Here there be dragons...

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

What does your dog say about you?

So I found this article about dog traits and how they reflect on the owner (see here: -- and while for Sasha and I it's definitely not %100 accurate, a significant portion of it is.

But *then* I found a follow up about what your dog's *breed* says about you:

"Australian shepherds are active and thoroughly enjoy being outside. Owners of this breed enjoy playing Frisbee at the beach, going to the park, and camping outdoors. This breed has a passion for living life to the fullest and people who live with Australian shepherds are said to have a lot of friends. Aussie owners can be competitive, especially when it comes to a sports match."

Oh dear...  hahaha competitive?  Who me?  And my puppy just *might* have mastered the "go find the frisbee" command...

Ah well - at least it's outside confirmation of what I already know: I got the perfect puppy for me :)

Coaching Games

(from GRS blog)

hahaha I've been playing around with different coaching styles the last couple days -- mostly just to mix things up and keep it interesting.  Also because when you *do* mix things up, you tend to see much better results (or so I find anyways!) -- that's, after all, why I'm such a huge fan of clinics.

So Monday night I had a group where each student has one very specific eq issue over fences that's been stuck for a while -- and none of them have the *same* issue, so it's not like I can say "Watch Jane - you do the same thing..."  And I happened to have my camera handy.  And an awesome volunteer from the next class to be videographer.  So had everybody warm up and then divided into two groups based on what I wanted them to jump.  The first two riders went a couple times being filmed.  Then we stopped and I showed them each their video -- first time just watch, second + time watch with specific focus on X.  Then discuss how to resolve X.  Then go do it.   *Amazing* results.   Rinse and repeat with the other two riders.

Before when I've done video lessons with people it's always video the lesson than watch and discuss after the fact.  And occasionally I've taken still shots of people riding and discussed that with them and had them try again.  The first, while theoretically good, rarely seems to get huge results.  The second sometimes does and sometimes not.  Not sure what inspired me to try combining the two *g*  It does take time out of the lesson -- I think it's probably better suited to a clinic format where we can ride for two hours instead of one.  But I was SO impressed with the results.  Wow.   Now I'm sure it helped that it was one of my competitive groups I was playing this game with, so all the riders are very determined and reasonably athletic.  But even still.  Definitely an interesting experience.  Only catch is I need somebody on the ground since I'm *really* not good at filming and coaching at the same time.  Kinda an either/or thing. hahaha

And tonight's alternate lesson was sort of an accidental lesson so I figure a *little* leeway on formality is allowed.  hahaha I knew I wasn't going to have time to ride today -- and I usually do three horses on Tuesdays, so that's a fair amount not getting done...  Kirby was coming for a m/u lesson, so I told her if she wanted to ride one of the others she could join the earlier lesson as well or do a pr around the middle lesson (it's a private so can't put extra people in!).  So she seemed pretty excited about that idea, but then had transportation issues.  She asked if she might be able to pr *after* the lesson, which originally I wasn't so thrilled with since I kinda wanted to supervise the ride on any of the ones I was schooling -- till my brain finally switched back into lateral mode and I clued in that she could ride my horse in the lesson and do a pr on her part-board horse.

Alright so good to go -- but then she suggests that since by the end of the lesson Athena would be fairly warmed up, why don't I ride her for a bit and she'll do night check for me.   Ummmm ok :)  hahaha there's really no down side to that.  Other than that I was cold and tired, but it could be a short ride.   So I countered that with if she got Charlie tacked up and warmed up by the time I finished with Athena, she could jump a bit (we have a very strict "no jumping in practice rides" rule - so they can only jump if I'm there).

So I flatted for a bit, but was wearing jeans so really - dressage just wasn't happening.  hahaha  Decided to jump, and Kirby came in with Charlie as I was part way through.  I had the horse going nicely -- she's finally starting to balance herself and rock back instead of nose-dive.   But I was not riding particularly well.  Ever have one of those nights where you just can't get it together?  Yeah, that was mine.  But ok - teaching opportunity.  hahaha told K to evaluate (I know enough to know what I'm doing wrong :)   -- she got about half of it I'd say.  I was pretty impressed with that :)  Far better than most students do when asked to critique another rider.  So I got one that was not %100 horrendous and decided I was done; when the horse is giving that good of an effort, she doesn't deserve to have to repeat it so I can sort myself out.  And Sasha was being good but gets really concerned when I ride, so I hopped off and loosened Athena's girth and then played with puppy for a few seconds.  But then I realized just how much Athena still needed to walk.  Argh - should've ridden a bit longer.  But couldn't bring myself to do the girth back up -- that's just not fair.  So pulled the saddle off...

And decided it was a good night to ride her bareback.  Why?  I have absolutely no idea.  Can't remember the last time I did that.  And Athena is bony.  And has high withers.  And doesn't stand to mount.  And I can't vault from the ground.  Hmmmmm tricky...  But I climbed on a chair and for the first time in her life she stood rock still (probably very concerned that her feed-provider had clearly lost it) and let me less-than-gracefully mount.  hahaha

But what about the funky teaching practices?   Right.  Well while I was attempting to defy the laws of physics and get myself ON the VEEERRRRYYYY TAAALLLL horse (yeah that might be a *slight* exaggeration), Kirby was making a solid effort to warm up Charlie.   And mostly I was just going to sit and watch so she could jump (yeah right - you're not new here....) but me being me had to make a few comments...  And they didn't quite get the results I wanted -- a baby-step in the right direction when I wanted a leap.  Sooooo, knowing K prefers to see things, I deemed we would play follow the leader :)

Now when you do the coaching exam, they stress that you always demonstrate things.  Demonstrating can be as simple as walking on the ground or asking a more experienced rider to go first but somehow I don't think they ever really envisioned this one...   So I'm trotting around, bareback, horse is on the bit (cause really - would *you* want to sit a hollow trot on bony a horse with huge withers?), and I'm facing backwards so I can see how what I'm saying and doing is translating to Kirby...  And giggling the whole way.  hahaha so much for professionalism :)   But it worked!  By the end she really had it.  Only down side?  She also picked up my *BAD* habit from jumping.  hahahah sheesh.   I'll have to get her to watch one day when all is going well *g*

So after I was happy with the flat, I did actually just sit and coach properly so she could jump a bit.  And Charlie was a complete superstar so pretty happy about that :)

And random lessons learned from all this silliness:
- clear the memory card before a video lesson -- or better yet, put in the large memory card first.
- don't ride in jeans
- if you DO ride in jeans (you don't learn really fast do you?), absolutely don't do posting trot with no stirrups.  You will have rub marks in places that should never happen.
- if you are riding bareback remember that you have no stirrups
- remember also that stirrups were invented to brace off of while swinging a sword in battle.  Note that while swords are generally not involved at GRS, there *are* times when bracing is actually useful
- note that if you are going to demonstrate kicking something while on horseback (ie - the wall - ummm that actually had a purpose :) it's *really* good to be able to brace on the other side
- if you are bareback, you have no stirrups, you have nothing to brace against; it is therefore a good idea to restrict yourself to normal-old-fashioned-boring-centered-riding >;-P  
- if you feel the need to lean over and give your horse a hug, and she feels the need to stretch and put her head down, it's a good idea to sit up BEFORE the laws of physics kick in.    No stirrups - remember >;-P
- in a pinch, horses make really great pylons
- never turn down a chance for unexpected riding - it could end up being tons of fun!
- if you're having fun goofing around and teaching (yes the two CAN happen at the same time) AND you have to feed the next am, pay at least *slight* attention to the time.

*sigh* - and on that note, I'm off to sleep :)

Flaming enthusiasm, backed up by horse sense and persistence, is the quality that most frequently makes for success. ~ Dale Carnegie

Ok well I passed exhausted about 10 minutes ago, so consider yourself forewarned >;-P

Let's see -- it's been a pretty amazing week so far; maybe not quite as much fun as March Break (see GRS blog for those details :) but still fairly incredible.  This is, of course, in large part due to the incredible weather!   Everybody stresses about climate change, but sometimes folks change - while scary - is still good!  And 20 deg in March in Canada is pretty good :)   (ohhhhh I wonder how many people have disowned me now >;-)

Monday I took Athena out for a short conditioning hack.  I only had about 1/2h to ride as I had another appointment to get to, but still figured 1/2h was better than nothing.  Figured I'd go out and trot around the fields for a bit then bring her back home.  All good right?  Except when I asked for the trot I got a very bouncy almost-in-place would-kill-for-in-dressage type canter.  hmmmm that could be fun.  Held her back around the first couple fields then when I got to one with a little bit of a hill, gave up.  Ok fine. Go.  hahaha first gallop of the season was lots of fun :)   Fortunately (or not) horse is not entirely (and by that I mean not even remotely) fit, so after one lap flat out was back to a strong canter for another lap and on the one following back to a trot. Adrenaline level was clearly still way up, but the actual determination to run less so.  Walked to cool her out for a while which was a fun combination of walking and our super-bouncy-collected-canter again.  hahaha but I behaved myself and made her restrain herself.  Fun though. So much fun.  Really can't wait for xc.   For some reason both Tues and Wed she was reasonably tired.  Can't imagine why :)

My horses are very happy they're getting to live outside again full time.  The change in them once they get to go out overnight is almost instant.  So much healthier.  Of course it does mean lugging a lot more buckets.  Tried to hook up the water today but all sorts of fails on that one :(   Booo.  Will hopefully get everything fixed over the next few days -- it can never be easy eh?

Had *such* an unbelievably ridiculous moment today, I figured I'd share...  So was stunningly gorgeous out and thought I'd use that to get some outdoor chores done (of which there are TONS).  The water was first on the list but that having been a horrible fail, I figured I'd go for something simpler: chopping down the burrs.  Decided I'd start with the ones between Bella and Dixie's paddocks since those two mares come in wearing them fairly often.  They system was easy: cut them down, carry them to the tractor bucket, put them IN the bucket, drive them to the burn pile.  All good right?  Except there was a fatal flaw with step three.  You see, burrs don't mesh well and it's hard to squish them into one area when you're basically avoiding touching them in the first place.  So in order to balance them all in/on the tractor, I ended up with them over my head.   Still not a big deal right?  Uh huh - until one excessively large collection happened to brush my hair.  You have no idea how quickly this got horrendously bad.  *sigh*   Hair was tied back in its traditional pony-tail folded a few times over.  Burrs somehow hit the top of my head.   So stuck essentially to my scalp.    And while admittedly fashion is pretty low on my priority list, I will admit I am just vain enough that shaving my head was not a viable option.  hahaha so I'm sitting there trying to get these burrs out which are just digging deeper in, and trying very hard to keep the *rest* of my hair from getting tangled.  Wavering between foul language and laughing so hard I was almost crying.  Cause really, who DOES that?   I mean seriously - have you ever even HEARD of somebody doing that?   I eventually gave up and went and found a mirror so I could detangle it all -- and seriously was *not* an easy task.  I also understand now a little more why Sasha gets so frantic when she gets burrs on her -- they get tight and hurt.  Sheesh.  And she doesn't have opposable thumbs OR a mirror to help.  Poor girl.   But just when I was starting to wonder if I should spray some show-sheen in, I finally managed to get the last bit out.   And then decided to go home :)

So what did you do at work today?  >;-P

And what did you do at work today?

So today we had *amazing* March weather -- and I spent it in the best way possible. Playing with my puppy :)

Showed up at the barn intending to do the usual combination of chores -- feed, put Sasha in viewing lounge, turn out, hay/water (although I've been spoiled lately cause my entirely too awesome dad's been doing that for me :), ride, let Sasha free, stalls, reverse the process. That's just how it goes.

But it was really warm - which meant the turnout step got seriously backed off by spending ages removing everybody's blankets. And then it was just too nice out -- so I let Sasha, who's starting to be reasonably reliable about sticking with me outside, "help". You should've seen her trotting along all proud with Jack's leadline in her mouth, Jack following along -- after giving her the stink-eye for about 2 seconds and then deciding she was harmless. hahaha sooo cute. Except after a couple strides she gets concerned about the horse following behind her and drops the rope to go off to the side *g* hahaha but she came out with me for every set of turnout, staying out of the way of the horses without running away. Which made turnout way more fun watching her bounding around.

Then with hay -- well Sasha and hay is very much like Sasha and snow. Which is a huge pita when you're actually trying to move the hay, so we drilled sit/stay and "leave it" a bit while I tried to get the hay out. But again, she stayed right at my side throwing to all the paddocks. So I was pretty thrilled about that.

Had to go to my car for something and I lost her out there. Was a *little* concerned, but she did eventually come back from wherever she was adventuring. So then I had to play stick with her for a while because I didn't want her to come to me from playing only to be grounded in the barn -- that just didn't seem like positive reinforcement at all. And while we were doing this, Dad got there and started doing waters, which Sasha loves cause he always plays with her. So I passed her off and watched them for a bit :)

Which pretty well ate up my riding time *sigh* But it was fun, and I rode Athena on her day off so no biggie to give her today off instead. Time to start stalls. It was colder in the barn than out -- which in August will be fabulous but today not so much. And I got about 1 done when my dad came back and told me it was way too nice outside and I should be sitting on the rock in the sun playing with my puppy. But there were stalls to be done. So I kept at it for a few more minutes while my much smarter father took advantage of the nice weather to play with Sasha. And then I finally clued in that stalls are ALWAYS there; warm sunny days with puppies, not so much. By the time we have reliable warmth, she won't really be a puppy any more!

So I went outside and played with Sasha. Then I sat on a big rock, sheltered from the wind, and enjoyed the sun while watching her run around with her ears flopping every stride. Absolutely no better way to spend an early spring day.

But alas, eventually it was time to re-enter the cold barn to do stalls... Except that by that time it was *also* lunch time. And instead of the boring pb sandwich I'd brought a road trip to subway was suggested. Twist my rubber arm. hahaha so we brought the food back (hardly going to leave Sasha in the truck while we sit inside!) and deemed it picnic weather. So more warm rock and playing puppy -- this time with food :)

By this point Sasha was ready for her afternoon nap (which I also thought was an excellent idea, but alas the chores hadn't magically vanished...) And Dad stuck around and helped with stalls and sweeping so we managed to still get done in a reasonable time. I had places I had to get to before 6:00 (why do things close at 6??? That just doesn't make any sense to me at all...) and had a MUST-leave-before deadline of 4. Well I made it out shortly after 4:30 -- close enough *g* hahaha classic eh? And I *did* in-fact get to both places in time, so all good. Had to cut one a little short, but not tragic.

So did anything brilliant get accomplished today? Not particularly. But everything that needed to get done, got done eventually. And more importantly - I really enjoyed it. Got to hang out with my puppy and my dad and enjoy the stunning weather while watching my horses play in the field. Those kind of moments shouldn't be missed just to get some stalls mucked. That whole priority thing again -- all work is not really the way to go.

And today was a prime example. After all, time you enjoy wasting, is not wasted time...