Thursday, April 30, 2009

Survey Results are In

Thanks everyone for the feedback. I'll keep on doing what I'm doing - a decent blend of life & horses.

Regularly scheduled programming, already in progress.. Here we go again ....

4/29/09 Ransom Free Lunge

I decided that, after Ransom had over a week off, a free lunge on the line & off would be in order.

We worked on the line & halter. Walk, trot, canter, and plenty of direction changes.. Finished up with some free lunge around the arena. I expected him to blow-up, running like a nut around the arena. He didn't.

I regret not saddling him, because I could have ridden. I expect to ride tonight, dressage, at least walk & trot, maybe short spurts of canter.

Total work 30 minutes. He worked up a good sweat, though some of it may have been weather-related. It's been pretty humid out.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

4/25/09 4H Victoria Open Show II

After a much needed lunch break (stabilize blood sugar, and, more importantly, relax and remember why I was there), I took Romeo back to the arena, and rode a while Western pleasure. Saw a few familiar faces, and some fantastic looking horses. There were a handful that had the really sweet slow WP lope, and another handful with that ugly 4-beated lope. EW! Lots of ugly bits, lots of spurs, hard hands... Romeo and I jogged around, enjoyed our warm-up, and waited on the class.

WP trot class was *awesome*. We had fun fun FUN! Romeo and I almost had one side-on collision with another rider, as she turned a corner sharper than I anticipated. Romeo broke to walk at that spot, judge looking right at us. I shrugged it off, pushed him back into a jog, and went along. Figured right there I blew a chance of pinning high.

He motioned for me to move first into the center of the arena. I thought, "Oh great. He arranged first to last before, wonder if he's arranging last to first now... That'd be my luck." Everyone else was called in one by one to the center. He walked over to me, (admitting, I got nervous.. thinking, "Oh great.. crooked legs, again?!"), and said, "That was a really great ride. He goes real good for you. Looked like fun." =)

I was beaming! Fun! That's exactly what we prayed for over lunch, and exactly what I got. I got a first place ribbon for fun! Jen called the class, my name first, and I was absolutely glowing as I left the arena. Do I think I earned it fair? Heck no! I watched the video, I know what kind of ride I had. I saw the other riders... there were at least two I thought did better than me. Now, maybe they had "arguments with the horse" moments I didn't see that the judge did, I'm not sure.

WP Showmanship Pattern.... I thought he did good. Walk forward to A, halt at B, turn right 90degrees, depart at jog, jog out around B, halt, back up four steps. I really thought he did well. His turn was good, jog departure was good. We pinned low, but I thought he did great. He certainly didn't hesitate, didn't break gait.. Oh well.. I thought it went great.

Switched saddles, relaxed a little more. Felt good to be out of the stuffy western clothes, even though I elected to wear my hunt coat. Hopped on Romeo, put on the English link bit (without a warmup in the twisted wire). R picked up some warm-up video, and it looked good! Romeo was really minding well. He also got some video of the other english riders - something for me to watch later, see if I can't learn something from it.

HUS W/T class - again, he was ON! Romeo did great. I knew, watching warmup, watching the class, I was at least second. No doubt in my mind. The girl and horse that got first - oh they earned it, fair and square. They were awesome, QH-style, at least. He had a nice stride, long & low headset, light contact, she had good equitation... They earned it, for sure.

Judge pulled her out, then me, and again, I was glowing. Second was more than good enough in my mind... I didn't pay too close attention to the others, except to see high headed horses daydreaming and not minding their riders. Romeo did his job as a hunt-horse, which I think he enjoys more.

HUS W/T Pattern - Romeo blew this one, and it's something I need to work on at home. Enter sitting trot to A, 45deg turn at right diagonal trot to B, 145degree turn to C, sitting trot, C back to A left diagonal posting trot. Halt at A, back up four steps. Romeo decided to turn his rear end at the back-up, and he was backing up almost into my leg. Little dork was obviously getting burnt out. I left the arena at a nice bit extended trot, annoyed at him, and just out of the gate, I forced him to back up straight.

Jumped down, praised my horse, waited for the judge to call the class, knowing he didn't do too well, unsaddled, and gave him ample cookies. He did his job - earned good pinnings, corrected his mistakes, put up with uneven footing, a variety of rider abilities, horses all over the place, saddle changes, and still stayed even-tempered.

Waited around for the high-point call, a bit concerned. I was certainly not #1, and didn't think I pulled off Reserve, either... As Jen called it, the girl that creamed us in HUS got #1. I looked at her, and said, "Oh yeah, we saw that coming. Ya'll did great! Congratulations." She congratulated me for #2, we picked up our prizes, and headed out.

A great day, over all. I had good rides, good help, and great company ...

Of course, it's been busy, and raining since. Sunday I took the day off, because it was windy & sprinkly. Monday, it poured at home! We had a horrible storm pass over the area. Nasty big wet event. "Cow peeing on a rock", as Les called it. Had water flooding over the side yard, front yard, running down the road (at one point, part of the road in front of my house was under water).

Hoping it's dry enough tonight to lunge Ransom before choir... Time to get back to the Big Guy, work on my confidence, and let Romeo goof off a while again... Still, the show was fun!

I don't know if the video will upload, but I will get pictures... R took a handful during the in-hand stuff, so there should be some good still shots somewhere.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

4/25/09 4H Victoria Open Show

Arrived at the show grounds about 7:00am, an hour before show set start time. =) Another good feeling - to have all my stuffs together enough to leave nearly 45 minutes before I thought I would.

Jenn and a helper were there, but I was the first competitor to arrive. Glad for that opportunity, I hand walked Romeo around the arena, and then saddled him up western (twisted o-ring bit, martingale). We worked on walk and trot only, and after some speedie warm-ups, he settled in nicely. I noticed the judge showed up while I was warming him up, and also caught him watching us intently a few times. From the last show where a judge watched my warm-up, I decided this was my "moment to shine", and worked on some "comings and goings" stride adjustments in the arena. *grin* I didn't catch his eye to see a reaction, but I felt like Romeo was saying, "Hey Dude! Look at me! I'm cool!"

Show got started for me with Halter. Um, oh, about 8 horses. We walked in, trotted past, lined up. Then everybody did "follow the leader" at the walk. Judge picked out the horses in pinning order. As Jen was announcing the ribbon order , last to first, judge walked up to me, and said to me, "Your horse is really nice, and he is trying really hard for you, but if you see the way he's standing there, his legs are crooked." HUH? What?! Um, okay, Romeo was standing with his legs offset, and one leg a little relaxed, but I hadn't looked to see if his legs really were crooked. I didn't participate in halter for a ribbon, but for the "show experience" for Romeo - let him look around.

Showmanship... HMPH. I don't understand the pinning order. Not one stinking bit. Romeo did break to walk from one trot, but quickly went back to trot. We weren't pinned high, but to the best of my memory, the 2nd place pin walked 80% of the pattern. I think again we were being judged on confirmation, and I found that frustrating.

Lunch break! And a good time for one. I saddled Romeo up Western, got my ducks in a row, and had a nice lunch.
(Time to stop for now. More later.)

4/23/09 Romeo Rides & Prep

Arrived home & swiftly scooted off to the barn. I grabbed Romeo (apologizing to Ransom), saddled him up western, with his borrowed bit, and headed to the arena.

He was phenominal. Rode great, of course, getting whacked in the face with the trial bit. After our Western disaster Thursday, I wasn't real sure how the day was going to go. He did great, with a nice relaxed neck & head, and a quiet jog.

So I switched to the English saddle, and repeated the same (with the french link bit). Again, really great. Unfortunately, I had a bit of a weather disappointment, as some rainy sprinkles rolled in. Of course, just enough rain to mess up a saddle, a rider, and make the thought of bathing Romeo daunting.

Unsaddled, and the rain started to lighten up. R came over to help out, and held the lead rope. (That makes for fun, by the way - After years of bathing the boys by myself, I kind of forget where the water goes after it hits the horse. So, while the hose didn't spray directly, there was some indirect water (& soap) contact - Sorry about that! *giggle*)

Got Romeo bathed (even some water & soap on his face - good boy!) and tied in his stall for supper. Fed & watered everyone else inside, and cleaned all my tack (again, cleaning bridles, bits, and saddles - goes much more better with four hands instead of two). With everyone fed & clean, the wind from the weather dried Romeo's mane pretty quickly. I got a great band job this time - It took a while, but they were nice and neat (& small). Happy about that! With the banding done, I also snip snip cut it pretty darn short. The weather was supposed to be cool enough, I put his Sleezie jammies on. Sleezie over-jamas, and Sleezie face & neck cover. Got the mane laying all on one side, evenly laying down.

Put the ponies to bed, and even got to sleep early myself. A great evening preparing & getting ready for the show, without feeling scrambling rushed. Having help sure did make it go faster, and, for once, I got to bed night before a horse show before 11pm - fantastic!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

4/25/09 Show Summary

Details to follow at some point...

Halter - 6 of 8 "Your horse is cute, and he's trying real hard for you, but his legs are crooked."
Showmanship - 5 of 8

Western Pleasure walk/trot - 1st of 6
Western Pleasure walk/trot showmanship - 4th of 5 or 6

English Hunter walk/trot - 2nd of 5
English Hunter Showmanship - 3rd of 5

Overall -
Reserve Open Walk/Trot Champion

Hmm.. Yeah, Not real sure how I got Reserve, but I'll take it and run, real fast.

I'll get to details on Monday, but since I know ya'll read up on the weekends, a summary was the least I could do. Romeo was outstanding, staying real calm, minding me, rode great! Had fun, and had *grin* great company all day.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Friday Fill Ins

1. Apparently there's some sort of mental sunshine in my day. I'm a bit tired, work has been a hassle, but I still feel blessed.. hmm... wonder why....

2. I'd rather have rain showers to water the pastures & lawn than another sunny day.

3. 2009 has been incredible so far.

4. He said "I love you", and that was it. I was convinced.

5. For too long I've been stressing over work nonsense, and earlier this week, I let go. When it's time to go home, I am getting better about letting it go.

6. I am not obsessed with my new mp3 player; I am not! Okay, Yes I am.. I love it, and I've got what seems like an endless supply of random music to listen to, at work, and in the saddle.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to preparing for the show, tomorrow my plans include doing my best in the horse show and Sunday, I want to refresh for the upcoming week!

4/24/09 Romeo Western Lesson

Grumble grumble grumble

Romeo was insisting on a big "hunter" trot, and keeping his head (and his mind) just above level. Finally, the only thing that worked, was putting the twisted wire loose ring (and running martingale) on, and trotting out forward.

We worked for nearly two hours. In the middle, I tied the reins on the side to the girth, and free lunged him around the arena. He ran and ran and ran, while Jen and I chased him with the lunge whip and a lot of racket. He was in a big hurry to get somewhere - maybe a pony-date scheduled after I left the house.

I settled for a good enough WP jog, but it sure wasn't show-quality. He has done this in the past, being a complete twit days before a show, just to shape-up and be an angel for the judge. Jen is lending me a more attention-grabbing bit than the TT, combining the TT cheeks with the twisted-wire loose ring. I am not thrilled with the thought of being more aggressive, but there's no excuse for him to act out so much when he knows the answer.

Tonight, more western riding, a little hunt-saddle (complete with tacky pad and new breastcollar to keep it from sliding back), bath, and mane-banding. I'm seeing a late night ahead,,, what do you think??

Thursday, April 23, 2009

4/22/09 Romeo Out of the Arena

Romeo needed some saddle-time, and I needed us out of the arena, if nothing else to make the ride a bit more interesting. Saddled up Western, TT bit, and off we went.

Down the road, that is. He wasn't "picture perfect" WP jog, but he did walk and trot up and down the edge of the road a while. A few rollbacks, and a couple turns on the forehand. It might not have been the right thing to do just days before the show, but I was getting bored in the arena, on the rail, in the little serpentines, figure8s, and circles.

We met up with the Mommacat from last spring that brought us baby kittens twice under the back porch. Startling, but not spookie. Fun anyways. While riding around the house working on his reining & ability to ride with stuff going on around him (wind, deer, cat, dogs barking, car traffic, a/c unit running off and on, "spookie stuff" around the property), he did really well. Ransom, however, did not. He was obviously annoyed that little brother got two rides two days in a row, hauling-hiney running all-out around the lower side pasture. =) I got a huge kick out of watching him run and run and run, looking at us, like, "HEY! Mom! It's MY turn today!"

oooh.. that reminds me of a song... Okay, honestly, I've had this one lurking in the back of my mind for quite some time now... This is one I need to dig out of the collection for sure and add to the mp3 player...
Rebecca St. James "You Then Me"
It's my turn, it's not your turn
It's my turn, get outta my way
It's my turn, go on complain
I'm comin' through anyway
Don't ask me why I'm like this
But lately I'm wonderin' if
It'll come to pass
That the last shall be first and the first shall be last
Then the voice says...

Here's the way it oughtta be
You then me, then You then me
Well, I pray one day we'll all agree
And take it You then me, then You then me
Life could go You then me, then You then me

It's easy, you wait then go
It's easy, so make your move
It's easy, don't clown around
Could've gone six times by now
But no sir, you gotta be a pain
Or is this your own way of sayin'
We should all cool down
And be more like the man who was born back in Bethlehem town?
I betcha He'd say...


If we could only put You first
Maybe this ugly trend could one day be reversed

It's your turn, it's not my turn
It's your turn - well, let's just say
We'll trade off - first you then me
Then after that, we might agree
Let's try it, it could be good
And what if one day it should
Really come to pass
That the last shall be first and the first shall be last
Betcha we'd say


So the ride was good, and I finished up with some more mane pulling & thinning . Give the big toad a bath, and get him banded Friday night, and we'll be good to go. Tonight I'm having a brief lesson and reminders in my Western saddle. Hoping for no big-goober surprises. Then I'll start assembling my show clothes & getting all the little ducks in a row.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

How Much is Too Much?

This is another one of those "things I've pondered a while, and don't know the answer." If you've got an opinion, I'm hoping you'll share. There are no "wrong answers" - Let's all remember that Opinions are like Armpits, everybody's got at least two, and they might stink. :)

How much bit is "too much"? Do you ever enter a competition ring, look at the other horses' bits, and think "Man, I must have a real issue.. The bit on my horse is atrocious." Or, do you ever enter the ring and think, "Whoo wee... what did that mare ever do to that lady?! She put WHAT in her mouth? OWCH!"

Ransom goes in a full cheek slow twist snaffle. That's what he was sent to me with, and I haven't changed it. I've considered lessening it, but this is where I'm not sure what is "too harsh"...

Romeo goes Western in a Tom Thumb, what I believe is the mildest I can get away with in open western pleasure events. is that true? In hunters, I'm warming him up in a twisted copper wire (pretty thick) loose ring snaffle, then showing in a loose ring french link (copper in the middle) snaffle. I love the french link - I think that's pretty mild. The twisted wire, however, ugh. It seems to be doing the trick, but it seems harsh to me.

What do you use? What looks like "too much" to you? Is there something you'll never use? Is there any merit to "bit for the task, change them up often"? Do you change bits depending on the event?

4/21/09 Romeo English Lesson

With the show approaching, it was time to get my rear in gear. I told Ransom, "sorry", and saddled Romeo up in my hunter saddle. (Complete with a more narrow gullet, after much snarling, growling, and other expletives when I changed it Monday evening.)

We had one gigantic disagreement about the clippers, and eventually the scissors, but I did get his legs trimmed up, ears cut trim, and a few whiskers snipped off. The clippers are a matter of panic for Romeo - something I will need to work on.

Lesson went good. I used the copper twisted wire o-ring bit for the first 3/4 of the ride, but then switched to my copper french link o-ring near the end. He was still light on the bit, so this will be the plan of attack for the show (switching bits last-minute). Worked on walk and trot only, and, looking back, a little canter might not have been bad for him. Still, we had a good ride.

I will also ride my two hunter w/t classes in spurs - He was a bit too lazy & slow for an extended trot, and I had to use entirely too much leg to keep him in a nice working trot. All solvable with a little metal-sticker assistance.

Things to remember -
Shoulders back
Shopping Cart hands

Thursday, I'll have another quick lesson in my Western saddle, which should go just as well.

It's Earth Day - Hooray to the Chemical Industry

Well, ladies & gentlemen reading ... While I'm sure there are some organic-earthy-tree-hugging readers out there, I am NOT one of them. Why, you ask? Well, quite simple.. I work for a chemical company! They pay my bills, feed my kids, and sustain my life. I need chemicals, plastics, and all those other "environmentally harmful toxins", and so do you.

Let me take a moment to remind you of a few modern conveniences that would not be possible without "chemicals"-
Clean public drinking water - If you don't have access to a clean well or spring, appreciate the chlorine and/or chloramine (and other chems) that make that water safe out of the tap.
Medicine - Next time you reach for the Tums or the Advil, consider what it might be like without
Transportation - I know we love our horses, but isn't it great to get in that automobile (manufactured with plastics & chemically-reinforced steel, complete with that poison-chemical, gasoline) and get to where you're going in minutes rather than hours?
Prepackaged foods, particularly meats - Ah, the convenience of walking into the grocery store, and purchasing a package of chicken, fish, or pork, safely wrapped in plastic; take it home, and re-pack it in smaller plastic packaging before freezing - e Coli, anyone?
Air conditioning - Maybe my favorite, here in South Texas - Consider for a second what summer would be like in your car, in your workplace, and at home, if you weren't able to rely on chemicals to cool the air that floats through the vents
Household cleaners - figure it out on your own what would happen without: Laundry soap, dish soap, (ew) body soap, deoderant, bleach, even vinegar and baking soda are "chemicals"

I don't mind trying to be environmentally "friendly", recycling & reusing, and minimizing "carbon footprints", but there needs to be a little reason as well. There's absolutely nothing wrong with a clean home, cool air, and clean drinking water. I love getting in my truck for a 40 minute drive to work. I appreciate the medicines available to me, and can't imagine what a migraine would be without drugs.

So, Happy Earth Day - Go find someone that works in the chemical (or pharmaceutical) industry, and tell them "Thank you!"

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

4/20/09 Ransom

Saddled the monster up dressage, and after a brief cooperative lunge on side reins, I hopped on. His warmup was really beautiful, nice tracking-up trot on the bit.. very pretty.

Worked on walk and trot only. Again, I was that close to cantering, but chickened out at the last minute. There's absolutely no reason I couldn't do it, and, after the show, I'm going to start forcing myself.

We did have a "stickie spot" yesterday, which confused me. I asked for turn right on the haunches, no problem. Turn left on the haunches, no issue. Turn on the forehand to the right - stickie stickie! He even tried sidepassing INTO my leg once. Realizing he was just trying to ignore what I wanted, I pushed him up into a BIG trot, headed around some circles, asked for a solid halt, and asked for the turn again. Much better, with a good quarter turn without hesitation. Turn on the forehand to the left -fantastic. Sidepass left? Great.. Sidepass right? Great, too. The one "stickie" was fixed by heading big forward, then I repeated it again after asking for a few leg yields at the walk.

Total work about 45 minutes. Again, I need to force the issue at canter in my dressage saddle. Ransom's been there, done that. There's absolutely no reason to believe he'll do anything stupid to hurt me .... courage courage courage...

Monday, April 20, 2009

4/19/09 Yep, I'm Blessed

Mrs. Mom is right - We're all pretty darn fortunate. Me, I'm better than that... Another wonderful Sunday - and I even got to ride!!! Sunday service was another nice blessing - my boss's daughter finished up her two years of confirmation. She, along with the other students, were required to memorize a Bible verse. My boss had asked me a few weeks ago to give him a list of my fave's, which I was glad to do. Boss's daughter, along with two other girls, memorized verses off my list. How incredible - watching young lives recite verses that, right now, might not mean more than a bunch of words. I can only hope that, in the future, those words mean something very important when it matters most. Pretty cool blessing to hear the words aloud, and know I had something to do with planting the thought in their minds.

After a false alarm and two changed minds, after church & a late lunch, I headed to the roping arena with Romeo. R came along, volunteering to work the chute so I could ride. My time with Romeo was phenominal!! He let me work on walk, trot, and even a little collected canter. Got his leads without incident, and gave the *best* jog I've gotten from him in a little over a year. His canter is, of course, nowhere near a WP lope, and I wouldn't expect it to be. That jog, though, was near picture-perfect.

We rode together for a bit over an hour, and pushed the steers up the alleyway twice - again, without incident. None of them got away from me, and I was able to open one of the gates alone near the end. Romeo gave some cute turns on forehand, nice turns on haunches, and a little sidepassing, again, without incident. Now, all those more advanced things aren't picture-perfect, but he sure is trying, and remembering. It's nice that I don't have to re-train every single ride.

I was able to play a part in the faith of a few teenagers (something I never thought I'd do - after my summer in IL with NAMB, I knew I changed lives of more than a dozen "little-little" kids, 10YO and under, but my events with teenagers never went very well), which was awesome. I was blessed with great company sitting in the service - something I had avoided, having been comfortable being alone in worship. It'd taken a few years to get comfortable being alone, and then I got too comfortable that way, because it only took about ten minutes to enjoy sharing it with R sitting beside me. Almost better than those combined, my boyfriend voluntarily worked the chute for the cowboys so I could ride!

Mrs. Mom was looking for galloping good news- That ought to satisfy for the weekend's worth, don't ya think?! Yes ma'am... I'm blessed beyond expectations. I only have those crummy moods once in a while, and they're less frequent that that lately.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Good Galloping Glorious Stuff!

Mrs. Mom at Oh!Horsefeathers got pulled in the fray following my Pet Peeves post. She rightly challenged us to take a good solid look at those things we found irritating, and look for the complete opposite. - Things that just make us smile. =) That's easy...

Sticking with the things I complained about..
I am grateful that most customer service reps at least try to speak slower. And, for that matter, it's not an automated system, but a human being.

I'm grateful for a democracy - A little more important watching the news this morning, listening to the chaos in other countries. I don't like the current government, but it's better than a dictatorship, or hoping the Queen has a better set of kids that run the country better.

Finally, grateful I'm employed well enough to take spectacular care of the four-legged kids that rely on me. The economy hasn't been great lately, and I'm still pulling in the same check I was before. My "kids" eat well, have great vet care, and are spoiled beyond imagine. Two-legged kids in the world don't live as well as my children.

There you have it! FSSunny, Jessie, ya'll are up, of course. Venting is good, but so is gratitude. There are many other things going on I'm grateful for, and galloping-good-happy about, but those are all for another day & another time.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

4/18/09 Drip Drip Drip

Good solid rainstorms in the area today.

Had a few nice solid showers across the pasture. I actually had heaven-made puddles in the pasture in a few spots. Of course, a few hours later they were gone.

I skipped trying to ride today. Ransom looked a bit disappointed at supper, staring at me with a blank expression. "Sorry boy.. .Momma doesn't tempt riding in foul weather too many days in a row."

Romeo's up tomorrow - Might be with the roping cowboys at the arena - More good training for the Little Man, reinforcing that not every ride and not every day can he "Run Run Run".

"Whoa" still means just that. Sometimes good for horse, always good for rider. Rather than hours in the saddle, today was a "whoa" for all three of us.

04/17/09 Romeo's Baaack

Knowing the show is upcoming, I hopped up on Romeo, entirely unsure what mood he'd be in.

Yup, he was great. After our first canter, he thought all he was going to do afterwards was run run run. Yeah, Momma had other plans.

Worked primarily on walk & trot for the upcoming show. I was trying real hard for a gentle jog in the western saddle & tom thumb bit. Little Man has other plans. I know there's a hunter pony hiding under that AQHA frame.. there really is.

Ride cut a bit short from the weather. Rain storms in the weekend forecast...

04/16/09 Ransom in the Rain

After what proved to be a trying day at work (One of those "Hey, she's off on Friday, and it's 3:00pm. Maybe we ought to ask for that safety review an hour before quitting time, just to see if she'll stay late." Suckers.. I left promptly at 4:00pm

Arrived home to what appeared to be a looming rain storm. Didn't change my mind one bit. I grabbed Ransom, saddled him up dressage + side reins, thinking I would lunge him, add the side reins, lunge some more, hop on & walk him out.

Yeah.. Angel-horse showed up in the arena again. I ended up after a 10 minute warm up, jumping on, and doing walk and trot (on the loose rein then on contact) all the way around the arena, both directions, circles, serpentines, figure 8s, diagonals down the long diagonal.. The works. No nerves, no jitters. Ransom took a long hard look at the neighbor's cows, but with irregular rain showers, and snarly wind bursts, he was "All business".

I tried working on "Air brakes" with him, again with no luck. Wonder if it's a "teach an old dog new tricks"issue.. not quite sure how to instill it in him, because I hate feeling like I'm hauling back on him to get him to stop.

A good 45 minutes of riding. Good for his mental health, and mine.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Pet Peeves

Oooooh.. now I know I'm in a funky mood. I've been pondering this whole thought lately, debating if I ought to open it up, let all of us air our annoyances... Maybe they'll be cleansing to get out of your system.

I'll start.. Tagging FSSunnySD & Jessie ... I saw FSSunnySD ranting a bit about knot-tying, and from reading, Jessie's probably got LOTS she can air...

Customer service representatives that don't speak English clearly or slowly
(Sirius Radio has few that speak fluently, while every Verizon Wireless service call I've made in months has been 100% fluent.. I have expressed my opinion in both situations)

Political Extremes ... i.e. "Talking Head" Voices that give us all something to complain about, and don't waste one calorie telling us what bills are out for review & vote that we ought to be aware of. Also, folks that complain about government, the won't wake up & go vote. If you won't participate, shut up! Ought to throw this in also, extreme left or extreme right about Any issue... Rather than expect the extreme, let's settle on somewhere near the middle, where we'll end up anyways. Save my tax dollars, and we'll meet in the middle faster.

Starving horses. FuglyHorseofTheDay has another story today. I can't stand it when I see a field without grass, without hay, without grain buckets, and thin ponies. If you're stupid enough to buy one, you're responsible. If you starved your two-legged kids like you starve your four-legged kids, they'd be removed from the home, and you'd be punished. Four-leggeds don't cry loudly, and it takes too long for them to be noticed.

Alright, ladies, ya'll are next. Have at it ... I found this little exercise a bit relaxing. I've got more, but I'll reserve it to these for now..

Ever Have One of Those Days?

I'm tired
I'm stressed at work
The weather was cloudy, humid, and blaaah on the way in to the office
I don't feel like being here
I can make a list in my sleep of things needing done at home
And I'm still tired

I wish I could put a "don't breathe on me" label on my office door today, just to keep the riff-raff out. I'm certainly having a day where that would apply. I did not sleep well last night, up every so often staring at the walls... Too much going on in my mind, work, home, horses... Maybe just a grumpy mood swing. I don't know, but it sure feels real right now..


4/15/09 Romeo's Back

Grabbed Romeo straightaway after work, absolutely determined that, no matter how exhausted tired I was (from the late night before), we were going to work. Saddled up Western, and headed to the arena.

One thing I love about Romeo - I feel comfortable crawling on him without any warmup, and just going. I may reach that point with Ransom, but I'm not there yet. It's nice to just get a saddle on Romeo and head out.

He did very well. A little bit of wheezy breath in the first spurt of canter, but it quickly cleared up. Walk, trot, canter both ways. Unfortunately, though I hoped it'd be a light & easy day, my neighbors had other plans. Well, neighbor's livestock, at least.

Cows! Big ones! Right on the other side of the fenceline behind the arena far shortside. Heading towards the cows, Romeo's mind was initially NOT on me. I pushed him onward a few times, with inside leg inside rein jabs to get his attention. He got a little wore out before deciding it was easier to mind me than it was to stare at the cows. Ransom decided he had to get in on the action, and stood for a while in the little space between the arena and the cows. Stinker...

Learned a little about myself, as well. Finishing up at the canter, Romeo was coming to a complete stop. Then, he almost always refuses to walk out forward. I caught why, and proved it with a few drills. I'm squeezing with my thighs and lower body for the transition out of canter, and don't always immediately relax & push with my seat to continue the forward motion. I did a bunch of walk to halt transitions just off of my seat and thighs, and figured out what I was doing. If I'm tight, Romeo won't go forward. If I relax, he'll pick up a nice moving walk.

Good 50 minute work session total. Ransom's up tonight if the weather allows.

Overall, given the time off, and the windy whipping weather, Romeo did well. He got a little stubborn on turns on the forehand, but it's still a training lesson. Just needs more work.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

4/13/09 Ransom

Much better ride. I got home from work late, thank goodness Spring has sprung, and the days are longer again. Saddled him up western, no side reins, and off we went.

Ten minute lunge - He was great. I had to push to keep him moving out forward, rather than holding him back as I'd done Sunday. A nice moving trot, easy light canter. Decided that was enough of that, and got ready to ride.

There had been a jump set up in the arena and a few ground poles. Knowing all that stuff was serving as "mental landmarks", keeping me anchored in parts of the arena, I decided to take most of it out. I set up four ground poles at a wide walk distance, and hopped aboard.

We worked on a few leg yields, walked over the ground poles, and did a little bit of a trot. After his lunge, he was moving real nice. Asked for canter-right first this time. One or two circles, and I decided to head down the long side. He broke to trot about three strides into it, so I went around the full arena at trot, and asked for canter in the short side again. A bit more canter-right, and this time, I got about five strides down the long side, transition down to trot was my idea.

Trotted a while left, and picked up canter-left. Quite a bit of canter, as he was breaking to trot (probably off my body language). I was able to sit some more of the canter-left, and also got circles in multiple places in the arena. Cantering around the back side of the arena, I realized again how much of a cooperative babysitter & teacher Ransom is. I started giggling straight out loud, which Ransom must've thought was his break, as he broke to trot a few times. Kept him on going, and slowed to trot when it was my idea instead of his.

Cooled down with some turns on forehand, turns on haunches. Impressive what he can accomplish, if I give the right cues... Fun time over all!

Total work about 50 minutes. A fun time for all. Tonight, headed to a concert, and Romeo's back on the schedule for tomorrow.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Weekend Summary

Wednesday night - combined choir rehearsal
Thursday night - local choir & service
Friday - local choir & service
Saturday - combined choir rehearsal & performance
Sunday - local choir performance @ Easter service

I did not get to ride this weekend. Romeo finished up his last dose of antibiotics this morning, and between work, weather, and church activities.

The weekend was a full dose of blessing, though. The combined choir performance was amazing. All the rehearsals were full of bugs, bad sound system, voices clashing all around me. In fact, it was a bit nerve-wracking - all the different sounds, all the voices I'm not used to belting in my ears. One rehearsal, I had a local church friend beside me, and two behind me, and things felt much better. Come performance, however, I had an unfamiliar voice directly behind me, and my "familiar sounds" just a bit away. Reviews from folks that came to listen were amazing-good. I was surprised. Even on the evening of the show, I still had some "audio heartburn" that it wasn't as good as it could have been with more attention to detail. Nevertheless, we did well. A start into the first song, a couple caught my attention - with their emotional response to every word sang. They were strangers to me, but I was blessed knowing they heard our words, and understood.

Sunday was, as I expected, an emotional blessing. I stayed dry-eyed for the duration, a new Easter "high" for me. There was a lot going on, and I was surrounded by close friends and loved ones. That made this year much easier than in the past.

Sunday evening, after the rains came (and brought a shower strong enough to water grass & flower beds, but not a soaker), I grabbed Ransom, and lunged the goofies off of him. He was a frisky fellow - of course, a week off and steady grain diet will do that. =) He wasn't out of control, but definitely moving out big. Lunge work about 25 minutes, followed by a cool-out session free around the arena.

Planning Ransom again tonight. Romeo's medicine is healing him up good. His boogery-nose has subsided, and he was trotting around the pasture to the barn yesterday for supper, knickering up a storm. He'll be back up to work, probably light duty Wednesday. Show's in two weeks, so we'll see what sort of pony I can magically create between now & then.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Blogger Bugs

Have they really been sorted out? That Friday Fill In is the FIRST in a while I haven't had a formatting fight with. Seriously... it even copied & pasted without incident.

HooRay! Anybody else find that bug annoying, and happy to see it fixed?

Anyways, "back at the ranch", Romeo is improving nicely. If my day frees up at all tomorrow, Ransom and I will enjoy a work session. Today be filled with errands, oil change for the truck, and services again tonight.

Otherwise, hmm.. how do we say it at work? Oh yeah, that's it..
"A grade, automatic"!

Friday Fill In

1. Anonymous...secret, and unrecognizable.

2. Love is a good morning.

3. Let me embrace thee, sour adversity, then knock thee straight across the room.

4. Rain showers on a dry pasture - what I look forward to most about Spring.

5. Who needs therapy when we've got horses and friends.

6. Antibiotics for Romeo MUST go into the Easter Basket!

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to Good Friday church services, tomorrow my plans include Easter service choir event and Sunday, I want to enjoy the same neat feeling every Easter has given me since Hosanna!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

A Survey...

I don't know that the poll question to the right, or the answers, will shape anything about where my blog goes. I have recognized that, since adding more content outside of the basic "ride updates", I've added more followers reading on.

So, just out of curiosity, please help satisfy my need-to-know. What do you think about the content lately?

Thank you in advance for your comments...

4/8/09 Drugging the Pony

Oooh! Best way to get Romeo mad? Stick a needle in his hiney. Best way to get him more-madder? Stick the needle in the other side of his hiney!!!

Went to the vet's office after work, picked up a penicillin shot & sulfa-antibiotics for 5 days' worth. When I arrived at home, I fed both boys, then gave Romeo his shot. Those darn drug needles for horses are thick buggers! He didn't enjoy receiving it, but I didn't enjoy sticking him either.

Five more days of crushed pills, maybe a day or more off after that to recoup, and I ought to have him back 100%. He looked a bit better this morning, not as warm to the touch on his chest.

Keep getting better, Little Pony! Momma needs ya in a couple weeks for show!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

4/7/09 No Lesson

After work, I had all intentions on getting a lesson on Romeo. He had other plans. My boy has a headcold, at least that's how it seems. The coughing has gotten worse, with a gross runny nose. I called the vet, and after talking to him, and seeing Romeo again this morning, I have decided I will be picking up medicine on the way home tonight.

He's sick, that's for sure. How bad, I won't know until I can see if the medicine makes him better or not.

Darn it. Hate seeing the little guy not feeling well.

A larger part of the evening wasn't much better, but it ended on a high note, and was a restful night.

Due to Easter activities, tonight and tomorrow will also be ride-free evenings. Lots going on, and it's all stuff outside of home.

Found the Book I was Searching for

I was looking for a book last week, and I've found it! I've found it!

Harrison Bergeron, by Kurt Vonnegut (1961)

I honestly believe, if Obama had any way to stay in power long enough, this is where we'd end up.

May God bless our country, despite the leaders we have chosen.

Hosanna! 2000 - An Easter Memory - Final

Hi folks.. This will be the last installment of the Hosanna! 2000 series... I hope you've enjoyed, and have been blessed through this Easter season by my memories and how the play changed my heart.

A few days before Easter Sunday, I gave my girlfriend Jenifer a small basket filled with goodies. Candy, a card, and a copy of my Hosanna! rehearsal cd. Nothing spectacular, but a small gesture of friendship.

Thursday before that Sunday was our last day of classes. She and I met in our regular spot for coffee & a study break, and as we parted company, she handed me a CD. "What's this?", I asked. "One of my favorites lately. I got you a copy. I hope you enjoy." On my way off campus, on my way to the church to photocopy early service chorus sheets & practice, I tore open the wrapper, "Third Day"...

The first few songs were cool, but nothing spectacular. I pulled into the parking lot of the church, did my thing, rehearsed all on my own, got a little teary-eyed during a few of the choruses I'd picked, and realized this Easter was going to be AWESOME!

On the way back out, this song popped up...I didn't have the lyric book open, so I didn't know what was coming.
I am a thief, I am a murder
Walking up this lonely hill
What have I done? I don't remember

No one knows just how I feel
and I know that my time is coming soon.
Right here, I was sitting, thinking, "yeah, I'm not that bad, but I sure can relate... he must be speaking metaphorically.. Yeah that's it"
It's been so long. Oh, such a long time
Since I've lived with peace and rest
Now I am here, my destination and I guess things work for the best
and I know that my time is coming soon
Oh I know that's right - I've got this coming for a mile... I haven't had peace, I've been up to my eyeballs with practice, school, work. I've thought too much of myself a few too many times. Yeah, that's about right.
Who is this man? This man beside me
They call the King of the Jews
They don't believe that He's the Messiah
But, somehow I know it's true.
Um, Yeah, He's pretty awesome. I know that. He must be referring to some Sunday service he went to and realized what the truth really is.. yeah, that's it.
And they laugh at Him in mockery,and beat Him till he bleeds
They nail Him to the rugged cross,
and raise Him, they raise Him up next to me

Later, another day, I "heard" the rest of the song. But, at that moment, I pulled my car over into a parking lot, and my entire life flooded my mind. Every minute, from my first memory, to that moment. All the junk, all the garbage, all the stupid things I'd done. All of it. I didn't see where that song was going until right at that moment. "up next to me".... Wow... Guess I deserve it, too. I'm not a murderer, no... but I sure am a sinful mess. Chara was a sinful mess, accusing Peter right to his face, chanting "Crucify" at the top of my voice, looking at "Jesus" for even the brief moment hoping for His execution.

I sat in the car a while, turned the engine off, in what was the most intimate moment of reflective prayer. I admitted I wasn't worth any of it. I didn't deserve heaven, I didn't deserve my life. I wasn't worthy of anything He had to offer, but I will gladly accept.

March 29th, I heard the song again, live. I felt the same way, all over again. The situation was different, I sure wasn't alone, but I heard the same message. The difference this time? I knew the end, and I knew it ended good. Okay, honestly, that song ends better than good, that song ends perfectly.
And I know...Paradise...
Paradise... is coming soon

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

I've Got a Following? Pretty Cool!

Looking over my blog, I see a few "Followers" have added to the list.

That's pretty cool! Introduce yourselves! Make yourself at home, pull up a lazyboy recliner. Get comfortable - I'd offer to make iced tea, but it won't be sweet tea, and ya'll stuck with Sweet-N-Low.

Welcome to the blog! Happy Reading!

4/6/09 Romeo

Played light with Romeo western, preparing for the show, and reinforcing old information. He was pretty good. Walk, trot, canter, all nice. Worked on relaxing for a WP jog, something he's not spectacular at. Spins, turns, and sidepasses were all good - no stickies there.

Had a little discussion with him about "WHOA". I'm pretty pickie about this feature on him. I don't mind "Shh" meaning slow down, or a nice exhale meaning break gait. If I say "Whoa" loud enough he can hear it, that means NOW. Stop the feet, instantly. Not in six feet, not in four strides. Right now! So we would walk a while, I'd say it, and if I didn't get an answer, we'd back up strong. Later, rinse, repeat.

About a half hour's work. He was coughing a bit, and I am hoping it's just the irregular weather. Really don't want my boy being sick ...

Monday, April 6, 2009

4/3/09 Ransom

Busy with a road trip Friday morning, Ransom was the pony-de-jour in the afternoon. R came along, since I've been blabbering on and on about how much progress I've made in the past week. He brought along his camera, and took still shots and a few video clips (I'll get copies and hope to get good ones uploaded here).

Ransom again was incredible. He must've known he was being watched, because he turned on his big-pony charm, and we were a neat little team again. Walk, trot, canter both directions, with the right canter on video. Neat!!

In another effort that "every ride is a little better", I finished up my canter-set right, went down the long side away from the barn, and he settled into this nice round trot. I sat it! All the way down the long side, headed home. A full long side of a sweet sitting trot. Woo Hoo!!

My boy is shaping up & fitting up to an awesome horse! He's what I hoped for, and quite a bit more.

Total work, about 40 minutes. (Maybe a bit more with warm-up)

Hosanna! 2000 - An Easter Memory Part VI

Like Peter, I'll never be the same again. Every Easter song leaves me still and reflective. I find myself standing in my memories, walking across the auditorium, whispering to my garden-friends, "That's him! I know it's him! I can tell by his voice! I've seen him with Jesus! I know it's him! Let's go see if he knows where they've taken Him!"

The Easter Sunday right after our tenth and final performance, I stood in our little country church choir and sang my little parts. I had declined solo offers that season in church, mostly because it was all I could do to keep a strong voice in Hosanna!, work my off-campus job, keep my grades up, and keep two different services' music picked & led. But when we sang our happy Easter hymns, I was probably the happiest person in the sanctuary!!! Nobody smiled as big as I did that morning when Pastor Gary said, "He is Risen!" Our whole assembly answered in unison (my voice perhaps the loudest in the room), "He is Risen, Indeed!"
Through Hosanna! and my part, I realized what it was to be a Jewish maiden in Jesus' time. I know now how easy it would've been to deny and call for His death. I get frustrated when I hear pastors and study groups accuse the Jews of being "so hard headed", or say things like, "How couldn't they know?! Of course He was the one! Of course He was there to save them all!" Really? What makes you think that, if Jesus came back, right now, today, to your local church on Sunday morning, you'd have the slightest idea it was really Him? Would you believe? Or would you be just like they were, whispering under your breath, and challenging Him, looking for some way it wouldn't be real? Isn't it easier to NOT believe than to believe?

My hope is, that through this series of memories, somebody will read these accounts, and think about Easter a little differently this year, and in the future.

4/2/09 Lessons

Romeo English. He was a bit slow, but I have a feeling that's my doing. When I rode him Western during the week, I was putting on the brakes at the trot, trying to slow him up to a decent jog. It's not his strong feature, but I don't want to be blowing by everybody in the western classes in the upcoming show. Did a bit of canter, and it got pretty comfortable after a bit. Focused mostly on pushing him up into a decent hunter trot. More work to do there, along with bending at the poll... Ain't sure we'll be there by April 25th, but my focus is going back on him until then.

Ransom Western. =) A fine time to show off my courage gained in the last week. That's exactly what we did. Was it beautiful? Heck no! Did I have fun?! Absa-tively, posa-lutely. I rode him about 35 minutes, and showed our teamwork off, walk, trot, canter. Jen offered some tips for the right trot & canter (Ransom's been leaning in at the shoulder... solution? Inside leg push to outside rein).

A great session.. Nothing spectacular for me, or the boys, but we're improving, and it's neat to have a lesson where there isn't a "dramatic fix". Pretty cool my lesson-of-the-week happened on my own days before....

Thursday, April 2, 2009

4/2/09 Ziggy

If you're a cartoon fan, check out Ziggy for today.

Awesome funny stuff!

4/1/09 Romeo

Quick update, because I'm being pulled in about four directions at the office today. I want to capture the ride, what we did well, and where to go from there. Can't add much interpretation to what I did in the ride, time just isn't there today.

45 minutes
walk, trot, canter (left lead only)
Had a few issues getting him on the bit and relaxed
Trot work was really good
Nice bends
Canter work was on him, not me - Much better than it used to be
Spins and turns were alright. Still stickie turn on forehand (hiney headed left to right)
Sidepasses were fabulous

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

I Saw the Funniest Thing Yesterday

I wish I'd had the courage to swing back around & get a picture.

A Toyota Prius
Stopped on the side of the road
Owner putting gas in
From a can

About a mile from the next gas station

See that?! Even hybrids run out of gas... =)


3/31/09 Ransom Again

Grabbed Ransom after work, pretty darn anxious to ride. He gave a great warmup for about 15 minutes, giving at the poll. I took all his extras off, and found his mouth covered in green slobber. Yum! His new cute feature, he'll walk around the arena and follow me around, even with the reins wrapped around his neck, side reins on and all. Cute fella, almost like he enjoys being with me.

I can confidently say that we "worked" on walk, trot, and canter. Rather than just canter "to get it over with", I kept my inside leg on in the turns, and focused on a light seat & light bit contact. I noticed that, with a deep seat, and a driving hiney, he has a longer stride - not faster, just longer and more ground-covering. With a light seat that's connected for all of the stride, but hiney only connects when all four hooves are briefly on the ground, he's a shorter stride, and a bit more fluid and relaxed. Not only did we have good work at canter, I also worked on his trot a while, with a few direction changes, but mostly working for bend at the neck & poll on the long sides. It's probably me, but it felt like he was hollowing out in the starts of each short side, and I couldn't correct it until heading down the longs. Something to work on ...

Got about 45 minutes total work time. Had a blast. I've been getting about the same "time" to ride, but have had a few other things going on in life also. (What was that we've been saying .. it fits but it's not necessary??) Having the new mindset of "if I take the time out to go ride, it has to mean something, and I have to at least try something new every ride" is really helping. When I decide to have ride-time, I'm no longer ever seeing it as a "need to exercise the horse" drill. Instead, it's time for me to relax, work on my balance & equitation, and in those walk breaks on loose reins, reflect on everything... and reflexion is good. =)