Friday, February 27, 2009
1. I'm deep in thought, I'm considerate, I am also impatient.
2. Why do I have all the paperwork put together and not have done my 08 taxes? I need to make time for this next week!!!
3. How does this Edit HTML thing work, anyway? I had to use it earlier this week, and I'm no computer programmer. Only had C++ in college, and I wasn't very good at that, either.
4. Every morning, I put one squirt of body spray on my shirt before leaving for the day.
5. I consider myself lucky because I'm gainfully employed, depend on no one, and I'm blessed with good friends.
6. One day we’ll see this blog, and laugh about the days I was scared to ride.
7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to church prayer garden maintenance and a good night's rest, tomorrow my plans include house chores, errands, and groceries and Sunday, I want to rest & relax (after 8am church & choir)!
Surcingle, French link loose ring snaffle, side reins (4s) & off we went. It was really windy out, and we stayed in the round pen. Total work at walk/trot/canter about 40 minutes.
He did great. I wished I had time to ride, but that wasn't in the cards.
Next Ransom ride is Saturday for a lesson. Romeo maybe tonight, definitely Saturday & Sunday.
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
My stupid weather radio went off,, TWICE. Beeping like freaking mad. So I jumped out of bed, horrified. I ran to the radio, pushed the "What do you WANT?!" button, and listened in...
Freaking Amber Alert. Missing 15-year old child, Houston area.
I woke up for WHAT?! Okay, I understand missing children are tragic, and I also understand Amber Alert notices and highway signs labeled with the details. But my Weather Radio? In the middle of the night?! Honestly!!! What child am I going to go looking for at nearly 1 am? If police officials are going to rank a missing child right up there with a severe thunderstorm or tornado warning (where I need to immediately take cover and hide for my own safety), I need to disconnect it or re-program my darn radio.
I unplugged it before I went to bed, angry. My heart rate was going twice the normal, and I laid awake a while before drifting back off to sleep.
EDIT... So I add onto this post in the afternoon.
They found her, with no explanation of what happened. Amber Alert cancelled 11:30 am.
They woke me for WHAT?
After about fifteen minutes on the lunge line, I hopped on. We enjoyed about a half hour's work of walk and trot. Instead of the pattern of the last few trot on the rail rides, I split it up into three sets. Our initial startups are ugly - he's quick, I'm nervous, reins tight... But at the third transition up, it was much better. His head didn't fly up, his back didn't hollow out, and I stayed in-place on the reins (rather than shortening them or pulling my hands back).
I don't know how I was doing it, but my left ankle was cramping up again if I concentrated on heels-down... Not real sure what's going on there...
A good 45 minutes of work - He's such a good ride, and we're certainly getting used to our new work - out of the round pen, and loving it in the arena!!!
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
He was pretty good. A little stickie in his spins, nice sidepasses, nice gate work, good turns on forehand, a few easy leg yields. Canters were better. We alternated a lot between trot and canter, and at one trot set, he was insisting on going faster. "Fine, little snot. Let's run." So we did...
Ran into a little giggle-snag.... I worked A LOT at trot with the reins sitting on his neck, my hands on my legs. So, essentially, all direction changes, circles, etc, all through seat & legs. He did great! Only a few little bobbles, once almost running right into the rail. Still, it was cool to have that much control without needing the reins. I got a little confident, and tried it at one of our last canter sets. Pretty stinking cool! He did really well, stayed on the rail, no bobbles. At one turn I wasn't sure if he'd need guiding or not, so I didn't... we just about ran right into the rail. I lost my balance a bit, hollered, "WHOA", and he stopped, flat on his front end. Ugly transition, but he never lost control, never got too fast, and didn't flip out when the reins were flapping loose.
A much better ride than the previous few. He'll get a few days off now, as Ransom's up tonight, I'm busy with Choir Fa-La-La Wednesday, and believe I'm getting a massage Thursday (much needed, stretch out & rest all those tired riding muscles in my legs & back).
Last night I watched snippets of Saturday's lessons. Ransom is pretty darn cool! Neat to see... I recognized my seat was pretty good, legs pretty good, shoulders still tend to cave in, and I had "ugly hands". Looked more like pushing a shopping cart than riding a horse. Need to be aware of that in my future rides. Trot on the rail was pretty cool, but again, ugly hands.
Monday, February 23, 2009
We counted about 40 head, about the number expected. Found one dead cow, and two dead hogs (how strange, someone shot them and left them to die.. EW!). We spotted one half of a buck's dropped rack, which I have and will find a neat hanging place for it at home, along with a few sets of bovine skeletons (ICKIE!). I snuck up on an armadillo, and got about 2 feet away from it, walking right up on it. Les said to me, "He can't see directly in front, so walk up straight to him, and see how close you can get." I think Amigo could've stepped out and squashed him we were so close.
Les rode Sugar... And they had .. umm.. Fun. Sugar spooked and blew at...
Deer (Amigo too.. thankfully not a spill-off, but a slightly unseated rider)
A plastic sack
Some of the brush we had to ride through was as high as me atop Amigo. Deep stuff. But, Amigo, the veteran ranch horse, pludged along through the weeds, only running me into a few hedge sticklers. He went in and out of a few ditches, walk and trot, and stayed the course of "checking cows, and protecting rider."
Total work out for the horses (& me) was nearly two hours. I drove home later in the evening begging for a soft bed and quiet puppies. I got both.
Ma'am, I wish I knew! That's a neat thought, and I never considered it that way...
So what's your "security blanket"? I lean on the reins when I get nervous...
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Finished up the Ransom time with a TON of trot on the rail, off the line. Whoopie!!! As I'm typing this, I'm realizing I had loose reins quite a bit of the time. I held just a bit shorter than the last leather spot on the reins. Ransom happily plodded along, heading into good corners, nice & calm on the rail. Jenn said to me at one point, "See, even when he goes fast, he doesn't go THAT fast?!"
Romeo,,, a whole 'nother story. He chose Saturday to be a complete Turd. Jenn set up a trail course, of a rope gate to open & close, rails to walk over, cones to trot around, the L-pattern to walk through & back up. He was refusing (!) to turn on haunches to the left (off right leg). Refusing! Ended up with spurs on, and a training fork to keep his head from flinging all over. It took well into 45 minutes before he finally decided working was easier than fighting. We ended on a good note, but not much training for me other than perseverance.
Romeo - Turd
:) How's that for the Reader's Digest version of the story? Ransom worked with me on the lunge line (colleague holding the line), walk, trot, canter. (Side Reins on 4s) I had some sets of sitting trot with hands on my helmet, and a few sets of canter with hands free in front of me, pretending to hold the reins. Ransom got about a 40minute workout, and finished out free-lunge jumping over the little vertical rail. He loves it - gets real happy to the fence, and stays really calm after. It's cute - trot to, canter from.. very adorable.
Romeo got a stinkbug going - He was mostly okay, but really didn't want to work the gates like he had been. I should have gotten out spurs right then and there, but I persisted (and again, that proved to be a problem Saturday). Totally, he wasn't horrible, but just a little stiff. His sidepasses were stickie, his gate work was really stickie, all his forward gates were good. The friend that held the lunge line hopped on Romeo and rode a little. I got a huge laugh - Friend set up rails for Romeo last spring when I was doing the hunter series - constantly telling me "eyes up" in front of the fences. Well, I had a ground rail set up in between the standards. Next I know, friend is trotting Romeo towards the rail, staring at it. I hollered "Eyes UP, or he'll stop!" Friend stared aimlessly at the sky in no particular direction, and Romeo paused briefly before stepping over the rail.
Two decent rides, but Ransom surely was the better companion this day.
A short description for a pretty good ride... The rest of the weekend proved to be a bit more challenging for Romeo.
Friday, February 20, 2009
I planned to catch & tie Romeo, and stick Ransom in a stall, and head out. Walked out the front door, and "OH! Hello Mr HorseShoe Dude!" His truck was back by the barn, Romeo was up & tied, and he was out catching Ransom. OOPS! We exchanged formal greetings, and I left him to complete his job.
I left anyways, ran my errands, and came home to two happy horses with eight good feets! New shoes for all!
Thursday, February 19, 2009
We've spent most of our rides alone in the round pen, small enclosed, safe little space, for nearly two months. My time in the arena was always accompanied by a lunge line, or a babysitter of some sorts.
Last night, I rode walk & trot on Ransom, in the arena, in my dressage saddle, with nobody else home! :) YiPEEE!
I saddled him after work dressage, intending on light lunge warmup and a lot of walk, with maybe only a little time at the trot. I wasn't going to work him hard, and I was on a bit of a time crunch to get supper, feed the crew, and make choir by 7:15pm.
He warmed up great! I've moved standards, ground poles, and all to the back half of the arena, scattered all over the place. He took advantage of the space, and warmed up nearly the whole length of the lunge line. Very good deal! Stayed very relaxed, beautiful trot, and when he settled into a steady gait, I hopped on.
We walked probably two times around, switching directions, walking over some poles. I figured, o O ( This isn't going to be pretty, but I need to start trusting him like I trust Romeo. ) O o So, I asked for the trot. He was uneven at first, certainly because I was flapping all over my tack, having a hard time staying balanced & relaxed. It wasn't pretty, but we did it. I stayed in that trot for nearly ten minutes, changing direction a few times, even trotting over a pole once or twice. Ransom's ears were headed every which way, and I could tell he was loving his new riding space. He was obviously tickled to be out of the round pen, and very content to stay on the rail. We even got deep corners, staying at the trot... Very proud of that.
It was a total work of about 45 minutes, and I enjoyed every second. Can't wait to ride him again Friday. Both boys get new feets Friday morning - First time with the new fellow Mr D that I don't have to haul them to Les' house. YahOO!! That cuts the fuel bill, and my time spent hauling both directions.
Choir rehearsal went great. I'm nearly ready for my special Sunday morning with the choir. It started out really rough, singing along in the truck to my CD. After a few weeks of practicing, realizing what I need to do to get it done & be pretty, it's almost there. I don't think I'll ever feel 100% perfectly ready, but it'll be pretty darn good, I hope! =)
(It's so cool to post the Labels here, and not mention "Lunge Line"... *grin*)
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
New glasses will be ready today, contacts next week. The optometrist must've had fun with me. She finished her "better 1 or 2" test, switching lenses all over. When both eyes were good, and I could see clear through the new rx lens, she said, "Okay, here's old prescription. " ARGH! I couldn't see SQUAT! All the lines were blurry blurry. Holy tafooie!
Tonight, I will see clearer. I'm thankful for that! My new glasses almost make me look my age, ah! The moment of being able to see clearly, and not straing driving down the road. I can hardly wait!
Ransom and Romeo pouted last night as I stuffed Equimax down their traps. YUK MOM! That tastes GROSS! Ransom said to me, "Look how high I can get my head, Mom!" As I lifted the tube, I said, "Yeah, Bud! And look how long my arms are!" LOL.. Mission accomplished for both. Romeo's come a long way - He'll let me paste him now without even putting a halter on. Good boy!
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
Whatta horse! After fifteen minutes on the side reins, even with trot & canter over some unevenly spaced ground poles, he looked amazing. Nice stride, good attention, and very focused on the job.
So I set up a little vertical fence, and took the side reins off. It was probably 12" high, maybe 18". On the lowest standard hole. I let him look at it, then asked for trot-right. He trotted to the fence, jump (!), and cantered away. He stayed in canter, and cantered over the fence 5 times. Each one, he adjusted himself, lengthening or shortening stride to get over clean. WOW! I reversed him, and did the same drill to the left. Beautiful! That's the first time I've seen him jump in-person and it was amazing. Got to be the prettiest jumping I've seen that close. He seemed a little fast, but that's the jumper coming out of him. Headed left, after the last rail, I moved the lunge circle a little, away from the fence. He did about four strides of canter, broke to trot, trotted exactly one circle, and broke to walk. WOW! He even does his own courtesy circles. How cool!
Les was at the house (for the neighbor that never showed up, and to ride M-sale horse), so I put the side reins back on, and hopped on Ransom. We did a little walk and trot both ways, and I started to feel my boots pinching under my jeans. Good place to stop. Ransom was awesome...
Total work for him about 45 minutes. Very nice day for both of us.
I finished up my day with about ten minutes on M. He's , um , okay. Short strided, nervous, but controllable. I thought he did okay... he wasn't real keen on being at my house, Ransom watching on, another neighbor behind the property clearing brush... but he was alright. Makes me appreciate my guys a LOT more.
Monday, February 16, 2009
Went home, grabbed Romeo, and headed to the riding arena. No cows, but I did get a good show. Les was riding a horse, for a friend, with full intents on letting another friend ride. Horse in question, M, is for sale. Well, M was marketed as "dead broke, can walk and trot, doesn't neck rein great, but would be good for kids or occasional trail ride." After thirty minutes of walk, and trot, M was covered in frothy sweat, and shaking. He was a nervous wreck. Just carrying a person around, in a strange place, he was a mess.. Les couldn't let the friend (with zero horse experience) ride with a clear conscience, so when she arrived, he explained that M needs many more saddle hours, and is not safe for a beginner.
I had a blast on Romeo! He is opening & closing gates, side passing, turns on haunches are getting much better. His go and his whoa are incredible. I worked walk, trot, canter, both ways, good solid stops, gates about 6 times, had soo much fun! He acted like he missed me - gave me so much try despite I hadn't been on him in over a week. A very very good boy!
After Romeo, Les pulled his saddle off of Blue, and I got on. He's got the BEST dressage extended sit trot. It's soo pretty! Les' other friend was on Amigo at the time, and she said to me, "He's got the nicest trot!" I smiled. Didn't want to tell her, "DUH! I'm working my arse off for it! You can't see my hips swinging? You don't see the inside leg to outside rein?" :)
All the riding after all the break showed. The back of my thighs (both sides) were tight as pulled out bungee cords. Les stretched me and helped get most of the tension out. I'll be stretching periodically throughout the day to work them loose.
Tonight, should be fun! A co-worker of Les and mine, also my neighbor, is bringing over a filly he bought. He's also a rank beginner, and the filly isn't broke to ride. He has been treating her like a family pet, and the honeymoon is over. She walks all over him, refuses to lead polite. They're going to work her in my round pen, and I'm looking forward to the show. Les is bringing sale-horse M over too - work him at my house, change of scenery, getting him used to relaxing away from home.
Ransom was up for the day - about an hour on the lunge line. We worked on walk, trot, canter, side reins attached. I dropped stirrups just a bit, but mostly worked on seat & getting back in rhythm with the big fella. Jenn nabbed a handful of pictures of us during our walk-out cool down. They're all great! Thank you thank you! After the lesson, we went in, looked at vacation pictures, laughed a bit more, and talked through life. Need that every once in a while, ya know? It gets awful quiet in my little head living alone.
I grabbed my western saddle, changed clothes, and went to Les' house. We were supposed to check cows, but the weather changed those plans. It was raining steadily when I got there - that nagging drizzle that tells me, "It's fine to stay inside today. You don't need to look at cows... really."
Instead, I put my saddle on Sugar, and learned how to open & close gates on her. She was a great teacher. Les saddled Blue, worked the gate (halter only - cool!). We finished up walking up the front yard, and around his smaller pasture. Sugar is, well, sensitive. The slightest leg cue, and it's off to the races. I'm aware of this - it's in her training, and Les wants her that way. It makes her hard for me to ride - I go from resting legs on Ransom, light leg on Romeo, to "NO" leg on Sugar. Makes her a little difficult - stay relaxed, but not too much.
My V-Day was, good. Talked to some friends, T and P from LA both called, and I got a sweet "thank you for the card" - much appreciated. I'm not as "bah humbug" this year as in years past. I don't find myself dying to have someone around, though it sure would be nice. What did one friend tell me about a year ago... "Wrong person, right time, right geography... Right person, wrong time, wrong geography"?? Something like that.
Dang it! So I stayed in for the night, showed off vacation pictures to a friend, and called it a night rather early.
Flat tires.. dang it! Rain showers - while I'm grateful, the timing could've been better. double dangit!
Friday, February 13, 2009
Thank You!! - it was great you kept the secret, and great you listened while I paniced. This is a Holiday I won't soon forget, and should be laughing about it for weeks to come.
2. Hug your sweeties when you're done, please?
3. If I thought you liked me I'd giggle softly to myself so nobody's could hear me!
4. "What If?" is what I think of most when I think of you.
5. To me, Valentine's Day means commercial bah-humbug, and stress (at least this year).
6. Good rides on Ransom gives me strength.
7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to schooling Ransom, tomorrow my plans include Ransom lesson, and Romeo checking cows and Sunday, I want to chill out, and edit pictures, choosing my frame-ables!
Tacked Ransom up last night. I was told he got pretty antsy when Romeo was taken out of their pasture for rides, so I figured he'd been working himself (beyond the one exercise ride he got on 2/8). Saddled up dressage, and he was licking & chewing the whole time I was getting him ready. I heard, "Thanks, Mom... missed ya."
He worked in the round pen on side reins (at 4) for about 15 minutes, then I hopped on. We worked on walk & trot only. I was having trouble with my left ankle - when I purposely put my heels down, the ankle was cramping... when I'd concentrate on relaxing the ankle, the rest of me was getting out of whack. I'm certainly out of practice.
Total work about 35 minutes. We had a good time walking around, enjoying each other again. He was all happies when I took the grooming stone to him, scrubbing out loose hairs from his rump. Cute boy!
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
Evelating .... and the Evelator Tuesday morning
Wheelchairs.... enuf said
They weren't regrets this time (neither one) - we did take the picture
*Wide Open Mouth pictures* ...wooooow
It was an amazing trip. A very refreshing vacation, at a time when I really needed it. Things with life (& work) had become entirely overwhelming, and I needed to get away from all of it. I spent the vacation almost living outside of my own life, but still being myself. I kept my quirky habits (like waking up at dark-thirty daily). I experienced things I never had, and got a chance to appreciate how great my life is.
It's great to be home, as I was surrounded my four legged companions yesterday evening. We all turned into bed pretty early. The horses fared well during the trip, though Ransom must've been missing me, as he's lost a little weight. It should come back pretty easily, with the round bale in the pasture, and him separate from Romeo again. At some time, I'll blog riding updates, as Cowboy Les babysat for me, giving both the boys some exercise.
Back to the grindstone. As I mentioned, I have Friday thru Sunday updates already written, saved as .docs on my personal PC. Should get around to loading those tomorrow. As for the photos, I have some cropping and such to do first - they're HUGE images, and I think Blogger would lock my account if I loaded them in full size.
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
T and I hung out at his house for the morning, creating the final two photo CDs, and then we enjoyed the full picture album of the trip. I couldn't have asked for a more gracious host. At the airport, check-in was a breeze. The gentleman that printed my boarding pass said to me, "You can just enter IAH in the box here, since that's just a connection." I replied, "Nope, that's the final." He said, "You're Texan? Serious?" LOL... "No , I'm a transplanted Yankee." I got the funniest, confused look. I guess I was starting to look like a resident...
After more relaxing & reflecting on the trip, it was time to say goodbye. I had the best vacation I've ever had, did more than I thought I could accomplish in four days, and enjoyed every minute.
After more picture gathering, downloading, and cd-creating, we headed for the highway. It was a day of Antebellum homes, full of culture & southern living nothing like what I heard about in school history.
Our trip began with Magnolia Mound, in Baton Rouge. Roger, our guide, was colorful, and filled with history knowledge. He promptly informed us this was a Colonial home, and "many things would be different." Further in the day, I realized this wasn't entirely true, but somewhat. The Magnolia home was small, of only five rooms, and one story. The rooms were simple, and housed the boy children on one side of the house, and the master on the same side as the girls' room. Their furnishings were simple, with matresses of spanish moss (ew!), but I was a bit surprised to see the colors on the walls - bright blue and yellow wall papers. The lighting candle fixtures were pretty ornate, the obvious work of a skilled carpenter. Something interesting - kitchens were in a building separate from the house, due to open-flame cooking, keeping the heat, and the fire risk, apart from the main home. In the business office of the house, there was a recreation of an old document, listing home and slave values. We were shocked to see the land value was meager compared to the value of the slaves. Roger could have talked for hours if we were interested in staying, but we had to move on to our next adventure.
Second up, a brief stop at the Plantation home, Dow Plaquemine. It's neat to feel like you've snuck into the employer's quarters on vacation. =) The doors were locked, but we did grab some great photo shots of the exterior.
Thirdly, Nottoway. It was much unlike all of the others, modernized, and under major construction. Instead of building replicas, though, they were building a cabins for bed & breakfast, and it was much more commercial than the rest. The restaurant was very ornate, and there was an amazing old piano in the room. Even though the plantation owner was a gracious host, and kept a good relationship with all incoming and outgoing ships, one aimed fire at the building, and we got a picture of the shot that hit the main home.
Finally, and perhaps the most beautiful, was Oak Alley. Everything about the plantation seemed true to time. Absolutely the entire estate was amazing. The gardens were well kept, and the grounds well tended. Our tour guide, Gilda, was a gracious host, and told colorful stories about the family that lived there, and the culture they lived under. I learned the most here - reflecting on what Roger had said earlier in the day, the things Gilda told us became real. As we left the house, she told T and I, "You have to walk up the alley, and listen to the trees. If you really pay attention, they'll tell stories you couldn't imagine." She also said before Katrina and Gustav, the trees were so thick "you couldn't see the daylight down that alleyway." The damage to them was still apparent, with large limbs removed. Still, I felt absorbed by the history walking down that alleyway. T gave me the camera, and I started applying some of the things I had seen all through the trip. I took at least a dozen shots walking down that alley, and hope to find one best to frame and hang.
With some rain clouds rolling in, and the tour wrapped up, we travelled back near NOLA for dinner. Met up with K, and enjoyed some great Italian feast, and great company. The original plan for that evening was everyone gathering at T's house for some of my good home cooking, but K had a pretty crummy day at the office, so we assembled at a spot convenient for him instead. Nice long, slow supper before T and I headed back for Baton Rouge.
To finish out the evening, we met with P at a coffee house in town for decaf and my final beignets. Oh YUM! Good every time. Once again, a relaxing time, and good conversation. But my trip was coming to a close, and it was time to head for some rest.
Sunday, February 8, 2009
It looked like this.
Amazing! I absolutely couldn’t believe how beautiful it all was.
We met up with P again and another friend of theirs, and attended Of Moving Colors “Looking Glass”. A really nice dance theater modeled after Tennesee Williams’ The Glass Menagerie and Picasso’s Girl Before A Mirror. They didn’t allow photography, so I have nothing to share but my memory of it. It was really good dance, and very nice movement with the music. I was impressed – definitely something I don’t see in my little town in Texas.
After the theater, the exhibit was open, so with a little time left before close, we ran upstairs to the Rodin exhibit. Very nice work. Pieces of his work The Gates of Hell were on display, along with photographs of the entire work. The detail and representation of the true human form was amazing. Even his over-exaggerated hands & torsos in other works were amazing. The casting of The Thinker was really nice!!
Our day ended with a long slow relaxing dinner at PF Changs, a restaurant I got to experience on a previous work trip here. It was just as amazing this time as it was before – very good food, great service, and nice atmosphere. A very good meal. Sitting at #2 after Sammy’s from Friday.
Saturday, February 7, 2009
First stop, New Orleans Museum of Art. Impressive art work. Very impressive. I saw pieces in person that I studied in Humanities at Geneva College. Pretty neat to see the stuff in person. I was stunned that there was no sign of Katrina damage. We were hoping to see the Faberge egg collection, but were disappointed to hear the collection owner had moved to Nashville, TN, and taken the eggs with them. Another family had donated other Faberge pieces, and they were on display. Interesting anyways. (This was one of those "don't use your camera rooms." That's all I got to say 'bout that... *snicker giggle*)
(Here's one of my favorite pieces at the museum - geez, wonder why...)
On the way into downtown, I was suddenly humbled. In most streets, you couldn’t even tell there had been a massive hurricane here a few years ago. Then, among a line of well painted, normal homes, I saw a house with plywood where the windows should be, and the symbol spray painted on the front. It was that spray paint pattern I’m sure everyone saw on the news – the one rescue crews used to identify they’d been in the house, found X number of dead animals, X number of dead people. I spent a while after that in quiet reflection, pretty darn grateful for all I have. Seeing that spray paint shaped the rest of my day, for sure.
Here's just one photo of many I snagged that captures some of the damage that hasn't been fully repaired. Check out the rear-view mirror in the car (COOL!) and the cinema sign...
The city was beautiful. We started out walking near the river, and I got to stand on one of the levees. It’s a big dirt wall, mostly, and I guess not a big concrete fort like I’d expected. There were barges and one cruise ship on the water, reminding me of the Steel City I grew up in.
Our walking tour of NOLA took us to Jackson Square, filled with local artists. Amazing artwork, and colorful people. There were a few musicians in the street, and a handful of palm-readers and fortune tellers. I skipped getting my fortune told, afraid of what they might say. Sure I would’ve loved good news, but I was afraid of bad news spoiling my fun. From the square, we went to Café DuMonde, where I experienced their coffee & beignets. Laughing, I said to T, “This is better than Oh-My-God from lunch yesterday. Am I dead? Did I die and go to heaven? Did I?” Soo yummie…. Covered in powdered sugar rushing through my blood, we continued our journey.
We went to the French Market, another street filled with vendors. There were Mardi Gras beads for sale everywhere, along with masks, and other assortments. I found a coffee cup there with all the common NOLA street names on it, adding another cup to my city collection.
After the French Market, my tour landed on Royal Street. It was filled with local artists shops, one after the other. I felt as if I was in another country, as I’d never been on a street filled with local art shops before. There were tours of mule-drawn carriages all through the town – a pretty cool sight. The mules looked mostly well cared for, body clipped, decent hooves (though needing trimmed IMHO), and good weight. I was happy to see them at good weights, and being worked in nice bits. Nothing looked harsh, and their drivers looked smart enough at the task.
Royal street, and a few more turns, and we were on Bourbon street. What an experience, even in daylight. Live music in nearly every bar, which was incredible. My ears experienced nearly every genre of music as we walked down the street. There were a few street performers standing on the corners, and when someone would put money in their basket or box, they’d perform a while, and then stop again. Pretty neat. We stopped in a bar called Fat Catz, and listened to the band a while. I was impressed that, knowing what the musicians had probably experienced in Katrina (and the cleanup), they still sang happy, played with great skill, and really looked like they enjoyed life.
T and I met up with P and another friend K and wife R. We all gathered at a seafood restaurant (Drago’s), and enjoyed a wonderful meal. The guys ordered charbroiled oysters, and I tried again. These were MUCH better than the oysters from Friday’s lunch, very very good. I ordered grilled redfish and veggies for my meal, and I was very impressed with the good quality. The fish was very light, and cooked wonderfully. Our waitress was wonderful, constantly checking on us (perhaps more than normal after the guys told her I was in on vacation). We enjoyed good food and great conversation. I’ve talked to these guys for years over the phone for work, and it was great to talk about anything but work in person, gathered at the table.
Then the decision was made to head back to Bourbon street after dark, and really let me experience the city after hours. It was completely different, much more lively, a bit of an organized chaos, well, not really organized. There were more street performers, one dance group that was pretty cool – all the dancing done with nothing more than willpower and a sheet of linoleum across the road. (As they described, they were a group on “America’s Got Talent”, but got beat out “by some gay cowboys”. Funny, but I wasn’t sure, since I hadn’t seen the show.) It was cool!! They had some microphones and speakers, and talked a lot during their performance. Right before they asked for donations, I was tickled. The guy said, “Ok, now, if you don’t pay us, we’re going to go back to robbing your houses, just like we did before we learned how to dance. So pay up. We accept 5s, and 10s, and for you white folks, 20s are great!” One gentlemen walked over to where we were standing, holding the basket, and said, “There, now, don’t you feel guilty? Payup!!” J Very funny for sure.
We ended the evening at a bar called Pat O’Briens, where the guys treated me to a Hurricane. Good stuff! “Sip it,” they said, and I took their advice. It was strong, but very very good. More great conversation, a lot of laughter, and a very relaxing time. We left there with me holding two hurricane glasses with their emblem on the side – cool souvenirs! Very cool!
As we walked back to the car, I was amazed at all of the people, but well protected by my tour guides. They felt more like escorts at this point, looking back every so often and making sure I hadn’t been lost in the crowd. I felt pretty safe, with all of them watching out for me.
Our night ended with me sound asleep by about 11:15, well cultured, and having felt like I spent the day in another country.
Friday, February 6, 2009
The flight was FABULOUS! Really short, getting in Baton Rouge about 20 minutes early! Yay!! T picked me up at the airport, and the adventure began.
Along with the capital building, we also visited the Pentagon, minus one “side”, removed for a street. Pretty cool! The weather was gorgeous, skyline visible for miles and miles. Amazing how much history was captured over time in each building’s construction, yet they managed to keep it from looking “added onto”.
With my SPA appointment coming, we left the city and headed for lunch. We went to a Cajun seafood barbeque place, Sammy’s. I decided then I was going to be adventurous and try new foods. And I did! I ate fried alligator (YUM), some shrimp and catfish that were nothing like anything in texas, fried oysters (yuck), and seafood gumbo (YUM). After a few bites of the fried shrimp, I looked at T and said “oh, my, God! That’s amazing good!” I repeated that many times in the meal, and afterwards, said to him, “We should have taken a picture. That was so good! WOW!”
With lunch accomplished, I was delivered to my SPA appointment, at Paris Parker. What an afternoon….. hmmmmm….. snooooooze. I had a full body massage (of which I slept through both arms, waking up realizing I’d fallen asleep somewhere after my neck was worked, but after my second arm went under the blankets. Darnit! J I wanted to be awake for that!! The rest of the massage was awesome, very relaxing. I finished up the afternoon with a manicure (with paraffin wax treatment –oooooh) and pedicure (happy feet). When my afternoon was completed, I was entirely relaxed, and slid deep into the passenger’s seat of the car.
Came back to T’s house, cleaned up, and headed for supper. We met up with another friend P for dinner. The evening began at a wine bar called “The Grape”. Our bartender, Robert, was a great help. I don’t have much wine experience, so I was incredibly unsure what to get. He offered up a Riesling that was very sweet and very smoooooth. We enjoyed a glass each with great conversation, and headed for dinner. Dinner was at a place called Kona Grill. There, I enjoyed Macadamia Nut Chicken – very good, indeed. Considering I’d been up since 3am, the guys indulged my wish to go home early and get to bed. We were at T’s house, and I was fast asleep around 10pm.
Thursday, February 5, 2009
Called them this morning after Romeo's order arrived last night. See, I decided to use up Chewie's paks on Ransom, noticing he was a little stiff. He's loosened up pretty good on the supplements I had Chew on, and I figured it was a good way to use 'em up. When Romeo's order arrived, I realized I had forgotten to call them before running out, and needed to scramble quick for a new order for Ransom.
The rep that answered the phone was cheerful & helpful, just like every other SmartPak person I've talked to. We talked about the supplement he was using, other things that are similar but less expensive. We also discussed Ransom's size, age, purpose, and things I'd like to do with him. The rep asked, "What color is he?" I explained him, and said, "Right now, he looks like a poofball." She laughed, and said, "That happens at our house too, even when we've got them all blanketed."
My new order is placed for Ransom, should be here in 4-5 business days. That leaves Ransom a little short, but starting on his new supplements when I return from vacation.
SmartPak is the way to go if you supplement! When you consider your time, and the hassle of preparing supplements from a large container, along with shelf life, this is much easier. No running out to the feedstore near closing time to find out they're out of your supps. No calling mail order companies and paying insane overnight delivery charges because you forgot to order before running out. They're packed up easily, shipped on a routine basis, and anytime anything needs changing with any horse, they're kind and helpful over the phone. I've called at least a dozen times, and never once have I been connected with an impolite or snotty representative. I've ordered tack supplies, supplements, holiday gifts, and never once had a bad ordering experience.
After about 50 mins or so of "work work", I unsaddled, brushed him out, crawled on bareback, and let him graze up some hay droppings by the barn. Just some relaxing time, enjoying him and Ransom, before heading out.
Oh, did I mention?! I'm going on V-A-C-A-T-I-O-N!!! I head out tomorrow for Louisiana, on a long weekend break. Hanging out with work friends that live in the area, and capture some culture in a place I haven't been. I've seen Baton Rouge from a hotel window, for work trips, but not really vacationed.
I'll take plenty of pictures, and will be taking my laptop along for blogging updates. Yes, Yes, I will try to blog the events of the day before I forget half of them. I can't guarantee the truthfulness of the accounts, but I'll do my best. :)
Wednesday, February 4, 2009
Walk, trot, canter, both ways! =) YahOO! Our canter-right was beautiful. Headed into the canter left I tensed up afraid he was going to run right into a standard that was just out of the way. I knew my toosh was tight, but couldn't concentrate enough on relaxing it. Canter right was awesome though...
Cooled down with a walk on the rail, deeep deeep into the corners. We were distracted a little by the trucks, four wheelers, and dogs sprinting up & down the neighbor's driveway, but still good ride.
Total work about 50 minutes. I lost track of time on the line - easy to do that when it's going so well.
Tuesday, February 3, 2009
Me: Hi, this is Jennifer __, I'm calling about a horse I bought in 2006. Registration # ____, Name ___ ___ Romeo.
AQHA: Is this Tyler ___?
Me: No, I said my name is Jennifer. I purchased Romeo from ___ when Tyler left Romeo at his house. He walked away from the horse, and his uncle sold Romeo to me.
AQHA: Tyler never signed the transfer papers transferring the horse from the breeder, or to transfer the horse to you. We need him to sign.
Me: I can't get him to sign, he bailed out on the horse. I will get DNA, I will get a hair sample, I will pay whatever fees are required, so you get your money, and I prove I have the horse in my yard.
AQHA: We can't do anything without his signature.
Me: That's unfortunate for you, because I'd like to show him in AQHA competitions. Given what I hear on the current state of the economy, I'd like to believe you would appreciate another competitor that pays, and another paying member on the roll.
AQHA: There's nothing we can do without his signature.
I give up. The kid leaves Romeo in College Station (where some of his care was questionable.. Okay, sucked). Romeo cribbed, and rather than buy a collar, they shot him with a BB gun when they caught him cribbing. (Lady of the house says, "He knows what a shot gun sounds like." I said, "Why?" She said, "I shot at him with a BB gun when he was chewing on my kid's playhouse.") I have put over a month's training on him, taught him things he never knew before, put a great deal of healthy weight on him, muscled him up, loved him to pieces, and rescued him from a family that "had no use for him" (their words, not mine).
I've called the AQHA three times. First call, they told me to get him registered, I had to send letters to the breeder and Tyler, get them to sign, agree to pay all fees, and it'd be done. Breeder responded, said he'd do whatever he had to. Tyler never responds. I called a second time, and they said "That was never yours to do. We'll take care of it, and call you back." They never called.
Third time, I get a "genius" on the phone that refuses to play nice. Fine! I'm calling it out. THAT SUCKS! There's no reason why they can't compromise on the situation. Even the Jockey Club has more reasonable practices when it comes to lost records or mishandled paperwork. There's no excuse for their level of disagreement on the issue.
If anyone has any tips on what else I can do, Please Please let me know... Otherwise, looks like my show future with him will be limited to Opens and Working Cow Horse functions.. Because I won't waste my cash at "Open AQHA-sponsored" events. No reason to - apparently they don't think Romeo's worth it.
Monday, February 2, 2009
Jenn took off the lunge line, I thought so I could walk Ransom out. I dropped my stirrups, and she said, "Might wanna keep those. We're not done yet." OH crap... Haven't done anything with Ransom in the arena off the line in anything but my western saddle. Oh crap... Just stay calm, breathe,, it's no big deal.
And, it wasn't. If I crept my hands up the reins, he'd tense up & be ugly, but when I relaxed enough to let the reins out, the trot was gorgeous. Worked on walk and trot only, on the rail, with direction changes at the trot. Pretty cool!! A lesson full of big accomplishments, and a very happy proud me. A bit over an hour with Ransom... good ride though!
I left all my western tack at Les's house in his trailer, so grabbed Romeo and jumped on bareback. He was a little sensitive & touchie from his cowboy ride, but still good. Got through the little pole-obstacles at the trot, on direct contact (yup, without me having death grip on his mane). Got some decent haunches turns, a few good rollbacks, and nice back-ups through the L-shape. He refused to side pass with a pole underneath him, but did it just fine away from the pole. He was good, a bit of a dork, a bit stubborn, but good. It was pretty cool trotting him around all over the place bareback with direct reins. WOo hoo!
Wheee!! His warm-up was short, and easy. Ransom totally had work on his mind, and I was anxious to hop on. Starting out at the trot, Les said to me, "It looks like he's pulling you forward. Is it supposed to be like that? Loosen your reins a little, and let's see what happens." I let my reins out a few inches, they went to flapping loose. o O ( We're in a circle ) O o I thought o O ( What could he possibly do wrong in this little circle ) O o Les and I briefly discussed the differences between an English body position and Western body position. He might be starting to understand that my "shoulders / hip / heel" alignment has a purpose...
Ransom almost immediately dropped his neck & bent at the poll, settling into a beautiful trot. It was light & floaty, ground-covering, and, I was sitting straight upright! No more of that bending-forward carp I habitually ride into. Les exclaimed, "All this time, I thought you were leaning forward. It was never that. He's pulling you forward, asking for more rein. Now you know, if you feel pitched forward, let out your reins. He's giving you a cue to get you sitting back upright."
o O ( So THAT'S what Ransom's been telling me all this time. I thought he was just avoiding bit contact. He was asking to stretch down & pretty. Much easier that way than fighting him into the contact. ) O o
We finished up our ride with a little canter, and me happy. Unfortunately, my right thigh is not so happy. I had a teensie tiny ittie bittie hole in my TuffRider Cotton Pull on Breeches. My favorite winter riding pants - heavy cotton, dark blue, just held up well in cooler weather. That teensie tiny ittie bittie hole was right underneath the stirrup cover flap. It managed to grab just enough skni through that little hole, tearing my skin up. OWCHIE! I'm sporting a little bandaid there now (which unfortunately came off during Sunday's lesson.. dang it - Must find another way to cover owwie until it heals). Total work about 30 minutes, keeping it light for Sunday's lesson.
Grabbed Romeo, hooked up the trailer, and headed out. On the highway to Les's, BANG! Another trailer tire blew. That's three now... Only got one more to go before I'll have a set of four new ones. Dangit! Changed the tire, and headed back out.
Stopped at Les's house to grab two of his horses, and Shorty, and headed to the arena. The guys roped, I watched, pushed cows, and had fun. Romeo was great. Les rode him first, and while they disagreed about the gas/brake, Romeo settled into a light canter, and a good stop. He gave me a great ride.
I discovered one cause of our turn on haunches problems. ME! Asking for the turn, I started to think through my whole body, head to toe. When I got to my upper torso, it hit me - I'm leaning forward. With my leg still on him, I leaned back to -upright-, and Romeo swiftly started to turn. Planted that back hoof, and turned right on the spot. WOW! Little fart... he's been holding out on me. That's okay, he was waiting for me to get it right... little fart.
Grabbed Ransom & dressage tack, anxious. Warmed him up, and still I was excited for a good ride. Unfortunately, I thought for some reason I could ride him in cowboy boots and jeans in my dressage saddle. OWCH! Skin just above my boot line kept grabbing a little calf skin and pinching. I worked through it for walk/trot and a tiny bit of canter. Proud that I rode through the pinching, but more happy I accomplished a little canter and a solid trot, I put him away. Total work 40 minutes.
Short rides, but good workouts for both, and the rider.