Here there be dragons...

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

Why is it nobody ever talks about going sane? Could it be because that's not a very desirable locations?

So this just might end up being the post that doesn't end :) Consider yourself forewarned!

Ok yeah -- might be a new record so... Short version: Tragedy, comedy, education, mother's day adventures, exploring new worlds, and a mini-rant.

If any of that sounds interesting, read on...

First, the tragedy. Let's all take a moment to mourn the loss of the first ever GRS hat. I know, the world will never be the same... It was chosen by the wind to be sacrificed :( And really, once Nature demands a sacrifice, what's a mere mortal to do? While I was driving the other day, the wind slurped it off my head and threw it out the sunroof to have it land lightly, rightsideup on the shoulder of the road. Unfortunately the road in question was the 401 :( So no more hat for me. Admittedly it would've actually been really funny were it not for the fact that that was my favourite hat. Amazing how often the line between comedy and tragedy is blurred.

So to balance out the tragedy with more comedy -- I rode the cutest little Thellwellian pony the other day. 13.3hh squared. Got on it because it was really hauling it's rider around and needed some breaks reinstalled. But sooo cute *g* hahaha Twice the width of Si and half the height. Typical square pony body-type. Huge floppy flaxen mane. Soooo hard to take that seriously *g* Really surprised one of my students since I kept teaching while I was riding, but she hadn't seen me mount -- was looking around to figure out where I was talking to her from. hahaha

For the curious: A Thelwell


Now the educational component of the day... For those who've ever wanted to run Rolex: Run Henny Run The rider has a helmet cam on as he rides a clear run around Rolex. For those not in the loop Rolex is the only **** (read "four-star") event in NA. To put this in perspective, the Olympics are generally accepted to be of the three-star level. I will be ecstatic the first time Si runs clear around a one-star :) ummmm 3 years from now if the world is good.

Make sure your sound is on. Some things to consider (beyond "holy frig those jumps are big!" :) Note how and when he uses his voice. Both to praise and to steady. And the horse's reaction! (watch the flickering ears :). Also -- in a few places he counts the striding (how many between the squirrles?). Perhaps shows my students that I don't drill this for my own amusement *g* It is a skill required at ALL levels!

Yes the camera jiggles -- he's on a galloping and jumping horse! But in general it's amazingly still -- telling you both that the rider is always looking up (the once or twice it drops my guess would be he's checking his watch) AND that body folds correctly (ankles, knees, hips) so that his upper body can remain still and balanced. Even over the fences. Even the drop fences, where you see the horse's head disappear as it lowers a good 6' or so... The camera stays straight forward.

Watch how the pace changes when he approaches a fence -- and when it doesn't! (wind sound will help you judge this :) Some fences are appropriate to be taken at pace, others not so much... Flying over a big open table in the middle of nowhere -- barely a check. Riding up to a big skinny corner combo? That requires a very different gait.

And perhaps the most important part -- at the end of the ride he's off that horse pretty much the second they cross the finish line. First priority is getting the horse untacked and cooled out. The rider doesn't even pause to take off the helmet (even as he's being chastised for not having a sponge! hahaha we're all human :)

So mother's day was this weekend. This means I needed a Mother's Day gift... hmmmmm tricky. Tricky because while I know my mum's tastes pretty well and enjoy shopping for her, realistically if she wants something, she buys it. So anything left is mostly of the "gee thanks" variety. So I considered for a bit places we could go or things we could do but couldn't come up w/ anything "just right". So then I was going to write something, but really I do that every Friday now, so less interesting. Then I thought I'd do something with photos. I'd done something w/ photos once before and she really liked it. Ok but it'd have to be different from the last one. Well it's for Mother's Day, it should be family based. Ok I can do that.

So photos it is. But what am I going to do with them? And what type of photos should I get? I had figured out family, so I first raided Mum's computer -- hey may as well snag the easy ones :) And various albums. But the thing is, she already *has* all those pics. Contacted my brothers to see if they had any pics of them and Mum. Not so much. Then asked my uncle, who usually has a digital camera at family gatherings if he had any (keep in mind this is Wed with Mother's Day on Sun). So he found the time to go through his files for me and send me what he had, but really not all that much (my Mum seems to be very good at hiding from everyone's camera but mine :). So next step was my aunt's place on Thurs eve -- she had a few albums, some of which had promising shots in them. But still next to nothing with my mum and my brothers together. A few with my grandmother though, so I snagged those with vague "mother/daughter" thoughts... So it was mentioned to me that my other aunt had all my grandmother's photo albums - so I called her and got permission to go raid those on Sat morn (keep in mind, Mother's Day is Sunday :). Still not sure exactly what I'm doing but ok. Travel to Michael's to see what inspiration is to be had. 4 aisles of scrapbooking supplies later I'm entirely overwhelmed. And I didn't really like any of the albums. Store closes and I leave empty handed. Call a girlfriend who does the scrapbook thing and beg her assistance :) Did I mention I've never done this before? And Mother's Day is in three days?

Teaching Fri night -- finish at 8 (after the arena is struck by lightening while we were in it!!! Lots of fun there let me tell you!) and very rude rush out the second the lesson ends to head back to the stores before they close @ 9 (fortunately student understands :). Card store first, hoping it'll have a good scrapbook album. Nope, but did get a Mother's day card. Then photo-store. No albums there either. Ok back to Michael's. Walk in as they're announcing "20 mins to close". Great. But I *had* spent an hour there the day before exploring. Ok pick up some glue, generic paper and "Mom" bling. Find an acceptable album and check out just as they're locking up.

Go home and scan everything I borrowed and look through my own pics for things I might want to use. Have decided to go the "mother/daughter" route by this point, so that restricts the search somewhat :) Photoshop a couple images. All good. Realize that I could really use a couple other things I saw at Michael's.

Sat morning rolls around. Haul notebook and printer to the car and head out. Stop back at Michael's (3 times in 3 days?!?!). Sale on this time - woohoo! Off to my aunt's to raid my grandmother's photos... There upon finding a pic of her with her grandmother start to get an idea :) Scrounge for a pic of my mom and her grandmother. No luck. Sok, I know there's one in her wedding album I could snag -- had just hoped for something different...

Continue on to my friend's place -- meet her @ the barn where she's prepping for show tomorrow. Finish photoshopping while she's doing that then relocate to her place. Scan the rest of the pics in. Dump all supplies out. Ok good to go.

Now what?

hmmmmm yeah this'd be the part I hadn't quite figured out. I've got pictures. And a general concept. And some sample layouts off the web. That don't really work cause they all assume a lot more pics then I have. ummmm ok. So I went through and picked which photos I really wanted. Then I broke them into sections - generations, diff trips, random single shots, etc... And played with how to make each page different and interesting -- resident scrapbook expert had some suggestions for that :) hahaha Once I have the layouts set, start sizing and printing photos. Then...

Power failure. Seriously. That lasted several hours! Notebook also lasted a couple hours though, so while I couldn't print, I could at least resize and prep photos. N made notes of the couple photos that "would be perfect here" that I didn't have with me so I could get them at home. Just as it got too dark to work anymore and I packed everything up, the power came back. hahaha classic. So open everything up again and continue for a few more hours. Oh and just a suggestion -- if you're going to glue sand on something, make sure you do that LAST. Trust me on this one *g*

I'll tell ya though, was really kewl when each page came together -- like writing a story and all the pieces click. It starts with a sliver of a whisp of a thought and somehow ends up in a cohesive package. Some of them I was quite proud of (even if I *am* just a beginner :). hahaha def the go big or go home thing though -- it should've been a month's project, not a day! Classic.

So go home and *sleep*. Alarm goes off in the am -- find and print the missing couple photos. Glue them in. Add the worst wrapping job ever, and done in time :) hahaha Happy Mother's Day Mum!!! Hope you enjoyed it :)

Then it was off to the new world... For me, that'd be a Western schooling show. Now being a schooling show, you have the same level of casualness and horrendous riding you do at any schooling show. But there were a couple there who could ride. The friend I was with was way underchallenged by the whole thing (although she doesn't seem to realize it >;-P) So far beyond the competition it was just silly. Well except for the whole not knowing left from right thing -- apparently that's a challenge in any discipline! I was entertained that by the 2nd class I could pin them in the same order as the judge -- but again, schooling show, doesn't require all that much skill to evaluate *g* Just needed to figure out which classes were eq and which were under saddle :) I will say I prefer dressage letters to pylons for patterns. Had to laugh though as most of the riders neglected to leave enough space between the fence and their horse to spin. They'd get half way through and get stuck. An experience thing I guess, but still - you'd think that'd be something you'd figure out pretty fast. Or at very least after watching the first rider run into that problem! Sheesh. Was an entertaining and fairly informative day anyways. I love "hesitate" as one of the instructions on the test (as opposed to halt) inbetween movements. hahaha. That one amused me to no end -- seems to sum up the diff in attitude so well. Hesitate instead of Halt. Immobility. (always w/ capital letters and periods). hahaha ok enough of that :) As to how the day actually went? Well that's not my story to tell... :) Always good to visit another world though. And admittedly I'm very impressed by the bridleless reining (not demonstrated here, we were just discussing :). The most I've ever been able to do was get Zel to trot a figure 8. And even that was ummm interpretive :)

And now the mini-rant... So I was doing an assessment lesson the other day and the student asked me how to use her reins (a totally appropriate question - and she's at the level above "pull left to go left" -- looking for more detail). So I stared with "How you use your reins depends what you want to do..." Which she answers immediately with "I want to do hunter". Ummmm ok well w/o commentating on the choice of sport, missing the point entirely. Do you want to move the shoulder, flex/bend the neck, the poll? What are you trying to accomplish. It drives me to the end of insanity students who come to me saying they don't need to learn something because they don't need it for "their" chosen style of riding. Learn how to *ride* first - then pick the appropriate tools for the job you want to do. The good riders cross-train and can switch rings as necessary. One week hunter, the next dressage. Another day XC. Yeah I have absolutely no interest in competing in the hunters -- that doesn't mean I don't respect the skill required to put in a good hunter round. And it's something I'm entirely capable of (thanks to a way-back-when coach :) should I choose to. And likewise, even if you never plan to leave the hunter ring, you should still know how to sit to the canter. Learn to ride first. Learn the different skills, options, and techniques -- then you can use whatever ones are required in whichever ring you go in. Yes they change depending what you're doing (compare a hunter, to a dq, to an eventer going down a 6' drop and you'll see three very different positions!) but you should know how, when and why to use each AND be able to do them. Ugh. Ok off soap-box now. And credit to said student, when we had this discussion she gave a sincere try at accomplishing something outside her chosen "style" to fairly good results :)

So I stumbled upon "Widows Live Writer" on Win 7 which amused me for a bit. Unfortunately though it used the pre tag instead of p so messed up my style sheet a bit, so I prob won't use it. Was entertained by a text editor that could post directly to my blog though. It's the little things in life :) What can I say?

Speaking of blog editors -- anybody ever used blog2print? I'm considering it but it's not exactly inexpensive... Quality of what came back?

Wow I can't believe you read all the way here. Gold star for you! And that's a gold star without any fine print :)

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