Here there be dragons...

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

When it's time to buy a pony...

To those who ask why...

Because tonight answered that question just as well as last night...

Got home after a very long day, signed into Facebook and... Well, a picture's worth a thousand words right? All I'll say is, I'll be smiling about that for quite some time. Thanks Hailey :)

To those who ask why...

So this afternoon... Lessons were done - they all went well - 1st and last students doing a spectacular job and everybody in between doing well too :) One of those days where you feel everybody's progressing, but by the end I was *really* cold. Don't know why as it wasn't particularly brutal out but I was totally frozen. And really not the least bit interested in riding. But I had to. Note, didn't *want* to *had* to. Not a great sign :(

Sobeit. First do usual afternoon chores - which always seem more when you're tired and cold. Bring in all the horses and feed everybody. Clean up after the day's lessons. Good to go.

But now the horses have just eaten, so not such a good plan to ride. And I was freezing. And hungry. And that's a significantly bad combination. And... well nothing else, I just felt the need for another And *g*

So I leave the horses to their dinner and retreat to the bunkie. Some heat and food later and I'm feeling almost civilized. Not the least bit inclined to ride -- more like sleep! But at least now not actively *not* wanting to ride.

But I had to. So I tacked up my pony and out we went. And she was a star. The kind of ride that makes me cry that she's for sale. But I put that aside and really enjoyed it. So through and forward and connected and whatever I thought, she did. Just lovely.

Finish ride and take forever grooming her. And Si, who doesn't always enjoy being groomed, played happy pony the whole time. Pulled her mane, trimmed her, just generally got her to show condition. The kind of generally fussing I usually never have time for. And it was sooo nice and peaceful. Put the pony away and cleaned tack. Properly. Nobody there but me and the ponies - who nickered every once in a while gently suggesting that maybe I should feed them soon. Can't help but smile.

And so I found myself doing night feed feeling happy and relaxed and peaceful - when I hadn't even particularly wanted to be there. And *that* is why.

When I win the lottery...

Cause it amused me: http://equimarket.equestrianconnection.com/showads.asp?adnumber=109797

Spring Fever

Alright so it occurs to me that I haven't ridden since Friday. And for some reason thought nothing of putting three horses on today's schedule. Anybody surprised by this?

So Jack was, well, a superstar. Scroll down for that story :) Did all the usual chores. Then the debate: go eat lunch or ride. The thing is if I eat, I won't usually ride. And I wasn't particularly hungry. But I've been trying really hard to make sure to eat at least two meals a day so lunch had to stay on the schedule... hmmmm ok well go get lunch fast and be careful not to get into anything too complex on the computer while I'm at it. Cause really, once I start that "more necessary" work I'm in till time to feed. So answer some emails and be done eating at about the same time. Handy that.

And head back out. Yeah! Lissy first. She's easy and fun. Usually :) But today very very annoyed with me for bringing her in without her other half *g* To be fair, Lissy's idea of protesting is to run around a little and lean instead of bend. By the end, she was back to being her usual superstar self. However, it was way more of a ride than I'd been planning on. I actually had to *work*. The nerve.

Alright so Sienna's turn. I basically decided I wasn't up to more dressage so I'd just put on jump tack and have an easy ride of the conditioning variety. Wanted to go hacking but footing was very dodgy. So go out and get on, all good. She walks two strides and starts cantering. Not actually doing anything bad and still steerable (side note - I can't believe my spell check doesn't flag that??? But misses teh???) and even somewhat ratable, just *really* wanted to canter. Of the 45 min ride, a solid 35 mins was at the canter with the other 10 being at a power trot. The first 10 mins were a bit exciting but after that some of the *best* trot and canter work ever. Forward, round, light. But really?!?!?!

So when she was eventually done, I took her out for a walk outside to cool out for a bit -- respiration dropped to normal within about a lap of the sandring. Amazing how fit she is given how rarely she's ridden these days *g* I love TBs :)

So I get off and sort of mentally celebrating being more fit than I thought I was, feeling all fine when I rarely ride more than two these days - and even that's seriously hit or miss (literally haven't sat on a horse since Fri!?!?!). Put her away and start afternoon chores and all of a sudden the adrenaline wore off. Oops. hahaha maybe not *quite* so fit afterall - just have enough instinct to ride well when I have to... And I would be wondering about Si too, except that I've ridden her when she's on an adrenaline high and that's not that horse :) Will be interesting tomorrow morning to see if *either* of us has any energy!

So I have to laugh at my latest take on "the little things" in life. It's amazing how excited I get when I actually manage to fix some little thing around the farm - like the gate latch that didn't *quite* reach. Takes no skill or knowledge to fix but somehow still easily excited but the little successes. But it kinda highlights the completely different lifestyle now. No more celebrating the finished project or the great presentation or acing the thesis - nope now it's yeah! The gate closes! hahaha but somehow so much more satisfying. Not sure exactly what that says, but it amuses me to no end.

While today was incredibly productive, tonight... Sadly not so much. All of tonight's things have been rescheduled to tomorrow. Yikes! Wish me luck :)

Totally thrilled by... dressage?!?!? How did *that* happen? >;-P

(from GRS blog)


Alright so it's all of 9:30 am and I should be doing stalls. But guess what? The boss said they could wait till after typing this post :) She's kewl that way.

So if you take a hot-blooded horse, say a TB... And cross it with a cold-blooded horse, say a Percheron... (totally hypothetical here of course :) Do you get a warm-blooded horse? hahaha cause I have to tell you, Mr. Saurus certainly seems to think so!

Ok now you have to understand, I *love* the little horses. Given the choice, I've always ridden the little horses. The sports car model. See how excited I was the day Arthur lent me his sports car model to ride in a clinic last fall? And, well, anybody who knew Zel will get it. But the fates being what they are, I'm usually actually better at riding the big ones. Classic eh? But since I don't enjoy them nearly as much I stick to the little ones and we work it out :)

But today, Jack reminded me why people like the big horses. There's definitely something to be said for being able to sit deep, wrap your legs around with no effort whatsoever, and float. TBs you just can't put your leg on like that (at least, not the ones I tend to ride :).

So for whatever reason I decided to ride Jack first today. And score one for the draft side of him - there was no temper-tantrum or dismay about me changing the schedule. I kept waiting for it, but it just didn't happen. Sweet. Good pony :) So we walk around doing some bending and he's pretty consistently through from the beginning which is nice. Some above/below the bit - we're still working on steady appropriate contact (given his complete lack of consistent training *my bad* he's doing remarkably well! And credit to his part-boarders Rowan and Steph who've been helping him out :) but for the most part good. Go into trot and let him warm up. A bit of a tank, but not bad. Really work on the suppling and pretty soon he's staying reasonably consistent. Sweet.

Then the canter - our first canter was just to get him going (amused me to no end when he randomly felt the need to jump the sunbeam!) But all of a sudden that forward turned to up, and w/o really intending to ask for it he's cantering around like a super-star dressage pony. And balanced. Really balanced.

So discretion being the better part of valour, I brought him back before he could fall apart - while all was still good. Canter-trot transition doesn't exist yet so took me a good 10 strides to get the trot rebalanced (kinda like a freight-train running downhill!) But what I was really impressed by is once I had the trot, he was totally and entirely responding to my seat. Which of course lead me to see just what he could do *g* HUGE trot, but connected and loose and light. Losgelassenheit from the draft - sorry wb! - greenbean. Yeah, I didn't really believe it either :) Fortunately for me we had an audience, so I know I didn't imagine it!

Randomly decided to ask for a turn on the forehand - mostly to see if he'd figure it out (usually I teach that in hand first) but sure enough, he thought about it for a moment, stepped back, got corrected, moved correctly, got big pats, and then was totally fine with doing it over again and the other direction.

From here, with his hind quarters a little more under control, we moved onto some w/t transitions, which until today have been more a case of "make the correct gait happen" rather than actually riding a transition between gaits. It took him all of two tries to figure out what I wanted. Friggin smart horse. N then he had it - we could repeat it and it just kept getting better. W/t only - he's not quite strong enough to maintain through the canter depart yet -- but give me a few weeks *g*

So yeah, I'm pretty thrilled. And thinking since my abs are now toast, the other two horses will be hacking or jumping today >;-P

And it's back to stalls for me :)

ps - if you want an interesting article technically on Losgelassenheit, but also on training in general: http://www.artisticdressage.com/articles/losgelassenheit.html My fav line: "Loving owners with the best intentions can train their horses to become veritable little monsters...."

When you're doing what you love, it's not work.

So I was looking at my "I'm Telling You Stories" site and thinking how much I miss FridayFlash... So the goal by the end of next month is to work that back into the schedule. Realistically probably not every week, but at least occasionally :) You know, in all my spare time *g* I did finally order the best of friday flash from Amazon today (my first ever #fridayflash is published in it: http://www.amazon.com/Best-Friday-Flash-Collection-Fiction/dp/1456348388/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1298168868&sr=8-1) so looking forward to it arriving. Also trying to do blog books again for last year - one for Here there be dragons and one for GRS but ran out of time so on the "saved for later" list.

The new GRS website is up and running. And I was absolutely thrilled with it until I discovered another site using the *same* template :( Booooo. Definite downside to purchasing online. *sigh* But no time to redevelop now; that took a ridiculous amount of time as is. And no skill to design to that level myself soooo we have to share for a bit. That would be under the category of "just my luck".

For those of you horse types - esp the DQs out there - a question... Can you explain the reasoning behind the first movement in the first Entry level test (keep in mind, Entry level - we're talking first time in the ring here). Instead of entering at A and proceeding to C as every other test in the world does (with or without a stop at X along the way), this test enters AXHC (see: http://www.equinecanada.ca/index.php?option=com_docman&task=doc_view&gid=4739&Itemid=365&lang=en). I'm sure there's logic behind that somewhere, but for the life of me I can't seem to figure out what it is? I'm not actually against it, just curious as to what it's supposed to demonstrate? Thoughts?

So Apollo learned to jump yesterday :) He's always been willing to go from one side of the standards to the other, but if he couldn't step or climb over it, he'd just knock all the poles out of the way! So I gave him a couple weeks of flat work to build some strength and then tried again, having his rider ask for the canter at the moment of takeoff and... Magic! hahaha not only does he get it, he really seems to enjoy it :) Now don't get me wrong, this horse is never going beyond PE. But I suspect after his first year or two he'll happily take any rider around. Of the "show me the map" variety :) So I'm pretty excited about that.

Have been very much missing my friends lately. Usually, to be quite honest, I'm entirely happy with my own company (how egotistical is that???) but the last few days I've been thinking it's definitely time for a girls' night. I can usually do Wed or Sat night... Time? Place? People? Suggestions? Who's in? E me :)

hahaha so that paragraph above is a bit of a derivation as people keep asking me about my *real* life - as in the stuff that doesn't go in the blog. And while ever since I started the blog at Denny's, my real life was very carefully kept out of it, right now the blog is sadly fairly accurate -- my life is entirely at the barn. Horses and the people who care about them and the challenges of starting a new business. That is my focus. With only one minor bull-riding escapade *g* Although admittedly girls night itself, when it happens, is unlikely to get a post either. hahaha that whole private life thing that doesn't *always* belong on the internet >;-P

Anyways - I have a goal of being in bed by the very civilized hour of 10pm today (ok, so I realize that's not setting the bar real high, but some days baby steps are acceptable). However, to realize that goal, I must turn off the computer! So I am off for now :)

Night!

New GRS Site!!!

So our new Graduate Riding School website is up! hahaha very exciting :) http://www.graduateridingschool.com And I've given up on making FB feed to the site and signed up for twitter instead. FB now talks to Twitter, but not the other way around -- but since FB talks to Twitter and Twitter talks to my site, both now feed properly. Did you follow that?

Anyways - that's why the lack of posts recently; I've been spending every spare second trying to get the site ready. Still some changes and updates to come; it definitely hasn't been read/edited or even tested yet! Yikes. Feel free to send me all the bugs you find :)

And that has been made significantly easier thanks to Steph :) Who came home for vacation and spent the whole time helping me at the barn (something only true horsepeople will understand :) Which let me do things like build the new site. Thanks tons Stephy!!!

And if I don't turn off the computer now I'll spend all night "fixing" things and be toasted tomorrow... So with that, I'm shutting down for the night and we'll see if the site lives through the night :)

Let me know your thoughts!

One of those days...

Ok so it's noon and I have yet to even *start* stalls... One of those "where did the time go???" type days :) hahaha and since I'm freezing cold and need an excuse to go warm up before doing said stalls, I figured I might as well tell you a story...

So I wake up with that panic of absolute knowledge that you've WAY overslept. And then realize it's not quite 1am. hmmmm ok slow heartrate down and go back to sleep. Repeat at 4. I don't know what games my little brain was playing last night, but I was not amused. Which of course meant when it WAS time to get up, I was not the least bit interested in doing so.

Intending to take clipper blades in for sharpening, want to be there when the store opens at 8. So that gives me a little time to feed the pets, have a bagel, and check my email. For some reason felt the need to write a novel instead of the 1 line answer one of the messages required (raise your hand if you're surprised by this. Yeah, I thought not.) So that pushed things out a little, but not tragically so (advantage to being online at midnight is that when you sign back in at 7 there's not a ton of messages. Usually.) Then getting dressed, randomly decided I needed to put away the laundry -- now you have to understand, while my barn is generally spotless, my house would be ummmm the opposite of that. To the point that I think my mum comes to visit me at the barn just for the shock value :) And putting away laundry is one of those chores that falls at the very lowest end of my priority list; after all, you're just gonna wear it again! I have the clean pile and the dirty pile and I move clothes around appropriately and the world is good. Except not today. Today everything had to be put away. To put this in perspective, there were summer breeches in the clean pile.

Ok so I was just a *little* late leaving this am. One the plus side, my room now looks like it might be inhabited by an adult :)

Driving in to work, realize I forgot my nice lunch that I'd packed. Booo. Decide not worth going back to get and keep driving. Then realize my car being on autopilot entirely missed the detour by the clipper store. Oops. Ok well clipper guy really doesn't come till Wed so we'll try that one again tomorrow am.

Eventually get to work, and even though this post might lead you to believe otherwise, I was only about 20 mins later than usual. The horses were definitely ready to be fed, but not yet at temper-tantrum state :) So feed and turn the boys out. Have intentions of riding both Si and Lissy, n since Si was still eating breakfast while Lissy was yelling and making it very clear she was done, decided to ride Lis first.

She was remarkably good about this change of schedule. I was quite proud of her really :) She's a pretty kind hearted little horse. And she went really well and FINALLY got the hang of moving her hindquarters around on request (this has been a rather slow learning curve -- everything else she gets really fast, but for some reason that one just wasn't sinking in...)

Finish with Lis and bring her in. Realize by this point if I ride Si before turning the rest of them out they won't get out till at least 11, and I really don't want them to wait that long. And if I turn them out w/o turning Sienna out it'll make the ride a nightmare. Also it's really cold, and Sienna and cold are not a pleasant combination. So change of plan, everybody goes out :)

So that *should* put me just about back on schedule. I was about 1/2h behind where I usually am at that point in the day, but not bad. But as I'm walking toward the wheelbarrow, I see my clippers are still out. That's not good. Go put them away. And while in the storage area, I decide I can't possibly tolerate the tack room being in that state anymore. Empty more of landlord/last tenant's stuff out of my closet to free up a shelf and then decide what goes on that shelf! Then find homes for more items and just generally finish unpacking as best as possible until I get my other cabinet. As in "unpacking" is really organizing stuff into a variety of containers so at least I have a hope of finding what I'm looking for. But technically everything is still packed in some box or another. Just organized boxes now.

Ok so tack room looks good now. MUCH happier about that. Go back in barn and realize stuff Paula generously donated on Sunday (THANKS PAULA! :) is still sitting in a pile. *sigh* Can't have that. So gather it up and start putting things away (at least now I know where just about everything *should* go!) Was very excited to discover a pair of hind boots that would fit Si perfectly, so switch those out. But then have to clean her old ones (which she has a habit of taking off, hence why I wanted new ones) before I can put them away. So go ahead and do that.

While I'm in her tack box putting the boots away I find the Sharpie. hmmmm as good a time as ever to label everything. So spend a while going from box to box writing GRS on most stuff. One of those things I meant to do at the beginning but so very low priority it never got done. Suddenly seemed the logical next step for today as I was very carefully *not* looking at the still-not-done stalls behind me.

Then as I was doing that, I decided that Lissy should have her own bottle of conditioner instead of me always using Nick's; so of course go find a spray bottle and mix up some for her. Still carrying said sharpie around, spray bottle even got labeled! How exciting! hahaha

So that's all done and I was about to start putting tape on crops and such but my fingers were so cold I couldn't really do that. However still a pile of unrolled wraps and blankets that are only sort of folded. Roll and fold and get everything looking good and decide I'm hungry and frozen.

Wait, forgot lunch. Ok can't fix hungry but can fix frozen :) Come in to warm up, check messages, spend some time organizing the bunkie, etc... And start typing :)

Fast forward a couple hours - so is anybody surprised this blog post got interrupted? A friend was stopping by at 12:30, so mid-sentence I went out to meet her. She was here a little over an hour, at which point I figure I really should at least *start* chores! While I was doing stalls the hay guy stopped by (yeah for more roundbales!) and shortly after a student stopped in which gave me a good excuse for a social break :) All good, but seriously almost 3:00 before I finished chores! Did, in fact, finish labeling stuff when I got back to the barn. Mostly just killing time between finishing chores and bringing horses in!

So now I'm debating between riding Sienna and going for food. Since it's still stupidly cold out, methinks the food just may win!

I can't wait for xc!

So meeting was actually pretty good. Got some marketing suggestions I'm pretty excited about :) We shall see.

Got this pic from Denny's album on FB and just had to share. Michael Pollard. *This* is the kind of xc fence you have to be absolutely positive to - any hesitation or backward riding and there's not a hope. Talk about trust!

Passing time...

So I'm sitting in somebody else's office (very nice office btw) and they're not here yet... Person who showed me in offered use of pc as the one I'm meeting is running quite late. Have to tell you, it's just a little bit weird to be in someone else's space and on their machine, when they're not here! Esp someone I really don't know. Although having lurked their books and their photos I've got a bit more of an idea now *g*

Knowing I was going to come to this meeting, I felt barn clothes *probably* less than appropriate *g* So on my way out this morn grabbed office gear and headed out. All good right? Clothes that I was wearing in Dec to meetings etc. Yeah - turns out nothing FITS anymore. Sheesh. Tis a downside I hadn't thought of! hahaha n not having a belt, couldn't do much about it. Ah well - thankfully most of the time will be sitting!

So first round of horsemanship was yesterday. 1st group I think went really well. Nick was a super-patient model :) 2nd group I *might've* overdone it a bit. hahaha we'll see if any come back next week.

All the horses were insanely high yesterday. No idea what that was about - even Dixie wanted to go for a gallop! Something in the air, clearly. Fortunately had all strong riders as well, so balanced out nicely :)

So I gave in and bought Jack a jolly-ball, since he tries to dig his way out of the stall at night. I've never thought much of these - sort of classified them as a waste of space, not to mention money! - but sobeit. Now he's had it about a week, and I've never actually seen him play with it -- but almost every morning I come in and it's carefully deposited in one of his buckets. Seems boys of any species will try and dunk a ball given an option!

Apollo's been clipped. He's still HUGE - just less fuzzy *g* And has the coolest markings! He was awesome for clipping, but then - he's pretty awesome about everything, so no real surprise there.

So we all know that horses get a little, ummm, concerned when you switch up their routine. My morning routine is feed, t/o boys, ride Sienna, t/o girls (girls after riding so Dixie has the hour she seems to need to eat!). All are used to this system. The other day I really needed to ride Jack, and I knew if I waited till afternoon it'd never happen. So t/o other boys, then tack up and lead him to the arena to ride. Well he was not thrilled at this, but settled quickly enough and I actually had a phenomenal ride. I was pretty excited about that. Return to the barn and as soon as we walk in Sienna starts making her annoyance known. Mornings are HER time. How DARE I spend HER time with Jack. hahaha I had expected Jack to be annoyed at going to work instead of to play, but never occurred to me Si would be annoyed at *not* working.

hahaha ok meeting's about to start so I'm off :)

News Flash!

Snagged this off FB:

Why, exactly, do people like winter?

Why I love Canada:

Uh huh, yeah right. Those who know me at all will know that photo is really a representation of my love/hate relationship with our wonderful country. What I wouldn’t give to be a snowbird *g* The year I skipped winter by running away to Australia was the best ever. *sigh* And winter’s getting its revenge now!
So last night they were threatening a snow storm, so I decided to camp out at the barn overnight to make sure I could get there in the am. Idea was great, practical reality not-so-much *sigh* Got maybe 4h sleep n that was entirely broken up. Blah. BUT, I did have a 20 second commute to work this am, so that was fun.

Get horses fed, good to go. Take Apollo and Nick to go out to the field, open the door and... No. Door won’t open. Push a crack and see way too much snow. Boooo. Ok so put very confused Nick and Apollo back in their stalls, go out and hike around the barn with shovel to see the damage. N then after a 30 second debate went back again and got my camera:

Ugh, so shovelled that out so I could turn out the horses. Yesterday I had rescued all the hay left from the roundbale (about 2 day’s worth for my group of 4) and put it all in the shelter. Sadly though the shelter is only big enough for two. So after turning out the first two, I spent the next 20 mins hauling hay back out of the shelter to where they can get it safely. Fun fun fun. So all that in the snow combined with the hike to the paddock and back was ummmm exhausting. I’m reasonably fit, but by the time I turned the last horse out, even with the now semi-trampled path, was still dragging. Went to ride my horse and realized... Yup, more shovelling. Had to clear the track to open the arena door. Ok fine. Had a short ride cause really, I was too tired to be effective and Si’s not the best horse to ride in that state. She was good though so we finished with something easy and left it at that.

Brief retreat indoors in search of food and warmth for a moment before tackling stalls. Couldn’t believe it was already 10:30 and I hadn’t even started! Yikes. Eventually dragged myself back out and got to work. Had a huge battle trying to push the wheelbarrow through the snow to the manure pile, so got out the handy-dandy shovel yet again and cleared another path. Wasn’t done chores when my student arrived, but fortunately she’s forgiving of a less-than-usually-organized barn. Teaching was a wonderful break from the barn. I could sit. Hahaha haven’t been so physically tired since the first week. Crazy. Lesson went really well, so that was definitely the highlight of the day. Then back to the stalls – by this point I had to shovel out the manure pile again. Sheesh. At least though it was pretty - HUGE confetti-like flakes, almost surreal...

Was just finishing up when a quarter-boarder showed up to ride, so I decided to ride with her. And got to shovel out the arena again. Oh the joy never ends. Rode Lissy though and she was good, so that was another plus. Working on trying to install lateral aids – only kinda there... She’s getting better though.

Was just a day that never seemed to end. Incredibly grateful to the student who’s doing late night for me today – once horses were fed and barn cleaned up I could go shovel out my car and head out. Sweet. Goal for tonight – bed by 10. Fingers crossed.

But hey, on the plus side, I don’t think I’ll ever need to go to a gym again! Hahaha Walking up the stairs tonight I had that “wow, great workout” burn happening that used to require membership fees and lots of unpleasantness.

Despite this all the groundhogs seem to be suggesting an early spring. Fingers crossed :)

What did *you* learn at the barn today?

(from GRS Blog: www.graduateridingschool.com/blog.htm)

So I’ve taught a particular lesson a few times over the last few days – one of the deceptively simple variety... hahaha but I’ve been sort of amused by the number of “life lessons” coming out of these. Which got me thinking...

Things I’ve learned at the barn (feel free to contribute! I know there are tons I’ve missed!):

- Live in the present. You can’t fix what’s past and if you focus solely on the future, you may never get there. (worrying about fence 12 is no good if you never get past fence 3! Alternately, retirement might be a nice dream, but if you don’t go to work today you’ll never get there.)

- Don’t look back. You hit the rail, whether or not it falls at this point is irrelevant. But by looking back you may mess up the next one too.

- don’t count on somebody else to tack up your horse properly. You’re riding, your responsibility.

- don’t jump anything until you’ve inspected the landing side.

- Always involve all relevant parties in the planning phases of a project. As in rider goes in thinking “we’re going to work on half-pass today” and horse goes in thinking “GALLOP!!!!” – guess who wins?

- Master the fine art of negotiation. Will help solve the above issue :)

- ride every stride. Autopilot will only take you so far, and rarely where you intend to go (see consult all relevant parties above :)

- keep your eyes up. You need to look where you’re going to get there.

- Not knowing how to do something is a perfectly acceptable (and necessary!) part of learning. Knowing how and choosing not to do something is less good. When I bought my first car I didn’t know how to drive standard (how very embarrassing to have to have your mother drive your shiny new car home from the dealership!). I stalled it. Often. For the first few days, n then I got better. That was fine, new skill just learning. Current car I stall about once a year – and every time comes with foul language and a quick look around to see who saw *g* That is not fine, because really I can drive it in my sleep. Stalling now means I was seriously not paying attention and/or did something very dumb. Same thing goes on horseback. If you have the skill, use it. Every time.

- be patient and calm – or learn to fake it! When working with prey animals, signs of anger or aggression significantly aggravate any situation. Treat your boss like a prey animal and soon he’ll be working for you.

- you can learn more from a bad ride than a good one.

- consider your body language. Do you angle your body towards the horse or away from? Look directly at him or down and to the side? How does the horse react when you’re tense/angry/upset? How does she know? You need to be aware of these things because your horse definitely is. When you can see you the way your horse sees you, you’ll have a much better partnership. Now sub “significant-other” in for “horse”.

- ever heard the one about getting back on the horse? Nuff said.

- green on green is rarely a good idea. (ok for adult students only, R rated, under 18 skip the rest of paragraph, etc etc: riding is kinda like sex, it’s much better if at least one partner knows what they’re doing!)

- admit when you don’t know what you’re doing and ask questions! It’s really hard to teach somebody who knows everything, so acknowledge to yourself that you’re there to learn and ask anything you need to. This is perhaps not the best philosophy if you’re the lead surgeon in a heart transplant, but for the rest of us... hahaha

- don’t let one bad moment ruin everything. Yeah that walk-canter transition was pretty much the antithesis of what they were looking for. So what? You can balance a 3 with a 9 easily enough! Let it go, and make the next move perfect! If you focus on “omg that was soooo bad” you’re going to ruin the next few moves too. Rinse and repeat.

- get your priorities straight: water, food, shelter, sleep, fun. In that order. Anything other than those are highly negotiable.

- smarts and skill win out over strength every time.

- speed kills: riding, driving, or drugs. Never a good idea to go faster than you can steer.

- approaching a jump from a different direction makes it an entirely new jump. The same can be said of most of life’s obstacles.

- jumping is dressage with speedbumps. Learn your dressage and jumping becomes easy. Roughly – sometimes the boring and the tedious (sorry to all the DQs out there!) are necessary to succeed at the fun and exciting.

- the greenest horse has something to teach the best rider.

- ride what you're sitting on -- just because she was a pro-star yesterday, doesn't guarantee a repeat performance!

- ride the horse you *want* to have; ask nicely and expect the good response - you may be surprised how quickly you get it.

- if you want to win the good grooming award, you’d better be prepared to get dirty.

- fake it! Make it look like you know what you’re doing and having a good time and one day it will come true :) We are what we pretend to be.

- take credit for flukes “absolutely I asked for that lead change!”

- and then quit while you’re ahead!