Here there be dragons...

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

Wonderful weekend weather!

All adventures stolen from Graduate Riding School Blog

While the subject line is true, and definitely made the weekend just that much better, it really has very little to do with our adventures... This really should've been up on Sun -- sorry for the delay, it's been a *tad* bit busy!!! Enjoy :)

So was an interesting weekend... Saturday a friend and I went to play XC. She's a h/j person who's never done XC before so that's always tons o fun, n my entire goal w/ Sienna was to get her out, have some fun, and build some confidence. We had a great time. H/J friend jumped some seriously solid XC fences and while she definitely wasn't too sure on take-off, she was pretty happy on landing *g* And I think now has a bit of a new understanding about why our height limits are so low (comparatively -- at Olympic level eventers jump about 4'6... Compared to the 6'+ in the jumper ring...) We trotted by the training level corner. The same size fence in stad she wouldn't even blink at, but that, esp at the top of the hill, definitely required some respect. hahaha So yeah, was a lot of fun. Just did PE and E w/ Sienna *yawn*. And by the end she was jumping reasonably well.

However, the lack of confidence and amount of hesitance (when she's schooled this property several times in the past) re-solidified my decision not to compete her. And I was really having trouble with the idea of going and not competing. So then I thought of borrowing a student's horse and just goofing around. Ok, that has potential. And then I thought of my supergroom Nicole who's been grooming for me for years (hahaha if you're new here, maybe consider reading the Cedar Run blog from last year you can see how our days differ at the same show. I wrote my version and asked her to write hers... :) who hasn't been able to show the last couple years due to being in university... Who was going to come out super early, even knowing there was a good chance it'd be just dressage. N who *also* happens to take lessons on this particular horse. Who I was reasonably certain would love to show him. So I called horse's super kewl owner and got permission n then texted N to see if she'd rather show than groom :) Yeah, like there's any doubt!

So I found a friend to braid for her, since she wouldn't be able to get there on Sat and I had neither time nor inclination. Since friend braids for Royal-level hunter people, N's braids were SO far above and beyond anybody else that day. hahaha was pretty impressive.

Early Sunday morning I get to the barn. Running a little late due to a - stupidly early, b - stopping at Tim's, and c - realizing I'd set the load time earlier than we really needed so not stressing about it in the am. N was already there with horse fed and everything ready to load in the beast. I had decided to bring Sienna too, mostly to keep N's horse company and partially to teach her to be at a show and be chilled. So I fed her while we loaded everything into the beast. Load both horses who just walked right on (makes the morning so much less stressful!) and off we went.

It's a long drive, but a nice one. Although both passengers slept a good portion of the way. hahaha don't blame them -- it was still dark out!

Got there to be greeting by a smiling Cedar Run volunteer handing out property maps and an equally enthusiastic parking attendant. Since we were all of the second trailer there, parking was not exactly a challenge. Have to say, as nice as the show was last year (their first) this one was significantly better. Super organized (due in part, I'm sure, to Jeannette being the secretary. I swear that woman's a horse-trials god. :) The xc course had been significantly improved -- even since schooling there a few weeks ago. E got to run through the woods and up the big hill, and as with last year, had the option of water. A HUGE plus in my mind. Dressage was on the grass field and stadium in a new sandring. I was sad they didn't
include their castle, but certainly the course that was there was fair and level-appropriate. And excellent footing all around.

So we unload the horses who were a little high, but not bad. N's non-horsey friend was quick to pick up the basics and help out, gathering various pieces of tack to help her get ready. Her horse was definitely ready to go, but not doing anything tragic. I held him for her while she got on -- an entertaining challenge as I had Si in the other hand. He was quite bouncy when we got to dressage w/u. Wanted to run and play and even tossing the odd mini-buck (his specialty!)

But N stayed calm and rode him really well. Kept riding him forward and let him see the world. Soon enough he discovered it's not *that* scary and then it was time for tack check and in. The competition ring was on grass and a ways from the warmup so I was curious to see how the horse, who's only ever done hunter shows, would react. But he was cool. N while their test wasn't competitive (we didn't expect it to be, N hasn't quite found the buttons at home yet, so away was less than likely :) it was calm and accurate. And the judge quite liked the horse which is always a good sign :) For a first time in the dressage ring, it was pretty impressive. I know N wasn't really thrilled -- she's ridden competitive tests before and knows enough to know the difference. But she hasn't ridden greenbeans before, and I know enough to know that for a first test that was great (I told her, but I don't think she believed me :). No concern over the white fence of doom or fear of the judges or anything. A *little* nappy towards the ingate, but even that not tragic. Circles were mostly round. Corners actually corners. Both leads on the first try. All good really :) Perhaps I should've reminded her of Sienna's first few trips in the dressage ring. hahaha

So we cooled her horse out and I pulled out all of the beautiful braids. I had to do it because N's never actually braided with string before. Yikes. Clearly I missed a rather serious part of her education! Oops. hahaha but since they were very well done, it was much faster for me to take them out -- and less risk of cutting a braid! -- then to try and explain and she have to search for the string for each braid... Esp with a moving horse. So she held Si while I did that. One braid actually broke my stitch ripper. Sheesh! Fortunately I had back-up scissors :) So all good. Load both horses on the trailer to hang out and eat while we walked the jump courses. XC made me wish I had decided to compete Si -- what a great E course. You don't get low level courses that are really fun very often. N PT was challenging but entertaining -- it too had been upgraded since last time. Had a while to relax and hang out before going to jump. By this point it was getting hot and was actually cooler on the trailer with the shade and the breeze than outside, so we left the horses there till it was almost time to tack up. They were relaxed and happy as could be. The woman in the trailer next said there was nothing from them while we were gone, which is always good to know :)

So we cooled her horse out and I pulled out all of the beautiful braids. I had to do it because N's never actually braided with string before. Yikes. Clearly I missed a rather serious part of her education! Oops. hahaha but since they were very well done, it was much faster for me to take them out -- and less risk of cutting a braid! -- then to try and explain and she have to search for the string for each braid... Esp with a moving horse. So she held Si while I did that. One braid actually broke my stitch ripper. Sheesh! Fortunately I had back-up scissors :) So all good. Load both horses on the trailer to hang out and eat while we walked the jump courses. XC made me wish I had decided to compete Si -- what a great E course. You don't get low level courses that are really fun very often. N PT was challenging but entertaining -- it too had been upgraded since last time. Had a while to relax and hang out before going to jump. By this point it was getting hot and was actually cooler on the trailer with the shade and the breeze than outside, so we left the horses there till it was almost time to tack up. They were relaxed and happy as could be. The woman in the trailer next said there was nothing from them while we were gone, which is always good to know :)

So then we tack up for stadium. Head over with lots of time to spare so watch a few rounds and then start to warmup. N he was an old pro. Quiet, relaxed. This being his first HT, I was pretty happy to see that. Admittedly this ring is the one he'd be most comfortable in, being somewhat like the hunter warmups he knows from his previous life... All was good.

Until N went in the ring. And she who I've never seen a sign of nerves from completely froze. :( Boooo. So the first fence had an approach that was a little fast and a whole lot on a curve, and her horse kinda followed the line she put him on... Oops. But she regrouped and trotted him over it, all well and good. 2nd fence, which was quite tricky, he looked at -- but she was back on the ball and got him over beautifully. Unfortunately the next one was on a bending line to the left... The pilot kinda overshot the turn and chose to turn right instead. Oops. She knew it wasn't legal, it was a reasonably call by the time she got to that point. Her pony was a little confused by the manouver, but when she told him she really *did* want him to jump it, he smiled and nodded and did his job. Unfortunately that was followed by another steering disconnect, which lead to them being dismissed from the class. *sigh* Nothing tragic or exciting -- just the demise of abilities due to unexpected show nerves. There's a first time for everybody. We'll know much better next time :)

So we hung out and let the horses graze for a while. N dedicatedly gave her horse a bath -- even though he was cooled out by the time we got back to the trailer (it's a solid 15min walk). Then it was just hop back on the trailer for the drive home.

So while the ribbon results were a little disappointing, the day in general was still a lot of fun and was finished off with super-yummy milkshakes after the horses were home and taken care of :)

Highs and Lows

Ok so I should be asleep right now, cause really I'm exhausted. But I'm too keyed up so I figured I'd write and then sleep. I usually don't do personal in this blog, but today really got to me so here goes. Consider yourself forewarned.

*edited to add* - post has been significantly edited from the original due to not passing the 24 h rule. hahaha did you get to read the fun version?

So today was a highs and lows kinda day.

Work was interesting and very busy, which I prefer. So that's a high.

Then I get home and find out Sherlock (my cat) is missing. That's a serious low. Look all over for him inside and out. No sign.

But I had to go teach. Perhaps a good thing, as it got me out of there. But totally not appropriate to go try and teach in that mindset (ummm deleted p explained why I was LIVID beyond rational thought). I've had a couple coaches who take their personal frustrations out on their students, and that's really not right. N then I've had two in particular who are absolutely phenomenal about putting whatever is going on in their world away when they deal with clients. As in they've been ranting to me about X, totally over the top upset, and a client walks in and they just switch it off. You'd never know. Client leaves and rant resumes :) And having observed this a few times, I know this is how I intend to deal with my clients. I also know I'm not quite *that* good at it yet. So I detoured on my way to teach and went to see my pony. Made up her dinner, cleaned out her water buckets, and then just went to hang out with her in the field for a bit. And when her ears went forward and she left her hay and her friends to come see me, it helped stabilize the emotions a little. "The outside of the horse is good for the inside of the man." Or something like that :) - Winston Churchill. So that's a high.

So went to teach. Lessons were going really well. Had an extra in one class who was a real pleasure to teach. High. One of my students was having her last lesson before leaving for uni. Went well, but I'm going to miss having her in the class. High and low.

In my last lesson I was teaching and somebody was waiting for the ring. As we were working on a reasonably simple exercise I invited her in to ride around, which she did. But when she was done riding and I offered to let her out, she said she'd really rather stay and listen because she was really interested in what I was saying. And I shortly thereafter had a similar comment from her mother on the sidelines. That is about as HIGH as it gets :) When people are interested and ask intelligent questions and think about what I'm saying, it really validates all the work and effort I put into coaching. It's such a little thing, from a random stranger I could barely see in the dark (there were some lightbulb issues :), but it totally made my night.

So drive home. N of course as soon as I leave the barn the reality of what I left behind returns. But I know cats are nocturnal. And I know where Sherlock was found the last time he disappeared (a couple years ago. An accident, with an apology and a search. He was gone for TEN days and returned @ half his body weight. So you can see why I'd be concerned). So I went out to that area with a mini-flashlight and I called and I called and then...

I FOUND HIM!!! Woohoo HUGE HUGE HUGE HIGH!!!! And he came right to me, meowing his really scared meow. So I picked him up and brought him back.

Problem, the porch light is on, which makes Sherlock panic (and yes he still has his claws). AND the door is locked. Keys are in my jean pockets. Ever try to hold a cat who's panicking and doesn't want to be held? One who still has his claws? Ever try to do it with ONE hand??? So I rang the bell. With two hands I could hold the cat and keep him from scratching me. By this point he was hissing. I've never (10 years remember?) heard him hiss like that before. No answer. Rang the bell again and again andagainandagainandagain in rapid fire succession. Did this for about 3 minutes (although it felt like *forever*) -- just continually ringing it. I know there are people home. I also know they're known for ignoring the door. But I would've thought the excessiveness of it would've convinced somebody to come see. But no. Low.

So I pin cat to the ground and feel absolutely horrible for doing so. Serious Low. He came to me so bravely when I called him and let me pick him up (which we all know is a huge sign of trust. And he doesn't let anybody else hold him for more than about a second and a half.) and carry him all the way back. And then I force him down in a scary place and hold him there. While with my other hand I fiddle with the keys and try to get the door open. When I did manage to get it open he ran right in. High.

*Deleted mini-novel that was a significant Low.*

So now the cat is home, and I'm sooooo incredibly relieved. High. But I don't particularly want to be here any more. Low.

*edited to add* -- after I posted this I went in the office of the third member of our little party (who had thus far stayed out of everything) and found a stack of "Missing Sherlock" posters. That effort is hugely appreciated. Esp as with my schedule I'm not likely to be home to search much till Thurs... Another High.

Do you think we could consider just skipping the teenage years?

Stolen from GRS Blog.

One of those rides. Consider yourself forewarned!

So I generally love riding babies. All the firsts -- first time under saddle, first time without a babysitter, first trot, first canter, first jump, first outside (sometimes before the others!), first trail ride, first show, etc etc etc. Love the feeling of accomplishment when they get it -- whatever 'it' may be and the entertaining speed bumps along the way. And since I was a teenager I've ridden babies almost exclusively (with the odd side-line into OTTBs, which are their own challenge -- in some ways way easier because they've seen everything already and in some ways way more challenging) so I understand what's involved.

But I can't help but think of how much, at this point in my career, I would really love a season on something that already KNOWS what it's doing. Something that's happy and confident in their job that could let me see what *I* could really do. hahaha ah well, we all know that's not likely to happen *sigh* I guess just frustrated at yet another show season shot by a combination of spinny greenbean not ready to compete and said greenbean being off for the entirety of July :( I'll take her out to do the dressage portion of Cedar Run but I'm not asking her to jump (even if we navigated the course successfully -- which we probably would since it's only entry -- it'd completely blow her little mind and would take me weeks to get it back. So not worth it.) and then we're done for the year. Will try and school most weekends in hopes of *next* year being reasonable but I have to admit to being somewhat frustrated by this one. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely adore her. And once she understands something and gets it, she's an absolute sweetheart to ride -- so a few years from now I fully expect her to be a packer. But getting her there is proving to be a much slower process than I've been accustomed to in the past.

For instance, before her month off, she was confidently jumping PT - T level courses (schooling only of course -- off property's a whole nother game!) But still, at home anything I pointed her at we went over and she was *most* days hoping around like an old hunter schoolie. Occasionally we'd meet the OTTB and have a ride n a half, but generally she was jumping really really well.

Take the entire month of July off due to injury and the start of Aug due to pilot vacation. Then start over. First little while, super high. Ok no surprise there. But then she was coming back and doing ok and then one day, random meltdown. Since then, her anxiety level is off the charts -- esp when we're alone (which is most days). Suddenly my essentially bomb-proof horse is shying at anything she can think of to shy at, and every single fence is scary. Most times she'll go over it -- but overjumping everything by ridiculous amounts and tension just radiating from her. N that's at the TROT. Canter's almost unrideable. Significantly better with other horses around, but even then a LONG way from the superstar pony of the spring. Almost like I'm getting at home what we had at that horrendous CT at the start of the year. Not nearly that bad actually, so suppose I should be happy about that, but a moderated version of it.

So I had a lesson this am. Still going high off last week's lesson, and I've gotten much more comfortable with the new language. Warmup and coach is running late -- which means he actually gets there on time (he's usually super early). So by the time he got there Si was properly warmed up and working. He walks in "wow, that looks great. How warmed up is she?" Very. "Ok well let's jump then." hahaha graduated from DQ world. Yeah us. Except I actually had a couple 'new language' type questions so ran those by him first and got a little help on the flat. Did get tons of bonus points for having done my homework though *g* Doesn't matter how long I've been riding, how many lessons I've taken or who I'm riding with "that looks great" from my coach is still enough to have me high all day. hahaha esp when it's actually something I've been working ridiculously hard to make happen.

But then of course it was time to jump. And at first Sienna didn't *know* it was time to jump because, well, she wasn't paying attention when we were talking about it. I often shorten my stirrups and then don't jump anything specifically so she never learns to put those cues together. So I trot her around and she's still in the same mindset as our flatwork. All good. Turn towards the first fence and all of a sudden her body radiates tension. Fence was maybe 2"6. Not the least bit scary. And she jumps it almost every day. There was no feeling of hesitation, I never felt she was going to quit, but I also wasn't the least bit surprised when she cleared it by a solid foot. Form was beautiful. Textbook. Just waaaayyyy higher than necessary. Coach calls me over and asks me to analyze, which I did. This is not new. And on the plus side, I've actually been riding well (I swear that's not ego, just fact *g* I know and acknowledge fully well when I'm riding like I've never sat on a horse before, but the last couple weeks have been good from an eq and a timing perspective :) so I know it's not that I'm causing the reaction (which I can do -- if I get ahead of her and she deigns to still jump it, it'll be that kind of jump). Coach agreed with me. "She's just a little sharp." hahaha and that's fairly accurate. I would never have thought to describe it that way, but that's essentially it exactly.

There are these two purple boxes - not huge. Maybe 2'6". With hideous pokadots on them. They're great in a horrendously tacky way. Sienna HATES them. With a passion I've never felt from a horse before. Lots of horses will look at something that strange at first, but all the rest of the ones I know get over it pretty fast. Every. Single. Time. we go to this fence she'll hesitate and then clear it by a mile (assuming she goes over it that is -- that's not always guaranteed.) So today they were set as wings because somebody else was jumping the fence and wanted it lower than the box allowed. So my coach pulls the two boxes out together and makes them a wingless, poleless, skinny. Lovely. Actually an exercise I'm all for. Use it a lot. Entirely believe any horse should be capable of it. But doing it with the one jump she despises at a time when things are not going well was, ummmm, questionable. But there is absolutely no reason she can't do it so... Trot towards it in a positive manner. Horse: "You've got to be friken kidding me!" Stop. Spin. Bolt. Rider: *sigh*. Second time we actually made it over -- twice the height it needed to be, but over. Did it a few more times and she got better each time. Ok, progress.

So coach moves one of the boxes back under the jump where it originally lived (adjusting the pole accordingly). The other one gets moved to the middle of another box jump (that jump has three boxes, that aren't scary, side by side. He removed the middle one and replaced it with the purple one). Now you have to understand, that other jump was the one she'd been jumping *best* all day. Holding a perfect line. Quiet. No tension. Really good. Yeah, putting the purple dots under it changed that significantly. We got over it, but calm, quiet and straight it was not.

Ok attempt the *other* purple box. Now it is exactly where it's *always* been -- from the day it got moved into the sandring. With the same wings, the same pole on top. Only difference is that now there's one box where previously there had been two. I understood the other box being scary -- it appeared with the wrong jump, but this one...? About 18' out she quit. Really quit. Like snorting, 2 hands taller, explosion trying to happen quit. N I'm thinking you've got to at least go up to it. Yeah no. Can't spin or go backwards, what's left? Up. Waayyyy up. Now up's been her thing since before I ever got on her. But usually it doesn't even really count as a rear. It's semi-impressive to those watching, but really nothing to it. She comes up to about the angle she'd have taking off for a 3'6" fence. Feet are around her shoulder height and she hovers for a bit and then comes down again. No biggie. This time her feet were over my head. She's never gone up anywhere near that height with me on her before (although I have seen her do it playing in the field). So we're hovering up there and she starts to loose her balance -- one hind leg is still significantly stronger than the other. And as she shifted, it threw me off balance too. Making the situation much worse as my weight was now in a position to pull us over.

So I'm sitting up there and time slows, as it does. N my first thought is "this is very bad. I don't want her to learn this trick because I *hate* dealing with it." Then I realize she's really having trouble holding it and it's "well I can hop off now and let her fend for herself or I can pull us both over backwards. The second option's going to hurt both of us a whole lot more and probably wreck my saddle." Seriously -- had that whole conversation with myself. And then swung off my horse. Basically just let go and let gravity do its job. Does it count as a fall when it's unplanned but intentional? I landed on my feet, perfect dismount really, still holding the reins. N without me throwing her balance off, she was able to come down on all four safely.

Other than when I was learning to vault and we were *told* to hop off our horses at various gaits and positions, this is the first time I can ever remember voluntarily coming off. Usually I'm more of the hold on no matter what type. I may get concerned about the situation after the fact, but I stick as long as humanly possible. But it just seemed the wise decision at the time (although my coach was countermanding it as I was doing it -- "stay on that horse!" -- I had already started apologizing by the time my feet hit the ground).

So get back on. Hard to do when she's growing by the second and vibrating with tension. "I think that scared her more than it did you." ummm yup. Pretty safe bet on that one. Given that being scared was what caused her to go up in the first place *sigh*. At least with her it's never malicious. It may not be what I want, but there's always a reason. Sometimes it's a particularly dumb reason, but at least there's a reason. Go try jump again. Sitting on a giraffe on crack performing the jackhammer trot. Try getting *that* in front of your leg. Yeah, not easy. But this time we went over it. Explosively, but over it. So then we spent the next half hour jumping a figure 8 over those two boxes. Was never good, but it did get much better. Got so the trot was pretty consistent. Could canter one at a time, but not both together.

Ok, new exercise. Random oxer in the middle of the ring. Ascending. Back rail still only about 2'6". Maybe 2'9" if you stretch your imagination. Trot up to it, and she jumps it beautifully. First fence she's done with no hesitation. But she touches a rail. N she *really* hates touching a rail. *sigh*. 3'4 of a mad gallop lap later I get her back to me. Go try it again. And again. And again. And eventually out of the canter (I admit I snuck in an extra couple trot fences after my coach suggested the canter - much to his disgust, but we did get there :) And finally *well* out of the canter. As in when she was going for a stupidly dangerous long spot and I told her to wait and add, she did.

And after that, we finally called it a day. But seriously -- more than an hour of jumping to get to where she should technically be *starting* the warmup.

I'm hoping a few years from now I'll look back at this post as my superstar pony is packing some student around prelim n laugh n be glad I stuck it out, but I have to admit right now, it's not nearly as much fun as it usually is.

#fridayflash 47: A Sticky Note Life

A modern epistolary tale... Does it work? Let me know what you think!

-----
My parents divorced when I was little. I hardly ever saw my dad while I was growing up, but it was ok because Mom did everything she could to play both roles, and her brother stepped in to help out from time to time. And we managed, in the way families do. The summer I turned 16, in those pre-cell phone days, our schedules often conflicted as I began leading my own life. As a result, my mother and I conversed almost entirely in sticky notes:

Possible proof of the paranormal?

So I was flipping through some old files -- looking at "first lines" and story starts that I'd written but never done anything with trying to decide what I might do for Flash this week when I got distracted by the other folder -- the one that holds 'finished' versions... And I was randomly opening and reading some of them and it was the weirdest experience. I know I wrote them but enough time has passed that some of them I hardly recall at all. Added an interesting distance to read them from that perspective -- some I still really like. Others fell into the "what was I thinking?!?!" category :) hahaha But the really interesting part was in doing so, realizing that the ones I still like are those that came easily. Where I typed the story as I heard it in my head, with absolutely no knowledge of what was going to happen and always really glad when something did *g* As opposed to the ones written with "I have to write something now" that took serious effort and thought and planning. You would think that stories that have *some* sort of plan behind them would turn out to be better, but evidently not so much in my world *g* I'd also think that me writing and me writing would turn out somewhat near the same quality of story, but again, evidently not so much. Or maybe the divide is really just in my mind, caused as much from the vague memory of the writing as by the story itself -- but looking at it it seemed the style was so different between them as to be blatantly obvious. One story even switched in the middle -- the beginning was forced, but then the rest flowed. So I'm wondering -- can you tell which ones came easily? Or is it only with that background knowledge that it's obvious? Cause really, if the forced ones are blatant, perhaps I should just skip those weeks :) But then that being said, some of the ones I like least get the most comments, so what do I know >;-P

As for the paranormal -- I know there I know nothing. So when Shan sent me this I was leaning towards the 'mist' idea, but figured I'd at least watch it through and see... Let me know what you think!

This is a car advertisement from Great Britain. When they finished filming the ad, the film editor noticed something moving along the side of the car, like a ghostly white mist. They found out that a person had been killed a year earlier in that exact same spot. The ad was never put on TV because of the unexplained ghostly phenomenon. Watch the front end of the car as it clears the trees in the middle of the screen and you'll see the white mist crossing in front of the car then following it along the road.....Spooky! Is it a ghost, or is it simply mist? You decide. If you listen closely to the ad, you'll even hear the cameraman whispering in the background about it near the end of the commercial.

Equestrian Air Bags?

Ok so I admit when I first heard that subject, my thought was airbags for the trailer... Yeah not so much. hahaha heard about this today: Equestrian Air Bags -- for use over a traditional crash-vest, they inflate when the clip is detached from the saddle... Apparently significantly reduce neck/back injuries. All good. But what happens the time when your horse quits and you end up on her neck... A salvageable situation most of the time -- but not if airbags suddenly explode on top of the horse!

Ok I'm sorry, but I couldn't take this "safety" video seriously when their demo rider wasn't wearing a helmet! But anyways:



The German version of this commercial is significantly better (and way more amusing :) but for some reason it has disabled embedding. What company doesn't want their advertising sharable? Strange. There are a ton more if you care to browse youtube -- some seem more reputable than others. But the general idea? Thoughts?

I have a friend with whom I exchange fairly regular emails. Not having seen her this weekend, I sent a message at lunch saying "How was your weekend?" Pretty mundane eh? But hotmail wouldn't let me send it! Declared it spam and told me I had to change the content of the message and try again. "Your message seems to have triggered our junk e-mail filters. Could you edit your message and try again?" -- and this was not a question. I tried just hitting send again, but it wouldn't send. Was not amused. I don't mind the "enter in this funky code" when I send an email to a ton of people, but filtering a message to a single person who's in my address book? That's a little excessive.

Ugh. Ok end of mini-rant.

Your "how can people be like this" article of the day: Woman pats cat and then traps it in garbage bin in England. Caught on tape.

And to counteract that, your good news story of the day: Toddler walks to firestation to get help for her father

Learning a new language

So just a suggestion -- don't go to Staples 2 weeks before school begins. hahaha Absolutely insane.

Insert abrupt topic change here.

Was supposed to go to Caledon to school XC today. Of course rain and thunderstorms put an end to that. Made some comment about it on FB (this is the 3rd or 4th time we've been rained out in a summer of otherwise incredible weather) and was reminded that any time I've gone to *teach* the weather's been perfect. So evidently it only rains when I plan to ride *sigh*. So who here is surprised by this? Yeah me neither >;-P

So just rode at home instead. Easy indoor ride with the simplest little gymnastic in the world. Spent as much time chatting as riding *g* But was really nice. I've been trying to ride in the way my coach introduced in my last lesson. Now part of the entertainment with that is I'm trying to speak to my horse in a language *neither* of us knows. Because of course, I trained her. So all the buttons are where I put them. Which is, sadly, not where I need them to be now. Oops *g*

So my first attempt coach says "talk to her" and see what happens. And the conversation went something like "So, how's the weather?" "Well the daemons from Minnesota are planning to take over Switzerland."

That was day one. Roughly translated to "How bout we trot now?" "Halt, ok." So technically wasn't our best ride in that what I *wanted* to happen, rarely happened... But be were both trying really hard and she was going really well -- just not necessarily where or how I was intending :)

Move on to day two. By now we've figure out some of the basic nouns and sentence structure. Conversations are more like "So, how's the weather?" "Wet." -- we're not winning any Pulitzer prizes yet, but we're at least attempting to speak the same language. This allows me to choose the gait and general direction, but not effect or improve said gait or direction. So we're trotting left. This is good. But the trot is downhill and the shoulders (or fore-quarters as one student declared them the other day :) are considerably ahead of the hindquarters. Less good.

Day three. Well now this was the really interesting one. Because you see, Sienna has now mastered the language. In fact, is significantly ahead of me. Which tells me that this is definitely a worth-while endeavor to embark on since she's clearly all for it. Today when I asked about the weather, I got a PhD dissertation on the effects of tectonic plate movement on weather patterns. I won't bother to retype it here. You wouldn't understand it anyways >;-P But what it meant was, so long as I was avoiding the way I've ridden all my life, I could move any part of her body and entirely control the pace, with essentially a thought. Was pretty friken amazing let me tell you. Have not figured out how to apply this in any way shape or form over fences yet *sigh* but our flat work jumped about two years in about half a week. So yeah, I'm pretty excited about that :)

So now since Sienna's way ahead of me in the new language, when something strange happens I work backwards. "Ok she did A. What did I do to cause A? I did X. So does that mean if I repeat X A will happen again? Yup. Very kewl." Languages have never been a strength of mine, but I have to admit I'm fairly entertained learning this one :) Just kinda wishing I'd done so 20 years ago!

A day off?

Taken from GRS Blog

So I was intending to be away this weekend. As such, I had nothing booked. So when my plans were cancelled, I ended up with a WHOLE day free! Woohoo. So I promptly made a list of all the things that desperately need to be done. Laundry. Clean house. Pay bills. Latin HW. Paperwork. Clean tack. Pull horse's mane. And as I was sort of mentally sorting through the order in which I would accomplish these things, I happened to glance at FB and saw a note about dressage at Palgrave. hmmmmm today eh? Well if dressage is on at Palgrave, my coach will be there. And likely her groom. And some other people I'd like to see... So I look up her ride times; I was already too late to make it there in time to see her first horse go, but her second one was in the aft.

Ok so my laundry was mostly done but the rest of the things on that list got scrapped in favour of going to watch her ride. hahaha so I spend all my life at the barn, and on my day off what do I do? Go watch somebody else ride. Obsession? Addiction? Insanity? Possibly all three. But I do know that no horse-person would be even the slightest bit surprised by that choice. So whatever it is, I'm not alone with the affliction *g* hahaha Those who know, cannot explain. Those who don't know, can never understand.

I get to the grounds n find her stalls. No people. Ok wander around a bit. Visit the tack store (Sienna now has a new half-pad. The first I've ever bought actually, but her Fleeceworx pad disintegrated so I needed a replacement n figured this was worth a try :). Wander back. Still no people. Pick up a random time sheet -- ok she has a student going in a few mins (yeah for excessively detailed dressage sheets), wander over to 1st level land. No M, but it was amusing me to sit and listen to the various coaches and their students so I hung out there for a while. My fav line: "That was GREAT! At *least* an 11!" and then I guess realizing she might've been a little too enthusiastic, an aside to those around "I'm a judge, so I can decide it's an 11." hahaha - amused me anyways. At one point there were about six coaches all sitting side by side speaking instructions quietly. All to their respective students, clearly wearing headsets. Was sort of entertaining to pick out who belonged to whom :) But then, I'm easily amused.

So eventually wander back to the stalls figuring my coach has to reappear eventually since her horse is still there and we're getting close to when she should be riding :) Was just debating where to wander next when her super-groom appeared. N where she is, M will soon be. hahaha So we chatted for a few minutes, and sure enough shortly thereafter she arrived followed by the appropriate getting changed and tacked up chaos.

Quite enjoyed watching my coach warmup her superstar horse and evesdropping on her coach's comments. I even more enjoyed watching her absolutely brilliant test. And the look on her face coming out that made it clear it felt as good as it looked :) It's not too often you get to see somebody come out of dressage smiling like that.

So we go take care of the horse and watch another of her students ride. Convince a near-by kid to did a ditch to funnel water away from the stalls for when the rapidly approaching storm hit. hahaha he was handy to have around :) And then it's time to go find the scores. Always scary -- what happens if the judge didn't think it was as good as it felt? It *shouldn't* influence how you feel about a ride, but it always does...

So as we were hanging out, about to go see, her phone rings...

Scores are up.

And hers?

First.

As it should be :) I oh so rudely read through her test (bad Lauren! :) to see a good number of 9s on it *g* Pretty sweet.

Anyways so that was a good random horse-show day. Had fun socializing, did some shopping, and watched the friend I went to see ride a kick-ass test. Doesn't get much better than that.

So on the way home stopped to ride my pony. N while I wasn't sore at all after yesterday's lesson when I woke up this morning, about two minutes into trying to ride I could feel all sorts of new muscles screaming. hahaha but my horse went beautifully! And we finished just before the rain hit.

And just to round things out she did get her mane pulled and the tack did get cleaned. So while the *whole* list didn't get done, parts of it did *g*

My mother always said there'd be days like this; she just never told me there'd be so many!

So some of you might be aware that Sienna and I have been having a bit of a rough week. *sigh* I get that she has just decided she's a teenager, and this is all part of the fun and games, but really???? She's SIX now. We should be about 2 years past this behaviour. Of course we should be about 2 years past her growing too and she's still doing that. Ah well.

Last Sat I jumped her around and she was absolutely incredible. One of the best jump rides I've ever had on her. Perfect little hunter pony. Ratable, listening. Hit every spot bang on, gave me every lead I asked for, lengthen/shorten/turn all no problem. Honest and confident. Just wonderful. One of those rides that makes you really glad you threw the schedule out the window and skipped dressage for one day *g*

So there's a line about "it doesn't matter how good a trainer you were yesterday, your horse wants to know how good you are today" -- that was our next ride. It got its own post. Something about Why do I ride TBs? Can't remember the last ride I had like that on her. Last time she lost her brain that badly was @ Grandview this spring, but this was different in that this time it wasn't total sensory overload it was just one specific thing that the tiny TB brain couldn't handle. Conveniently it happened when I was feeling entirely patient and I basically kept repeating the question till she figured it out.

So of course every day since we've been over the tarp. She's a long way from confident about it yet, but she's getting much better at it. Still wouldn't want to see one in competition though! hahaha not that I'm exactly concerned about that, but anything similar really. So the next day I decide to hop her over some baby stuff. Yeah that was bad. Very bad. It's as though our wonderful tarp school convinced her that A, everything is scary. And B, jumps are optional. Training rule #1: "Never teach your horse something you want them to forget." *sigh* I spent a very long time and eventually got her quietly trotting over a few fences and left it at that. Now you have to keep in mind, this is the *same* course she was jumping like a pro on Sat. Just lower :) But no, evidently in her world that's entirely irrelevant.

Next day... Theoretically a schooling jumper show. Yeah no, I know better than that. Not worth screwing her up entirely to go play when things are not going well at home. Instead normal ride. W/u includes tarp. She thinks about it a whole lot but no serious meltdown. The advantage to the whole tarp w/u thing is it *really* brings her back up. Made the following dressage ride pretty seriously impressive. hahaha so yeah, was actually a good ride. She was very strong and a little high and it took a long time to get to the "relaxation" phase of things but when we got there things were quite good. Of course hacking back to the barn we had to shy at everything and end up a bouncing ball of tension. Which resulted in us practicing walking around quietly (much to the amusement of those grazing... "Ummmm didn't you just leave?" "Yeah, we need to practice walking." *sigh*) I was tempted to walk her through the drivethrough, but managed to restrain myself *g* Mostly cause losing it on pavement would be very very bad for my pony :( Eventually though she walked quietly and halted properly and I could dismount.

I did end up going to the show -- entirely to socialize. Got talked into being a slightly useless groom (useless cause I kept wandering and talking to people :) but for people who don't actually need a groom so it's all good. Saw a friend and her superstar pony that I don't get to see nearly often enough. Chatted with a few people I haven't seen in years -- also entertaining. Generally not a bad evening. Of course anywhere there's horses and free wine is bound to be entertaining.

So then we get to today. Lesson time. I got on w/ enough time to get our tarp-school in before my coach got there. Not *quite* enough time to get her relaxed (he's *always* early!) but close enough. And he asked me how she's going. And I told him. And apologized *g* Figured we should just get that out of the way. So he watches for a minute and comments on her great trot. Well yeah, the plus side of all this is awesome dressage. hahaha So for the dq portion of the lesson we worked entirely on me. And I'm not quite sure how he did it, but he made me tall! hahaha like I seriously felt I was on a horse a hh taller. Was really quite impressive. It was one of those "take all the pieces apart and put them back together differently" type lessons. Where for a little while I felt completely, entirely incompetent (which was definitely not aided by the fact that my incompetency was making me giggle. Ego aside, after the amount of experience I've had feeling like a beginner again is really really funny. Like riding the rolly-polly paint pony western *g* Or vaulting in university -- a sport that should never be attempted after the age of 12!), but by the end the difference was... Wow. Will be interesting to see if I'm sore tomorrow. I noticed it in the lesson, but was fine after... We shall see. Anyways, the end result of fixing the rider was our impressive eventing dressage became real dressage. Like the kind of dressage Zelli used to do all by herself :) Well maybe not *that* good. But far closer than I ever imagined Sienna could get.

Only down side? Somewhere in the midst of the beginnerness I happened to mention that a lunge lesson would be potentially useful... That might've been a mistake. We'll find out next week *g* Superpony's never been lunged w/ a rider before. I've no problem galloping her at a 3' stone wall.... But going in a 20m circle w/ a line attached to us? Well that's scary! And I, well I have to admit I love lunge lessons. Of course I also love gymnastics. So yeah, basically I'm insane. You're not new here. This is not news. But, that being said, I haven't had one since I was riding with L... N that was in 2002. hmmmmmm

So then we start to jump. "So what do you want to do?" (Wait, I get a choice? ummm I *never* get to choose!) "Something easy." He just looks at me, looks pointedly at the course I designed, and rolls his eyes. "Something easy?" he asks. "Trot fences." I decide. Knowing fully well that cantering and jumping at the same time is a bad combination for Sienna's little brain at the moment. So he watched us trot around and saw some of what I've been seeing from her. I avoided the tarp entirely (having already told him about that game, and already done it that am, he didn't push it), but trotted over everything else. Including the bench (which got an "I really like that jump" from him. hahaha yeah eventers!). Which she trotted over in absolutely perfect form. Her anxiety lowered as we went around. Never got to confident, but got back to reasonably calm and willing, so that's a start for today. We left it at absolutely nothing challenging or interesting, but at least accomplishing point A to point B in reasonable form.

As for the show next week? It may well become a dressage show for us. But we'll see. It's all about the positive experience right? *sigh* The trainer side of me agrees with that entirely. The competitive side of me would like to get back to the winning. Like all three phases in one day. hahaha One day. Hopefully not TOOOOOO long from now.

Ponies: the only socially acceptable form of child abuse.

One of the guys at work creates ap games for the iphone -- had a lot of fun playing one (not yet released) that he's working on now. Might have to go get me an iphone. Yeah, or maybe not >;-P

So I amused myself this morning... I have this new alarm clock. That I'm not a huge fan of, but it's mostly doing its job (although Alarm 2 seems to be optional? Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't?!?!) Anyways I need it to be dark to sleep. My old alarm clock had a wide, flat face -- so I just used to put it face down. Problem solved. This one is a more normal design. So I started by putting a book in front of it, but that just wasn't working because the surface is curved and short. So looking around for something that would work. Found a little stuffed bear (which significantly outlasted the ex who gave it to me! :) Little stuffed bear hugs the clock perfectly and is small enough to fit on the little space there is. Perfect. And for a couple days, the alarm would go off, I'd knock the bear off the shelf and find the snooze button. Worked well enough. But today I discovered that instead of knocking the bear off the shelf, I just hit him on the head. The head is in exactly the right place to hit the snooze button. hahaha so gets rid of anger at alarm clock for waking me up, hand is cushioned by nice soft bear (making it that much easier to fall back asleep -- hmmmm potential flaw there?), I don't have to search for the bear from wherever it got thrown, and like 10 years after the fact, ex becomes useful *g*. All round solution really. Yeah well, we know I'm easily amused *g*

I was reading, yet again, about the whole "8 glasses of water a day" thing, and I gotta admit -- unless it's like 30 deg out and I'm working outside, this is nearly impossible for me... I have my glass of OJ in the am. A coke somewhere mid-aft. And usually a bottle of water while I'm teaching (sometimes two :). So total liquid consumed doesn't equal the amount for just water. And I'm not willing to give up my oj or my coke for more water! hahaha Although I suppose it depends on the size of a glass. A very small glass 2 bottles *could* equal 8 glasses (comeon stretch your imagination :) So to start with I'm going to go for two-three bottles a day (instead of one-two). We'll see what that does.

A few of my friends posted this on FB today and I thought I'd share... Under the evil pony category: Ed!



If you browse you-tube a bit there are other vids of this kid having fun a few years later on a much nicer pony :) Kid'll be an awesome rider if he sticks to it.

And just cause it amused me, a random Simon's Cat vid -- I love the fascination with the little scrap of paper he tears off. Definitely a Sherlock move *g*

Tell me something... Why do I ride TBs?

From Graduate Riding School Blog

---

Remember the superpony I told you about a post or two ago? The one who was jumping around over scary things like the brave eventer she might one-day become? Yeah I'd like to know where she went and ask her to come home *sigh*. I had a chestnut OTTB mare to ride yesterday. In a big way. To be fair, she had two days off and it feels significantly cooler out (my car tells me it's 29, but it feels cold. No humidity @ all so I'm guessing that's the difference. I can't handle summer ending yet!).

Yeah so I should've known when she didn't come to me in the field. She didn't run away from me either, just basically ignored my presence entirely (usually I call her from the gate and meet her half way). Grooming and tacking up she was witchier than usual, but not tragically so. PMSing maybe? Take her out to the sand ring and get on -- she's her usual quiet self. And I *might've* let her wander away while I was getting organized. Technically a bad habit I realize, but one born of always riding in busy locations where there's usually a lineup for the box. Get on and get out of the way. So we're still in wandering/getting organized mode a few seconds later when suddenly we're standing on our hind legs for a few seconds and then promptly galloping the other direction. Ummmm excuse me?!?!?! Fortunately I have both reasonable balance and the ability to react quickly when necessary so got organized *really* quickly and stopped the pony. Ok so what was that all about? Walk her back that direction on purpose this time to find out. Sure enough, stop/snort/up/backwards. Ummmm no. Backwards is not in the contract. Counteracted w/ our friend the dressage whip which promptly led back to up. *sigh*

There's a theory about a horse has 6 ways to go: left, right, forward, backward, up or down. And when riding you're supposed to close all the doors except the one you want. But I have yet to figure out exactly how to close the "up" door. *sigh* I can hold her straight, and stop her from going backwards, but to avoid forwards when she's this concerned, she'll pick up. And it's not even a malicious thing -- she only does it when she's genuinely concerned about something. But it's still not a good thing.

So we finally compromise with stand still (all four feet on the ground) and snort. She's about a hand taller than usual and her whole body is quivering. The very scary thing she's concerned about? Yeah it's the blue tarp. The blue tarp that she's seen many, many, many times before. But it had been rolled up (it's usually the "liverpool" under one of the jumps) and put off to the side. At about this point one of the other people arrives "what's her problem?" "Chestnut ottb mare." Right. hahaha So I get her to go past it in start-stop-start-stop-shy-bolt fashion. Do that a couple times till we can maintain a straight line and something that resembles a trot.

Remember by this point we still have not done so much as a warm-up circle.

So I ask the person on the ground if she could possibly take the tarp out of the bushes, fold it very small, and put it between two standards so we can school with it. No rail on top - if it's "just a jump" it defeats the purpose since apparently tarps are only scary when they're by themselves. So there's enough space between tarp and standard that, were she straight, she could walk easily between the tarp and the standard. So this is where we'll start. Uh huh. Yeah that's clearly setting the bar WAY too high. About 10 ft out. Stop snort try to rear and spin bounce in place a bit. Seriously horse? Was actually a reasonably entertaining drama given what was involved. So I get her *almost* to it and she's stretched out her nose as FAR as she possibly could to investigate without getting too close... All good till she snorts on it. It's a tarp. Tarps move when a strong breeze hits them. AND they make noise when they move. And I was laughing too hard at Sienna's reaction to stop her. hahaha. So we had to circle a couple times and get the flight response under control and then come back to it. Repeat this three or four times w/ regaining control after a stride or two instead of the mad gallop and then eventually keeping her straight so we snort and freeze but don't disappear. Ok, progress.

Proceed with the "walk by" plan. She's *really* hesitant but at least gets up to it (now it's folded tiny -- maybe 1' across if you stretch your imagination. To put in perspective -- BOs 5yo child would have no problem stepping over this). So given that it's tiny, her head is already past it when the feet get there. Remember at this point I'm only asking her to go beside - not over... But she's really unsure, so she's taking these tiny baby steps and throwing dirt all around. Anybody see the problem with this? Yup, as soon as she got close enough to *almost* go bravely by, she kicked dirt on the tarp. Which made noise. And we were gone again. And it made MORE noise as we spun to run away. Which made us leave faster. hahaha such a goof.

And we try again. This time when the scary noise hits the tarp I take spinning out of the equation -- so she has up or forward as her options. Since she really doesn't want to stay with the tarp, forward it is. Fast! hahaha. But technically we were past the tarp.

Done? No, of course not.

Ok so turn around to go over it the other way. Have you ever worked with a horse before? Scary object in the other direction is a NEW scary object. Repeat the above few paragraphs. On the plus side, it was nice to see she can now spin and bolt evenly in either direction (when I got her she used to only spin left - no strength to the right). She picked it up a little faster this way. Either because she'd done it once already or because she prefers jumping that direction in that ring.

Turn around and try again. Not so much hesitation this time. Still a bit of a leap and run but getting easier. Repeat this a few times till it feels less like I'm sitting on an explosion waiting to happen.

Alright so now we've got the walking by, how about over? We start the easy way but pointing her straight at it this time. Stop, snort... comeon pony... FLYING leap and gallop away. hahaha ok, well technically over it :) Back and forth a whole bunch of times till she's trotting over it and landing in a controlled canter (never got relaxed enough to treat it as a trot pole, but at least somewhat calm and straight.

Now I *could* have left it there... But really, it shouldn't've taken me 40 minutes to get her to trot over that. May as well take the desensitizing all the way while we're there. Asked somebody on the ground to please put it back to its normal size (about 4' wide). I thought even in her spinny mode she'd look at it and just way over jump it.

Yeah no. Not so much. Remember waaaaayyyyy back at the beginning when we stopped like 10' out. Yeah back to that. Only now it's even scarier because this way it's lighter, which makes it more susceptible to the wind. Which means it randomly MOVES. Yikes! But I started the game, had to finish it. Right back to stop, snort, inspect, walk beside it. Then we did walk part way beside it and flying leap over the corner. Land flying (like to the point that when I get her back to a trot the walk will not happen. Ears up around my eyes. Less good. Get her chilled out again (took a while). Do some walk trot transitions. Reinstall brain. Try again.

Going the one way, that was the best I ever got *sigh*. Going the other way I got her trotting it and landing excited but ridable. Had to leave it on that because I had to teach (usually I have time to ride, cool out, untack, and chill for a bit before that lesson gets there. This ride I hadn't even gotten to the w/u yet!). So I got one good trot over it reasonably and left her on that. Went over to the other side of the ring to do some trot loops and take advantage of her back being up nice and high and the power behind the trot for a bit n then let her cool out (despite the fact that we never technically warmed-up!).

Now since I didn't have time to put her away, she had to teach with me. Hanging out in the middle is a good lesson in patience so I generally don't mind this, but today was even better because every time student stopped for a break or something, we worked on the tarp. By the end she was walking over it BOTH ways quietly (actually even stepping ON it - albeit cautiously). So I was quite happy that we got there. But man it took forever to get there. So guess what we'll be doing for the rest of the week?

When I say she's a little slow sometimes -- these are the days I'm talking about. It shouldn't take more than an hour school to convince her to go over a tarp. And once she's done it, it should get *easier* each time. Or so that's been my experience in the past. Not so much with this one *sigh*. Ah well -- ditch training right? Essentially the same idea.

So why do I ride a TBs? Because they're cheap! hahaha nah - most days they're entertaining, but some days I think life'd be easier if I'd gone and gotten something a little more sturdy with a little less edge. Of course then I'd be bored :)

All that we see or seem is but a dream within a dream. - Edgar Allan Poe

So I've been having the weirdest dream-within-a-dream thing happening lately and it's just a little bit creeping me out. More creeping me out by the fact that it's happened a few times in succession. The first one was really scary. In that one, I don't recall the set-up but I was in serious danger from something and then something happened that was nqr and I thought "wait a second, that can't be real, I must be in a dream." And then I woke up. But I woke up to a scarier situation that involved something massive falling (I was in a warehouse of some sort and whatever this was was suspended from the ceiling) that was going to squish me and I was trying to figure out how to get out of the way. And right before it squished me I woke up for real. But the way I was facing the shadows resembled the item that I'd been trying to figure out how to avoid in the last one so took a min to realize a, I was really awake, and b, the world was not caving in. Sounds so stupid but my heart was pounding louder and faster than my alarm clock does and I was instantly WIDE awake -- if a little disoriented! The next time wasn't scary at all, and never had the realization of dreaming that the first one did. I just "woke up" in another dream and continued on my merry way until I woke up again. The only reason it registered was because it was so close in timing to the scary one. That and the fact that I can't remember ever having experienced that before. Only other thing I can think of that's ever come close is dreaming that I'm getting up and ready for work/school while instead I've actually turned off the alarm clock and gone back to sleep. And let me tell you, that's a HUGE waste of a late-day. If I'm going to sleep in and be late, I want it to be for a fun dream! hahaha

In real life though, things are good :) Business plan is ready to go. I'm still tweaking of course (oh comeon, I'll *always* be tweaking. It's like the website - there's no such thing as done!) but it's presentable at least. Have a few new students lined up for Sept and one old student who just returned last week (welcome back M! :) Always fun. Except she grew up >;-P She was a little kid last time I saw her and now she's about 15 and a real person :) Really it's only been a couple years, but in maturity and personality the difference was pretty kewl.

Sent entries for Cedar Run. hahaha could be interesting. We're setting the bar super-high with primary goals of, in order: "keep horse between rider and ground", "don't get eliminated" and "keep horse's brain between ears". Secondary goal is "jump clear". I would like to accomplish all four of those. You'll notice none of them are connected to dressage *g* To be fair, her dressage is actually reasonable these days -- but not when goal 3 is still in the list. Said pony's been awesome lately. But then, we haven't been off the property since June *sigh*. Wonder how many XC schools I can get in in a week and a half? *g*

Coined a new term at work today. Basement Nav. As in the navigation at the bottom of a website that's traditionally a site-map but when they've removed pieces thereby making it not much of a map. Also works for the links to legalese etc that you find down in the basement of the page :) And yes it's entirely possible that section already has a name, but I like my version :)

And for the curious -- the poem the subject line was stolen from:

Take this kiss upon the brow!
And, in parting from you now,
Thus much let me avow--
You are not wrong, who deem
That my days have been a dream;
Yet if hope has flown away
In a night, or in a day,
In a vision, or in none,
Is it therefore the less gone?
All that we see or seem
Is but a dream within a dream.

I stand amid the roar
Of a surf-tormented shore,
And I hold within my hand
Grains of the golden sand--
How few! yet how they creep
Through my fingers to the deep,
While I weep--while I weep!
O God! can I not grasp
Them with a tighter clasp?
O God! can I not save
One from the pitiless wave?
Is all that we see or seem
But a dream within a dream?

What I might do when I can't compete anymore (a lifetime from now!)

Alright so I have to admit to being unhappy that the days are noticeably shorter already. I'm getting up in the dark, and my last lesson of the night each night is running out of light. BIG boooo. But on the flip side -- did anybody see the extreme sunrise this am? Wish I'd had a camera -- was very impressive. A floating line of clouds coloured vibrant shades of red and purple with the blindingly bright orange glow of the sun below and the pale blue of the "not-yet-morning" sky above.

So had a lot of fun judging at the Myrddin Short Course yesterday. As always, it was a great show -- newly painted reasonably challenging courses with new fences on XC; including an optional baby bank on PE! hahaha cutest thing ever. I was judging stadium and the first field of XC and so got to see everybody who chose to jump :) Not a bad place to be! Armed with a clipboard, whistle and radio I headed out to the booth early in the am. And then hung out for a while while everybody else got sorted *g* Have to admit I was not the least bit disappointed when the radio died after the first 1/2h. hahaha I like being able to listen to what's going on, but really I don't get along well with them. The one time I tried to use it it just beeped at me (I was told later that's what it does when the battery's dying *sigh*). But then, the only person who really needed to reach me from dressage world on the other side of the property just before we started didn't have a radio. But she did have a cell phone. Problem solved. hahaha yeah for logical lateral thinking *g*

Once things got under way the day flowed pretty quickly. As with most well designed stadium courses there was once fence that came down more often than any of the others -- in this case, that'd be fence four. Came down for two reasons -- first, it *looked* like the easiest fence on course (hello people, can we say a warning sign?!?!?) so it wasn't necessarily as respected as much as perhaps it should've been, and two, if the rider cut the corner, they'd get there on a half stride. Every time. Those who rode their corners, no problem, but those who didn't, kept the ring crew busy *g*

Took a walk out around the XC course afterwards -- mostly to see Barb's much talked about PE jump. Coolest baby XC jump ever! It's very hard to make low-level xc interesting (jump the log, then the next log, then the log over there, etc) but she pulled it off :) Was a normal panel, but painted with grass and bunnies and butterflies. So it blends well with the grass and keeps completely with the xc idea, but has a slight surreal feel to it. Very kewl. Should've taken a pic. hahaha

After the show was over was social hour :) Always fun. Of course having taught there for years, I still know most of the people involved and it was really great to see everybody again -- esp those who don't compete so I never see on the circuit. Also visited for a while with some of the competitors whom I know from other places. One of my favourite coaches was there w/ a super-nice greenbean doing the YEH course so was fun to catch up with him and his crew. There were a couple I was expecting to see who unfortunately couldn't make it. So sad :( Did get to meet some new entertaining people though, so that's always good :)

The threatened thunderstorms mostly held off -- other than a 10 min delay at the end of the E division, we were good to go. While still not nearly as much fun as competing or coaching, was still not a bad way to spend the day :)

I'm going to stop procrastinating. Tomorrow.

So today was just a chill day :) Ton of stuff I *should* be doing of course, but I decided to take a day just to play. B and I were getting bored of the old course set up at the barn, so we decided to recreate it. I think she began to question the wisdom of embarking on this project with me when I suggested the bench burred in the weeds on the sideline would make a good jump, but she humoured me :)

So we made a really great course with some of everything. Lots of technical possibilities -- if you want them. Or alternate simpler routes for those not quite ready for the tricky ones.

Only problem? It was supposed to be a flat day. *sigh* And I did do some flat work. But then I might've had to jump over just a couple fences. Just to test them out you see :) After all, had to prove the bench was jumpable *g* (and the others who tried it did admit it rides well. One of these days I'll have to get them out on xc :)


Si over the bench (jump looks much better from the other side, but such is life :)


So yeah, short ride on the superpony today, but she went beautifully. Pretty happy about that.

Anyways - since I've managed to do nothing productive today I figure I should get a little work in now.

Ever wanted to be a pilot?

Ok so I admit I might've spent more time than absolutely necessary on this site after stumbling upon it today: Airbus A380 Cockpit Panorama -- but if you zoom in you can see all sorts of fun toys. Is it a bad sign all I wanted to do was push buttons? Maybe it's a good thing nobody's ever let me in a real one *g* And I absolutely love that there are cup holders. hahaha such a mundane necessity appearing in all the gadgetry.

#fridayflash #46: Freedom Fantasy

This one's for Anna and Paula :)

----



As I watched the clouds drift away to be replaced by a stunningly blue sky, I couldn't help but wish I were outside. "The grass is always greener," my mother's sing-song voice chimed in my head. But in this case the grass WAS greener. Literally. And the sky blue. And I was inside a big cement room with a small window that let me see a sliver of what I was missing. I put my hand to the window longingly. But no matter how hard I wished, I couldn't transport myself to the other side.

I watched through my window as a child, oblivious to my suffering, played outside -- savoring the last weeks of summer. A bird flew towards me, but veered off at the last second -- clearly repelled by the evil radiating from my prison.

A man looked in. I was all excited, thinking he would see me. Human contact! I smiled, and lifted a hand in half a wave. But he ran a hand through his hair and barred his teeth -- checking the mirrored glass for any remains of lunch. I could've told him he looked fine, but he'd never hear me.

My eyes drifted shut as the stuffy air began to affect my consciousness. I shook my head to force myself awake. I couldn't afford to sleep.

People entered and left my building. None came to my cell. I was abandoned. Forgotten. And outside my window, life went on without me.

I wondered where those outside were going as I dreamed impossible dreams of freedom.

Time stood still. One leaf fluttered off a nearby tree, drifting on the breeze. The kind of breeze my sealed window would never allow in.

And then, finally, my dreams came true. With the big hand on the twelve, and the little hand on the five, I was free to escape the office.

It's the little things in life...

So we all know in the horseworld gossip has a life of its own. As in many worlds of-course -- but the horse world is excessive. (comeon, almost entirely women, many of whom have lots of $ and lots of free time... what else is there to do?)

So I have to say today I was incredibly pleasantly surprised to discover a distinct *lack* of gossip. Here's the story -- I have a friend who, among other things, has gone way above and beyond to help me get GRS going. I went to her way-back-when when I was very upset about a situation w/ a mutual acquaintance of ours. She offered an ear, copious amounts of alcohol, and some good common-sense advice. (I took two of the three -- you can pick which two!)

Fast-forward a couple years and I was chatting with another friend -- this one more of an acquaintance. She's awesome and I quite enjoy her company, but we rarely see each other and don't really know each other outside the barn. However, she is very close to friend A. She also knows all of the people involved in the original situation. So when I referenced it today I was quite surprised to realize that she didn't know anything about it.

Not that I thought my little drama was particularly gossip worthy, just that living all my life in this tiny world where everybody knows everything (or else just makes it up!) the fact that FriendA didn't even tell a super-close friend who (knowing all involved) would likely have been interested -- even though I didn't expressly ask her not to, means a lot to me.

A little thing. A nothing thing that I'm sure she's long since forgotten. But it made me smile to know. And while I was impressed, I was somehow not surprised. She's just that kind of person; the kind I want to be when I grow up :)

Along the same trend, your good-news story for the day: Kindness of strangers -- so while the kid is an idiot for trying to run a marathon w/o training properly, I was still pleased to read about the two guys who stopped to help him...

And on a completely different note:


I'm going out to play :)

Climbing on the soap box...

From GRS Blog.... Read at your own risk :)

So I got home last night and posted a message on my Facebook about the fact that I'm starting to believe coaches should have to be certified. Well it lead to a reasonably entertaining wall conversation so I thought I'd elaborate. (edited to add - be forewarned, this ended up being long!) Comments from everybody (coaches, non-coaches, parents, students, bystander X, etc :) all welcome. Does this matter? Do you seek out a certified coach? Why? Why not?

I'll start by saying I think all coaches at the provincial level or LOWER should be certified. I do not believe this for the upper level coaches for a couple reasons. First -- they have the competitive experience to show that, while they may or may not be able to teach, at least they definitely know how to ride. And second -- they are generally teaching upper level riders. These riders have the experience to judge if their coach is worth their money. hahaha I'm at a point now where I don't care if my coaches are certified (I know 1 of the 3 is and 1 is not. No idea about the 3rd. But I've never actually asked any of them :). What I do know is that what they tell me makes sense. When I question them they do not get defensive about it -- instead they explain whatever it is I'm missing. If I were ever to ask one of them to "get on and fix it" (which I never have) I have not the slightest doubt that they'd be able to. And what they tell me greatly improves my horse's way of going. So any coach that can do that does not require a piece of paper to say so. But if I were looking for a coach for my child? Absolutely they would have to be certified. My parents are complete non-horse-people; they had no way of judging the quality of the lessons I was getting. I got lucky and ended up w/ an excellent coach, but they wouldn't've known either way. Hence why I'm starting to believe that coaches teaching NOVICE riders should be certified. Because novice riders don't know what they don't know. They don't know they're in a bad situation until they get hurt. And it's happening all too often.

I absolutely agree that certification doesn't guarantee a really good coach, but I also think it does weed out the really bad ones.

What inspired this little post (well among others - this was the breaking point!) was a case of the underqualified coach teaching the novice who knows no better. So said coach, not knowing what she was doing, instead of correcting and improving her student's ride over fences just kept putting the fences higher. Student in question has no leg, no control over the canter (as horse plowed downhill on the forehand), and was consistently either jumping ahead or being left way behind and thumping on the horse's back. Now fortunately for her, her horse was a saint and athletic enough to do it anyways, but someday she may get on another horse, and then she's going to be in a lot of trouble. (to say nothing of the poor horse!) The coach wasn't doing anything malicious -- she just doesn't know enough to know what was wrong. As far as she's concerned, she's a great coach who's got a great student jumping 3'3". And student's thrilled cause obviously she's an excellent rider. Neither of them have the slightest clue how scary it really is. But the coach should. If she were qualified to actually *be* coaching.

Now there are actually two issues here; there's unqualified coaching, and there's letting students do more than they should. The second one can be a challenge - four times in the last month, I've had new students come to me saying they really know their stuff, can jump X height, yadedadeda. And I watch them and realize they have no two-point, and little to no balance. So we go back to basic position and poles on the ground with maybe a tiny X. And I explain why, and what's missing, and what I'd want to see before letting them *jump* and approximately how long I think it'll take them to get there (I've played that game a few times, I'm usually reasonably good at it). Now of the four, one was a previous student of mine who just hasn't ridden for a few years. Having been a student of mine she knew exactly what would happen and was entirely kewl with it. Especially as we both know she'll be jumping around again after a few weeks since it's a case of out-of-practice rather than actually doing it wrong. One of the others was thrilled. She had, somewhere along the way, ascertained that something was not-quite-right but didn't know what and wasn't about to question her coach. I'm not sure what led her to actually switch, but she seems pretty happy she did. The other two though both declared themselves far too good for that. They *know* how to jump and who was I to try and teach them any differently. They returned to their old coach who'll let them jump high and never actually teach them to ride. I just hope they don't get hurt toooooo badly when they find out the hard way.

Now there's the catch -- by being either incompetent or irresponsible (arguably both), the other coach keeps the business. And conversely, by insisting the basics be solid first, I lose business. To me this is acceptable for two reasons: first, I'd rather loose the cash now than the lawsuit later, and second I'm really not interested in wasting my time, effort, and skill teaching somebody who's not interested in learning. But honestly, when business is tight there's a lot of pressure to give in to this. I've spoken to a few other coaches I know who I deeply respect and they've all confirmed facing the same issue. All have said that in the long run, it's not worth it. Most have said they'll try and find some way around it -- give the ego-student a more challenging horse to make it seem like they're jumping 2' for a reason other than their own lack of skill; this can work but only if you have exactly the right type of horse handy (ie green enough to feed the ego, sane enough not to risk injuring the rider, and confident enough not to be upset when the rider does it wrong). An option I've used in eventing is to take them out and do hill-work. Will secure their position more quickly without making it really obvious that's what you're working on. So there are a *few* ways around it. But in general, the good ones all agreed that you insist on the basics and accept that you'll lose some income because of it.

The other issue is unqualified coaching -- most of whom don't have a clue how scarily incompetent they are. When asked why they don't get certified they'll make up a whole variety of excuses: "it's too expensive" and "it's not fair" being the two I hear the most. Honestly, I understand the "it's too expensive" -- I figure it cost me a little over $1000 to get certified and that was *with* a whole bunch of people donating their time and services to me to get me there (ie, the level 2 coach I was working for at the time helped me get my mentoring hours w/o charging me, several different students lent me their horses at various times to get through the exams (I was horseless at the time), I did some of the rider exams for free, and a bunch of other such things that seriously helped offset the costs). But then, within a couple years the discount on my insurance paid for that. So really if you're serious about the job, it's worth the cost -- in the same way you pay for your undergrad degree to theoretically help you get a future job. You pay a lot to make sure you know what you need to know to be employable. And to make sure others know that you know :)

"It's not fair" almost always comes from somebody who can't pass the riding portion -- and so would never even *get* to the coaching portion! And quite frankly, I'm glad for this. The riding requirements are not excessive -- I passed mine riding a decent school horse of average talent. All you need is a basic level dressage test and to jump around a 3' course. This is PT level eventing people. Put your horse on the bit and keep them there :) My 6yo OTTB spaz who isn't ready to event seriously, could still pass the coaching exam. And be able to jump around with reasonable form. If you can't do this, you shouldn't be teaching. End of story. And the "Instructor" exam (below the coaching, for beginner coaches) requires far less (which, btw, I think is a great addition for those who teach the occasional lesson or summer camp). But again, there are those who don't ride well enough to pass, who complain the requirements are unfair. To me, that's the entire point of the requirements. When I have a student who gets to the point where I can't get on and make their horse go better than they can, I send them to another coach (yes it's happened -- I figure I've done my job well at that point *g*). That's the way it works. And I've had coaches tell me it was time to move on too. The good ones know their limits and acknowledge when a student reaches them. But if you can't pass the instructor level exam (which I can take a teenage non-rider who's brave, athletic and dedicated and get them there in a couple years) who's left that you should be teaching? What do you have to teach them? The *sole* exception to this that I can think of is the senior rider who competed at the very top who has been injured or for some reason is unable to ride -- however, anybody at that level will have the show records etc to prove their abilities.

For the horsemanship portion to be "unfair" means the person simply couldn't be bothered to study. It's broad but reasonably general -- certainly there was nothing particularly challenging in it and while they asked some unexpected questions in the stable-management they could be answered with some quick-thinking and some logic. hahaha or so I found anyways.

Teaching of course is the big issue. Their emphasis is first on safety and second on coaching ability. None of these seem unrealistic or unfair to me. But of the 8 of us who took the exam together, 2 of us passed (and by a huge amount). The rest (one of whom was on her 3rd try!) weren't even close. And shouldn't've been. No crowd control, no ability to identify the student's issues (much less fix them!), confusing or conflicting instructions, etc.

Now in both the horsemanship and the teaching sections there are things that they (as in Pony Club, BHS, and every other system) want done "their way" -- this can be seen as slightly unfair, but any organization that runs exams and require "their" answer. Are there other ways of doing things that are equally safe, equally effective, equally good? Yes of course. Is some of what they require excessive and not particularly practical in "real life" - yes to that too. But an exam scenario isn't real life either. There are no tricks; they are very clear about what they expect. So learn the rules and abide by them. And I have to say, in my exam I did something differently from what they were expecting and they asked me about it but they accepted my explanation as to why and gave me a great score, so they're not just sticking mindlessly to the official guide. There are also THREE examiners. So odds that all three are "unfair" or "picking on" somebody are, imho, fairly unlikely. One, yes you could have somebody having an off day or who just didn't like you, but when there's three examiners that seems less likely.

Everybody who's told me they're not doing (or didn't pass!) the exam because it's unfair imo should not have passed anyways. I'm sure there's an exception (possibly several) out there somewhere -- I just haven't met them yet! And yes you can have a bad day where your horse is not cooperating and fail because of that, that's a huge pita (happened to me in my evaluation -- they told me to find a different horse for the exam!). But they do let you retake just the section you failed... Not sure how much more they can do than that?

And then of course we're back to the comment of "well I've known really bad certified coaches". This one always makes me laugh, because if there are really bad certified coaches, and somebody STILL can't pass, they *definitely* shouldn't be coaching. Don't you think? And yes, it's true. Being certified doesn't necessarily mean you're good (I too know a few who are certified and I always wonder how), or that you're going to apply what you demonstrated in the exam, but it does mean that on at least one day, you weren't horrifically bad and have *some* basic idea of safety.

Alright I'll get off my soap-box now. And don the flame suit on. Comments?

Sometimes PlanB works out!

Taken from GRS Blog:

So last month I was supposed to take Sienna and a student w/ her horse to David's clinic @ Cedar Run. And she went off. So I cancelled, and while I intended to bring student anyways, she kindly offered to wait and go to the next one. And David, being the super-kewl person he is, let us transfer our entry fees to this one. So the second clinic was on Saturday -- but Sienna's grounded till she gets pads on. I *really* didn't think it'd be good form to cancel again, and seriously not kewl to the other rider, so PlanB it is -- I borrowed a horse from an awesome student of mine and off I went.

Now I've ridden this horse but never jumped him before. Since I teach lessons on him all the time, I was reasonably certain he's of the "point-and-shoot" model *g* Which I don't often get to ride, so I was sort of amused at that idea. That being said, I could count on one hand the number of times he's been ridden outside of a ring and have fingers left over.

So somewhere along the long drive up, student asks "are you going to ride with my group?" And to be honest, I didn't get it at first. I thought she meant ride along while they had their clinic (just walking around) and then do mine. Which I might've done with the ridiculously fit Sienna, but would not be fair to ask of my borrowed mount. And then I clued in she meant INSTEAD. ummmm brilliant! I was a little concerned about taking him PT w/ no XC experience and little experience over height (although I honestly don't think it would've been an issue). But E was a much more fair level for him. So when we got there I tacked up as though I were in the group and figured if David said no I'd just untack again :) No problem.

Last time we took this horse out, he was anxious on the trailer -- sweaty and stressed when we got there. So I was a little concerned until I opened the door to check on him and he gave me this look like "you expect me to work? I'm in the middle of breakfast" -- sure enough, a solid half-way through his exceptionally full haynet. hahaha Oh so calmly backs off the trailer and lets me tack him up. Not quite as well trained a car horse as Sienna or B but then, he's never been asked to be either. Hop on, walk around a bit, realize I forgot flyspray. Hop off, spray horse, remount. Rolling eyes @ myself all the way. But me being me we were super-early so lots of time for that sort of silliness. Well that and I tack up reasonably quickly *g*

So I'm back on waiting for the other rider to finish getting ready and all of a sudden the beginner-friendly, might-as-well-be-a-stuffed-animal horse comes to LIFE. hahaha he starts doing the passagy/prancy "something exciting is happening" sideways trot. ummmm ok :) So I let him trot, but tell him which direction he has to go. Well no, he wants to go the other way and if I won't let him he's going to canter. But you see the thing is, I can ride as fast as he can run. And we were in a huge, nicely mowed, show-ready field. Canter away my dear. hahaha that lasted less than half a lap before he decided it was way too much work. After that I schooled around our big parking field for a bit, walk/trot as others meandered their way over and joined my warmup. He was awesome -- had this big, floaty, on-the-bit/on-a-mission trot. Bending both ways. A tiny bit ADD of course, but on the grand scale of things not enough to comment on.

Our fearless leader appears over the crest of the hill, so I trotted over to ask permission to switch groups, which was granted :) And of course run into somebody I know in the group finishing so chat with her for a bit while he does basic introductions. I've known him for years now and brought multiple horses to him and had already met everybody in warmup, so didn't feel too bad about being on the sidelines of that conversation. I did join in long enough to give PlanB's history: "lazy but willing, possibly the most honest horse I've ever met, almost never ridden outside the ring before. I just want to get him out and do some confidence building." So we left that topic as he asked me about Si and we chatted a bit about her as we headed up to XC.

So we get to big field # 2 up on top of the hill which includes the start-box and the first fence on course (PE-T). Wanting to see how everybody's doing and get a feel for everybody's riding and horse before we start jumping, David has us continue our warmup in this field -- any direction etc. Walk/trot to begin. No problem. Mr. PlanB is being an absolute star. Trotting around like a little (well not so little -- at least not compared to Si!) dressage horse. Not paying any attention to anybody or anything. N by this point I'm totally chilled. Chatting with David, randomly riding around watching some of the other riders to find out who knows what in this group. At E level you tend to get novice riders on pro horses or pro riders on novice horses. It's only scary when both are green *g* And it's usually clear w/in a few seconds who belongs in which category. So I was in this kind of inattentive riding style when we were asked to canter. Remember, we cantered already earlier. This is not new or exciting. So I didn't think anything of it. Well I don't know what it was that triggered the fuse but Mr. PlanB did about the most dramatic transition ever and then followed with a series of reasonably impressive bucks. hahaha now I rode him on the flat one day and he started "bucking" that had me giggling like I'd been smoking something I shouldn't've once I figured out what it was he was trying to do. Bucking is an interpretive movement in his world -- more like a slightly ambitious canter. Yeah not so much this time. He just about got me. Seriously. I think @ least partially cause he caught me by surprise though *g*. But I was way high and off to the side and my brain is going "you are NOT going to fall off *this* horse in the first 5 minutes of the clinic. Get back in the middle and sit up!" And fortunately my body listened. Clinician watching this comments to the rest of the group "so for those of you who don't know Lauren, she has amazing balance and ability to stick." hahahaha You see, he knew Zel in her baby year *g* Got quite a few comments on that from those around me later. So of course after this game I canter PlanB around for a bit and then repeat the transition. This time he canters off like a normal horse *g* "Lauren that was a much better transition!" "You think?" hahahah couldn't've been much worse *g*

So then it comes time to jump. We start w/ the PE log that they could literally walk over (as it should be given that it's the first fence on the PE course). Except that I got back in the game with the canter transition and was fully expecting it when Mr. BombProof PlanB landed and took off bucking. Not a problem - leg on, ride forward, and it ended after only a few strides. Rinse and repeat a few times and eventually he decided it wasn't worth the effort. Meanwhile student is totally showing me up having fun w/ her very enthusiastic TB :)

One of the girls had mentioned having start-box issues, so it was decided that we'd do start-box schooling. Two options there: either the horse gets so reved that it tries to bolt, or incredibly nappy and won't move. She had option two. But PlanB has never seen a start-box in his life, so of course he couldn't care less. We walk in, halt, lots of pats. Go jump fence. "Any fence" we'd been told, so I figured I'd skip PE and jump the E fence -- which was a non-issue. B, right behind me, made the same choice :) So we repeated this a few times till the other girl's horse learned to behave itself and PlanB just moved up a level every time. Never looking at anything. Never overjumping. Just behaving like an old pro. PE - T in one day! We had one discussion after the first fence that there would be no spinning and ducking back to the herd, and after that, perfect. Boring really *g* But sometimes boring is a relaxing change.

Next few few fences were pretty straight-forward PE/E type jumps. We jumped them each once, every time he was great. The others were doing each of these fences multiple times, but he was good and I didn't want to use up his fitness level, so he mostly grazed while others jumped around. I figure it was good for him to see others come towards him and gallop away without him and remain chilled. The only one I did twice was a brush fence cause he wanted to get in deep to it and it took me a second try to convince him to do it properly :) But we got there. There was a log to a hogsback combo that was incredibly simple *except* for the giant drilling machine right beside the middle! Person welding so sparks flying and the huge machinery rattling with every pound. *I* didn't want to go by it so I entirely understood his concerns! hahaha I'll tell ya, we *flew* over the second fence as by that point we were going away from the scary machine at all possible speed.

He lead the way over the tiny run through the trees (4 little logs, each in a tree line, each a few strides apart from one another). I opted out of schooling the bank with him -- figured exciting XC stuff can wait till next time :) Although I did get one other rider's horse some experience for her :) So PlanB got quite a long break there, where his primary job was being the horse "over there" that the others would ride towards. hahaha. We did a few mini-courses -- each of which I added an extra fence or two. Which usually caused those behind me to follow my plan, and those ahead to regret not having gotten to do it *g* hahaha PlanB was awesome the whole way around, and really starting to have fun with it. I actually needed a reasonably strong half-halt at one point. But he came back to me w/o much of a fight so I was pretty happy with him.

So eventually we make our way to the water. Big square eventing water (as opposed to natural river, which is also on the property). Well he wanted nothing to do with this. "It's *muddy*" -- I could almost feel his disgust. And having spent the last hour teaching him *not* to get upset when everybody else left him, he didn't really care that all the cool kids were doing it. I did eventually get a lead from another horse and PlanB bravely tiptoed in. And then walked back through the other way. And then trotted. "Hey! This is sort of fun." And then the canter. And he got splashed. So he tried to jump it. And got splashed bigger. Hahaha we were flying by the time we got out of the water that time. Well shortly after that he decided this was about the best game *ever* and got thoroughly annoyed when I told him he could stop and graze for a bit... "but the others are still getting to play in the water!!!" he bounced his way sideways down the hill in an attempt to join them. Super animated. So much for me worrying about him being tired!

Last line was to splash through the water and pick whichever end fence you wanted. I chose the PT one -- just in case he *was* tired and just didn't know it yet I didn't think we should do T, but he was way beyond E level by this point. And I have to say, at that very last fence, he got it! Gallop (well hand-gallop realistically) sit up, balance, jump, land and gallop forward again in a straight line (the forward in a straight-line was the most challenging thing for him all day). Text-book perfect. I was pretty proud of him :)

So it turns out my student has a much nicer horse than I thought at first *g* And I told her as much :) I was really quite impressed with how he behaved himself and the best part is, he seemed to have a ton of fun doing it! Always good :) And, of course, so did I :)