Here there be dragons...

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

There aren't enough words to say thanks...

omg what an insane couple days! hahaha

So I have to say a HUGE thanks to everybody who's come to help out. It's greatly appreciated! So yesterday I started by meeting with the woman who had the farm before me and had a good chat with her. Then it was time to unload a small mountain of hay. But so many wonderful people came to help -- Rowan and her parents and random extra friend Hannah, who I think really had no idea what she was signing up for :) And I tell ya, having dads volunteer sometimes makes a huge difference. Him and David made things go much faster. I know, I know, very politically incorrect... And yes, absolutely I've done it by myself so it *can* be done. But sometimes being tall and strong is a rather huge benefit - and throwing hay up the mountain is definitely one of those times! hahaha I'll take that over girl-power leaving me to stack hay alone any day! Aileen, Amy, Margaret, Steph and Paula also all kicked in to help fill the loft! Paula, the engineer of the group, standing next to the truck comments "this'd be much easier if this side moved..." and proceeds to take it down. I, at least, felt a little idiotic at that but hey we're all a little smarter now *g* And the job got instantly much easier :) What can I say? First time doing hay without an elevator! hahaha P's lesson learned was that one should wear jeans to do hay... I think she was wearing half the loft when we finished! :) So we got all the way through one truck and everybody was willing to stick around for the second. What can I say? Awesome volunteers!

Other load wasn't there yet so we went for a tour of the property. I think about half the group had seen it before, but was still fun nonetheless :) And ice glittering off the branches was somewhat stunning. Got back just in time for load two, which was more challenging to stack, but still went reasonably well.

So everything being completed in record time, my wonderful volunteers left for whatever they *really* wanted to do with their Christmas vacation! Paula and Margaret stayed with me to help paint the bunkie (and Amy took charge of the taping before her ride arrived :) Between the three of us we had a coat almost done when my phone rang. Hay guy. "I can bring load 3 today after all. I'll be there in an hour." hmmmmm tricky. He had earlier told me only two loads possible today. So I asked the girls and they said they were up to one more. Ok... By this point we're all pretty zonked, but what can you do eh? Hay truck arrives and fortunately D came to help again (what can I say? Big strong guys who are willing to help are always appreciated :) and we got the first half up no problem. But the second half we were admittedly stalling, so D suggested leaving the hay on the trailer pulled into the loft so it wouldn't get rained on and stacking tomorrow. Good plan.

By this time the paint was dry, so one more coat an then definitely time for home!

All too soon it was morning again. And today it was my amazing family who spent all day pitching in. Dad went off to work with my uncle and cousin continuing to build my tack lockers (I'm pretty excited about these - they're reasonably impressive :) while Mum and I went and picked up a van. First stop - the mechanic's. Why? Because the beast's breaks decided to retire and I kinda need it working tomorrow. And all the wood for the boxes was in there. So we snagged the wood from the mechanic and then left them to fight with the beast. Delivered said wood to the guys building the boxes for me and had a brief discussion about spacing for saddle racks etc. All good. So off to my storage locker to collect come furniture for the bunkie. Now it was packed fairly well so took some work to unbury the specific items I wanted but we got it sorted out. And then just as we're about to go I jumped off the dresser and landed very very wrong. For a second I just froze - was like having the breath knocked out of you, but I was still on my feet. Had jarred something in my back right under my shoulder blades that was stupidly painful. This made every movement and even standing still hard. Breathing hurt. Not a good sign. Particularly not a good sign TODAY. Alright well, get locker closed and climb gingerly into the van... Every bump hurt. I'd find a position that felt ok and it'd last for a minute or so and then suddenly it'd hurt too. And moving from that position was a challenge (thank god for omg handles all over the van). Not fun.

So first stop - pharmacy for the strongest drugs you can buy w/o a prescription. They helped. Quickly and a lot. I could still feel that things were nqr -- a constant twinge really, but I could move and turn and not be in stupid amounts of pain. Ok good to go. Pick up a carpet cleaner (bunkie has the most disgusting carpets ever!) and head to the farm.

So Mum started on painting another coat (lesson learned - never buy cheap paint!) while I moved all the stuff that was on the carpets off so I could clean them. Got about half way through before the cleaner died. I was able to revive it slightly but there's a distinct difference in the first half of the carpet an the second *sigh* It later decided to stop shooting out water, making it slightly less than useful. Sheesh.

Ok so we need to bring all the furniture in -- but just as we start to do that a student I was about to show around the property arrived -- 15 minutes early! Now usually I'm all for people being early, a good thing since I tend to be that person regularly, but w/ the list of things to do today being what it was, I couldn't be ready early and certainly couldn't abandon my mum with all the furniture! So we asked if they could hang out for 15 or so, and instead they all pitched in to help. Like I mentioned, I have awesome students :) So took all of about 5 mins to unload. Mum headed off to pick up the boxes the guys had finished building while I showed Amy and her family around the farm.

Then it was time to do the rest of the hay. Particular down side as my happy drugs were wearing off about this point and I was starting to hurt again. Great for throwing hay. And they had gone with the van. Booo. I was expecting a couple people but nobody was there, so I figured I'd better get to it. Had managed to stack some (I was being phenomenally slow at it) when D saw what I was doing and came in to help. He sped things up significantly *g* A few minutes after that Aileen arrived to help out AGAIN!!! Even after yesterday!!! I can't remember the last time I was so happy to see somebody *g* hahaha so between the three of us we got it done. Sweet.

Next up, arena. As we were heading there I ran into two more volunteers -- one who had been there a while but had no idea where we were, and since my car wasn't in the driveway figured I wasn't there... Entirely logical. Sadly wrong. >;-P hahaha but she was good to go for the arena. So we picked up the manure that somebody had neglected to clean after themselves, raked the track, and then broke into the magnesium chloride. The girls had some fun drawing with it (I'll post pics later :) but mostly we got it done super quick.

My parents arrived with the first of the boxes (by this point we were all pretty well covered head to toe in arena dirt - it's the in look I tell you!) and we got those located in the barn. Very uneven floors -- I'm going to have to find a way to balance out the boxes so the doors can close properly! But otherwise good to go. So my parents went to get more boxes, while Steph and Aileen after helping out all afternoon had to get going. As we were pretty much done with the arena at this point, Paula and I went back to my house to pack up supplies and bring them back. By the time we got back there were two more boxes delivered, and my parents had left to make one more trip. Paula helped me unload and then headed out for her New Years Eve (I *wish* I had that much energy!!!) while I organized a bit till my parents came back with one more load that we unpacked before calling it a day. A very long day. But reasonably productive day :)

And tomorrow is move in day :)

So I think 10:00 is the closest I'm coming to midnight this year. And I'm so not re-reading this so I hope it's somewhat comprehensible *g* Night! And Happy New Year!!!

Customer Service?

So customer service comparison today. I needed paint. Preferably affordable paint. And relevant supplies. So I hit up home depot. Nobody in the paint area. I locate colour, compare paints, find rollers etc. Building a small pile of stuff on the desk. Customer service desk is across the aisle. 4 people hanging out there chatting. Occasionally watching my activities.

Ready to go. Still no sign of service. Wander over to customer service desk, "oh there should be a paint associate there." I'm sorry but that was about the most idiotic response ever. Clearly there's not. If there was, I wouldn't have been interrupting their oh-so-busy standing-around (seriously, they weren't even pretending to look like they were doing something useful). So I wander back to the still service-less paint area and another random staff member walks by - this one's clearly on a mission somewhere but at least stops for a second to ask if I've been helped. When I said no he got on his handy-dandy walkie-talkie and requested over the loudspeaker that the paint associate return. Assures me he'll be there in moments.

Several minutes later... You guessed it -- no sign of anybody except the multiple staff providing no service in the customer service area. I was beginning to wonder if they were placing wagers about how long I would wait there. Feeling slightly bitter about all the wasted time, I left.

So with this in mind I headed over to Colour Your World. Paint store's likely to be more expensive, but I figure there's a hope I might actually get stuff. Sure enough all of about two seconds after I walked in "Can I help you with anything?" Yes, yes you can... I need paint and supplies, preferably cheap :) So he goes and finds me the budget version of everything I needed. Longest wait time was what it took to shake the paint :)

On the plus side - I was pretty impressed with the Colour Your World guy, I now have paint. And even more exciting - I have a sign for GRS! Woohoo :) It's an interim sign until I get my snazzy new logo, but I'm still pretty excited about it. Now just have to figure out how to put it up... hmmmmm

Tomorrow should be only *slightly* insane. But I think lots of people are coming to help. I have the most awesome students!

Yikes - how are we half way through the week already???

So I expected that the first week after I opened I'd be pretty exhausted. I'm not entirely unfit, but I haven't done stalls etc since Denny's -- and honestly not so much then either, so I figured I'd be feeling it the first couple days. And I knew I'd have a reasonable amount of stuff to do this week, but figured it was doable.

Yeah what I didn't count on was this week being insane and improving fitness. Ugh - waking up each morning feeling like I just did back-to-back dressage lessons. Legs and abs screaming. Why? No idea. hahaha but clearly a *little* more active than I have been lately.

Having a whole lot of fun though. Left greenhawk with FIVE carts full the other day. Yikes! Wonderful personal shopper gets huge thanks for that one since she arranged it that I could send the list a few days early and they'd track down everything for me. hahaha a *little* later than intended, but still much easier than me having to find it all.

The schoolies have done a few lessons now. Jack's a riot. Big teddy bear with a great personality. Dixie's basically a superstar :) And Lissy's an all round sweetheart.

Anyways - ton of stories from the week but I have to run now :)

Thanks!!!

Thanks TONS to my dad and uncles Jamie and Doug for spending their Christmas vaca building custom-made tack boxes for me!!! HUGELY appreciated :)

Merry Christmas Eve

Christmas shopping is done. Presents are mostly wrapped. Santa's ready to visit.

My mind is still spinning. Between everything for the barn, K having her baby, and Christmas prep, things have been just a little insane. Incredible. Almost unbelievable. But slightly insane.

Had a good laugh when I signed into FB this am and saw two albums highlighted in a row on my news feed -- the first was pics of K and S's new daughter, and the next was titled "Christmas photos of the kids" where the kids in question are three dogs. hahaha classic lineup.

Alright time to go do something useful :) Merry Christmas to all!!!

Happy birthday Laney!!!!

Happy birthday Laney!!!!

So ridiculously early this morning Kerri (who you may remember from the Cuba adventures among other things :) gave birth to a healthy baby girl. Mom, daughter and dad are all home and happy and the world is good. Congrats Kerri and Steve!!!

All the best to the whole family!

OD Fun :)

So today was my last day at Overdrive. Yikes! Only office job I've actually enjoyed so seems strange to be leaving it. Both terrified and incredibly excited about next steps :)

So I thought I might review some of the more entertaining snipits of life working with artists in a design shop:

- there was one day I moderated an intense debate about "gloss" vs "matte" finishes on chocolate products (ie peanut butter cups vs peanut butter balls) Unfortunately I don't remember who won.

- I can remember searching for plain, boring, office scotch tape. Instead I found 6 *other* types of tape. I don't think I even knew there *were* six kinds of tape.
And of course, none of which were the plain scotch tape I was looking for.

- Then repeat that same process for envelopes

- one day shortly after I started working there, I went into the washroom to discover a giant sculpture constructed entirely out of toilet paper roles.

- random kareokee iphone moments. Sometimes enhanced with autotune. Every office should make this part of the work day :)

- the most awkward person in a crowd: the quiet shouter. The random person who always "shouts" their sentences, but at whisper volume. Admit it, you know one :)

- Randy the slightly-challenged ghost. Ummmm I think you had to be there for that one :)

- there was one day where one of our team had to teleconference in for an ichat meeting. By the end he had "thought bubble" stickies and facial improvements stuck to him. And photos taken of all.

- the 50's "Sears Evergleam" christmas tree - complete with Star Trek Enterprise ornament. I had so much fun putting this together :)

- amazing field trips. Among others we went to the ROM, most of the museums in Hamilton, the Toronto Zoo, Earth Rangers... One office we had meetings at had board rooms called "I don't know" and "somewhere else" -- as in "where are we meeting?" "I don't know." Ok so it amused me anyways :)

And tons of other fun moments. While I was there I also managed to learn a ton of strange and unusual things - everything from photoshop 101 to how to bind a report. By far the most impressive part though was seeing the work these guys could turn out. Starting from sometimes nothing and ending up with something incredible never failed to amaze me.

And now the time has come to move on. My last day at the office is also my first day teaching a group lesson on my school horses -- and the riders are the girls who've been with me forever. Seems right somehow. :)

Grandma explains Santa Clause

Didn't write this. No idea who did. But I enjoyed it, so figured I'd pass it on. Enjoy!

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I remember my first Christmas adventure with Grandma.

I was just a kid. I remember tearing across town on my bike to visit her. On the way, my big sister dropped the bomb:

"There is no Santa Claus," she jeered. "Even dummies know that!"

My Grandma was not the gushy kind, never had been. I fled to her that day because I knew she would be straight with me. I knew Grandma always told the truth, and I knew that the truth always went down a whole lot easier when swallowed with one of her "world-famous" cinnamon buns. I knew they were world-famous, because Grandma said so. It had to be true.

Grandma was home, and the buns were still warm. Between bites, I told her everything.

She was ready for me.. "No Santa Claus?" she snorted..."Ridiculous! Don't you believe it! That rumor has been going around for years, and it makes me mad, plain mad!!

Now, put on your coat, and let's go." "Go? Go where Grandma" I asked. I hadn't even finished my 2nd world famous Cinnamon bun..

"Where" turned out to be Kerby's General Store, the one store in town that had a little bit of just about everything.

As we walked through its doors, Grandma handed me ten dollars. That was a bundle in those days. "Take this money," she said, "and buy something for someone who needs it, I'll wait for you in the car." Then she turned and walked out of Kerby's.

I was only eight years old. I'd often gone shopping with my mother, but never had I shopped for anything all by myself. The store seemed big and crowded, full of people scrambling to finish their Christmas shopping. For a few moments I just stood there, confused, clutching that ten-dollar bill, wondering what to buy, and who on earth to buy it for.. I thought of everybody I knew: my family, my friends, my neighbors, the kids at school, the people who went to my church. I was just about thought out, when I suddenly thought of Bobby Decker. He was a kid with bad breath and messy hair, and he sat right behind me in Mrs. Pollock's grade-two class. Bobby Decker didn't have a coat. I knew that because he never went out at recess during the cold weather. His mother always wrote a note telling the teacher that he had a bad cough but all us kids knew Bobby Decker didn't have a cough, he didn't have a good coat.

I fingered the ten-dollar bill with growing excitement. I would buy Bobby Decker a coat! I settled on a red corduroy one that had a hood to it. It looked real warm, and he would like that.

"Is this a Christmas present for someone?" the lady behind the counter asked kindly, as I laid my ten dollars down.

"Yes ma'am," I replied shyly. "It's for Bobby." The nice lady smiled at me, as I told her about how Bobby really needed a good winter coat. I didn't get any change, but she put the coat in a bag, smiled again, and wished me a Merry Christmas.

That evening, Grandma helped me wrap the coat (a little tag fell out of the coat, and Grandma tucked it in her Bible) in Christmas paper and ribbons and wrote, "To Bobby, From Santa Claus" on it.

Grandma said that Santa always insisted on secrecy. Then she drove me over to Bobby Decker's house, explaining as we went that I was now and forever officially, one of Santa's helpers.

Grandma parked down the street from Bobby's house, and she and I crept noiselessly and hid in the bushes by his front walk. Then Grandma gave me a nudge. "All right, Santa Claus," she whispered, "get going."

I took a deep breath, dashed for his front door, threw the present down on his step, pounded his door and flew back to the safety of the bushes and Grandma. Together we waited breathlessly in the darkness for the front door to open. Finally it did, and there stood Bobby.

Fifty years haven't dimmed the thrill of those moments spent shivering, beside my Grandma, in Bobby Decker's bushes. That night, I realized that those awful rumors about Santa Claus were just what Grandma said they were: ridiculous. Santa was alive and well, and we were on his team.

I still have the Bible, with the coat tag tucked inside: $19.95!

Graduate Riding School welcomes Jack!

(from GRS blog)

So the purchasing of my instant favourite schoolie was an adventure and a half! Grab some popcorn and settle in...

My incredible personal shopper Rebecca and I hopped in the Beast early Saturday morning and headed off Waterloo way to Carson's Auction.

How many issues can you see with that statement? Well the intuitive amongst you might have realized that my personal shopper loves to shop, so who knows what might get bought? Then there's the Beast, which if you've been reading this for any length of time, you will already know is somewhat temperamental. Waterloo? What can I say - never been there, no opinion, no idea where I was going. Auction? -- I've never been to *any* type of auction, much less a horse auction. And my friend who has the most knowledge and skill to assist with this process? About 8.5mths pregnant and therefore unable to come play. hmmmm put all that together... No problem!

So we're in the beast and it starts! Woohoo! Step one down. But it doesn't have a whole lot of gas, so we do a loop around the paddock (to save me having to 3-pt turn the trailer) and hit up the gas station. Then return to the barn for a forgotten item. Then start out again.

Between two sets of directions the drive there was actually rather uneventful. Soon enough we found ourselves deep in Amish country (literally saw more horse n buggy combos than vehicles -- first time I've ever had to wait at an intersection for a break in buggy traffic to turn into the road!) Will admit I was a little disconcerted by the preachy billboards. Started to feel like I was in the southern states. But nothing tragic. Missed the first entrance, but pulled in the 2nd and navigated around. Got led to a parking spot by a very determined man in a fully tricked out orange kaboda mini-beast. Took me three tries to park straight cause I was so distracted by that :) hahaha ah well.

Go in and get registered. Make friends with the happy secretary lady. Now the catalogue was online, so I had a printed copy with me. Of the 115 or so horses, there were two I was really interested in and 3 other "maybes". Along with a few that simply didn't have enough info in their description to either qualify or disqualify them.

So time to go find them. We wander into the horse pens and get hit with quite the oder. Ugh. I pretty much live at the barn but my eyes watered. Quite the difference between a cattle barn and a horse barn... Or whatever else usually lives in there. Yikes. But sobeit -- horses in there today. Almost immediately find one of my top two. He's the size I want. His legs are clean, although both front feet had pretty serious quarter cracks. He's quiet and friendly. And there's a big sign on the door saying he won't be ridden because owner is at a Christmas thing. Really? I think if I were trying to sell my horse I'd at very least bribe somebody *else* to go show it for me. But sobeit. Whole bunch of empty stalls - we were fairly early. One kid tacking up and hopping on a little grey horse (15.1ish) that was super quiet. He wasn't on my list, but I definitely noticed how reasonably he was behaving.

So we go to the riding area and the first horse I see is the other of the two I was interested in. His owner is chatting to some people about him, so we strategically evesdrop for a bit. His legs, also totally clean. Sweet. One hoof has a rather large hole in it. Question that - "oh it's an abscess that popped". I'm thinking I've never seen an abscess pop like that. But keep my thoughts to myself smiling and nodding but then she continued "he did it right when we got him, it's finally almost grown out. Next trim he should be fine." Ok now that makes more sense. How long has she had him. "Oh about a year." Alright then, all the pieces fit now. So she hops on and rides him around. He's quiet - you have to understand this ring is complete CHAOS. I can't think of many horses you could put in that ring and not have them have a meltdown. And sure enough, several were. Half the ring is being used for people showing their horses and the other half is being used for the tack and equipment auction, complete with auctioneer with microphone. So he looks good. I steal a phrase from R and ask her if he can take a joke. (as in student loses their balance, moves the wrong way, etc). She starts bouncing around on top of him, all limbs flailing around. He doesn't even blink. Ok, good pony. Good BIG pony. He's a solid 16.1hh squared. Seriously you could set a table for four on his back.

Half paying attention to the grey I'd seen being tacked up as young girl was now riding it around the warmup area. Not fancy or flashy, but definitely quite and sound. Wander up and watch the auction process for a bit. Picture a 30m x 30m square - one side has the announcer's booth and the in/out areas. The other three sides are surrounded by bleachers. In the middle are the items up for auction and three or four Amish men watching the crowd as spotters for any bids. It was fast. And loud. And highly entertaining. There were two announcers -- the actual auctioneer complete with the traditional unintelligible rapid-fire speech and a second speaker who spoke at normal rhythm trying to up-sell the products. He was particularly amusing when he got into selling items he clearly knew nothing about :)

So we leave that adventure and go back to wander the pens a bit to look at the horses that have since arrived. R found somebody she knew so they chatted a bit while I looked. Found two more of my "maybe"s and rejected both of them. One on the basis of ridiculously wrecked legs for the age she was supposed to be (well that and if I brought home another chestnut tb mare somebody might commit me to a local asylum) and the other one wasn't going to be athletic enough. 5th one I didn't find.

We had some time before the horse sale started so we went and sat in the warm cafeteria area for a while. Eventually decided we'd go to the Beast and pick up the Coaching Cape (to the uninitiated this would be R's horse's cooler that I regularly borrow to wrap around me while I teach - but Coaching Cape sounds so much more interesting!). This was great except that when I hit the remote unlock, nothing happened. Frig. Forgot to unplug the radio fuse. Beast is dead :( Tragic. Unlock Beast manually (and I'll tell ya, it's a LONG climb across the middle to unlock the passenger side! :) find the items we needed, test-start Beast -- it didn't even pretend to try to start. Decide we'll worry about that later and head back to the auction.

We get ourselves seated and settled in -- they're running late so the tack auction is still going on. Soon enough the bleachers are packed. We're entirely surrounded by Amish kids (I have to admit to being rather fascinated by their culture). On Rebecca's side seemed to be all one family, and their Mother was with them. On my side they were either all brothers or friends -- I got the friends impression but I could be wrong. All boys. The mom of the one family was the only adult woman we saw. There were a couple teenage-type girls selling baked goods by the cafeteria, and other than that just tons of boys everywhere. These kids were the best behaved children I've ever seen. Youngest wasn't much older than toddler stage and went up from there. They sat still quietly longer than R and I! hahaha Although the one sitting next to R was seriously entranced (and trying not to show it) by her iPhone. hahaha he's clearly going to be the rebel of the group :) One thing I found sort of interesting was three or four of them in the 10ish range (keep in mind that guesstimating ages is NOT a skill I have - but they were wearing the "kid" hats rather than the teen/adult hats :) had copies of the catalogue and were diligently writing down what everything sold for. I'm not sure why or what that was about, but I will admit to having been very curious about it :)

So the hats -- the kids all had blue hats that were flat and had a button at the top front and flaps that covered the ears. The teens/adults had the bigger black hats. Except the one teen who was either rebelling or missed the "no white after labour day" rule and had on a straw hat instead. Other than that, everybody was dressed identically. And all ages seemed to be having a really good time.

So while the kids were watching some of the dads were bidding, older teenage types were showing/selling horses, and some were involved in running the auction. It was the ones showing the horses that caught my attention. Fearless, athletic, and could ride. Really ride. Amazing how good riding is good riding regardless of where/how you learned -- definitely grew up on horseback, probably never had a lesson ever, yet their equitation would win any medal class instantly. Says something about form follows function eh? That being said, there was a lot of showmanship going on that you would *not* see in the show ring *g* Several times they climbed up so they were standing on top, or slid back behind the saddle and off the rear end of the horse. A few times they walked underneath the horse (big drafty types). But the one that really terrified me was the guy who felt the need to demonstrate how calm the horse was by going underneath and then between the hind legs. Not only did this require some interesting contortions to make it happen, but that's just a bad idea all around. He survived though, laughing the whole time. There was another one who vaulted on a 16+++hh horse who we're pretty sure wasn't broke. First, I would give a whole lot to be able to vault like that. 2nd, he got bucked off in the first 30 seconds, landed on his feet and then just hopped back on. Lasted slightly longer the second time *g* Don't approve of the cowboy method of backing a horse, but have to admit I had a good laugh as the horse got the best of this game. Another one I'd never seen before (and from the announcer's commentary, nobody's seen before :) one guy rode in on one horse while driving another (so picture a horse pulling a cart, but instead of a person sitting on a cart driving they're sitting on another horse). For sheer horsemanship ability it was a pretty impressive display. I'm not sure it has too many practical applications, but it was sort of interesting to watch.

Anyways - I wasn't really there looking for a driving horse. The first one came through was my second choice horse (this was the one that wasn't ridden). I bid half-heartedly for a while, and stopped when it got high. Nowhere near my budget for the horse for the day, but I really wasn't sure about the horse (had a good rep online and a history of being a schoolhorse, but somehow just something I didn't really like...) and my enabler wasn't enabling which I took to be a bad sign, so that caused me to hesitate for a bit and he who hesitates gets a different horse. Or something like that So that horse went to somebody else. But what an adrenaline rush. hahaha was *not* expecting that at all.

We watched some of the drama of the earlier paragraph for a while and then another one came through that I really liked. It was ridden by the same girl as my first choice horse and when I checked my catalogue he was one I had flagged -- it was the invisible 5th horse that I hadn't found. He didn't meet his reserve price, so when they left the ring, I followed and spoke to the owner for a bit. Told her I was interested in another of her horses, but if I didn't end up getting him, I'd meet her reserve price on that one. She seemed pretty happy about that.

A little while later the horse I really wanted came through. I had an "official budget" of what I'd like to pay and the "real budget" of what I was willing to go to. When we hit the official budget, the person I was bidding against had dropped down to $50 increments in their bids, so I figured they were nearly done. They stopped a couple hundred before my "real" budget. So I got him. But was it ever fast. Wow. Half the time I didn't know whether I had the highest bid or the other guy did! hahaha So we didn't stay to see the super quiet beginner horse. Bitterly cold and out of $...

Went back to the pen and talked to the owner for a bit. Asked her if she might be able to boost the truck. Nope - her truck was attached to her very large stock trailer; she wouldn't be able to get in where we were. But she said she'd find somebody. Kewl. Went to the office and chatted with my new secretary friend for a bit (there were several people there, but I kept ending up talking to the original one). Tried to pay for horse. Over daily withdrawl limit. Boooo. Visa has a charge attached, so call bank to get them to up the limit for a day. Sit on hold for a while and eventually get somebody who does it for me "available immediately". Great! Try running card through again. No go :( So we decide to give it time to register and go get lunch. I called to confirm I could take the horse home - no answer. Ah well. Try to pay again. Still doesn't work. Booo. End up paying surcharge to put on visa so as not to waste any more of their time. Not happy with my bank about that.

So next challenge... The Beast. Who didn't like my choice in radio station and so went on strike. *sigh* Now my usual system when stranded out in farm country is to find some reasonably cute young man with a nice big truck, smile and ask for assistance. And it's usually reasonably successful. Even when you're buried under 18 layers of snow clothing and might be mistaken for the Michelin Man in a photo lineup. Except remember where we were stranded. A significant portion of the population arrived on horseback or in buggy pulled by horse. Tricky. So I went back to my new secretary friend and begged her assistance. She flagged a girl she knew who was passing by and got her to take me to someone who might have a truck. She didn't seem toooo thrilled about it, but did as asked. And sure enough the guy she brought us to was entirely willing to help. Got in a nearby big truck and drove over. Hooked up cables and.... Nothing. *sigh* The inside lights turned on and that's about it. So I thanked him for his time and figured we'd be waiting for CAA, but no, he took this as a personal challenge. Left cables on for a while and the dash lights were getting brighter, so that's a start. Once we even got a sputter of engine noise. He then deemed the cables were an issue (now we've boosted said Beast with these cables more times than I like to count, but admittedly the last time it was this vehemently against starting switching cables made a difference so why not? Sure enough, new cables and another couple tries and my new friend revived the beast! Sweet. Merry Christmas to us!

Sat and let it run for a bit. Then had to figure out what to do to get the horse. I drove kind of over by the door, but left beast and trailer parked where they were blocking several people, so R babysat the beast while I went in (that way it could also keep running!). Put shipping boots on the horse much to the amusement of everybody around and the bemusement of the horse. This is not the kind of place where horses wear boots. No sign of owner anywhere. Return to Beast and put in a slightly safer location for loading. Then back to the horse. As I was leading the horse out there was a person checking sales receipts, so that was good. Was feeling a little concerned about just taking the horse away but that let me know that's pretty much how it's done...

Walked past the other horse I had half bid on, trying to load. What a nightmare. He was having absolutely nothing to do with it. They had him blindfolded and *still* couldn't get him near the trailer. Have to admit I smiled an inside smile at that scene and gave my big teddy bear of a horse (whom we named Jack) a pat. I had no idea whatsoever if he'd load yet, but at least I wasn't dealing with that one. And when we got to my trailer? He saw the hay inside and didn't even hesitate. He was in and munching in seconds. Faster even than Sienna loads. I was pretty thrilled at that. hahaha

Drove home, still not sure anybody would be expecting him, but I knew there were lots of empty stalls (this is where I'm moving in Jan 1!) and I had permission to bring him there, so I figured we'd sort it out... Got an answer when I was about two minutes away. Perfect. All good till we drove in. The driveway is downhill. And it's snowy. And the beast is still full of lumber. And Jack is not exactly a lightweight. The gate was open, but not quite enough. We opened it the rest of the way with the beast and the mirror. Thankfully the mirror is meant to fold flat. Very very scary. Only sliding at like 5km/hour but still, not being able to stop with horse loaded behind is a whole lot of no fun! Fortunately friction won the battle and we stopped before we ran out of road. Jack's still hanging out quite as can be in the back. Go get his stall ready, offloads like a pro and settles in in seconds. He was very thirsty. Drank two buckets of water! But otherwise just made himself at home. He's huge and fuzzy and totally sociable and just generally a giant teddy bear. And when I rode him the next day he totally made me laugh. And when my student got on she had the same reaction. He's going to make a pretty entertaining event horse :)

And that just *might* be a new record-length post!

A job long gone...

Ian sent me this one... Thought it was worth sharing :) Can you imagine somebody doing this today???

Gladys Ingles was a member of a barnstorming troupe called the 13 Black Cats in the 1920s; she was a wing walker. In this film she shows her fearlessness in a classic barnstorming fashion to save an airplane that has lost one of its main wheels.

Ingles is shown with a replacement wheel being strapped to her back; up they go and she transfers herself from the rescue plane to the one missing its tire. She then expertly works herself down to the undercarriage, only a few feet from a spinning prop where she attaches the spare tire.

Pony Shopping

(from GRS Blog)

So I have to say all this horse shopping has given me a new appreciation for my own horse! When you're training a horse long-term and riding every day it's sometimes hard to recognize how far they've really come. It's like watching the grass grow -- if you sit there watching it, you'll never see it move; but if you go on vacation for a couple weeks, it'll be long when you get home.

For instance, I got on an OTTB (not a school prospect :) who is a much nicer horse than Sienna in terms of conformation, movement, etc. Super quiet. But doesn't understand leg or seat, no bend, very uneven. Basically where Si was a year ago. And it was a great comparison for me, because I vividly recall when cantering around corners on her was a sometimes terrifying -- but she does 10m circles in canter easily now and I'm focused on improving it and the details of the bend etc and forget where she started.

So that was an ok one, because given a year of good training, he'll be a super-nice horse. Fair enough. But the ones who really make me shake my head are those advertised as "made" packers and I get on and ride them around thinking "my greenbean ottb does this significantly better than your made packer." hmmmm And then I wonder if that means the packer part must be true since clearly their rider has no idea what they're doing. hahaha

Only one have I sat on and thought "yup, this horse really will pack everything from a pro to a sack of potatoes around a course and do it with her ears forward." Sadly though, she had all sorts of scary things going on with her hind legs that made me think she won't be packing for too many more years :(

But every other horse I've gotten on has made me think much better of my pony, who I adore but can freely admit she's not terribly exceptional... But she has basic flat work installed and can jump around a 3' course w/o even trying. And I'm amazed at how many I've seen in the last two weeks who can't do that. The only thing my pony's not good at is being a people-pony. She doesn't much like being groomed

Although I will admit that I sat on one the other day who was so much fun I wanted to bring her home for me. Super green and completely inappropriate for the school, but could keep me amused for a year or two. hahaha not shopping for me. Not shopping for me. Has anybody ever proven that if you write something often enough it sinks in?

Making a dream come true

So a while back I was invited to write an article for The Eventer (thanks Katie!). I was very excited at the idea and there was some back and forth about topic, and then it was suggested I write about finding a place to lease. Perfect! hahaha Something close to my heart that I hadn't blogged about as it happened, because it wasn't appropriate to discuss publicly at the time (believe it or not, not *everything* goes in the blog :).

Anyways - said article has now been published! Woohoo :) So if you're at all interested in the road to Graduate Riding School visit: http://www.horsetrials.on.ca/eventer/new_page_8.htm

Be sure to let me know what you think!

Dixie's Arrival

(from GRS Blog)

Was supposed to pick up GRS' new school horse in Campbellville around 4:45 today.

That was all that was on my list. No problem right?

Ok well remember that it's negative stupid degrees out.

I get in my frozen car and realize at some point that evening I'm going to be picking up a horse. It's still likely to be cold. Horse will need blankets. Leave frozen car go back into warm house and dig out one of the blankets bought for the Invisible Horse (who followed the Invisible Pony in the shopping expeditions :).

Alright, all set. Off to work.

At some point I realize that my 2:00 meeting is on the E side of Toronto. hmmmm tricky. So I bump picking horse up till 5. All good. Right. Any of you who live in TO will realize that would require a Christmas Miracle. But hey, tis the season and all that.

So I leave the meeting at 3 and it's snowing. It's Canada. Yet somehow it's still impossible to drive in the snow. Esp at rush hour (I usually leave the W end of TO at 3 where traffic's just starting to build, but starts earlier on the other side of town...) So inch by inch I roll along Lakeshore and the Gardner.

Now I have to stop at the bank to pick up cash for said purchase. Only slightly out of the way, all good. Eventually I get to said bank, and knowing I need more cash than the machine will let me take at once, I wait in the ridiculously long line of little old ladies (I'm sorry, but it's true! :) go to take out my money... And then get told I can't take out that much cash in one day. Ummmm excuse me? What would you do if I wanted to close my account? But no they can't possibly give me that much cash. But could give me half? What am I going to do, buy half a horse? Can't do any kind of bank draft because I don't know the seller's last name (I was purchasing through an intermediary).

Fine. Leave that bank and go to another one -- 10 mins down the road. Not far, but the wrong direction. Go in and fortunately far less of a line. Try to take out the rest of the money there. "Did you just withdraw a large amount?" (I admit I was actually glad they questioned that). "Yes." They confirmed the amount... "And now you want more?" appearing very puzzled. Keep in mind, less than 15 mins between transactions. "Why didn't you just take out the whole amount?" "They wouldn't let me." hahaha well credit to this woman's professionalism as she stopped herself from commenting at the last second, but you could see quite clearly she thought as much about that as I did. We're not talking a fortune here; I'm just buying a school horse :) Admittedly more than I paid for my horse, but let's be honest - that's not saying much! So anyways, thanks to this nice teller, I'm finally ready to go. It's now 4:30.

I call horse seller and bump time to 5:30.

Drive to barn. *Should* be a 10 min drive from there. Yeah, except that turns out there's construction half the way there, everything is one lane, and drivers are being particularly ignorant about skipping the line and trying to butt in the front. Lovely.

5:00 I get to the barn. Now we all know the Beast doesn't like cold any more than I do, so I was reasonably certain it wouldn't start (to the point that I had friends with trucks lined up to come help boost, and CAA as a backup if that didn't work -- but was afraid CAA would take most of the night to get there given the weather and lack of emergency status). So with fingers crossed I turned the key. Sputter, sputter, growl, vroom!!! Yeah! It took long enough to scare me but it did deign to start. Sweet.

Go to hook up trailer. The trailer next to me had their truck parked on an angle that made it impossible for me to back up straight to the trailer. Great. Lining up the ball is TONS o fun when you have to go in on an angle. *sigh* Fortunately a friend arrived in time and using brilliant directing skills helped me get the trailer hooked up w/o destroying either the neighbouring truck or the beast. Hook up trailer and discover the block that the front end sits on is thoroughly frozen to the ground. No kicking was going to free it :( Boo. Fortunately the wheel one wasn't, so I could free the tires. Steered out very carefully and good to go!

Wait.

Forgot the nice new blanket in the rabbit. *sigh* Go pick that up and try again. On my way out tell a friend I'll be back in an hour and a bit. Right - and I'm going to make it across TO in 15 minutes too.

Drive to the farm was fortunately uneventful. 401 traffic was stuck not far behind where I get on, so there were no cars where I needed to be. Unfortunate for everybody stuck in it, but handy for me :)

Get there shortly after the 5:30 plan. Fortunately tons of space to turn the beast around. And seller is understanding about my late arrival. Pull horse out and watch her lunge. Looks good. Seller is getting things ready but there was something nqr with one of the legs. I ask her if I can ride her (knowing my feel is better than my eye). So tack up and hop on. Now this was *quite* the look, even by my standards. Remember downtown office meeting? Yup, I'm still dressed in slacks and blouse. I had on my blundstones and barn jacket to complete the look. So tucked the slacks into my socks. No gloves (and stupidly cold out). And a borrowed helmet (remember the beast is full of lumber -- so all my usual back-up riding gear isn't there anymore). It was truly classy, let me tell you. And stupidly cold. Horse was stiff but sound (remember the cold?). And as she warmed up, the stiff went away. Hoped off and lunged her once more just so I could see - she looked fine. Checked legs again, seem good.

Ok so we untack horse, put on nice new blanket (which fit! Score 1 - or like 201 really - for my wonderful personal shopper, who I'm pretty sure found me the horse too :) sign paperwork etc. All good to go.

Load horse and go home.

Right. Except the horse never got the memo. Not the *least* bit interested in getting on the trailer *sigh*. Not showing any signs of fear, just more interested in the world around her. And in the process slipped once quite seriously (I suspect she'll be feeling that tomorrow), broke one of my taillights, and just generally caused grief. *sigh* Guess we'll be doing trailer training come spring. I actually suspect she'll get over it fairly quickly since she clearly knew what was expected and wasn't concerned about it. But on a dark, cold night there were just other things she'd rather be doing. Seller helped though and between the two of us, we got her loaded.

Trip home was uneventful. Horse chilled as soon as we started moving. Pull in and my phone buzzes "you alive?" One of barn friends realizing I'd been gone substantially longer than I should've checking in. I have awesome friends :) Went it to assure everybody I was fine and beg assistance. I'm not new here -- odds are any horse who loads the way that one just did, might not be the quietest to unload. Much safer with two people. And 2nd person was necessary. Horse got very excited when she heard the doors starting to open. But we managed and got her bundled into her new temporary home with hay and water.

Leave her to settle and go clean out trailer as well as I could in the dark. Close it up. No go. Try cleaning more. Still no go. It's amazing how fast manure can freeze and cement itself. *sigh* Two friends together managed the strength to slam the door up, shattering the frozen poo everywhere. Strangely musical sound that *g*

Go check on horse who has quite contentedly made herself at home. She's relaxed and chilled. Definitely good to see her settle so quickly.

And suddenly, I have 3 horses!

Nano update

So I *still* haven't posted the rest of my nano-novel. Oops. Sorry - been a little busy. hahaha but rumour has it I have a couple hours off on Boxing day, so potentially then? It will go up though! And I hope you'll still read it even though November is very much over...

And the nanowrimo stats are in:

It was a banner event, with 200,530 writers taking part, 37,479 winners crossing the 50,000-word finish line, and 2,872,682,109 billion words written over the course of the month! Absolutely astonishing.

If you don't believe in magic, you can never find it...

Ok so I know it's been a while since I've posted anything, but things have been just a *little* bit crazy! hahaha

Looking at potential schoolies most nights inbetween work and teaching. I think I know now which ones I'll be buying but have a few more to see "just-in-case" :) Very exciting! And huge thanks to Lisa who instantly and without question or hesitation took in the one that couldn't wait till Jan to be rehomed! Totally saved the day there :) Again. But anybody who knows L, knows that's the kind of thing she does *g*

I have a meeting with my potential business mentor next week that I'm very excited about. I suspect he may have some excellent ideas :)

And of course normal work (day job - remember that?) continues at its ever entertaining pace. I never thought I'd find an office job I'd miss, but I actually will. Won't miss the commute at all! But the job itself is fairly entertaining and the people are a blast.

I think though that I'll be *reasonably* busy looking after all said new horses and HOPEFULLY some boarders! Have to find a few more of those :)

Both ponies were super high today -- although I have to admit Lissy's high is Sienna's normal day *g* hahaha but hey, at least they're feeling good :) I do wish Si would stop beating Lissy up though. Sheesh. Methinks they shall be separated as soon as they're moved :)

Ok back to work with me. Going to tackle the next item on the list. And add three more!

When animals attack...

This large brown bear was shot on the weekend.

An eye witness says it was approaching three young children in a parking lot just outside a busy restaurant.

Pretty scary!

Office Math

Your evening's silliness :)

12 Days of Chrismas

My mum introduced me to this song and it amuses me to no end... Wait for it - by day 3 or 4 it gets more interesting... And every u-tube version I find is slightly different :) Enjoy!




And another randomly selected version - this one starts out much faster:

mmmm caffeine

From GRS blog:

ah the joys of starting a new business. And while I must admit I'm having a blast and I'm so ridiculously busy that I almost never have time to be terrified, every once in a while I have fleeting moments where I miss the idea of sleep *g*

In the last 24 hours (and keep in mind, I'm still working full time at my day job, so that cuts about 10h out of the useful time), I've done two farm tours (yeah!), taught a lesson, ridden two horses, learned all about/did a budget for/designed and implemented a facebook ad campaign, communicated with half a dozen people selling horses, updated my website (again!), created a new album on the fb site, rebooked all the horses I meant to see on Sunday when I realized that Sunday is already booked with a non-horsey commitment (imagine that!). Spoken to two different insurance companies and started on the mountain of related paper work, spoken to the OEF and started on their mountain of paperwork (due tonight - no problem. Can do that after work. And teaching. And riding. You know - in all that spare time :), bought a small tack store (ok I didn't really do that -- my personal shopper gets all the credit there!), managed to write a blog post (priorities people! 10 years from now this'll be a fond memory :), and noticed that somehow The List is *still* growing!

Yikes!

But at least I'm not bored :) Just seriously hoping some of it pays off in the form of business!

hmmmm Christmas shopping anybody?

The Year in Review

This just amused me :) A random compilation of status messages gives The Year in Review:



Amazing how many of them are in some way, shape, or form related to riding!

It is what it is...

So took a morning off from horses to hit up the One of a Kind Show. Was as always fairly entertaining and mostly out of my budget But not a bad way to spend a morning... And did manage to pick up a few giftables :)

At work the other day we had a discussion about the fact that "it is what it is" is one of the most useless statements currently in the English language -- the second place winner was "I'm just saying..." -- which of course led to, "I'm just saying, it is what it is." Which I think I might need to make into a bumper sticker *g* Now of course whenever I hear either one of those phrases, instead of just tuning them out as I've always done, it makes me laugh. N it turns out, people say those phrases a LOT.

Horse shopping this weekend was less successful. Saw one that would be ideal, but unfortunately is priced unrealistically. So will continue the search. 5 more to look at this week. Fun fun fun :) At least I have awesome students coming to be test pilots! Always makes it more interesting. So far in our adventures, disregarding all the ridiculous things you see in ads (2 yo - kid proof beginner horse! uh huh), of the ones I've actually wanted to see I've had:

- person expected me to pay to rent the arena to show us their horse (AND they're a solid 7h drive away). Ummm no, if you're selling the horse, you provide facilities to do so.

- "beginner safe" horse that won't stand to mount, heads off in a power trot as soon as the rider starts to get on, super-sensitive to both leg and hand. Actually a lovely horse - beautiful movement/jump/temperament/etc, but absolutely not a beginner horse. Sienna would make a better beginner horse!

- "perfect school horse" that doesn't jump. Fortunately she admitted as much to me in email, so I didn't have to actually go see it.

- Horse with the shortest stride I've ever seen -- 16hh w/ like a 10' stride priced "for quick sale" at still easily twice what it was worth.

- horse not sound

- "ready to show" horse very underweight and with no muscle. Clearly hasn't been worked in at least 6 mths.

- one I thought was fairly priced, but the owner seemed to be pushing that she was a great deal: "well I'm selling her for much less than I've put into her." Ummmm that's going to be true of EVERY horse unless you buy it super cheap and flip it within a couple months. How is that a selling feature? Same owner (horse was way up north) "Well if I brought her south to the Toronto area she'd be worth 20K". I'm thinking, if you really believed that, you'd do it.

- and on the flip side, one of the most intelligent responses I got -- I had asked something about suitability for an intermediate rider. Immediate response was "Intermediate as in CIC ** level or Intermediate as in riding ability?" Thought ok that's a valid question :) From what I've seen of the pics it's prob going to be a PT horse. Maybe T. Totally acceptable for what I need. But admittedly not an I prospect :) Owner seemed to think she'd be fine with an Int rider, so that's one of the ones we're going to see this week.

This week's challenges: Advertising and Insurance!

I have flyers for both Bahr's and Greenhawk -- just have to get there and put them up :) Working on some others for different markets. Suggestions very welcome!

Starting to think I should change the descrpt to be the adventures of starting and running a riding school :) hahaha

Mini-brag :)

So the new OHTA video is out -- and I wrote the script for it! hahaha ok so it's the first one I've ever written and I was a little nervous about it, but they actually liked it! hahaha thanks tons Vic for giving me the opportunity!

How many horses, riders and jumps do you recognize? Most of them are on the Ontario circuit!

Not so Southern Pines

Have to admit I got a good laugh of this pic Denny posted of THF today. I definitely picked the right year to go!

Sheep Art

So apparently I'm late to the party on this one, but it was the first time I'd seen this and I was fairly amused. So if you haven't seen it yet, enjoy!