Tuesday, March 31, 2009

3/30/09 Vacation - Both Boys

Third Day concert was fantastic Sunday (3/29). Revive and Brandon Heath opened for them, and both did very well. Third Day was just *Fantastic*!!!!

Monday, I was a bit more than slow getting up, and my half day's vacation from work turned into a whole day. I wasn't motivated to do much, but, again, I've got pony commitments, and hey, I'm enjoying my rides.

So off I went outside. Romeo came home Sunday while I was out of town, so I saddled him up first. He did well, and I really only had to "get after him" once. We warmed up walk & trot, and did a little canter (both ways, and thinking back, he only missed his lead once). After the warmups, I was going to work on his trot. When I asked for it, he must've thought I meant canter, because the head came up, back hollowed out, and he acted like he was ready to take off. "No Sir!" I backed him up hard, and made sure he knew I didn't appreciate it one bit.

Total Romeo work - about 40 minutes.

After a short break, I grabbed Ransom. I intended a full repeat of Saturday, and that's what we got, plus some. Our trots were back on light contact, hoping he'd give a little more with his head & back. He did - after a little tightness, I worked out a few kinks in a lot of direction changes. I "got his mind" on me, and got the canter going. We did some canter-right first, hoping to prevent any "canter here" habits from forming. He didn't want to stay in it long, so next time I'll need to be a little more assertive in our right canters.

In his canter-left, after couple circles, I thought, o O ( Oh heck, why not try down the long side again.) O o So we headed in canter, left, long side headed away from the barn. In the short side, I kept going. Down the long side 'headed home', I kept him in it. I figured worst he'd do is canter bigger, but again, I'm committed to getting better, getting over my fears, and Ransom has never given me a reason to think he'd be bad deliberately or act out. He never sped up, he didn't really even lengthen his stride. Stayed cool & easy heading home, just like heading away. Enjoyed that, and took a good solid walk break.

After some more trot work, I asked for canter-right again, intending on a full arena 'round. Ransom kept breaking gait, and, in the short side at the back of the arena, stumbled in front. He put himself back upright, had a second small stumble, and still managed to keep it together. I stayed on top, but admittedly grabbed the saddle horn when he stumbled. I left him in an extended trot back down the barn-end, and asked for a total halt. Stood there a few minutes, him licking & chewing, head down, I'm sure in an apology of "Sorry Mom. I'm a little out of shape, but I'll get better."

Total work about 45 minutes again. This has been going so well, I think I'm going to stay this way for the rest of the week. Short Short work week. With Monday off, and Friday my AFO, I've only got three days, or 27 work hours all week. YahOO!

3/28/09 Ransom @ Canter

Gathered up Ransom, with a plan. My decent weekend rides have been less in frequency, and I've decided that, rather than have a lot of "goof off days" where I repeat the same old same old, knowing I want to get better & do more, I need to have useful rides with a purpose.

I had intentions on riding Western, on a loose rein, and trot all over the arena, staying on a loose rein. No matter what Ransom gave me for a trot, I was going to ride it, staying at trot, on a loose rein. I've been fussing and fiddling with him, trying to keep him soft & easy, for a few weeks now. It's not been going well.

The change worked. He was inconsistent at the trot, but wasn't going off in his own direction. We worked every possible direction, and put hoofprints nearly everywhere in the arena. Lots of direction changes, but not many transitions. I asked him for trot, and left him go.

When I got to the barn end of the arena one time (headed down the long side 'headed home'), I thought, o O ( Oh why not. Let's pick up a canter in the corner, canter a few circles. What could he honestly do bad? If I fall, I'll dust off & get back up. He's been a saint every ride, never bucked or kicked, never thrown his head. I'm gonna try it. ) O o

It was phenominal. I know my seat wasn't great, I know I wasn't sitting pretty, but the ride was awesome. We cantered about three big circles, and I thought about heading down the long side away from the barn & staying in canter. As I did, Ransom must've thought I wasn't ready. He broke to a trot about two strides down the long side, and stayed at the trot for a while after. I left him go, just being happy I got some canter in.

Since I did left canter, and he's better right, I did the same thing headed right at the barn end of the arena. This direction was much better, of course, and he was more compliant to turn & stay easy. :)

*Whew* Canter accomplished. It was in my western saddle, holding me in, but except for the transition, I wasn't death-grip on the saddle horn. I was grabbing it for the up transition, but quickly gathered up reins loose, and stayed pretty much out of his face for the gait.

Total work about 45 minutes. A fantastic ride! I was a bit more than down about the thought of riding Saturday, as I had to choose Ransom over other activities. That was the first time I chose my riding over something else, and I was upset about it. I have a commitment to Ransom (& Romeo), and I have to keep it.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Hosanna! 2000 - An Easter Memory Part V

The play was on. We were full-swing in performances, all ten of them, and I had a routine.

In the pre-show activities, while everyone was bustling around getting ready, I sat by myself, near the main cast of "Blues" and "Reds", but not with Jesus, the Marys & the three. I usually sat with my Bible, reading the gospel recollections over and over and over and over. I was determined to really live my part in the auditorium. There was no way anybody could mistake me for a "Blue", and I was going to be sure of it.

Every performance, it got a little easier. I became less believing, and more convinced that Man wasn't my Messiah. The resurrection scene became more and more surreal, angels with raising wings, the white lights beaming on the stage. I was able to associate better with the scribe's loud accusation in the crucifixion scene,

"Oh yeah. You're supposed to save the world! If You really are the Messiah, come on down and save Yourself!" (not scripted, but added that season)

Perhaps my favorite character was the soldier after Jesus was dead. The storms came, and this one young soldier cowered by the cross. When the thunder ceased, it always was that as Jesus dropped His head in defeated death, the crown of thorns would fall off. That young soldier was the last to stand up. Facing the cross looking up at Him, he'd pick up that crown, look at it, look back at Jesus, and walk away looking like he'd lost his best chance into heaven. He wasn't faking, he wasn't pretending - he was reacting how I did in the background.

Looking back, I have wrestled for years with what it all meant to me. I see myself in Peter - It's easier to say you believe, and deny when put "on the spot". I see myself in Sam & the soldiers - It's a whole lot easier to agree with the crowds and crucify my faith just because public opinion says so. Still, I see myself in the angels - silently watching in the distance all through the events. Watching Him, watching the followers, watching the crowds.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Looking for a Book Title

I remember reading a book (or at least a short story) in school - say 8th or 9th grade.. Trying to find the name and author so I can re-read..

The basic premise was this: Assimilating the community to achieve perfect communism. In other words, "dumbing down" the smart people so that everyone had a fair shot. I remember kids participating in a school race, the faster children being electrically shocked so that they didn't get too far ahead of the slower kids. I also remember other kids wearing shocking helmets that would lower their intelligence if they said something too smart, also to keep them level with the lower educated.

Anybody? Any ideas? I really wish I remember who wrote it ... or even more details about it...

Friday Fill Ins

This week's FillIn came from the blog owner's top 6 favorite books. She was suggesting the real book lines be filled in, but I'm just going to fill in my own ideas..

1. "In a hole in the ground there lived many many moles."

2. "It's gonna get cold again tonight but that ain't no matter."

3. "After dark the rain began to fall again, oh wait. That's not possible. We haven't had enough rain yet this Spring."

4. "A pirate emerged from the hold of the Spanish galleon."

5. "There was a hand in the darkness, and it woke me up."

6. "Accidents ambush the unsuspecting, as the rider experienced an unintentional dismount."

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to helping out at a church event, tomorrow my plans include I haven't a clue and Sunday, I want to have fun at the Third Day Concert!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

3/25/09 Ransom Reflection

I had a bummer of an afternoon at work. In the midst of one ugly combative discussion with a colleague at another location. It's been getting uglier and uglier in the last few months, and about a half hour before quittime, I received a pretty nasty email. Two can play that game, and so I sent it along for handling. The situation is out of my control, for now. I've got a general suspicion it's a "male/female" "experienced/rookie" issue, so I'm curious if there's any way to improve it.

With that general disposition carrying me home, I decided a goof-off day with Ransom was in order. I grabbed a brush, hoof pick, bridle, and a handful of cookies, and headed out to the pasture. Found Ransom all the way in the back, tossed the reins over his neck, and led him to the round pen. Brushed him down real good (noticing that a lot of that ugly winter coat is shedding out and his summer coat is absolutely B-U-TI-FL!!!), and warmed him up free lunge. I worked with him on "Whoa means come to the center" with cookie rewards. He got the idea pretty darn quick.

After about fifteen minutes, I put on his bridle, hopped up on my upside down flower pot, and got on. He stood still as a statue while I figured out where to settle my behind on him. I squeezed him into a walk, with regular rein contact (if he'd been saddled), and off he went. About six feet later, he pulled the reins loose, sighed, and dropped his head near to the ground. He must've known I needed the relaxing ride, walking in a big stride, calm & quiet. We walked around for around ten minutes, wind howling in the pasture.

It was a great ride. Nothing serious, nothing intense, but my first time bareback on my new horse. Pretty darn cool! He rode like it wasn't his first time, and I was happy for it.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

3/23/09 Ransom

Big boy put on his "Happy Horse" behavior. He must've noticed Romeo left & didn't come home. Saddled him up dressage, added side reins & lunge line, and off we went.

Gave him about a 15 minute work on the line. He started pulling on the line, trying to make the circle bigger & bigger, but I tugged back, and got a better circle size. After warmup, I took the line and side reins off, and sent him around the arena. He gave some nice easy trots, and took off galloping down the long sides two or three times. Once it was pretty clear he would rather relax with me than be a nut, I got on.

We worked another twenty minutes on walk and trot, and had a good ride. He was nice & light, and while not totally relaxed at the poll, at least he was turning and staying soft. Total work, a bit over an hour. Plenty of transitions, and lots of direction changes.

Wind was howling in the trees our entire workout. Pretty cool that, a year ago, there was no way in that weather I would've been on a horse, not to mention that large of a horse. No absolute way. Not only was the wind flapping, neighbor's cows were out grazing, neighbor was grading his driveway, and we had company. One deer and a large bird (male roadrunner, I think) came whizzing by the pasture. Pretty neat to stay aboard and remain relaxed with all that going on around us.

Weather peoples calling for precip chances next few days. Here's praying they're right ...

Monday, March 23, 2009

Hosanna! 2000 - An Easter Memory Part IV

In the background of my life during this time, I was facing upcoming graduation, and applying for graduate school. My advisors were proud of me, and my grades were great. One rehearsal, I ran to practice, giggled all over the cast room, and ran up to Peter.
"Guess what! Guess what! My prayers were answered!"
"What?", he asked me
"I got into grad school! Full scholarship plus assistance stipend! I'm going to grad school!"
Peter sighed. "I don't think I can have this role again in the play without you. We always put each other back together after it's over. I'm going to have to go back to being a soldier. It'll be too hard without you."
I wanted to cry... big Strong Fisherman Peter... I never knew he had been a soldier. Furthermore, I never knew I had that kind of an impact.
At last show, Peter handed me an Easter card with a Jesus-Fish pin in it. I still have it, and still feel his impact every time I put it on. I save it for special occasions, especially when I'm singing something I'm worried about. It's my reminder that my voice does change things and people.

Best and probably most important part of Hosanna!, was what it did to me and the Easter season. (more to come in another week as we're nearing the Easter Season)

3/22/09 Romeo's Back to School

After church, I drove Romeo to the roping arena. Plans included another short ride in my new saddle, then switch out to all my western cowgirl gear, and play pushing cows.

Romeo had other plans. Unfortunately for him, this was another day he chose to not pay attention, and do his own thing. Head up in the air, refusing to turn on forehand or turn on haunches, refusing to side pass, backing up with head in the sky... You name it. Refusing to turn nicely....

I rode him English
Les briefly rode him English
Les rode him Western
I rode him Western

Nothing seemed to help. He was being impossibly stubborn. SO! Good thing about riding with the cowboys - Romeo is back at camp. I left him at the arena yesterday with Les for about a week or so. Les saw all the junk I've been riding through & only working on a little bit. That'll all be solved in a few more rides.

I was able to warm up Amigo, and another fellow cowboy's horse for the team roping practice. The other horse, a big grey gelding, was FUN! I've seen others ride him, and worked up enough courage to jump on and have fun. Saddle too big, stirrups too long, I jumped on, and off we went. That was the best 20 minute ride I had the entire afternoon! Amigo is fun, but he needs a lot of leg to keep going without spurs. The grey horse?! He just needed asked once, and left alone. Very nice ride!

Ransom's up tonight - since he's the only boy at the house. Going to try to snag a lesson this week, scheduling around a 7:15 Tuesday massage, and church activities Wednesday (either choir or a concert at another church in town). There's a few chances of rain again this week, rain dances & precip prayers greatly appreciated.

3/21/09 Romeo Again

Saddled Romeo for a late morning test-ride in the new saddle again. He was incredibly ugly when I first saddled him. Bucking, rearing, throwing a general fit at the end of the lead rope. I put him in the round pen for about fifteen minutes, and he bucked there a few more times. He got a little bit wore out, and started paying closer attention to me.

In the arena for about another fifteen minutes, I had to make a few stirrup adjustments, and settle into my tack, but we had a good quick ride. Walk, trot, and a little canter-left. When I asked for his first transition, he hesitated, but once in it, he wasn't charging or bucking like the last English ride. Second downward transition he stopped nicely, instead of running away with me like before.

Saturday evening, R and I went with some other friends to see Elton John and Billy Joel in concert. Absolutely amazing! It was a fantastic show. Billy Joel is a serious performer and entertainer. We got a lot of good laughs, spent most of the concert singing along, and had a great time!

3/20/09 Romeo

What I hoped would be an in-person saddle fitting turned into carrying wither tracings for both boys to Charlotte's in Houston. The lady I had spoken with wasn't real friendly over the phone. She seemed a little putoff that I wasn't prepared to spend $2000 on a saddle for Romeo. Holy Poo! I didn't spend that much on the horse! She's NUTS! Keeping me company, R came along for the road trip. He was incredibly patient in the saddle shop, looking around while I drooled over everything in the store.

Anyways, after some time with one of the store employees I've dealt with before, I walked out with a Collegiate Convertible Diploma. Nice narrow twist, wide gullet, and overall beautiful design. They didn't have any incredible sales, and with the package I got for my saddle purchase, I grabbed stirrups and leathers. Good deal, and we were on the way out ...

We had the BEST Italian lunch! WOW! Being from Western PA originally, I have a finicky palate when it comes to Italian food. I just do. Olive Garden!? Not my fave... not even close. I grew up on home-cooked-by-Italian food. I had cheese ravioli that was just amazing! We finished up our meal sharing tiramisu. The REAL stuff.. ooooh.. very yummie.

After that, we did a little more window shopping, and headed home. Traffic was incredibly minor, due to some backroad travelling, but for Houston on a Friday afternoon, it was really light.

Just as soon as I got home, of course, I had to try Romeo's new outfit! I tacked him up quick and did a little walk/trot. I left the stirrups off the saddle, so I wasn't entirely confident in my ride. Romeo was good! He did a little of the goofy stuff he had before in my smaller event seat, but quickly settled into a comfortable ride.

Saturday, I tried again ... with a longer ride.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Friday Fill In

1. Why do we have to remind them it's just easier to agree?

2. Getting up way too early are now habits.

3. I have a secret, and I'm not telling.

4. I had never heard the phrase "just be patient" and it ever happened in the time frame I had in mind.

5. I have a work problem that shouldn't even be mine churning in the back of my brain the way I always do.

6. How was I to know I'd end up here, in this situation?

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to (well today I will) hopefully find an English saddle that fits Romeo, tomorrow my plans include concert adventures out of town and Sunday, I want to have a great choir day and a fantastic Romeo lesson (weather and schedules permitting)!

3/19/09 Ransom

Saddled him up, and provided a nice warm up. I decided adjusting circle size would keep the warmup interesting enough. He was a bit less stiff and not so argumentative in warmups.

Thinking back to bad Chewie days when he gave me the same nonsense, I got on Ransom, and did a LOT of walk. Circle in, circle out, leg yields, come & go at the walk, and continued this until he started reacting easy to any direction change or gait adjustment. This took nearly fifteen minutes, which was better than I've had in the past.

When I asked for trot, again, I had to do a LOT of transitions, and a lot of changes in direction before I finally had his attention. He was much like Tuesday's lesson, but not as bad. Anytime he got it "right", relaxing his head, and rounding up, turning when I asked on a subtle cue, I let him walk a few.

I did about two full laps around the arena in trot each direction. I realized that when Ransom gets the full arena, he's happier, and more relaxed. Maybe a chiro issue, making the circles stiff. Not sure, because he'll duck in right if I'd let him. Something to type out and ponder for the day.

Total work about an hour. We finished up on the buckle (and still on contact, he was stretched down so long & low) walking all over the arena. Ransom knew he did better by the cookie supply he earned at ride's end.

Thursday, March 19, 2009


I had a pretty crummy day at the office. Too many irons in the fire, and I feel like I've got "clients" all sitting right behind me at my desk, tapping my shoulder, asking, "Are you done yet? Are you done yet? Are you ready yet? Can we go now?" Worse than driving a van full of teenagers to an amusement park...

So after work, I grabbed Romeo. We had a long chat while I groomed some of his shedding coat, and I told him all about my bad day. He licked & chewed, and dropped his head, looking back at me almost sympathetic. We wandered out to the arena saddled up, and he was amazing good. He's had a long break off due to the weather & riding Ransom, so I braced for a fast canter & bad brakes. He gave me a really pretty canter (got his leads both directions on the first try), actually tried breaking to trot a few times (which isn't great, but sure beats holding him back the whole ride).

Neighbor's dog (wiener-dog yapping little nutjob) was giving us the "woofing what fors" during most of the ride. Fortunately, he did it from his own yard this time. Last time the little yapper was in my yard, I chased him out, tossing the lead rope end in his general direction. Romeo looked pretty hard in his direction a few times, and, when he didn't spring sideways, and didn't hollow out & freak, I rubbed his neck & praised lavishly. Half-way through praising him once, I realized I was secure in my saddle enough to reach forward almost to his ears scratching. How cool! All that going on at the canter, flying around the arena.

I finished up the ride with some trot-training. I left long loose reins, and deliberately tried to slow him a bit, then later pushed him on forwards with really light bit contact.

Total work about 45 minutes. The walk-out with my stirrups flapping, hands on my lap, reins swinging in the gait. Pretty cool ride! Good Boy Romeo!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

3/17/09 Ransom Lesson

My ride was good. My horse wasn't. How's that for a quick summary? Oh yeah, I probably ought to add a bit more so I can see if the problem happens again. alright.. I suppose....

Caught Ransom after work, and spend about fifteen minutes working out his shedding winter coat. This tedious task leaves me with horsehair in my mouth, up my nose, scattered all over the front yard. It's not coming out in handfuls, because that would just be too easy. It's coming out one strand at a time, and the dry air and low wind left it floating all around us. I've seen a few different shedding combs, and hope to pick one up in the next few days that will work a bit better than a standard rubber curry comb.

Gave him about a fifteen minute warm up (side reins 5s), and while he was leaning on the lunge line, he was pretty obedient. Jen showed up just as I was taking everything off, getting ready for a solid lesson off the lunge line. After Monday's ride, I figured there would be some to show off about, then maybe head back on the line for a little canter work.

Ransom had other plans. He was stiff, and belligerent. I had a hard time getting him to turn on contact and leg, not to mention softening & rounding up his back. I spent probaby twenty minutes of the lesson focusing on myself & ignoring his behavior before Jen intervened, and pointed out it wasn't me, it was him.

We argued at the trot for almost 45 minutes before changing it up. In that time, I changed directions a lot, worked on different places in the arena, went around poles & the jump set up as "obstacles", tried focusing on every part of my balance & muscles to stay relaxed & cooperating with him. I felt like I was holding him up and having to push him through every turn, alternating between posting trot & sitting trot. Some of the sit-trot was flat ugly, but that felt like the only way to keep him forward & together.

Finally, I jumped down, Jen added the side reins back, and we proceeded to chase him around the arena, hoping a little running around would loosen up his body & mind. Ransom ran and ran and ran, and when he was finally blowing really hard, and not taking off like a nut anymore, I got back on.

Another ten minutes later of all the same, we gave up. Ransom is entitled to a bad day, and this was one. I settled on a half-decent set of turns and corners, and rewarded him with a loose rein every time he dropped his head & relaxed for me.

I had a good ride, because I stuck with it, and kept correcting as best I could. Ransom, however, just didn't have an A-day.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

3/16/09 Back in the Swing

With the rains passed, and the arena now well-watered and soft, Ransom and I saddled up and headed out.

I had the best ride on him ever (off lunge line). After about a 20 minute warmup (loose lunge, then side reins on 5s), I hopped on, and we headed out. I walked a while, did a few leg yields (which he is soo good at), and asked for trot-right.

He immediately went into a beautiful soft relaxed trot. o O ( Hmmm ) O o I thought... o O ( What am I doing differently today than any other day that makes him so soft to ride today? ) O o

I was riding lighter. Don't know how else to describe it. When I was posting the trot, and I pushed myself into the saddle, he would hollow out, speed up, and string out all ugly. When I lightened my seat, posted real easy, and stayed "soft" in my mind, he was totally absolutely incredible. We even enjoyed about ten minutes of sitting trot - Something I didn't see happening off the lunge ANY time soon. I had real light bit contact, and we were tooling around the arena in circles & serpentines, all sitting trot. Absolutely incredible.

Total ride about 55 minutes. We were enjoying the time so much, we forgot how long the ride went. Planning for a recovery lesson tonight to make up for two weekends in a row without one. 100% Ransom, walk, trot, canter on lunge, and LOTS of trot on the rail. I can't wait!!!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Hosanna! 2000 - An Easter Memory Part III

I was settling into my role, and into my place in the main cast. So for a few weeks, I hung out in the choir room, learning their parts. They represented "the crowd", always changing with the mood, looking for a miracle, but never for a Saviour. I praised Hosanna! with them as He entered the courtyard, I sang "Crucify Him! We have no king but Caesar!" at the top of my lungs before Pilate. My part in the group, however, faded out after the crucifixion scene. I wasn't allowed to rejoice in His coming. During rehearsals, I sang under my breath, and, in the performances, I hid in the back of the room, singing softly standing behind a few choir members who "hid me".

The Soldiers' group tried "adopting me", I think to make my part more bearable. One guy, Sam, was one of the soldiers that pushed Jesus down the aisle by me in the crucifixion scene. Sam was a pretty cool guy, and, for whatever reason, just looked like a Roman soldier. He always gave me this impression that he was "one big bad dude that wasn't going to EVER worship that Jesus-nut."

When we set places for that scene, Director John hollered "Chara, get over there, but stand on your own. Everyone will recognize you by now as a Jew. You can't give in when they walk by. Be strong, and give them the same heck you tried giving Peter in scene rehearsal. THIS is where I need you to be aggressive & strong." A few others warned me, "Jennifer, whatever you do, in performance, DO NOT look at Jesus' face. Just don't do it. If your faith is anything true to you, don't look. It's impossible to see His face and still act like you don't believe."

Sam and I got in a routine. A few of the other soldiers would gently "push" me out of the way as they forced Jesus from the back to the stage. Sam never pushed, he never made contact, but his words were something else. They weren't scripted, either. Sam pushed Jesus on by, and always said to me,
"Well, what do you think of your King now?!"

I tried so hard. I was pretty good in rehearsals. I really was. But it was absolutely impossible in performance. The cast crew was right - don't look. I couldn't help it. I saw that face, Jesus dragging the cross top beam down the aisle. He was always near His knees as He went by me, looking up. I always looked at Him, and shortly after He went by, I would look at someone in the audience, and honestly say, "I didn't mean for Him to die. I really didn't. I wanted Him gone, and wanted Him to quit pretending to save me, but I didn't mean for Him to die. Maybe He's just a prophet, but He doesn't need to die."

Unfortunately, that wasn't ever how it worked out. The storm came, the thunder shook the room, and I, along with the rest of the crowd, ran from the room screaming. I was intentionally one of the last "Greens" to leave the room, again, representing a strong-willed Jewish non-believer. I was supposed to "make sure it was all real."

3/13, 14, 15 The Rains Came

Thursday, March 12 - High 52F, rainfall 0.22"
Friday, March 13 - High 46F, rainfall 0.27"
Saturday, March 14 - High 48F, rainfall 0.60"
Sunday, March 15 - High 57F, rainfall minimal
0.22+0.27+0.60 = 1.09" of liquid sunshine

I didn't get any weekend riding in. Friday it was just nasty out - windy, rainy, and cold(!) by South Texas standards. Friday evening lesson was cancelled due to the ickie weather conditions.

Saturday, still a soggy wet day. I got new tires on my truck, and ran a few errands, but I was basically a non-contributing member of society. =) A really relaxing day.

Sunday, after choir & lunch, I hoped to go home & prep for a lesson. I found both boys with slightly swollen ankles from slip-sliding around the pasture. The arena had a few tracks of sunk-in deer hoofprints. I decided a lesson wasn't worth injuring one of the boys, or having them sliding around with me atop, trying to protect both of us. I hosed down eight legs, put on a little Vetrolin, and nested back in the house.

This morning, the clouds have cleared, and my place should dry up to safe in a day or so. The rest of life is, well, wonderful. Right after I typed out that last sentence, I sat here at my desk a few minutes, pondering what else I should say, protecting privacy (mostly my own), but hoping to share just enough to make all the readers smile under their breath.

So, in tiny print, and a quiet mind, I'll just summarize - (again, long pause, with a stupid grin on my face that's bound to get me in trouble here any moment). Life is good... When I turned 30, I blogged about my life situation outside of the horses, and chose to be "okay" with it. FSSunny was right in her comments - it's not necessary, but it fits. I'm comfortable in my own skin for once. No show, no thinking really hard hoping I'll say the right thing at the right moment, no long evenings alone wondering if I'm enough, but just right. I prayed long nights that it would all work out, and maybe, just maybe, it has.
And, again, with that goofy grin on my face, and reading back on that 6/17/08 blog, I know I'll see that lady that asked the rude question again. I'm anxious to see the look on her face when my situation is no longer a secret.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Friday Fill Ins

1. When I look to the left, I see my office door and medium weight jacket.

2. Kitchen , standing at the sink is the room that has the best view in my home.

3. Let it work out. I'm stressing too much about stuff at work, and outside of work. I need to let it all go...

4. Puppy love done dirt cheap! Four leggeds love us humans no matter what

5. Being intelligent & using common sense is a responsibility that all qualified citizens must share.

6. If you have any opinions about anything feel free to email me - check the profile.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to lesson or relaxing, tomorrow my plans include housework, laundry, 2 truck tires, and assorted chores and Sunday, I want to enjoy church and rest up for the work week!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

03/12/09 Ransom Workout

Ransom lunged for 30 minutes hard work walk, trot, canter. I let him walk out for about ten after, and he stretched long & low all on his own. We did oodles and oodles and oodles of transitions. He behaved up nicely.

Weather turned last evening, bringing in a cold front. It's finally raining at a light clip at the house. I hope it continues for the next few days as predicted.

For now, however, I'm tired. I had a pretty late, long night, and I'm paying for it today. The gloomy weather makes me even more wore out. My long night was entirely worth it, as I learned a bit more about myself, and R. =)

Everybody have a safe day! Please keep my rainclouds in your prayers, and FSSunny's job search.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

3/10/09 Romeo Confirms It

Tacked Romeo up western, TT bit. Had an amazing ride! We still argued a little bit about the right lead, and he was a little slow to halt once, but there were no bucks, no kicking out, no tail swishing, all was peaceful. I barely took contact once at the canter to see if it was a mouth issue, and he still behaved.

All the fuss from Sunday has to be the event saddle not fitting him properly. I got extra padding, but even that doesn't seem to be enough. I'm really not entirely sure what to do there.

Still, we got in about 35 minutes of walk/trot/canter, a few spins, turns on forehand, rollbacks, and a little side passing. There were a few things going on making lots of sudden noises in the neighbor's pasture, and while he looked and flipped his ears around, he wasn't spooking sideways, or taking off. One time he thought he was going to canter without a cue, broke to trot, and I backed him up pretty hard. We didn't have a repeat-attempt there.

Life outside of horses is still status quo. I've been having a handful of really strange dreams lately, where things on the internet, work, and the rest of life are all blending together. Very strange stuff.... Waking up thinking, "Whoa... dude that was weird! Which cat was laying on me funny to cause that strangeness?"

Still praying for rain. Forecast calls it to start today and rain at varying chances from 40% to 70% until Sunday. Largest chance is Friday. Radar sure isn't showing it, but I'm hopeful.

If the weather holds out, Ransom will get a quick lunge tonight before choir rehearsal at 7:30pm. Ya'll have a great day! Don't forget FSSunny's job search!!!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Anonymous Comments Disabled

To any and all that were sending out "anonymous comments" on my blog, sorry. I've disabled that. If you want to comment, identify yourself. I think comment "anonymous" isn't worth the effort.

If you aren't familiar enough with online blogging & commenting that you don't have an account, but have something to share, my email account lives on my profile page. Have at it. If you need an account set up for commenting, let me know that too. I'll be glad to help.

We now return you to your reguarly scheduled programming, already in progress...

3/9/09 Ransom Hunt

Caught up Ransom after getting home a little late. Had a "nursing pit stop on the way home", as R has managed to fetch himself an ugly flu-like fever & yuckies. After delivering dinner & medicine, I headed to the house.

Ransom worked in my event saddle (only second time I've tried that) in the round pen. We worked for just about an hour, walk, trot (warmup w/t/c on side reins). He did really good, except that I felt like I had to micro-manage him a lot. If I left my legs relax, or my upper body relax, or my hands, he would drift in or out of the circle, and hollow out. Our best work was at a sitting trot, thighs on, and purposely "helping him." Very interesting, and different than I'm used to on him. I enjoyed the work - I felt like I was able to help him in our work rather than participate and learn from him only.

A pretty cool ride. When I was walking him out, I dropped my stirrups, and left my legs just hang on him. That was cool! He picked up the nicest big-stride moving walk. A very very nice end to the work.

On other news, my tax prep is about done, and, if all calculations are correct, Mr'Bama gonna have to give a little back this year. Too Bad, so sad, Chairman Mau-Bama (courtesey of Mike Church Dude Nation). You can give me back what was mine to begin with. You want more of my income? Knock yourself out. But don't expect me to give 120% on the job if you're just going to hand it out to someone else too lazy to pick up & get a job. grrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

Monday, March 9, 2009

Hosanna! 2000 - An Easter Memory Part II

We had one evening scene rehearsal. By now, I knew most of the cast, at least by their play-names. We all in the "main cast" had name tags, arranged by name & color. The "Blues" were true believers, like the disciples. The "Reds" were "on the fence", not sure if they wanted to believe or not, waivering at each scene. The "Greens", like me, were never supposed to believe. "Crucify HIM!", we shouted across the room, and after the storm scene, we were never to be seen again.

We rehearsed in a room smaller than any other one we'd been in. It was more to work out the reactions & emotions, rather than the distance to each part of the song. I was the third maiden in the garden to challenge Peter's loyalty to Jesus.
Surely you are one of them!
Your voice gives you away!
Are you trying to say that all of us are wrong?
I tell you I don't know the Man
Now GO! And leave me alone!

Peter was a big guy. It's really that simple. He looked the part of a real fisherman. He could "carry his own" if he needed to. When he confronted back to me (the second color of purple there), it scared me! He really had the part solid. I always tried to be tough, and not let on I was terrified.

John looked at me after our first run-through. "Didn't that frighten you?"
"Of course! He was hollering! Darn right I was scared!"
"Then SHOW IT! It's okay to be intimidated, even in character. BE YOUR PART! Yes, you're challenging him! Yes, you're the last one to "let him have it." Yes, you're a bold little Jewish girl! But when he yells, be afraid! Back up, don't hide the reaction!"
We ran the scene again. Peter came right up to me, and I could feel his breath as he sang. Every other run after that, including all ten performances, we were real, but we were connected. He was always looking for forgiveness, and I was always looking for the end.

I never forgot that. Neither did "Peter". Of course, a few Sunday afternoons later, he pulled me aside, and said, "I never want to scare you. I never want to hurt you. This is the hardest part I've ever played in this thing. It's easier to be a Roman soldier - Every time I'm in that scene, I know it mirrors my life. I let Him down every day in so many things I do. It's easy to tell you "I have nothing to do with Jesus", because I live it so much. But the tears right after the rooster, those are real, too."

I saw Peter a few times after the play group was over. We hugged, we talked, but it was never "right". I was always the Jewish girl with the courage to stand up to him, and he was always Peter, denying Jesus, and feeling terribly sorry for it.

My character was starting to shape me. I felt myself looking at my faith from the outside. The Gospel story became easier to understand from the Jewish perspective. This "Jesus" wasn't the first, and I was sure He wouldn't be the last. Many moms named their kids "Jesus", hoping the child was Him. There were plenty of "healers" walking the streets, claiming to save the world. Why was this Fellow any different? Yet, He had such a crowd with Him. Maybe this was it... Maybe this was the Real Deal?

At the first moment I met Jesus (Rich), it felt heavenly, and real. He never really talked to me, but because of our "name colors", he couldn't. To get us in our parts and to really have us become who we needed to be, we weren't allowed to even say "hi" during rehearsal.

I'll never, ever, ever, forget those eyes. He wasn't my Saviour, and was still only a human actor, but Rich always looked in my direction with a face that said, "I'm doing this for you, too. Just wait, you'll see. Even with your "name color", I'm doing this for you."

3/8/09 Romeo & Baths

Both horses got scrubby baths. I got out my rubber scrubber, and Cowboy Magic soap for Romeo, and Iodine shampoo for Ransom (it what what I had left... need to get more CM or something similar).

Romeo saddled up English, which turned into a disaster. I am just about sure it doesn't fit him right, or something. When we walked, and trotted, all was fine. I asked for canter, and he was kicking his heels up after about ten strides. This continued for about four more before I got him under control. Little stinker! I let him blow off steam in the round pen, and he flew like a bullet. I'm sure some was saddle discomfort, some was the time off, and a little more a fussy fit because Momma was out of town. Total work about an hour.

3/06- 03/08 Update & Road Trip!

I was needing a break from the routine, and I got a great opportunity. R had to go to Dallas & back for a work trip, and invited me along. It wasn't always peaceful, and a bit of a stressful Saturday morning (driving 45mph on the city highways - ack!), but it was still wonderful. I'll do it again in a heartbeat if I get the chance. Seriously, it was a wonderful break, we got to know each other a lot better, and I really enjoyed myself.

I'm thankful for good friends that fed the boys while I was gone, and brought my dogs back from the vet Saturday afternoon.

Sunday morning church was pretty relaxing. A nice time to get my thoughts in order, and arrange my little brain with things that matter & things that don't matter. I was a bit distracted, but not so much I missed the point .

Thursday, March 5, 2009

3/4/09 Romeo Yee Ha

Saddled Romeo up Western, but with a loose ring french link bit. I wanted to work on his trot on contact, so needed the English bit.

As I got him going, we walked a while, then I squeezed him up into a lope. All at the same time, he spooked, Ransom spooked, and they squirted in opposite directions. Romeo absolutely took off and galloped around at least twice around the arena. It startled me for sure. When I got him under control, he finally stopped.

We worked on trot for a while, got him calmed & minding me, then back to lope. Two wrong lead departures, and two good ones. We also worked on spins, turns on forehand, rollbacks, and some sidepassing. His overall reaction was great, minus the one blow-up.

I got out one set of standards, and set up a lowest hole vertical. Aimed at it once, not enough effort, he hit it. Second aim at it, he trotted to, cantered from, and gave a nice canter away, which I easily controlled back down to trot. Good job, Romeo!

Total work, about 40 minutes.

Thoughts & Prayers

If you read here, and not there, please send up some thoughts & prayers for FSSunnySD. She got some bad news, and needs our prayers! Thanks ya'll!!!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Chance ... Of ... Rain?

I can hardly type it.. Wow.. it's been so dry here.. I just checked Intellicast, and the forecast for next week is promising.

Sunday - 30% chance of Rain
Monday - 40%
Tuesday - 60%
Wednesday - 60%
Thursday - 60%

I realize ya'll probably think I'm nuts! Rain means wet & puddles. That means no riding, and, worse yet, mosquitoes if it stays warm enough long enough. I'm willing to take that risk. My entire place is dry crispy remains of what used to be grass. There have been hundred + acre grass fires, killing off pasturse & cattle, all over the county & neighboring.

Please Lord, let that forecast be true. Send us moderate steady rain. I hate to be a fuss, but can You please avoid that 12+" downpour in two hours' time like we had two years ago? I thought that would NEVER drain or soak in. Somewhere between last summer (too dry)& the summer before (WAY too wet) would be just perfect! I know if I ask and I'm specific You're listening... Amen!

3/2/09 Ransom At Home

It sure was nice to ride in my arena again. Out of the harsh wind, out of the colder temperatures, in a comfortable place. Les was over delivering grain & a few more square bales, and asked, "Hey, since I'm here, you want me to hold the lunge line or something? I'm already here, might as well." That's an offer I can't resist!

We got in walk, trot, and more canter in the ride. I did quite a bit more canter than trotting, and took the reins in each hand, moving along with him for the canter. I'm still latching onto the saddle pommel & pad for the up transition, but about two strides into it, and we're good to go. Ransom's canter-left is coming back nicely - I still think a chiro appointment will help that out. We're just one or two horses short of a full set to get Dr Linda to come to my house.

Total work about 40 minutes. Finished up with loose rein walk on the rail. Even that was nice - he has a big flowy walk, and being back at home made it entirely comfortable.

A fun ride, with the big horse Les calls Goliath. :)

Monday, March 2, 2009

Hosanna! 2000 - An Easter Memory

I was going to recapture my Easter Passion Play memories in one post, but I think I'll stretch it out a few weeks, and a little at a time, explain why Easter is my favorite time of year, and every year since the play, my faith is renewed by the memories. Just typing and re-reading, I'm welling up. Who would've thought that one semester, one Easter season, and I can't even think about the true holiday and not be overwhelmed with gratitude...

I saw the call for auditions on a college bulletin board. Never had the courage before to audition, not to mention for a big play like this. I figured I didn't stand a chance, but it was worth the effort. Wouldn't cost me more than a little gas and a few hours of rehearsal. And I was in college, giving speeches & teaching labs - I can audition in front of a few adults, good grief! So I rehearsed for weeks. I spent hours mastering two songs, determined I'd give it my best. When I showed up at the audition building, I almost chickened out, and figured I could tell my family, "I didn't make the cut". But, God pushed me in the door.

I smiled at the older woman at the front door. "Are you here to audition, sweetheart? Are you Jennifer?"
"Yes ma'am. I'm awful nervous. Can we just get this over with?"
"Of course, dear. Just sit here one minute. I'll let John know you're here."

I stood up, shook hands, and was placed in a room, alone. John explained, "This is so we can record your audition, in case we need to review it later. It also measures how well you can sing to a camera." o O (Camera, I thought.. this thing is LIVE?! What do we need a camera for?! I'm a chemist, not an actress!) O o

I sang my heart out. I gave it my best, thanked them for their time. John explained that, "First practice is February ___. Please plan to be a few minutes early."

When I arrived that Sunday, it seemed everyone had someone to talk to, but me. I was in a roomful of friends, but I wasn't one of them. I had no idea what I was getting into. I sat in the first rehearsal, was handed a three ring binder full of paperwork, told rehearsals were every Sunday from 2-5, no questions asked, and if you reguarly can't attend, quit now. This thing is serious, and we won't tolerate screaming kids, misbehaving teenagers, or noncommitted adults.

When I looked at the final board on my way out the door, I saw it. "Jennifer - Chara - Peter's Denial." I asked someone near me, "What does that mean?"
"That's your name? Well, then, dear, that's your part! Congratulations! They never called and told you? My goodness! Well, then, let's go get you a CD so you can practice! I think that's the third solo. Way to go!"

I beamed the whole way home. Did I realize what I was getting into? This was a busy semester already, and I was occupied with church Easter program, leading two distinct worship services at my home church, two jobs on campus, one job off campus, preparing for the rest of my life after college, and a semester jammed full of hard courses. But God had something in store for me, I just didn't know what it was...

2/28/09 Romeo's Day

Romeo got a quick ride Saturday, so I made it up to him Sunday with a good workout at home. He must've been missing me, because he was an angel! (Note to DrivenBonkers who suggested it - You might be RIGHT !!! He wasn't just FIRST, but ONLY that day, and he was really good!!)

Romeo and I enjoyed about 45 minutes of grooming & riding. We got through some walk, trot, canter, side passing, turns on forehand, turns on haunches, a couple leg yields at trot, and overall a nice time together.

2/27/09 Lesson & More Tires

A cold front blew in Saturday about 12:00am, so I woke to some blustery winds & cooler temperatures. I strongly considered cancelling the lesson, changing lesson location back to the house, a wide variety of things. I decided mid-morning to just buck-up and get my things in order. I'd put a lot of coordinating and effort into the trip for the day... I wasn't cancelling.

A friend came along, who we'll nickname "R", since I have a feeling he'll be in more blogs coming soon. We gathered both horses, and headed out. The wind tried flipping the trailer to and fro', but I held on.

Les met us at the arena, warmed Romeo up, and tied him to the trailer. I saddled Ransom up, and Jenn arrived just as I was getting ready to lunge him. Ransom took a long hard look at the arena boogers (including some roping steers), and I said to him during his warmup lunge, "Hey, Buddy. You're the center of attention. Everybody is here watching you, so I hope you're doing your best." He was...

I hopped on for a decent walk/trot lunge lesson. Ransom was fighting the wind, so he was fast coming out away from the wind direction, and slow going into it. I did a little sitting, but it was difficult to get into his rhythm. I paid no attention to how long we rode, but it's worth mentioning we started the lunge lesson headed left - Ransom's bad direction. When we switched direction to the right, and I realized the hard part was over, I was pretty relieved. I got two little canter spurts in, headed right. They weren't pretty, but hey, accomplished anyways.

Took the line off, and walked him out around the roping box end of the arena. Ransom took a long hard look at both the snack booth (white cement block building), and the heading/heeling boxes. When I reversed him in, facing the boxes, he backed up sharp a few steps. Not a big deal, but it did startle me. I felt his back tense right before he did it, and there wasn't much to stop him. I was pretty nervous, he was a bit nervous, but we got through it. They probably weren't similar, but the lunge lesson felt just as long as the walk-out. Once Ransom was totally settled, and I was totally settled, we called the lesson good, and I hopped off right at the boxes.

Trip home was, well, not near as pleasant as the trip there. Wind blew the truck & trailer ALL OVER the highway. I had white knuckles on the wheel a few times, realizing that, with Romeo, Ransom, and "R", I had three precious loads of cargo to take home carefully. Holy pooh! Not at all nerve-wracking, really... :S

We got back to the house, unloaded, unwrapped, and unblanketed both boys, walking back to the truck, HOLY CRAP! Passenger's side front tire is nearly flat. No WONDER that trip was so hard getting home!!!

Tire unfortunately not repairable. That means, in about four months, I've replaced two tires on the truck. Two more to go, which I will complete in about two weeks when the work bonus arrives.

Friday Could'ves...

Friday Romeo turned into Friday prayer garden work, followed by trailer tire pickup, and all things but Romeo. It wasn't a bad evening, but I was only at home for about 20 minutes of daylight, and when I got back home later, it was pitch black dark, and no riding to be had.

A big disappointment, but not a total disaster.