Wednesday, March 31, 2010

3/30/2010 When Nothing Happens

Here's a snapshot of what I've learned in the last four days.

I hate sitting still.
Drugs help, but not mitigate the pain.
Medicine and doctors SUCK. Doctors are rude & stupid, and hospitals are filled with idjits.
I have NO patience for repeating myself, or being interrupted. By ANYONE.

Sunday, they said pulled muscles. Gave me a host of pills. Sunday night, my stomach shot it's contents across the room, violently. Doctor's office had NO answering service. Through a friend of a friend of a.. Found the Dr.s pager #. Boy was he ticked when he called back. After much arguing, he called in a prescription for my striking tummy.

Monday, back to the doctor. Blood in the urine. Went to the hospital, waited 45 minutes, yelled at a desk clerk for not correctly processing paperwork, all for a 5 minute test.

Sat all day yesterday, stoned, hoping to heal. Tried hand washing one skirt in the bath sink, and ended up doubled over, pain at a 7out of 10, wishing I'd die. Took more drugs, slept it off.

Today, Doctor's PA calls, to tell me, "Kidney stone on the right (it hurts on the left), and should pass normally." Other things found on the CT Scan from Monday, unrelated we think to the pain. More tests scheduled, maybe today, but honestly, I'm thinking tomorrow.

So, I go back to an old stand by. Chiropractor at 1pm. I don't know if he can fix it, but this is BULL. I can't bend, I can't walk, I can't sit on the couch without pain. Hard chairs? Forget it.

Pray hard, for answers. The chemist in me says "tell me why!" The human side of me is a bit simpler "Make it stop hurting."

Thanks ya'll. I'll post as I can. It shall be understood at this point the horses hate me, because I am not doing the feeding, I can't ride, and I can hardly stand up to pet them hello. It sucks, and they know it, too.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Tomorrow's blog details will be "don't talk down to me". Been sick over the weekend & now I see why medicine needs fixin. Stay tuned.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Friday Fill Ins

1. The right word is Go!

2. I'd like a night of peace & quiet, just us, and shut the door quietly, please.

3. Up and over.

4. Sitting at my desk, doing Friday Fill Ins is where you'll find me.

5. Ooh! What is that bump on your noggin?

6. Finding some reliable Prix Caprilli tests is a good idea.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to Ransom dressage, tomorrow my plans include planting annuals in the flower beds and Sunday, I want to rest!

3/25/10 We Did It!

If you saw the short snippet last night, you know the good news. I got Ransom out after work, got him all wrapped, dressed, and warmed up.

Hopped on, and found him a little stiff & stickie. He had Wednesday off, after a tough dressage day Tuesday. Figuring he just needed a longer warmup, I pushed him forward, and he broke gait a few times. Geez whiz, sure is a lazy bum.

I know just what'll cheer him up & get those legs stretched out. I set up a cavaletti rail 8" up (two stackers), vertical pole, right where the crossrail had been. Got him up in canter, got me up in two point, practiced a few releases, and headed to the cavaletti.

Point, squeeze. drat!
Ransom broke to a trot *right* in front of the cavaletti, stepped over it, and trotted away. Stinker booger monster! I halted him, and regrouped. To get him to realize it was "ok" to canter over, it was going to take a little motivating from me to get him out forward over it.

Back to a 2point trot, up in 2point canter, kiss kiss kiss, look at the jump, I said to Ransom, "Look. Look. You see it? Now, let's go!" I kissed to him softly a few strides in front of the fence.

Jump! Well, *laugh* No, not really a jump. More like an extended stride with a little elevation. *giggle* But he didn't break gait, and he stayed in canter away. I repeated this a few times, with no break in stride. Took a little trot and walk break to think. There were some things I didn't like about him, or me, and they needed some attention.

Shoulders, releasing, and most of all EYES. I wasn't looking, again. Not at the ground, not at the treetops, nothing. As we were landing, I was looking sharp to the right. Ransom was answering, trying to lean his body and quickly turn. I'm sure he saw the other cross rail set up, and thought that was his cue - to go get it.

I got back into a 2point canter, skipped the cavaletti a time or two, and then did it again. One good, two leaning, on three he broke to a trot again. Back to a walk, regroup. It was me, all the way, entirely, 100%. I didn't kiss to him in front, I'd become loose in my legs, and I wasn't concentrating.

Back up to canter, and I told him, "It's been a long ride, sweetie. One more jump, and I'll let you quit." Look, eyes, heels, shoulders.. Up & over. That time, he most certainly without doubt, JUMPED. I looked up to the top left of the treetops over the fence, and until the second stride away, I didn't look right. He's too tuned to my body language, and I don't need tight turns just yet. I need straight lines. The last fence, the last jump, I promise you I saw white feet. Only white on Ransom - his back feets. I swear I saw his back end, and white feet. How did that happen? I haven't a clue. But I promise, I saw whites.

We did it! We did it! We Did it! I've cantered a jump. Not a big one, Yeah I know.. But that's serious progress! I'm totally thrilled with myself. Equally, I'm elated with Ransom. He didn't take off heading to the cavaletti, he didn't take off heading away. At no point did I feel "out of control", like he was going to run away with me, or it was faster than I could go with. YAY!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

canter over 8" cavaletti. complete. funnn... more tomorrow

Humor For the Day

No ponies last night, so no updates on rides for today. It was sprinkling rain, which was much nicer than the horrendous downpours we have been getting about weekly.

However, I stumbled on an old email I received quite some number of years ago, and I thought I'd share... Enjoy!

THINGS YOU'D LOVE TO SAY OUT LOUD:

1. I can see your point, but I still think you're full of crap.
2. I don't know what your problem is, but I'll bet it's hard to pronounce.
3. How about never? Is never good for you?
4. I see you've set aside this special time to humiliate yourself in public.
5. I'm really easy to get along with once you people learn to see it my way.
6. I'll try being nicer if you'll try being smarter.
7. I'm out of my mind, but feel free to leave a message.
8. I don't work here. I'm a consultant.
9. It sounds like English, but I can't understand a darn word you're saying.
10. Ahhh...I see the screw-up fairy has visited us again...
11. I like you. You remind me of myself when I was young and stupid.
12. You are validating my inherent mistrust of strangers.
13. I have plenty of talent and vision; I just don't give a darn.
14. I'm already visualizing the duct tape over your mouth.
15. I will always cherish the initial misconceptions I had about you.
16. Thank you. We're all refreshed and challenged by your unique point of view.
18. Any connection between your reality and mine is purely coincidental.
19. What am I? Flypaper for freaks!
20. I'm not being rude. You're just insignificant.
21. It's a thankless job, but I've got a lot of Karma to burn off.
22. And your cry-baby whiny-butt opinion would be...?
23. Do I look like a people person?
24 This isn't an office. It's Hell with fluorescent lighting.
25. I started out with nothing -still have most of it left.
26. Sarcasm is just one more service we offer.
27. If I throw a stick, will you leave?
28. Errors have been made. Others will be blamed.
29. Whatever kind of look you were going for, you missed.
30. I'm trying to imagine you with a personality.
31 A cubicle is just a padded cell without a door.
32. Can I trade this job for what's behind door #1?
33 Too many freaks, not enough circuses.
34. Nice perfume. Must you marinate in it?
35. Chaos, panic, disorder - my work here is done.
36 How do I set a laser printer to stun?
37. I thought I wanted a career; turns out I just wanted a salary.
38. I'm tired.....what's your excuse!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

3/23/10 Dressaaaage

The next show I'm thinking about is in April at Sienna. Probably only training level, unless I can get these pesky Prix Caprilli tests figured out. I'm finding them a little confusing, and can't find two links that say the same things for the tests.

Ransom and I danced for about 45 minutes yesterday. We focused primarily on trot to canter transitions. To start this, I did halts to walk collected, then walks to trot collected. Trots to canter weren't perfect yet, but canters back to trot were nice. All the down transitions were quite pretty. Well, the scheduled ones, at least. He broke gait a few times, but I suspect it's a little tired, a little lazy, and a little "hey look at the cows, Mom!"

Speaking of cows, I learned yesterday the distraction to cow-panic is busy feet. He took a long hard look at them heading our way last night, and I pushed him away from them, towards the other side of the arena, and picked up a trot. Anytime I had his attention, I left him alone, quiet reins, quiet legs. If he got all wiggly eyed at the trot, I'd tap inside rein, inside leg, and push him forward. Distractions, distractions.. the darn cows.. :)

We had a good time. No jumps, no cavalettis, just flat work on the rail and in 20m circles. I didn't even ask for a lead change. One time, canter-right, we got to the spot I did many lead changes in last week. I saw the cows up to the far left of us, I looked at them, and Ransom made a quick break to trot and tried to change leads. He saw where I was seeing, and was trying to change direction for me. :) Good boy, and cute that he caught what I was doing rather than what I was intending.

Tonight, we rest. Perhaps tomorrow, too, in some effort to get his energy back up a little. I'm anxious to get the fear monsters out and canter-to a fence. I just need to get it over with & do it. What's Momma keep telling us? Shut Up And Ride!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Don't Bother Disagreeing with Me

I'll just delete the comments. This isn't an issue I take lightly, which would be why I've been so quiet about it until right now.

http://whitehouse.blogs.foxnews.com/2010/03/23/obama-signs-health-insurance-overhaul-bill/

I think I just threw up peanut butter sandwich lunch in my throat.
The whole thing is wrong in SO many ways. I don't know where to begin.
They didn't debate the current bill correctly, or fairly.
They didn't even consider there may be a better way.
They voted for it, but won't be following it themselves.

If you voted for any of these people, and disagree with what they're doing, you better start calling, mailing, emailing, and blogging. Call them out & demand an explanation. Everyone in my region "got it right." Senate and House.

Here's an awesome blogger who describes the issue very well. Enjoy the read!
http://preachersandhorsethieves.blogspot.com/2010/03/what-does-it-all-mean.html

English PSA Revisited

http://hunterintraining.blogspot.com/2009/10/english-psa.html
I've seen some things lately that lead me to believe this needs revisited. So here it is for your enjoyment.

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/You're
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.

IT IS NOT
You're dog is cool.
Your invited to dinner tomorrow night.

There/Their/They're
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,

IT IS NOT
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*

3/22/10 True Hunters

Ransom was up & nearly dressed when I got home from work. Thank you, R!

I got my clothes changed, polo legs wrapped, and to the arena we go! Warmed him up on a free lunge a little bit, but it took quite a bit of pushing to keep him moving. He's been working pretty steadily for the last two weeks, so I kept that short.

Hopped aboard, and had some FUN! I let him move out out OUT in the trot. Big and forward, just accepting contact. A nice full working trot. His ears were flat out all over the place, and I felt springie bouncy in his strides. The canter was AWESOME! I rode it sitting just a bit, then reached up into two point. I loosened the reins, and whooped & hollered a bit. Wheee! Here he goes! Come on Ransom, stretch out those legs! You're a big horse, get there! His stride was humongous, and felt incredible. That's how he's supposed to feel, and it felt good!

With two cross rails set up, I rode both "facing towards home." Enter at trot, JUMP, depart at canter. Wheeeee! Awesome still. He wasn't over-jumping, and reached out a bit early a few times. I was settled into a full release quite a ways before the fence, just kind of letting him pick his spot in front of the fence. Heading out left over the fence, I started counting strides. With the crossrail set up about half way down the arena, there were six full strides before we had to turn down the short side. That ought to be more than enough for now.

I'm working up the courage to try a canter-to. I don't know when it'll happen. Most of my amazing, "Hey let's try this" stuff has happened lately when I'm alone, and nobody's watching. I have a feeling it's coming very soon. I think I know what my hang-up is about it - I'm concerned he'll take off really early, and I won't be ready. I'm worried I'll whack him in the mouth, and he'll really get ticked off, land, and toss a fit. (Something he's NEVER done)

Speaking of mouths.. I rode the show in the twisted wire O ring. Last night, I got the French Link O ring back out. Happy mouthed pony! Green cookie spit all over. R commented "When you got him going, the spit was dripping out of his mouth after just a little while." Neat O! Happy Pony Ransom!

Tonight, we dressage! Next show in the calendar in my mind is Sienna April 10 & 11. Two day dressage show. Day 1, the 10th, is a judge I rode for last year, that had plenty of compliments for us as a pair. I'd love to see some improved scores from her.

And that reminds me.. Sienna also has Prix Caprilli tests... jumping in dressage... hmm.. Must peek at test patterns... hmmmmm.....

3/20/10 The Classes

I'll summarize as best I can. I didn't attend the event with the hopes of being true competition, or pinning high. I attended to overcome the fears in my head that place had given me. I wanted to get my flat classes accomplished. Hear the announcer call out "Canter your horses", swing up into a canter, and ride it.

Hunter Under Saddle - All gaits, both directions, were quite beautiful. Transitions were NOT amazing, but Ransom did move out nice & easy, didn't fight the bit, and didn't fight my tension. Jen took some pictures, and there was a photographer there for that class. I paid close attention to a few things - where was everyone else in the arena to stay out of traffic, and where were the photographers. I have plenty of pictures of me with a serious concentrating expression. And darn it! I wanted a couple looking happy!

Hunter Rail Discipline - Um... Counter-canter?! Eek! I didn't even THINK to practice that! Crap! All my Training Level tests not only ask for canter in the corners, but it's on the "correct" lead. We blew it heading left on the right lead (He never did get it), but we got it heading right on the left lead. *LOL* In fact, in one corner of counter-canter heading right, I laughed right out loud. Ransom broke to trot the instant I took my inside leg off, and switched to the "correct" lead. He sure was trying!! Judge also asked for side passing... and while it wasn't perfect, he did it. Best yet - he side passed INTO those horse-munching cow chutes. Good Boy!

Hunter Equitation Pattern - Cones A - D all in a line, about 20ft apart. Enter rising trot Cone A. Trot to B, circle at B on left diagonal. Upon return to B, change diagonal to C. Halt at C, back up four steps, depart canter right lead, Halt at D.
The pattern was tight, with little space to accomplish the movements. Our trot circle was pretty, um, circular (But, thinking about it, probably a 10m circle or smaller). Halt was nice, backup was good (yes, he backed up!). Canter never did feel like a canter, and the halt was a little beyond D. Jen said he did depart at canter, but had the left lead. I seriously never felt a canter-like movement from C to D.

After Equitation, I hopped off, and loosened my girth. I'd accomplished the goal. Jen gathered our three ribbons, and we packed up for home. I was home waaaay before dark, and by dark, had all my things washed, hanging to dry, pony & supplies put away, cooler unpacked, and all the kids fed & watered.

Monday, March 22, 2010

3/20/10 Warming Up Inside

I dismounted for the walk into the show ring. That meant I had to walk through puddles, and as I got to the puddles heading into the arena, I wished I had stayed mounted. Once in the arena, I checked his girth, checked his mood, watched his eyes, and mounted back up.

Headed left to start, and as I did, I realized I was pretty much against traffic. Oh well, Ransom got to the cow-chute end of the arena, and got a little tense & buggy-eyed. I patted, pet, soothed, talked, sang, anything to keep his ears on me. After two laps around, he relaxed. I switched to walk-right. Same thing, only more buggy eyes. He tensed up in a couple spots, and walked sideways a bit, avoiding contact twisting his neck around the monsters that lived under the bleachers and behind the cow chute. More soothing words, more neck pats, and I did all I could to unclench my butt from the saddle. Can't relax him if I don't relax, too.. breathe,.. sing.. breathe...

Finally we picked up a trot, and that went mostly well. We weaved in and out of traffic, and made some quick jerks to stay out of others' way. I laughed hard at one lady who was heading opposite me, stuck on the rail, as she glared at me with a face that said, "I'm better, and I ain't moving." Her equitation suggested otherwise, but knowing I was tense & probably hideously ugly, I didn't let my thoughts show.

Announcer called out over the speaker, "Okay, we've got about five minutes left of warm up, and we'll need everyone to exit the riding area." I realized time was running short, so knowing the canter had to happen, I switched to heading right, and asked coming out of a corner. The transition wasn't pretty, but the movement was. da dadump da dadump, da dadump, in my head as I counted out the footfalls in his stride. Same deal heading left - solid, quiet, transition iffie, but overall, really nice.

I almost ran into the same human trainer-lady twice. The first time, she walked right in front of us without looking. The second time, she made the mistake of looking up at me. "I'm not moving, sorry", I said to her. If you're on two feet, in an arena full of horses, it should be understood the horses have the right of way, especially if you walk out in traffic! I'm bigger! I win! *laugh*

Thinking time was up, I exited the show ring for the prep area, and dismounted. It'd be a few more minutes before they got started, but the Bridle Path Hack, and 40+ riders HUS went before my age group.
The announcer called my class. Four of us total for Hunter Under Saddle in the 19-39 group.

Enter the arena at a rising trot. You are being judged when you pass the cones.
Here goes nothing...

3/20/10 The WarmUp Arena

Parents of little ones - turn their faces.. I usually try to keep the blog rated G for families, but I got to here..
Jen and I braved what turned out to be some horrid, crappy weather. As we got closer to the show grounds, A huge horrendous shitty rain storm and cold front pounded the truck. I am usually a brave driver, but a smart one. I pulled off to a gas station, and set Ransom's trailer in the cover. Hail, lightening, thunder, heavy rain, harsh winds. Nasty Nasty for about 20 minutes.

We arrived at the fairgrounds, and made the decision to leave Ransom in the trailer with his hay & mats. The stalls are tiny, he's big, and honestly, not worth the payment just to lock him up in a box and have him stress out. The trailer didn't do him much better, and I need to rethink how to handle these situations for the future. I got registered, and didn't see hide or hair of that Evil Man (EM) who opened the gate on us before. Good thing, I muttered to myself, I'd hate to whoop some hiney before we even get tacked up.

While we waited, Ransom stomped some serious dents in the horse compartment in the trailer, left us all kinds of potty presents, and made it entirely clear that waiting was not his game. I got him out for a while, and walked him to the arena, let him sniff & look inside and out. He wouldn't stand still, and didn't cause a huge scene, but didn't stand still, either. Entirely anxious to get going.. I completely understood & agreed with him.

I waited and waited and waited and waited. I almost chickened out, and got back in the truck to go home. Finally, around noon, it was time to tack up, change, and get to showing. Jen and I saddled him up, wrapped his legs, and I got dressed. The wind was still howling, but the rains had stopped, and the sun was squirting out of some breaks in the clouds. Jen graciously agreed to lunge him for me, and I watched with great intent. He warmed up beautifully. It was hard to hear in the wind, but Jen said he got all the gaits good, was listening to clucks, kisses, and "shhhs" in the up & downs, and was ready for me.

I looked around, saw everyone was leaving the arena, and decided, "It's now or never. I'm bigger, badder, and better than this damn arena. I'm going to canter in here, I'm going to go right & left, and I won't leave until I do. Footing's a little deep, but Ransom handled it FINE at Banshee for HM, he can do it here. Ain't no way I'm quitting now."

I mounted up, I walked, I trotted, I changed directions. His transitions weren't life-changing amazing, but for Ransom, in the cold wind, he was soft. His gaits were slow, he wasn't fighting me all the time. He wasn't tense, for sure.

I looked, I breathed hard, exhaled sharp, sang to myself, and squeezed. Up into canter-right.

I don't even remember seeing the gate, or who might've been watching. I glanced at Jen once or twice standing in the middle of our circle, and concentrated on the footing a few times. I only remember thinking, "Breathe, shoulders back & open, heels down, move with him, sing sing sing, breathe, relaaaaaax. He's soo slow, wiggle the bit, back on contact, head back down. Okay, three circles done, now breathe.. shhhhhh, squeeze the reins, back to trot."

Heading left, it was much of the same. I was relieved, happy, tickled, giddy, darn out right pleased with myself. We did it! The warm up in the outdoor arena has been conquered! I know he didn't look purdy perfect, but he was My Ransom, and My Babysitter. Even though I was not the best rider at that moment, it got softer, and my seat relaxed some.

Could we carry that same calmness into that rodeo style show arena? There were plenty of horses in there, I could see them through the bleachers. But if Ransom had the booger monster cootie fears, I needed to see it in the warm up, not in our first class. I needed to know just how awesome he was going to be, or how much I had to stay calm for him.

(By this point in the day, I almost couldn't care less what else we did. I had gotten through canters in the warm up outdoor arena, the same place that broke my shoulder & destroyed any courage I had left. I was terrified that arena and those fairgrounds were out to kill me, and I was certain the management wanted me on my bottom in the dirt. But we'd done it, and I can check it off the list.)

3/22/10 Helmets!

http://www.heatherblitz.info/Heather_Blitz/Welcome_.html

http://www.heatherblitz.info/Heather_Blitz/Sales.html

Okay folks. I need someone to 'splain this one to me. Check Heather's front page of the website, and her "Call to Action".

Next, click on the Sales Page, and watch the video for Noble Art.

Now, what's wrong with this picture? I've commented on her Facebook Fan page, asking what's up with jumping without a helmet. Who's got the courage to comment there with me?

I refer back to my Facebook Status of March 2...
Don't tell me how to "do it right." Show me...

Saturday, March 20, 2010

We froze but we did it. Two classes in last & one second to last. I'm still happy. We rode canter in the outdoor, in traffic, and in judged classes.

Friday, March 19, 2010

3/19/10 The Final Day

Grabbed Ransom up out of his pasture, and made the decision of "no fences at the show". I wasn't going to force him to do something up there I wasn't 100% comfortable with at home. No reason to freak us both out, right?

So I worked on all the things I could think of we'd need in our three pre-registered classes.
Transitions - better, but still not stellar
Quiet on contact - Nice low head & neck, easy gaits, quiet, slow movement
Flying Changes - Still stuck with those little 2 trots in between, but I didn't push the issue. When he changed quietly, I left him alone.
Extending trot & canter - What a blast! I leaned up into two point, clucked and/or kissed, depending on the gait, and allowed him to move out.. He was quite happy with this, ears perked forward, and a little snortling in glee. Goober!! He LOVES going somewhere, and made that entirely clear to me.
Sidepassing, Turns on Fore & Rear - good! He sidepasses.. what a Jumper Pony! *giggle* The turns got better with each ask, so I didn't force the issue.

With our ride complete, I knew all I was going to know, and most importantly, our basics were as good as they were going to get in that short amount of time.

Got Ransom a bath, clean up clipped, Laser Sheen all over. Shiny!! =)

3/18/10 Getting Ready

After work I prepped myself for another cram session for the show. Having finished college & graduate school, I seriously thought I was done "shoving information down my throat last minute." Such was not the case.

Things we worked on & How'd they go?
Quiet Transitions - Fair... some were great, some were ickie yuck
Jumping - One fence trot in, great. I tried setting rails on the diagonal, 6 strides apart, but when I got up on Ransom, saw how close #1 was to the corner, and how close up #2 looked, I couldn't muster the courage. More on this in a bit
Flying changes - Curious. I'm sure he has them; I mean, what show jumper doesn't at those heights he was jumping? Ain't any way that big monster doesn't have a flying change cue. Could I find it? Nah... What I did do - simple changes with 2-3 strides of trot in between. Now THOSE he had figured out. It took us a while, and he did toss in some counter-canter when he got sick of changing direction & leads.
Turns on Forehand & Haunches - Not so bad. A bit of bickering, but they were slowly getting better.

Now, back to the jump... Neighbor's cows were off in the distance when I got to the arena. They were grazing quietly, so after some lookie lookie, I pushed Ransom into a working walk & trot. He settled down. The cows walked lazily over to our fence line, and all but one wandered back behind the trees. One remaining courageous cow came towards the little bit of pasture between the fence line & the near trees, saw the herd had changed their mind, and waddled over to join them. No panic attacks for the pony, nor his Momma. A good deal! With that one last cow walking up to its buddies, I did get some good working trot in, and some jumps facing away from that pasture. No big deals, no issues, no spooking. Fantastic!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Public Service Announcement

I feel like the Big Kid in the city now...

My Census came in the mail yesterday.
I filled it out today.
It's pretty simple, and doesn't ask much.
How many people live in the home
Is it paid for, in a loan, rented, or owned by someone else
Name
Age
Race
Phone Number (which they state is so they can ask questions if they need to)

So, I must wonder... Why would they need to call if those are the only questions they're asking? What's so difficult about that above information? Maybe if you can't follow instructions and check the boxes?
hmmm... If they do call me, I'm gonna laugh hard!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

03/16/10 To the Left Flank, March!

So it's not a 180degree turn, but a slight change in programming. Only slight...

Ransom and I are going to attend an Open Show this Saturday. I'll link the details for the event, um, maybe before we go, maybe after. Don't want anybody following me up there to accuse me of stealing ribbons from a kid now.. We will be organized in classes by age group if that makes ya'll feel any better.

Jen and I have been discussing hunter shows, dressage shows, and my plans for the year. See, I want to get a solid canter to at the fences before attending a big level show like GHHJA. They have one flat class and two to three fence classes per division in hunters.

The show we're attending this weekend and I have a little history. It goes something like this ..

Samantha had been working with Chewie for a month solid. Four to five rides a week. He was muscled, fit, obedient, and moving nice on little cues. I could get him in a canter without a lot of difficulty, and he was generally cooperating. I had brought him home for a week or so when Sam and I decided we'd take him to a show, ride a few hunter flat classes, and have complete disregard for their scoring, simply getting me out cantering in a group would be progress.

We got to the show the night before, Sam and her BF at the time arrived Saturday morning. I put Chewie in a halter class, and much to our surprise, took second in the class out of about fifteen horses. We laughed at the judge, because I had NO CLUE why I'd been pulled out of the line-up of horses. It was a whole classload full of big bukly QHs and Paints, all Halter-style horses, along with a few home-bred varieties. And then there was OTTB Chewie. Judge pulled us out third, then later said to the girl in front of me, "Oh wait, you need to switch places with her", pointing at me. THEN I realized what he was doing. What a delight to win second in halter! I was on cloud nine.. Okay, honestly, cloud ten. A class full of big haltery critters, and my TB took second! I didn't care what anyone else said to me at that moment, I was a superstar.

Later in the day, Sam and I saddled Chewie, talked about what we were going to do with him, and I got on. We rode him out in the practice arena, because the show arena was FULL of riders. Probably 30plus in there at the moment. The middle of the practice arena was a puddle of water & mud, so we agreed to stay at the rail where it was safe.

We rode walk, trot, and canter-left. Changed direction, walk right, trot right, canter right (Always been his bad direction at canter..). He went into it real nice. Sam called out, "Get those heels down, so you don't lose him! LOOK where you're going." And just as I was processing what she said, it happened.

I saw the gate at the end of the arena
Wide open
And an adult man standing opening the second gate, and walking around to the tractor outside the rail.
I looked at the gate,
Decided I better turn quick, before Chewie takes us both right out of the arena
I turned hard
He didn't
I fell straight off his shoulder, landing hard on my right shoulder.

We scratched our canter classes, and ended up placing rather well in walk/trot. I however had one helluva sore shoulder, and a seriously bruised ego. I was nearly terrified to even get back on him, let alone my anger towards the fella that just had to open the gate while we were in there without even saying a word. Sam's BF almost had a discussion with the man, but she talked him out of it. It took another two weeks for me to see a doctor who did XRays and an MRI to prove my shoulder had been broken.

My worst injury in the time I owned Chewie. Not our biggest splat, but my worst injury. I was so angry. NO ONE at the show grounds came to check on me, and nobody wanted to help me load my things at the end of the day. I couldn't move my right arm by day's end, and still remember the pain the following day trying to disconnect the trailer. I was horrified that nobody even bothered to say, "Hey, are you alright?"

The show management has now changed hands, and honestly, even if it hadn't, I still would be considering attending. Why? What would make me want to face that place again?

Flat out determination. I refuse to let this tape play in my head anymore of falling and getting hurt. One way I know to get rid of it, is to face the worst place I've ridden, and get a clean canter out in the practice ring, and in the show ring. I'm 100% determined to accomplish it this weekend. Will we ribbon? I don't know. We won't be the slowest AQHA-type horse in the ring, for certain. Ransom won't deliberately go slow, and I'm okay with that. What Ransom will do, is stay relaxed, and protect me from my fear.

Countdown to Open Show ... 4 Days

03/15/10 And So What We Have Learned Applies to Our Lives Today...

If you have ever seen or listened to anything Veggie Tales, read that subject heading again...And God has a Lot to Say In His Book (bamboo bamboo bamboo).. etc.. If you get songs stuck in your head like I do.. Haa Haa! Enjoy humming that in your ears all day!!!

Poor Ransom, I knew it was day 5, but rain was predicted for Tuesday, and not knowing how wet it'd get, I wanted to reinforce Sunday's lesson, make sure he learned it, and make sure I knew how to force the issue.

We rode together for about 45 minutes. His trot to canter transitions were atrocious, and need working again. I tried a couple walk to canters, and those were quite pretty and relaxed. Funny horse...

Trot cavaletti only twice each way, and not one after the other, but spread out through the ride. Any time I felt him get lazy and toe-dragging, I went through the cavaletti to "wake up his brain." I found the trot would get really pretty a while, then lazy back again.. and back to the cavaletti we went.

Ran through the canter poles three times each way, again. Once heading left, to start, he broke to trot... I forced a canter in the middle of them, refusing to let him think lazy was the answer. All the other canter pole sets we did, all stayed in canter, and they were quite nice. Not perfect, as it still feels like he rips away from them all-out... That might be a side-effect of my pushing him with my hips through the poles. I'm trying to keep him in the canter through all three poles, and if I have to slow him after, well, for now that's okay.

So, we're getting better. The lesson was effective, for both of us. I felt a little more open, and had enough courage to push through the canter poles. Bigger and better, I was able to relax enough before the canter poles to say to myself, "heels down, shoulders open, breathe!" It's progress!!

And so we know that God's word is for everyone
And now that our song is done
We'll take a look!
=)
Have a great day everybody!!!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Fugly Done Wrong ... Done it All Wrong

Of course the account is suspended this morning.. Just when I finally found something to call Her out on.... Anyways.. I told Sarah I'd do this, and I'm good on my word.

I found a Fugly post yesterday, troubling, and amusing. She told the tale of a trainer entering a seasoned world-class show Appy horse in a novice hunt seat class at a local schooling show, kickin' ass & takin' names.

Now, ya'll know me to be fair & usually a good "loser" at shows. I don't like being dead-last, but in my dressage tests, I always try to score higher, learn something, and improve myself. I don't ride dressage to "beat the other riders", nor for the ribbons. I ride dressage for the score sheets and the comments, always trying to get better. That being said, I have a HUGE pet peeve in the show pen.

Veteran ribbon thieves. You know who I mean, too. Those professional walk-trotters, and "novice green riders" who are terminally stuck in these classes just for the ribbons, trophies, saddles, and buckles. They're the ones that always have an excuse why their rider, or their horse, just HAVE to stay in that level, ruining it for all us greenie riders who are learning and trying to improve. Honestly, how many times have you attended a show and come home empty handed because "so&so" was in the same classes as you, in the open local show, and you both know next week he/she will be in the World Show Top Ten? It burns my bottom!

So, when I saw Fugly's post, I got brave. I found Miss Sarah's website, and I sent her this...

You know they're babbling about you on Fugly.. Just turn in the ribbons and it'll all go away..
*signed, a novice rider who hates cheaters that steal ribbons from beginners, even in the little open shows*


And Sarah was brave enough to respond. Here's what I learned...
  • They got permission from the Show Manager, AND the judge, to be in the class Fugly watched.
  • They didn't take any ribbons for the class, but in fact, left them at the gate.
  • The Show Manager suggested Sarah file a lawsuit for all the harassment.
  • Many Fugly-freak followers have been harassing Sarah from her website, but most without leaving valid contact information.
  • They admit they were there to school, and wish they'd done it differently.
  • Sarah apologized in nearly every email she sent me (all 4 of them).
  • Sarah wants to apologize via email or phone to ANYONE she upset or offended.

So.... I won't waste the Fugly space with another comment about this issue. For anybody that followed it, and is still upset or bothered, leave Sarah a comment on her website, with VALID contact information.

Now, who wants to email Horse&Rider and tell them about their new columnist stirring up false information about another trainer? I'm a little busy at work today, so I'm looking for volunteers!

3/14/10 What Did I Learn in the Lesson?

I am teaching my horse pace & rhythm.
And cows still eat ponies.

=) I warmed Ransom up briefly free lunge. He decided this was a good day for a gallop, and ran like a nut for probably five minutes. I knew he'd have the lesson anyways, so I left him go. He wasn't going to end the ride in the lazies, and I was going to force him to move out.

Jen arrived, and we got to business. I didn't spend a lot of time riding flat before trotting to the poles. First set of trot cavaletti, he hit one. Second, third, same deal. Kept knocking over one or two. Jen said, "He's being lazy, watch this." She set the landscape timbers I've been using as poles on their sides, making them a little bit taller. I approached at the trot, and Ransom hopped through the pattern without knocking anything over. "See? He's being lazy. Now, get him up to canter, ride the canter poles, and show me what the heck he's been pulling over there. I suspect more of the same lazies."

He did the exact same thing he's been doing, breaking to trot, and trying to canter in the middle of it, or heading out of it. Jen started kissing to him in front of the poles, and I focused on heels down, energy up. After three go's, he got it. Stayed in canter for all three poles, and stayed steady throughout. Similar action happened heading right as well, started out messy, ended clean. The homework here? Keep doing it, and forcing him to canter. He's way out of practice needing to think about low steady work, and I'm retraining him on rhythm & pace, to see his distances, and stay quiet through the pattern work.

Then we set up the low crossrail, and I got after those too. Jen got some neat pictures (psst,, share!) of us looking great, and looking terrible. On one of the approaches heading right, I thought I heard her say "release your knees." By the time I started processing the thought, and changing my body, it was too late. Ransom jumped big, and pitched me straight out of the tack. We laughed - That's how I'll know if I'm holding on at the knees.. legs come behind me, and his launch will shove me out of the saddle. Each direction we hopped a few ways, and it got progressively better.

Changed direction to left, hopped once, talked about what I needed to change, and circled around. Hopped again, landed, one stride, two stride,
Horse Explosion!
Ransom jumped HARD to the left, 3-4 feet, and I quickly shoved my heels down, sat back, and grabbed one rein to turn him. What in the hell was THAT all about?

Cows.. That's what. About a dozen cows were trotting across the neighbor's pasture. They came out from behind the trees about two strides away from the fence. Spooked Ransom, and he was absolutely convinced they were going to eat him. When I got Ransom stopped, I hopped off, and spent some time talking with Jen about what happened. This isn't the first time he's spooked at the cows, and it's worse the faster they're moving. We're still formulating a "cow desensitizing plan" for him, and it's probably going to involve some time in a pipe fence pen with a few quiet ones. We can't keep repeating this "spook after the fence" nonsense.. For sure!

I "cowgirled up", got back on him, and he settled. Jumped a few more times, rode a little on the flat, and called it a lesson.

Long ride, and a lot learned. We're to keep up the canter poles, and if he gets lazy, move the cavaletti rail razors over to the canter poles. Switch up location of the canter poles and the trot cavaletti to keep him thinking and try to not repeat any one thing too many times in a row to prevent anticipation and laziness.

Monday, March 15, 2010

3/13/10 Hunters With Help

A shout-out to R for keeping his word & being there for us Saturday early evening. I wouldn't have done some of that silly stuff without extra eyes. You kept us careful, and kept me motivated. I probably would have no only chickened out, but I probably would've cut that ride time in half.

Ransom and I warmed up free lunge a few, and I got straight to work. Cavalettis were set up for trot, poles up at canter distance. I made SURE they were 10ft apart, determined to have a few successful go's. His flat work was nice & soft, though those canter up transitions leave a little to be desired. muttermuttermutterheadtossinlittlefreakmuttermuttermutter

I happily trotted to the cavaletti, expecting him to be perfect. But he started getting lazy-toes, and had a few knock-downs. R and I set them back up, and I kept repeating until they were light & pretty again. I caught him trotting towards the right through the poles, and decided to concentrate on myself until I figured it out. The next go-through explained it. Without knowing it, I was ducking my head to the right. After a little laughter, I got it all straightened out, and the next run was completely straight & light. Ransom wants me to trot through the poles with my eyes up & out.. Top of the Trees... Must focus eyes eyes!!

The canter poles again were a train wreck. He continued his "break to trot, canter in & out" chaos. Nothing about them was pretty. So I changed my focus.

We set up one pole, two cavaletti stackers, or 8" off the ground. Heading left, and heading right, he did the exact same funny thing. Over OVER jump the first go, second one closer, third one, depart and land in trot. *giggle* He gets the "trick" and quickly gets a little lazy about it.

Concerned the canter pole distances were too close, I hopped down, tied back the reins, and free lunged him at canter. R and I adjusted poles at the rail, only two of 'em, and cantered him through. It took them being 12.5ft apart before Ransom didn't whack one or the other with his feet, and stay in canter to, through and from. How entirely frustrating!!! With them at the rail, we drug them towards centerline, set the trot cav's back up, and walked my pony home.

My tired, wore out pony.
And tired, wore out me!

The stoopid pesky canter poles still allude me... Why can't we get it?! What has changed?! Even R didn't see anything THAT obvious to cause him to break gait... I was running out of ideas.
I got almost two hours of riding in before the night was through.

Friday, March 12, 2010

3/12/10 Ransom In Dressage

I grabbed Ransom after work for a dressage refresher. I forced him through about ten minutes free lunge hard warmup, with quite the bit of protest. He wasn't impressed with my choice of hard work... ;)

I rode him without the poles just a little wee bit, then hopped through the trot cavaletti work. Absolute magic. Beautiful. Hop Hop Hop Hop as he bounced his trot through all four. It feels pretty neat heading in and through them.

Rode just an eensie bit of canter on flat before attempting the canter poles. Yet another disaster. He canters right to them, then breaks to a sinister trot, and ramps back up into a canter in the middle of them. Yuck! Very hard to balance for, releases were nearly impossible. When he did get them all at canter, they felt racey-chasey, strung out, and almost frightening.

Frustrated, I took it back to the ground, with a snotload of canter & trot transitions each way. He was NOT allowed to stop transition work until that snarky little noggin of his stayed down in the transitions. Too many hours in jump saddle... leads to pony forgetting he is the dressage monsteras well. I put a solid twenty minutes in all flat work, all transitions. With a small number of pretty ups & downs, I walked him out and called it done.

Total work about 40 minutes. I was frustrated he was sooo horrible at the canter poles. I sent Jen word that they need some serious fixing. Was it him? Did he misunderstand the pattern? Is it me? Am I not using enough leg? Are my hands saying "no"? Are the half-halts too halting, and I'm indirectly asking for trot? What could possibly be causing all this disobendience in a normally agreeable horse?
Trot cavaletti was magic again. canter poles? not so much. rode & worked for 40 min. short b/c riding him tomorrow & again on Sunday

3/11/10 Rail Razors are Here!

I ordered two four-packs of Rail Razors from Dover. They arrived Wednesday, but because FedEx uses USPS, and the MailLady refuses to leave boxes for me, I had to go to the USPS to fetch. *talk about annoyed - Pay FedEx rates, and STILL have to pick the stuff up!*

I was pretty excited to get them in use. So I grabbed Ransom, got him hunter dressed, and headed to the arena. Forced him through a ten minute warmup free lunge, while I set alternating sides of the trot poles up on the razors. I hopped aboard, and we got down to business.

I rode around the poles for a while at trot, posting vs sitting and a little two point. I hopped through the canter poles at trot, avoiding the newly raised trot poles. And finally I did it. I approached them, braced my hands, and tried SOOO hard to release, and NOT add leg. He trotted straight through, more carefully and slowly than he does the flat poles. Neat!

I tried the canter poles at canter. Heading left, he broke to trot half the time. Heading right, he raced away, and even slid in the dirt once on his feet, about 3-4" slide. I am obviously not doing something right, because if I half-halt at the rails, he breaks to trot and fumbles through. If I leave him be, he races away. I need to get a rhythm down, or something... As I learned later in the ride, lifting them may be the secret.

I lifted both sides of the trot poles, so now they're all 4" off the ground. I gave myself a huge pep talk, walked and trotted by them to give him a chance to see, and decided 'tis now or never. We approached, I told him, "Easy buddy. Look, Look, careful."

He trotted through them lifted up, and light, never raced, never bumped a pole. I rode them both ways and all but one time he was totally clear. He doesn't race them, he doesn't hurry to or from, but he in fact slows down & considers each & every pole. I can feel his body come up in the pattern, not just his legs. He doesn't "thunder through", and it was in fact hard to hear his hooves hit the ground. Ransom got plenty of "Atta boys", cheers and praise-pats after each hop through. My balance wasn't great, I got behind a few times, but kept the reins released.

A fun hour+15. Much more to work on, and those canter poles still ellude us in completion. We'll get there...

Friday Fill Ins

1. I am so looking forward to getting out of work and back in the saddle.

2. I'll be fixing dinner later. At least I think so.

3. When you get done chasing your tail, don't forget about me.

4. Work is a big part of my life. That's why they call it work!!

5. If you need anything I'm all ears.

6. Romeo is a trip.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to Ransom in dressage, tomorrow my plans include housework, yard chores, and laundry and Sunday, I want to fa la la early, and ride in the afternoon!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Stay Safe my Fellow Equestrians

My goodness it's been a bad few weeks in the professional equestrian community. I don't know if everyone else follows the different events, but here's a brief summary.

Courtney King Dye had a fall in the dressage arena
Rebecca Howard had a rotational fall at Pine Hill, as did Jan Byyny and Rebecca Lee
Reading the article, above, I saw Karen O'Connor also had a spill.

It's a dangerous sport, no doubt. Even the dressage riders aren't exempt from injury.

I won't rant on about helmet use. I'm as guilty as the next girl, most of the time I do, sometimes I take it off for parts of the ride, some days I forget when I hop on Romeo, and regret it later.

But please remember to be careful, but not scared. Ride with courage and caution. But keep on riding...

Prayers being sent up for all of these riders as they recover physically, and emotionally from their accidents.

3/9/10 Catch Up & Basic Ride Refocus

I can't even remember which day this weekend I did it, but I had another jitterbug ride on Ransom. He was raceychasey over the poles, so I didn't even consider a crossrail. If I can remember correctly, I felt my body tense, his respond, and it spiraled down from there.

Monday, I figured on a really nice, quiet, calm dressage saddle walk down the road. The weather was misty sorta rain, but not cold. Windy, but still managable. I figured he'd be quiet & easy. Just as soon as I hopped on, he started doing this little jiggy-walk around the side yard. So back to the arena we went. The walk settled, but his back still felt really tense. I hopped down, free lunged a little, then rode all three gaits until he settled down on contact. None of the ride was pretty. I was fighting off a sore throat and a little fever. I also settled on a less than perfect ride, and kept it short.

Tuesday.. it was On! I've looked over some old blog entries, pondered it a bit, and concluded that, in this moderate weather, Ransom doesn't do well on every other day rides. He's at a good weight, eating well, and it's showing in his energy level. I decided to take the lunge whip out to the arena, set him up hunter, and force a long ride.

In his free warmup, he tried to be lazy, but my lunge whip convinced him otherwise. That took about ten minutes. Then, I hopped on. We spent another 10 minutes at trot changing direction, serpentines, 10m circles, 20m circles, even a few 5m circles. I didn't stay in any one direction for too long. I gave him a 5min walk break, grabbed a drink myself, and hopped back on. Then we did another 10min of canter work. I rode canter both directions about 5min each, in sitting canter & two point. I tried a few direction changes, which led to some counter canter, and some bad flying change attempts. I really need to learn how to ask for those, because Ransom snortled once, dropped to trot for about two strides, then hopped into the new lead. I think he was telling me, "Listen... You're asking ALL wrong, but I know what you want, because I see which way we're turning, so let me help you out just a piece."

Cooled down with a little more walk, focusing on stretching down into the bit. I hopped off one last time, and pulled away two of the four canter poles. Mounted up again, and rode trot poles six times each direction (not one after the other, I stuffed in trot direction changes, trot diagonals, circles, and a little canter-from). Then I rode the canter poles three times each way, no direction changes, no circles away from. Here's how - canter to, canter over, away, make the circle, back to, over, away, repeat. Three "overs", and then one circle at canter on the rail beside the poles. Drop to a walk slowly, reverse, repeat. Started out going left, and he was really nice. Heading right, he was kinda taking off away, ears peaked forward, almost asking, "What's next, Mom?"

Walked it out a bit to catch his breath, and then cooled and stretched out with long & low trot for 5, and long & low canter for 5 more. Walked and walked some more.

Total ride, including his free warmup, one hour, 15minutes. I purposely made it long, and kept eyes on my watch for each "set". I paid very close attention to his breathing rate recovery at the walk breaks. Did he catch it quick? Or was he labored for a long time? I discovered, Ransom recovers MUCH faster than he used to. Used to be, a 15 minute set at trot working hard, he'd huff & puff for ten minutes of walk. Last night, it only took one or two walk laps for a few minutes total before he was recovered to normal.

I hosed him down after to get the sweat out. His pads were sweaty, the girth was sweaty, and he had sweat in all the good working spots. There was plenty of yawning at the end of the ride. I imagine he's plenty sore today, as am I. He'll have tonight off, then it's back to action Thursday. I'm going to focus on two to three day worksets for him for a while, see if that doesn't help me make a little more progress. I'm also going to increase the work length as the days lengthen. I'm done with the 20minute, 30minute "routine weeknight rides" that barely stretch us both out or warm us up before quitting.

There's too many new exercises I can do, and too many new things to learn to just "goof off" every ride. I'm ready to work, and learn, and get it done!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Tape Release Show Date

Oh
My
Goodness

I found it accidentally. TapeMaster Steve sent out a notice he was working on the Texas shows, and getting soon to recording the Florida episodes. So I went to Julie's website, found a blog I didn't know existed, and found this...
http://juliegoodnight.blogspot.com/

Schedule of RFD-TV’s Horse Master with Julie Goodnight March/April 2010:
March 10, 2010 “Worth The Effort” The Horse Master helps a new rider calm his nervous rescue horse
March 17, 2010 ”The Horse Master teaches a horse to lower his head and accept the bit and bridle
March 24, 2010 “Mind for Success” Julie Goodnight and Dale Myler help a dressage rider choose a bit for her young prospect
March 31, 2010 “Side Order” The Horse Master teaches a rider the cues to sidepass with her horse.
April 7, 2010 “What’s My Cue?” The Horse Master teaches a rider how to cue for the canter.
April 14, 2010 “Don’t Cinch Me In” The Horse Master helps a horse accept the girth without spooking.
April 21, 2010 “Southern Comfort” The Horse Master helps a Western Pleasure rider to slow her horse's canter.
April 28, 2010 “Please Release Me” The Horse Master teaches a novice rider to jump with her skilled horse.

April 28! Spread the word! That's ME!!!=)

Book Review - Laura Crum, "Going, Gone"

My book arrived in the mail Saturday afternoon. I tore the package open quite anxiously. Wonder how long it is, wonder what it looks like... I discovered it was a pretty good size, and long enough to hold my interest without being as long as "War & Peace".

Sunday afternoon my 2:00 haircut appointment was delayed. I didn't realize this until I arrived, but I took advantage of the opportunity. I sat & read for nearly two hours of waiting.

The book opens up with main character Gayle McCarthy and her family, apparently a recurring character for Ms Crum. I was unawares, having not read her previous works. Ms Gayle and her family are on their way for a camping trip with their horses. Ms Crum describes the characters, both human, equine, and canine, in decorative detail, all the way down to the details of the truck, camper & trailer that carried them all.

Things take a turn for the worse when they arrive at the campsite, home of an old flame of Gayle's, Lonny. Lonny is arrested, for murder. My gosh! All the evidence points right to him, but everyone in town insists it couldn't have been him. Lonny is illustrated as calm in demeanor and temper. Gayle begins indirectly investigating the murder with another old friend.

I found the book very colorful, descriptive, and super easy to read. In fact, it was hard to concentrate on every single word written, I was so anxious to find out "whodunit". Ms Crum kept the plot detailed enough, adding more crime as the story went, and involved her beloved horses at every turn. My favorite character in the book had to be her son Mac. Cute little kid, who, like kids do, asks all the right questions, at all the right times.

I was nearly finished with the book by Sunday end of day, and I used my break time lunch at work Monday to complete it. It was that attention-grabbing, not knowing where the story would lead was driving me n-v-t-s NUTS! I couldn't wait! What would happen? Would Gayle end up part of the criminal activity? Would the horse blogger end up being the murderer? What secrets would Gayle discover in Lonny's hometown? Where else would they end up?

If you're looking for a good read, this is it! Grab up a copy of Laura Crum's book just as soon as you can, give the ponies a riding day off, and snuggle up on the couch. You don't need to ride in the mud, or snow, I promise! Your horses will appreciate the vacation, and so will your mind. Ride along with Gayle McCarthy in this amazing murder mystery.

Monday, March 8, 2010

03/06/10 Hay Hay Hay!

Get up Friday morning, call the feed store.

Ya'll have any hay?
We have just a few left.

So I rearranged my day. Got to the feed store, laid payment & claim on the last 5 bales they had. I had places to be (including a doctor's appointment) in the afternoon, so I gave them my promise I'd be back later to load the hay. Store owner seemed a little miffed at the notion I was leaving them there.

You're coming back to get this, right?
Well, DUH! I'm not giving you money for nothing. I just ain't losin' it in the stoopid walmart parking lot in town.

Got my errands done, doctor's done, and headed back to the feed store. I pull up to a FULL TRAILER LOAD OF HAY. An 18-wheeler tractor trailer loaded full of squares. I stormed in the store, upset. Why tell me "that's the last 5 you're going to have until fresh cut" when the trailer's full? liars liars...

Why is that trailer full if there isn't anymore?
Truck came around 12:30. But you can only have ten per customer.
Fine. Then give me my other 5. I can work around the system.
Don't use a check with your name on it if you think you're gonna send someone else in here.
No kidding. I'm not stupid.

As of this morning, I had 25 bales in my barn. I won't say how the other 15 ended up there, nor will I comment on the other 5 I've paid for. But the feed store can't complain. It's "10 per customer" (which conveniently became "5 per customer" for someone else I know Saturday morning), and I happen to have 25 of them total.

30 bales should hold us just fine until fresh cut in early May. Lord bring the rain, but bring the sunshine, too.

3/08/10 Question of Last Week

My turn to chime in.

What do I consider to be a "Rich family"? How much money does someone have to earn annually before I think they're "rich"? I bet I get some disagreeing for picking the value, but here goes.

$500,000 annual
Why? Because at that income, I can guess most of the commonplace bills us low-folks worry about, like gas, electric, and water, just aren't a problem for them. They may have debt, but so do I. Furthermore, anything just under this salary, they're facing the beginning of the big tax monsters, and don't get near the take-home pay ya'll might think.

That being said, do I agree with bigger fines & "insurance" and/or bill payments for bad kids to be inflicted only on "rich" families? NO! What about the low-income families? They get a "free card" for little JohnnyJuvenile to rob a convenience store or rape a neighbor girl? NO! Being rich or being poor doesn't automatically exempt or justify being a bad parent.

Also, the "forcing education classes before you give birth".. What about the unplanned babies? Yeah, I know where babies come from, so spare me the lesson. Honestly, what about the "oops the pill didn't work" baby? What about the "we were planning to have a baby in another year, but we're pregnant now"? Are you going to force abortions until they take the classes? That isn't your decision - it's the mom-to-be who gets to choose. Some parents don't "Plan to have a baby", but it happens, and they choose to continue with the child, no matter what. Who's paying for these classes, anyways? I sure won't be.

It's a huge issue.. and I recognize that. But I think tacking income-dependant punishments on delinquent children doesn't solve the problem. Community groups, non-profits, and churches, need to step their rear ends up and start to help out.

It was my facebook Thought one day last week.

Don't tell me how to be. Show me.

Friday, March 5, 2010

3/4/10 Ransom Rushing

Ransom and I worked Thursday night over poles. It was just this side of a disaster. He was tense & rushing, which made me tense up & grip the reins, which made him rush more.

We did some canter poles and some trot poles. Eventually I got both of us relaxed on the flat, and bounced through the trot poles. But honestly, the entire ride, I felt off balance, and felt like both of us had our minds on other things. And there's really no good reason for it.

The weather was good. He was in a bright mood. I'd had a pretty good week at work, and was looking forward to my long 3-day weekend off. But the ride just felt, eh.. yuck.

Total of about 40 minutes including his warmup, before I gave up & settled for "almost what I wanted."
only got my paws on 5 bales. if anybody nearby knows of more within reasonable cost & distance, shoot me an email. tkx
quick n short. ransom over poles thurs nite. lots of rider error. too much hands & little balance. trims & new shoes today. runnin errands now. got hay?

Thursday, March 4, 2010

I am supposed to be able to blog from my phone. Here's a test of this. I won't probably use it too often but for humorous snippets of life.

Question of the Day

What exactly is a "rich family"? Callie's got a neat discussion going in her comments, and I sure hope she doesn't flog me or fine me for linking back here.

They're talking about 15% fines on parents for delinquent children. So I just wanna know..

What do you consider a "rich family"? What's the annual take-home income that you think should be fined that much?

I'll let the flames fly for probably a day or two before I chime in. Don't be bashful! Comment away...

Note - I am not touching the "how to raise kids" or "how to discipline bad kids" with an 80ft pole. I'm not a mom of any two-legged kids, so I can't begin to guess what the right approach is to raise 'em "better" (whatever that means).

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

3/2/10 Life's Rough. Wear a Helmet

Today's subject title is brought to us by Ryan, my Schwan delivery guy. Ryan is a cheerful fellow, whom I believe is completely mesmorized by my riding style & my horses. I was walking back to his truck from the barn, and I muttered to Allie and MacKenzie, "Hey girls! I know you're hungry. Mommie knows! I am getting to ya in just another minute or two. Oh I know. Life's Rough." Ryan said to me, "Yeah, someone told me that once - Life's Rough. Wear a Helmet." I responded, "Cool! I've got one in the trailer, and one in the house. I'm all set!"


I gathered up Ransom in all his dressage glory, and, against his better judgement, took him to the arena. He was none too happy about it, and responded in tail-dragging lethargy. After only a few minutes of free lunge, he walked straight up to me, dropped his head, big sigh, licking & chewing. "Okay sweetheart. You've made your point. I'll get on now."

Overall, he did a good job. We had a nice ride. I tried the canter poles with minimal success, I believe due to his lack of energy forward, and my long leg. Longer leg means less pressure in two point, means less forward. I probably won't take another swing at the canter poles in my dressage saddle. I did trot through them, and they're a bit bigger than every other stride, and he still managed it. They were irregular trot steps, but we floated through them anyways. He adjusts mid-thought sometimes, and it's pretty neat to be aboard for that.

We rode lots and LOTS of diagonal lines at trot, in my attempt to get him moving and collected. The long diagonal was just about enough room to get his mind on the job, and after a half dozen or so of these, we got in a nice dressage rhythm.

He's still got it in him. Takes a little more effort now that he's tasting his jump life again. I might start carrying my dressage whip again to encourage forward... *laugh* Did you just read that? I want my horse forward. I want my horse moving good underneath me. Who saw that coming? I sure didn't... =)

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

2/28/10 Lesson

Warmed Ransom up quickly free lunge. Found him happily very soft & relaxed. I didn't waste much time, we were already running a little late.

Hopped in the saddle, and got a few minor corrections on position in two point. Shoulders not so bad, back keeps rounding, though. Concentrated on that a bit, and hopped through the trot poles. After one of the sets of trot poles, I picked up canter in the corner, and cantered around the rail outside the poles, broke to trot, and then the poles again. homework... trot poles, but canter some before & after. practice transitions at two point to avoid "hunching over" in my position as I ask for the canter.

Jen and I talked a bit about where to go from here in preparation for canter-to jumps. She set up four ground poles, a bit over 10ft apart. R came out with the camera, and shot that video I already posted, about four go-overs. With each canter through the poles, I got a little more relaxed. At one attempt, the second, I think.. I half-halted with some effort heading into them. Ransom stepped ON the pole, stumbled down to a trot, and then picked up canter midway through pole 2 & 3. Whatta horse.. Ya know?! I didn't realize he'd stepped on the ground pole until I saw the video later. Yikes! homework... leave the poles as-is. Canter through, trot through, with an extra trot stride in between each pole. Focus on release and relax... No half-halts before the canter poles - let him balance himself.

Then on to the crossrail. Enter at trot, depart at canter, settle back to trot. Rode this about four or five times, improved back & shoulders with each rail. I found myself staring blindly into space a few times.. I wasn't really looking down, I just wasn't looking anywhere. It's a by-product of my intense concentration. heels down, shoulders open, back stretched, head forward, squeeze... somewhere in there, my eyes go on vacation. homework, focus on continued trot-to's, but bigger release, back straight, and encourage energy in the departure.

A great lesson over all. Jam-packed with a variety of exercises, and plenty to work on. We've got two weeks until our next lesson opportunity, and I've got more than enough to practice & improve until then.

2/27/10 Controlled Leaping

R came over after work to give me an excuse to jump. YahOoo! Much easier to do this airborne stuff with a babysitter...

We warmed up on the flat for about 15 minutes, 20 if you include the free lunge. Ransom was super light & easy-going, so the flat work was even enjoyable. Got our walk, trot, and canter in, almost entirely in two point. I sat a little of the work, but figured that'd be a nice cool down exercise.

Got the trot poles set up, four on each side, and hopped through those a few times. I think I got four to six sets done, one after the other, without a skipped set or a circle, each direction. He was super light, super steady, and responding very nice to the half halts.

Set up one X, and got down to business. I wasn't losing stirrups or losing balance, and R said shoulders were getting better. He thought my heels weren't staying down, so he stood At the X, and a bit before each time, called out "heels down." I definitely felt the difference with my heels way down, concentrating on them. Following one X leap, I left Ransom in his canter, and cantered an entire arena lap, so he doesn't get in a habit "each fence, land canter, break to trot, repeat." One fence near the end, R commented shoulders were pretty good, heels were pretty good. I hopped one or two more before calling it quits.

Total ride, about 45 minutes. I could have jumped for another hour, we were having so much fun. With the lesson Sunday, I had to leave "gas in the tank".

Monday, March 1, 2010

Sunday Lesson

I won't get to the text of the ride today, I don't think. I know that a few folks are patiently waiting out there for some jump video. I've got two snippets to share..

Let me disclaimer - I'm new to this! I'm learning! See? Helmet! Polo wrapped legs, all four. Half-chaps, suitable breeches, eyes UP! Am I perfect? No! But! Before you steal these video clips, and use them in a teasing manner.. I issue this challenge - Send me a video of YOU on a horse YOU OWN, currently riding, doing it better than me. Show me what "RIGHT" looks like.

2/28/10 Lesson with Jen, her DH watching, and my R shooting the video.
Quiet, Please! (A little HM humor)
Poles at the Canter

video

Trotting to, Canter from, Cross rail

video

2/26 Ransom Tests My Balance

It's a "you know it had to happen" update. =) And, no, he hasn't unseated me.. yet..

R was busy working late, so after a little Romeo western in the pasture (which I'll bury in here sometime this week), I gathered Ransom and his hunter parts. I added side reins, and a lunge line to our tote package, and headed to the arena.

With poles & a crossrail set up towards the front, I set him on the line in the back of the arena. He trotted & cantered on the line all well & pretty. Since he was leaning and heavy Thursday, I lunged him a while on side reins. At first, as expected, he had his head up, trying to avoid work. Then he tried to be lazy strided, and amble along skipping forward movement. After about fifteen minutes' work, I had him back light on the bit, moving along forward on the line. Nice!

Following the lunge work, I set the X down to four trot poles, so I wouldn't be tempted to fly solo. Ransom and I worked on canter at two point, and I felt him stretch out in his stride as I opened up my shoulders. His canter certainly gets bigger & more forward up in two point, and it feels good. It's nice & smooth sunk down in my heels.

We trotted the poles in tandem and after some direction changes, skipping one set every now & then. On one of our last double-sets, he absolutely tripped, and wiped out just before the poles. I'd say two trot strides out, he was two foot closer to the dirt in front. Splat! I held myself up, caught him, and pushed him through the poles. He fumbled through them. Glad that was over, my heart started racing. I kept him in trot, and for a split second, thought, "I'm gonna skip the other four, and come back to this line again."

And then, in another second, I realized, "That teaches him splat good, and lets my chicken-sh!t fear win! I can't get in the habit of quitting skeered. I'm going to keep going." I made a long deep turn in the corner, and headed right to the next trot line.

Hop Hop Hop Hop. Ransom trotted over the second four like they were almost not even there, no stumble, no trip, no ugly head, no pulling, tugging, or chasing. We circled at trot after the line, and relaxed to a walk.

He seemed satisfied with himself. I was certainly happy I didn't let the chicken monster eat my courage, and I forced myself to keep the plan. We worked on some more canter at two point before quieting down to a walk, and a nice cool down.

Total ride, about an hour.

02/25/10 Ransom Dressage

Knowing I still have some dressage goals for 2010, I gathered Ransom in all his dressagie-goodness after work.

He leaned on the bit quite a lot, and it felt like he was refusing to collect. Sitting the trot was horrendous, I'm sure partly because I'm out of practice. I trotted him over the ground poles a time or two, to help lift him up off the bit. He'd stretch up & out for the poles, and following, go right back to leaning on me. Yech!

I rode him for about 45 minutes. Nothing super dramatic happened, with the exception of one burst of fear, courtesy of a white-tailed deer that HAD to squirt out from the trees. It was near the end of the ride, so neither of us were particularly moved by the critter.

Jumping is fun, and dressage is physically and mentally challenging. I ought to put some more hours into my dressage work to keep him light. I also ought to start thinking again about the Myler bit Julie used on him. It would be beneficial, if nothing else, to mix up his anticipation of contact. I still haven't decided, though.