting my leads
Horse needs more energy, consider carrying a dressage whip
Shouldn't have gone into a circle to ask for the canter at the ask on long side. Judge "uses that canter on the long side to choose between riders for placing."

UM. there were only two of us, we were in different age divisions, so it didn't matter, and furthermore, I'm not riding at that level - Training Level asks for canter in the corners for a reason! That poor other little girl was riding Intro Level for her tests! Ain't no reason to be asking her to ride canter on long side. Thphphpht!

Note to self - EQ is a little too long, a little too difficult, and a bit too stressful for me with this judge.

The EQ class set me on edge. I got to give Ransom a good solid break at his water & hay before a quick warm up to TL#1. I grabbed a drink and relaxed a bit by the truck, R and Jen at my side cheering me on. Judge did say I was sitting upright, I did obviously cover our lead-blown, and I was able to canter in the arena with another horse going at canter in competition without having a mental meltdown.

I'm Here... Really

Show Yesterday. The "Skinny". I'm going to back-date some entries here, get caught up for bookkeeping purposes, but for those of you hanging on your morning coffee and just can't go on without scores & placings.. Here goes.

Dressage equitation Walk/Trot/Canter - First
Training Level #1 - 59%, First of Six
Training Level #2 - 61%, Third of Seven

Judge was something interesting. Thanks and a ShoutOut to Barbara for warning me! Without this pre-notification, I would've really thought Ransom and I had stepped backwards.

Thank you!!
Thank you!!
Thank you!!
To R and Jen for all their help yesterday. Without you two, there's NO WAY we would've gotten as much as we did out of our rides. You kept me organized, on-schedule, and kept the rides FUN!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

11/14/09 Last Chance

Gathered up the Ransom-monster, and headed to the arena. He didn't get a chance to run free, but instead lunged on the line and in side reins. Quickly settled into a nice forward rhythm. I hopped on, not wanting to miss a moment of his energy, and wanting to "leave some in the tank" for Sunday's show.

R arrived as I was beginning our ride. I had thought he was coming over to measure a few things for some arena improvements, along with a few other outdoor tasks, so I was happily surprised to see him sit down on the mounting steps to watch. This gives me just a bit more courage... I mean, really, if I'm going to take a nosedive, why not do it in company?!

I rode Ransom through all the test pieces, got reminded "thumbs up", and "sit on the whole saddle." Laughing, I figured, "I wonder how much muscle he really does have in his back end these days."

I settled Ransom down into a walk. I leaned back a little, tucked my toosh, and squeezed, outside leg back. He hopped RIGHT into canter on the circle, and in the correct lead. I squealed in glee! YAY! He IS building his muscles, or that wouldn't be possible, or pretty. We rode this transition twice heading right, then twice heading left. One of the four had a few steps of trot, but otherwise, they were really neat! That was a cool feeling - walk, right into canter. Was it perfect and framed? Heck no! But was it solid transition? Yup! I felt him tuck his rear end & push off into the canter each time. Very Very cool indeed!!

Friday, November 13, 2009

11/13/09 Friday Nite Concert

Airing a little frustration here, folks. So you've been warned.

Check the Victoria show, and the comments I've made. I hope they post 'em. I was polite as best I could be.

R and I went to a local church Friday night to see Johnny Diaz, Tenth Avenue North, and MercyMe in concert. All three performed well, Johnny Diaz was beyond funny for the only three songs he did. Tenth Avenue North did great as well.

But as MercyMe entered the sanctuary of Faith Family, and started their speech for Compassion International, asking for donations and child sponsorship, their apparel caught my eye, and it bugged the snot out of me the entire rest of the evening.

The lead singer and one of the guitar players I guess just couldn't help themselves. They both wore hats, and left them on, even when they were leading prayer. How could this be?! Didn't their parents raise them to have more respect?! That building might not be anywhere special to them, and it's not my home church, either. But it is God's house, and it seemed incredibly disrespectful that they had their hats on. I saw many in the crowd the same way, but gave that up to inexperienced folks that "didn't know any better."

But the band?! Seriously!? They weren't raised better than that? So I went to the blog for the event, and voiced my displeasure. I'll be sure to let ya'll know if anything comes of it. Might even have a picture or two depending how R's camera worked out, and if he'll share with me.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

11/12/09 MailCall!

Unrelated to Ransom's training me, and his development... But incredibly related to my ever-growing confidence...

Romeo and I rode bareback to the mailbox in the evening. I knew R was coming over to fix some trailer lights, check my brakes, and generally just hang out a while... So I had his arrival in the back of my mind... "If I do go splat, he'll be here sooner rather than later to claim me and retrieve my red pony."

It was fun! Nothing beyond a walk, but we contended with a little traffic, neighbor's mini horse whinnying at us, and I had to dismount at the mailbox due to traffic and the box being too low to reach. I moved Romeo to a small ditch and got a running start to hop back on him. If he were too much taller, that wouldn't be do-able.

A nice stress reliever after a long work day.

11/12/09 Dedication to the Spot

Dedication is waking up at 4:45am, to feed the boys, to inhale coffee & breakfast, to get my bottom dressed in breeches (with work clothes set aside), to ride a lesson at the break of day.

Jen arrived around, hmm... 6:15am? We walked a saddled & prepared Ransom out to the arena, just as the sun was coming up. I tossed the reins over Ransom's neck to lunge him, and he spooked, or got a mosquito bite on his rear, or got in a habit, or something..

But he TOOK OFF. Ran at a near gallop around the arena, dragging the bridle behind him. This is the same bridle he's already tried to destroy once in the same fashion. He TOOK OFF running. We finally got him caught, but by then, my bridle was in pieces in the arena. Jen surveyed the damage, found my browband MIA, and had to go back to the trailer to find a new bridle to piece together for the lesson. She came back with another bridle, and his knotted noseband rope halter. I lunged him a while, and, in the morning foggy air, as I stopped to finally get on, steam was rising off his entire body. It wasn't particularly cold out, but incredibly humid.

We worked through all the normal test pieces, all the things he's been stickie on. Jen did NOT see the bending problems as Leslie described, so we're both puzzled by the whole "bend" discussion. We agreed on a slightly compromised hand position, not as high as the BRM lesson, but not touching the sheepskin half pad, either. Instead, something in the middle, forward and elevated slightly. It's not something I'll change overnight, but I will keep working on it.

When Ransom would be agreeable to some sitting trot and plenty of trot to walk transitions, I was able to let him canter. This is an ongoing activity as well - get him to quit antici-pating the canter just because I sit, or just because I'm in a corner, or whatever his excuse.

Total ride well over an hour. I scurried to get him undressed, change my clothes, and arrived at my job at 8:35am. *WheW*

I was exhausted the rest of the day. Take-home here? DON'T ride on a morning BEFORE going to work. Makes the work day feel like it'll never end.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

11/11/09 Brief Lunging

It took a serious amount of control, but I didn't ride. Gosh I wanted to. Ransom got a lunge on side reins in the arena, to keep his muscles loose for my Thursday morning dark-thirty ride. I knew if I rode we'd go too long, and the next morning lesson would be tight & difficult.

So he got a solid lunge for about 40 minutes, walk, trot, canter, with a bunch of transitions. He didn't lean on the reins, but kept 'em loose.

No big surprises in the lunge, except for a handful of deer chased by the neighbor's dogs. I am going to have a battle with those dogs, eventually. Might be via unloading my shotgun in their general vicinity, might be a paintball gun, might be something.. But they're either going to quit chasing the deer, or quit showing up in my yard,,, something.

11/10/09 Turned Into ...

Let me just tell you all about my evening of...
The Lunging Session that turned into
The Walk down the road that turned into
The Walk through the pasture that turned into
The HoP over the wood pallet that turned into
The Walk to the Arena that turned into
The Working Pony that turned into
The Arena long&low at trot & canter

In the afternoon, I had decided I wouldn't be riding - I'd just lunge Ransom in side reins. Let him get the exercisin'. Yeah, By the trip home, I was a bit more motivated. So I decided the weather was fantabulous, and we needed a mental break. So I'd just walk him around the yard, and if I got the courage, we'd walk down the road away from the traffic a little ways.

As soon as I got him ready, tightened the girth, and got on, one of my neighbors that's been riding a gator-cart thing while she "walks" her 8 dogs when whizzing by in her SUV, about 25mph down the road. "Craps on that idea of riding on the road with Ransom", I muttered under my breath. We walked around the yard a little while.

Then I meandered into his pasture, top right side by the house. I have a wooden pallet out there on the fence line that was a "Bridge" for Romeo to wander over. Ransom walked over it after much debate & discussion. I had a good laugh when he first decided he couldn't walk over it, but he could HOP over it. Silly boy!

After we walked over it four times successfully, I decided, "Well, ain't no reason we can't walk back to the arena & walk through, then I'll walk around a while more & call him done." As soon as we entered the arena, Ransom's walk picked up to this steady, flowing extended walk. He started reaching for the bit contact, and I could feel his back round up. My man wasn't in the mood to goof off & meander, He wanted to work!

I hopped off long enough to close the gates, and I mounted again. We walked the arena on the rail again, and I barely took up rein contact. Ransom stretched his whole neck down & into the contact. Just as soon as he was barely on the bit, he relaxed, and slowed a little. I asked for trot, and again, he reached out stretchie looking for the bit, and when he found it, he settled into a pretty hunter trot.

For the giggles at this point in the ride, I asked for canter. Again, in a very steady & relaxed frame, Ransom cantered along, looking for the bit. When he found it, he relaxed - to the point I had to keep my leg on him to keep him in the canter.

A neat 45 minute ride. Had fun! Certainly not what I intended to do, but I enjoyed the ride anyways.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

11/9/09 A Change in the Ride

Gathered up Ransom & all his things, and, remembering one of the discussions we had with Leslie at BRM, I decided I'd only ride until we got it "right", and then we'd walk it out & quit.

Warmed him up only long enough free lunge to get the brain cells firing, and I hopped on. I figured, "Heck, we rode with no warmup on Saturday. Ain't no reason I need to stretch him on side reins every ride. I can just get up there, work it out at a walk."

I hopped on, and we concentrated on free walk to collected walk a while. His stretches down were pretty good. I quickly remembered "hands out of the lap", and shortened my reins, and I noticed his walk got more animated, and I felt his rear swinging more. I transitioned to trot, and, again, felt a difference. When he finally settled into the contact, it felt like his back end was elevated. I honestly don't know how else to explain it.

We picked up a canter, and he tossed his head up. YuckO! Down to a trot, lather, rinse, repeat. Next canter trans was much better. Rode a few circles, and back to trot. On this shorter rein with my hands elevated that little bit, the down transition felt really smooth. Headed back up to canter, and that transition up was a little better.

Changed direction, and worked walk to trot a while, to keep the AntiCi-Pation low. In and out here got UGLY. I stopped him once with a harsh back up & some ugly words. Then, he had one of his mini tantrums, turning his rear end, popping his head, backing up, sidepassing, turning his front end, doing *anything* but going forward. I had to eventually release the rein contact entirely, and smooch him up to a forward trot. Worked the trot to walk to trot a while, then the walk to halt to walk. It got gradually better when he decided to settle back into work.

Repeated the trot to canter to trot a few times in this new direction, and, again, when things settled, I let him walk out on a loose rein a bit.

Back to the original direction, and the trot to walk was fantastic. Walk to halt, we had a bit more of that tantrum, but he settled.

When my hands were raised, it felt like he moved different -like he was coming from behind the entire time. It's really hard to explain. Gosh I wish I had some video of him doing it both ways , the old and the new. Maybe someone else could see it & tell me what was going on.

Rode for about 45 minutes. He was warm & a little sweaty, so I hosed down only the parts that were sweaty and his legs. Licking & chewing were enormous, so I can only assume he was enjoying himself.

Side reins & lunge line tonight. Then, maybe, if I'm up to it, some trot & walk work. I think tonight I'll move the side reins up on my surcingle, and shorten if needed. I'd like to see something replicate what my "new hands" are doing, so I can maybe learn from it.

Monday, November 9, 2009

11/7/09 BRM Lesson

I arrived at BRM a bit later than I honestly wanted to. Hwy 59 was great, but the last few miles of Hwy 99 were chock full of traffic. I had other motorists trying to weave in and out of the traffic, had to hit the brakes harder than I like to, and just felt incredibly stressedy by the time we arrived.

Leslie greeted us at the trailer while I was saddling Ransom. "Yeah, that's my boy. Wow he does look good!" Whew, a huge sigh of relief. I got Ransom all dressed in his blue pad, blue polos, and french link bit. Snatched my chaps, helmet, gloves, and offs we went.

Leslie told us to "meet her in the big jump arena." As I started to go in there, another lesson student wandered in wearing a hunt saddle. Oops. Leslie looked back at the covered arena, and said, "The heck with it. I'll be right back out, go ride him over there." She pointed to an uncovered, unfenced, 20x40m dressage marked, um, area. Note I didn't say "arena". There were railroad ties along the ground as markers, and the rubber/sand footing inside the ties. NO FENCE.

My mind churned. I am terrified to ride outside of a fence in a saddle without a handle or a way to feel anchored in. Oh Holy Crap! I swear how on earth am I going to trot, let's not even consider how I'm going to canter. Oh crap! I shared my anxious fears with R, who told me, "There's a difference. Look at your horse. He's at home, and he knows it. You're not riding Chewie, that's the difference. Has he done anything bad to you yet? Okay then, get up there."

I mounted in the saddle, and did everything I could to ride on the buckle at the walk. Ransom cheerfully plodded along in his standard free flowing over strided walk, head down. The first time their automatic gate squeaked open, he peered at it, but settled right back down. I laughed as I said to R, "Look at his ears. They're flapping he's so relaxed. Good grief whatta good boy."

Leslie approached, and said, "Okay, pick up a trot for a few rounds to warm him up." I took one HUGE deep breath (one like I just did as I remembered what it felt like), and barely squeezed with my legs. Ransom popped into a nice quiet trot, though with his head up and uncollected. (At this point, he hadn't had his normal lunging & side rein warm up like he's used to. I was a bit too late today to get a good warm up in. This led to some troubles in the lesson later.)

Ransom trotted around, and I settled into light contact quickly. Leslie chirped at me, "Shorten your reins, get your hands out of your lap. Bend your elbows, pick your hands up. See! Right there, now do you feel him going different?" Um, sort of. He's staying collected, but I usually get that after a good warmup.

Leslie asked me to "bend him around" in the corners. She said he wasn't bending in the middle. HUH? She asked us to trot serpentines, but quickly made me stop, commenting I wasn't bending him. She asked us to trot around and "Try to ride up centerline." So, I did. She said to us, "Well, I'm surprised you made it to centerline, because his behind wasn't bent getting there." HUH? She tried for probably twenty minutes it seemed like to explain "bending". The one time it made sense was in a corner, when she told me specifically to "pull my inside hand towards my hip, and add outside leg." One time Ransom seemed to push smooth through the corner. But I quickly lost the idea, and had to try again.

After some chat of "Bend" at the trot, she asked if I'd ever ridden him on a leg yield. Nope, never. (Okay, a bit of a fib. I've done a little bit at walk, but not really fought him for it.) We rode it at the trot-only. Heading left, I rode up the quarterline, and added inside leg ONLY, trying to balance his head straight on the bit. He gave two or so really neat leg yields to the rail. Heading right, it wasn't quite as easy. But I've got a good idea how to do it now, and will be doing this more at home. Inside leg only, take the outside leg completely off, look straight up ahead, and only use the reins to keep his head & front end straight. If he doesn't yield over, move inside leg back some & ask again.

We discussed this word "Bend" for quite some time. Then she asked me, "So what's his canter score?" I chirped happily, "I got 8s both leads on the test where we were both paying attention." She responded back, "I'd kind of like to see that. You really got an 8?" I glanced over towards her and R, and saw him grinning just a little bit.

I glowed. Oh yeah? You think? Let me just show you what our canter looks like. Oh my goodness, I'm still in this unfenced arena. Ransom, please let me show her what awesome canter you have. Take care of me, please. I leaned back, squeezed, and except for him popping his head up, he moved out into a gorgeous canter. It was a bit more forward than I'd like, and felt like he leaned just a bit, but it was nice. Just as nice as in the last show. Leslie's eyes lit up. "Wow, that does look really good. Just remember to bump him with the reins, get him off your hands every once in a while, and otherwise, that does look like an 8. Wow."

I was grinning, all over. Ransom and I settled back into a trot, then we cantered the other direction with EXACTLY the same result - a head popped up transition, but a gorgeous forward canter. I know I was grinning & glowing. I got a beautiful canter, outside of a fence, in my dressage saddle. How awesome!!!

Another one of the instructors came over and tried to explain what they meant by "Bend." She first had me ask him to turn on outside leg and outside rein only. She said to me, "He'll feel like he's bent to the outside. That's okay right now." And he was. Then she told me to add inside rein, wiggling the bit. I did that, and it did feel a little bit different. We did this at the walk some, then at the trot some. R videotaped that whole section of the ride, and I hope I'll be able to hear her talking to me through the wind & general outdoor noises. This part of the "bend" discussion made some sense, though I'm not entirely sure I felt anything different.

R made some observations worth noting, that I hope to see in some video this upcoming weekend.
*When I rode "hands out of my lap", elbows bent more, and hands up higher, Ransom apparently bent himself up more, and seemed to stick his butt up in the air. Hope to see, because I didn't feel it.
*When I "did what they told me to" with inside hand, outside leg, and bent him around "correctly", he bent in the middle and tucked his nose around the corners and in circles.

These are things that might have been captured in the pile of still shots he took, I'm not sure. We didn't review them together this weekend. Maybe get that done sometime this week.

We ran some shopping errands in Houston before taking Ransom on home for the night. Over all, it was a good lesson.
I did learn some new things.
I did ride somewhere new.
I did ride outside of a fence.
I didn't have a terrifying "train wreck" ride.
I did ride him without a lunging warmup.

I don't know that I learned anything really profound or applicable to what I hoped for, but I did get somethings accomplished.

Countdown to Sienna ... 8 days.

11/6/09 Ransom Lunging & Working Light

I got my big bay monster all ready to go. He was pretty on the lunge line, but seemed a bit lazy. I hopped on after about twenty minutes lunging, giving him lots of work-out on his own.

We rode all the transitions I worry about, and most went well. I got him in and out of canter without a whole lotta fuss. I rode through the rough patches of test 1 again, and found them all a bit easier.

His halt at X was stickie, but they've been awful stickie for a week or so now.

Total work about 45 minutes. I wanted to get his mind 100% on me, get what I wanted to get, and get done.

I was a bit anxious about the trip to Katy. What would Leslie say when he got off the trailer? Would she be happy with his weight & muscles? Where would we ride? Would there be an audience? Would I do well? All things that worried me through the evening.

Friday, November 6, 2009

For Caspers Advantage

Miss Jen, you have FUN at the show Saturday!! Go have a great time playing with your super pony, and have fun!

For Casper, in antici---pation of a great day..

11/5/09 Ransom & The Deer

I couldn't decide how hard Ransom and I were going to ride, so when I caught him, I only got ready enough to work hard if we had to, but not planned on it.

Warmed him up kind of quick, and while he was trotting along the wooded side of the arena, a deer squirted out of the trees & brush, running around the outside of the arena. Ransom certainly spooked, but heck, it startled me! He relaxed again pretty quickly.

I hopped on, did lots of collected & free walk warm-up before pushing into a trot. He tried to avoid working walk with collection a few times by springing into a jog, but I didn't let him get away with it. When we did go into trot, he tried giving me a strung out lazy trot, and again, I had to work hard, but pushed him into a pretty good trot forward with collection.

He tried breaking to canter every time I sat the trot, so I did lots of down to walk transitions until he quit thinking he knew what was coming next. As we were trotting back towards the barn, I saw three deer about 20 ft from the short side. I started talking to them, so they'd see me and hopefully get lost. One by one, they acknowledged the human on the horse, and sprinted around the long side, to the back of the arena corner. I told Ransom, "They're not getting the hint. Let's trot back there and get rid of them, so nobody gets startled."

Ransom seemed into this little game, and I went on really light contact, and trotted him very forward back to the corner. Squirt! There go the deer!

With the distractions gone, I pushed him into canter-right. EW! Head popping transitions. EW EW EW. Yeah, I'm not having any of that. Until he tucked his head for a transition to canter, I didn't let him have more than a stride or three of canter. When he finally dropped his noggin for the transition, I let him canter a few circles. Repeated this a few times, until I had a handful of pretty transitions.

Went left, and he started anticipating the left-canter again. Back to walk, sitting trot, walk, sitting trot, posting trot, sitting trot, walk. Ooooh.. one unhappy horse, tossing his head just a bit, pinning his ears. He was NOT happy with my not allowing him to canter. After he finally settled down, we cantered left a bit. Transitions weren't all that bad heading left. He was lazy into one of them, and quickly was shut down to trot before I let him canter up again. Then, the up transition was much better.

I rode for about 45 minutes before dark settled in. Given his irratic laziness, ugly transitions, and the deer sprinting all over the place, screaming neighbor kids, I stayed in the arena. Before the show on the 15th we need at least one goof off walking in the pasture day....

Friday Fill Ins

1. Plans and schedules never seem to stay the same.

2. I'm happy when things work out unexpectedly.

3. The last thing I drank was coffee - liquid sunshine.

4. One of the most valuable things in my life is my friends & loved ones.

5. I like pepperoni on my pizza.

6. Dear November, bring us just enough rain, but no super cold nights, please.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to riding Ransom, tomorrow my plans include hauling to Katy for a lesson and Sunday, I want to sing pretty in choir!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

11/4/09 Funny of the Day

Ms. Jen just wanted to issue a compliment to someone close to me...

I told her, "Don't tell him that! It'll go to his head faster than soda pop fizz!"

Soda pop fizz! Funny Me!

11/3/09 Ransom Trot Poles?

I saddled Ransom up dressage, twisted loose ring bit, and off we went. Knowing when dark hits the house, I figured I had a little over an hour to get my work in.

I warmed him up only long enough to check for sound, and hopped on. I rode quite a while collected walk to free walk, but he was trying that head-tossing junk again. Plenty of barking at him, tugging back on the bit, and he settled in.

Worked on lengthening the trot, but stuffed some canter in there to stretch his legs & back out a little as well.

Rode through TL #1 in its entirety, and I've still got that stupid problem with him popping his head & nut-trotting into the canter-left. YUCK!~! I have no clue what I'm doing to cause it, but it's got to be me, because his canter-right later in the test was awesome.... Something to focus on between now and the 15th.

With the test ridden, I hopped off for a "ride break". I stared at the arena, thinking, "What can I work on that's different?" I set up four trot poles on a long side off the rail, and hopped back on.

What a riot! Headed left over them first, and Ransom tried all kinds of combinations. He tried to walk through them, break to canter in the middle, break to canter at the start, and every single go through them, he was cantering away. I rode it four times left until I had a steady trot to and through. Then I went right. Even funnier yet... I never knew he could compact his canter down that little, but he cantered them three times, somehow getting over two at a time, and never putting a hoof on one. LOL. When he finally got it correct, trotting steady to and through, I did it one more time, and called it quits. At the end of the trot pole exercise, he was breathing harder and more wore out than he was after all of TL#1. Must've been hard on his brain to remember just how to trot over the poles. Silly boy!

With warmup and walking cool down, we got about an hour in. This time change crap is killing me! grrrrrr Tonight (& maybe tomorrow) he'll get another break.. Just not enough daylight to get it all done.

11/2/09 Ransom Hunter

Wanting to bring variety to our rides, and to continually improve my hunter body position and "heels down", I grabbed my hunt saddle, let Ransom chew on his slow twist full cheek bit, and got to the arena.

He seemed pretty cooperative, I think happy to be working, and to be doing something different. It's a neat feeling having the shorter stirrup length, thus more calf pressure on him, and easier transitions.

I worked on lengthening out his trot again, switching from posting trot to two-point. I'm going to have to get some pointers on staying in a two-point trot, because it took quite the effort to keep him from launching into canter in two-point. I'm sure it's the history of all the jumping he's done.

Got some really awesome canter in as well. I did some canter in two-point, trying to reach forward with my upper body, and while he wasn't collected, he was certainly moving out. I'd call it a huge hunter-canter, certainly not a nice pretty ittie dressage canter.

Including his brief warmup, Ransom and I rode for about 40 minutes. Evening daylight is shrinking every day now, (stupid Daylight Savings Time) so there is much adjusting to do to my schedule to make daylight time to ride.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

10/25/09 Show's On! The Pictures

Pictures from the show. Best of the bunch taken. Enjoy!

Walk / Trot / Canter Equitation

Deep in Concentration, Warming up for my Tests

The really neat pin Jen made, helping us remember Megan's memory.

10/25/09 Show's On! TL #2


Don't copy this video, stick it on another blog or website, and critique. I'm learning - I'm the first to admit I've got a long way to go. But, I've come a long way as well.

10/25/09 Show's On! TL #1

I shouldn't have to say this, but I'll do it anyways. Don't copy this video, stick it on another blog or website. If you've got it to say, the comment form is available to you.

Yup, Test #1 wasn't real hot - I have evaluated, I see what the judge saw, and I know what to be practicing on. Ya'll Enjoy!

Monday, November 2, 2009

11/1/09 Romeo the Dressage Pony

I know by now he wasn't real happy to see me, but the weather was way to awesome to not ride, and Ransom deserved a day off. So I grabbed Romeo, and suited him up in my dressage saddle. No extra padding, he's wide enough. With just a light square pad, the saddle is just a hint narrow, but really fit good enough.

Rode him English bit, walk, trot, canter. He had an awful time picking up canter-right, but kept the gait steady & controlled. I actually got to canter low end circle and center circle, transitioning down to trot just with a heavy breath. How cool!!

Rode him at these harder gaits for about 30 minutes. I'm sure he'll be happy with the break. I focused on him getting up & moving, while trying to see if I could sit & push him at the trot (can do), and restrict his running-off at the canter (can do). Need to try to translate these body positions now to Ransom.

Romeo will appreciate the next few days off, I'm sure.

10/31/09 Romeo Walking the Dogs

I saddled up Romeo, with my schnauzer Allie running around us. I briefly lunged Romeo (English bit) to get the fuzzies off before tightening his girth one last time. Allie quickly thought she was supposed to herd poor Romeo, and got scolded when she barked & hollered at him. She very very quickly learned to keep her little 9lb body away from his very LARGE feets.

I jumped on Romeo. I hollered, "C'mon Allie. Stay with us." I even tested Allie's sit/stay with Romeo's "whoa" before walking on. Both were obedient.

I had Romeo in one hand, watching Allie the whole time. We walked about six minutes away from home away from the paved street, and of course six back. Allie stopped for potty breaks, but pretty much stayed right with us. One time she got way behind, I stopped Romeo, and twisted back in my saddle to look behind us for her. I looked back forward, and Romeo was looking back for her as well. Cute cute cute!

I got Romeo and Allie back to the house, put Allie in her crate, stuck MacKenzie on the leash, and went back outside. Hopped back up on Romeo, tested "whoa" and "sit/stay", and off we went again.

Walking Kenzie with Romeo was a bit more challenging at first. Kenzie wasn't sure how to stay with me but out of hoof-range. Romeo by the most hates big barking dogs. So when Kenzie came to sniff him, and Romeo stopped to sniff back, I quickly told Romeo, "Whoa! Be nice!" Romeo and Kenzie touched noses, Romeo sighed , licking and chewing, and Kenzie looked at me, and sat, right on the road. Sweet!

We walked the same six out, six back, and only once did the leash end up in a bad spot. Kenzie switched sides on us behind Romeo, and tickled Romeo's toosh with the leash. I quickly halted Romeo, and wiggled the leash loose. Romeo was a complete saint! I had his reins in one hand, leash in the other, talking to Kenzie the whole trip. When we had to stop for a Kenzie-potty break, Romeo was completely compliant, and waited patiently. When Kenzie would start walking again, so would Romeo.

Got the dogs walked, I took Kenzie back inside to her crate, and told Romeo, "Good Job, buddy! Time to go get the mail, just you & me."

Well, now I know, take a napsack with me. MailLady! *sigh* I got a huge magazine, one little envelope, and two boxes of checks in the mail. And I had *nowhere* to store everything. So I folded the magazine lengthwise, stuck it in the back of my jeans, and shoved the enveloped folded in a pocket. I sandwiched the boxes of checks between my thighs and the saddle horn. *giggle* And I prayed the whole way home, "Don't spook & make me drop these checks in the mud, Please!" LOL...

Romeo gave me about an hour, all at the walk. He did great. He figured out his job walking the dogs pretty quickly, and did it well. Neat-O! I can now walk Romeo and the dogs all at once. Next steps there? Walk the two dogs together, six up & back. Next after that? All four of us will go get the mail. How's that for a nifty goal?

10/31/09 Ransom Working Hard

I gathered up Ransom, cleaned, brushed, combed, and treated, and offs we went.

We worked for a solid hour, with an extra ten on the lunge/ side reins. He did fabulously.

Again, one really horrendously ugly canter-left pick up. It was nastyugly. I very quickly growled "NO grr" at him, and slowed him to a halt. Rather than go right back to canter, I forced him into a HUGE posting trot, sat a few strides, walked a couple, went back to trot, and *then* asked him to canter. YahOoo YIpee.. Much better big monster!

We rode all over the arena, but kept our canter to the front 2/3, mostly in the center circle. I asked for up and down transitions in the most inconvenient spots for him, in the circles, but nowhere that I normally ask. Did it on purpose, to end the antici-pation. He got smart quick, and kept one ear on me the rest of the ride.

My legs were jello rubber when I got done. He got a light hose off, and a little grazing in the yard under his cooler briefly. When he was back to toasty warm again, I took all that off, brushed him, and sent him back to his pasture.

Seems like a lot of lather/rinse/repeat lately with Ransom and me. Might be high time to shake it up, and try something new... I might pick up a fence or two.. Maybe tonight I'll ride him hunter, and find my long & low heels again.. That sounds fun!

10/30/09 Romeo

Romeo got pulled out of his pasture for the first time in a couple of weeks. When I walked by his stall when I turned Ransom out, he was nickering at me, ears pricked towards me. His little face looked so darn eager to play, I couldn't resist.

I brushed, groomed, combed mane & tail, cleaned feet (hooves look awesome, by the way), scraped off the bot eggs (yuk), grabbed his western bit,
and hopped on bareback.

I rode him for about 25 minutes, walk, collected walk, and trot. Only serious focus was on verbal "Whoa" means to stop NOW, and a solid back-up for those that I felt were late. None of it was pretty, but it was serene. He seemed awfully happy to be out & playing.

Nothing beautiful, nothing serious, just fun chillin'. He was licking & chewing when I turned him out afterwards - I think pony for "Thank You."

10/30/09 Ransom

Gathered up my big monster buddy, and off we went. I had hoped to find the arena far side dry, but it was still slippery. No sense in forcing my sweet pony to carry me and slide around back there, we stuck to the front 2/3.

I worked him in a warmup on side reins & lunge line, and got him good & paying attention, loosened up. We got undersaddle, and got right down to business.

Transition Transition Transition. He had some UGLY canter-left departures, much like at the show. Just horridly ugly. I didn't leave him in it, however, but instead forced him to stop & pick it up again. He got angry enough he tucked his head & picked it up correctly. About time, I muttered under my breath.

Anxious to get his trot work out of the little short strides & adjust him UP to a good working trot, I started pushing with my legs, lengthening my post, and he was still irregular. So I settled into a sitting trot, and admittedly it wasn't beautiful, but I sat deep. When I tucked my pelvis underneath me, he certainly picked it up. He didn't hold the forward trot with good collection for a very long time, but it was much prettier. I then did a bunch of sitting to posting transitions, and settled for done & good when I had some strides in there that stayed big & didn't change when I changed.

I didn't fight too much for perfect trot to halt. He had these great at the show, and I know if I concentrate on them again later, they'll clean up real nice. He didn't toss his head up during this ride, but didn't come to a halt real quick, either. One fixit a day, perhaps.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

10/29/09 He Missed Me

I walked briskly to the arena after work, curious how much damage the rainfall had done. Let's face it, it'd rained pretty hard early in the week, and the front ditch still had a puddle in it. Igine my surprise when I found the front 2/3 of the arena dry enough to work.

As I walked back to the barn, I hollered for my big bay superstar. Ransom appeared out from behind trees, and followed me all the way to the gate. "Wait here, buddy. I'll go change, and we'll at least lunge ya."

I got changed, got him caught, got to the trailer. Who the heck am I kidding?! I've had a crappy day at work, and I need some rear-time. I'm riding, and ain't nobody talking me out of it.

I gave Ransom a few minutes free lunging to get the goofies out, and when he quickly settled into a walk taking a huge fit to get him up into trot or canter, I hopped on. It didn't take long moving him around until I realized we weren't going to accomplish my goal for the day.

I simply wanted to work on collected to free walk & back. I knew he was stiff, sore, and generally unhappy he was back to work in the whirling southeast winds. But we walked a while, and I pushed him up to a trot.

"This is going well. I can adjust his stride today. That's awesome. He's not very on the bit, but at least he's not stretched totally out to crap." I couldn't take it. I popped him up into a canter. We rode canter-right a while, adjusting & pushing the strides. How fuN!

Of course, can't just canter the horse one direction, right? So it was canter-left a while, pushed in some sitting trot and rising trot, finally aiming him into a little collection, and a round back with a decent amount of effort.

We danced together for about 45 minutes. I was glad to be back in action, and so was Ransom. He let out a dismal relaxed sigh, with licking & chewing, as I turned loose of him from his halter tonight.

Pretty quickly after we got done, southeast became sharp northwest winds, and the temperatures dropped about twenty degrees. It's just going to get colder overnight, so I rearranged some plans to get Ransom's turnout sheet on him. Again, a dropped head, with a heavy sigh, licking and chewing.

He really missed me.. how cool is that?! G'night ya'll... Maybe more tomorrow, like my FFI's and stuffs.. huh?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

10/25/09 Show's On! Pt 4 Finale

I regrouped my thoughts, rearranged my mind, and got back to business. Among the things I said aloud to Ransom, I remember muttering, "I don't know what that little disaster was, but please don't do it again. They're going to wonder what on earth we're doing here. I can't imagine how bad the scores were, but I can't help but wonder why you did that. Let's go try again, and show her how hard we've been working. C'mon buddy, let's go."

1. Enter working trot, halt at X, salute, proceed working trot
Take a deep breath, squeeze him with my legs, collect , wiggle wiggle hands, settle deep heavy sigh into the walk, step step, halt.
8 = square halt

2. Track right, circle 20m
Oh that's much better. There we go, wiggle wiggle, push with my legs, keep this forward motion. Smile at Jen calling the test, look into the last of the circle, look up & ahead.
6 = stride little short, nose behind vertical

Somewhere in the early parts of the test, a train came down the tracks. I had my back to it, and remember glancing up when we turned towards it, and getting right back to business. Ransom didn't even glance at it. Good Boy!

3. Change rein working trot KXM
Look way down the diagnoal.. Hey R! Hi sweetie! Smile! Okay, back to work, push forward on the trot, wiggle wiggle.. Oh this is much better than the last test. Canter's coming, half halt in the corner!
7 = brt hors? (It's hard to read)

4. Working canter left lead between C & H
Think into the corner, lean back, squeeze, don't you dare get that lead wrong again, buddy. Glance down, Got it! WaHoo! Wheeeee this is much better. Glance at the judge passing "C", she's smiling!!
5 = hollow; head high

5. E Circle Left 20m
Bend him through the circle, think, keep it round, wiggling my whole arms on the inside rein this time to keep the collection. Sit back on my hips, relax, don't push him!
8 = bal through & conn

6. Between E and K working trot
Heavy deep sigh back into trot. A little more tug on the reins than I'd like, but my back's to her, maybe she can't see it. yeah right. This lady rides Grand Prix. Of course she saw it! Wonder how she'll score me on that transition.
8 = giving nicely through top line

7. A medium walk
Heavy sigh, squeeze my knees, relax my butt... Oh wow, there's a pretty transition down to walk. Now I know for sure that wiggling my arms against his shoulders is the key to down transitions. That felt GOOOOD!
8 = bal

8. FXM Long free walk down the diagonal
Spread hands out, wiggle wiggle wiggle. His head's stretching down, he's taking good & big steps. Listen to Jen, Okay, I remember what's next. I've GOT to get this trot transition better than the other test. I've got to!
6 = good overstep some good stretch but rusty (hard to read again)

9. M-C Medium Walk
Wiggle, wiggle wiggle, gather up my reins, glance in the judge's general direction, Okay, I think that was good enough, trot circle's coming!
5 = severely curled

10. C Working Trot
Half halt, squeeze with my calves, lean back just a little bit. Oops, he's bent at the shoulders. Ew. That's ugly. Moving along, circle's up next.
5 = curled

11. Circle Left 20m
Look where you're going, wiggle whole arms with his shoulder movement, we're over half way through, and he feels good.
6 = stiffening first 1/2; better second 1/2

12. Change Rein working trot, down the diaganol
Look Down the diag, change posting, squeeze, keep his head down, wiggle wiggle, Hi Jen! There she is again! Hey we're almost done, and this is MUCH better!!!
7 = balanced through & conn; could cover more ground

13. Between C and M working canter right lead
Look ahead, lean back, squeeze. Okay, he popped his head, but we got the lead right. I'll take it.
5 = counter flexed, falling leaning in

14. B circle right 20m
That felt pretty good. Look through the circle, glanced out of the arena & saw another horse. Whooops. concentrate, nut! Wiggle my whole inside arm in the canter stride, now, one more down on the long, and we're almost outta here.
8 = balanced through + conn

15. Between "B" and "F" working trot
Down long side, whoops, heading away from her again, leaning on the reins, YUCK. Not real happy with it, but maybe she didn' tnotice. It was an easier transition than they've been at home, but I know we can do better.
8 = giving nicely through top line

16. Down "A" centerline, halt, salute.
Turn down the center, look up at the judge. Smile in satisfaction, I did it! We did better better. We gave it our best, and we'll take whatever she scores us. Wiggle my arms, settle my seat, reins against his shoulders, sigh, squeeze knees, walk, step step, HALT. Salute.
7 = No comments

Rider comments
Gaits = 5 no comments
Impulsion = 6 no comments
Submission = 6 no comments
Rider = 8 no comments

Talk about night and day?! I was beyond satisfied. I left the arena after Test 2 knowing we'd given it our best. Especially given the disaster Test 1 was, I was happily satisfied. I rode just out of the dressage markers, just to the side of the out gate, and immediately dismounted. That was just about enough for one day. I muttered to Ransom all the way back to the stall, "I don't know what that was for test 1, but you made it up to me. Cookies for all!"

Final Score - 187, 66.786% Second place of four.

My final thoughts tomorrow.. I hope everyone enjoyed this format, found it easy to read, and worthwhile. Those are my thoughts, combined with the judge's remarks. You can see in places they line up, and in others, I didn't feel what she saw. But enough for today... Good night everyone!