Thursday, March 29, 2012

Extreme Make Over: Barn Edition

Ahh, so my mother is here for a week helping me get started on all of those two person (or more) jobs. It's a great relief having her up here to help get everything sorted, and just getting started on some of these jobs. I had a family event where we were asked "what are you going to to up there for a week?"
That person obviously does not have a farm. A week is hardly enough time to get anything done. As a matter of fact, I'm starting to hyperventilate even now about how long my To Do list is even now.

Breaking the inertia seems to be the hardest step... But isn't it always?

OK, so this Extreme MakeOver is all about stalls. Well, mostly about stalls, I'll probably brag about some other improvements too, so skip over that if gratuitous excitement over someone else's work isn't your cup of tea. 
All right, we'll start with the improvements that I can't take credit for: roof and siding.

After, halfway done...
And now for the work that I can take credit for... The stalls. We'll start with the 'before' which I'm not proud of. I realize it looks somewhat like a USPC "spot how many ways your horse can kill its self in this picture", but one does what they have to, and it was cold and raining outside. The horses were much happier in the dry if messy barn than out in the rain....
Not the best barn set up
Now, It was not ideal, but when I moved in, the barn had 30 years of junk cluttering it up (including three non working riding mowers). The above pictures is actually the improved version, believe it or not.

Before: Electrobraid stalls (not hot)

After: real working stall doors and real stall walls!
Now, there are no horses in my barn (yet) and there is still a fair about of work to be done... (see that old license plate above the stall? That is so gone). Also, for those math wizzes around, you may notice that two stalls has become three... When I layed out my plans, I came to the conclusion that RC and Delight did not need 12' x 15' stalls, and I would be wiser to make three 12' x 10' stalls, so that I could use that last stall for storage. Great idea, right?
Of course then I bought Tilly, so that third stall is now spoken for. Delight and Tilly are going to have to draw straws for who gets stuck next to RC.
Before: Yikes

After: Stall mats!
This last pair of pictures is like the easiest game of "spot the differences ever. The windows have been replaced with windows that open (wohoo!), the white washed log sides of my barn have been covered with plywood for protection from kicking or chewing, the stalls have walls and a door. And MATS!
OK, so my piece d'resistance is (are?) the stall mats. there were 15 mats total and they cam together nearly perfectly! Sure there was one or two that had to lay under the stall walls, but for off the shelf mats in a 100 year old barn (where the corners are not quite square) this is as close to perfect as I am capable of! Also, my hands hurt from cutting holes in the mats so that they could lay around the support beams. Ow...

Now I just have fencing, a bridge, gardening, mowing, driveway, shavings bay, and possible manure spreader to plan for....

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

To Clinic or Not To Clinic...

Ok, so that's hardly a real question.
The real question is is it worth a 130 mile drive (one way) to spend over $100 a day for a weekend clinic?

See, that's the downs side to living in the middle of freaking no where... Good instruction is just not to be had. Sure there's a "dressage trainer" up here (note the air quotes... or real quotes. OK, so, if I was talking instead of typing this, those would totally be air quotes), but he's more of a crank 'n spank trick training type trainer. I know he's 80 and wears that funny hat so popular with those super kosher European trainers, but a 4 yo** probably doesn't need to work on the piaffe/passage tour before they have even mastered the canter. So that option is right out for me and my Ponitas.

** Actually saw this lesson. Not with my four year olds. They know how to canter and I still deem them not FEI ready. But then, what do I know? I'm just wasting time on all of those silly circles trying to build toplines.

Honestly this clinic would cost as much as a show. On the other hand, I need some instruction and possibly time with other people to whom this dressage thing isn't just ripping around the arena in endless circles asking for the same thing over and over.

So what's it to be? An expensive, educational weekend or hoard my money like Scrooge McDuck?
Who am I kidding... Now I just need to find a minion who's willing to audit for a weekend and video my rides. Any takers?

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Spring Brings....

So, spring is here! The grass is starting to turn green, my plants are starting to sprout. The snow is pretty much all melted away; There are birds chirping. I even saw a butterfly while I was basking in the sun on my front porch yesterday....

Know what other sign of spring I saw today that totally threw me for a loop?
Yep. A freaking BEAR!
No, not these bears. I love theses bears....

Who expects to be driving blearily towards town, anticipating that McDonald's mocha and parfait pick-me-up because the construction crew showed up and I had to move my car anyway, when I look over to admire the sunrise over the fields and see..... A bear.

I had to stop the car and just watch for a few minutes before the black bear ambled off. I did try to take a few pictures, but I'm afraid that they are about as high quality as the Loch Ness Monster pictures of the blurry Big Foot pictures that are floating around out there...

Real Bear Hugs May Prove Fatal
Ever stop to wonder if the big foot picture was just a big hairy Yooper out for a walk? They did try to find Big Foot down by Baraga, just south of me, you know.... Hmmm....

Anyway, back on topic. Blurry bear pictures. Well, I would post them but for two reasons. One: the bear looks like a blurry black blob. In my defense who in their right mind is going to get out of the car to take a picture of a BEAR? That's just stupid! Two: I have somehow misplaced my camera between here and the barn. I know it's in the car somewhere, but not quite sure where....

If I find it, I promise you guys will be in the top ten to know. Mostly because not that many people would actually care about my blurry bear picture.

But really. A bear.

Edited to add: 
See that black dot? That's a bear. A real, live, bear. 

Monday, March 19, 2012


"Everybody has forgotten about showmanship. People don't look like rock stars any more. They just look like regular dudes off the street."
Vince Neil

Oh, RC agrees. Or I would assume he agrees, based on the level of panache he chose to include in this weekend's free 4H showmanship clinic to help inspire and prep all of us lowly boarders for the upcoming horse show season. 

The clinic was a great idea. Every horse could use a little fine tuning on the whole 'listening to the handler' thing while unmounted. Mine in particular, it would seem. I had RC's up most attention and respect for about the first five minutes of walk, halt, square and stand... rinse and repeat. After those first five minutes with RC looking like a mensa scholar ("Oh, I can stand. Watch how good I can stand. I'l even glue my ears forward and stare through you as if contemplating the true depth of the universe while waiting for my mint. ... Where's my damn mint?!?!?") things started to get... challenging. 

Not that it bothers me. I know that RC has the attention span of a gnat, so he's going to wiggle and and squirm while we wait for the other 5 people to get critiqued on whatever exercise we're trying. It builds character to see how long I can get him to stand all squared up and perky while others are doin' their thing. 
Can we stand still for a  minute before you start thinking about biting my arm?
Can we put that front foot that you are tempted to paw with right back into the hoofprint you just left?
Can we ignore that horse next to us getting shanked and running backwards at us.... WHAT?!?!?

OK, so we are obviously not the only ones with attention span issues. Evidently, I'm just more patient about it. 

When it was our turn to try the trot to 'extended' trot (which, by the way, is in no way shape of form a true extended trot. It hardly qualifies as a working trot), we were ready. RC was just itching to get moving and I was just trying to get out of there and not to get run over when the next wave of shanking happened next to me.   So, my first attempt at jog-extend-jog was sub par. I ran faster next to RC trying to urge him to actually use himself. At all. And he took exception and tried to bite me.... 

So I smacked his nose and yelled at him - while still jogging - and turned around to try it again. 

On the next try for jog-extend-jog we headed down the rail, my elbow at the ready in case he wanted to become Mr. Chompers again. Obviously RC had dome some thinking in the time that it took to get him turned around. He trotted (conveniently forgetting the attempted bite), I hit him . So obviously trot was not the answer I was looking for. 

Now RC is a lot of things. Clever is not one of those. He's quirky, annoying, simple, obedient, and usually unfazed by whatever now things I might throw his way. So his attempt at problem solving made me laugh... 

I started at the walk a C, his ears pleasantly forward, even if his eyes were a little too wide for comfort then turned along the rail on the long side. I asked for the trot....
And he cantered. 
On a loose lead rope. 
So I brought him back down to the walk before we reached B, and asked for the trot again. 

Ah, what the hell.... I let him canter happily as I jogged the rest of the long side. He was so proud of himself that he was practically smiling. 
Hah. Figured out THAT exercise. Bet no one else figures out that they want a canter in hand! Suckers!

Atta boy, RC. Way to rock it. 

Friday, March 16, 2012

Something is in the Air

There was definitely something in the air this morning.
It was one of those crisp fresh days that sort of makes you think of fall and worry that a cold snap is coming with the kind of wind that doesn't chill as much as rejuvenate a person. Evidently my horses had a similar feeling...
First thing I heard as I waltzed into the barn lugging two saddles, a helmet and my tall boots while trying not to loose a rubber boot in the ankle deep mud that covers the parking lot was "Your horses are being jerks!"

Oh yes, it's going to be a good day. I look through the bars and sure enough, two of the eight horses in side are rearing and squealing and pawing impatiently to go outside to their tiny paddocks and breakfast hay. So I did my part and led a prancing Delight outside, passageing down the barn aisle, tail in the air and neck arched elegantly. Of course once I unhaltered her in her little pen, she sedately meandered over to her hay pile and started chowing down.
Next up, RC.  How bad can he possibly be?
As soon as I opened the stall door he tried to burst out... and was quickly rebuffed. That is one of the things I quite like about this horse, for all of the dumb antics he tries to pull, all it takes is a firm word and he's back to being Mr. Golden Boy. No follow through on those exuberant moments. After his rebuke, RC was equally happy to go outside but kept his enthusiasm withing tolerable bounds, which means that he jog-trotted showmanship style next to me with his ears locked forward and eyes just a little bit too wide. He was the perfect gentleman as I unhalterd him and I loitered, expecting to watch him meander over to his hay.

Of course, nothing ever goes quite as planned.
RC did jog over to his hay pile before his enthusiasm for the day and being able to go outside sans blanket overcame him. He leaped straight up in the air, bronco style, and gave a few little bucks in a circle. He then rocketed around his little pen, trying to encourage the other horses turned out on either side of him to join in his silly little game with little rears (ok, 'rear' is a very strong term for what RC does... more of a 'lightening of the forehand').  Of course none of the other horses really want to be associated with poor RC, but he was just as happy to be playing by himself. At times like this, I wish I had a camera.

Because RC had a grueling workout yesterday (we gave an impromptu Dressage Demo before the drill team practice), he got a carrot and a day off which just left the ponies.
Delight was eating, so Tilly got called on first. Tiilly was quite pleasant this morning; none of that cranky pony girthyness or impatient pony shifting around while I tried to tack her up. Then I got on her.
Turns out that Delight and RC weren't the only two horses who were feeling their oats this morning. I spent the first ten minutes of my ride trying to convince her that it was, in fact, possible to trot in a straight ling and bend around corners without breaking into the canter. I know, we've been working on cantering under saddle, but the pony's version of cantering off was not really the same as I wanted to practice. Her version was slightly less in control....
40 minutes later, I had a great ride. We settled down and got our trot on the bit with bend! to both directions! And our canter even got a little bend and some semblance of my being in control... at all. Count t as a win.

Then it was Deli's turn. I was inspired by Klimke's cavelletti book (spare time and lots of reference books can be a bad thing) which recommended jumping or working over ground poles to keep young horses interested in their work.So, I set up two sets of raised ground poles in sets of three just off the inside track through the two 'scary' corners of the arena and a 14" cavalletti at X so that I could go over it when changing directions between E and B. Delight LOVES the jumping. She was unimpressed by the ground poles, but cantering over the 14" one really sparked her interest. Downside is that she got a little excited and started swinging her haunches in again... so back to the leg yield to half pass and shoulder ins....
I guess I'll be trying this exercise again sometime in the future.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012


I saw this on Chronicle of the Horse today, which started me thinking about helmets.

Ok, I'll be the first to admit that I haven't always ridden in a helmet. I survived my adolescence sans helmet (so dorky) only by the grace of my irreplaceable horse. Then I went through my teenage rebellion at 19 (so, I was a late bloomer on the teenage rebellion front) when a helmet was no longer mandatory... Still survived based on the good nature of my horses.
I didn't start seriously wearing a helmet again until I started riding my young horses - three year old RC at the time-With the amount of time that that horse spent in the dirt, it would have been straight up dumb to not wear a helmet. I upgraded my troxel for a Charles Owen only because I forgot my 'show helmet' at home in Missouri when I headed up to Lamplight. Whoops....

I will say that I now ride religiously in a helmet. More often than not, I put my helmet on when I get on my first horse then don't take it off until I'm leaving the barn for the day.

Do I look dorky? I don't think so, but to each their own.
Is it uncomfortable? Definitely not. Otherwise I wouldn't wear my helmet for 5 hours straight.
Is it because I'm scared of my horses or a wimpy rider? Nope, not that either (though the dressage might make the uninformed think so).

I wear a helmet because I respect my brain and I don't want to have to use that $170 a month that I spend on health insurance on medical bills because I cracked my head while riding without a helmet. I like being an intelligent, independent, successful woman and all it would take to ruin that is one slip of the hoof or bad landing after a fall. It is so not worth the lack of helmet hair to hurt myself and those who care about me by not doing what I can to keep myself safe while riding a 1000 pound animal with a tiny little mind of it's own.

To be perfectly honest, helmet hair is the least unattractive part of me after 5 hours at the barn.

I am even more helmet conscious now than I was at home with just my young horses. Now that I ride at a barn with many younger riders - some of whom actually look up to me- I see it as my responsibility to be a good role model for these young equestrians. Like it or not, but the next generation of riders has to look up to someone, and it is that person's moral responsibility to try to hold themselves to the highest standards that they can.
Comfort and cost are the reasons most likely given for the lack of helmet (probably because hubris and vanity just sound bad)... But with so many brands, shapes and types of helmets available, that excuse is just flimsy. There are cheap helmets out there (under $40), helmets for oval heads, round heads, narrow heads, whathaveyou. And I have never overheated due to a helmet when riding in south Texas, so that comfort excuse is right out, especially here in the UP... in March.

And finally: A helmet is NOT going to cost you the class. The best horse wins. And in my case, the best horse is sometimes ridden in a helmet. Which means to say, my horse is the best. And I wear a helmet.  Even western.

Come on! How amazing would the baby blue/black combo look on RC?
I'd be stylin' in a brown CO helmet on Tilly. Just imagine my little dressage pony trotting down the centerline with a brown saddle, my brown dehners and brown helmet. 
Who wants to start the "Buy Alison a spare schooling helmet fund"?
No takers?

Catching Some Rays....

Ahhhh.... Another nice UP spring-like day. It's low 40's and sunny. Downside is that there has been a near constant 20 mph breeze all day long, which cools things down quite a bit.
Tilly solved the 'sunbathing in the wind' problem quite neatly using her run in as a wind block. The other plus side is that it was one of the few mud free areas. She was fast asleep; her little nose twitching as she dreamed about grazing in pastures full of green grass and sunlight. 

 She was quite shocked that I had gotten so close before she woke up enough to notice me. She gave me her best "please don't make me get up and work" look, so I let her have the day off. She just looked so comfortable. Who was I to ruin her morning?
So we sat together in the sun...

Monday, March 12, 2012

Ahhhh Spring....

SO, this weekend was just beautiful. Simply gorgeous... 50 degrees and sunny, what more could a girl ask for?

Of course I wasted half my day sitting on my front steps soaking up the sun while trying to ignore the insistent pushing of a tennis ball into my lap by a very persistent poodle. My bad. But I did catch up on my vitamin D that has been lacking for the last four months or so, so it wasn't a complete waste. Oh, and it felt great...

Anyway, after my overdose of Vitamin D, I headed out to the barn, full of ambition and eager to be able to ride in real breeches and real tall boots, not those thick layers and those bulky Mountain horse winter riding boots. Finally! I get to look and feel like a dressage rider again!
Of course, ten minutes later, I was covered from head to toe n little read horse hairs after brushing RC down, and the transformation was complete. t's really amazing how much hair that horse can lose when he didn't grow any hair all winter...
Anyway, I rode RC hard. We did walk-canter-walk on ten meter circles. We played with the half pass - leg yield - half pass on the long sides. We did renvers, shoulder in, travers. It was all so easy and flud that I felt comfortable asking for more. A 'positive push', as Dressage Today called it in one of last month's articles. I started playing with the half steps. Also easy. This is where I should have called it a day, given RC a pat and put him up. In stead, I asked him to collect and step a little more on the spot. We got one step, sitting further underneath himself, two steps holding the sitting, three steps starting to get a little tight in the neck, four steps... coil like a spring and leap straight up into the air with his front legs tucked up underneath him in a remarkably graceful leap by RC, hit this rider in the back of the head when flagging his tail, land and resume half steps like nothing happened.

Then I petted and let him call it a day. I was laughing too hard to get anything else done, and RC was mighty pleased with himself as we strutted around the arena to cool out.

Then it was Delight's turn.
Funny thing about spring... Mares start coming in to heat. In Delight's case, it seems to be a flaming heat. Of course, by the time I got Delight ready (she too would have preferred to be sunbathing on a day like that), there were other riders in the ring. Delight was , in fact, delighted about this. Boys!
Daydreaming of Stallions: Champion De Lux, Stibby Me,
FS Don't worry and Casino Royale
Here was my first clue that she was in heat. Instead of her usual approach to other horses n 'her' ring - the 'ignore them and maybe they'll go away' method- she was very very interested in those other horses. So interested, in fact, that she tried to pee on them as they walked by. Of course, after a few smacks with the whip, she settled down and we had a very good ride (her shoulder ins are coming along nicely!).


Of course,  I have two mares.
Ponita Tres was also coming into heat. Unlike Delight's flagrant attraction to anything with a Y chromosome, Tilly chose to display her heat in the touchy 'do NOT touch me' kind of way. She was rude enough to give me a tap when I tightened her girth. I hesitate to call it a kick, since really she just touched me in a very deliberate manner about half way up my thigh with her hind leg as I secured my saddle. Of course I hit her and yelled at her as soon as I realized what she did... Not that it did much good, as she then proceeded to turn her eyes large, liquid brown and blinked beseechingly at me in her best 'how could you do that to me' manner. I think she was even working up a tear... Then I proceeded to work her til she sweated (again, she's not a fan). We came to an understanding that heat or no heat, I can still ride and groom her as usual.
"I have got to rub that working sweat OFF!"

Friday, March 9, 2012

Imitation is flattery... yadda yadda yadda

So, by now I'm sure that everyone has seen the Ryan Gosling "Hey girl" memes for us horsey chicks. Or the Daniel Craig version, and of course Ryan Reynolds... Anyone I'm forgetting?
Of course Ryan Gosling is a little too 'pretty' for me, so I had to do one better. May I present Gerard Butler...

And just to be funny...
Thank's for enunciating Gerard. I could hear you all the way from the warm up...

In other, much less sexy, news: My little pony mares were absolutely wonderful today even though it is 18 degrees and windy.  But next week is supposed to be all in the mid 40's! Spring! Spring Spring SpringSpringspringsprng!!!!

Ahm. Sorry. I got a little carried away.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

You Know What They Say....

Be careful what you wish for.
That guy in the corner is just trying to stay out of the mud...
Yep. You see that correctly. Today it's 49 degrees (though the thermometer said 55 at the barn... and I believe it!). Now, I'm not complaining, per se.... I mean, I had the chance to break out my fabulous new breeches that my mom sent me and finally ride in leather tall boots for a change. I was able to ride with a window open and no jacket... It's been so long since any of that has been possible that I've nearly forgotten that not everyone rides in 8 layers every day. My horses worked up a good sweat, then I was able to fill a manure bucket with the hair that I pulled off of them. It was warm enough to pull Delights mane (again), and tempt me to bring out clippers to make RC look a little more presentable... 

Of course tomorrow is back in the 30's with Friday's high and low at 24 (never trust a weatherman who only gives one temperature for a day... You know he's lying). 

So why the remorse for over wishing for spring? 
One word: Mud. 
Where does all of that slushy melted snow go? No where. It turns my driveway into a mud pit, requiring 4 wheel drive to turn around. One warm day isn't the bringer of mud, doom and gloom, however, next week is supposed to be all in the upper forties. 

This is the actor's portrayal of my driveway after a few more days of this weather
Maybe, this means that all of the snow will melt away leaving my pastures high and dry for when the horses come home, right? I can only hope so...

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Geldings are from Mars...

Today, as my recovery from spin class torture, I took it easy on myself. I didn't head out to the barn and plan to work my heart out on all three horses; instead, I loitered around the house until my double dose of advil kicked in and I could even begin to contemplate trying to get down the steps on my front porch. I did work Delight, but then contented myself to a hard core grooming for everyone else.

Delight was pretty darn good today (which was a plus, because every muscle in my body was still moaning- which was an improvement over the screaming that was happening this morning). Sure she was a little lookey n the 'scary' corner, and she was a tad on edge because there is a new horse in the 'lower' board turnout, so all of the group turnouts were running around and hollering. But, she relaxed and we had several good canter transitions, a very nice shoulder in to both directions at the trot and an excellent half pass at the walk. Oh, and her trot was nice and relaxed! Delight for the win!

Then, because I had the stamina of a limp noodle, I brushed and brushed and brushed. Delight leaned into the curry comb-until I started on the lower half of her belly, then she made that nasty 'mare face' and started to squirm til she figured out that I wasn't gong to let her boss me into only brushing her itchy neck and shoulders.  She fell asleep when I started pulling her mane. Her lower lip drooping, ears at half mast as I ripped hand fulls of hair out of her neck (but she looks so much better now). RC leaned into the curry comb for about the first five minutes, then he wanted to lip the brushes I had lined up on the stall or nose my back or chew on wood... Pretty much anything but stand still. He tolerated me picking out his tail and got really fussy when I tried to pull a hair or two out of his mane. Good thing he's follically challenged so that mane pulling will never be a top priority for perfect turnout. Tilly was last. She's not shedding yet, so she just got the body brush and lght currying to work out the dandruff and dead skin. She fell asleep, hip cocked, resting a leg, huge ears lopping to the side. She didn't move until I returned her to her pen.
 All of this grooming got me started thinking about the difference between mares and geldings...

You hear it all the time "Oh, I'm a gelding person" or "Oh, she's just being marish" or the ever popular "Oh, she's in heat; that's why she cant do XYZ".
Does the gender really play such a pivotal role in their personalities? Or is that just who they are and happen to be either mare or gelding (or stallion)?
Now, I like to think that I've been around quite a few horses in my life, and using that sample size... I'd say that it's just luck of the draw.
London pouts when he's being ignored and fusses when asked to work hard. He's sweet as pie on the ground.
Opie is bossy. Consistantly bossy. And will do anything to get the job done... Maybe not how her rider thought that the job needed to get done, but she'll get it done.
RC is pushy, but not an alpha horse. He's also not much of a thinker, if you know what I mean.
Delight is a loner, preferring people to other horses (read: RC). She prefers to work hard and will get a little silly if underworked. She's the one who will run to the fence to see you when you pull up after work.
Tilly is still somewhat of an unknown. She's very submissive, but tries very hard and is so proud of herself if she knows the answer.

I think gender is just a convenient excuse... At least for mare owners.

Monday, March 5, 2012

14 Days...

Spring. It's only 14 days and a few hours away. Why, pray tell, was it zero degrees and snowing outside when I left at Oh'dark thirty to head to the gym (more on that later)? I realize that I should quit the bitching since it's been an amazingly mild winter and it's currently 28 degrees and sunny out there (sure, now the sun is shining. Where was that refreshing warmth this morning when I worked pony after pony?).

Dude, stop editorializing your own blog and get to the point, ok?

Sorry. My bad...

So why this rant on winter all of a sudden? After all, the end is in sight!
Yeah, that's a bad picture of my knee- The bad one- after making what might have been the most spectacular fall of the season in the Library parking lot-the Library that has a bar, not the one with all the books. I hit a patch of ice walking down the hill and WHAM, down I went. Fortunately I have cat like reflexes and I was able to break my fall and slide with my left knee. You know, the one with the pins. But I save my wrists and elbows! My pride, not so much...
Lesson learned: No matter how sexy and adventurous cowboy boots may be, they have very poor traction on ice. No cowboy boots on  45 degree hills either.
What's one little bruise (which is now less greenish and more blackish-purple)? That's hardly anything to complain about....

Which leads me to today.
I have decided that I need a kick n the pants, so to speak, to lose this final 15 pounds (and when I do, I'm gonna walk around in nothing but a bikini! Thank god I have no neighbors...). This thought neatly coincided with an email I received from the group that hosted the five mile bridge walk last fall. It was fate; a whole schedule of exercise classes aimed at the working individual!
There was a "Cycle Fusion" class starting at 6 am that mixed strength and weight training with cycling at intervals. Perfect, right? I have a bike, how hard can this be? And I'll be able to head right on out to the barn afterwards and work all three horses! Excellent!
As it would turnout, those 15 pounds fought back.
 After 15 min of that standing/sitting cycling at low to medium resistances, my thighs were burning. My ankles even hurt. Then it was the floor/mat work. Intervals of push-ups, squats and crunches. 30 each, then 20 each, then 10 each, then 20 each finishing up with 30 of each. Now, I have a strong core from all of those hours in the saddle. Unfortuantely, I discovered that my core was the only set of muscles that I have in my body. Push ups were torture. Squats wouldn't have been bad, but my thighs were already burning after the standing-while-cycling routine.The sit ups were like taking a relaxing summer stroll by comparison. I was red faced and panting in no time flat.
Then it was back up on the bike for the final 20 minutes doing 'hill work' and more of that standing/sitting interval stuff.  Ow. I don't know if I'll be able to walk tomorrow... And working the ponies was rough after that!

But I signed up for at least two more classes. Because I'm a glutton for punishment... and I want to be skinny again.


Thursday, March 1, 2012

Snow Day!

Yesterday we got hit with the second storm of the season. It was icky enough that I got sent home from work early so that I didnt end up in a ditch somewhere on my drive home. Lucky me, right?
So what does a person do when it's blowing the snow sideways at 30 mph and there's about a 20' visibility all day? Laundry? Dishes? Vacuum the house?
I probably should have done housework. Instead I clipped the poodles. They have been sporting their "winter teddy bear look" for far too long, so I took matters into hand and brought out the grooming table and clippers...

Step one: Corral poodle onto grooming table. Begin brushing out all of those burrs and snarls that I've been ignoring for a month or so. Let Bacon lay down because he loves the grooming...
Bacon all brushed out
Step Two: The FFT. 
All poodle people know what an FFT is; kind of like all dressage people know FEI, KWPN and OTTB. An FFT is the name of the most basic touch up trim: Feet, Face, Tail. Basicly it's shaving the face, shaving the feet, and trimming around the tail. Isn't Bacon so much more handsome with his little poodle face?

After a FFT (face feet and tail) trim
 Step Three: Cut off all the excess hair. No clipper guards, not method, no style, just all of the excess fluff is sissored off, leaving between 1/2" and 3/4". Rebrush out after removing most of the hair, then go over and neaten up with the 1/4" clipper guard. Don't worry,  I neatened Bacon up after this picture!
Most of the fluff is gone!
 And now it's Tempi's turn!
Ohhhh...Tempi is NOT a happy Poodle.
 Obviously Tempi doesn't enjoy the attention and primping and brushing as much as Bacon did. She threatened to kill me if I took any more pictures...
Poodles in PJs
After a good haircut, poodles want nothing more than to nap on the chaise... In PJs. Again, Bacon is happier about these things than Tempi is....