Here there be dragons...

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

Puppy agility

Had so much fun with Sasha today.   Getting ready to leave the house and she's sitting looking at the door ready to go out.  Looks at the door, looks at me.  Can just see the thought bubble "stupid human".  Clearly I wasn't getting the hint fast enough so she went and got a shoe and put it by the door too.  "Come on, what more do  I need to do for you?"  hahahah too funny.

Then later I had a break between lessons so figured we'd try the agility tunnel.  All sorts of notes about "introduce slowly" etc.  Yeah or not - I pointed her at it and took a treat to the other end.  Done and done.  Quite happy to run back and forth through the tunnel for treats...  I have the kewlest puppy ever.

Of course the same notes suggested the "pause box" would be the easiest one for them to learn.  Methinks I need better notes >;-P   Or perhaps to pass puppy kindergarten before attempting agility.   Nah.

Kinda helps offshoot feeling so sick.  Booo.   HUGE thanks to Paula and my dad who saved the day and took on stalls for me.  Would've been a very long and challenging day without them.   I love my job, but there is absolutely no flexibility for having a rough day - when I only had 8 horses I could do it no matter what state I was in, but with 17 (and 6 lessons) it's a bit more of a challenge!

Tomorrow Paula and Steph are taking on the barn for me -- all I have to do is sleep and teach a few lessons.  Hopefully resulting in one day recovery :)   I have the most awesome students ever!

Puppies make everything more fun - even snow.

As some of you are aware, I *really* don't care for winter.  But I have to say, watching Sasha play in her first *real* snow was pretty entertaining.  hahaha she was bouncing around alternating between digging head-first into it and trying to catch the flakes and/or the snow that she (or I >;-P) kicked up.  A happy puppy is an entertaining puppy :)

She is however, starting to be a *big* puppy.   Puppy school needs to start sooner rather than later :)

So HUGE thanks to Paula who's spending most of her vacation helping me at the barn.   Starting to get to the point now where I can actually make some progress on the non-horse side of things :)   Woohoo!   Should have rider level stuff up this week, and March Break camp info is up.   Slowly getting there.   Lost some people in the move so now have a few spaces at most levels for new people -- if you know anybody interested, bring them in!

So tomorrow's list of things to do is about 8 day's worth, but hey - gotta start somewhere right?   And Paula finds herself with her first full barn day *also* being the first snow day.  Horrifically brutal.   But luckily for me, she's awesome :)


Are you ready for Christmas yet?

So got very frustrated with myself today as for the THIRD time, I went the wrong direction at a certain point on my drive to work.   Then I clued in that since 2002, *every* barn I've worked or ridden at has required a right turn at that particular location whereas the new one requires a left.   Clearly my car has been well trained to go right there -- esp when I'm not really thinking about it...  Muscle memory?  hahaha don't know but definitely ingrained habit.

Sasha is growing crazy quickly.  On the plus side - she's now big enough to get in the car by herself!  She went to the vet today and survived with very little drama.

Finished my Christmas shopping tonight.  Woohoo!   Was highly amused that when I pulled into the last shopping plaza the Mission Impossible theme started playing.  It's the little things in life :)   Now just need to find time to wrap!

Feeling a little overwhelmed by the "to-do" list *sigh*  I have faith it'll be all good in the long run, but getting there...  Some days, a little tricky.  Will get caught up...  Just not entirely sure when >;-P   Maybe skipping Christmas would do it?

Any day that ends better than it starts is a good one...

So I generally love my job, but even I have to admit that there are days when it's just plain hard.   When you're stiff, sore, tired, cold, cranky, or the world just isn't right and the horses aren't co-operating, and things just don't go as planned... Well let's just say those are the only times I miss the office.

Today was the first of those days at the new place.   By 10:30 I was only *just* finishing up turn-out (ummm that'd be about an hour later than normal).  Super tired and slightly cold and all I wanted to do was go back to bed.  But with 17 stalls to muck, that's not so much an option.   Didn't even have a real reason for it - just super-tired and very much in slow motion.

So I'm debating about the wisdom of taking a mini-break to make some hot chocolate and recharge with some puppy time.   Would that wake me up and put me in a better mood, or would it put me to sleep?   Deciding the second, I reluctantly dragged out the wheelbarrow and convinced myself that if I ever wanted to be done, I'd better get started.

Well not 30 seconds after the mental "quit your whining and get to work" the door opens and in walks...   my Dad :)   Carrying hot chocolate and an offer to help with stalls.   Can I just say I have the most amazing parents on the planet?   Made such a completely huge difference to my day which was suddenly not so overwhelming.  And with his help, even having a very slow day I was still done in a very reasonable amount of time which allowed me to get some other stuff done and even take a 20 min break (first one!).

And I'll tell ya - it made all the difference in the world.   By the time it was time to teach I was awake and happy again :)   And lessons were a blast.  Louis set a new personal best height record jumping (given that he only knew about cross rails when he came, there are a lot of these - but he was jumping *really* well tonight with his part-boarder Margaret).  And a dressage lesson with everybody getting really good work from their horses.

So yesterday I drove the tractor for the first time.   Yeah, def prefer sports cars *g*   But it did get the job done.  Having a hard time adjusting to the fact that it runs without touching the gas, and the break doesn't stop it unless you're in neutral.   An odd mix of automatic and standard -- shifting the way I do for the car is not necessary, but you do use the clutch for some things (but not all - that'd make too much sense).   The bucket takes more control to move around than I'd expected, but I'll get the hang of that.   Was a horrible fail at parking on a hill.  hahaha gave up and let it roll backwards to flat ground.   Suspect that'll get better.   Did manage to deliver all the hay to the paddocks I wanted it to go to, but I suspect I'm not really ready to try harrowing the ring yet!

And have I mentioned lately how ridiculously smart my superstar puppy is?   We really need puppy classes to start sooner rather than later cause right now she's learning all sorts of things she can get away with >;-P   But really, she's awesome.  Travels like an old pro (good thing seeing how much time we spend in the car) and last night put herself to bed in her crate without so much as a minor wimper.   Yeah puppy!

Sherlock is really bitter about her presence though.   I've never seen him growl, hiss or spit before, but she brings out all the ugly in him.  On the plus side - he's way more affectionate with me than ever before now.  As long as Sasha isn't around that is!

Hopefully actually get to ride tomorrow!  Def time to work that back into the schedule...

Whoever said you can't buy happiness forgot little puppies.

So...  Have I mentioned that my superstar puppy is... well... a superstar :)   I'm a little concerned actually - I know what happens when horses are smarter than their owners and it's never good.  What about when puppies are?

So once-upon-a-time somebody threw some crunch out in front of the barn.   I have no idea how long it's been there as it's protected from the weather, but probably a while at least.   Sasha thinks this is the best treat ever!  And it's reasonably harmless, so I let her have some once in a while; usually as part of house/barn training.   But, now she knows that when she comes outside there's a marvelous buffet!  No worries, the barn has big solid doors that adult people sometimes have trouble opening - little puppy should be safe inside.  The only door that has a puppy-sized gap is to the shavings area which is quite a ways away from the main barn and through another door.

Yeah, but the door between the two barns has a cat passage way.  Covered with a flap, but still there.

Uh huh, she definitely figured out how to move the flap, fit through the cat-door, follow the path to the shavings, slide *under* the door and get to the treats -- in about 45 seconds.   The dogs that have lived there for years who are small enough to fit through there still haven't figured out that trick.  And maybe the first time *was* a fluke (we know all about taking credit for flukes at GRS :) -- but the second time she knew *exactly* what she was doing.  "Never teach your horse something you don't want them to know" -- I'm thinking the same applies to the dog; the difference is, the dog is teaching herself!

She also has no problem finding me if I call her while hiding in a stall or another area of the barn.  Knows enough to go around whatever wall to where there's a door.  Crazy smart pup.

On the plus side - "come" and "sit" and "with me" (of course I make up random commands to teach my dog) are about 70% installed.   Still not there if she's distracted, but I've only had her for two days *g*   And she's very housebroke (thank God!)   And she now travels well in the car, sleeping in the back seat.  Sweet.

I'm a little concerned that puppy class doesn't start till Jan.  hahaha I know how much trouble a novice horse owner can do in a month with a greenbean -- can only imagine what I could be doing wrong with poor Sasha now.  Yikes!

But she's soooo much fun.   And I was highly amused that people came to visit her at the barn today :)  Not me, or the horses, nope - just Sasha.

And my poor cat is very unhappy with this situation.  The other cats don't mind but Sherlock is definitely suffering from eldest child syndrome.  Right now he's sitting between me and the keyboard looking for attention -- not that he didn't always do that, but these days it's with a whole new level of determination.  And every time I pet the puppy he appears -- and then promptly hisses at Sasha and backs away.  I try to play with him all the time I'm home, but of course Sasha gets to come with me and that's just Not Fair.   Ah well - it'll work out in the end.

And it works the other way too - Sasha was NOT amused when I was riding Athena today.   I don't know what she thought I was doing up there, but she was very unhappy at not being allowed to participate.

For all the extra time and lack of sleep Sasha causes that mostly makes people think I'm even more insane than they thought, I have to say every time I see her, she makes me smile.  N that counts for an awful lot.

As for the barn itself... Starting to get the hang of the routine.   Spending so much time getting organized (well and playing with/taking care of Sasha) that unpacking still hasn't really happened -- hoping I can get the vast majority of that done on the weekend when I have wonderful working students doing the barn :)   I tell ya, taking care of Sash nearly doubles the amount of time it takes me to do stalls.  I'm sooooo productive when she's asleep *g*  But when she's awake - omg.  hahaha Lessons have been going well and the horses are soooooo much happier.   Going to start getting Apollo and Lissy fit again and it looks like potentially even Dixie!  Not holding my breath on that one, but will be amazing if it happens.

We made it!

The worst is over!  Woohoo!

Still some odds and ends to move of course, but horses are in and settled and the vast majority of the stuff is moved.

Horses were soooooo happy.   Turning them out in those big green paddocks and watching them run around kinda made the whole thing worthwhile all in itself.   When we came back hours later to bring them in for dinner, they weren't having anything to do with it.  Too funny.

Barn is, of course, still in a state of barely-controlled chaos.  But horses are rehomed and happy.  And now at least I know who all the new horses are (yeah for the cheat-sheet landlord's daughter wrote me! :) and most of the stuff is at the new barn.  Somewhere.  hahaha

HUGE THANKS to Steph and Hailey for all your help today.   (hmmmm I wanted to make that significantly bigger but that seems to be the biggest it goes... :)  They stuck it out for 13 HOURS of moving, packing and unpacking.   We got nine horses relocated, mucked the barn (Hailey gets exclusive credit for that one), turned my guys out, got water troughs set up for them, brought in and fed the new guys, carted multiple bags of shavings and bales of hay, hauled truckload after truckload of stuff into the "dumping" area (to be unpacked over the next few days), and even managed to get the trailer parked and unhitched and the barn swept before we left.   Without them, this would've taken me a week.   I have the best students in the world :)

And now I have to go to sleep so I can start unpacking AND managing the new barn first thing tomorrow.  Wish me luck :)

1/2 way to a new beginning

So I got my OCD side under control and left before 9 this evening.   That's only 12h at the barn today.  We got a LOT moved -- HUGE thanks to Paula (who looked after my horses AND helped move), Linda (spent all  day helping move, clean, drill, hammer, etc...) and my incredibly wonderful parents who for some strange reason are STILL sticking with me :)   Wow.

I am so excited to be at the new place.  Everybody there has been so incredible.  What a great environment to be coming in to.

And I fear I am past the point of no return with sleeplessness.  I can feel my IQ dropping by the second.  My body mostly still does what it's told, but not nearly as quickly as it's supposed to.  And my vocabulary seems to be disintegrating by the second - making both writing and speaking a bit of a challenge (at least writing has a delete key!).   But we're getting there.

And it'll be soooo worth it in the end!

Countdown is on

Well...  After yesterday, today was positively easy :)  hahaha

Taught for a few hours before going over to the new barn to discuss some changes with the landlords (all good!) then returned to do afternoon feed.  Evening was mostly paper/web work...  Somehow that never seems to end???  Ah well.

My mind just seems to be spinning constantly with all the things I should be doing and that I *want* to be doing.  Getting packed, moving, figuring out what should be done when, setting up the new farm, planning for the puppy, planning theory lessons and march break camp (that's going to be so much fun :), trying to sort out scheduling changes for after the move, figuring out where to get new clients and business to replace those who can't drive quite that far,  sending a dozen emails to a dozen different people about a dozen different topics, and on and on and on...  All while working the usual 70-hour work week.  No problem :)

3 days :)

Today definitely used more than 24 hours.

1000 bales of hay stacked.  Need I say more?  Of course:  Huge THANKS to everybody who came to help out!!!

This evening my coach hosted a mastermind group (not that he actually called it that, but it's exactly that) and an absolutely amazing supper for a variety of horse pros in his circle to meet with each other.  A live social network - imagine that *g*   As he pointed out, the online version doesn't include wine.  hahaha

Admittedly little awkward and very quiet at first as everybody met each other informally and attempted the obligatory new-person small talk over very yummy appetizers while we waited for everybody to arrive.  When all were present (including the next generation -- possibly the most social baby I've ever met) we gathered around the table and did more formal intros.  In the group we had a few eventers (focus mostly on training and competition), one jumper (focusing on bringing up babies), one dressage rider, a couple freelance coaches, one schooling barn, one who offers lessons for those with challenges (everything from non-verbal autism through to abusive home situations - she did *not* pick an easy route, but one that I imagine must be very rewarding in the end), and of course my coach and me.

After everybody had some idea who they were sitting with we started in on the amazing food *g*  Things got quiet for a while then cause all were busy eating.  hahaha but at least the awkwardness was gone.  After that things ranged everywhere -- it's amazing how long horse people can talk horse-stuff.    Topics included a wide range of things.  Consider everything from:
- how to have a life while living this career (apparently I'm not the only one who finds that a challenge),
- uses of social media (apparently I am the only one who does that),
- the pluses and minuses of breeding programs (I paid close attention to that conversation!),
- prevalent attitudes at horse shows and within the industry and how they vary by discipline
- the general evilness of ponies
- buying/building a farm vs leasing
- transporting horses across the boarder and/or flying them in from Europe,
- to coaching at home vs coaching at shows.

And a whole bunch more that aren't at my fingertips right this second (remember - 1000 bales of hay this am >;-P)

Anyways - was a really interesting conversation and great for an industry where people are notoriously guarded about their business.  And the food.  Omg.  The yummy yummy food :)

Does this count as a nanoblomo post?

So I actually managed a Friday Flash.  Might regret that when the alarm goes off in 5h, but it was kinda fun.  Weird.  Very weird.  I freely admit.  Kinda curious to see what, if any, comments it gets *g*   But we'll put that down to exhaustion.  I always used to write my most interesting papers when I was beyond exhausted - maybe the same applies to fiction?  ummm somehow doubt it, but we shall see.

A week today and my horses will be waking up in the new place!  Woohoo!  (yes waking up - it's after 12, therefore technically Friday *g*)

Not that I'm counting or anything :)

#FridayFlash 57: When a warm wind blows

A warm wind blew on a cold night right before I died.

It was time. I'd lived long enough to see the rise and fall of an empire. Or four. I'd learned a dozen languages, traveled around the world and through time. I'd even managed to fulfill my childhood fantasy of being a princess. Ugh, what a mistake that was - let me tell you girls, there are much better fantasies out there! Tiaras are just not worth the publicity.

My life was, and I say this in all humility, the thing of stories. I kind of wish somebody cared enough to write it down; it would make the kind of epic tale that would gain a cult following from the fantasy types and puzzled disdain from all the normal people - but it would definitely stir up talk.

The problem, as I see it, is that I've always been a secondary character. And nobody writes about secondary characters - not even me.

I was born to the Aldmere family; ever heard of us? Yeah, I thought not. Like I said, secondary characters. And I was the seventh daughter of a seventh daughter -- I know, cliche right? But it's a cliche for a reason. The whys and the hows were lost before they were ever known, but the end result is the Aldmere family are chroniclers. We provide an unbiased report of all items of importance throughout time -- albeit the definitions of both unbiased and importance are ummm sometimes open to interpretation. And in return, we live long enough to experience things worth recording. Some, like my cousin Agyfen, follow the rise and fall of an entire culture. He did his job exceptionally well! Academics still discuss his work. But sadly the anglo-saxons cared little for the names of their scribes, and so he remains anonymous. Then there are others, especially more recently, who live only long enough for a specific event. And then there are the sevens - of which I'm one. We are to oversee the greater picture - or so I was raised to believe. For me though, the picture's always been rather fuzzy - like those first black and white tvs. So I've always felt I had no real job to do. All the important details had their own chroniclers - cousins of mine mostly. Every time I found something exciting to chronicle it'd already been claimed. And while sevens are overseers, we also only get to write that which goes unclaimed.

To be honest, the only thing I've done that I felt worth recording, was dying. Now *that* was interesting. And I still don't entirely understand how it happened. It was night - the kind of night that's so dark you cannot see your hand in front of your face. No matter how wildly you wave it around in front of you! Not that I did that of course. And it was cold - appropriate for winter. But what was disconcerting was the wind. It had a Caribbean warmth to it - and I was far too far away for that to make any sense at all. I remember wondering if maybe it was a time storm; I'd experienced one of those as a teenager (volatile emotions and all that) - was how I came to know Agyfen. But my brother was three years ahead of me and he claimed story rights to time storms so I couldn't even chronicle that. Not that I'm bitter or anything - just letting you know how it came to be that in an entire life dedicated to telling stories, I have yet to write a word.

Anyways - it wasn't a time storm. I was way too old, and I didn't end up somewhere else in time, so clearly that was not the issue. Wasn't even a storm - no rain, sleet, snow, hail, or anything else. Just the eerily warm wind.

I was there - muttering about the folly of being out without a light - and then... I wasn't. The simplicity of it astounded me. Other chroniclers have covered death before; they come out with stories of bright lights and feelings of love. People love those stories. Some of their names even get remembered! Have to admit, I've always been slightly jealous of those who star in their own stories. I think I'd hoped to do that with the princess stint, but I got covered by a pop-fiction chronicler. It was a sadly embarrassing moment.

But right - exciting death's been done, so a seven cannot repeat it. But I really don't think my death, or any like it, has ever been properly recorded. Just going about the minutia of my boring day-to-day life and then suddenly I wasn't. And there was something reasonably exciting about that. I certainly wasn't bored anymore. And I no longer had to stress about what I was supposed to do with my life. But now, through my death, I know exactly what purpose my life has served. I was supposed to be a below-average quasi-failure... The running joke of the family really. Because, let's be honest here, fifty percent of us ARE below average and usually their stories do not get chronicled.

I, the ultimate secondary character, was supposed to chronicle the lives of secondary characters. A perfect fit really. Obviously I didn't figure it out in time to do anything about it, because as soon as a secondary character gets written about, well then they're no longer secondary and thus somebody else's job. A vicious cycle that. And death's already been done.

But there's one part of my story that to the best of my knowledge has never been chronicled. And from that I leave you with one simple warning:

Beware the warm wind.

You're welcome.

I'll just sit down till the insanity passes...

For the adult ams out there (and the pros training said adult ams :) - I stumbled upon a new blog you may enjoy:   Have fun!

Today's challenge was to get the hayloft at the new barn into a state ready to receive the mountain of hay we're transporting there on Saturday (to those helpful souls among you, please note the change of date.  If you wish to be loved forever, consider showing up Saturday am - 10:30 at the new place.)   The landlords had done a reasonable job of organizing so it wasn't nearly as nightmareish as I'd feared, but still...  There's only one not-so-huge me and a rather large mountain of hay to be dealt with.   I'd say I made it about 3/4 of the way through before I crashed *g*   No problem - except that in about 5 minutes I have to go out and teach for the evening. Let's just hope there are no "can you show me" requests tonight.   Thurs night is mostly teens - very rare to hear that from them :)

As I sit here in my nice warm office, too physically tired to do anything productive but mentally still awake, I'm actually inclined to attempt a Flash Fiction Friday for the first time in entirely too many months...   However, we'll see how I feel when I get home after teaching and night chores -- I have a suspicion that feeling may have passed by then!


I got to meet my puppy!!!!   She is sooooooo cute :)   And I'm *very* excited!  hahahaha can you tell from the excessive exclamation points???

Puppy, whose name is tentatively Zoe, is absolutely adorable.  Climbed up into my lap and made herself comfortable :)  Sooooo cute :)

Of course when I got home Sherlock (the cat I've had since uni) was *very* suspicious about the new scents *g*  It's not as though I don't come home smelling like other animals all the time, but this one definitely had him concerned.   Might be an interesting few days when Puppy comes home...

As far as the barn goes - starting to get very stressed about the hay :(  Getting it all there and stacked - every time something gets organized something changes.  Booo.   On the plus side though, most of the other stuff is slowly getting there :)

Name that puppy!

So *finally* got some actual packing done today!  hahaha mostly because Emily came out to help :)   But whatever the impetus at least it got done :)   Or started anyway.

Charlie was a superstar yet again -- now both his potential part boarders are looking forward to summer and cross country!  hahaha can't get here soon enough!

And tomorrow I get to go meet my NEW PUPPY!!!!  hahaha yup you read that right :)   I'm not bringing her home from the breeders till after the move (I'm only *mostly* insane :) but I'm still super-excited.  Name suggestions???

She's an Aussi Shepard -- currently 8 weeks old.   Have two names I'm currently debating between, but open to other suggestions :)

Bits and pieces slowly coming together...

(from GRS blog)

Got a fair amount done today.  All the boring behind-the-scenes type stuff, but it's a start.   Trying to find a decent snow-removal place for the new farm.  Talking to a couple companies, but so far nothing seems terribly likely (too random a location evidently).  Argh.  But I'm sure we'll find somebody :)   The trick is to find them BEFORE it snows!  hahaha

Hay is arranged for Sunday - anybody who feels like a workout, we'd love your help!  Have to relocate the 450ish bales in the current hayloft to the new hayloft as well as getting 600 new ones (hopefully those can be stacked with the tractor though!  Fingers crossed.)

Absolutely cannot WAIT to move. hahaha soooo excited for the new place!

Charlie's first ride at his new home :)

So when I got to the barn this am Charlie was alert and happy and clearly wondering why he was inside and not outside playing.  All good signs, but I didn't want him going out till I was prepared to stay and supervise...

Taught a couple lessons and then decided to ride.   Decent weather for November, so figured I'd ride outside.  Despite the crazy wind.  hahaha well Charlie came out very high - gigging beside my walk and looking at everything.  Fair enough - no turnout, new place, horses running around in adjoining paddocks.  Not exactly a calming scenario.  But I promised Hailey she could ride him tomorrow so I wanted to make sure he was ok first!

So I walked him around a bit and while high, he wasn't actually doing anything wrong.  And not in the least bit spooky.  So while I was contemplating lunging him, I just got on.   Now some of you will be familiar with the feeling...  The feeling that you're sitting on a coiled spring waiting to explode - in any potential number of directions.  Anybody who rides babies, esp tb babies, will have felt that at some point :)  And having ridden a few who could seem calm on the outside and explode with the best of them (ahhhh memories of clearing the w/u ring at Glen Oro with an overly dramatic green-bean *g*) I'm well attuned to that power.

And yes, that's exactly what I felt when I got on.  hmmmm So thinking 'must go forward - horse going forward doesn't go up' and ride on fully prepared to be going any number of directions at any speed.  Well we didn't really get a good forward, but impressively we didn't get anything that even remotely resembled threatening to go up.  He is SUCH a sweetheart.  He was full of power and nervous energy and yet he tried soooo hard to do what I was asking and didn't even attempt to expend any of said excess in any of the multiple options available.

I was pretty excited about that.   And while I won't say we ever actually got to relaxed, he def chilled out fairly quickly.  And just kept trying.  The kind of heart you just can't train.

I think Hailey and Paula are going to have a lot of fun this summer :)

Horse shopping adventures are over! For a long while at least :)

So lessons today went well and were followed by a horse shopping expedition.  Hailey and Emily and I traveled out to Mount Albert to look at a potential int/adv schoolie.  And we found one :)

Charlie's a little superstar.  Slightly unfit but well fed (YEAH!) and healthy.  His dressage is properly installed and he's very eager to jump.  A little *too* eager at times which is why he won't be in novice lessons unless or until he chills :)   Kind though, with an excellent attitude.  He's got training level eventing experience, so knows his job very well and will be a good teacher for those wanting to move up through the eventing levels.

He settled really quickly when we brought him home - an excellent sign :)  And tomorrow he'll get to go out and make new friends.

Nice evening out rounded out the day beautifully.  Especially fun that I don't teach till noon tomorrow so might even get to sleep in.  Woohoo!  hahaha the little things in life right?

Climbing on soap box

ok so mini-rant today.   Why is it that parents feel the need to DRIVE their children to the bus stop???  Seriously people, it's suburbia and primary school -- meaning it's not more than about a 5 min walk at the extreme.  I understand given the dangers of modern society wanting to go with them, but do you really need to drive?  

Several times I've been stuck in a mass of cars all parked along the street waiting for the school bus -- even in summer with perfect weather!   Unbelievable.   One lady I got stuck behind drove home afterwards -- an entire SIX houses away.  O.M.G.

Argh.  Ok end of rant.

oh - and another rant, while I'm all the way up here on my box.  One of my (previously) favourite radio stations is ALREADY playing 24/7 Christmas music.  I've banned them till Dec 26.  *sigh*   Really people?  Can we not wait till at least December?

Ok end of rant two.  Aren't you glad you signed in?

On the plus side - I'm getting along much better with my new phone now :)   Still not super-proficient with it, but at least not the huge frustration of the first few days.  Texting is TONS better than on my own phone, but using it as an actual *phone* is a rather huge pita *sigh*.  Fortunately I text way more than I phone so suppose that's how it should balance out.

It's official!!!

The lease is signed!   Woohoo!   Which makes me soooo excited and entirely terrified :)  hahaha but really - that's a good place to be.  Life's never boring that way *g*

Now two weeks to do two months worth of stuff.  No problem!  Things are starting to come together though.  Really can't wait till the move.  15 days :)  Not that I'm counting or anything *g*

Entertaining lessons

Stolen from GRS blog just cause I don't really have anything *else* to post here for today...

Crazy lessons this evening but everything went really well.   Super high from teaching though which might put a dent in my goal of eight WHOLE hours of sleep in one night *g*

The beginner girls navigated 3-loop serpentines without anybody crashing into anybody else :)

The middle group, usually advanced but today three different levels in one with makeups.  A bit of a challenge to teach but highly entertaining.  The novice rider survived going faster than her comfort zone AND jumping two fences in a row; the intermediate rider successfully got the very lazy and short-strided horse jumping well on a normal 12' stride; the advanced rider jumped higher than usual in perfect rhythm :)   Sweet.

Then the later group was working on feeling which leg is moving when (without looking!  No cheating allowed!) And every one of them was getting it consistently by the end.   Woohoo.

So on a different note - I'm seriously contemplating breeding Dixie... hmmmmm of course I know nothing about breeding - but that's only a minor technical detail right?  Fortunately I have lots of friends who know more than enough for all of us  AND they seem to be willing to put up with my million questions.   As another friend put it when I mentioned that hesitation "You're a pretty type A person - if you want to breed you'll learn what you need to pretty quickly" - hahaha yeah she's probably right.  Sometimes your friends know you better than you do.With the move, we'd have a safe location to raise a foal.  And the main thing holding me back other than those *minor* details is that Dixie's old to have a first baby -- until I found out she's already had at least one already.  Sweet.  

So yeah, as though moving farms and running the business weren't enough to do - now I have a whole new realm of horsemanship to master.  No problem.

At least life's never boring :)

New toy :)

So having been "qualified" for a new free phone for a while now (Telus really wants me to renew my contract) - I finally got around to going in and getting one.  hahaha alas my flip phone that I loved oh-so-much is gone.   But instead I've got a slide phone which is equally kewl.  Now I just have to spend the next week moving contacts over.  You know - in all my spare time!

Have to admit, I'm already LOVING the keyboard.   But the thing I find slightly disturbing is that I still double/triple key letters.  hahaha So even though it's a normal qwerty layout, if I want an L, I'll push it three times -- it's *that* ingrained in me from too much texting on a numeric keypad.  Now it's not as though I don't touch-type on a qwerty keyboard all the time.  But I think it's cause I'm thumb typing (keyboard isn't big enough for 10 fingers!) - and in my little brain, thumb-typing requires multiple hits for certain letters.

What started out quietly turned into an insanely busy day today.  Tomorrow is *supposed* to be insanely busy, so maybe it'll be quiet and relaxing?   Hey, I can hope right!  Turn about's fair play.

A day in the life...

(stolen from GRS blog :)

So fun horse-related day today.

Started off with nice enough weather to teach outside - woohoo!  And Hailey, my wonderful working student, riding particularly well for the second day in a row, so I let her play Really Big Jump day.   She set a new personal height record of FOUR feet.  Wooohoo!  Go kid and pony >;-P   hahaha always a fun start to the day.  And Bella was her usual "ummm ok, I'll clear it by as little as I need to" self.   Not the least bit concerned or stressed by the fact that the rail was well over her head.  Somebody forgot to tell her she's little.  Methinks we could all learn from that :)

Then a lunge lesson (she asked for it - literally.  Some of my students are as psyc as I am :)  I don't know if she'll be able to walk tomorrow, but she had fun.  And an assessment with two girls I quite enjoyed, so I hope they'll join us.

Next we did chores on speed to make it out in time for the open house.  I was thrilled at the turnout!  Thanks tons to all who came to visit our new home!!!   I can't wait to make the move.  Better for us, WAY better for the horses, and everybody there has been so friendly and so welcoming.  Just amazing.   They even came out to join in as soon as they got home.  Very kewl.

Then Aileen very kindly took care of night check for me so that Hailey and I could go look at a potential school horse.  It turned out to be not suitable for what we need in the school, but always fun to go ride other people's horses occasionally :)   If nothing else, it makes you appreciate yours.

After that home to do some paperwork *yawn* but once I got through that I started going through some of the videos Nicole sent me from the summer and that was fun.  There were also clips of Athena from way back at the beginning which served to remind me how very far she's actually come in a short time.   It's easy to get frustrated when things only improve in slow motion - esp if you happen to be fairly goal motivated.  But looking at those clips reminded me of where exactly we started this game.  It's like sitting watching the grass grow -- if you stare at it intensely all day, it never seems to do anything.  But if you go away for two weeks and come back, you'll have to cut it again.  Sometimes you have to have distance to appreciate growth.

So got a few things accomplished, but each one of them spawned several *other* projects -- and so the list continues to grow.  Ah well - at least I'm never bored :)

Shakespeare invaded Poland...

So went out with Jen tonight to watch the Complete Works of William Shakespeare - Abridged (yes I'm a geek).  hahaha 37 plays and some sonnets covered in 97 minutes by 3 people.  Not half bad :)    Have to admit I've seen it a few times (for that matter J and I went together several years ago) but it's still funny every time.   If you get the chance and you have even the slightest interest in the Bard, take it.   See for more info :)

Or better yet...


And yes, it's *slightly* possible that the last time J and I attended this performance I might've ended up on stage... Sheesh >;-P

Could I please have a 48h day? Thanks.

Fun day today but super long.   Got lots done though so that's always good.   And was at the new place showing a friend around, so once again highly psyched about moving :)

Athena went really well this am.  Pieces are slowly coming together.   And she's really trying, which is super nice!   Was *not* amused that we got SNOWED on during our cool-out hack.  Sheesh.

Lessons fun this eve.  Mostly dressage with the odd speedbump thrown in.  All good.

Mostly though everything in my world these days is about the move.  Slowly starting to get the details organized.  Some of them anyways :)   That and of course the changes and things I want to do differently at the new place.   And the clothing orders.  And, and, and...  hahaha ah well - it keeps life interesting anyways :)

Skip this post

Very long and not particularly productive day today.  Boooo.  How is it that you can be insanely busy all day and accomplish nothing?   Sheesh.

Did some bareback lessons tonight so that's always entertaining.  All the girls did really well though :)

Does that count as enough babbling for a Nov blog post?   I never promised they'd be interesting!

You were warned...

Note - if you want to read a *good* albeit sad blog post, read Wrong Ending.


Sooo much fun at the Royal today.   Yeah.

Stephy and I went after morning chores were done -- got there around lunch time :)   Wandered around, explored the shopping options (not nearly as much fun as some years), watched a friend ride, got a reasonable amount of junk food (mmmm apple blossom...) and settled in to watch the afternoon show.

First we had the jumpers, most with their greener horses.  One was definitely schooling as he jumped around the jumper course like a hunter.  Flawlessly done, but nearly double the winning time *g*  One started out competing but after a bad jump switched his ride to schooling -- that was good to see.  Fun class to watch, but very short.

Followed by dressage which was very LONG.  hahaha One horse I absolutely loved, one I sort of wondered what they were doing there, and everyone else was somewhere in between.  By the end of the class I have to admit I'd had enough of dressage and was ready to go back exploring...

Dressage was followed with SUPERDOGS!  hahaha so very much fun :)  And really quite impressive to see the very obvious bond between the dogs and their handlers.

Had just enough time after superdogs for a little more shopping/daydreaming and some dinner (and of course more junk food... mmmm cinnamon...)

Then back to the big ring for lit dressage -- could've been absolutely stunning, but I found myself distracted by the fact that the back pair just couldn't get their act together.  Front pair was good, but the back pair was never in sync.  Very pretty though.  They turn out the arena lights and the horses are draped with little star-lights, so they appear to float around the ring.

After dressage was more jumpers -- the course seemed to be eating people, but in the end 7 made it to the jump off, so that was fun to see.   Some *very* nice horses :)

But really most of the day was just about seeing horse people I don't get to see on a regular basis and having fun with those I do outside of the barn :)   Drooling over phenomenal horses and tack and toys under the "lottery win" category.  And lots of socializing :)

Ok now to answer the day's mountain of emails and try to get things a little back to normal tomorrow!

A man is a success if he gets up in the morning and gets to bed at night, and in between he does what he wants to do. - Bob Dylan

So that was definitely at least two days in one today.   Fortunately two GOOD days, but man this morning seems an awfully long time ago!

Had an awesome ride this morn on Athena (and can I add, I LOVE that I'm riding outside in November :)   I think maybe she heard a rumour about the clinic cause she was all sorts of amazing today.   Things we've been working on and buttons that've been missing were suddenly all there, installed and fully functional today.   Made for a pretty sweet ride.  And then we went for a hack where she behaved like a grown-up :)  Which she technically is -- just doesn't hasn't recently chosen to demonstrate it.  hmmmm can't say I blame her come to think of it!

Teaching was a blast tonight.  A few brilliance or disaster moments, but in the end everybody pulled off something successful :)   We also let Bella jump a bit which is always fun to see *g*   And Hailey stuck around afterwards which just always makes life more entertaining :)

Afterwards though I was so high I figured I'd do stalls tonight instead of tomorrow am (well other than the occupied ones of course).   I am SO much faster at night than in the morning.  I've known that for a while but I do it so rarely it really hits me when I do.  Really kinda wish we could uninvent mornings *g*  I think that'd be a good plan.  Ah well, some day I'll be able to hire am staff.   It's good to have dreams right?

Royal tomorrow!  Woohoo!

Quick update

Day 2 of the clinic was excellent.  Particularly amazing to watch Mark get on and ride some of the horses.  Wow.  Will post clinic notes sometime this week -- foolishly left them at the barn tonight :)

Teaching was fun tonight -- did some course work and everybody was reasonably successful  :)   I *love* watching Jack figure it all out.  hahaha smart babies are fun.  Most days.

On a bit of a sugar high right now, so sitting and being focused enough to type... ummmm well less successful.  Think I'll leave this till tomorrow.


Learning from the best!

Mark Todd clinic today.  As much fun socializing too :)   Tons of people here I don't get to see regularly so break times were fun.   Details on the GRS blog though - too tired to copy it all.  Summary:  look where you're going and every transition counts!   hahaha amazing how I can condense 8 hours into 8 words.  Go English degree go!

hmmmm think that'll do for tonight.   Cause really, the long version's already typed.   And my brain is rapidly turning off...

Cowboy Rules

Very long but very productive day today.

Just got back from the new place and can I just say I can't wait to move!  hahaha  Next few weeks will be a *little* chaotic, but soooooo worth it in the end :)

Mark Todd clinic tomorrow!  Woohoo :)

Cause it sort of amused me (particularly like #5) and my brain is spinning too fast to type anything coherent at the moment:

The Cowboy Rules:

1. Pull your pants up. You look like an idiot.
2. Turn your cap right, your head ain't crooked.
3. Let's get this straight: it's called a 'gravel road' I drive a pickup truck because I want to. No matter how slow you drive, you're gonna get dust on your Lexus Drive it or get out of the way.
4. They are cattle. That's why they smell like cattle. They smell like money to us. Get over it. Don't like it? I-10 & I-40 go east and west, I-17 & I-15 goes north and south. Pick one and go.
5. So you have a $60,000 car. We're impressed. We have $250,000 Combines that are driven only 3 weeks a year.
6. Every person in the Wild West waves. It's called being friendly. Try to understand the concept.
7. If that cell phone rings while a bunch of geese/pheasants/ducks/doves are comin' in during a hunt, we WILL shoot it outta your hand. You better hope you don't have it up to your ear at the time.
8. Yeah. We eat trout, salmon, deer and elk. You really want sushi and caviar? It's available at the corner bait shop.
9. The 'Opener' refers to the first day of deer season It's a religious holiday held the closest Saturday to the first of November.
10. We open doors for women. That's applied to all women, regardless of age.
11. No, there's no 'vegetarian special' on the menu. Order steak, or you can order the Chef's Salad and pick off the 2 pounds of ham and turkey.
12. When we fill out a table, there are three main dishes: meats, vegetables, and breads. We use three spices: salt, pepper, and ketchup! Oh, yeah ... We don't care what you folks in Cincinnati call that stuff you eat... IT AIN'T REAL CHILI!!
13. You bring 'Coke' into my house, it better be brown, wet and served over ice. You bring 'Mary Jane' into my house, she better be cute, know how to shoot, drive a truck, and have long hair.
14. College and High School Football is as important here as the Giants, the Yankees, the Mets, the Lakers and the Knicks, and a dang site more fun to watch.
15. Yeah, we have golf courses. But don't hit the water hazards - it spooks the fish. 

Last Friday night we danced on tabletops, took too many shots, think we kissed but I forgot...

ummmm yeah or maybe that was Friday night a decade ago.  Someways it seems so recent and someways it seems a lifetime ago.    But sadly *this* Friday night I'm essentially exhausted and really disinclined to write.  So you get a few random disjointed thoughts and then I'm off to sleep.

Two new students today who I think will both fit in really well, so that's always exciting :)

Riding outside in November - also exciting :)

Seeing people posting on fb that they're done their xmas shopping?   Well now really that's just a little excessive.  When I think of all I have to do between now and xmas I can't even begin to contemplate shopping.  Sheesh.  If they could bottle that free time and sell it, they'd be rich!

Mark Todd clinic this weekend - super exciting.

Royal with friends on Wednesday - can't wait!

Out of town friend visiting on Friday - always fun :)

Finally managed to book a dinner date with a friend I haven't seen in ages -- about time!

Crossing off the first thing on my to do list: write to do list.   Well that'll be a good thing when it happens.  Wish me luck.

Hot bubble bath before bed...  Well now that's a way better idea than writing a blog post just to write a blog post.   And who am I to pass on a good idea?


It's still Thursday :)

Right so it's 11:00 -- sure I can type something to still qualify as today's post before midnight.  Well I can if I ignore Facebook and email for a while.

So the news of the move is official and public now!  I am sooooooo excited.   Esp when things I'm not happy with at the current place cause grief (ugh, teaching in the dust-bowl tonight.   Counting down till we move :)   Photos and a map on the GRS fb page if you're interested.

For those I don't see in every day life -- for a wide variety of reasons I'm relocating my school.  The new place is a little west of the current place, close enough that almost all of my awesome students are coming with me.  Woohoo - pretty stoked about that.  hahaha and basically everything about it is an improvement.  Grass turnout, big stalls with mats, little to no mud anywhere, gorgeous indoor ring with excellent essentially dust-free footing, nice heated viewing lounge for parents, 95 acres of land (xc course to come!), heated wash stall, professionally built dressage ring, grass jump ring, awesome landlords -- everybody I've met has been super nice.  And it's private -- it'll be just us.   About the only thing I expect to miss at the current place is some of the people.  I've made a couple good friends there and that's always hard to leave.  But this place comes with good people too :)

But yeah the to-do list is growing about as fast as I can think...  Prob time to start writing some of that down.  And then maybe actually doing something about it.  Yikes.

And even with fb open I'm still going to post in time.  >;-P    (ummmm not sure who that's directed at; just seemed appropriate somehow)


Hey, that's a great idea! ummmm or maybe not...

I wonder if "physician heal thyself" applies to other careers?

hahaha so when I bought Athena she was starving and unfit and unhealthy.  Now she's a good weight, very fit, healthy and happy.   Yet somehow in my mind, she's still starving and unfit...  So when the weather was nice on Monday so I'd go for a hack, I didn't think anything of it.

Despite the fact that the weather's been crummy for weeks so she's been stuck in the arena.  AND she hadn't been ridden for two days.

Now if any of my students had told me they were going to do that, I would've either stopped them, or told them to go ahead but be prepared (depending on which horse and rider combination it was :) -- but for me?  oh no, out I go without a second's thought.

*Almost* worthy of a "stupid should hurt" moment, but fortunately I clued in fairly quickly and as a result did *not* have to make the walk of shame...

hahahah well it all worked out ok in the end, but let's just say I had to wake up fast >;-P  Our nice walk hack very quickly changed into a jigging sideways trot, which morphed into a *very* up canter...  Eventually I got her down to the plateau where there's at least some room to work; schooled till she was quasi-rideable and then jigged our way back to the sandring to burn off some steam on safer footing.  hahaha never got anything *good* that ride, but had a lot of fun.   And eventually did get to go on our lovely walk hack to cool out.   But even that was on a mission.

It just amused me my brain arguing with itself as she first started jigging.  The one side surprised and "hey, this isn't like you" and the other side "you idiot, what'd you expect?  She's fit, healthy, and hasn't been out in ages..."   Fortunately the third part -- the one that knows how to ride -- dealt with the situation while the other two argued it out.  hahaha

So today we had equally good weather so we went out again.  Still slightly out of control (next spring is going to be fun :) but at least this time I was prepared for it.   Walk/trot hack only to w/u.   Back to sandring (rather than plateau) for our actual work.  And then another w/t hack to cool down.   And you know what -- I *actually* followed it.  hahaha didn't even pretend to let her gallop.  Although I have to admit that's more because the footing wasn't safe and I have absolutely no intention of setting her up to fall then because I was being overly responsible *g*

And I would just like to announce that it's November and I got to give my horse a bath today.   Best. Weather. Ever.   Would really like this to stick around for the winter :


So it's November first, time for Nanowrimo!

Let's see - already on this month's agenda...

Normal 70-80 hour work week running the school and taking care of the horses
Back and forth to the new place showing people around, planning, organizing etc  (I can't wait - every time I go there I get more excited!)
Mark Todd Clinic
Clothing orders
Plan and organize the move  (this is proving to be more complex than I originally anticipated!)
Actually move

hmmmm so given that, I'm afrid I have to acknowledge that there is absolutely no way I can handle Nanowrimo this year.  Booooo.  Simply no space left for 50,000 words.  So instead, I think I'll give the blog version a try.  I can't guarantee interesting, or even coherent *g* but I'll attempt to post something daily this month.

And if you're a writer, a wannabe writer, or somebody who ever thought "maybe I'll write a book some day" -- now's your chance!  Go to and have a blast :)   I've done it a few times -- last year's story is even in the works of being published.   And they provide plenty of procrastination options too.  Enjoy!

Happy birthday to me :)

Now those of you who know me irl or even who've been following the blog for a while (thanks for that btw!) might be questioning the subject line a bit because, well, traditionally my birthday falls in July.

And so it did this year too :)   But Stephy and Paula decided that for my birthday they would take me wardrobe shopping.

Now this too might raise a few eyebrows since it's generally reasonably well known that I have less than no fashion sense (yes this is possible -- whatever I pick is *worse* than whatever I started with; it's a horrible downward spiral) and I also despise clothing shopping.  So not something most friends would think of making a gift of.

But given how much I enjoy it (read avoid at all costs) an expedition was rather desperately needed, and at least with the two of them I was bound to spend most of the day laughing.   And Steph has more than enough fashion sense for just about everybody I know put together, so there was actual hope of coming out looking somewhat put together.

So this seemed like a good idea.  But in July, when my birthday actually occurred, Steph was busy dressing everybody in her extended family for her sister's wedding.  And August was crazy busy with showing.  And by September Paula was back at school.   So between the three of us, this was the first day we could all arrange.

Somebody asked me once how I keep any of my friends living the crazy schedule I do -- I keep my friends because most of my friends are the type of people who are as busy as I am!  hahaha so they get it.  And we just schedule each other in weeks in advance if we have to :)  It works.  For the ones who matter, it works.  And the ones who don't matter, well now they hardly qualify as friends do they?

Alright, so now we understand why I get a birthday in October.  And how shopping came to be a "good" thing...  hahaha

I taught in the morning so Stephy came and rode as well.   Paula joined us at the barn and I took them and Hailey over to see the new place (ummmm more about that in its own post :) -- gorgeous day out, seemed a good time to show them around :)  

So we dropped Hailey back at the current barn after our exploration and headed out shopping -- but like all dreaded things, shopping is to be avoided till the last possible second.  So lunch came first :)   mmmmmm yummy lunch.   Of course after lunch I felt more like a nap then shopping, but Steph was energized enough for all of us so off we went.

And it was surprisingly painless.  Paula and I mostly wandered and mocked the more horrendous fashions, while Steph bravely disappeared into the darkest depths of the store, every once in a while popping out to hand me something and let us know she was still alive, before disappearing again.

Every once in a while I'd get shoved into a box to try on a mountain of clothing -- and trust me -- this is a mountain I've no interest in photographing much less climbing!   But being the good sport I am, I went along with this with only a modicum of whining >;-P  Met one sales lady who was a bit of a nightmare, but other than her they basically all took one look at Steph on a mission and left us alone -- I'm sure they were looking at me and being eternally grateful I'd brought my own personal shopper and they wouldn't have to try to fix my lack of fashion.

Sadly, our shopping expedition was cut 3 or 4 stores short by them closing.  awwwww.  I was devastated, let me tell you.  Or, you know, grateful.  I always get those two words mixed up.  English is a tricky language after all *g*

So in the end I had a reasonable collection of clothing that means I don't have to do this again soon AND it actually looks good :)   So Stephy saved my first impressions *g* and I'm good to go.   Sweet.

Now no birthday is complete without ice cream.  This might be a July thing, but I argue it holds for all times of year.  So we def needed to detour through a Baskin Robbins for ridiculously sized ice cream.  mmmmmm ice cream...

So reality entered in for a bit and we went back to the barn to take care of the horses.   Fastest night check EVER.  But having three people who know what needs to be done and can divide and conquer helps a lot.  Horses fed, watered, wrapped and blanketed in like 15 mins.

Why the rush?  Well cause Stephy and I had decided while sitting in BR that we wanted to go to the movies.  The movie that started an hour and 15 mins after that conversation.  While we were 30 mins away from the barn that's 20 mins from the theatre.  AND needed gas.  And when I got to the gas station the pump wouldn't work because the attendant was on his own planet and neglected to push the button till I got annoyed enough to push the call button and wake him up.  So yeah, little tight on time.

Paula decided she had to be all responsible and go home and study or some foolish thing like that, so *after* helping with chores (cause that's the kind of girl she is) she totally ditched us (cause that's the kind of girl she is :)

So Stephy and I made it to the theatre right about 7:15.  Bought our tickets and junk food (cause you know, we hadn't had enough of that yet) and got seated just as previews were starting.  Perfect timing really.

Movie was Footloose and it was SO much fun.  I wasn't really expecting to enjoy it all that much, but it seemed the right flakiness level to finish off a fairly silly day.  But I really enjoyed it.  Up there with Grease or Dirty Dancing in the dance-chick-flick category.   Just leaves you smiling and feeling like blaring the music on the way home.

Which is precisely what I did.

So thank you ladies for such a fun birthday!  And a lovely deviation from my usual reality :)

All you Need to Know about Government Bureaucracy:

Pythagoras theorem: ...........................................24 words.
Lord's prayer:....................................................... 66 words.

Archimedes' Principle: ........................................... 67 words.

10 Commandments: ............................................  179 words.

Gettysburg address: ............................................   286 words.

US Declaration of Independence : ....................       1,300 words.

US Constitution with all 27 Amendments: ..........      7,818 words.

EU regulations on the sale of cabbage:.......              26,911 words.

Sort of puts things in perspective doesn't it?

Happy Birthday Mum!!!

Today my wonderful mother turns, as every woman must at least a few times in life, 29 :)

In related news, I've decided I need one of these tags for every part of life:

Happy Birthday Mum!   Love you :)

Thanksgiving Weekend :)

So Thanksgiving weekend was absolutely amazing!  Thanks tons to Hailey for looking after the barn for me -- greatly appreciated!

Weather was, well about as perfect as it gets really.  Bright, sunny and warm!
Temp according to my car :)

Went up to the cottage, one of my favourite places in the world to spend time, and got there in time for an amazing dinner :)   mmmmmm sooooo much good food.  Sweet!
What can I say?  I was HUNGRY!
So anyways the whole weekend was just about perfect.  Relaxing and fun and good company.  Finally had a chance to play with my camera a bit :)  Pics will eventually be on FB, but it's currently not letting me u/l anything.  Boo.  Anyways - fav shot of the weekend:

Can't decide whether this one is cool, creepy, or both :)

Had a good laugh when we were out on the boat...  Knew where we were and how to get home, but not exactly how to get where we were going -- so don't they whip out the GPI (ummm that'd be official plural of GPS :) on the various iphones.  Out in the middle of a lake in the middle of nowhere - staying at a cottage with no electricity - yet somehow the smart phones save the day.  And sure enough, they got us where we were supposed to be going :)

Ugh - sorry about the orange -- pc I'm on has no editing software.  Boo.  Maybe fix another day :)   But you get the point *g*

Had an even better laugh on the way home though -- didn't feel like sitting in crazy traffic, so pulled off the highway north of Barrie.  Now I know lots of ways home from Barrie, but they all start in the south end.  Pulled out my map book (remember those?  pre-nav/smart-phones/etc...  pieces of paper all bound together -- they have images of maps on each one and you have to flip between them to follow any particular road :) anyways - planned my new route, stopped for gas, and good to go.   Problem is, new route didn't go where the decade-old map book said it would.  Fail.  And at least two streets I was on had "turn here for road X" signs -- neither one of which led to road X.  Sheesh.   Anyways at one point I just had this feeling that something was very wrong and I was more lost than I should be...  Finally figured out -- the sun was on the wrong side.   I should be going south or west and the sun was on my left side at 4pm.   Fail.  So I turned around and went back to the last "turn here for road X" sign and basically ignored it and just kept driving.  Navigated by the sun till I found a sign pointing toward a town I knew was in the right direction and then followed that.   But at one point it hit me how sad it was that with all the technology we'd had on that little boat in the middle of nowhere, I was navigating using the sun >;-P   Sheesh.

I did, however, make it back with enough time to feed my horses *and* sneak in a short hack :)  Yeah me.

What did you learn today?

(from GRS blog :)

So they say you should learn something new every day.  They did NOT say it has to be something important.  hahaha and I freely admit that the VAST majority of the "something new"s I learn are, well, shall we say less than useful.  Often bordering on the edge of "waste of brain cells".

But today's  something new was reasonably entertaining.  Time will tell if it's actually useful or not, but definitely caught my attention.

So I was having a dressage lesson and we're trotting around our pretty little 20m circle.  Horse is through and connected and working hard and technically doing everything right, but we were missing the "wow" factor.  And honestly, I didn't think much of it, because I'm not even entirely convinced she has "wow" in her.  After Zel, my "wow" setting is kinda high - not necessarily reasonable for a teenage horse with tons of holes in her training who's not even really fit.

But regardless, I'm trotting around trying to gain a little more suspension and we've tried all the usual tricks (I'll tell ya - after last week's shoulder-fore through cavelletti exercise everything seems easy!) but the magic is somewhat lacking.  And then my coach comes up with the most random instruction I've ever heard:

"Make her outside ear go forwards."

Ummmm sorry?   I don't think I know the aid for that!  hahaha but he was on the edge of frustrated so I figured I'd better just figure it out...  Now Athena is very manourverable.  I can put any leg in any position you want it - shoulder in/out, renverse, traverse, head up/down forward/back, any combination of the above.  All no problem.  Admittedly the lateral work isn't competition quality yet, but at least the legs go where I ask them to :)   But move the outside ear forward?   I can get some horses to give me floppy ears, and I can almost always get them to flick their ears back on me.   But forward?

My first thought was to flick my dressage whip up in front of her outside eye -- pretty sure that'd work.  But also pretty sure that was *not* the look he was going for.  And he wasn't really feeling like tolerating me being a smart ass today so I quashed that plan.  Most days I can get away with it, but not always *g*

So I sit there and I fiddle and I play (getting such instructions as "not both ears, only the outside") and eventually by some fluke I'm quite certain I had nothing to do with (oh wait - take credit for flukes!  Ummm yes, I did that and I did it on purpose!) the outside ear flicked forward.  Cool.

But alas, was only for a stride.  Played around a bit and got it again, significantly faster.  And this time it held for a couple strides.  And those strides felt remarkably improved.  And then we lost it.

Rinse and repeat.

Eventually I get it for most of the circle.  And all of a sudden, with that outside ear pointing forward we have incredible suspension and this lovely floaty trot I didn't even believe she was capable of.  We found the "wow" factor.  And better yet - we could even repeat it going the other way!  Sweet.

Apparently that is, in fact, a fairly common side effect when you get all the aids together for brilliance -- the outside ear comes forward while the inside remains focused on the rider -- but this was the first time *ever* I've had a coach focus my attention towards that as the goal rather than the byproduct.   Interesting experience.

So now I've learned today that all my years of telling Stephy not to watch her horse's ears was apparently wrong -- she was just watching for the magic to happen :)

hmmmm or maybe not.

From what do pheasants feed?

So Wednesday was a brilliance or disaster kind of day...

Steph, the awesome student who came to help Hailey and I at Cedar Run despite the stupidly early start, had asked if I would take her out to school xc.   Totally reasonable request and, let's be honest, I *like* schooling xc - and if it's just one student, that means I *have* to ride too.  The things I do for my students :)

hahaha ok so where to go?  Well first we were going to go up to Myrddin and hop around there -- which would've been fine.  It's close, they have a ton of new jumps, and I know the property inside and out.  No problem.  Except that I wasn't thrilled with my last xc school, and since there's a very realistic chance this'd be the last outting of the year I wanted to make sure it was good.  And I wanted help.

So when we were up at Grandview I asked Bob if he could fit us in -- I usually go up there a couple of times a year for xc schools and it's always a good experience.  I love the variety of jumps and his coaching style - so it's a good combination.  And he's kewl with me bringing students along so that's always a plus too.  And despite short notice and a rather limited available timespan, he fit us in.  Sweet.

Loading Athena is always, ummmm, an experience.  *sigh*  But fortunately this time she got on with only minor grief - maybe 15 mins instead of 2h.   And Lissy's a pro so she just walked herself on and away we went.   On time even.  All good.

Until we're driving down Trafalgar and all of a sudden the truck and trailer start lurching in a big way.  And my digital trailer break readout starts jumping around wildly.   Not fun.   Get pulled over and stopped and go check on the horses.  Truck and trailer are still hooked up correctly; no warning lights or anything disconnected.  Horses are both shaking and clearly anxious (understandable - so was I!) but seem otherwise ok.  So we chill them out and then continue.  Stopped again right before getting on the highway just to check and both horses were once again calmly munching hay.   Strange.

Rest of the drive was entirely uneventful.  Got to Grandview and unloaded - both horses relaxed and happily grazing -- a HUGE difference from Athena's last outting!  Pull the boots off and...  Both of Lissy's hocks are scraped.  :(   Booo.   Not seriously enough to need stitches, but seriously enough that she's in no shape for a ride.  SO glad she had the boots on - can only imagine what would've happened without the extra padding!   No idea what caused it; my first guess was she tried to kick A and lost her balance.  Although my coach mentioned once he had a similar experience with a horse who freaked out when a bee got in the trailer.   I never saw anything but who knows?   What is obvious is that for whatever reason when we were going in a straight line at a consistent speed, all of a sudden all her weight went against the trailer door and her hind legs slid under her (think sitting).  Poor girl.   The trailer door is now seriously warped out.

Since she doesn't need the vet and movement will be better for her than standing and she's happy grazing along, I tack up Athena and we take both horses up to the sand ring.  I briefly considered offering Steph Athena since the whole reason we were there was for her to go xc, but both she and I know that my horse of choice has never been *her* horse of choice (and vice versa) and that her catch riding one of my horses on xc is likely to be ummmm less than successful.

Start warming up and when Bob gets there, explain about Lis.  He takes a look too and agrees with her walking along and offers us cleaning supplies when we get back.  Sweet.  So I give the 30 second rundown on Athena's history, explain some of the challenges I've been having with her, and mention our goal of starting at PT next year and if all goes well upgrading to T mid-season.   He starts us out over a tiny show jump fence on the wheel of death, that grew every two or three laps.   It wasn't nearly as accurate as I'd like -- our wheel was somewhat lopsided at times!   But at least we started consistently hitting a distance and landing on the correct lead.  So that's a start.  Then had us do a mini-course (really mini - 3 fences set at about E height).  First attempt was rather disastrous.  Second attempt after he made a few changes to my position was brilliant.  We're either *really* on or *really* not.  hahaha.   And sometime before show season starts I need to shift the balance so that the ON is a whole lot more frequent!   But it was really great to have some feedback not just about her but about me.  Because obviously the better I do it, the more I'll be able to help her.  Most of the time it's all about training her but I really appreciate when we can fix me in the process *g*

Ok and out on XC.   Jump a few E fences with some discussion about how to get/keep her butt underneath her so we can actually get to the base of the fence with some power.  First course a little iffy.  Next one with the PT fences thrown in, much better.   Switch fields...

And leave my brain behind.  hahaha   Seriously.  Was embarrassingly bad.   Not the riding - that was actually mostly getting better.  No, what was bad was how *many* times I could jump the wrong fence.   So he set a course that included "go through the gap and jump the pheasant feeder".   Ok, now I have absolutely no idea what a pheasant feeder looks like.   M had one at her place that she called that -- I always called it a mushroom.  Mostly cause, well, it looks like a mushroom.  I know - I'm creative that way. Only problem?  No mushrooms in sight.   There's a round coup off on an angle that could be a mushroom-top flat on the ground...  There's a triangle house/coup like thing.  And there's a palisade.   Now the palisade is in the gap and has a slight drop to it (which was also in the instructions).  So I point - 'over there?' -- yes.  Ok fine.  Go jump my course.

"Great job, but wrong fence.  That one's much harder than what I wanted you to do."  hmmmmm oops.   "I wanted you to go through *that* gap," pointing to a different tree line, "and jump the pheasant feeder."

Oh ok, "the one over there?" I ask, pointing to the shortened mushroom.  "How do you get there?"   What can I say, it looked like an awkward line.   "Just follow the path," he told me with an implied "you idiot" hahaha.  Oh... Ok.   Off I go.   And it *was* an awkward line.  Very awkward.  And we landed slightly out of control.   But eventually got it back together and finished the course.

Return to coach.  "You really don't want to jump that pheasant feeder do you?"  Frig.   Only one fence left.   And I can see how both ways I was pointing would've seemed like I was pointing at it.  And sure enough there is a *much* easier approach to it with a newly mowed path.   "I was *trying* to make it easy for you..."  Really, at that point there's no way to salvage the situation -- although now I know that pheasant feeders can be round OR triangle shaped, but they always have the mushroom post under them *g*.  There's your educational moment for the day.  And for the record, we jumped it beautifully.   We also got a TON of practice with the icky turn to the sharkstooth that we did following each of the wrong jumps *g*   So when we see that on competition, we're set!  hahahah   But I can't remember the last time I went off course, so to do it twice in a ROW -- when there are only 3 fences to choose from at that -- well that's so bad it becomes funny.   Only saving grace is that Bob's taught me before and knows I'm not *usually* a complete idiot.  >;-P   That and at least I made *different* mistakes each time.  Points for creativity!  Hey - I'll take em where I can get em.

And on the plus side - I got to jump several extra fences, one of which was an ok size.  And that's the first palisade I've ever done with her too.  Yeah us.

On to the ditch.  Which she shows no fear at but goes through rather than over.  hmmmm less good.  Try a couple more times and she does it better each time.   Was having some control issues at this point, esp going downhill, but they're flatwork not jump related.

Alright, on to the bank.  A couple E fences spread out to get us going then up the bank and back down again.  No prob.  Except that 3 strides in front of the first E fence she grabbed the bit in her teeth and nosedived.  Yeah - a little terrifying.  It took me a good 10 strides to get her back after that (that may not seem like much, but it felt like forever!  And if there'd been a second fence 2 strides later, we would've been in serious trouble).  Show jumped the second one - it was beautiful, but really I rode it like stadium rather than xc.  And the banks both ways np.   We got a new course in the same field but with all the PT fences instead of the E fences.   The jumps rode well and I was starting to find the right balance there, but the in-between was a battle and a half.  That whole big loose-ring snaffle thing again.   Doesn't give you a ton of power when your horse turns into a runaway freight train.  Ah well >;-P    Cantered her over the T ditch a few times - perfect.  She learns fast this one.

But at this point, while clearly the adrenaline was still there, she was lagging.  So I mentioned to Bob that I didn't have much horse left and we shortcutted the rest of the random jumps (which, let's be honest, she'd've done just fine) and headed over to the water.   Water will be an interesting challenge for us I think.  She goes in just fine, but can't seem to figure out how to *keep* moving once she's in there.   We jumped in and out over a little stad fence a few times, but the jump in, canter through, jump out....  Well I never did manage to maintain the canter all the way through and the jump out out of the trot was, shall we say, less than pretty.  *sigh*   So we got a good effort and left her on that.

And pretty clearly if we can get our act together in the other two phases as well, PT will be a totally appropriate starting place next season.  So pretty stoked about that.

Head back to the trailer, give Athena a bath (with only a *minor* meltdown at the washstall), then trade horses with Stephy and cold hose Lissy's hocks (she was not thrilled at that, but not horrid either).  Then thanks to Bob and Sarah got her cleaned up and thoroughly slathered for the ride home.

Have to admit I was a little concerned.  How to load these two horses with only two people?   I usually like to load Athena first so no horse is trapped in the trailer while she plays her games, BUT it takes two people to load her.  And with the trailer ride up being so scary, I wasn't sure either one of them would be willing to get back on *sigh*.   So I decided to try Lissy first -- she's such a sweetheart.   And she thought about it for a second, but then she followed me on, quietly as could be.   Athena took a while longer, but even from her there was no drama (now to be fair, she was *rather* tired at this point :).   Both horses loaded and treated and we could go home.

Fortunately without incident and they both unloaded beautifully.   I did call the vet the next day for Lissy, just to be sure.  He agreed that it was superficial and put her on just-in-case antibiotic and anti-inflammatory meds.  Figures she'll be good to go early next week.   Phew.

But yeah - best xc ride of the summer for me and got some much needed fine tuning.  So pretty excited about that :)

Happy babbling

Ever wonder why we do it?  What makes it worth the hours and the physical labour, and the pain and hurt and frustration that horses bring?    If you don't instinctively know, it'll be very hard to explain, but today's GRS post tries.  And if you *do* know, but are perhaps having trouble remembering at the moment, give it a read and it'll remind you :)

Today was so much fun.   Even hay yesterday was fun when interspersed with pizza and friends :)   I definitely have the coolest job on the planet.

A few years ago I published a "why we event" - in response to one of Denny's posts (long before I ever met him!) about showing under horrific conditions...   Today was another of those for me.  What are your reasons why?  (feel free to sub in any form of riding for event :)

To raise new questions, new possibilities, to regard old problems from a new angle, requires creative imagination and marks a real advance. -- Einstein

(stolen from GRS blog.   Mostly horse-related, but enough random babbling I figured it could survive here too :)

Whoever says there are no stupid questions has never had to answer them with a straight face.  There are stupid questions.  Lots of them.  After all, what kind of questions do stupid people ask? Do they suddenly become smart just in time to ask questions?  And I think I've heard them all.  And very smart people still sometimes ask stupid questions.  The difference is, they generally *realize* it's a stupid question about a heart-beat later.  To me, the stupid questions break down into three categories:
- questions you already know the answer to,
- questions already answered in the last 30 seconds (therefore stupid because you clearly were not paying attention and/or see point one),
- and questions that even a modicum of common sense clearly answers.

Now I realize that common sense is not so common, but since my students tend to be of above average intelligence (yeah!) I feel this rule applies.   "Can I walk under my horse?" would be considered a question in this category by anybody whose age is in double digits or higher.  And no, I'm not inventive enough to make that up.

That mini-rant being said, I actively encourage questions in my lessons because the vast majority of them are legitimate and serve to either aid in learning or highlight a skill that needs more clarification -- since both of these things are part of my job description, anything that makes that easier is a bonus!

But one of the things that makes teaching truly interesting is when I get asked a really *intelligent* question.  To me a truly intelligent question does one of two things:
- it demonstrates an understanding or attempt at comprehension of a skill or concept that is well beyond the rider's current abilities,
- or, it really makes me think about the answer.

The first of those always impresses me and gives me hope for whichever student asked the question.  The second of those is part of what makes teaching really interesting.  Neither is entirely common.  Today I had *both*.

A just-off-the-lunge-line student who watched a more advanced class asking me the difference between flexion and bend.  Totally simple question with an easy answer -- but what made it intelligent, imo, was that she considered what she was watching, was paying enough attention to realize she didn't really *know* what she was watching, figured out precisely which piece she didn't understand, AND she cared enough to ask.   That's not entirely common.

And later on a student asking me how to feel when the horse drops his shoulder.   Not how to *fix* it, which she mostly already knew, but how to feel it.   I definitely had to consider how to answer that one for a second or two :)   hahaha long enough that she was questioning if her question made sense *g*   Yes, it's a good question, I just need a second to give it a good answer!   And any question I have to think about interests me :)  Next time I won't have to think about it cause it's under the "answered and filed" section now.  hahaha but the first time somebody asks me something interesting is always fun.

For those who ride, consider this one -- I remember similarly a fairly novice student (about EC rider 3) a few months ago asking me how it feels when your horse goes on the bit.  For those who know, how would you answer that?  And it's not an adult, so you can't be overly technical.   Do you go with the emotional yet slightly useless answer: "it feels incredible/it feels like you're floating/it feels like you suddenly have 10x the amount of power"?   Or do you go with the literal: "the weight in your hands softens, as their back lifts you feel as though you're sitting on something round and sit straighter so as to stay in balance, your hips swing more to accommodate the horse stepping farther underneath..."   Well that list could keep going :)   But really, the first one is a fairly useless answer and the second one is entirely too technical.  Neither is going to be of any use whatsoever to a student who's still trying to learn to flex without the horse turning.  But she asked the question, so I had to at least try to answer :)   Explaining aids is easy; explaining feel is far more of a challenge.  Usually, imho, even harder than teaching them to feel it themselves.  But fortunately once you've done that you don't *have* to explain it, cause they already know :)

Anyways - after I had to go discuss (read brag about :) with another coach the fact that I'd had *TWO* intelligent questions in one day, it left me thinking through what exactly qualified as an intelligent question.  Or not >;-P   And this is the overtired result of that.

Heigh ho, the dairy-o, a hunting we will go!

Cross-posting from GRS blog because it amused me enough to share here too :)

So GRS ventured into a new world today - that of fox hunting. To put this in perspective, I have been exactly twice before*, and my students have never been. We're pretty sure Bella knows the game, but all the other horses were on their first time out as well...

*Sidenote - previous adventures: first in Southern Pines and then in Hamilton <-- -="" a="" and="" educational="" fun="" hamilton="" href="" if="" is="" more="" one="" re="" reading="" s="" sp="" target="_blank" the="" there="" those="" way="" you="">follow up to the Hamilton one from my friend Chris

So how did today's adventure come to be?

Well Adriana has been inviting me to come hunting for quite some time and somehow it never happened. But I wanted Jack to try hunting and didn't particularly want to hunt him myself, so she who often takes greenbeans out, volunteered. Sweet. So she agrees to take on the big 5yo with a sense of humour and is good to go. But almost as soon as agreeing to ride him, mentions "you should bring kids with you."

Which I of course promptly turned down as a Very. Bad. Idea. And then I thought about it, and about how much I would've *loved* to have gone when I was still young enough to bounce well. And I realized that I do have several students who are more than ready to give it a try. So why not? Well trailering works in two or four; I was taking two horses, so that left space for two more. Ran through the mental list of riders I felt were ready who would suit the horses I had left. And considered how very far both Paula and Hailey have come with their riding this summer. And figured their horses have a reasonably suitable temperament. Sooooo they got invited. Why not >;-P

So step one -- load and get to the meet. Shouldn't be an issue, except at the last second I decided I'd really rather take Athena than Lissy... hmmmmm

But she loaded like the civilized goddess she is we were off well on time and got there fairly early. Met a few people and caught up with A. Unloaded the two who aren't happy on the trailer and tacked them up. Then the other two (yeah for having trained Sienna to tie to the trailer - makes life so much easier!) and we were good to go. Made some new friends while waiting for the start and we were off.

We stuck to the back of the hunt with our excessive collection of greenbeans. Jack started out alert but not overly concerned -- didn't even really react to the hounds! Si was great to start - mostly hanging out grazing. Bella and Athena were less relaxed about the whole idea, mostly spinning slowly in circles. hahaha

And then the games began. Si didn't really understand the whole "hold your place in line" concept at the beginning. Fair enough - coming from the track she expects to be told to get as close to the front as possible. It took Paula most of the ride to convince her that she really was supposed to go the exact same speed as everybody else :) Strangest. Race. Ever. She bounced around a little and ran into Athena a couple times but by the end she had it figured out! At one point her proximity to Athena saved Paula as there was an abrupt group halt at just the point P had ducked to dodge a branch. Those laws of physics kicked in as Si realized she should halt and Paula couldn't see what was about to happen... She bounced off Athena and ended up back on Si who was clearly giving her the "Really?!?!" look >;-P

The jumping part though - every fence flawlessly (if, occasionally a little higher than *technically* necessary). Even the in and out :) Superstars!

Hailey, being the smartest one of the group, was on the *smallest* horse - enabling her to dodge far more branches than the rest of us :) She bravely tackled every jump she found and was grinning the whole way around. And Bella was clearly all for this game. XC AND friends without ANY dressage?!?!?! What could be better? The only thing she didn't care for was the holds. Standing waiting for no apparent reason when she *could* be running and jumping just seemed a fairly strange and pointless idea to her.

I, being less intelligent, traded my little 15hh quiet school pony for my 16.2hh horse who only sometimes has breaks and has a wickedly long stride. hmmmmm. Interesting decision. Right up there with randomly deciding to run 15k. Sheesh. But I have to say -- I was at least able to keep her in line! However, being a mare compromise was necessary. I could pick the speed - she would pick the gait. There was no walking. The entire ride. We did, however, have the most lovely passage for any time that didn't involve cantering or jumping. O.M.G. I suspect I will have a *very* tired horse tomorrow. But fun. So much fun. And now I know what she can do >;-P She also led Jack over one of the off-to-the-side fences he wasn't entirely sure about. I didn't see it, but apparently Jack felt the need to clear it by an extra couple feet, successfully introducing his rider to the branches well above them AND convincing her that I'm insane for doubting his ul jumping potential all at the same time. Made both of us grin though, so that counts for a lot :)

Overall an amazing day! All the greenbeans behaved themselves. Horses stayed between the riders and the ground. The members of the Wellington/Waterloo Hunt were incredibly welcoming and friendly. We even got a photo or two :) And the fox? Well she rode behind us for the first half hour or so before turning off to set a path for us. hahaha a dragged scent, that is, so no harm was caused in the makings of today's entertainment. And did I mention my horse apparently knows how to passage? >;-P The relaxation portion of things may need some work - but now we have a goal :) And unrealistic goals generally lead to entertaining blog posts, so stay tuned!