Tuesday, July 29, 2014

I am an Artiste!

Well, possibly not an artiste (that’s right. Say it with an accent…), but I certainly finished up all of my pending crafts on a rainy Sunday.
In an effort to have things to post about, I’m going to separate them into two crafter (and because the second one may not be 100% totally finished as of yet… but it’s still super awesome).

Now, I know that by now my preferred design aesthetic won’t come as a shock, but allow me to reiterate.

I love steampunk. All things steampunk. The goggles and corsets, the jewel tones and metals, top hats and gears. . I loved everything about the show Firefly.
 I love the faux old engineering feel and the blend of futuristic and antique.
Just a random example....
Makes sense now, doesn’t it?
No? Oh well.

Anyway, I am also oddly sentimental about a few household items that I bought at an estate sale when I was in Jr High.
Whoa… that long ago? Holy shit!

Yeah, thanks.
Anywho, I bought a set of wind chimes for less than a dollar. At the time of purchase, they were just about rusted through, but I loved them. There were six high stepping horses tinkling softly in the wind, suspended from a fake horse shoe and vintage looking horse head. Now, I love the antique look; at the time, I just loved horses.  I’ve hung it up at every residence so far… Even my college apartment when my welcome mats were stolen with some regularity. As it would turn out, the thief probably assumed that the risk of contracting tetanus wasn’t worth the giggles of stealing a teenager’s wind chimes.

So, after all that me and my fifty cent wind chimes have been through, imagine my upset at finding that last winter’s snow finished them off. Of my six high stepping team, only four could be found/salvaged. The other two were carried off in the melt after the weight of the snow broke the ancient fishing line that suspended them.
So there I was. With a choice.
I could either:
A) Toss the whole shebang into the trash and never look back
B) Gather the broken pieces and ply my creative hand at breathing fresh life into one of my few outdoor decorations.

It’s not like I could wreck them further, so Option B it was.
(Whoops, nearly said Plan B, but that’s a whole different blog post)

So, here I give you my step by step process:

Step one: Spray paint salvaged pieces with Rustoleum. Now, me personally, I chose hammered copper. I liked the textured look and it allowed me to play with my steampunk fetish.

Step Two: Allow to dry. Patience is a virtue that I seem to be lacking.

Step Three: Forget about the project for a few days, trip over the pieces for a while and wait for inspiration to strike.

Step Four: Inspiration! I used a shit-ton of Mod Podge to affix assorted watch gears and parts to each of my remaining four Prancers.

Step Five: Patience, again. Not a personal strong suit. I think I need to start finding crafts where there isn’t so much waiting between bursts of inspiration.
As an aside, I really like the gears on my little Prancers. Even if my final wind chime project is an abject failure, I can still salvage them for something else. Maybe picture frame embellishments. Hmmm….

Step Six: Go to a craft store (but not Hobby Lobby for being back woods hicks and denying employees birth control coverage). Me, I went to Walmart… because that’s literally all we’ve got. Sorry. Purchase wire/string (I chose fishing line) and assorted odds and ends to decorate.

Step Seven: String em up! Add decorations and play with heights. Yay!

I know that you can’t really see in the itsy bitty pictures, but I used heavy metal beads as additional weight to keep my poor wind chimes from going too nuts in the breeze. I also had brass and gold beads, along with rose shaped gold buttons and one bead of a heart with wings.
Even though originally my little Prancers were all at the same height to clang together in the wind, I choose to stagger for a spiraled look. I’m not interested in the sound so much as the aesthetic, because let’s face it… the dulcet tones of sheet metal clanging together isn’t really soothing. Then again, maybe that’s just me.
I added a center strand of stone, left over beads and wing charms.

Step Eight: Hang up and enjoy!

(Though in all honesty, I’m probably going to move it to a window in my shed to be a little more protected from the elements)
It makes me smile everytime I walk past it, so I think that I can conclusively call this project a success….

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Leaping Tall Buildings with a Single Half Halt

Do you even know who I am????
The Buca wants go go in NOW!
Ask any horse person and pretty much we will all say that the Local Clubs should be supported. You know what I mean: the clubs that put on the shows for non-professional horse people to get together and have fun. The shows where most of us got our starts (unless you debut at the high dollar, big deal shows… in which case, lucky you). Even if they have their flaws, they are a great. These are the shows where, for a measly $5 a class, you can try your hand at gaming or jumping or pleasure. What a great place to mingle with other horse owners!  I mean, if no one supports the local shows then they are going to shrivel up and die leaving the next generation of up and coming horse men and women with no place to make their debut.
You hear the arguments:
The footing isn’t imported felt.
The group putting on the shows doesn’t know anything.
I’ve grown past the local levels.

Side note: At this point in typing my blog, I was interrupted by a wood pecker on my house. I threw rocks, it didn’t seem to care. Now to continue my lost train of thought…

My answer to all of those: Suck it up. Horses aren’t going to die if they aren’t in a perfectly groomed arena. You can always ride HC if you feel that you outclass the competition and BONUS: you may just get to inspire a newcomer to the horse sports to strive to be better. I remember seeing a third level rider at a schooling show way back in the days of quarter horses and barrel races and being just blown away. Sure, I’d be more critical now, but that test left a distinct impression on me. I was going to dance like that. And I did.

OK, off of my soap box now.

Guess what I did?
Uh, gee. Went to a local show? *Sarcasm*
Ding! Ding! Ding! We have a winner.

Now, as you all may know, I love Delight. I also have two other horses who are sucking up my horse show funds, so she’s been shelved for two years (yikes! Has it really been that long?). I’m proud of her, I want to show her off but I’m not able to spend $500 on a real show weekend just to pat myself on the back. Drat. Where is that rich old guy when I need him?
So, I took Delight to a local jump show. That’s right ladies. Jump show.
Of course, being the fussy DQ in the area with a reputation to uphold, I got up early and braided.
With PINK yarn! Adora-pony!
Then we loaded up and off we went. We had a lot of fun for a measly $20 and it sure was nice not to have a four hour drive home.

It was a 12 mile drive, Delight!
I’ll be the first to fess up that I am not the bravest over fences. There’s a reason that I love dressage. I love the control, the confined power. The deep seat.
Is Delight too classy? Possibly.
However, Delight was nice and soft on the bit and not perturbed in the least when I jacked up the stirrups on my dressage saddle and proceeded to warm up around a jump. Our fellow competitors were slightly wary of our leg yields (How do we ride around that??!??!), but we called our lines and Delight was fantastic. Until I opted for a warm up fence.

Think she cleared it by enough?
We slammed on the brakes, and even had a buck or two when I insisted. So I asked a volunteer to drop one side to make an awkward half-cross-rail and voila! Over we popped. We hopped it a few times each way before it was reset as a vertical and we hopped over that too. Already the show was a success.
I entered the "novice horse" classes HC, since while she and I are novices over fences I didn't feel right about taking ribbons. Not that it mattered, there were other horses who were much faster than us (because I fully believe in the half halt). 

Now PICTURES! Because that's the real reason we show, right?

Someone was skeptical of the pigs

Calm pony. Adorable.

Because we're still dressage riders between the fences

She's a strong pony!

Friday, July 25, 2014

The Perks of a Grand Prix Pony

No, don't worry. La Ponitas are far from grand prix... but Grand Prix Pony does have a certain ring to it, doesn't it? 
Now, I know that I am one lucky SOB when it comes to horses. I mean, how many dressage enthusiasts have a Grand Prix horse fall into their lap so that they can earn their medals in a handful of shows?

Handful? Easy Alison, no need to get cocky. You still need those Grand Prix scores.

No matter. Bucky and I have got this.
(Know what bucky and I don't "got"? Trail riding... not our bag....)

But that’s not really my point. Not only do I have this wonderful horse to practice the upper levels on, I have a very definite point of comparison for my ponies.  I know what riding a straight powerful line of tempis feels like. I have ridden the ‘sit’ needed for half-steps (or actually piaffe). It’s really enlightening, and prompts me to ask for more, instead of settling for ‘good enough’ from my girls.
Eating and napping... what else doe you want from a pony?

Delight is not always on board with this training methodology. She very much believes that I should be damn pleased that she even offers to play my game, much less ask her for more. How rude is that?
Of course, I still have moments when I call up my support system (aka my sister) asking why the half passes on Delight don’t feel like Bucky's or how to fix it when Tilly struggles with some bit of lateral work.
Oh, she’s not a grand prix pony (yet!)? Of course! Baby steps. 
Evidently that training pendulum swings both ways… Too much, not enough, too much, not enough.

And where are we going with this rambling monologue?

Right. The point.
The point is that Delight and I have our flying changes newly installed! Of course, they don’t quite feel like Bucky’s nice calm controlled changes… In fact, usually the first few are more of a fly-through-the-air-and-land-on-the-new-lead-hopefully. It’s… exuberant, to say the least.
After a few cannonball-pony leaps, we can get a few nice, clean, easy flying changes to each direction. And today, even our half passes felt Bucky-like.
Suck it, second level! 
Ahm, I mean…. We are going to kick ass if I ever take this pony to another show. At first level. Because that's what it takes.
Humble, Alison. Humble…
Just because my tractor is sexy....

Did I mention that Delight had clean changes today? ‘Cause it was awesome. 

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Going for Gold: Step One

I don't even want to think how much this certificate cost....
This past weekend was the NWDA Summer Recognized show… which can only mean one thing. I loaded up and headed out, Bucastan in tow. Now, being the frugal soul that I am, I realized that while I’ve already qualified at fourth level and PSG, Bucky and I need practice in the ring together.

Because while the extended-trot-fly-around-the-warmup technique is entertaining and our scores have been quite respectable, I said screw it. Let’s go I-1. Now, there was really no reason that Bucky and I couldn’t do I-1. We’ve got the pirouettes, tempis, half-passes… Good to go.
And so we did. … What could be the problem?
I’m a klutz. A serious, total klutz with unfortunate timing.
Friday morning, Tempi woke me up with her you had better take me out otherwise you are going to have something clean up on your nice wool carpet whine. So up I got, and stumbled out of bed well before my alarm was supposed to go off. In my pre-coffee stupor, I didn’t bother to flip on the light as I made my way down the stairs.
About four steps from the bottom, I caught the step with my instep and folded my foot in half under me as I fell down the final few steps. I curled into the fetal position and pretended to die. After the shock wore off (or set in), and I was able to stand up again, I vet wrapped and Ibuprofen-ed up and packed all of my show gear, hay bales, saddle racks, feed, buckets, the whole nine yards. And off we went.
Look at all of those pretty colors...and they only got better!

Our debut into Intemediare I was not without it’s bumps.
I cried putting my boot over my poor swollen toe. I teared up while warming up at the posting trot. I forgot where the extended walk ended up (I miss the PSG) and had an off course then we spooked the horse in the ring next to us before our 2’s and had an miss count in our tempis. Evidently Bucky likes to try to intimidate other horses a la his warm up method. Whoops.

But it was a good enough effort to earn a healthy 63.5% to win the FEI TOC. Way to go, Bucky.
What? I won? But of course!

Sunday’s booting up attempt was even worse. I think I created new curse words. Unfortunately my trot work was slightly lackluster, as I attempted to ride an FEI test without using my right foot.
Much harder than it sounds.
And I really wouldn't recommend it. Seriously. Word to the wise: Don't break yourself before a horse show. 
On the plus side, our canter work was quite nice, which probably saved our test. The three tempis felt so nice, I even added a few extra changes.
Judges comment: Extra credit!
And Change-y Change-y!

But still knocked off a few points. Whoops.
We still earned a well-deserved 61.8% with plenty of room for easy improvement. 
First step to our gold medal: Check.

Just imagine if I could actually ride!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Hi-Ho Silver!

Ahm… let me start out by apologizing.
I got busy.
My computer blew a RAM stick.
I moved across the country again.
And I’m living in a log cabin with no internet.
My life is in constant upheaval, yet boring as shit.

Sorry I’ve abandoned you guys (but let’s face it, most of you all don’t care).

But in FANTASTIC news… I got my Silver Medal at the DDC Spring show in Dallas before I left to come back to the UP. Fan freaking tastic. Finally, I am up another medal, thank you Bucastan.

We earned our fourth level scores at the Texas Dressage Classic in Tyler, TX in April. After fewer than twenty rides together. Because, practice… who needs practice?
It was a disaster. There were tornadic-forced winds and inches upon inches of rain. Our warm-up consisted on the extended trot to halt transitions. Because that’s all we had. No steering, no half halts, nada, zip, nothing. We ran people over (some people, repeatedly). Then the bell rang and we entered at A, and Bucky was on FIRE.
Half pass? Yes m’am!
Rein back to canter? Sure thing!

(Psst... Click the links above for video)
(Double Psst: Yes, that is me riding 4-3 while curled up in the fetal position)

Thus we earned our first three fourth level scores, ranging from 63% to 66%. Fourth level? Check.
At the DDC Spring shows we broke out the PSG (and a brand, spanking new shadbelly. Thank you Christine at the Bridle Suite!). We had a pleasant day I, coming in with a respectable 64% even though I totally blew my 4s.

Because who can count to four? Not me, that’s for damn sure.
Day two, I NAILED my fours. And celebrated halfway through my threes, which became 3-4-2-5-3. Whoops.  It averages out, right? We still earned a 7, thank you Chopra. Love that guy.
Really, it was a fantastic show. I smiled. Yes.
Smiled through my whole test.
Does that even happen??? What?

So now what? Bucky and I have qualified at both Fourth and Prix St Georges, so KHP, here we come.
Two down, one to go...

BOOM! Silver time!
This weekend, Bucky and I are patronizing our ‘local’ show (as in the only one under four hours from me… it’s 3.5). Where we will be making our I-1 debut. Let’s just see if we can knock out that first set of scores for our gold, eh?

Wish us luck!

PS: I'll try so hard to be a better poster...