Here there be dragons...

"I'm telling you stories. Trust me." - Winterson

A positive attitude may not solve all your problems, but it will annoy enough people to make it worth the effort!

I am just in the best mood. No real reason, but have been all day :) N amazing how when things start that way good things happen...

So we were told a few days ago some of us would be going south on the 14th and some on the 17th (the horses go in two loads). Was very def hoping to be in the first group :) Well first thing this morning I find out I'm to leave on the 12th! Woohoo. Then at lunch it's "it looks like we might be going a week earlier" hahaha I could leave next Wed!!!! But won't know for sure till Mon or so. Craziness.

XC lesson got cancelled cause, well, the jumps are all burried :( Ah well. Dressage instead. Sheesh :) Theory quote of the day was "when he's being good, ask him to be good" -- which is a whole lot like "ride every stride" -- basically just cause you FINALLY get it, doesn't mean you get to stop riding. Oh no, in fact more likely than not, you actually have to ride more. Sheesh. WHY do we do this again?

Oh yeah -- cause the hack AFTER the dressage was phenominal :) By that point the sun had come out and the sky was blue. Temp just around zero (but w/ nice fuzzy winter breeches it's all good :), big fluffy snow covering everything, horse a little high and bouncing cause the temp's just right for that (funny - he didn't bounce when we were doing dressage....) etc etc etc. Absolutely amazing. N in the middle of nowhere, hacking alone. Soooo peaceful. Only sounds are the horse's hooves crunching the snow and the stream babbling off to the side...



Anyways -- back to dressage. The point was basically it's easier to keep him there then to get him there (theoretically that is -- at the moment he's so unfit I actually find it easier to get him there than to convince him to hold it. But I do agree w/ the theory -- I'm reasonably certain I've even been guilty of saying it to MY students *g* :) Also discussed the concept of dressage being like going to the gym -- do a certain # of reps in each set; take a break; rinse and repeat... hahaha I'll mix metaphores if I want to thankyouverymuch! >;-P

Right yeah back to dressage... it being the weightlifting component of riding -- do it, do it correctly, but don't do it very long. Then change dir so both sides get same workout (or 60-40 for the weak side). Give horse a break -- either entirely (long rein walk) or by changing the exercise to focus on something completely different for a bit. Then come back to it -- and the next time around still expecting perfection, but shorter bursts cause the muscles have already worked (again like being @ the gym... Have to be a trainer in ALL aspects of the word). This, of course, is all after having walked for ages, then warmed up and been all relaxed n soft n all that other ooey-gooey-good stuff.

hahaha yeah so I'm being a little silly tonight sobeit >;-P

So back to dressage... hahaha no -- I wouldn't do that to you again!

Well I'm off to go make Hallowe'en cookies so tomorrow we have junk at the barn. (there were donuts AND cinnamon buns today. Maybe *that's* what made it such a good day!!! hahaha of course the donuts were from the rather unfortunate soul who had an unplanned dismount the other day. Still don't know where the cinnamon buns came from... But at least a few days/wk there's usually fun stuff to snack on. It's a *very* good thing this job burns so many calories or we'd all be round!) Now don't worry that I've been taken over by this whole baking/cooking thing -- by "make", I mean "take out of the box and put in the oven" hahaha as baking SHOULD be :)

Happy Birthday Mum!!!!

hahaha so I wanted to get my mum something Vermontian for her bday since this is where I happened to be -- well how disappointed was I to discover that the main Vermont export is . . . maple syrrup! Sheesh. I mean seriously, couldn't they have come up w/ anything that we can't do better @ home :) Anyways -- that rant was actually from a couple wks ago but couldn't post it till today :) With some creative-interpretation DID manage to send Vermontian things you wouldn't get at home so all is well :) N I think she even liked them *g*

So today was my day off. And last night it started snowing. And all day it snowed. And yes I freely admit it's gorgeous (http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pid=4622933&l=e67aa&id=823765365), but if it doesn't stop soon getting to work tomorrow will be interesting. Tomorrow was also supposed to be XC day, but methinks that is less than likely to actually happen!



Anyways the basic blogging rule (that I try to follow anyways) is that 'you don't write because you want to say something; you write because you have something to say'. And honestly, tonight I don't. So calling on my find command of the English language, I shall say nothing.

Until tomorrow >;-P

I have not yet begun to procrastinate.

So could somebody tell me why the horse who's afraid of EVERYthing decides a PORCUPINE is the creature worth investigating?!?! Poor thing had about 8 quills in his muzzle this morning... I've never actually seen porcupine quills before. They're pretty intimidating looking.

Went on a conditioning hack yesterday -- sooooo much fun. Man the day I figure out how to get those gaits in dressage, I'm set! hahaha Little RC is getting stronger fast, and being a TB is already pretty well aerobic fit, so we're slowly starting to do more. Flat lessons have been consistently focusing on relaxation b4 anything (ummm which part of TB did you miss???), follow the training scale, etc etc. And we're finally getting to the point where we don't have to quit as soon as we get said relaxation so starting to be able to work a bit. He's willing enough but dressage is never going to be his strong point I'm afraid -- I now know enough to appreciate Miss Zel *g*

For the curious, RC and I from our first XC school: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=172632&l=e08e1&id=823765365

And for comparison purposes -- the real Rio: http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pid=3424008&l=21b5a&id=823765365 hahaha I'm not *that* far off in calling borrowed horse RC!

Yeah so I really have nothing exciting to say tonight. Really just typing to avoid going out in a wicked storm to feed late-night. Later!

The one thing scarier than cows...

is Fjords!!!! hahaha they kinda smell like horses, move like horses, but man they just don't LOOK like horses. CLEARLY they're aliens attempting to impersonate (imhorseate?) horses!!! And really, doing a pretty miserable job of it. RUN!!! RUN while you still can!!! hahaha or @ least that's what RC and his other afraid-of-cows hacking buddy thought. Could feel his heart pounding rapid-fire. hahaha poor guy :)

Perfect practice makes perfect

woohoo!!! More Truly Intelligent People!!! hahaha is it sad that that's a highlight to my day? But there are sooooo many *stupid* people we all have to deal w/ that increasing numbers of intelligent people SHOULD be celebrated! Or that's my take on it anyways :)

So jump school today was one of the most challenging I've ever had -- and the fences were tiny. 4 riders @ 4 diff levels -- from child on pony doing grasshopper to child's father doing prelim. Inbetween were RC who's about E level right now and the fourth horse is solid at T. Everybody did the same lesson -- although it was interesting to see how much harder he was on the two of us who are working there *g* Little pony did the course @ about 1'6. RC and T horse @ 2'6, P horse @ 2'9. So clearly height was not the challenge of the day.

Theory (in pt form cause we've done most of this b4):
- everything depends on the quality of the canter. Must create/maintain speed, balance and impulsion. (any of this sounding familiar?)
- should practice said canter in the flat work -- this is the point of dressage.
- 3 stages to a jump (this is based on George Morris): 1st stage is creating the canter, 2nd stage is seeing/riding the spot, 3rd stage is jumping the fence. Denny also suggests that in reality there's often a Stage 0 - where the horse is long/flat and in cruising and/or speed mode before you enter phase 1. The problem that occurs is that people try to combine phases 1&2 (create the canter and find a spot at the same time) and end up w/ neither.
- you have to practice to get good at it. This is one of those blatantly obvious things we all tend to forget.
- school little jumps for 3 reasons: easier on the horse so can do it more, less intimidating for the rider so more likely to do it correctly, if you do screw up - and you will - it's less catastrophic. hahaha

So our course had 11 fences -- most of the scary stuff has been put away for the winter (we leave in 18 days! Not that I'm counting or anything :) so nothing really *looky* to the fences, and as has already been stated, they were small. Now the only interesting thing is it was very much of what my students quasi-affectionately refer to as a "Lauren Course" hahaha and will know exactly what I mean by that. For those who haven't had the pleasure -- it's *very* twisty, with lots of turns in directions you wouldn't usually expect, and lots of related distances. So basically you have to think while you ride.

Still np right -- I mean seriously, not that big a deal, esp when the fences are tiny.

Here's the minor catch -- every fence had to be perfect. That's all.

Pace (broken down into speed/balance/impulsion) had to be perfect (on the horse who's still not strong enough to maintain it -- although rapidly getting better! I love TBs :). Uphill canter, butt under him, while maintaining enough speed (but not too fast!!! Damn!), etc etc

Path -- this was not such a prob, except on one S type line w/ only 3 strides between each fence, where we jumped in too big on fence 1 and *really* overdid the curves to get the other 2 fences *g* hahaha 2nd try was better. And oh yeah -- make sure you get the perfect spot every time while you're at it. This is non-negotiable.

Position -- *always* has to be perfect. This, unfortunately, includes "shorten your reins" hahaha Did make it around more than 1/2 the course w/o being told that though, so that's progress *g* It was every 2 or 3 strides the first week.

Basically the quality of the canter he wants is such that whether the fence is 6 inches or 6 feet, the horse could jump it. *That* balanced and rocked back on the hocks. And he says it's a real problem how many riders are doing prelim/int and even adv who can't jump around a 2'6 course perfectly. Too many people skip this step because it's *hard*. Hard to do and hard to teach. So they buy really expensive horses that'll do the job for them and put the fences up so the horse does it right out of self-preservation. "oh but the fences have to be bigger to back my horse off/for him to jump well/etc etc..." *substitute your own excuse here* -- we've all said it :) Well except maybe the DQs *g* I'm not quite sure what their equivalent would be -- suggestions??? hahaha anyways -- his point is that if that's true, you're relying on the fence to do YOUR job for you, so you don't have to ride properly. Said you should be able to create and maintain that canter regardless of height.

Did think that was a pretty good point (although I've certainly never been in a position to ride a horse that'd do it for me!!! I can dream though! Wait -- I don't think that was *exactly* what we were supposed to take from that :) hahaha

Now all that being said and done -- he did make a point to say that jumping little fences ALL the time isn't going to cut it -- you and your horse both have to get comfortable w/ height. Just that the majority of your schooling can be done low, so long as you insist that what you do, you do perfectly. Essentially 10 mins of perfect practice is better than 10h of *whatever*.

I had a thing up in my apt @ home that said "Expect Perfection, Tolerate Excellence" hahaha well apparently that's just not going to cut it here :) But hey, maybe I'll learn to ride a little. *g*

The Rules

And while we're at it -- for those who aren't aware of the *official* (or not so much :) rules of eventing... This list evolved as I was teaching very fun E/PT riders; in particular Nicole, Steph and Paula who rode w/ me for years helped define the most important ones! This list goes w/ me to all the shows in with the real rule book that most TDs are more familiar w/ :)

1. Keep horse between rider and ground. (hey as of Aug this is a TD rule too!!! See, it's spreading!)

2. Be happy.

3. Just keep kicking!

4. Take credit for flukes.
4a. Corollary – never discount the power of luck.

5. Jump First = Jump Alone.

6. It doesn’t have to look pretty.

7. Remember, you can ride as fast as your horse can run.
7a. Corollary – never ride faster than you can steer.

8. Stadium is simply dressage with speedbumps; therefore, yes you have to do dressage today.

9. UTube videos should NOT be tried at home. (trust me on this one!)

10. Think positively –- scary jumps are just there to eliminate the competition.

Why we event...

Found it! hahaha wrote this a while ago in response to somebody online (ironically I think it might've been Denny!) tonge-in-cheek asking why after a particularly horrendous show :)

Why do we do it...

because the person you're competing against will complement your dressage test after all those months of training fall into place for that one spectacular test.

because complete strangers will commiserate with you when you come off XC dripping wet. And suddenly you find yourself with tons of new friends whose names you don't know simply because they understand completely.

because kind souls give up their weekend to sit by a jump or write for a judge or check tack so that you can have the chance to see just what you can do.

because when your little TB feels the need to express her excitement by jumping fences that only exist in her mind, and in the dressage warmup at that, the other people warming up just smile at her antics and give a little extra space. And you know they've all been there themselves.

because you land from that fence that was a little bigger, a little wider, or a little more technical than you were sure of, knowing you can take on the world.

because you can stand at the end of any PE/BN course and watch the riders' faces beam with pride and adrenaline as they cross the finish flags -- and know that that feeling doesn't go away no matter how high up the levels you go.

because there's nothing that can beat the feeling of finally getting all three phases to work on the same horse on the same day -- no matter what games the weather gods are playing.

because even in the torrential rain once the "3 . . . 2. . . 1. . . Have a great ride!" goes both you and your horse are set on what's coming up that the rest of the world doesn't matter.

or because, simply, the rest of the world really doesn't matter.

Whoever knew Entry could be so much fun!?!?!

So I wrote a thing a couple years ago about why we do it... What makes it worth the tears and frustration... (hmmm if I can find it, I'll put it here) -- anyways today was a shining example of why :) Not doing anything terribly exciting -- E level XC (well E level on a mountain! Makes a HUGE diff :) hahaha but omg I haven't had that much fun in I can't think of how long.

So of the 5 people invited to the cross school, only myself and ONE other showed up?!?!?! What planet IS this??? hahaha but WE had a blast :) Or @ least I did, and she was somewhat amused by how much fun I was having *g*.

Now you have to realize I've jumped this horse over maybe 10 fences, total, ever. And none of them were more than 2'. Beyond tiny. FIRST fence of the day is thoroughly solid, about 3' (PT height) and at the top of a hill (which always makes them ride bigger). 2nd fence is tiny, but has a rather significant drop on the landing side. For a horse who's already built downhill. THIS is our w/u :) Sheesh. But oh so much fun. Ended up actually being the most challenging run of the whole day (like I said, most stuff was E level) but what a way to start! Only thing is that Denny is overly cautious about pushing horses/riders so if he said to do it, I figured it was a pretty safe bet the horse would have no prob w/ it. Sure enuff -- superstar. Landing from the drop fence was a little dodgy the first time, but I found the buttons for the 2nd attempt :) Those would be the "please don't land on your head" buttons. hahaha


Clearing a tiny log by an insane amount



So yeah I haven't really done XC since last summer (running Sug around Marg's and Checkmate doesn't count :) and I haven't done real hills in... ever :) (see the mountain post) Closest thing would prob be stonehill... Headwaters has good hills but most of the jumps (@ least till prelim) are on flat sections. Anyways -- got thoroughly laughed at till I found my balance for jumping/galloping/turning on a significant slope. Def took a round or two b4 I got it down. Fortunately horse was being exceptionally tolerant of this (the fact that he was pretty zonked after our crazy mountain hike yesterday definintely helped!).

And I def turned right instead of left in our first course. Somehow taking "the scenic route" didn't go over nearly so well w/ him as it does in my classes :) hahaha and omg I was sooooo inclined to "speed-bump" this one T fence (near the end of the ride) -- it was SO in the way. But I'm not quite *that* at home w/ Denny's lessons yet. hahaha



The comment of the day "slow down". Every other instruction was "slow down" hahaha sound familiar anybody? "XC done properly should be balanced and under control -- no yahoo-cowboys" hahaha ok so balanced we were not, but we WERE under control -- it was just a whole lot faster than I was technically *supposed* to be going :) But hey, I was supposed to be testing out the horse right? HAD to see what it could do... I did not, however, feel I should mention that *g*

I often wonder which is worse -- ignorance or incompetence? I knew and didn't do it anyways? Or oops didn't know that -- when I should've *g* Often in lessons I think ignorance is the safer route. But then my ego gets in the way ;-P Funny how I don't mind being incompetent but have real probs w/ being ignorant. Ah well :)



Had some theory about the difference in your crusing gallop and your "we have to jump now" position and balance. And how best to effect the change. Fortunately this is a skill I actually have *g* -- (had to be SOME advantage to years of training babies! I'll tell ya, b4 they understand that XC can be ummmm terrifying! hahaha that's the real reason E speeds are so slow! Green horses OR green riders going any faster is just not a good idea) anyways -- got it through to little RC pretty quickly and our comments got significantly better.

Mostly it wasn't so much a lesson as a test-out-the-horse XC day. But oh so much fun. Next time I want to test out the big stuff! hahaha but little RC's def not ready for that *quite* yet.


Bank Combo


So after work I went... riding >;-P Yeah I'm a geek, what can I say. A friend here wanted to work her baby horse and baby horse needed a babysitter, so along I went. Rode this 14.3hh squared fuzzy little pony w/ no withers @ all that we randomly pulled out of a field (hahaha Kerri is this sounding @ all familiar?!?!?! This one wasn't *quite* as wide as Callie, but came pretty close!) hahaha it was the cutest thing ever. Super friendly. Calm but entirely green -- apparently has done a ton of ground work but never really actually been ridden *g* -- this I get told AFTER I agree to go :) But I basically spent the whole ride giggling. I swear it was like riding a stuffed toy. Trot? What trot? We're not trotting *looks down @ the legs in disbelief* omg, we are! hahaha

Oh and the best part -- Denny brought a camera to the XC school -- had the other girl and I take turns taking pics/vid of each other!!! For the middle section of the lesson anyways (not the beginning or the water and banks which were on the way home) hahaha I'll post the link here once I get them -- if any worked out (the sun was setting, it was a little blinding in places) :) Hopefully later tonight but we'll see.

Whew, that's over!

So I survived cooking class. N since I didn't like eating it, it's a pretty safe bet I won't be cooking again >;-P Come to think of it, it's already forgotten :)

I stand by that it's waaaayyyy too much work for far too little gain!

N now I'm hungry -- but she'd be very insulted if I went and got something else :)

hahaha just thought I'd share :) Don't mind baking, but cooking... well cooking's just a waste of time -- n really, I don't have enuff time to waste!

What goes up must come down....

Woohoo! 3 weeks till we go south!!! Got the official date today -- n it's *much* earlier than originally stated. I'm THRILLED! hahaha can't wait :)

So dressage lesson today was pretty good -- a repetition of one of my first ones here... Training pyramid (rhythm, gelassenheit - suppleness, contact . . . etc -- we don't even discuss the other levels :) -- focus on relaxation, correct muscle use, and rhythm. hahaha @ one point he was demonstrating muscle X is in use (just below the crest -- sorry my anatomy is failing me @ the moment n that book is DEF packed away in storage :) and how soft and flopping the lower neck was etc etc -- and all I could think of was Marg's steak analogy -- which I have to admit has always creeped me out a bit *g*. Clearly shouldn't have lessons right b4 lunch time!

Horse was going *really* well by the end though so I was quite happy about that. N positional issues appear to be gone. I asked about it today and he looked at me like I had three heads -- apparently the way it goes is if he's not correcting it, it must be right. hahaha I can understand that -- I know I've been guilty of doing it to ]my students in the past. Maybe I should try "what are my things?" and see what answer I get eh Stephy? :) Actually from Denny I'd prob get a novel length answer! Could be brilliant. That or I'll get the three-head look again *g*
Will try on next flat day.

Which is not tomorrow because tomorrow is XC!!!! woohoo!!! Was really funny to listen to Denny going around this morning to ask each person separately (I just happened to be where I could hear all the conversations) "the weather's supposed to be excellent, do you want to do XC tomorrow?" hahaha you can bet nobody said no :) That's one of those questions you really don't have to ask at an eventing barn... N then all morning the atmosphere in the barn was amazing cause everybody was all excited for tomorrow. hahaha the little things in life eh?

Went on an AMAZING hack this aft. Parts of the property I didn't know existed. But straight UP the mountain -- which is brilliant, till you realize you have to come back DOWN!!! I now understand how cats climb trees and get stuck. I've never been afraid of heights, but man I def had a few moments sitting at the top of said mountain thinking getting off the horse and sitting down before we fell down would be a really good idea (although the view was spectacular!!! If we go up there again, I'm bringing my camera :) hahaha omg seriously though, all you DQs out there who want to improve your seat -- ride straight DOWN a mountain! Scariest thing ever, but my position was brilliant outta self preservation!!! hahaha and if you lean forward you're dead so it's best if you don't do that :) I was never so grateful to be on a surefooted horse.

Anyways -- I'm being called to go to... cooking class now :( Only I could end up renting from a woman who teaches cooking! And is mortally offended that I don't cook. So today is beginner day and to mollify her I promised I'd put in an appearance. NOT looking forward to it though. Ugh. Anybody who wants to call and gossip, now would be a REALLY good time :) Long dis phone calls are an acceptable excuse :)

Do not cloud the issue w/ reason and logic...

Little RC had the *best* canter transition today :) I was sooo happy. Yes it's the little things in life. hahaha if you're a horse-person, you'll get that; if you're not... well that's a shame >;-P Those who know, cannot explain; those who don't know, cannot understand.

I gotta admit, most of the critters I've been riding lately have led me to a new appreciation for Zel. Rhythm on her was pretty idiot-proof :) In fact most things on her by the end were pretty idiot proof *g* And yes I know, logically, that she still can't do what I want to do, but that doesn't make it easy to accept. Oh who are we kidding -- I did dressage for a YEAR to avoid accepting it >;-P hahaha That being said, b4 said year I doubt rhythm would ever have occured to me so perhaps I did manage to learn something from it >;-P

So the F-word discussion. We all know the standard F word; well in a random non-lesson conversation the other day Denny suggested the real F word is Fat. Particularly in relation to women (this whole thing started after some smart-ass comment about the fact that I tend to go *through* the fences that I can't go over (top rail is electrified) rather than around... And that I *just* fit... hahaha) -- if, generally speaking, you tell a woman she's fat, she's going to be far more p*ssed and/or hurt than if you tell her to F-off. We were talking about the out-cry when George Morris told certain riders they had to lose weight and how everybody and their sister got all huffy about it. But then realistically, how good an athlete can you be if you're not physically fit? (and yes I know you can be heavy AND fit; those are not the people we're talking about here :) And how can your horse perform to his best if he has to cart around xtra weight?

So I got to thinking about that -- n while it's obviously in *very* general terms, there might be something to it. And in a slight variation -- IF we accept the premise that the offence is true, what does it say about society? That being called fat (which in some cases is an inarguable statement of fact) is among the worst insults out there...

Anyways -- just struck me as interesting, if somewhat random...

And more of complete randomness: we had a NH type person in today who was killing time waiting for one of the girls, n he was going around and analysing the horses' personalities based solely on appearance (swirls, ears, eyes, etc). Entirely old-wives tales... But the thing is, there's usually a grain of truth in those somewhere. While I'm not convinced I believe it, the analysis was pretty close for almost all of them. Sort of interesting. Almost want to put together a crib-sheet for the next shopping expedition! hahaha Of course who knows how much he's heard about them b4 too -- although I doubt he'd've heard enough to know *which* of the dark-bay tbX horses he was looking @. N none of them are ever in their right stalls. I'm really not sure why they even *have* assigned stalls.

For the curious -- the little I remember about swirls. Most have one between or just above the eyes and that doesn't tell much. But if it's somewhere else... One long swirl in the middle of the forehead = super-friendly w/ people (was pretty accurate). 2 swirls connected is going to be difficult -- highstrung or unpredictable (that one was bang on - had everybody laughing when he came up w/ that analysis). One swirl right in the middle and low = very intelligent (able to solve puzzles, untie knots, open gates, etc... Anybody @ Myrddin reading this want to go look @ Marty for me???). Apparently way off-center to the left is likely to be opinionated and/or stubborn; way off-centre to the right you may as well give up and go home. There were details about all sorts of other things too, but it was the swirls we were running around looking @ so that's what I remember *g* Apparently Linda Tellington-Jones has a lot of this in her books, but I haven't read them so I couldn't say for sure.

Is there logic to this? The only thing I can think of is that swirls etc are inherited much as personality traits are and so both are handed down together. Beyond that, I've no idea... Anybody w/ more than 101 level genetics experience care to comment?

Of course there's the whole chestnut mare w/ 4 white socks thing too -- but I still adored Zel :) So not putting tooooo much faith in it :) Although it was a good excuse when she was being... ummmmm... interesting *g*

Moooooo

Ok so there are these stupid flies that are driving me absolutely insane. Take your normal fly and make them 10x dumber. These things just fly around in circles till they die! It's gross -- there are dead flies everywhere, and live ones buzzing around crashing into walls. And they are EVERYwhere -- driving the horses insane at the barn, driving me insane in the house. Ugh. Apparently they're a real problem at this time of year in VT. Blah. Harmless -- just annoying and a little icky when you find yourself walking through dead flies :(

Ok so jump lesson today -- which, naturally, means I was happy :) Gymnastics for the first time since I've been here. Was also happy about that (being the gymnastic queen and all) AND since they were set up on a trot distance, it meant the whole fact that little RC isn't strong enough to canter properly doesn't matter. I rode in one of D's saddles since mine's been banned and I really thought showing up bareback wouldn't go over very well *g* Although I do admit to at least considering it hahaha but I figured making that particular point wouldn't be well received >;-P So yeah, riding in other saddle got told "oh look at that, your leg goes exactly where it's supposed to. Much easier when you're not fighting your tack isn't it?" ok ok I get the point. Want to guess the pricetag on that particular saddle? Comeon, take a guess... Got a number in your head? Ok -- now double it. Yeah -- those saddles apparently average about 4k. Cute eh? Ah well. I'll let myself be spoiled while I'm here Reality can kick in when I come home again :)

Had the strangest thing happen out hacking today -- still not sure exactly *how* it happened, but was def a first for me (and honestly, I don't think there are too many horsey firsts left! At least not ones I want to ever experience!)... So there were 4 of us out together. 2 whose horses love cows, 1 who really doesn't like them but has a bit of a brain (the one I was on), and 1 whose brain falls out its ears when there's a cow in sight (or any other excuse really). So we cross into the area where the paths diverge and standing there to greet us is a COW! hahaha had evidently let herself out of his paddock... Ok now that part was ok. The one horse was losing it a bit but not tooooooo badly, cause of course the cow hadn't moved. That was all well and good -- till the two riders sitting on cow-friendly horses decided they were going to herd the cow back into the pasture.

hahaha omg -- first of all it was insanely funny to watch them trying to do this, since they have absolutely NO idea how one goes about herding a cow (not that I would've been any better, but as my horse was spinning in circles at the time I wasn't exactly able to be involved). Anyways -- once the cow AND the two horses start cantering about playing this game, the other horse I was w/ LOST it. Which ironically helped my horse a bit cause he tried to chill her out. But then the cow cantered down the hill towards us, followed by his herders, and both our horses were out of there. Spin and gone. No biggie, we got them back under control w/in not tooooo far (just out of sight of the cow - imagine that :) -- but when I got mine stopped, he no longer had a bridle on! Seriously. I have absolutely NO idea how this came to be. He seemed not the slightest bit aware of it -- was still focused on where the cow was. Fortunately for me he kept his mouth closed -- so the bit stayed in, but the whole bridle was OFF. Still entirely done up, but hanging under his chin from the bit. Was the most random thing. I have NO idea how it happened. The two people who saw it have no idea how it happened (although admittedly the one was rather busy w/ her own horse :). So I hoped off and tried really hard not to lose him while I put his bridle back ON. hahaha then remounted and we set off back towards the scary cow area. The whole time he was entirely too focused on where the cow *might* be to pay any attention whatsoever to me.

By this point the cow and the would-be herders had vanished entirely. We knew they were on one of the upper paths, so we decided to stick to the lowest path :) My horse oh-so-bravely power trotted by the scary area ("ok, I'll go by, but I'm not going to walk -- the monster might come back and I'd need a running start!") and the other horse followed us... Then we met the scary excavator -- which her horse felt was terrifying and my horse couldn't figure out what she was scared of. hahaha so after that was all good. When we eventually met up w/ the other two we found out they never did manage to herd the cow back through the gate - but they found out how it gets out. Evidently it goes THROUGH the fence. Over the bottom wire and under the top (UGH a FLY just died on my keyboard!)... Anyways -- evidently the cow let herself back into her paddock when she got bored of being herded. We recommended to the cow's owner that perhaps the electric needs to be a *little* stronger :) hahaha

I met Santa!!!

woohoo! Thrilled to see so many truly intelligent people :) hahaha thanks for joining the list -- n judging by the pics, some start reading VERY young >;-P Well we all know Baby M is WAY beyond intelligent so why not :) Any others out there??? Look -- all the kewl kids are doing it >;-P hahaha

So today's will actually probably be short -- mostly cause I'm typing this while I *shoud* be working. HAVE to finish work b4 I can sleep. N I'm xhausted. Soooo...

Flat lesson on RC today -- have to admit it wasn't terribly exciting. I find Denny's jumping lessons significantly better than his dressage ones... But everybody's stronger at something right? Or maybe I've just had exceptional dressage coaches :) hahaha on the plus side -- I made it through a lesson w/o being told to look up or move my leg. Progress. Still had to shorten the reins a few times though *sigh* Ah well -- that can be next week. I've only had that habit for 20 years, shouldn't take THAT long to break it >;-P

On a completely random note -- I saw a moose tonight! First wild moose I've ever seen :) And yes I freely acknowledge that it's sad a Canadian had to go to VT to see a moose, but sobeit. I was still impressed.

So yesterday I learned what Santa Clause does in the off season. He builds riding rings. hahaha Seriously! I spent my day off spreading hay for mulch to fix the fields that were somewhat destroyed while this ring was being built (so much for a day OFF. Sheesh.) -- But I swear the guy I was working w/ looked *exactly* like Santa (minus the red suit) and had a similar personality. And while I admit the hay-blowing machine was somewhat amusing (although not nearly so much as the wood-chopper at the cottage last fall!) the novelty definitely wore off long b4 the job was done. Finished now though. And yet another completely random skill (?) to add to the list of "unexpected things learned" hahaha. I think maybe I'll actually start compiling that list -- could be amusing at the end of this. Or maybe not >;-P

Tomorrow (or soon anyways) I'll have to remember to tell you about the "F-word" discussion *g* Was, I thought anyways, an interesting take on society... But right now my contacts are blurred w/ sleep, so I'm off. Night!

Are you a truly intelligent person?

So if you've been reading this and are not yet on the list of "Truly Intelligent People" -- could you join?!?! Can use a fake E for all I care (if it even asks for one? I don't know -- I just see the names), I'm just *really* curious who I'm writing to!!! Let me know :) *edited later -- ok as silly as it seems to follow your own blog, I just added myself. It's a relatively painless procedure...*

Mr. Cayman met the cowboy today -- seems to be a really great horseperson w/ an interesting combination of natural-horsemanship and practical usefulness :) One horse he's working w/ on the farm (who actually has *very* similar issues to C -- maybe that's why the reaction to C's behaviour was more dramatic than perhaps otherwise called for?) Anyways -- he was riding her out and when she started acting up he just rode it through till it was a non-issue (this after 2 wks of training). Clearly willing to deal w/ the issues mounted etc. But w/ Cayman today (being the first day) he had him free in the ring and w/in a few minutes had him chilled out and following him around. No drama, no props, entirely body communication. But was really brilliant to watch. N he seemed to have a pretty good read on him too. Anyways -- hopefully he can help us figure out what's going on and if it's 'fixable'. Fingers crossed. After all "it's the difficult horses that have the most to give you" -- or is that just wishful thinking on the part of all people w/ difficult horses?

Jumping today -- FINALLY! Theory was mostly about the differences between jumping position and dressage position and why... The whole form follows function thing. Tight, short leg for stability and strength in jumping. Soft, long leg for suppleness and subtlty in dressage. Lower leg forward jumping for defence/strength, lower leg directly under for dressage for precision/suppleness. etc etc

Now not only has my HORSE been banned from lessons, but so has my jumping saddle! :( So sad. Was informed that it's making it impossible for me to ride correctly (hmmm this conversation sounds sorely familiar in ref to my dressage saddle. Sheesh) and there's no point to me coming to lessons if I don't even have a *chance* to do it right. Upon mentioning that it happens to be my ONLY jump saddle (sorry -- still haven't won the lottery) I was told to try one of his (or several till I find one that works)... Which is great and yet not, cause the last time I borrowed a saddle from my coach it got taken away from me at a show to be loaned to somebody else and I was left w/ nothing (thankfully I have great friends who bailed me out!), so I'm def a little gun-shy on that one. But that being said, no shows for 5 mths, so no real need to worry... Of course the other catch is that if I find the perfect saddle for me here, I'm toast, cause I could never ever afford one. But for the moment at least, I'll be doing as I'm told :)

I got a little frustrated in this lesson because I was being asked to make the horse canter a course in a fashion that yesterday was deemed to be too hard for him (@ his current level of fitness) for more than about 3 strides... N I'm thinking, if we can't do it on the flat, how are we supposed to do it over fences...? Basically got told, "yes well do it anyways" >;-P Needless to say, it didn't work out very well. :( Ah well -- such is life eh? Horse I was riding today has quite a cute jump though -- was happy w/ that.

So this morning I got "you're a techie person -- want to help me w/ my computer and maybe do some typing?" hahaha now WHERE did he come up w/ the idea I'm a techie person...??? I certainly didn't tell him :) And nobody else here should know... And yet again, I seem to be destined to become the barn secretary *g* hahaha has happened at every barn I've been at since highschool. Sheesh. Just as well I don't actually mind eh? It's a good mental change from normal barn chores, and sometimes you get to find out kewl stuff too :)

On a completely different note -- finally posted more random farm pics if you're interested: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=168608&l=449e0&id=823765365

There was a point to this story but it has temporarily escaped my mind...

So this *might* be long and rather random. Don't know yet, haven't typed it, but suspect as much. hahaha consider yourself forwarned!

Ok gotta admit I've been feeling a little homesick the last few days -- I'm fitter now, so not exhausted when I come home from work and miss having people I can call up to go out for dinner or gossip or whatever. Sobeit -- not tragic, just a little blah. So this afternoon I was heading back from the stallion paddocks, which meant passing in front of the Emerson's house, when I hear "Hey Lauren!" turn around and Denny's coming towards me w/ a box. I'm figuring he wants me to take it to the main barn... But no -- it was address to ME!!! Yup that's right, just as I'm starting to feel a little down I get a care package from my Mum filled with.... Can you guess? MARS BARS!!!!! Woohoo!!!! Of all different sizes :) hahaha I definitely had one for dinner. So yeah that entirely made my day. And I realize it has nothing whatsoever to do w/ horses, but this is my blog so I can write what I want :) You WERE warned >;-P

Lesson today was application of Sally Swift. Nothing new cause, well, I read the books too :) But was def a good review and a smooth transition from yesterday's detailed body-awareness. Did have to laugh though cause some of today's seemed contraditory to some of what I was told the first week -- and today's was much more *right* in my mind. @ the end of the lesson I put my leg where I tried all spring/summer to make it go and asked outright "is this right?" -- Yes, exactly. hahaha so evidently it's only in jumping when the leg should be crazy forward. If the weather's decent we're supposed to jump tomorrow, so I'll find out. We were stuck inside today.

Theory analogy of the day: "the eyes are the nails". What, you mean that doesn't make sense? Sheesh! Hahaha ok think of the old "for want of a nail..." poem (here for those who don't know what I'm talking about: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/For_Want_of_a_Nail ) -- now the eyes are the nail... If the eyes go down, the chin and head go down;
when the chin and head go down, the shoulders curl over,
when the shoulders curl, the ribs collapse,
when the ribs collapse, you lean forward and your balance is off,
when you lean forward, your leg goes back,
when your leg goes back, it doesn't function
and basically you're now riding like a blob
all cause you let your eyes drop :)

Sometimes the weirdest analogies are the best :) This was particularly entertaining w/ Denny demonstrating on the ground >;-P


We also had "eventers have to be figure skaters and hockey players" -- this is a prob as I can't skate >;-P hahaha no, this one was in the mental aspects of the sport. For dressage you have to be very calm, very focused, and very precise -- figure skating. For XC you have to be very agressive and arguably less focused on form. And stad is somewhere between the two. The trick is that those two mindsets are somewhat contradictory and to get both of them to work, sometimes w/in an hour of each other, is a bit of an art. And of course *most* eventers lean more naturally toward the hockey player/xc side of things and have to train themselves to focus on the details for the figure-skating side. Cause really, the other two phases (dressage and stad) are sports in themselves and if that's all you really wanted to do, that's what you'd be doing. IMHO, this is why most DQs don't like working w/ eventers (or the more tolerant ones are just rather bemused by them) >;-P "Are you going to do a *real* warmup or just go gallop around?" -- sound familiar anybody? hahaha

Also chatted for a while about coaching theory and how to effectively teach the various learning styles (audio, visual, kinesthetic) and appropriate use of video and/or demonstrations. Nothing new, I just appreciated that he's willing to help me to evolve my coaching.

Ok well I think that's enough random babble for today :)

I *swear* I've sat on a horse b4!!!

So I rode the Rio-clone in my lesson today. Cute little horse -- a bit downhill (well I *did* say he was like Rio :) Nothing terribly exciting about him, but nothing bad either. Lesson was awesome though from a rider-focus pov (as opposed to a horse-focus which 90% of them are). Think lunge-lesson type details, except not actually on a lunge *g*. @ one point I started to laugh cause I had 4 corrections in less than a stride. Literally. Just think of how FAST the corrections were coming for that to happen! And of course they didn't stop at that stride...

Sit deeper, shorten your reins, relax your thigh, eyes up, lower leg on... but SOFT!, shorten your reins, bend your elbows, chin up, hands lower, hands higher (that combination amused me), inside leg forward, rythym (what?!?!?! I'm just trying to keep me ON the horse in the right position, or some variation thereof -- you want me to RIDE too!?!?! Sheesh! hahaha), outside leg back - too far!, stretch up, outside rein shorter, bend your elbows (I admit I have trouble bending my elbows when my reins are really short! It's still an either-or propsition @ the moment so those two commands tend to come together often), chin up, softer back, rythym, leg down (yeah Mary that one's still haunting me!), shorten your reins . . . Well you get the gist. Can you figure out bad habit number one?!?! Continue this for half an hour or so... It was like being in step-class a level higher than you really should be :) Eventually you get so tangled up you don't know WHAT you're doing -- but then when you do get it you're thrilled. Except I'm not sure I ever got it! >;-P

But man did it ever make me think about exactly what I was doing. N it was highly entertaining (is it bad that I'm thoroughly amused by attempting to achieve the impossible?). @ one point I got so confuzled (yes that's a word :) that even real basics were getting lost while I tried to organize everything else. Which I suppose is technically NOT a good thing, but I loved the challenge, and Denny seemed happy w/ the attempt if not necessarily the result. Although he did seem to think there's @ least a smidgen of potential there, so that's a relief!

My record before today was 7 corrections @ one time. N that was YEARS ago. Marg came close w/ 6 back when I was riding Rios. I remember that :) Today I think blew all records away. N since I was actually trying to apply them all (rather than counting them!) I didn't have enuff brain cells LEFT to count! I'm afraid calculus is forever gone -- it got ejected from memory somewhere between "hands down" and "hands up" hahaha Such a shame.

On a completely different note that many of you will understand -- this particular horse is beyond terrified of cows. Now he's only been on the property since yesterday (this woman brought him in for me to ride since Cayman got vetoed) -- so he's still a little concerned about life and spends a lot of time calling. Off we go for a hack (unescorted -- woohoo!) and he's calling and calling and all the horses are ignoring him. Well I guess this one kind cow took pity on him and answered. A nice long low Moooooo. OMG was poor RC (Rio Clone) ever stunned. Whipped around in a circle and froze. His little heart was pounding at top speed. But the cow was well out of sight... hahaha well I'll tell ya -- RC didn't make another sound for the rest of the ride :) hehehe if you yell, it tells the monsters where you are! Well it amused me anyways :)

The story continues . . .

Wow, I think this might've been the longest blog-less period yet! But everybody was away for Thanksgiving so I figure it's all good :) Hope you had a happy turkey day!!!

I had no turkey, but I DID get pumpkin pie! Woohoo! From a church bake-sale of all places :) (hahaha sorry Mum, the recepie you sent me wasn't exactly detailed enuff!) The poor old gentleman selling the pie was oh-so-disappointed when I told him no I would not be attending church on Sunday *g* hahaha ah well -- was worth the sales pitch for the very yummy pie.

So anyways -- back to the interesting stuff (that'd be *horses* people :) -- ummm yeah, Cayman has kinda been banned from lessons. This is less than good :( I was very disappointed :( We hacked for a few days -- very forward, through, on the bit etc etc. N def using himself (hills are HARD!). Then on the last day we hacked him right into the sandring (still following the baby-sitter of the day) where he promptly quit. Stalled out like a car going too slowly in high gear... Still following but really poorly. Then when he had to go away from the other horse, the rearing started again. And when he got smacked for the rearing he went forward for maybe a minute. Then quit again -- w/ far more drama this time :( It actually wasn't bad to sit to, but I guess it *looked* fairly impressive cause audience reaction was entertaining. Except for Denny who was not @ all amused. Told me to put him away and not bring him back since it evidently IS mental rather than physical. So we'll see -- not sure exactly what's going to happen there yet :(

In the meantime I've been mostly catch-riding... One of Denny's horses I'm hoping to inherrit when we go south (his usual other rider is staying here this year, so there's space :) but we'll see. *fingers crossed* He's entertaining -- has quite the huge spook in him but I figure after a time or two I'll learn to stay on *g*. Right now I only ride him when the other girl's away (as she was the last few days). Another of D's horses I've been riding regularly, but he's coming back off an injury so can't do much yet -- that one I really like just cause he's FORWARD. Like in ways that redifine the word. It doesn't matter where you're going, you're going to get there yesterday! hahaha N he was apparently solid @ prelim b4 he was injured so I'm looking forward to him being able to jump again! In the meantime, one of his clients has a tb she wants me to ride so I tried that one today. Cute enuff, but very green for his age, and not the bravest over fences... Also very unfit. Looks a whole lot like little Rios though so of course that immediately gave my initial emotional impression of him a boost! Apparently very well bred (his father did advanced and ran Rolex), he just hasn't ever done anything other than hang out in a field. N he's small, n we all know I have a thing for the little horses :)

Anyways -- that's the latest story. A little frazzled, but then such is my life >;-P

What happens in Vermont stays in Vermont . . .

. . . but nothing ever happens here.

Yeah so I *might've* stolen that title from a t-shirt. But it amused me.

Ok so those of you reading this for the horse stories -- looking for either the good or the disastrous, may as well skip this one. The only horses I saw today were the ones I have to feed and blanket every day. Otherwise, it was my day off :)

So it turns out that moving to VT has not taught me how to relax. My day off and I decided to make the most of it. I had 3 goals -- get groceries (never happened), find a fuzzy girth for Cayman (did that - CUTE tack shop), and go play tourist. Have car and camera, will travel :)

Lesson number one: when hiking an unfamiliar trail that's going steeply downhill, keep in mind that the return trip will be UPhill!!! The first time I just didn't clue in. An hour later when I turned around I realized what I'd done. Ugh. The 2nd time I thought of it but decided I was ok w/ the size of the hill. The THIRD time, I got part way down the hill and decided whatever was at the bottom was definitely NOT worth the trip back up and cut that one short :)

Was thinking of the Wed ladies today -- and yes I realize none of you ride on Wed anymore but that's really irrelevant :-P One of the places I ended up at today reminded me of the Xmas shopping expedition. You would've loved it. Beyond huge. Split into the antique section (w/ something like 450 dealers -- n yes much of it was crap, but even I could tell some of it was *very* impressive) and the country-store type section (just as big, but fewer dealers -- more like a compilation of little stores). There was also a glass-blowing shop; I'm not exactly sure why but that seems to be the in thing here. AND the "toy train museum" right inbetween the country and the antique sections. haaha I have no idea what that has to do w/ anything, but it amused me. Then a field or two of tents outside w/ more random stuff.

I was randomly driving to the next little town when on the way I came across the "apples and crafts" fair -- kinda like the one-of-a-kind show but outdoors. And REALLY good food :) mmmmmm is apple-crisp for dinner a bad thing? Spent a few hours wandering around this show (apparently only on this wknd). Fun fun fun. Kerri you would've loved it! Never did make it to said little town. Maybe next week :)

Stopped at this one place just cause I nearly crashed rubber-necking it! hahaha "Fool on the Hill" which proclaims to sell "wonderful things" -- but the... ummmm... display. hahaha well we'll go w/ the picture is worth a thousand words theory -- check out the FB album and you'll know when you get there!

Driving w/ windows down, loud music, etc. Only thing missing that would've made it perfect was my friends. Miss you guys!

Anyways, photos here if you're interested: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=166427&l=513d0&id=823765365

Cayman can tell time -- can your horse?

Cayman's t/o paddock is an L shape -- the short part of the L points to the gate, while the long part runs behind 2 of the smaller paddocks.

I almost always go get him to go ride somewhere between 10 and 11 (and I'm always dressed in riding gear) -- his game is to let me come in, then he darts around the corner and goes waaaayyy to the far side of the L, keeping an eye on me. As soon as I round the corner he starts grazing, then pops his head up as in "oh, were you looking for me?" and comes all the way back over to see me. We do this every day. And he ONLY plays this game when we're going to ride (not any of the several *other* times of day I'm in his paddock - then he always comes right to me, or anyone else).

So today we weren't going to ride till the afternoon but @ our usual ride time I was working in and around his paddock and the adjoining ones (dressed in normal barn clothes). Well every time I was anywhere near his he'd do the whole 'dart-around-the-corner-stop-and-look' thing... But apparently I wasn't playing MY part right. He'd come back to the gate to see where I was and what I was doing -- then as soon as he had my attention, dart back around the corner again. Did this for a good 45 mins -- didn't seem to get that I just wasn't able to play this morning...

When I did eventually go get him to ride (dressed accordingly) it was right near the time he usually either comes in or switches paddocks and he just stood at the gate the way he does for anything other than am ride time.

So Cayman clearly tells time (as opposed to clothing/attitude/etc) -- there's riding time and grazing time and feeding time and everything else time. N switching them around really shouldn't be done w/o his previous approval!

hahaha well I thought it was interesting anyways!

Better :) Not that it could've been much worse...

So today Cayman just went hacking. Was a little sticky @ first, but no rearing. N actually went *forward* on the hack -- AND figured out how to navigate terrain (our babysitter today was way more adventurous than the other ones have been -- but C kept up :) Through mud, straight up a freakin moutain, over/through/around fallen trees (XC in its original form!), down a thankfully less steep hill, over a stream (admittedly he's done that one several times now), through a ditch (yes he went in it rather than over but it's all good), basically everything you can think of on a trail we hit today. N was absolutely perfect weather for it, so that helps :)

So I have to admit, while I don't particularly like doing late-night, some nights it's not so bad Temp about 10 deg -- cool enuff to be crisp but not so cold to make you cringe when you step outside. There's something about being outside alone, in the country, under a really bright moon w/ a sky of endless stars, the only sounds being the horses nickering, the odd coyote howl in the distance, and the crinkle of the leaves under the hay-cart tires... Was kinda nice. Certainly beats working late at the office!

The Ugly

Ok so it was a stunningly gorgeous day out today. Like 20deg and sunny, w/ the fall leaves still changing, bright blue sky, etc etc. Thank God cause SOMEthing had to go right today.

So first thing this morn I was leading a horse, who randomly felt the need to jump sideways for no apparent reason and totally squashed my foot :( It is multiple colours now and about twice the size it's supposed to be. AND I didn't have my paddock boots w/ me so for the morn ride I had to shove it into a field boot :( That was ok, getting it OUT was beyond brutal :( Needless to say, I remembered to bring my paddock boots back for the aft.

So then I go get Cayman, was bumed to discover that what was supposed to be a jumping lesson got turned into a dressage lesson :( boo -- particularly annoyed as this was decided *after* I was tacked up. Ah well -- in the end it didn't matter; we never got past the w/u :( Mr Cayman, who's been so good about everything, randomly decided he wanted nothing to do w/ anything and started rearing. Cute eh? To be fair, I *was* warned about this -- but I had hoped he was over it. And he wasn't even being pushed to do anything. :( Denny had me get off and lunge him a bit -- then got back on. Exact same thing. Took all the tack off, couldn't find any sore spots :( Was dismissed from the lesson and told "this afternoon try hacking him w/ Cotton (bombproof hacking buddy) and see if you get the same reaction" -- ok fine.

So this afternoon -- Cotton's rider is the most unreliable person on the planet and, of course, didn't bother to come back after lunch. Specifically said she would, but didn't. Not allowed to hack alone, everybody else is busy. Ok sobeit.

Later Denny was discussing Cayman w/ random dressage coach who comes in to teach some of the girls, so I was asked to bring him out. She's checking all the typical chiro soreness points etc etc -- no reaction from him. But then Denny (who's reasonably tall) leans over him and puts one arm on either side of his ribs and says "well it was when she put her leg on like..." and as he was saying "this" Cayman lost it. The brilliant statement from the other coach "well THAT's not supposed to happen" hahaha. Classic eh? They then, of course, repeated this game a few times. N Cayman was totally kewl w/ being poked and shoved and what have you everywhere else, but EVERY time he touched that spot (particularly on both sides @ the same time) he got a pretty intense reaction.

So now Denny's debating about whether to get the vet out or if, since he's done it b4, it's really an attitude thing (in which case he wants nothing to do w/ him): -- told me to just hack him for a few days and see what he's like. So I don't know, I'm just going along w/ what I'm told for now.

Fortunately the other critter I rode today was good as could be so that helped a little. Unfortunately, he's going home tomorrow so that's the end of that.

Blah. Horses.

oh AND my ipod stopped working :( It plays music but the little dial doesn't spin any more :( So can't pick songs or navigate the menu. NOT kewl.

Frog theory

So didja miss me? No blog yesterday cause there simply aren't enuff hours in the day!!! Between work, pinata hitting (hahaha seriously! Pics when I have some time :), other work, Cayman, and night feed there just wasn't any time left. Sheesh.

Anyways riding wise there wasn't anything interesting yesterday. My lesson was really more of a supervised flat ride -- again mostly working on getting him going forward. But since it was cold and windy this wasn't a real challenge Forward and STRAIGHT might've been -- but we had some VERY kewl lateral maneuvers. Are we SURE there's no QH in him? Cause he can SPIN! hahaha There were two others riding in the ring who were having some real probs (they're here for a wk) so Denny ended up mostly working w/ them (he'll teach anyone in the ring. Regardless of whether or not they're actually IN the lesson. Or even on a horse for that matter! hahaha Several times I've been called away from whatever I've been doing w/ "Lauren come watch this, it's important". Gotta admit I actually love that so not going to complain the odd time it worx against me. I've already learned if you're not TOTALLY into being involved in your ride you go hacking - or school wherever he's not :)

Today was stad jumping. We got the "frog" theory. Seriously. That's what it's called. It has a name. hahaha he reviewed the study done about how if you put a frog in boiling water it'll jump out, but if you put it in cool water and heat it gradually it'll die, and applied this to most disastrous jumping rounds. As in they start out ok, and then the horse gets a little flat or fast or whatever, and then a little flatter, and then dangerously flat, and then they quit or crash. But the change is so gradual it sneaks by the rider. Or not even necessarily jumping -- just riding in general. I got "you start w/ your reins the right length. Then they're a *little* too long. Then they're long. Then your hands are at your hips!" hahaha guilty guilty guilty. So essentially it's more of the "ride every stride" concept but a way of understanding why that doesn't always work even when you think "but I WAS riding!!!!"

My EQ got nailed today. hahaha I felt like saying "you want me to look pretty, or be effective?" but I figured that wouldn't go over so well -- n really Cayman can pretty well walk over these so it's all good. It's interesting, he wants the leg waaayyyy farther forward than anybody I've ever ridden w/ b4 -- n he does, of course, have a theory behind it which he's happy to expand on :) sobeit. But I sort of wonder what'll happen after I work so hard to get the hang of this and then come home and have some other coach be like *WHAT* are you doing?!?! ahaha I guess, if ever, THAT would be the appropriate time to name drop "Well Denny said. . ." hahaha they're gonna hate me. On the plus side I LOVE that he actually tries to fix it. It's been years since I've had a jumping coach who will consistently nail your position until you get it right -- it seems most of them figure "well she can ride, it must work for her" and give up pretty fast. He'll pick up on anything, the instant you do it. And it is making ME think a lot more about what I'm doing and WHY -- so that's making a huge difference (I hate making people repeat themselves :). In just a few days. But I tell ya, the first time I get all the way through a jumping lesson w/o being told to push my leg forward I'm going to be very very excited. That'll be next week :)

Oh and after all summer of being told "your dressage saddle doesn't suit you, you're fighting it" today I got "your jumping saddle doesn't fit you, you're fighting it". *rolling eyes* Classic eh? Oh if only I could win the lottery -- I'd have tack that FITS and horses that are trained :) hahaha well maybe not the later, I like babies :) Until that point however . . .

Ok back to work w/ me :) Only 2 of us today so it'll be a loooonnnnggg afternoon. Beyond georgous weather though so tis all good :)

New Pics Posted on FB

So (comparatively :) short post today cause A, I'm exhausted, B, I have a TON of work for BI to do (yeah the ones who actually PAY me :), and C well really if they're all crazy long nobody'll keep reading -- n it'd really suck to be writing to nobody!

The main purpose of the post: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=164855&l=7850f&id=823765365 -- photos from Tamarack. Enjoy :)

Today's lesson was dressage, and was short cause really Cayman was a *little* tired after yesterday :) Focus was rhythm, rhythm and . . . oh yeah -- rhythm!!! (want to guess how many tries it took me to spell that right? Sheesh). And the rhythm we're supposed to have is significantly more forward than I expect -- hahaha after years of "slow down. slow down. SLOW DOWN!" in every lesson on every horse this is quite the change :) But then C's not my usual type of horse either. Anyways after much frustration (trying to make a horse who's both lazy AND tired go, and go properly, from *subtle* aids is not the easiest thing to accomplish) we finally got a "very good" and "you rode that well" -- which of course had me beyond thrilled. Then we got excused to go for a hack. Much better. Gorgeous day. New hacking buddy who doesn't like other horses and walks a million miles a minute (particularly dramatic when the average snail would've passed C today!) -- but I really like her rider so was still fun. C did perk up when we got on the XC course though -- thought that was sort of interesting.

Tonight we went for a handwalk and graze -- accomplishes two things: helps make him fatter and teaches him "to be a horse". :-P hahaha You'd think that'd sort of come installed, but evidently not. He was great. Around the orchard, up and down the bank, by the xc jumps, past the scary feeder etc etc etc. Wanna guess where he lost it? Yeah that'd be when we found the dressage ring. Sheesh. Of all the things I can legitimately expect him to be kewl about. But no, evidently not. Classic eh?

Ah well. We'll see what happens tomorrow.

1st XC Lesson

Yes, you read that title right! hahaha so we had our first REAL jump lesson yesterday -- CLEARLY time to move on to XC.

Denny had a ship-in lesson scheduled to do XC today that I was kinda hoping to get to vulture just cause I've never seen him teach XC. But first thing this am I get "you should ride w/ her" -- so I'm thinking hack my horse around, more outdoor exposure etc... Yeah not so much. I'm actually supposed to participate in this whole XC idea :) hahaha

W/u in the sand ring -- half the fences are baby-sized from yesterday and 1/2 are T sized for the lady who's lesson it really was (her horse was georgous dark bay - almost black - draft cross. Can jump the moon. Very very strong though). So I jump the baby fences and she jumps all the fences. N I was very proud of Cayman for not losing it when she galloped up passed him or jumped something behind him. We've all been on horses not used to that who've reacted ummm strongly in the past :) But he was kewl. So by the time we're ready to leave the sandring we've done, essentially, an entire lesson.

Denny says "I'll meet you by the bank" and leaves -- so we go hack out to the bank. Now this is still in the main yard (not out on the course) and there're a few little jumps there so I figure we're going to start w/ those. No. "Lauren take Cayman up on the bank and off the other side and see what he does." ummmm are you kidding me?!?!?! I've been spoiled by Marg's baby bank @ Myrddin :) hahaha this was a *little* intimidating -- not the least because once they're on they HAVE to jump off. N it's a decent size. But ok. So we march up to it, it's about half way between C's knee and elbow in height -- which, when your horse's head is stretched out to see what's going on puts it nose height. Which Cayman took as a sign I was clearly leading him to a snack! hahaha yup that's right, couldn't convince him to go UP at all -- every time we got near it he'd graze. Classic :) Tried following the other horse (who did it perfectly) -- yeah nothing of it. Tried it in trot and he got VERY concerned. I was really happy Denny didn't push that -- once there was the slightest sign of concern he changed tracks. He tried to lead us, but A -- had trouble climbing up the bank quickly himself (it's not small) and B Cayman doesn't LIKE Denny >;-} hahaha so in the end I got off and I led him up the bank and down the other side. We did this both ways, and C was a star :) Then I got back on him (he was GOOD for that) and no prob doing it. Up across and down. First time was a little scrambled, 2nd time did it like an old pro. I was thrilled.

Went out to the real XC course -- jumped over a couple tiny things (PE height - the *smallest* brush fence I've ever seen! hahaha and it actually had brush in it!) and one or 2 E fences. He was kewl w/ it all. A little concerned the first few times the other horse (who was doing T) galloped away and came back towards us) and def going much faster any time we were pointed toward the other horse. But willing enuff and certainly seemed to be having fun w/ it. Not ready to hack (or do XC) alone yet though -- wasn't very good when we were leading. That'll come though (I hope!); really, as far as I know of, I can count on my fingers the number of times he's hacked anywhere that's not a flat field.

So then we go to school the water. Cayman's really not sure about water. He's starting to accept crossing the little stream to get to XC cause we've schooled that a bunch while hacking, but even then he's a little iffy. N this is REAL water. AND good ol Cobey is running, bucking and playing right beside it (showing off for spectators) rasing the tension level a little. I'm supposed to go first, but C wasn't having anything to do w/ it -- couldn't get NEAR, much less in -- so we got a lead... And he went right up to it. Stopped and looked. Put his front feet in. And attempted to JUMP all the way across the rest! hahaha I do believe the words "holy shit" escaped my mouth >;-P Denny's comment was "well sat -- it's COLD if you fall off in there!" hahaha so he bounded the rest of the way through the water and out the other side (this water you can run in-run out -- it's very baby friendly). So I get told to turn around and come back through. No friggen way. C isn't having anything to do w/ that. I can't even get him on the grass :(again w/ the we'll be doing our first few XC courses in reverse). So we get our trusty leader again (this is why I'm not allowed to hack alone yet) who Cayman gamely follows in w/ just a minor jump this time.... Then buddy stayed in the water while we went out the other side and came back in. MUCH better this time. So we wandered a few circles in the water, lots of pats etc. And walked calmly out. Then (w/ buddy still in the water) walked in and trotted out (the trot only sort-of happened, it was a little much for C's spinny little brain) and turned around and walked all the way through w/ no silliness. N then he was done for the day :) We watched the other rider jump in and out a few times and try some of the banks n then we headed back.

2.5h ride. I was exhausted. Cayman was still bouncing on the way home. And WHO'S the unfit one? Sheesh :)

Jumping Theory

Ok for those who actually *like* theory (I'm a geek, what can I say -- but I know there are some closet-geeks out there! :) -- this post is *just* that -- fun story in a diff post. So here goes:

We all know the basic rider responsibilities when jumping: pace, path, position.

Well Denny divides pace into speed, balance and impulsion. (I swear I'm going to hear those words chanted at me in my dreams). The trick is that balance and impulsion are inherently contradictory. If the horse is well balanced and rocked back on its hocks, odds are good you don't have much impulsion or speed. Conversely, if you're going fast and/or have a ton of impulsion odds are good the horse is on the forehand (ok for galloping long stretches XC, NOT ok for actually jumping -- he says a lack of understanding and application of this is a huge part of the recent issues w/ upper-level fatalities; another interesting discussion that doesn't fit in here). The trick is in getting the *right* canter that combines those three things, and if you can do THAT (no problem!) the jumps are simple.

I vultured a lesson yesterday where the poor lady could not see a spot if it were wearing a collar, barking and wagging its tail. He stopped and had her focusing entirely on the quality of the canter (after long theory discussion -- see above but multiply times 30 mins. Having a verbose coach is taking some getting used to after those I've ridden w/ in recent years! hahaha). -- anyways, w/in like 2 rounds, literally, she was hitting every spot txt-book perfect. Almost unbelievable improvement. But wow did it ever make his point!

On building this ideal canter -- this is evidently the purpose of dressage (we knew there had to be one somewhere!) hahaha he says dressage is like going to the gym -- if you're riding your flat work correctly, you're engaging the inside hind and every time you do that it's weight-lifting for the horse. The more you do that, the stronger he gets, the better a chance you've got for him to be able to be balanced and going forward and UP at the same time. He's very big on the fact that all flat work must be done *correctly*. One of those common sense things that we all too often don't actually apply ;-} Just going around in circles isn't going to cut it -- and will get you yelled at regardless of whether you're in a lesson or not :) (and yes Mary I KNOW you tried to get all this through my little brain too... hahaha It sounded oddly familiar some how listening to it today. Maybe when 3 or 4 MORE people tell me, I'll actually get it! :).

We haven't had the "path" discussion yet -- but I don't doubt we will @ some point :)

Got the position lecture today. Basically follows DeNemethy's EQ style. VERY anti-hunters as they currently exist (that was *quite* the rant - fairly entertaining :) He likes the lower-leg more forward than most people I've ridden w/, and the knees/toes out almost ballet-style. He had the woman sit w/ her leg in its normal position and told her to try as hard as she could to keep it there -- and then he pushed it back. Then he put it where he wanted it to be and gave her the same instruction -- he couldn't move it. Leg is much stronger there. Not that it necessarily has to be there all the time (and shouldn't @ all for dressage) but that as you set up your horse for the fence in the same way you lift your chest and shift your balance (and your horse's), so should you make your leg more secure.

That being said, when I tried it today it def made my leg secure, but my horse was NOT impressed. Methinks this w/ a hot tb would not necessarily be a great plan -- BUT Denny has ridden more than his share of hot TBs so obviously it must work -- just have to find the balance of the secure but not overly-strong leg... Maybe? Don't know -- I'll ask nxt time it comes up.

So did anybody actually read all of that?

For those who wonder why... Today's ride was part of the answer :)

So today was one of those days that you just shake your head and wonder "how did I ever get to be so lucky?" It was unbelievably amazing, and particularly when contrasted w/ what I "gave up" to be here, that much more so. N yes I know I wouldn't *really* have been at the office today as I heard a rumour it's Saturday, but I would've been yesterday so I figure it balances

For the first time it's SUNNY. Just < 10deg, so your classic crisp fall day. AND the outside ring has dried up perfectly! That's right -- jump school! woohoo! (ok so I had a full YEAR of dressage -- other than training Sug and occasionally riding a few other random horses I really didn't do much jumping at all so I clearly have to make up for lost time :)

And not only are we scheduled for a morning jump school -- but I've got somebody to ride w/ now. hahha jump lessons are usually semi-private, but Cayman wasn't *quite* ready for that. One other girl w/ a super-talented greenbean though so she and I have been paired up.

Cayman was *beyond* spinny. Galloping around in his paddock, n just quivering as I led him out to the ring... hmmmmm could make for an interesting ride :) N of course Denny shows up early -- walks in just as I'm about to get on. So I ask him to hold C for me while I mount (it's not C's strong point). Now this is tricky, cause we all know how much Cayman likes Denny ;-} And Denny's not known for chilling out spinny horses... But I didn't want to get yelled at for not being able to get on so... Denny holds the horse, or tries to. Yeah we basically ran him over while I was getting on -- fortunatly he let go and got out of the way. NOT the best start >;-P ah well, I tried :) So then I'm trying to make Cayman walk, as per other lectures. "RIDE THAT HORSE!" ummmm ok :) Nice power trot around the ring, occasionally shying at things, but honestly not bad. The whole time I'm being lectured about how he should be lunged till I can get on him safely and WALK away etc etc etc. N yes I accept that it's not the *best* scenario to get on a horse that runs away, but really I've been here b4, several times, I always manage to chill them out eventually. N lunging indefinitely just really isn't my thing. Besides which, should an unfit horse really run around in little circles? But sobeit - I've been told to lunge so we'll lunge. At least for a day or so! >;-P hahaha I lasted what, 2 days last time?

So I may have the greenbean of the pack when it comes to jumping or anything related to xc, but we have kick-ass dressage :) hahaha it feels like cheating to start w/ a horse who already knows all that. The w/u part of things went really well (once we got through the initial run-around-and-spook-at-stuff phase; funny how until today I haven't been able to canter more than one lap around the ring cause he's not fit enough -- but the start of today's ride was "go canter him more" hahaha). Anyways we start w/ 3 trotting poles -- woohoo several levels up from our last 'jump' lesson :) hahaha n C was a star. Really couldn't care less about them. So then time to jump.

Theory part of the lesson: when teaching a greenbean to jump their job is to get to the other side, gracefully :) hahaha That's it. N the jumps have to be small enough that if the 'gracefully' part of things doesn't work, it doesn't matter. Also "little and often" -- as in do tiny jumps and LOTS of them. Was happy to hear this as it's the theory I've always gone w/ :)

So Denny lowers all the jumps in the ring and basically says "go jump" (my girls would love his teaching style, speedbumps are totally allowed!) -- all fences are to be in trot to begin w/ -- but the first thing we did was an X w/ a 90deg turn to a vert. Not exactly *easy* hahaha but Cayman pulled it off. (now you have to understand -- almost all the fences were about 2' -- the absolute biggest was maybe 2'3" -- so this is not exactly the grand prix ring here). But basically his warmup was a course. He jumped 7 fences in a row -- including a brick wall, bright yellow flowers, boxes, a scary jump that couldn't decide whether it was an X or a vert, pylons, etc. Basically everything except the liverpool (too wide) and a couple fences that were too big for where he is now (next week :). The idea being throw everything at him he's going to see later, just tiny-sized. I've never seen a brick wall so small b4. N since they're all so small, no point to a long w/u over and over the same fence -- just jump around :) He was awesome. VERY hesitant at first, but by the end was jumping around confidently. Even did a few in canter (which were, quite honestly, much better :)

So then we go hacking. Now really, it doesn't get much nicer than this. Crisp, sunny fall day. Horses are chilled cause they've been ridden for an hour already. Mountain trails entirely covered w/ a blanket of leaves. That "fall" smell to the air. Sound of leaves rustling in the trees and shuffling as the horses' hooves land. Just about perfect.

Of course getting TOO the trails was exciting -- we had to pass over a causeway right beside the water complex, w/ the scary hay feeder on the other side and a big moving tractor in front. hahaha the horse that's in the paddock w/ said hay feeder is *very* impressive (the word "presence" aptly describes him. "wow" would also be appropriate). He also feels the need to socialize w/ anybody in the vicinity. So while Cayman's rapidly trying to back up away from the causeway (I have visions of us doing our first few XC courses in reverse!!!!) Coby (yes that really is his name :) comes galloping up behind him -- and passes him. Well poor Cayman didn't know WHAT to do about that. REALLY wants to go gallop w/ Coby, but oh so scary path that way... But oh look, there goes Coby again (who's running laps around a tree so passing C on a regular basis) let's go w/ him! Oh but it's scary... Oh but I really want to go play! (and meantime the *actual* greenbean is standing oh so calmly on the other side of the causeway waiting for us). hahaha so eventually Cayman decided he'd just pick his feet up REALLY high (how to teach passage!) over the causeway -- just in case it tried to suck him in! hahaha didn't even run fast, just this crazy high-stepping trot till we were past it. Was totally chilled for the rest of the hack -- except for a *slight* meltdown @ the water. But we spent a good 15 mins going in and out across it till he'd do it @ least almost well :) Again, greenbean horse totally showed us up. He tried to figure out what Cayman was concerned about, but gave up! hahaha Other than that though, he was great.

But yeah, nothing much beats a good fall hack :)

A day off!

hahaha yeah so the last time I was looking THIS forward to a day off was when Marg first started back to work after her heart attack. And there I'd been doing 14h days 7/wk for months. This has been not even a full week! And WAY less work for that week! But the diff is, of course, moving stress combined w/ less fit to begin w/ combined w/ stupid mountains. hahaha

Anyways -- I am now actually unpacked. So for about 2 mths I have a home. Thanks tons to the ladies who gave me the photo-bag for my bday -- turns out those are the only pics I have w/ me, so the bag is now hanging on the wall as a picture frame!

Drove into the little towns of Norwich (where I found a GREAT little bookstore) and Hannover (where Dartmouth College is) -- both were georgous. Old style buildings, beautifully kept up, tons of little independent shops, etc etc. If it's not raining on my nxt day off I'm going to go spend the day walking around.

It was nice out this aft, so I took a bunch of pics around home. They're here: http://www.new.facebook.com/album.php?aid=162428&l=75c60&id=823765365 if you're interested. Of course would've been PERFECT hacking weather but A - I didn't have anybody to hack w/ and am not supposed to go on my own till Cayman's more comfortable w/ it, and B - I figured he needed a day off as much as I did :)

Will return to the regularly scheduled horse-blog tomorrow :) There's a show, so I've no idea how that'll alter the daily activities (I'm obviously not going). And the BM's bday -- I heard a rumour of breakfast cheesecake >;-} No wonder I'm gaining weight! hahaha L8r.

A country moment

So I'm coming back from feeding the babies (who live way out in the middle of nowhere)... It's about 6:00 and the sun is attempting to break out while setting; so you have those really dark and ominous clouds w/ the occasional beam breaking through that's on just the right angle to highlight the changing leaves... Impressive photo-op all on its own. Got to just about the water complex (http://www.new.facebook.com/photo.php?pid=4225741&l=80936&id=823765365 for a pic) and standing right about where the pic was taken was a deer. Absolutely gorgeous. It acknowledged that I was there, started to leave but then changed it's mind. Came towards me! Wanted on the path and wasn't sure how to cross the water :) Pretty well the same debate the horses have when they first meet a water obstacle! It was very kewl to watch. It came w/in about 10' of me -- apparently I'm not all that scary. Was pretty amazing. It eventually went back to its own side of the water and hung out there for a bit before it got scared off by a tractor.

Anyways -- just thought I'd share. Really wish I'd had my camera w/ me then :(

1st jump(?) lesson

So it was pouring rain AGAIN :( Denny first thing in the am says "so we'll flat him inside again today -- the footings way too sloppy for a green horse" -- ok fair enuff. And true, it was very sloppy. Not actually slippery but def icky :( Kinda like Marg's ring after it's been raining for a few days.

Alright so I accept that we'll be doing flat again such is life. Several people have jump lessons lined up today cause there's a show this wknd -- but none of their horses are green or unfit.

But THEN I overhear Denny telling one student who's tacking up "I've set up one little fence inside -- we'll warm up there and then go out to jump" -- so I picked up on this "one little jump? Do you think Cayman could do it?" hahaha worth a try eh? The answer I get "we'll do him right after lunch..." ummm ok so I know WHEN he's going to have a lesson -- but I don't actually know which tack to put on him >;-P hmmmmm I asked the BM what she thought (she's kewl) n it was cute she clearly thought I should go w/ flat but knew how much I wanted to jump... So she kinda skirted giving me an actual answer.

Right so I come back from lunch and the executive decision was I'd put on jumping tack and see what happened :) After all, I'm not allowed to sit to the trot or canter yet (Cayman's too thin and unfit) so really I don't need dressage tack. BM comes back from lunch and suggests "if you want to jump, you need @ least one more pole in the ring" hahaha ok so I go get another pole and bring it in -- we now have an X in the ring. Woohoo! It's an option. Although the "ground-lines" are actually small cavelletti so it's a pretty intimidating X. I would have prefered no ground lines, but apparently that's not an option. Ok sobeit -- @ least we have an option now :)

Lesson starts, basic flat work but no theory today :) Woohoo :) So then he takes half of my X away and drops it on the ground -- a single pole for Mr C. Who trots up to it, drops his head, snorts and leaps. hahaha then then next time was so bored by it he tripped over it. Classic eh? So we get told to go jump what was left of the original jump. Which now looks like a ditch (the two caveletti side to side w/ the supports touching in the middle -- makes a box) w/ a pole being EATEN by it. NOT exactly the most inviting fence, but ok. Cayman stopped to look @ it and then oh so calmly stepped over it :) So proud. Went around a few times and he was fine w/ it. Nothing exciting. And the best part -- kept going forward. None of this stall-jump-stall business. So we're officially on the "jump 3X/wk" plan. Woohoo! So that's a start. Didn't do enough to judge actual ability yet but @ least he wasn't deemed hopeless.

So that's a VERY long story about what amounts to oh absolutely nothing :) hahaha Aren't you glad you read it? >;}

My sincerest apologies!

Dressage theory

Ok so we were supposed to jump but it was torrential rain out and there's a distinct lack of jumps in the indoor :( booo. So more dressage. On the plus side, Mr C was being a superstar! Crazy power trot -- all I could think was "I'm sooo glad he's not fit enough for me to sit on yet" hahaha cause there's no way I could've sat that trot w/o looking like an idiot :)

Some spookiness but nowhere near as exciting as yesterday -- def still not sure about Denny though! hahaha prob doesn't help that the man NEVER stops moving! :)

So today's theory was about dividing the body into thirds (ala Sally Swift). He said from your knees to the 1st rib 'belong' to the horse -- in that it should go w/ the rhythm and be able to influence the rhythm. The lower-leg is for signaling and should be really subtle. Upper body works as a balancing aid and hands and arms for reins -- again focusing on subtle etc.

Was quite interesting -- and like I said, Cayman was a star. But really, this rain has to END so we can JUMP!!!! hahaha

Country living -- lessons learned...

So even though 95% of the time you drive up the twisty mountain road you're the ONLY car on the road, does not mean that there won't be, at some random moment, oncoming traffic. And if you happen to drive a zippy little car odds are the oncoming traffic will be bigger. It was a UPS truck I met. We didn't both really fit on the road! And def not if I'm driving in the middle ;-}

Yikes.

It is literally the first time I've met another car on the road up to where I'm living (steepest hill in VT, or so I've been told, 3 houses @ the top -- 1st one is a summer cottage, they're only up on wknds in July and Aug, 2nd one is us. The 3rd one is apparently a yurt! hahaha seriously. I haven't seen that yet... So really all vehicles on the road are going to or from our place and I tend to know where those are likely to be)...

The follow up is on the same trip after nearly running into the giant machine trimming trees, twice (so I'm a slow learner -- he moved b4 I came back DOWN the mountain so I figured he was gone. Not so much :), be sure to watch out for random branches the NXT time flying up the mountain. In the dark.

My poor little car -- it's a good thing it's so zippy. I think I'd be in real trouble if I had a sports car here ;-} But oh so much fun it'd be!!! hahaha

Ok more riding related blogs tomorrow :) Probably.

The great(?) USofA...

NO MARS BARS!!!! ARGH!!! Went through aisle after aisle of Hallowe'en candy searching and there are NONE. Then I realized there aren't any in the normal candy aisle either... How are Mars bars strictly Canadian? Usually I'd say that's wonderful -- but less so when I'm not home! hahaha And no little caramel squares either -- really, why even bother with Hallowe'en? Sheesh.

Also searched in vain for a magic bag (think microwaveable bean bag that goes around your neck). They don't exist :( Eventually found a very poor substitute -- but it's not long enuff :( Blah.

There're also no ketchup chips (I can live w/o those -- but it def made the decison of do I want doritos or ketchup chips a non-issue :)

And no KD-cups... They have KD (although it's called something diff, but it's still the same) but not those wonderful new microwave cups.

So much for the most developed country in the world!

Unexpected new skills

Yeah we all know I fell off my horse yesterday -- and here the barn tradition is that if you fall off you bring baked goodies the next day. Ok no prob. Oh wait -- there's NOWHERE w/in a 45min drive to GET said goodies. hmmmmm more of a challenge. Those who've known me more than 45 seconds will be aware that my culinary skills are . . . well. . . nonexistent!

hahaha anyways -- the woman I'm living w/ is determined to teach me how to cook -- so she figured we'd start w/ baking.

Yup I baked. Like w/ actual ingredients :) Pumpkin spice muffins. AND they were even GOOD. hahaha

So yeah it just amused me -- I came here to learn, never qualified that statement with learn WHAT precisely :)

hmmm is this "the bad" or "the ugly"?

Well I did promise to post ALL the experiences :)

So I get on for another dressage lesson -- things start out as expected... A bit of review of the concepts from the day before, lots of walking etc... Then we're told to halt. Np. Chilled out, bit of a long rein. All is good. Then Denny comes over to show me something. Well Cayman lost it. Up and spins and then adds in a little buck for good measure -- I was off and on the ground b4 I had any idea what was going on and Cayman was on his way back to ON!!!! (BTW -- he CAN gallop :) There was another girl riding in the ring @ the time so she chased after Cayman and eventually caught him and brought him home for me. The maneuver was deemed "very athletic" hahaha. Lucky me. Why does this sound awfully familiar?

So Denny takes him and walks him around a bit but Cayman's clearly not happy about it. I got him back and he chilled right out. Ok got back on, finished the lesson (again pretty well a repeat of yesterday's) no problem. Lesson's over and Denny says "I'm going to come over to your horse again -- don't fall off this time." hahaha and that's soooo the kind of thing I would say it totally relaxed me :) Anyways he comes over to him really slowly and C tensed but allowed him to come near. The second he touched him though C left again (this time I was awake so stayed ON the horse - practical application of rule #1!!!!).

Very odd reaction though -- I *think* it's sound based and he really didn't like Denny's jacket (crisp windy fall day, was windbreaker was crinkling etc) Anyways -- I was told to work w/ the local "ground-training" person to chill him out so we're supposed to start that tomorrow. We'll see.

Went for another hack (w/ our babysitter -- who was the same horse who went and caught him after he sacrificed me to be eaten by the lions) and he was still looky but a ton more relaxed about it than the last time, so that was good.

As for me -- I'm ridiculously stiff and sore but nothing tragic.