Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Tis The Season

Well, Tis the season before the season... You know, the national holiday to celebrate gluttony in all it's forms, but most specifically, turkey cranberry sauce and pie.
Since I haven't ridden in nearly a week, I have been feeling an acute case of the - as named by Court and I- the Wubba-wubbas.

You know, that feeling where you jiggle. And not in an attractive fashion. It's not good, not good at all. So I went for a ride... Or two.
Winter Wonder Land
 Tilly was justifiebly concerned about the snow in her arena. I mean, it's not easy for a little pony to trot through 8" of snow. Lift those legs, Tilly. Feel the burn! Since I am not a cruel task master, we just had a w-t-c ride, and not a very long one at that. Just enough to get the pony a little warm under her quartersheet.
Delight was a little more of a handful. Sure she started out quiet enough, but the longer we rode, the pissier she got.
Can I bolt?
What if I buck?
What do you mean you don't like it when I turn into a pogo stick?

Mares. Pony mares. Sheesh. Still, it was the kind of ride that makes you laugh as you zing through the snow, just because it's so fun to run through the snow.

Good thing I nixed the thought of ponying Tini off of Delight.... at least until Delight settles down a bit. (it's still on the winter To-Do list).

Moving on.
Tomorrow is Turkey Day, AKA Thanksgiving. So here's my list of Thanks:

I'm thankful for all three of my wonderfully complicated mares. They are each special and fun in their own unique way. We may not be world-beaters (yet!), but the journey is fun.
 I'm thankful for my beautiful wonderful farm. I have a creek, bridge, cool little farmhouse and awesome old barn. And slowly, I'm making it better. Slowly. Very, very slowly.
Over the river and through the woods
I'm thankful for my jobs. Both of them. My engineering job helps me afford this horse stuff, and gives me time to cultivate my teaching job. My teaching job helps me spread the word of Dressage and has allowed me to meet some amazing people.

I'm thankful for my dogs (even Scott). I hope to be the person that Bacon believes I am... someday.

I'm thankful for my family, because honestly, no one could ask for a better family than mine.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Let it Snow! Let it Snow! Let it Snow!

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: My little Texas brain equated snow with Christmas. Personally, I blame Hollywood and the myriad Christmas movies we all watched when growing up.
Therefor for a Kid growing up in a desert, Snow = Christmas.
Makes total sense to me...

"Tis the Season!"
Until I moved up here. Now I've been humming Christmas carols under my breath for the last month so that the general population can't judge me for it.

But seriously...


"I will f*&$%^# KILL you! Get this shit off my head!"

It doesn't help that I am waaaaay ahead of my usual curve and already purchased most of my Christmas gifties. Some of them need certain customization, so I was on the ball with ordering this year. Also, I had some BRILLIANT ideas. The kind that you just cant sideline...

Also, have I mentioned that I love Christmas?

Moving on.

 What am I not super enamored with?
WTF is Scott doing back there?
Related question: What do horses do whether or not you get to ride that day?

Oh yeah. Stall cleaning! Here's how I can sum up my morning: Wheelbarrows do not work when there's over 2" of snow on the ground.
And sleds full of poo are heavy. I worked up quite the sweat as three mares just stood there and watched.
 So long story short: I haven't ridden in about a week. And I hate it. Where's my indoor????

Thursday, November 21, 2013

How To Age Ten Years Instantly

On Tuesday I aged ten years in the time it takes to listed to one 30 second local report on the radio, as only a horse owner can.
Thirty seconds.
Ten years.
Damn these horses.

I left work with plenty of time to grab a quick bite to eat before heading out to teach lessons... Or so I thought. As I came to the first stop sign on my route to McDonald's (because really, who doesn't need a hot mocha at this time of year?) the radio DJ tried to fill the blank space between songs with a few local announcements.

Usually nothing of interest.


Today, however, I heard something that would ruin all of my evening plans for warm chocolaty-mocha-y goodness.

"And if you are missing horses, a few have been reported loose at Superior and Boundary road"

Oh. My. God.

Like any good horse owner, I immediately went to the worst case scenario.
It's getting dark, Delight's going to get hit by a car. Some idiot hunter is going to shoot Tilly, thinking she's a deer.
Alison, you idiot, everything is fine. Your fencer is on, and that intersection is five miles from home.
Horses can travel five miles! What if the neighbors pigs spooked the horses! OH GOD!
"Oh god... where are they"

So I did what every sane and rational horse owner would do: I drove home - via the loose horse intersection- to make sure that all three ponies were still safe and sound behind the fence. And, just to drive myself extra crazy, I kept scanning the radio stations for more reports of loose horses. Nothing.
12 nerve wracking miles later, I pulled into the drive and what do I find.....
No horses in the yard...

Three happy ponies munching away on their left over hay.

Whew. Thanks guys, for my first totally unnecessary heart attack.

**Pictures are actually recreations of the event. What kind of total narcissist would document such a fright?

Monday, November 18, 2013

And The Award for The Best Winter Tool Goes To....

The Headlamp!!!

My Mother Dearest sent me a box of goodies from LL Bean. Long underwear, short long underwear and a head lamp.
Be still, my beating heart.
Is there a better invention out there than a hands free flashlight? I submit that no, there is not. I have been using the Flashlight App on my phone, tucked into the breast pocket of my coat (gotta love a jacket with a million pockets) which has been a n acceptable solution to my taking-care-of-ponies-in-the-dark-of-winter quandry.

Now that we are well into fall, it's past dusk well into dark when I get home to bring the horses in and dump manure. I really dislike that aspect of fall.winter. Sure, I've done more reading in the past three weeks than all summer. Sure, I've gotten tons of sleep since dusk is no longer 11pm. But really, a girl has things that she would like to do after work... and those things now involve a flashlight. Bah.

Anywho... Back to my amazing headlamp.

Like any grown woman, I tore into my LL Bean bog with glee and immediately tried out my new goodies. I still had a barn to clean and horses to bring in, after all. So off I went, headlamp firmly settled on my chook.

This light is amazing! I can point it anywhere just by turning my head! It doesn't drain the battery on my phone!  And I can clearly spot my horses and dogs while I go about my chores.
This is actually mid day lighting

Interesting side note: Has anyone else notice that dogs eyes glow orange while horses eyes glow a blue green when spot lighted? Scientific fact or anomaly limited to my herd/pack? Because this matters.

Get back to the story, Alison. You are not a naturalist. Waaay too much Crocodile Hunter in your past. Sheesh.

Fair enough. Where was I? Oh yeah, I was playing with the headlamp while wheeling manure out to the pile. Look to the left? Spot a pony. Hear crashing to the right? There's a poodle.  I love this light!
Too close, Tini. Too close

On my last trip out to the pile, the horses are waiting by the gate because they have had enough being spotlighted and are just want for dinner already. Scott is harassing Delight, and the poodles are lying in the hay staying toasty.
I look left; nothing but the remains of a round bale.
I look right towards the sounds of a yapping sheltie; Nothing but trees.
No such thing as a Stealth Sheltie

I glance to the west of my manure pile, near the tree line.....; and within the trees I see it.

Or I should say, it sees me.

Glowing orange eyes peer back at me. Too big to be a poodle. Too quiet to be a Sheltie. Oh SHIT.

As it blinks a few times and hurries off silently, I dump my wheelbarrow and make sure all three dogs are still in or around the barn.

It was probably a coyote not a wolf.... But being watched gave be the heebie jeebies. Yech!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

I Can Be Taught!

So, long time, no post.... again.

It just seems like a girl gets awfully busy and the blogging takes a hit. Don't you just hate it when that happens?
Anyway, where was I....

Oh yeah. I got a lesson! Or four!!! Who's excited???? Just me?

That's fair.

I even gave them a fresh bale. Moved it by myself.
 I attended a Ken Borden Jr clinic in WI with two ponies in tow. I figured that I needed to grab the opportunity with two greedy hands. And so both ponies were signed up, which unfortunately left The TiniBopper all by her lonesome.
Tini takes a nap
And she handled it like a champ. She called for the Ponitas a few times, then moseyed off the indulge herself at the hay buffet without bossy ponies to push her around.

When I pulled out of my farm at 7am, I could see green grass and grey clouds. There was an icky layer of sluch on my car and trailer, but nothing too serious (whew! Who wants to haul in the slush?). When I stopped at a barn 10 miles down the road to pick up another horse, there was several inches of snow. When did that happen?!?!

Fortunatly, I am made of stern stuff. Instead of saying 'nope, the roads are shit', I soldiered on and headed south. The roads were fine- freshly salted and plowed- and the trailer hauled perfectly. there was significant snow on the sides of the road, and it was grey and raining/snowing the whole way.  We made it after a short 2.5 hour haul, unloaded and I was even able to watch a lesson before I had to tack up for my first ride.

I had signed up for one private and one semi-private lesson each day (because I mentally balked at four $100+ lessons). My plan was that Tilly and I would have the private lesson and Delight would have the shorter semi private lesson, since she wasn't as fit or ready as Tillner... What with her saddle saga and all. 

Tilly was a show stopper. We have been battling connection issues and getting her truly on the bit. She has occilated from behind the bit to above  to stiff on the right then stiff on the right. Ken had us regulate the tempo - slower to the left and lengthened to the right- to really encourage her to use her hind legs instead of just throwing around her front legs all fancy-prancy like. He also had us really counterbend when tracking to the right to really encourage Tilly to take contact on the left rein. And it worked. Who would have guessed?

Delight was a pistol. I had her in a half hour semi private lesson, just in case she wasn't fit enough. 
She was fit enough. 
As we worked, it was obvious that she was bracing in the underneck to get out of bending, so Ken had us do a lot of forcing the issue- over bending to the inside while Delight raced around overtempo- to get her to give in laterally. The idea was to put pressuer on one side of her bit to encourage her to give instead of both sides and letting her panic and pick a fight. Ken even hopped on Delight - and remarked that she was wider than the 17h oldenberg. Whoops. 

On Sunday, I swapped rides- which is to say that I rode Tilly in the semi private and Delight in the private. Daelight was a much improved pony. We did a lot of leg yield to get her softer to the bend. Leg yield on the circle, leg yield on the quarterline with circles, leg yield on the rail with transitions. We eventually were able to move on to the shoulder in - with transitions - and lengthenings on the circle. She was sooo much better than the previous day. Thank goodness. 
Tilly had an easy half hour ride, working on changing the tempo to encourage her to really carry herself. We worked more specifically on encouraging the lateral bend in the canter departs. 

We left after an amazing lunch, and I have to say that I was greatly relieved to find Tini right where I left her. Both Tilly and Delight were happy to be out in the herd again.
So another successful clinic.

Of course, when I woke up on Monday morning to park my trailer and unload everything, there was more snow on the ground. Great.
Home Sweet Home

Monday, November 4, 2013

And... Wa-alk

It's been a pretty quiet few days.

Delight likes her new saddle, but it does need to be a tad wider for her to have absolutely no reason to complain. I'm really glad to finally have something that is pretty comfortable - for her- on her. Don't get me wrong, I love the saddle too, it fit's me just fine, even if the flaps are just a touch longer than I would have really liked.
Look at the little Tini-Bopper in her grown up bridle
And I rode Tini. Yep, you read that right. Rode. As in, sat on as she walked about. And it was a total non-event (whew!).
She's gotten really good at lunging in pretty round circles, even while wearing a bit, so I decided to up the ante. I had already sat on her once, and she didn't react other than to wrap her neck around and look at me. So, this weekend when it was windy and cool (perfect baby-working weather), I mounted the Tini. No holder, no lunge line.

And we walked.

Her steering is going to need some work, and I really wish that I had fenced in my arena; that would have totally made this whole riding-a-greenie thing way less concerning.  So now we have two days of walking in little circles under our belt. Like a pro.
Who is that fine looking mare?

Friday, November 1, 2013

Dressage on a Dime

Which, ironically, is what I planned on naming Delight's athletic spin/spooks that she perfected during our bareback stint for the past two months when she was without a saddle.

But now she has....
Not a flattering angle
A Saddle!

I'm sure everyone remembers my plea to sell a kidney/egg/part of my soul to get Delight the saddle of her dreams, the only possible way top fit my 17" ass onto her 14" back... The Schleese HK with both shoulder relief AND relief wedge. The demo model was a shocking 4K, with the new model costing over $6500.

I was in the midst of preparing myself for a sodium overload associated with a ramen only diet for the next year or so, when lo and behold, what did I find?
Mmmmm.... block of noodles.
A JES with retrofitted pannels, modified to include shoulder relief AND relief wedge???? Could I be so lucky!?!? Of course, I sent the seller an email clarifying that it had both modifications. Unfortunately, as the hours remaining in the auction ticked by, I didn't hear and sort of confirmation. As hours became minutes, some one else bid on it. I decided to risk it and bid myself... even without seller confirmation. It could have been an epicly stupid move, but as soon as I won the seller contacted me to verify that this was, in fact, exactly what Delight needed (ok, so she didn't phrase it quite like that). What perfect luck! And for less than half of what the demo would have cost me.
I do love a good deal.

In related great-deal news... When I stopped by the local consignment store to buy some more riding sweaters (because why spend $60 on a warm sweater that I'm only going to destroy out at the barn when I could spend $3 at the thrift store?), guess what I found...
it's actually about 18" tall... This is an awkward angle
A mini electric fire place! I've been passively looking for an electric heater of sorts, since I absolutely refuse to bump up my thermostat to heat the whole house when I'm using just one room. Also, Tempi doesn't like to be cold. It has awesome fake flame action that make the room warm and inviting and really heats an area up... And now I have somewhere to hang mini Christmas stockings!

Who else is super excited about it!
We are!