Here there be dragons...

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

What a day...

So today...   About that...  Frig.

Alright so the plan...  Plans are always good right?  It's Thursday, Thursdays are usually pretty easy in my world.  So knowing Thursdays are easy, I scheduled a lesson for Sasha at 1.  The plan was to come in a little early - 7:30 or 8ish, feed and turnout, and be done stalls by noon.  Then I could go to puppy class, be back around 3, feed, bring in, ride, and still have enough time to eat before I start teaching.  No problem.  There was even an extra "just in case" hour in there to play with.  Sweet.

Now let's revist that plan in the company of the nasty bastard Murphy.

Planning to be at the barn between 7:30 and 8, I set my alarm for 6.  Great!  Except I somehow turned it off without waking up *sigh*.  Woke up at 8:20.  Frig.  Not the best start as it meant I'd get to the barn 9:15 at the earliest.  But hey, I had that extra hour in, it can still work.

Did anybody notice the temperature out there today?   Did you happen to contrast it to yesterday?  Remember yesterday?  It was like 15deg out.  My horses were *dressed* for 15 degrees out.   Today it was -15 (with windchill - which is what they feel and so need to be dressed for).  So I had about 15 horses to undress and redress for the weather.  A couple didn't need to be changed (thanks Katrina!) but the vast majority did.  Ok so that ate up another...  what 45 minutes maybe?  No problem, can still be salvaged - I'll just have to do stalls fast.  By this point I'd entirely forgotten about puppy class, now just thinking about getting the day's responsibilities met.

So I get everybody turned out on the big side of the property, take two out to the other side and notice something nqr...  Nick and Louis' paddock has several trees fallen down in it.  Ummmm there shouldn't be trees in that paddock...  So while Murphy stands smirking on the sidelines, I go over and look -- oh good, no fence left.  2 sections of fence boards - all three rails - are gone and the electric is buried under the trees.  Ugh.

Ok turn the rest of them out.  Deem that Nick and Louis, being sainted beginner horses who happen to have a new round bale in their paddock, can go out and munch while I repair their fence.  Turn off the electric, grab a hammer and wire cutters and go out to evaluate.

And rapidly discover the game is made *way* more entertaining by the fact that this particular section is entirely under water.  *sigh*  Not. Fun.  Also realize I'm not going to be able to move the trees on my own.  So Dad brings the tractor over and basically asks what I expect to happen here...   Well, just put the fork under the trees, lift up, and move them.  He seemed pretty sure it wouldn't work, but sometimes it just *has* to.  Because really, this problem needed to be solved.

So he gamely gave it a try and got the fork under the trees and got them lifted up and "so now what?"  -- From where I was standing it looked like if he drove forward, the trees would rotate around the end that's on the ground -- we just needed them past the fence line.  So he starts that and it's working and the world is good and then...   One branch or vine or whatever is tying the downed trees to the still standing tree in such a way that if the tractor keeps going it's going to pull down more fence.  Frig.   I wade through the water and realize it's not the sturdiest branch around.

Head back into the barn to get my tree trimmers (those things are pretty impressive :) -- and while I'm there happen to realize how late it's getting and the fact that we haven't even started rebuilding the fence yet, much less stalls or anything else...  And after a brief debate, decided it was time to call for backup.  Ran through my list of the wonderful people I can call on when I'm desperate, thinking through who was likely to be where (class, work, etc) and might be available on Thurs afternoon with no notice and the only one I thought might be able to come was Steph.  Who works for me on Wed and Fri so I'm quite certain the last thing she'd want to do on Thurs is stalls *sigh*  But I was getting a little panicky by this point so I texted her what was up and she pretty instantly responded she'd be there in about an hour -- which means basically she left about as soon as she got the message. I don't think I can explain how much it means to me that she would do that.  And knowing that I have a few other students who would be equally willing to rearrange life to help out when things go crazy.  This is a *hard* job.  I love it, but it's seriously intense.  And having a support system like that makes all the difference in the world.  So HUGE thanks to Stephy for rescuing me today -- and to all the other girls who do the same on other random days - Brena with night check last weekend, Rebecca and Amy in the past, Kirby occasionally...   It may not always seem like much, but to me it's a world of difference.  You have no idea how much it means to me that you're willing to do that.

Alright so with the cavalry to the rescue, I headed back out to the fenceline, armed.  Mercilessly chopped the restricting vine which freed the tractor to ditch the trees.  Ok so now the trees are out of the way, but the fence is basically demolished and the boards are buried under partially-frozen water.  One I was using as a bridge of sorts so I didn't get to soaked so I left it in place and fished out one of the others (which btw pretty thoroughly proved that my new gloves are, in-fact, waterproof).  The fence board, amazingly, was in one piece.  Sweet.

Go park tractor and find fence-fixing materials.  With Dad's help we got the fence all repaired -- thankfully all the boards were salvageable.  But frozen (ice water, remember?) -- making hammering nails into them all sorts of no-fun at all.   Booo.  HUGE thanks to my Dad for managing that -- hammering is not my forte *sigh*   It would've taken me forever and a whole lot of foul language to get that done alone.  Eventually though, the fence was good to go again and the ponies safe.  By this point I remembered Sash was supposed to go to school and as we went back in to thaw before tackling anything else (yeah hot chocolate!) I checked the time...  hmmm have to leave in 15 mins.   So much for having the barn done before going to class.

Steph got there right about then so she and my dad started to tackle stalls (have I mentioned lately how awesome they are?) while I took Sash to agility class (story for another day :)).   On the way back I stopped off and picked up lunch and goodies (*always* feed volunteers!) so I ended up back at the farm around 3.  My dad by that point had, understandably, had enough (some retirement eh?) - yet even still he did some more tractoring before he took off.  Steph and I ate and then finished off chores.  I think we started bringing in shortly after 4.  Got a little lucky in that some of the boarders were already up and had brought their own horses in (yeah understanding and self-reliant boarders!  Usually the barn is done, clean, and horses in and fed by then -- but not one comment or even off look at how late I was...  They just got their ponies and did what they'd come to do; several even bringing in a second pony to save us a trip!).

So in the end we were done everything a little before 5.  Not too bad for starting at about 1 and me disappearing for like 2h in the middle!  Had enough time to ride, but - I'll admit it - I wimped out.  Cold and exhausted I just didn't have dealing with a temperamental four year old in me.  I let her run around the indoor for a bit to burn off some steam (I would like to live through tomorrow's ride).  But that's about it.  Ah well, everybody has those days once in a while eh?

Anyways - in the end lessons went well, I had a blast teaching and some lightbulbs went on -- which totally made the horrendousness of the day worthwhile.  And then Katlyn and Brena were a huge help getting night chores done, so I even got to leave at a reasonable hour.  A long and insane day, but one that ended on a happy note.  Thanks all!

Winter writing

So my brief foray into Old English in my last post has me reminiscing on my time in uni.  Now you have to understand, I *loved* the academic world.  Could've quite happily spent my life being a professional student and I think I might've made a fairly good slightly-insane professor.  I could see myself doing that.  And I particularly enjoyed my arts courses.  But, I failed in that I could never argue with the sincerity that my colleagues seemed to feel.  The cynical side of me always felt that maybe, just maybe, there was no deeper meaning to the words on the page and the words written meant well - exactly what they said.  That is definitely not an acceptable belief for a grad student.  hahaha oops.  I remember one of my honours undergrad profs pulling me aside after a lecture and questioning me because I would switch sides in the middle of the debate.  He said I would argue so passionately and so well for one side and then ten minutes later be on the other side.  And while he was fairly amused at this he didn't understand what I was doing; evidently most students actually * believe* the stuff they were arguing.  hahaha Imagine that *g*  So I told him I argued for whoever was losing.  To me, that was the challenge -- to defend the indefensible position and make it stick.  But if I stuck it too well the other side would begin to lose so I'd have to help them out.  But I never could get truly passionate about what somebody - who invariably had been dead for centuries - "really meant".  I did, however, get really good at making stuff up.

And since this is on my mind and I really can't sleep (trust me, I'd much rather be dreaming right now!), I thought I'd give it a go again - for old time's sake.  So strictly for my own entertainment, I'm going to run an analysis of one of my favourite poems.  I strongly recommend you stop reading now.

The poem is entitled "Winter" and is written (or at least attributed to) Abigail McIntyre.  It floats around the internet this time of year every year.  It also usually has some sort of lead in about "I'm sending you this lovely winter poem that might be of some comfort to you..."  Sometimes the lead-in goes on for a while, but you get the idea.  Here this work of art is in its entirety:

SHIT.  It's Cold!

The end.


Now the average person might conclude that the author had a rather limited vocabulary and disliked winter.  But the English major in me suggests there's so much more to this that needs to be explored.   Let's start at the beginning shall we?

Winter.  That sets the stage for so much.  Winter is the end of all things; particularly in such brilliant literature.  It's dark, grey, depressing, cold.  The leaves are gone, the flowers resting or dead.  There are no birds chirping out side.  The only sound is the wind howling.  With the title the poet brilliantly sets the scene for a narrator at the end of his days, one who is being chased by death and and has no recourse against it.

This is eloquently proven by the use of the crude "shit" as the first word - particularly with the added emphasis of capital letters.  Whether the summary of his life to date, or a commentary of his current situation, the diction tells us so much.  Old age -- particularly for those of little means, which the narrator's choice of vocabulary suggests as it reflects a lower social economic sphere -- is not a pleasant experience.  His friends are dying off around him and he can feel his own end encroaching.  He cannot do anything to stop or influence this, nor can he go back and alter the choices which have ultimately lead him to this unfortunate situation.  The winter wind (death of course) howls outside, seeking him.  He has nobody to help him.  His life is, and always has been, essentially, shit.

It's.  It is.  What is?  Life of course - life is shit.  Or at least so the narrator portrays.  This has answered the question raised in the previous paragraph -- are we looking back at an unfortunate history, or lamenting a despicable present.  "Is" puts us quite firmly in the present.  Miserable and unhappy, our narrator's current situation is so unbearable its crudity even warrants being capitalized.

"Cold!" continues to reinforce the themes that have been previously introduced.  One could argue that this is redundant since cold is implied by the use of "winter" earlier.  But given the diction, one must assume the author is writing for an uneducated audience and so forgive the repetition.  Death is cold.  In the winter of his life the narrator feels the cold creeping in.  There is no longing to escape it expressed here, instead the narrator seems rather resigned to his fate.  There is no hope.  And as though that were not sufficient to alert the reader to the narrator's misery, the exclamation mark serves to emphasize the horror of his situation.

And when one reaches the winter of ones life with no warmth or hope, they find themselves at "the end."  So simple, yet so saddening.  This concluding stanza with its unrelenting period, finalizes the narrator's story as ineloquently as it began.  It leaves no room for hope of change; it is, simply, the end.

The nearly devastating pain and sadness of this poem is only increased by the juxtaposition of the lead-in which always accompanies it.  "I'm sending you this lovely winter poem that might be of some comfort to you," raises the reader's hopes for an eloquent and uplifting experience.  The diction is inviting, using words primarily of romance-language origin which serve to create a softer tone.  But as with all tragic heroes -- the higher they start, the farther they fall.  The reader is drawn in with a false sense of hope and peace and those emotions are cruelly shattered by the harsh reality that is the narrator's sad end.

Overall this seemingly simple poem raises multiple questions about how people at the end of their lives are treated in today's society.  What can be done so no other need feel the pain and isolation this narrator so clearly exhibited?  With an aging population, how should society be restructured so the elderly enjoy their well earned retirement?  Or is it truly the natural end?  Are we all destined to undergo such sadness at some point?  The poem suggests that just might be the case, but perhaps its desperation and pain can influence change so that the next winter might not be quite so cold.


*snort*  I *did* warn you didn't I?  And no, before you feel the need to debate it with me -- I don't actually believe any of the above.  

I do humbly apologize to the actual academics out there - my half-hour effort I'm sure doesn't even *begin* to touch on the deeper issues expressed.

hahaha or far more likely - it might just be a status update.  For any of us unlucky enough to be unable to escape cold climates *brrrr*

But you know what?  If you've read this far, you will never view that poem the same way again.   And to me *that* is what the arts are really about.  Not reading ridiculous amounts of unimplied depth into something simple, but seeing the ordinary in an extraordinary way.  And better yet, being able to share that extraordinary with other people. For better or for worse, your vision of this poem has been altered.  Every time it crosses your inbox you'll have a brief flash of sadness and pity, and then be even happier to dismiss those emotions and read it for the silly winter poem it is. Now picture viewing everything you come across in life through a filter like that.  Welcome to my world :)


So while one comment on my blog upset me, another one I received amused me.  Somebody commented on my use of the word "sobeit" saying it doesn't mean what I think it does.  Made me laugh since while clearly it's a reasonably-literate person to recognize that it was used incorrectly, it equally clearly was somebody who doesn't know me since I intentionally use it incorrectly all the time.  I'm fascinated by how language changes over time - after all, if it never changed wé scolde ástendeaþ besprican gelíc þéos.  hahaha my sincere apologies to all who can *actually* speak Old English -- it's been a long time since I've looked at it and I'm quite certain I butchered it, but the idea is sound.  So with the current language trends of condensing words it amuses me to replace the original meaning of sobeit with the literal "so be it".  hahaha yeah, such a rebel, I know.

After a week or so of lots of stress trying to keep the barn and ponies from freezing and *really* horrible temper tantrums from my pony, I was really happy to have a really good ride this am.  No temper tantrums and reasonable success.  Yeah, we're not setting the bar very high yet :)   But she got there!  Woohoo.

And of course the super puppy - well the bar is set high there!  She was awesome at agility class the other day.  Woohoo!  In private lessons for a couple weeks until hopefully a daytime class at the right level and it's awesome.

Theory today went well.  Not a huge number of people, but reasonable turnout and the ones who were there asked really intelligent questions.  Makes for a fun afternoon.  Puppies help too :)

Who hides behind anonymity?

I started this blog when I went to Denny's as a way for my interested friends and family to know what I was up to.  I kept it up when I came home, partially because I was flattered at the request of my readers and partially because I enjoyed it.  This is *my* blog.  It's not my work blog -- that one's on the GRS website.  It's mine.  And because of that I feel free to venture into puppy adventures, riding stories, fiction, and anything else I like.  But I always keep it positive - when I attend a clinic I dislike, I don't post negative stories, I either find a positive or keep silent.  So I was a little startled and, tbh, hurt when I received a particularly nasty comment from somebody.  Now this particular person appears to know me as it was a personal attack, but chose to hide between a cowardly "anonymous" handle.  Handy though, as any posts by Anonymous get automatically spam filtered since the vast majority of them are, in fact, spam.  I usually check once a week or so to see if anything legit got deleted.

I thought about ignoring it entirely because really - anybody who won't stand behind their statement really doesn't deserve a response, but there were two points that she made that sort of amused me so I thought I'd address them.  And I'm guessing it's a woman here -- not necessarily of course, but a - the vast majority of my students are female and b - most of the men I know address issues directly.  I could, of course, be very wrong.   So we'll get there in a second...

One thing I found interesting -- this comment ranting about how horrible I am, was posted within the last week, on a blog post I wrote in 2010.  Really???  It amazes me that somebody who so dislikes me would be reading my blog back that far.  I was still freelancing then - didn't even own any schoolies!  So Anonymous -- thank you for your interest; I love that people actually read this!  And might I respectfully suggest that the next time you're unhappy with a service -- any type of service -- that you speak to the provider about your concerns.   The issues you raise in your post simply demonstrate that GRS was not a good fit for you, but if you'd spoken to me about it perhaps you'd be less angry now "several years" later (according to your post).

Another interesting thing was the comment, which might've fit in one of my TIR posts or posts about why students stop riding, was on a post that had absolutely nothing to do with the challenges of keeping riders or rider dissatisfaction.  But sobeit (hahaha more on "sobeit" in a moment - different post, but more fun).

So, this writer starts out saying "It is interesting to me that you assume people decline riding with you based on their flaws rather than considering that perhaps they are declining based on your own."  This just made me laugh at the ridiculousness of it.  I'm very careful not to assume anything -- most of the time I *know* why somebody left and if I don't know, I follow up and ask.  People leave for all sorts of reason - financial, location, change in circumstances, want a new horse, scheduling issues, and yes sometimes just not happy.  But the simple fact is that people who leave because they don't like me, or my teaching style or my horses are not worth discussing.  The blog is for things that interest *me*.  Leaving for an unusual reason is interesting -- at a friend's request I'm even keeping a list of the more interesting ones, maybe for our five-year anniversary *g*   Or somebody who leaves that I'm sad to lose might also warrant a note (I'm still sad one of my favourite students moved all the way to the middle of nowhere).

I freely acknowledge that my coaching style isn't for everybody.  That's a huge reason why I have assessment lessons.  Compared to many in the area I'm a *tough* coach.  Compared to those in Europe, I'm super easy going *g*  Regardless, I don't offer hugs or hold a rider's hand or tell them they're wonderful when they're not.  I don't believe in participation awards.  My shows offer ribbons to third and if you didn't earn one, I'm sorry.  Sometimes it's just not your day.  And sometimes you need to go home, practice, consider what you can do better, and earn one next time.  I give *lots* of corrections and challenges.  But that being said, my students improve rapidly, they're very successful on the competitive circuit  and they absolutely know that when I tell them it's good, they've earned it (some are even starting to believe it!).  I am exceptionally loyal to my students -- will go well above and beyond to help them succeed, and - I believe - most of them appreciate it and are equally loyal to me.  I'm not perfect, I have bad days and I push too hard.  But for the most part I try my hardest to help my students and I expect the same from them.  The end result is, my style works for me, it works for my students, and because it doesn't work for everybody it filters out the people who wouldn't fit in here.  I have a few non-competitive classes, mostly adults, for students who want to learn from me and like the environment, but prefer a less intense environment.  Most of these are professionals with high-intensity jobs who want to come ride to relax.  And I get that and teach accordingly :)   The trick is to make sure everybody's in the right stream!  For riders who find it's not a good fit, if they speak to me about it, I'll help them find an equally qualified coach who will be more to their style.  I know most of the coaches in the area and really want people to enjoy riding -- and for that reason will help them relocate to a situation where they'll still be safe but will be happier.  I do the same for potential boarders if I don't feel they'll be a good fit for us.

Ok so end of that rebuttal.  The second thing she said that amused me was a complaint that I micromanage and nitpick everything - apparently not just in the ring, "it was grooming, tack cleaning, even how tack was carried" -- ummm that's my *job*.  I have awesome horses and expensive tack and I expect them both to be well cared for, in a specific manner.  My sandbox, my rules.  I learned that at Denny's and I came to appreciate it.   There were all sorts of things there that were to be done a *very* specific way.  And when I asked why, they'd explain it to me.  And I'll tell ya - I learned a lot from it and adopted several things from their practices (tack cleaning and blanket folding amongst them).  The ones I didn't like I didn't implement when I came home -- but while there, I did it all exactly as they said to.  Their farm, their rules.  End of story.  And if I comment on how somebody's *carrying* tack -- that means they're probably having trouble and I'm genuinely trying to help them out.  There's a knack to coordinating everything at once and new riders usually find it quite awkward.  In fact, how to get gear from point A to point B is often part of intro lessons.  But here's what amused me -- this was inserted very much to be insulting and demonstrating how horrid I am, but I actually consider it selling feature.  Attention to detail is important.  A clean, safe, organized, well run barn is important.  The details matter.  And yes, I know I drive some of my working students crazy *g*  But they get it.  And for usual students, most just roll their eyes and go along with it - much as I did at Denny's :)  But for those who really need a more relaxed atmosphere, there are lots of them out there.  Ask me and I'll help you find one.

But after three years it's the first negative comment, so suppose that ratio is not half-bad.  I know it's certainly not the first person who's left because they've disliked my style, but I always figure after people leave they move on with their lives -- sticking around reading my blog leaves me a little stunned.  Ah well.  Now on to better things :)

So what did you do on your day off? I need better ideas :)

Had an entertaining visit to the set of Desperate Housewives today.

Or maybe it just seemed that way.  hahaha what I *really* did was attend pilates class.  At noon.  In Oakville.  OMG.

So way back when, once upon a time, I had a *normal* job.  Which meant I went to the office all day, made reasonable amounts of money, and had my evenings off.  And in that time I started attending this gym - Total Balance - in Oakville.  I went for the spinning classes because I enjoyed them and they're a super way to be fit for riding.  And this particular place you pay for sets of lessons so I just bought x number of spinning classes and away I went.  And the evening classes had a good variety of people - mostly young professionals with a few random extras thrown in for entertainment sake.  The gym was very small at the time and the husband taught spinning and the wife taught yoga and pilates.  And that was all they did.  They had a couple other instructors in each field - I tried most of the spinning ones.

Then one day a friend recommended the pilates class to me, so I did that too.  And the one coach was absolutely fabulous.  Always seemed to find that exact balance where you feel like you're working, but capable of doing it - so not *too* hard.  And then a few hours later your abs start screaming at you.  And then next day sitting seems like entirely too much effort.  And the day after that?  Well that's a good day to stay in bed.  hahaha   So I did these for quite a while - again in the evenings.  These classes were definitely more women then men and the age range was wider than the spinning classes, but again still very much the same type - professional, driven, trying to stay fit while sitting at a desk all day, etc.

And then I started the school.  hahaha and all of a sudden my time was non-existent and I was getting a ton of exercise at work.  So both spinning and pilates got put on hold.  The gym was doing well though - they expanded and moved to a new location and all sorts of other exciting things.  I'm on their mailing list so I heard all of this *g*

But today Stephy was doing the barn for me.  And there was a class at noon.  Sweet - get to sleep in and putz around for the am and then get some exercise.  Perfect.  So I went.  But what a different vibe. I should've known when I pulled into the parking lot and the cheapest vehicle cost more than everything I own put together.  Hahaha but I'm just not that observant.  So I walk in and it was clear right away that they all know each other. Exceptionally fit women, all about 10 yrs older than I, all wearing lulu lemon (seriously!), all with their own yoga mats, and - judging from the conversation - all who work out there several times a week.  I thought I was fit but I got totally and completely shown up.

hahaha on the plus side, the trainer is as good as I remember.  On the down side, the trainer is as good as I remember.  Doing the barn tomorrow just might kill me.

My first real discussion with Lexi...

Yesterday Lexi was *spun* - more so than I've ever seen her.  So I let her run around and buck and play in the arena for a while, then lunged her properly and *then* got on -- but by that point, she'd already worked so all I did was walk her for a bit to cool out.

Sok - I try to alternate lunging days and riding days, so I figured today I'd ride.  I also thought she might be slightly tired after yesterday - which'd be to my advantage.  But when I brought her in and she was still too high to stand, albeit nowhere near as spun as yesterday, so I did a mini-lunge session.   Just enough to take the edge off really, and then hopped on.  All good.

She did the walk warm-up beautifully.  Forward and even occasionally into contact (this is still a new game for us). Go ahead and ask for the trot.   "No."  Ummmm excuse me?  Trot please.

I swear if that pony had a middle finger it'd be waving around in the air.  Her head came up so high I feel like the only thing that stopped it from walloping me in the face was the peak on my helmet - mental note, do *not* lean forward!  hahaha And I'm thinking huh, this is *not* a good situation to be in.  So what do I do?  I can't back off -- if she learns this behaviour is an option, I'm royally screwed going forward.  And she learns *fast*.  Remember the liverpool?  Sheesh.

Well she knows and understands the aid and is very clearly choosing to reject it.  I don't have anybody on the ground to chase her forward from behind.  But I do have this lovely long dressage whip...  Grab bucking strap with one hand - just in case :) After all, falling off will definitely not help the situation and I *know* this mare can buck - I've seen it multiple times from the ground, but she's never yet tried it with me on top. So all set, I informed her that leg aids are not negotiable.

Ummm yeah - about that.  Straight up.  Wasn't terribly surprised (there was a reason I hung on!)  *sigh* Thankfully, she's still really unconfident with a rider up so while her buck was a reasonable height, it had no power behind it, and there was only one.  Which promptly got her told again and she shot forward into a lovely balanced canter.  hahaha which was not technically what I was going for, but I said forward and she went forward so I wasn't going to be too picky about the details.

So bring her back to trot and next time we hit the same spot she hits the breaks, throws her head up and sits on  her butt.  Ummmm no, methinks not.  Even before she's finished contemplating this move I've followed up and she bucks again -- but shoots forward immediately after.  Such at teenager.  I swear it was the horse equivalent of stomping off and slamming a door.

Next time around coming to the same spot, she hesitates -- but when I closed my leg - she went forward!  Woohoo!  And I'm all proud of myself and my superpony and all is well with the world till we get to the exact opposite side of the ring.  And I find myself looking at her very cute little ears that are pinned backwards and in my face, hearing the tail swish, and feeling her preparing to launch.  *sigh*   Apparently respecting aids is location-specific.  Rinse and repeat above paragraph.

After *that* however there were no further challenges.  We had walk, trot AND canter in *both* directions.  And the right canter was incredible!  Wow - usually that one's really hard for her but she was forward and had her back up and just all-round superstar.  There *might've* been a buck in there too, but it was very much an excitement thing not a bratty pony thing.  hahaha  But what really had me grinning was the trot - forward and really through and connected.  Her back was up and we had tons of lovely suspension.  Soooo nice.

So we ended up with the best movement I've ever felt from her and her consistently going forward every time I put my leg on.  So yeah, I'm pretty excited about that :)

I haven't had this type of challenge before and I finally clued it to the fact that I've always backed them at two.  hahaha at two they're like a six year old child - super eager to please and willing to do anything.  hahaha so start them then, give them a year off.  Ride them a bit at three.  A few more months off.  Then start for real at four -- but by four, when they turn into horsey teenagers, they already have all the basic ground rules installed.  This one?  Not so much *g*   We're starting with teenager.  Teenager who's had the ultimate life of leisure up till now.  hmmmm  She gets tomorrow off -- will be interesting to see what part of today's adventures gets remembered on Thurs *g*

Lexi was *very* tired tonight for some reason...

Mini-pony brag :)

Lexi cantered today.  Under saddle.  On the right lead.  On the first try.

This would be the first time ever those combination of phrases could legitimately be used together *g*   hahaha and only another horse person who's started a horse from the beginning will really understand how exciting this complete non-event really is.

For everybody else - three months from now this will be an every day expectation, but today this is a VERY BIG DEAL :)  So I felt the need to share it.  In caps :)   So that a couple years from now when I'm stressing because she's nqr in her half-pass I can look back and see from where we've come *g*

And in case you missed it - she jumped 4'!  Woohoo!  And it was a complete non-issue.   This was, of course, *not* under saddle.  But I can't wait till the day we can play those games together :)

And in completely unrelated news, for the first time in years, I have a New Year's Goal :)   ONE day each month with nothing scheduled.   No barn, no puppy classes, no clinics, no shows, no social obligations, nothing.   This is WAY more of a challenge than one might think *g*  I pulled it off for January.  And I have hopes for Feb-April, mostly thanks to Stephy doing Wednesdays...   But then show season hits and it'll suddenly become way more of a challenge...   I'm hoping publishing it might actually make it happen.  Fingers crossed!

If you don't make mistakes, you're not working on hard enough problems. And that's a big mistake. - Frank Wikzek

There's a "Merlin" marathon on TV -- the entire series from the first episode up till now being played in order leading up to the first episode of the new season.  On and off I've seen commercials that made me think I'd enjoy the series but I figured I'd missed too much of it.  This?  Perfect chance to get caught up!  hahaha so thanks to the marvel that is PVR I've recorded the entire first four years *g*   And am now totally addicted.  Partially I really like the one-liners they slide in and partially I've been addicted to Arthurian legends for years now and this is a light way of feeding that addiction.  Part of the fun is watching how they weave the stories.  They don't stick terribly closely to the "original" sources *g*  But of course since the originals differ with each other, I'd say that's fair :)   It does make me miss my days in grad school though.  I had so much fun in my medieval studies courses.  Amazing to find yourself in a whole room of intelligent people equally fascinated with the mundane geeky details of things long past willing to discuss things that make most people's eyes roll at best and glaze over at worst *g*  And yes, at some point I even took a course specifically in Arthurian Legends.  hahaha yes, I'm a geek :)   But it did at least lead me to believe I'm not the only one *g*

So Lexi had her first lesson the other day :)  hahaha go pony!  She was so good!  Her ground work is coming really well, but I've been having trouble getting her to understand mounted aids.  So with my coach on the ground things got sped up significantly since I could give the mounted aid and he could follow up with the one she understood from the ground.  Worked remarkably well.  Had the occasional dramatic moment but given that it was cold and windy and all sorts of noisy out, I was really proud of her.  Line of the day "Would you *please* shorten your reins -- you're scaring me."  hahaha oh dear...  Some habits...

Last year's resolution at Mum's recommendation was "No major life changes."  hahaha I actually managed to pull it off!  Continuing on the trend of setting the bar high, Em sent me this -- I think I'm all set :)

New Year's Plan :)

Wish I'd written this :)

2013 - Best. Year. Yet!

So my day off was wonderful :)  Relaxing and easy and I even got some stuff done!  Woohoo.

Was pretty entertained by Sasha.  She's pretty spun these days since we haven't been spending *as* much time running around the barn so I was trying to entertain her.  Layout is important for this story so stick with me here.  Our stairs at home go up the center of the house and then split to either side.  If you stand on the landing and turn back towards the entrance, there's a floating balcony that attaches to the master bedroom.   So I was standing on one side and throwing a frisbee downstairs so Sash would have to run all the way down, get it, and run all the way back -- a feeble effort to tire her out.  But then just for amusement sake, I threw it onto the balcony.  Sash runs down to the landing and looks across.  Looks at me.  Leans across.  No such luck.  Looks at me.  Looks at frisbee.  Then totally perks up, runs into the master bedroom and pauses to turn and look over her shoulder like she does when we're playing and she's winning ('nah nah look what I've got').  Then sure enough she appears seconds later on the balcony, finds her frisbee and brings it back at top speed.  *Very* smart puppy :)   Hahaha so that was my entertainment of the day :)

Had some fun with my FB the other day -- posted "Tonight's challenge: describe 2012 in one word."   I was amazed at some of the answers and how many lead to a story.  Some, I know -- and they were bang on in their word of choice.  Some I don't know, but am now curious about :)  And some make me inclined to write my own story *g*  Some very positive and some the opposite.  And the one that ended the thread was absolutely perfect to do so :)  So I thought I'd share:

And as Theresa said, it's over.  Time to move on :)   So much to look forward to!   It's hard to beat some of the stuff I've done in previous years, but even being "tied down" by the farm, I can't help but think there're still tons of adventures just waiting for me to find them!  They just need a little more strategizing sometimes *g*

So New Year's Eve was fun.  I had no actual plans beyond inviting some people over. In the end Emily and Rebecca joined me for an exceptionally exciting evening of pancakes and movies *g*  hahaha ok so I may not win party-planner of the year, but I had fun at least :)  Good company and some laughs -- pretty decent way to usher in a new year.

Today was slight chaos -- feed, turn-out (which took much longer than normal as we were changing *two* sets of turn-out buddies and had to supervise etc), waters, deliver Apollo to new home, get back in time for two new horses to move in, get them settled, feed, bring in...  Wait, what about stalls???  Let's just say I have *awesome* friends.  I'd probably still be mucking if not for Rebecca and Steph who came and did ALL the stalls for me -- and in record time!   I actually made it home by supper time!  hahaha 9-6, totally normal work day.  So long as you ignore the whole stat holiday idea *g*

And as for entertaining chaos - PUPPIES!!!   Stephy brought Brie to play with Sasha.  And at first Sash was terrified of her! hahaha I couldn't believe it!  But then she decided this was about the best toy ever and the game was on.  Sooooo cute.

Off for now.  Here's to an amazing 2013 with at least one interesting chapter :)