Thursday, October 29, 2009

10/29/09 He Missed Me

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

10/25/09 Show's On! Pt 3

Training Test 1
There was a bit of an intermission break in between Equitation and my test rides. Not a big deal. Ransom and I rode through a much more chaotic warm-up ring, with about four or five other riders. Not such a problem. At least two of the riders refused to make eye contact, and one almost ran into us. Look where you're going! This goes to show, even in dressage, the warm-up ring is more dangerous than the show arena. Stupid stupid stupid!!!

We were last of three riders for the test, and I entered the show pen. I'm going to briefly describe each piece of the test, my thoughts while I was riding it, the score and judge's notes. I hope you can follow along.

1. Enter working trot, halt at X, salute, proceed working trot
Okay, Ransom. Here goes nothing. Wiggle opposite the shoulders into a walk, step, step, halt, salute. Cool. Glad that's over. It wasn't too bad, but ain't pretty perfect either.
8 = square halt

2. Track left, circle 20m
Hey! Where are you going! Get that noodled head down! And cut out those little ittie bittie trot strides. You were pretty in the warmup! Where'd you go?!
6 = above bit in corner. stretch into bridle more

3. Working canter left lead between K & A
Look into my corner, look ahead into the next, lean back, squeeze. He's not cantering, he tossed his head UP, into a stupid ugly horrendous trot, try again. Lean back, squeeze, with punch! There! Crap! Wrong lead, Yeah I see it. Crap!
4 = hollow in trans. wrong lead

4. B Circle Left 20m
Yeah, no kidding! Lead's wrong, yeah, this circle feels like crap. I know I can't get a change, I don't know how to ask for it, and I have no clue what would happen if I asked for trot and the correct lead again. Let's just ride this circle and get it over with. yuck!!
4 = wrong lead not correct

5. Between centerline and B working trot
Okay, heavy sigh, back to trot. Good. At least he got that right. Concentrate on the posting diaganol. peek.. okay, got that right.
7 = giving nicely through top line

(In between here, I asked for a nice long good energetic trot, and he broke to a canter. I quickly pulled him back down to a trot, but already knew she saw it.)

6. C medium walk
Whoops. Is it at "C" we walk? Or between "C" and the corner? Crap, I cant' remember, and I can't hear Jen calling it.. Let's ease into it. This test is already crappy, what else could go wrong.
5 = broke to canter before "C", transition late & hollow

7. Long free walk down the diagonal
Okay, spread hands out, wiggle wiggle wiggle. Hey, not so bad. It isn't phenominal, but it's a chance to regroup. Take a deep breath, wiggle wiggle, he's stretching down some, but not as good as he could. Breathe.. it's a chance mid way to start over.
6 = some stretching

8. "A" working trot
Wiggle, half-halt, squeeze. Good! He got a decent transition. A good start to the second half of the test. Maybe we can recover this disaster yet.
7 = beautifully

9. Circle Right 20m
Look, think, add leg. He's riding really irregular. I wonder what happened from the warmup pen to here. What got in his head? Something hurting? Am I nervous? No, no tummy jitters. Glance over at R in the corner, well, maybe he'll get a few shots I can learn from. Geez this test is horrid, and I don't know why!
6 = loss of rhythm

10. Working canter right lead in the corner
Look into the corner, wiggle, wiggle, lean back, squeeze, and REFUSE to allow that stupid ugly transition like earlier again. There. Got it, and the lead is right, glance down, make sure, yeah, it's right.
6 = counter flexed, falling in
11. "B" circle right 20m
Look up, wiggle whole arms, see the whole circle. Okay, not so bad. Better than the other one, for sure. Lean back! Relax your rear end, you're bouncing. Look for the transition.
8 = balanced through + conn

12. Between centerline and "B" working trot
See the spot, settle in the saddle, squeeze knees, heavy sigh, Okay. whew. Got it, and he wasn't super ugly. Head came up a little, but I didn't have to tug his nose off.
7 = no comments

13. Down "A" centerline, halt, salute.
Oh good grief! This nightmare is almost over. Just get him stopped, salute, and get the heck out of here. Go take a deep breath, walk around, and ask Jen, "What the hell just happened?!"
6 = halt not immobile.

Rider comments
Gaits = 5 "looks a little ouchy in trot
(Yeah, no kidding. Short strided, and his head was completely somewhere else)
Impulsion = 6 no comments
Submission = 6 no comments
Rider = 7 no comments

I couldn't tell you what exactly happened. I felt completely disoriented, and Ransom either felt it, or caused it. This test was a complete disaster in my mind. It was the easier of the two, and I seriously wanted to dismount and go home. But, we were immediately next for Test 2, and I didn't want to scratch. I didn't get scared, I just got mad, and no sense going home mad. Ransom had to work more after that bad performance, and if I didn't ride the test, I wanted to find an open arena to school the hair off of him. No reason to waste the calories and entry fees, so I took a deep deep breath, and told him, "Listen dude. That sucked, but you're not getting off so easy. Let's go back in there and try again, shall we? Please ride a little better this time."

Final Score - 141, 61.304% Third place of three. Yeah, no kidding, it was that terrible.

10/25/09 Show's On! Pt 2

On the rail, at a walk. Cool, no problem. Ransom got a little rein-wiggle to let him know we were being watched. I glanced at the judge to make sure she knew I knew I was ready. I looked across the arena, other competitor was on the other long side from me. Great! Far enough off I didn't need to worry about a collision. I saw the other trainer, standing about at B, and she asked me, "Are you going to ride in the Championships?" I shrugged my shoulders with an "I don't know", but I was being polite. I had no intentions on scoring high enough today, so I didn't join the club this year.

Judges Notes at Walk: Elbows out, sitting to rt of ctr of horse. heels in front of seat bones

"Trot your horses. Posting trot."
I wiggled the reins again, and squeezed just a little. Ransom's trot transition was beautiful. Not head-popping, and he stayed on the bit. Sweet! I stayed on the rail as much as I could, trying to keep him straight and moving forward.
"Change direction at the trot."
Sweet, I can do that too! I was heading for a corner on the short side, so an extended trot down the diagonal only seemed logical. I glanced up at the judge, looked at the marker for "H", and headed for it. Just then, the other rider in the arena turned almost straight facing me. Shoot! There went that plan, darn it! I grinned, eyes only looked towards the judge, who was also smiling as we both realized my plan wasn't going to work. I headed in the other direction somewhere around "X".

Judge Notes at Trot: Back hollow. rider leaning fwd, toes sideways

The judge then asked us to canter individually. Oh Thank goodness! I won't have to risk a collision with that other goofy mare. Whew! I was asked to go to the center, and she cantered one way. I watched intently. Whoops. She picked up a trot first, and then asked for canter. (nice, I can do the same thing) Got her lead wrong, and got it changed to the correct lead-left, somewhere around "A". Judge asked her to go to the center, and I'd take my turn.

I picked up trot-right, got him in a steady collected trot, got just the judge's side of "X", and asked for canter. Lean back, wiggle-wiggle, squeeze, got it! Got our lead, got a pretty transition, and he cantered off slow & smooth. Cantered a circle plus some long side, when the judge asked, "Okay, now let's see your canter in the other direction next."
Really? Okay, cool. Get this all over with. Nice!
Turned him the other way at a walk, picked up collected trot, and again, in her clear view so she could really make her comments, I asked for canter-left. Lean back, wiggle, squeeze. A bit less pretty, he stuck his nose up a little, but it was still a steady transition. Canter-left was a bit bigger in stride & power than the right, but it was easy enough to ride. I knew I was leaning forward a little, and trying very hard not to drive with my hips, just ride it.

Judge's Notes at Canter: Back hollow, leaning fwd, toes out sideways.

The other rider rode canter-right. Whoops. Wrong lead initially with a flying change in there somewhere. I grinned inside. I don't take joy in other's mistakes, but I sure felt good about how we rode. Ransom and I did GREAT!

Total score - 63% for me, 60% for her. First place! My first ride, at the canter, on my new horse, we scored ourselves a Blue Ribbon! YAY!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

10/25/09 Show's On! Pt 1

You guys knew I wouldn't let it ALL out at once, right? Part one certainly means there's more, huh? *giggle* I'll let a little out today, and then go shove myself in the corner face-first...

We got up early, got ready, and headed straight to the barn. Ransom had eaten some of the hay, and some of the grain, but not all. He was standing in the stall, pouting, covered in shavings on one side. Well, at least he laid down & rested, the snotty old fart.

With him settled out of his clothes and a little more hay, we hosed down all of the poultice off his legs so he could dry before the show started. R and I ran for coffee and breakfast, as there is no human possible way I could maintain my cheerful demeanor without coffee. Who am I kidding? I don't drink just coffee anymore.. Out on the road, it's Starbucks Vanilla Latte, and back at home, it's a regular latte, courtesy of my machine in the kitchen. So anyways, I got my morning punch, and we were back to the barn.

Jen met us there, her coffee in-hand. We marvelled at some other riders who seemed to be arguing with their equine partners. Whatta sight.... grouchy rich people.. Anyways... *laugh*

Ransom was standing in the stall, still pouting. I went to change into my show-whites, while Jen did some light grooming & walking in-hand. While we sent R off for more supplies out of my truck, I slowly started to groom, brush, clean, and tack up. I slid my slippery nylon blue pants over my white breeches, and took Ransom all tacked to the outdoor smaller arena for lunging warmup. As I arrived there, I looked down, knowing something felt wrong. Well, yeah, genius! I was still in sneakers! Jen offered to continue his lunge while I finished getting ready. So I scrambled back to the stall, got my helmet, gloves, boots, and collar.

I returned to the arena as Jen finished up. We walked Ransom over to the warm-up covered arena, and I got on (again, missing my big steps). There were a few other horses in the arena, two of which were clearly upper level horse/rider pairs. I marvelled at their connection with their equines. They were dancing - it was hard for a bit to focus on what needed done for my warmup. It wasn't intimidating. That's something I love about dressage - I don't have to be expected to compete against upper level experience, because they're riding Second and First Level tests... I'm just in Training Level , so no need to be jealous or intimidated, but just enjoyed watching the rides.

About that time, a younger girl on what looked like an Arab cross of sorts entered the arena. I heard the trainer saying things to her like, "Just push her forward, and relax. You need to stay calm for her to be calm." Oh my goodness... I realized I had to get my warmup canter in, and quick, in case that little mare was ready to blow....

I made a good plan for my canter departure, checked one last second for the other riders' locations. Leaned back, squeeze, and immediately tried to relax my legs and my back. Ransom moved up into a canter much like Saturday's, and we completed a few circles before settling into an easy trot transition. I switched directions, sighted my path forward, and asked again, this time on a long side. Whoops! Wrong lead. Tugged a bit into the trot, got back into my circles, sighted a path, and asked again. Got it! Note to self - he was easy for transitions, up and down, but ask for canter in a circle or on a corner. Don't be a hot-shot & ask on the straights yet, I'm not ready.

As we were cantering, I tried my best to stay relaxed, and focus on where we were heading, while watching what the other riders were doing. I don't know if they were watching out for me, or the general path of life kept them out of the way, but it felt like we were the only ones there for my canter warmups. We had space, a comfortable bubble around us, and I didn't feel pushed or squeezed by anybody else.

Class was called. First up? Walk, trot, canter equitation. Riders? Myself on Ransom, and the younger girl on the Arab cross. As I watched her warm up at the trot, her horse was very forward, but barely on the bit. At the canter, they fought with each other for the correct leads. All I had to do in the class, was stay out of her way.

I entered the arena, took one HUGE long deep breath, and felt Ransom sigh underneath of me, almost under his breath. He knew full well what was up - this was our moment. All I had to do was ride clean, and we'd pin first. If I counted on the other rider missing her leads, and assumed my blue ribbon dreams were going to come true, this was our solid chance.

Could I hold it together? My other intentional canter shows of the past were train wrecks. It was all I could do in the past to stay on the horse, not to mention doing it relaxed. I didn't want to fall, and Ransom had been absolutely solid for two and a half days.

Time to put it on... The judge, and the trainer in the ring, and the announcer, one after the other called, "Walk your horses . Collected walk."

Show's On! More tomorrow!! I'm going to try to get Equitation and Training 1 in the morning... Training 2, well, maybe tomorrow, maybe not. =)

10/24/09 Travel & Schooling

Ransom and I were ready to go about 1:15pm. But we weren't taking the trip alone, no sirreee. I was bringin' me some reinforcements. Road company, and an extra set of eyes for the ride. R graciously accepted my invitation, and by 1:30, we were on our way.

Traffic was minimal until the last State Highway. Now, understanding I grew up in a moderate size town, then lived in big-city SC for a few years, living in the little town I'm in now, well, is unpopulated heaven. It's a small town, with little to no traffic on the roads, and I like it that way. In Big City Houston, however, it's a bunch of little cars, big trucks, and the occasional trailer hauling cowboy. When we reached that last highway, I worried it'd be like every other trip with the trailer on that road -folks determined they could get farther by swinging around me, cutting me off in front, and slamming on the brakes for the redlights. This trip, however, that didn't happen. We arrived at the show barn in about 2.25 hours time, just what I expected. We were just a tad early, arriving at the facility about 3:40pm.

The barn owner helped us load our things, and unload in my tack stall. Ransom settled into his new jail-cell 12x12 stall, and just as soon as I had his sheet and boots off, took himself a good roll. So much for the bath he had before we loaded, huh? The stalls were dry and clean, but he showed very little interest in his automatic waterer. Darned thing.

With the trailer disconnected & all my things organized, I grabbed my saddle, and my pony, and got to gettin'. I had it all planned out in some anal retentive "pretend I'm big & rich like they are" fashion. Turquoise polo wraps, a turquoise saddle pad, tan breeches, and a turquoise t-shirt. Yup, we were stylin' as I finished getting him tacked and walked towards the arena.

I headed straight to the show arena - large covered. No reason to go anywhere else, this is where the action would be. I got Ransom out on the lunge line on his halter, and let him look anywhere he wanted, as long as he stayed on the circle, and quiet. The barn team was running tractors and arena-grooming equipment in other arenas, trucks and trailers unloading horses just on the other side, and a few horses were even turned out to goof in the small covered arena. Complete mayhem, but Ransom wasn't bothered. I stuck him in his bridle & side reins, and pushed him back out on the lunge, and settled him into another set of warmup moving. Again, he was allowed to look-see, as long as he didn't flip out and kept his feet moving.

After about twenty minutes, I realized I wouldn't be able to procrastinate much longer. I didn't come all this way to just lunge - it was time to ride. I walked back over to R, thanked him once again for being there, clamped my helmet tightly to my head, and hopped on. Their little ittie bitty mounting block made me long for my large steps, but it served its purpose when I got settled into the saddle.

Ransom and I walked on a loose rein, then on light contact, then working walk. I mixed in free walk and working walk, and finally admitted it would be time to trot. We trotted circles, serpentines, diagonals, anything I could do to relax my nerves. He was leaning hard on my right rein, almost bent to the right. It didn't seem to improve for at least the first fifteen minutes.

Then, a train arrived. I remembered Jen telling me, "Just act like it's not a big deal, and he won't either." We headed down the long side, facing the train. Ransom's head lifted, I took a heavy deep breath, and pushed him forward, wiggling my reins. He sighed, and settled right back into work, as if it wasn't even there. One goal accomplished - ride through the train.

But this isn't enough. With more truck/trailer/unloading horses, the tractor going in the large open arena beside us, I realized there was no more time to procrastinate. There were enough things going on, and if I didn't just suck it up and try to canter, the entire trip would be a waste in my mind. I didn't feel like scratching, or rearranging my classes.

I leaned back. And squeezed. I felt my body lean forward, my knees grab, and I was bracing for the worst. Too many other rides away from home, my canter-ask led to my rear end connecting with the arena ground. I was scared, flat plain & simple.

Ransom lifted his front end only enough to push up into the canter, and got in the gait. I cantered with all my muscles tight for one far side circle, realizing he was moving out slowly, relaxed, and collected. After that one circle, I thoughtfully relaxed my back, and my legs, and finally my arms. We cantered another circle or three in the center, transitioning to trot down the long side, my larger transition fear in the tests for Sunday.

With one direction of canter accomplished, I let him walk a piece, changed direction, and asked for more trot. When I asked for canter this time, I wasn't quite as nervous, but still a bit. Ransom again met me halfway, with not the picture perfect transition, but slow, collected, and easy. I relaxed a bit faster this time, worked a few canter circles, transitioned to trot down the long side, and eased him into a walk.

We rode just a bit more trot to keep things moving, and I let him stretch his neck long & long in these cool down trots. After about 45 minutes, R reminded me, "I needed to leave some gas in the tank for Sunday." So we relaxed, walked out, and unsaddled at the stall.

Ransom was more interested in the auto-waterer this time, and eagerly drank as fast as it would fill after his workout. I offered him supper and hay, though he showed minimal interest in the grain. Here we go again, with a fussy horse that doesn't want to eat. As he was munching hay, I put poultice and leg wraps on his legs, gave him cookies & praise, and called it a night. After we humans had our supper, we went back to the barn to put his sheet back on, give him another cookie, and check his supper progress. Ransom had eaten about half of his grain, and was standing facing away from the stall gate, appeared to be pouting. Poor guy doesn't like being locked up, and I understood.

The nerves of schooling were accomplished. We were ready for bed, and I was ready to dream of blue ribbons. I'd accomplished a huge goal today, riding in a lot of noise, vehicles moving about, and plenty of eyes watching. Ransom met me with a near perfect schooling session, and by the end of the ride, most of that tension in the right rein had eased. He was relaxed, had all his muscles stretched.

All that was left, was to show the show barn, all the spectators, and the judge, that we had good reason to be here at this level. We'd earned our place in the class. But would Ransom cooperate? Would he agreeably finish all his dinner and be ready for breakfast, or would he be on a hunger-strike upset about the jail cell? Could I keep my nerves at bay long enough to compete? Or would the warm-up ring be just enough to push me over the edge (and off my horse)?

Friday, October 23, 2009

10/23/09 The Last Lesson

I have discovered lately that my favorite blogs are the ones that end in mild suspense. What will happen next? How will the show go? How does the horse place? Is she going to get better quickly? So, in that frame of mind, I'm going to be a turkey, and spread out the show schooling & classes over the next few days. We both did well, and Ransom and I have discussed the issue - we both need a few days off. He'll get grooming, cookies, and some stretches, but nothing serious for at least the next few days. Please enjoy my long drawn-out re-telling of the events.

I saddled up for a last-review lesson before the show weekend. As Jen arrived, we were nearly done with our lunging side rein warm-up. Ransom had settled in, loose side reins, moving along at an ambling trot & canter. His "whoa" on the line was decent, though nothing to praise him for.

I expected the same very anxious pushy canter we'd been riding all week. I thoroughly anticipated it, and even had told Jen, "I know it's last minute, but I hope he does it again so I can get some tips to share."

As I asked for the canter, imagine my surprise, when he was awesome! Little booger! Heading left, Ransom was steady and collected, only popping his head up briefly for the transitions. His trot was a little slow and short, but I got the job done.

The only piece Jen saw, was my driving hips. As it turns out, I was pushing his canter heading right, probably without realizing it. When I asked for it again later, I concentrated very hard to simply ride the stride, and not push or drive. Just let my hips move with him, rather than force it. Much better! Exactly what he needs - ask, and leave 'im alone. This is a repeating pattern with Ransom - nagging & pestering get me nowhere, pushing makes it worse. The best way to ride him, is to ask, and get outta the way.

We chose to keep the lesson ride short, since the next two days would bring many challenges. Would the drive up there be peaceful, or would I have to slam on the brakes and the horn on the state highway leading to the neighborhood the barn is in? Would Ransom remember what life was like locked in a jail cell we call stalls? And what was he going to do with all those horses around? Was he going to spook into never-never-land at the first sight of the train beside the barn? More importantly, how was I going to handle it? Romeo's last trip up there wasn't exactly worth remembering.

I got all my chores done Friday, leaving only a few last-minute tasks for Saturday. All things packed, washed, ironed, cleaned, and organized, we were ready around 1:30pm to pull out of the driveway.

Let the adventure begin!

Friday Fill Ins

1. The crickets sing, Good luck at the show!

2. I hope you're watching this weekend, wherever you are.

3. I want to get far away from the week I've had, and not repeat it anytime soon.

4. A satisfying entire week at work without incident; this was a dream.

5. But as for me I'm going to just do my best.

6. It's "Good Morning, how yins doing", where I come from.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to the final lesson before the show, tomorrow my plans include final stages of show prep and the drive and Sunday, I want to introduce my new horse to the show stable, and give it our absolute best!

10/22/09 No Goofing Around

Thanks, Lord, for the rainfall that hit my arena. It was enough to water the grass, and to dampen the dust down, but not too much to make mud. Thank You!

I grabbed Ransom in all his finest dressage garb, side reins included, and headed for the arena. It only took a few minutes of him free lunging and watching my body language before he realized A) we weren't goofing off, and B) the arena footing was perfect for work.

Side rein lunge line for a while, as I watched him stretch down & out while leaving slack in the side reins. As he settled into nice transitions trot/canter/trot, trot/walk/trot, I knew we were ready for serious.

I settled into the saddle. The winds died down, much to our misfortune, as the sun was still beating on the arena. In his new clipped coat, Ransom doesn't mind the heat much, and transitions are much easier.

We worked some collected walk, to free walk, and back. A few trot sets, with many direction changes, added in some trot/walk/halt and back up as he loosened his back up.

As I asked for the canter, I allowed our intial transitions in both directions to be ugly. As long as he didn't sprint forward, his head was allowed to raise up. I headed down long side, canter-right, towards my center 20m circle, and Ransom's, um, "forward impulsion" was great! A bit too great. He wasn't uncontrollable, but when I imagined what it looked like from the ground, and compared it to what I know I've seen on dressage test tv shows, it was a bit too much.

So we repeated in and out of canter on the circles and in the corners, heading down long side, and mixed it up, breaking to trot after the circle on the long side, and on the last 3/4 of the circle. Never once ran a whole test, but only the pieces, trying to incorporate all of the harder spots for us.

In between the canters, I fit in some trot to halt at X. After his first canter-out, the trot to halt is SO much better. It's got to be some muscles that loosen up, because if I try trot to halt early in the ride, they're horrendous. If I wait it out, and ride trot to halt late in the rides, he's much better.

Between his lunging, and my riding, we put in about 50 minutes. Only one few minute spurt was relaxed loose on the buckle walk. The rest, was work! Whether free walk still on contact, or collected canter trying to adjust his stride, Ransom was very tuned-in to my body language of "Listen dude, I'm not here to goof off, I'm not here to be relaxed. We're working, so get in line!" *laugh*

For his cool-down, I tried again to get "stretchy down trot" circles. To the right, these are just down-right beautiful. I was working him to a collected trot, then slowly stretching my hands apart, decreasing the wiggle-wiggle in my arms, and anytime he'd stretch down, I'd release the reins briefly. He's got this idea down-pat heading right, left it's sporadic. Some release-downs are gorgeous, while other times he simply levels out his head & withers, and sticks his nose out, hollowing his back. Ah.. but this is a TL test 3 movement, something not to be worried about perfecting anytime soon.

The most fun parts of our ride right now? Transitions from rising trot to sitting trot! Holy trot! That's a First Level rider movement! Freaking apples sitting trot. When I feel all of my lower body relax, waist-down, it's a phenominal feeling. These moments don't last long yet, though. We have plenty more to learn.

Countdown to Sienna, 3 days. Lesson tonight.. focusing on the tests, and any last-minute fixing miracles we can accomplish.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

YouTube, Bill Maher, For Discussion

My Sister's Farmhouse opened up the flood gates again, with some movie reviews. I watched the video - check this out. A very interesting discussion. I'll leave the homeschooled debate, and her review of other movies out, and just focus on the one mentioned called "Jesus Camp". I've not seen the movie, don't plan to. What I found interesting was the discussion started on the movie, but went a really wild direction.

Interesting to me, because of the variety of voices that were heard. Yes, I think now Bill Maher is a nut. He's not someone I'll TiVo to watch later. But what I found truly interesting, were the *extremes* of all opinions. The Muslim fellow on the far left of the row of folks (I am assuming here he is Muslim) was the reasonable one that seemed to most want a moderate discussion. Interesting, eh?

I understand all Christian folks want our views out there with hopes we can convert any and all around us. But does shoving it down anyone's throat make it go down easier?

At the same time, I think that woman in the interview should view her role there on that show like Elisabeth Hasselbeck on The View. Walk in the fire, expect to get burned. If you choose to run with the lions, you might get bit. The uglier we choose to be as we represent our faith & beliefs, the less likely a non-believing friend is to join us on Sundays.

Philosophy for the day, huh?

10/20/09 The Fourth Day

Ransom was now on his fourth day of riding. I varied the saddle & all, but the work remained the same. It was time to get down to business. No more funny stuff, no more goofy bad transitions. I tolerated nothing.

Every ugly transition up resulted in an immediate transition down & a retry. Same for down transitions. We did probably four dozen or more transitions in the 45 minutes I rode. I gave him only a brief warmup. It was mild and decently warm outside, gentle winds. This and the short clip left no excuses for tense muscles or disobedience.

I didn't ride through either test in full. I rode what I believed were the sticky pieces from Tuesday. Lots of in and out of canter, and a few trots down to walk. In the walk breaks, he didn't ever get a loose rein. Transitions from collected to free walk & back.

We accomplished a lot. The longer I rode, the better the transitions got. We had some *awesome* trot to halt at X. I didn't feel like I had to hang on his face to get it, and while they weren't fantastic, they sure were a lot better than they've been.

Tonight, we rest... Countdown to Sienna, 5 days

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

10/19/09 A Better Focus

I was and still am in that dazed mood. It's a bit hard to concentrate on, well, just about anything. Jen has it about right here. Plenty of horrible people are left to continue on, but we've lost a great person. The hard part, is I can't stop life but to pause & pray for her family & close friends.

So, Ransom and I warmed up free lunge, a solid stretch on the line in side reins, french link bit, and off we went. He was a little chargy at the canter again, but settled down after a while. I got all three gaits relaxed & collected, asked for some more transitions, and things improved the longer I sat up there.

After a good half hour's work under saddle, I went through my two tests. Did what I could remember, and I'm pretty sure I got them right. Training 2 coming out of canter-left, heading down the long side, is by far the ugliest part of both tests. He absolutely refuses to make that pretty, and I have to tug with way too much rein to get him to ease up to a trot. I'm going to concentrate on that tonight, again. Work into a nice canter, when he settles in it, push him a bit farther, then head down the long side, and relax into a trot. Every other trot/canter/trot transition was marvelous.

In fact, these were probably his best trot/halt/salute transitions ever. It feels like he halts right of centerline, and my right leg pressure doesn't seem to be helping that. Otherwise, he's only sticking a few strides of walk in, and is keeping his head down & relaxed. *Whew* Got that monster bug worked out, I hope.

Rest of the week I'm going to work in the twisted wire full cheek or the twisted loose ring. He won't see that calm french link bit again until showday. I just can't chance it - if I ride him in something strong all week, it'll make him appreciate that lighter bit all the more.

His clipped coat looks fantastic! After not staring at it for a day, then seeing him again, it looks awesome. Better, even though he was sweating when we got done, and the easy-wick square pad was wet on top, he wasn't dripping.. His cool down was super easy - walk out the heavy breathing, and brush. No hose! Fantastic, since it dropped in the low 60s last night. Absolutely fantastic! Even with the horse hair snippets all over the front yard, and all through my clothes on Sunday, I'm glad I did it. I'm sure Ransom is, too.

Funny ride moment - we had just gotten a really nice warm up canter left, and I was finally enjoying having his attention. I asked him to ease into a trot, which he did, keeping collected, and forward. I settled more into a collected walk, and again he complied with grace. I let the reins ease out into a free walk, and just as I reached forward to pat his neck, give him scritches and a huge "Atta boy Good Job!" a doe squirted out of the trees about 10 ft from us. Ransom tossed his head up, and for a brief 3 seconds, we both said "Oh crap! What's that?!" When the critter spook was identified, he went right back to work, in a huge free walk, dropping his head looking for the bit. Fantastic and Funny!!

Countdown to Sienna . . . 6 days


A better-written article about Megan's accident. The story better focuses on what an awesome lady she was. She will be sorely missed.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Sobering Moments

I don't have all the details. Just what's written above, and here.

Megan was at a party I went to at Jen's house Saturday night. We met Megan at some horse shows. She previously owned an awesome Appaloosa named Opie. Opie now lives in San Marcos with a trainer Jen knows. Megan was making plans Saturday night to ride the bike on Sunday with some other friends of hers. She was her normal cheerful self, a really awesome lady.

I'm stunned. Okay, I'm beyond stunned. I'm almost speechless. I didn't know her that well, but well enough that this hurts..

That's about all I've got for today.. Pray for her family and friends mourning the loss.

If you love somebody, tell them right now.. Go call them, find them at work, interrupt their day. Don't wait until later, just in case...

10/18/09 Clipping

I walked out to the paddock, put Ransom's knotted rope halter on him. Not sure if Mister Nice Pony, or the Evil Clipper Killer would be on the end of my lead rope. I walked him to the front yard, and stood him near the porch.

The wind was blowing, gently and irregularly. The clippers were oiled, I had all the necessary supplies at hand. I sprayed Ransom with "the magic pink conditioner solution", and deeply inhaled that awesome fragrance. I rubbed it in all over his coat, told him, "Well buddy, here goes nothing."

I turned the clippers on. I leaned them against his shoulder, blade-out, to see how he'd react. He didn't move. I turned the clipper blade towards his shoulder, looked one more time at the angle of his hair growth, and ever so gently let the clippers move towards the coat.

Slice. There goes the first batch of hair. Ain't no turning back now. I'm stuck with this, no matter how crappy I make it look. It'll grow in a week, right? Zip... there goes another patch of shoulder. Zing, There went some of his neck hair.

I touched the back of the clippers. Nope, not warm yet. Looked at my watch, it's been five minutes. I did all of his shoulders and neck, both sides, with a few breaks to spray the blades down cool.

I switched to my spare blades after working through his neck, chest, shoulders, and front side of his tummy near the girth line. Then I approached his belly on one side with extreme caution. I can only imagine that's going to tickle! I bet he moves.

He didn't budge.

So I clipped belly and up to his topline on one side, and part of his hip. Otherside, repeat. Adding cooler cleaner spray every so often, and going back over neck & shoulder every so often as well, to keep him from getting wiggly.

Stopped for a drink break for him, and a change of scenery. He grabbed a long slow drink of water, ate a little niblit of grass, and I got him back to work. By now, I've covered my shirt in horse hair, and the wind has died down.

I got the hip on one side, and hip on the other. I very carefully looked at his back legs, trying to decide how far down I was supposed to clip. Ransom kept tipping whichever leg was on the same side as me, which usually gets a lot of praise, as it makes his bum easier to scrub. Now, however, it was ruining that hip angle line, and making the "Where do I clip to" disappear. I finally got it (well, I hope so, because nobody else has seen it yet) after a few rounds of hip peek-a-boo.

By now, I'm covered inside, and outside, with horse hair. I approached his head, and, well, it all went downhill from here. I've learned a valuable lesson. Save the head and face for last, including touching up the rest of the body, and use the smaller battery clippers for the face. Body clippers were too big to get inside all the nooks and crannies. I did the best I could. As I approached his ears, I found a Ransom I didn't know I had - a head tossing dork.

I called in lead rope holding reinforcements. Up to this time, I had the lead rope laying on the ground, because Ransom didn't really move around that much. Sure, in some tickly spots he'd take a step or two, but nothing uncontrollable. On his face, and ears, however, he had the wiggly jiggly boogers. R came over, held the rope, talked to Ransom, and helped out. I ended up having to put some baling string in a twitch over his nose to get the ears. That frustrated the crap out of me, but I got them done, inside & out. Those will clean up as they grow in over the coming week.

Two and a half hours later, I was covered in horse hair. From the top of my noggin to the space in between my toes. On the outside of my tshirt, to the inside of my tshirt, and everything underneath it. Even in my ears, and my bluejeans pockets. I was coated.

Ransom, however, looks stunning. I have one picture I took, but my phone isn't sending for some reason. I'll keep trying.

I accomplished the task. I body clipped Ransom, all but his legs. What a sigh of relief.

10/18/09 It's Only a Quick Work

I told Ransom, "Listen, dude. Quick ride in the western garb in the arena. Show me you'll be as good as you've been the past few days, and we'll go walk & goof off."

Yeah.. I need to quit telling him ahead of time on goof-off days. He was a complete, total, DORK!

I argued with him for nearly 25 minutes at the transitions. Just getting into a collected walk was a fight. His mind was everywhere but on me, sweat running down his legs, he was stomping & arguing with it. Rubbing his face on his legs in the walk around circles.

When I finally did get some good walk work and good trots in, we rode a bit of canter, staying in each direction solid at the canter until he'd slow down, collect, and pay attention. I did far end circles, middle circles, low end circles, all the way around. Both directions, in random orders, to keep him thinking "Where are we going? I should Momma tell me where we're going." At one point, we argued for nearly ten minutes JUST from halt to collection to walk forward. He kept wanting to toss his head up into the walk. "No Sir!"

After almost 45 minutes, I finally got his attention, and got solid work in at all three gaits in both directions, with some quite awesome trots to halt. No spurs, and no "goof off walk", either. As it turns out, my one neighbor had their tractor going & stopping, and somebody had a rifle out, hunting something. The second time that #$&*^ gun went off, I hollered... then the tractor got quiet, the gun didn't go off again, and it was peaceful. Too bad it didn't start out that way.

Unsaddled, gave Ransom a bath, and let him dry with some munching hay. Organized my clippers, sprays, brushes, extension cords, a good spot with a gentle breeze, all my things set out on the front porch. Let him dry while I organized... The clippers threatening me with pointy teeth.

10/17/09 Dressage

Let's not even talk about Friday, right ladies? As I skip right over it like it never happened. Thank you for your listening ears and patient minds. There might have been a mental meltdown otherwise. Nobody got hurt, and this is a near miracle. All of the damage has been repaired, I think. Thank you again and again.

I got up super early courtesy of kneeding cat paws, and got the boys fed by 6:00. Around 7:30, I went outside to grab Ransom & get to work. Jen and I had decided during my lesson I would get out my longer spurs, try to gently use them rather than moving my legs & heels all over him for "go".

Warm up was solid, even used side reins a bit. It was a cold morning, and, in the sun at the right angle, I could see Ransom's breath fogging out of his nostrils. Cool! :)

One or two tickles from the spurs, his "go" was, um outstanding. I took them off pretty quickly. We rode together for about an hour, and I had Ransom sweating, and me breathing hard, even a little toasty myself. We worked on our transitions, which were pretty good.. His halts weren't phenominal, but they weren't rotten, either. With the cooler temperatures, his canter was quick, but easy enough to get out of it. We argued good on a few down transitions into trot before he realized I wasn't going to give in or get off. The sun was warm, though the north-east wind a little chilled. It took forever brushing Ransom after our ride.

I decided then I was going to buy some body clippers, and get after it. I've been considering it since he bloomed winter fuzz. Our weather here is cool at night in the winter, but HOT during the day. Combine some humidity with that, and the decreasing amounts of daylight, I just didn't see how I'd be able to enjoy a decent ride length without having a sweaty crabby pony.

Total work, a little over an hour. The peace of a cool Saturday morning after a more-than-horrendous Friday was much needed. Good quiet time alone in the arena with an awesome horse.

10/15/09 Ransom Lesson

I let Ransom warm up only briefly before hopping on. Back of the arena was still puddly, so I kept my ride to the front low circle.

He was awesome! I did a lot of work at sitting trot, convincing him we'd canter when I was only darn good & ready. After some anticipation, and plenty of sitting to rising trot in and out of walk, we worked on his canter a bit.

Jen pointed out something I guess I knew, but it hadn't registered. To get a good leg cue on Ransom, I was having to lift my heel to get any pressure for forward go. Yeah, not good. I concentrated real hard on not doing this, but it just wasn't working out.

Despite my concentrating on my bad legs, Ransom did great. Most of his transitions looked pretty good, he moved out nice enough, and seemed to be really concentrating on the day.

Cold front blew in over night long after our ride. Was well appreciated too, because it was a humid nasty blob for the ride. Total work, about an hour, with the upcoming week concentrated solely on test pieces before Sunday's show.

Countdown to Sienna, 10 days.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Check This Out!

Look at the comparisons! Conservatives are none to happy, and most Liberals love him (though that's not what I read earlier today). Independants are square in the middle, so the average looks to be about right.

Look at Obama compared to Bush. And look at the timelines. In the first 100 days, neither were well-loved. But right after Sept 11, 2001, look at our country. We were all waiting to see, what would he do?! How would our leader protect us?

And check out the approval rating! 81%!!! Don't you Libs tell me you really hated Bush the entire time he was in office. That's balogna! Complete hockey-posh!

Remember when Fmr President GW Bush said to the NYC Crowd, "I can hear you. Can you hear me? Good! Pretty soon, the people that knocked down these buildings will hear ALL of us!" The crowd went wild! I remember almost bursting into joyful tears! We were going to get 'em! No way they'd come after us again!

Too bad I don't feel that safe now.

10/14/09 Ransom

I romped to Ransom in a tee shirt & blue jeans. Long sleeve shirt coated in bug repellent. Pesky mosquitoes! Ransom was all ears up heading to the trailer.

I had all intentions on only lunging him. Yeah, right! I took one look at his soft eyes, lowered head, and grabbed my hunt saddle.

Let him goof off just a few minutes, and with that nasty winter coat he's growing and the high heat weather, he was tired quick. So I bridled him & hopped on.

We worked on bending inside the circle, counter bending, walk to halt, trot to walk, trot to halt. Trot to halt was u-g-l-y. I let him pick up canter right, stretch his brain a little bit. Transition down to trot, then straight to halt. A bit better, not so giraffe-headed. Turned to the left, he was antici----pating the canter, so I rode rising trot to sitting trot to walk. When he settled in to the unexpected, I let him canter. Nice & easy, but a bit harder to keep my leg off enough that he didn't read it as a cue to move out more. Back down to trot, straight to halt. Again, a little better.

Rode for about 40 minutes including a lot of walk to free walk to halts and collected walk to halt. Each one was a bit better than the last.

Lesson tonight! Yippee yahoo!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Where'd She Go?

I'm here
I'm here

Sorry everybody. I did ride Monday night, I did ride last night. I think I've figured out what's bugging Ransom about his grain. Don't have a solution yet, but I think I've figured it out.

Updates below.. Again, I'm here. Really! The Peace Prize ranting & raving didn't ruin my blogging spirit. I promise.

Lie to me.. Tell me you missed me. =) Okay, don't lie, but tell me anyway?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

10/13/09 Romeo

The rains came Tuesday, and brought even more puddles to the pasture and the arena. I chose to give Ransom the day off. Now, I could've really sucked it up, put on his surcingle, and worked him on the line in side reins. There was enough room to do that carefully. But I didn't want to chance a slip, a slide, or an injury.

So I grabbed Romeo, saddled him Western, French link bit, and offs we went. "To the mailbox, my trusty pal!" I could see dark clouds, and heard booming thunder. Knowing I needed to get the mail & get on home, I got him on the first clear part of the road, and picked up trot. clop clop clop clop ... cool sounds hooves make on the roadside.

We encountered...
One slow-driving neighbor coming towards us.
One fast-driving neighbor towards us, who never even slowed down to pass. grrrr
Goats in the pasture
Horses nickering & calling out
A moderately sized killer chihuahua barking his little head off at us, running circles around us
Another car on the paved road, who slowed just enough to wave at us
Mud puddles and soft hoof-eating dirt

When we arrived at the mail, I leaned over, told Romeo, "Now's a good time to NOT move!" I had to lean pretty far over, as my mail lady LOVES to stuff everything way to the back of the box, just out of reach. Gathered up the mail, stuffed it under my saddle horn, gave Romeo an atta-boy pat, and headed for home. That stupid yappy little dog followed us a while longer, running circles around, yappy yappy yappy. YUCK!

On the way home, another car-driving neighbor was behind us, and just as soon as I realized it, I got out of her way off to the side, and she carefully zipped by.

With walk and trot, the mailbox, the spooks, it tooks us about 25 minutes to go fetch the mail. A cool ride! He wasn't the least bit tired when we got home, even better!

Monday, October 12, 2009

10/12/09 Ransom

Ransom got his front shoe back during the day. I saddled him up dressage, and told him, "Listen, sweetie. A real quick soundness check in the arena, and I'll hop on. You be good, and I won't ride you 'til we're blue in the face. A nice easy work out. You stay on the bit, and I'll stay out of your way."

He agreed. His free go warmup looked good. I hopped on pretty promptly, and we got moving. Worked on walk to halt, collected to free walk, more halt, a few trots to walk, which were stickie but good. Picked up a canter, and as I expected, he was strong. Lots of good groceries, a little time off. Rough transition down to trot. Yuckie, in fact. Down-right yuckie.

So I tried something different. I would move into trot, and when he was staying decently collected, I'd sit a few strides. When he'd settle into that, I'd ask for canter. About six to eight strides, ask for trot. Lather, rinse, repeat. The first few were beyond horrendous. After about three each way, he settled real nice. I think he quickly realized there was no point in running off into a big canter, no reason to avoid the transition, and it was just going to be easier if he'd stay light.

A few more trot to walks, walks to halt, and I was pretty satisfied. Given the time off we'd had, he moved along nicely. One advantage to all the rain we've had - soft damp dirt. Makes for easy hoof-print recognition. At the walk, most certainly, I could see his hooves were tracking up. At a lot of the trot, much of the same. Pretty cool!


Met some friends at R's house, and started on our journey. Traffic was minimal, weather was overcast with the occasional drizzle spot.

Did a bit of window shopping on the way, then to George's for a once again fantastic meal. Excellent Italian food, good service, just a nice place to be. By far my favorite Houston stop.

Off to the fishes! We arrived at the Houston Aquarium without incident. Go Phone! Had a huge lack of communication about getting our vouchers turned into tickets. Oi Vey! Once in, we were off to see da fishes!

Fabulous aquariums! As we entered the first room, there was what looked like a huge off-white artificial turtle display in the tank. My first impression was "ew, chintzy. So much for natural habitat." Imagine my surprise when that chintzy looking turtle MOVED! *giggle* He was HUGE!!! Ack!

There were tanks of saltwater fish of various kinds, snakes, a few lizards, a few frogs and a couple turtles. When we entered a room with the brightly colored salt water fish & coral, I looked at R, and said, "I'll be here, go on ahead & have fun. See you in a few hours! I could sit here all day!" I love watching large tanks like that, focusing on one fish at a time, watching it search for food, chase bubbles, encounter other fish, play in and out of the coral, all of it. Very fun....

Last display of the indoor tanks was a white tiger. Poor fella was one of many, according to the pictures & descriptions. He paced the doors, hoping for either way out to peace & quiet, or food, it was hard to tell. Poor guy. The cage he was in was incredibly "fake looking", and it reflected in his disposition he wasn't enjoying his life very much in there.

Outdoors, we hopped a small train ride into a shark tank! All around us, overhead, sharks!! Very cool indeed! Probably the biggest "wow factor" part of the aquarium. From the train, we took a ferris wheel ride. Wheeeeeee!! Though it was rather tall, all of the elevated highways in Houston made it seem small. Thank goodness for small blessings, right?

On the way home, we stopped at a fine-foods grocery. I grabbed a few things in the store I can't find in our small hometown, happy to find them. Trip home was entirely uneventful, thank goodness.

A very fun day with good friends. All my kids were happy to see us on the way home, as we stopped to give them dinner & sheets. The boys were on their best behavior for company, both offering friendly nuzzles. MacKenzie and Allie were ever-protective, barking their nutty little ears off.

10/09/09 All Tucked In

When I got home, the front had most certainly arrived.

The boys got wormer paste, turnout sheets, plenty of hay and supper.

No riding in that nasty... It was misty and raining, north winds howling, and chilly. Yuckie!

I relaxed at the house in sweats, scrambling around long enough to get some laundry & housework done. Then I curled up on the couch, and did n-o-t-h-i-n-g!

Everybody feeling much better by bed time. The boys were feeling comfortable in their sheets, munching hay when I went to bed.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Peace Prize - What the Heck?

You didn't really think I'd let this one go without a comment, now did you? Puh-leeeeeeze.

Community Organizer and State Senator Wins 2009 Peace Prize

Okay, that subject title is a very toned-down version of what I'm really thinking. I'm trying to keep the place rated PG, and today is one of the hardest days so far to complete this effort.

My thoughts in the order I had them this morning...

#1 He what?! You're kidding me, right? It's an early April Fools Joke. It has to be! He hasn't accomplished ANYTHING but a few speeches since taking office! There's no way that's true!!

#2 Well, Heck. They gave it to Al Gore for the Global Warming efforts as scientists were discovering it's not true. Maybe the Nobel guys need to drink more coffee. I sure hope the Physics and Chemistry voting committees are different people, because I liked their choices this year.

#3 He was in office for 12 days when his name made the list?! So they gave it to him based on the campaign rhetoric?! Huh??? Pickings must have been slim on the list of "folks that are trying to save the world."

#4 It's an anti-Bush statement. They were all mad at our former President for his war efforts, in his mission post 9-11. Yeah, that's it.

#5 Maybe they're reaching out. Maybe they're saying, "Hey, dude. You're the only hope we see anytime soon for true efforts of World Peace and International Diplomacy. Now, don't blow it.

It's a shame he's meeting with War and Defense Officials today about Afghanistan and Pakistan to hear troop level options. You know darn well now that Mister Peace won't choose to send off more troops.

May God Bless the ones already there, because they're not going to get any relief now.

And a Big Shout-Out to Sirius Satellite Radio. There were Evil Disturbances in the Force this morning, so my mind turned the station to Sirius 144, then to 131. Imagine my shock when the newscasters on Fox & Friends announced the Headline of the Day. Oi Vey!

Friday Fill Ins

1. Sweet dreams were not in the plans last night.

2. The new stickers on my trailer were made especially for me.

3. Silliness seems to be a necessity in my life.

4. I don' t have any plans this Halloween.

5. Outstanding or not I still love him.

6. A healthy horse report is what I want right now!

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to a lesson, weather pending, tomorrow my plans include a Houston day trip with friends and Sunday, I want to catch up on weekend chores!

10/09/09 Ransom's Revenge Pt II

I woke up at 12:30am, considered walking out to check on Ransom. A few factors complicated this - the weather was still whipping about, I forgot I didn't have a sturdy flashlight (I'll fix that this weekend), and I didn't want to disturb him if he was getting good rest.

So when the alarm went off at 4:30am, I took the dogs out back, and went out to find Ransom. He was in his stall half-way again, but when I called his name, he walked towards the back side of the barn. Standing beside Romeo at the fenceline, who nickered at me a "good morning."

I asked Ransom if he was okay, and got a happy head & alert ears. I started to walk back to the house. Ransom galloped past the stall, through his paddock, and up to the side yard fenceline. I walked over to him, laughing, and stuck my hand under the fence. Ransom sniffed & nibbled like he was looking for treats. I told him, "Feed ya in a while, buddy. Let me go get ready for work first."

At 5:30am, when I was ready to start my commute, I gave both boys breakfast, with Ransom getting two flakes of hay and half his grain. When I left, he was slowly nibbling at his grain.

I hope this is how the day goes, and the weather front doesn't mess his tummy up again.

10/08/09 Ransom Gets His Revenge

After organizing my things, I fed the boys supper, went inside to feed the little ones, and grab a shower. By now, R had shown up, a bit of a surprise. We had discussed him coming over to take some pictures of Ransom, but that got scratched when my ride changed. Nevertheless, he was there, so I was trying to hurry to get finished & cleaned up. Plans included some work on the trailer.

I went outside to help, and noticed Ransom standing half-in, half-out of his stall. I thought it strange, since had a bunch of hay he hadn't touched. He looked a little down... I looked in his stall at his supper bucket - still almost full. What the??

Brought him out, he seemed depressed and slow. Listened to his tummy, but didn't hear much. Lunged him a little bit, his tail came up, but nothing came out. Standing with him in the side yard, trying to think of what to do next, he dropped his head and grabbed a mouthful of grass. What the??

Brought his dinner grain to him, and poured some of it in a very shallow pan. He started eating, very slowly. He'd take a bite, then look around a little, and another, all ittie bittie bites of supper. What the??

I called Jen. We decided it was probably the weather looming, along with a little jealousy of not getting to ride and play. So I gave him 500lb of Banamine, which he promptly tried to spit out (probably getting rid of some of it). Squirted a bit more in his mouth, which he kept in. I turned him out, gave him water and hay where I could keep my eye on him, and watched, and waited.

About a half hour after the medicine, he had already eaten one flake of hay, and drank a little.

Thank Goodness, was the worst of it over?

10/8/09 Rans-eo?

I got home after work. Changed clothes, watered the dogs, ate most of an apple, and went Ransom hunting. Found him, gave him the rest of the apple, and took him to saddle up.

I brushed him off, and prepared to clean hooves. CRAP! Shoe missing, right front. Dang-It! I gave him a cookie, apologized, and turned him loose.

Grabbed Romeo, said, "Sorry buddy. It ain't your day off, after all." Saddled Western, french link bit. We got right to business in the arena.

Played for about 40 minutes, walk, trot, canter. Worked on a handful of transitions. I found him to be antsy after the canter warm-ups. All he wanted to do was run, run, run. He would either stiffen his whole body and refuse to walk on, or try to pick up a speedy trot. Better yet if I'd just let him canter.

We rode through dressage tests Intro B, and Training 1. I think I did both in the opposite "order" though, starting out heading right instead of left, or left instead of right. I got a good giggle out when we came from trot to walk at "A" one time - I let out a little too much air in my transition, and he halted solid & square. I squeezed him back to a walk, and he let out a huge sigh. Goober.

Romeo was covered in white frothy sweat after our ride, so I walked him out until he wasn't puffing hard, and hosed him down. Gave him a handful of cookies as payment for his last-minute service request, and turned him out for supper.

It was an incredibly warm, windy, humid evening. There's a cold front coming on Friday, and usually for the first few of the fall season, the wind whips hard out of the south trying to fight it. Makes for sweltering conditions. Mucho Yucko!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

My PSA And Your Responses

Here's the PSA.

Look at the comments! That's the most on one post from that many different voices, ever!

Thanks for the positive support. I do really appreciate it.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Nobel Chemistry Prize 2009

How Absolutely Cool! First woman to share the prize in many, many years. And a really incredible discovery...

English PSA

I'm ranting, I'm raving. I'm not stark-raving mad, but I'm frustrated. I see it almost everywhere, even in large-name news publications. I know I can't fix it, but maybe I can teach somebody out there.

The use of proper spelling & grammatical intentions of a few words that sound the same, but have different spellings, and different meanings.
Your = Possession of. Your dog, your "awesome horse that kicked my tail in the show last week", your amazing chemistry skills
You're = You are. You're an awesome person, You're a great horsewoman, You're invited to the show.

You're dog is cool.
Your invited to dinner tomorrow night.

There = Location. Over there, the dog sits there, the chemistry textbook is there, please turn right over there.
Their = Possession of. Their dog is cool, their home is awful expensive, I disagree with their political views.
They're = They Are. I heard they're coming to the show and their horse is great, I believe they're arrogant politicians,

I'm heading to there house for supper.
I heard their obnoxious and stupid.
Please take a sharp left over they're.

This concludes my PSA. The views and opinions of this blogger are the sole ownership of me, and me alone, and I believe each news publication has their own expressed views and opinions and they're entitled, just like you, and just like me. I do not wish to offend, or harm anybody's ego. I simply needed to get that minor rant out of my mind and out of my system. If you're upset, I'm sorry. Comments are open for your convenience, over there. *Grin*

10/06/09 Ransom

I tossed my work things in the kitchen, let the dogs run & potty, and changed into a tank top and my western boots. Ransom needed a solid lunging, so there was no point in dressing to ride. If I stayed outta my paddocks & breeches, left my saddle in the laundry room, I woudn't be tempted.

Fit Ransom up with his surcingle, side reins, twisted loose ring bit, polos up front, grabbed the lunge line, and offs we went. Got to the arena, lunged him first off the halter only. Put the bit and side reins on, but kept the halter over top. Lunged him for 25 minutes off of his halter, but with the side reins. We did a good dozen direction changes, and a zillion transitions. I kept no gait for any more than two circles before changing. Canter for only a circle at a time, as this is what will be expected in TL1&2. The side reins were tighter than normal, as I didn't run them through the lowest surcingle loop, but up one. They weren't flapping loose, but I did see some relaxing through his neck and back. It took the full 25 minutes of hard work before he was attentive and working hard. He did a lot of huffing and puffing, but remained rather cheerful.

I took the surcingle off. I took the halter off, I took the side reins off, I took a long hard breath, and I mounted up. I tried not to think through all the bad things that could happen. I didn't once consider "Holy crap he might not have done this before, he might spook, I might fall, holy crap!" Ransom didn't walk off as soon as my weight reached his back. He stood there pretty still, and with some leg pressure, moved off at a walk. I only let him walk forward about five steps before testing his brakes. "Whoa!" I said sharply, squeezing the reins and my knees. He stopped, and dropped his head, with a very big sigh. Knowing this was going to be just fabulous, I moved him off at a walk.

I worked on staying relaxed, and feeling every leg move. I kept him collected, with a few releases for a long free walk. I went on a loose rein just for a bit, to again test the brakes. "Whoa", I told him more softly, with a squeeze of the knees. He stopped again with a heavy sigh.

We focused on the low circle for the ride. I got into a corner, collected again, half-halt, and added calf pressure. He dropped his nose, and sprung into a trot. As I asked, for a brief second I thought, "Well, if I lose my balance, he's got plenty of mane, and I know how to hop off without breaking anything." Our trot work was more than fabulous. I can't say it was a strong working trot, tracking under, but he was collected. The moment he'd lose it, I could feel my balance shift, and the sit hard to keep. When he was collected up, though, magical is the only way to describe it. I rode trot in both directions, with a few changes and plenty of transitions. I experimented with a forward/backward hip movement, and a left/right hip movement, and found the forward/backward a little easier to sit with him. Anytime I moved left/right, I felt my balance slipping away. Never once did I grab that wad of mane, never once did I tense up & holler "whoa", afraid I was heading to the dirt.

I rode for nearly twenty more minutes before calling him "done". He was sweaty, and tired. We'd worked for nearly 45 minutes, after three wet rainy days off. We are back in action, and I accomplished a goal I didn't see coming for at least another year - I rode Ransom bareback, walk and trot, in the arena.

10/07/09 Firestorm

I walked in it this morning.

And I'm okay with what I said and what I believe.

I'm still Conservative, though I do believe there are some Biblical roots in Liberal beliefs.
I still think the Democrats have NO BUSINESS in office. I still disagree with 90% of what Obama is trying to do. I still think NaziPelosi is a nut, and belongs in California for good.

If you follow the links, and join the discussion, be kind. I saw one blogger ask for kindness, and then take a whole hearty whack at the original poster. Be truly kind, no matter your side of the argument. If you wanna take a whack at me, find my email, and let me have it. Keep the nasties off my blog. I will delete nasties without warning or cause, and will most likely send you a nasty email suggesting you grow up & act like an adult. To the best of my knowledge, I don't have any immature children responding on my blog as of late, so you have no excuse. :)

Back to the regularly scheduled blogging, about to be in progress.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

10/05/09 Romeo On the Road

I drove right on by the mailbox on the way home. Romeo had a previous terrored fear of the mailbox, and the weather was keen today for checking if we had conquered that.

(And a good plan too, as parts of the arena are still puddled - should be better tonight for a good solid Ransom lunging.)

Saddled him up Western, french link bit, and offs we went. He very confidently walked at a steady pace across the front yard towards the mailboxes. I could almost feel his body language saying, "Yup, Mom's determined. I've got a job to do, I can feel the way she's sitting on me, and where she's looking. Follow her eyes, follow her eyes." I started him out in a steady trot where I knew it would be quiet & not distracting. He swished right through all the tall grasses, peeking here & there to make sure we were safe, ears pointed straight out forward, listening for the slightest sounds.
We got all the way to the mailbox, had a little "brain fart" with the darker pavement again (giggle, fixed with me dismounting & stepping on it). I was able to walk him towards the mailbox from both left & right, opening it and sticking my hand inside. No mail, however, so that made the trip fun.

Started back towards the house, and snapped a couple quick pictures, because I could. *grins*

Here's what the road looks like heading back to my house (which is just past the trees on the left - can you see it?).

Romeo's looking towards the neighbor's under-water-puddle pasture, taking a hard look at the light-colored pony calling out to him. That was the extent of his reaction, with three of their horses in pasture, all staring and calling out, both to and from the mailboxes. Good Boy!

Now we're checking out the neighbor's kids out playing ball. This was just after going through one muddy ditch that was a puddle yesterday. He carefully picked his way through the few feet of yuck, then peered off to the right to make sure those kids didn't need him for anything before taking me home.

Probably one of the funniest parts of the ride was the mole. Heading to the boxes, right before the neighbor's pasture, there was a mole crossing the road. Romeo gave it a look, recognized it, and kept on going, head down. That mole, however, was none to happy about us being on "the other side of the road" with him. He looked up at us, mouth wide open, making an awful hissing noise, eyes about as big as his head. Can you imagine looking up and seeing hooves coming towards you?! Yikes!

We rode for about a half hour, wandering past the house, navigating a few more puddles for practice, leaving hoofprints down the road in both directions. I paid attention to the prints - I saw hoof edge imprints, and frog imprints. Pretty cool! On the way home, I looked at his out-going tracks - he was tracking up at the walk, though it never even felt like it. Just a wandering, meandering, peaceful ride.

Monday, October 5, 2009

I've Been Found! And Tagged!

Goodness! All at once, too! I think so, at least. I found a comment in my latest entry from A Lil' Horse Play, went to her blog, did some reading, and found myself! What, you say?! I did WHAT?

I found this!

Aww. geez.. I am?~ Wow.. *blush* That's sweet & stuff..

1. Where is your cell phone? Desk beside my keyboard

2. Your hair? Pulled back so’s I can concentrate on work

3. Your mother? Supportive

4. Your father? MIA, lately

5. Your favorite food? Homemade Tiramisu

6. Your dream last night? I didn’t sleep long enough to dream

7. Your favorite drink? “Flavored” Cappuccino on a Saturday morning

8. Your dream/goal? Hunter course at 2’6”

9. What room are you in? B2, Room 124

10. Your hobby? Horses

11. Your fear? Falling & getting hurt seriously

12. Where do you want to be in 6 years? Oooh.. I’m ‘fraid to answer that one

13. Where were you last night? Home

14. Something that you aren’t? A shadow

15. Muffins? Sugar-free please

16. Wish list item? Lights for my little Arena

17. Where did you grow up? Pennsylvania

18. Last thing you did? Reviewed Product Specs

19. What are you wearing? Jeans & a Lite blue tshirt

20. Your TV? Good enough

21. Your pets? 2 horses, 3 cats, 2 dogs

22. Friends? A few that are very important to me

23. Your life? Blessed

24. Your mood? Today, pretty dern good

25. Missing someone? Every minute he’s not around

26. Vehicle? Dodge 1500 truck

27. Something you’re not wearing? Red

28. Your favorite store? Dover

29. Your favorite color? True Blue

30. When was the last time you laughed? At lunch

31. Last time you cried? Last week

32. Your best friend? Incredible

33. One place that I go to over and over? R’s house

34. One person who emails me regularly? Mrs. Mom

35. Favorite place to eat? R’s house, when he’s cooking

Let me find a few folks to spread this one to, in a while. Probably tomorrow...

Store Sign

Jen sent me a text with the funniest store advertising sign...

Everyone makes mistakes...
Flowers make good erasers!

Yep! The Sign is right. Lookie Lookie what I got! I've got the whole dozen of them sitting on my desk at work. They followed me from home this morning. Ain't no sense in anything that pretty hiding at home when I can enjoy them here!

Besides, what makes for a better rumor than flowers on my desk, huh??

10/4/09 So Here it is Sunday

And church was over. I went on home, grabbed a snack I called "lunch", and changed clothes.
Jeans that were too long, teeshirt, and my rubber boots. There were (and still are) puddles all over my place. This was the perfect time to fetch my little trail-horse, and get in the goof-off session we were so needing.

Saddled him up Western, then grabbed his french link bit, figuring if I needed any emergency stops, he'd be a little less unhappy with a loose ring bit.

We took off down the road to the right, and as I approached the mailboxes, I said to him, "Well, buddy, where do you want to go? Left or right?" He meandered towards the right, so we kept on walking. This is the farthest I've gone to the right away from home down the paved road on my own. We rode past two pastures of horses, one "spooky spot", and as we approached a cow pasture with a whirring windmill well, Romeo's ears perked up. He paused, pooped, took about another four feet work of walking steps, and paused again. I looked at my watch. 40 minutes already?! Seriously?! Goodness,, I need to get him back home, or we'll both be too tired to cross the water-ditches getting home.

He went through the water ditches, through muddy puddles (depth unknown to him until he realized he was in it over his ankles), passed other horses, a few yarping dogs, over the gravel road, on the asphalt (after being reminded on foot that black asphalt hole-patch does NOT eat ponies LOL), through some tree-limb cluttered pathways, and for nearly an hour. No hard warmup, just a brief lunge at trot to tighten up the saddle girth. One spooky spot that was almost nothing (caught me off guard in fact).

When I got all his tack off, I turned him loose with cookies & praise. Later I remembered we had walked on a lot of gravel, barefoot. I grabbed my hoofpick and went a pickin'. Imagine my surprsie when I found his frogs longer than the rest of his hoof. The shoe-nails from his last shoe job have led to hoof wall being all tore up & chipped. As it turns out, there was only one ittie bittie rock to remove, which I took care of. I was a bit surprised to see that, on each step he took, his frog hit first. I ran my brain on wondering if there was something I should do for him. Should I call Mr Dale to come fix? Should I switch him & Ransom, move dirt around in Ransom's stall, wrap Romeo's hooves & let him stand in the driest spots I have? Should I grab my two hoof boots & force those on? So, I did the next best thing. I called Mrs. Mom, in a bit of a panic. Um, I know it's Sunday afternoon, but can you help me?! I'm a little bit worried I just put Romeo through a mess and might've hurt him. She quickly reassured me that, if he hadn't been taking lame steps, despite the terrain we worked over, he was fine. No need to call Mr Dale out, nothing needs doing at all.

So I will keep a watchful eye on him for a few days, try to find a decently dry spot to work on a brief lunge before supper every day and watch for signs of sore feets. He's a steady boy, and I'd hate for him to be uncomfortable. Otherwise, talk about super hooves! That hard work, on frogs and heels, and he was incredibly sound the entire ride. Good Boy!

10/03/09 Waiting On The Rain

That waited almost all day to arrive.

I slept in a bit on Saturday, expecting it to be raining in the morning. You see, I had these tentative plans to take Romeo to the town park and play on the trails a while. Haven't done that in a pretty long time, and we both deserved the break. The weather-creeps had been promising rain in the morning, so I made new plans to get a haircut, and then relax at home.

Relax? What's that? Oh! that's right! "Relax" = make a huge-normous batch of dog cookies, wash two loads of clothes, organize piles of horse supply catalogs, clean out the freezers, clean the bathroom, chase the dogs. Right! Relax! That's what they call it!

=) With all of my chores and responsibilities complete for the day, I thought, "Wow, good time to grab Romeo and at least piddle around." Yeah! THEN the sky opens up with heavy rains. That just about darned-there figures. R and I had dinner together, and then took in an evening viewing of "Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs". How absolutely funny! Gummy Bears!!!

Friday, October 2, 2009

10/2/09 Ransom's Second Chance

The weather is exquisite here today. Moderate temperatures, low humidity. Might have something to do with that mild cold front that wiggled in here early this morning. No mind, it's beautiful weather. It seems my latest round of rides has brought about a sore lower back, and a slightly bruised tailbone (I think I have Romeo to thank for this "blessing"), but that just wasn't going to stop me. I was determined to enjoy the weather.

And so we did. Ransom reconsidered his goofy speedy spell from Thursday night, and had his mind back on me. Worked out long sets of canter, mostly because I noticed on the lunge warm-up, he kept breaking to trot. Anytime he did this on his own notion at canter today, I pushed him through it. Stayed off the short circles, working only on canter all the way around the arena. Again, forcing him to keep going when he didn't want to. In the canters, he only got to relax back to a trot if he got collected and kept it a while. He tried giraffe-head for a while, and after some bickering with me, I believe gained an appreciation for what "break" meant.

We played this time for nearly an hour, including warmup. In his cool down, I made a good effort to try "long & low" at the trot. If I spread my hands out, he'd drop his cute little head and neck, and keep up at a nice controlled speed. I thought this a good time to try the loose reins again, and see if he'd just run of like a booger. No such luck today. Either tired, or happy about the weather, Ransom gave out a very nice steady trot whether on collection, on a long rein, or on a loose rein.

Must be the weather. Hoping to sneak a short run on Romeo tonight before sunset. However, here it is, 2:15, I haven't had lunch, I need to pick trailer mats at TSC, install them, and mow the grass.. Uh Oh... Might not be Romeo's day.

Forecasters are calling for quite the fantastic rain storm tomorrow. Must plan accordingly. Where did I leave my galoshes....swish swish swish

10/1/09 Ransom

Grabbed the big monster after work and some errands run. I should have clean pony blankets for the pickings before the weather goes cool next Thursday. Gosh I hope so!!

Rode Ransom in the french link bit, in some effort to be kind. He had other ideas. Fast Fast Fast! My goodness! Despite a solid warm-up, where I really thought I had his attention, he was entirely focused on going quick, to nowhere.

We played for about 45 minutes before I just about gave up. Sure he was collected about as much as normal, sure I had his attention, but he never seemed to move at a speed I could enjoy, but simply try to keep up with.

I made plans to fix this Friday morning, and was mostly successful.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Friendly Support

Found this startling, but awfully funny.
Well, ladies, I've decided to pass it on, as well. One in true support, and one a bit as a peace offering.

Eventing A GoGo, to shoosh away all the bad karma that's on her precious mare. GoGo, you take the bra, and chew the snot outta it! But quit getting sick, would ya?!?
Eventing Draft - Peace, huh? I know everybody misses Brego stories, and I promise I'll shut up. I promise!

Thanks Miss Jen. Needed the good laugh, and the, um, support. What did we say last week, Mrs. Mom, about a topic much like that image? Oh Funny!