Here there be dragons...

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

On shoes and horses, but not horse shoes

It would seem an alternate personality shortly invaded my body today.  Running errands that involved walking from one store to another as they share a parking lot.   In doing so I walked past a shoe store.  I hate shopping for shoes.  Usually opt for the Walmart version that I pick up while doing groceries or some variation.  Super fashionable let me tell you.  But as I was walking past I happened to think "Hey, I'm getting married on a beach in February.  It's *really* hard to find summer shoes in Canada in February.  Maybe I should look for my wedding shoes now."  Go me.  And yes, I learned that the hard way when trying to find flip flops to go to Cuba ;)

Anyways, since my brain was giving me good ideas, I had a few minutes, and Sasha was safely home I felt I should, perhaps, consider listening it.  Took a deep breath...   And entered the shoe store...

Was promptly pounced on by TWO sales ladies.  Fortunately one of them realized that was a little excessive, laughed, introduced both of them, and then disappeared.  The other one also just stayed off to the side having said hello.  I took one look around and realized that without Steph there, this was just not going to work.

But there were the two eager sales people -- who were smart enough to back off right away.  Maybe one of them could be useful.  So I explained the basics, getting married on a beach and need flats.  She told me about the perfect pair she had -- last year.  Sheesh ;)  Showed me a couple pairs which I promptly rejected, but she paid attention to why.  Finally she said she had one last pair that might work.

Saw them and thought, yup, serious potential.  Looked at the price tag and decided I'd wait and check them out later ;)    But then I tried them on.  And totally fell for a pair of shoes.  Not only that -- a *glittery* pair of shoes!   Who IS this person???   Seriously -- even a blog post (well half a blog post) about the experience.  Fairly disturbed let me tell you.  But not disturbed enough to let them go.  hahaha let's be honest -- I found something I *really* like that's completely suitable.  Why on Earth would I leave it behind just to force myself to keep shopping?  I'm a lot of things, but rarely an idiot.

So I purchased them.  Stupidly expensive, even on sale, and with the...  get this...  Bridal discount!   Bahahaha best thing ever!   I firmly believe it should apply to everything I buy between now and the wedding ;)   I'll take 10% off that ice cream thanks.

All sorts of sparkly ;)
However, this new Lauren was scaring me a little, so I retreated to safe haven and went to ride my pony.  She's been sorely neglected the last few days.  And will be again on the weekend *sigh*   Just not working out.   But the next couple weeks should be back to the regularly scheduled program.   Anyways -- we had a bit of a discussion about the fact that she really *does* have to pay attention to me and not the squirrels or the butterflies or the ponies or the camp kids or the . . .   well you get the point ;)   And also that both moving forward and into a contact are, in fact, in her contract.  But we got there and all was good.  And since I didn't have long to ride and was just playing around, I deemed serious dressage could wait till next week and hopped around the camp kids' course.  It was set at about a foot and a half ;)

One of my students from my next class was watching so I asked her to come in and set fences.  Put them up a bit -- I'm not sure she's ever set fences before, but she gave it a solid effort :)   Jumped around.  There was a one-stride that was riding remarkably well once they were a bit bigger, so I asked her to raise the second one.   By this point K had joined the ring crew and she is good at it, so was able to help with that.   Jumped it, put it up.  Jumped it again, put it up.  Rinse and repeat until the back rail is at the top hole of the, admittedly small, standards.  That'd be four feet.  Lex cleared it by a ton with her front legs, overjumped the width by about 3' (there could easily have been a third rail), and managed to knock the front rail of the oxer (about 3'3") with her hind feet.  Cleared the high rail, but not the one in front.  *sigh*    hahaha we did it a few times -- of which she only cleared *both* rails once.   All the other times she knocked the front rail with a hind leg.

Ah well -- plus side, pony can jump and seems to *really* be enjoying it.  Down side, we're in for several months of dressage and cavelletti to get those hind legs a little stronger and faster!   Next year, when we get around to competing for real though, she could be a ton of fun!

Went out for a short hack -- which other than cantering home to avoid the super-nasty stinging bugs, was lovely and done just in time to teach.   Great end to a fairly amazing week :)

Next week -- cross country!

A girl moment

It's been an exciting couple days.

As of this afternoon, the dress is bought!  Wow.  It's all kinds of real now :)  I didn't expect to go all girly on this one but have to admit was feeling pretty sappy after.  I asked our sales lady (small shop owned/run by her and her mother.  The mom helped me last time we were in; they were both there the first time.  Are you counting? Yes this is the *third* time I was in this store -- oh the insanity!)   Anyways - I asked her about the drama she sees and she informed me that "Say yes to the dress" is not, in fact, exaggerated.   Mentioned laughing, crying, screaming matches, arguments...   I've never actually seen said show, but now I'm half tempted to watch just to see what all goes on.  Now that I'm past that stage after all ;)   Yes there are pictures -- you can see them sometime mid-February.

So after entirely too much shopping and lots of assistance, the choice had been narrowed to two.  And I was having a horrible time deciding.  Photos of the two were sent to my bridesmaids and both moms and opinions requested.  Some also sought outside opinions ;)   And to a person they all came back with the same choice!  Perfect right?   Except I found myself disappointed by that, which, in itself, told me which one I wanted.   And then I remembered it's not a democracy and picked the one I liked better.  hahaha Mum helped me justify the choice by reminding me that the dress everybody else liked better would require one pretty serious alteration that the store's people wouldn't be able to do because it was a "design change" and goes against their contract.  Without that change, the dress wasn't nearly as appealing.  Sooooo - good to go!

Now just have to wait till December or January (?!?!?!) for it to come in!  Was a little appalled at that, but such is life.  I'm hoping they're underpromising on that one and it will actually come in earlier, but we shall see.   Was somewhat bemused by the fact that when they measured me for size, I'm apparently three different sizes depending on where they're measuring -- no wonder I can never find clothes that fit!!!   I told her at the beginning though that I'd be between two sizes (always - everything I buy is one or the other) and her eyes widened when she checked the measurements as it balances exactly half-way between the two *sigh*   Classic eh?  Her seamstress is going to have some work to do when it *does* get here!

And with the official deadline for our wedding trip having past, we now have a fairly good idea of who all's coming so I'm super excited about that!   Really can't wait now!   I never plan travel this far in advance -- just doesn't seem right to have to wait so very long.  Anybody who does still want to join us can!  Just let me know :)

So yeah -- pretty wired and excited.  And all this after my birthday yesterday which was all kinds of amazing.  Chris took the day off work to spend with me.  Pancakes for breakfast and a trip to the beach -- felt all kinds of spoiled :)

The only downside to the two days was not enough Sasha time, so she and I had a rousing game of frisbee/ball when I got home this aft and all is good again :)   Lexi, however, is greatly enjoying her mini-vaca and I'm sure will be all kinds of unimpressed when she goes back to work tomorrow.

Lexi's sixth birthday

Short version:  Lexi went to her first show and nobody died.

Long version, read on:

So last week...  Was it only last week?   Calendar says yes, but I'd've sworn it was ages ago!   Anyways, last week Lexi went to Caledon to school XC and was an absolute superstar.  Jumping mostly PT with the occasional entry or training fence thrown in for good luck.  
Superstar!
She was all kinds of confident and really a superstar.  So this week I took her to Grandview -- where suddenly she was very much a baby horse.  hmmmmmm the difference?   At Caledon all-the-horses went to jump one and took turns jumping it.   Proceed to jump two with all the horses.  Etc etc.  So while she wasn't actually taking a lead, she had friends at every jump.  At Grandview, she had to go out on her own and was *very* sticky.  Not super nappy -- I could mostly steer and she was willing enough, just looking and hesitant to jump.   Ditches, banks and water we've got down ;)   But actual jumps are in short supply at home so they're still exciting.

So fast forward to Friday when I realize one of my students will have to scratch her entry on Saturday and none of my other students were in a position to take it.  hmmmm.  It's at Glenarden which has a short, flat course so shouldn't pose a fitness issue.   Maybe...

Now all kinds of stars had to align for me to claim the spot.  The times had to work so that I could ride and coach at the same time.  Amazingly, they did.  The organizer and secretary had to agree to the switch -- they did.  Cool.  I had to find a groom, and it had to be a competent one.   Lexi's somewhat known for her airs above the ground when she gets excited and I had two other students there to teach so whoever was helping would have to be able to handle her alone and safely get her tacked up while I was on the other side of the property.   This leaves me about three people to choose from -- and fortunately Kennedy was available and willing to come help!  Woohoo!   She's dealt w/ Lexi in the height of a meltdown before and when I offered to take over she just laughed and said she was fine, so I knew she'd be able to handle any games Lex might choose to play.   I asked my coach if he had any objections and he said go have fun.  So then as a last test, I decided to check the weather.  25deg and sunny with zero chance of rain.  Doesn't get much better than that.  I guess that means Lexi's going to a show.  Woohoo!

I was more excited than this warranted on Friday *g*   But got myself organized, pony bathed and braided, lessons taught, etc.  By this point Lexi had gone XC on Wed, been thrown in a lesson on Thurs, and done nothing on Fri -- none of which would've happened if I'd been intending to show on Sat, but sobeit.  Actually even printed my dressage test -- all kinds of prepared!

So after no sleep on Fri night, get to the barn on time and bring in and feed the ponies.  Everybody happy.  Braids still in.  The world is good.  Bobble braids -- more of an adventure than braiding was!  Definitely took longer *sigh*   Run a comb through that insane tail.  Get all the poo stains off (why, exactly, did I buy a grey horse?   I don't even *like* grey horses.   Sheesh!).  Pack up the car, which is far more of a challenge than packing the truck, and ready for the trailer.

Which didn't arrive.  I've been trailering with the same person for years and he's *never* late.  Ummmmm hmmmm - how long to wait before calling?   I didn't wait long, maybe fifteen minutes.   Turns out there was a miscommunication somewhere and he was expecting tomorrow.   Frig.  But he rearranged today's trailering to fit us in.   It did, however, make our times *very* tight.  I had Em ship Charlie tacked up and ready to go and sure enough it was about her ride time when they unloaded.   She trotted over to dressage and by the time I got there was still in warmup.   Apparently there'd been some confusion over the numbers, but the whipper in was *awesome* and sorted it all out, so Emily got her turn.  Woohoo!  

Rowan showed up just as Emily was finishing and both girls had solid tests.   Rowan's test got interrupted when the judge thought she'd gone off course -- but she hadn't.  That was all sorts of confusing, but she actually rode even better after restarting!   Awesome.  The girls and I walked stadium which looked pretty nice and inviting for everything other than fences two and three which were in the shadows and going away from home.  Then I booked it back to the trailer where Kennedy had Lexi all tacked up.

Show time.   Our walk over to the dressage ring was remarkably uneventful.  When we got to warmup she was looking around and a little high, but pretty calm all things considered.   We did tack check -- carefully.  Still all good.  Walked for a bit, some circles, she's starting to relax and stretch into a contact.  Impressive baby horse!

And then we trotted.  huh.  About that.  And then we practiced standing on two legs (Chris said we get extra points for that ;).   At least she wasn't going high, just making her point *g*  And then we lept around somewhat.  And everybody kindly just gave us space.  No evil glares or muttering and after what seemed like forever but was really a very short time I got her going forward on a circle.   And shortly was able to bring her back to a trot on said circle.   And then migrate the circle a little.   Going around the outside wasn't going to happen and there were exciting moments when Lexi felt another horse was getting too close to her personal bubble (it's a *big* bubble).  Soon we could go both directions in trot and canter short bursts.  Canter wasn't terribly successful and walk didn't actually exist.  But who needs those gaits?  
In warmup
So our turn came and she was better than I'd expected about leaving all her new best friends to go around the dressage ring alone.  Very sticky -- both my stick and the old-school pony-club kick were involved.  But she did it.  With no drama.  The test itself?   Well it was rather interpretive.  Our left canter circle, for instance, was neither round nor in canter *g*   Well some of it was in canter -- on the right lead.  You know, the one she doesn't like.   Sheesh.  Some of it was in a sticky trot.  Some of it was half trotting and half cantering.  We might've even had a stride or two in left canter right before the official trot transition.   hahaha the rest of the test was better, but certainly showing what a lovely shade of emerald she was.  BUT -- she stayed in the ring, with none of the warmup drama, and even had moments that were good and showed her promise.  So it's a start.  It was, however, a start that left us tied for last place *sigh*
We survived phase one :)
Next up Emily got to jump stadium, which she did beautifully.  Then the three of us headed out to walk XC -- Em on PE while Rowan and I were doing E.  Fortunately the courses run close to one another so I could talk to both girls as we went along.   Emily's course was very simple and inviting -- well within her abilities and she was able to pick out which would be Charlie's scary fences successfully.   Sweet.  I was kinda wishing that was the course Lexi would be doing.  But no.  Her course started with two maxed out and not particularly inviting fences going directly away from home.  Awesome.  Three was friendly enough -- it had one side decidedly higher than the other, so we planned to jump the low side.   It was also pointing directly home, so sb no problem.   Four was a down bank -- unusual for entry, but as previously mentioned, all my horses are comfortable with banks since they get a lot of practice.  Five and Six were coups that sb very easy except they were far away from home -- over by show jumping -- and for some reason they always look at those ones.  Ah well.   Seven was a random log.  Eight a raised log pointing toward home.  Then a nice long gallop to nine which was a replica of eight, but then a bending line to the right over a ditch.   Fun.  Then away from home again to a bench followed by two houses on a bending line.  All good.  From there heading roughly back to the start was a nice friendly roll-top and a flowerbox type coup -- with no flowers.

Logically aware Lexi would have absolutely no issue jumping, my concern was more about the nappiness and/or if she was sticky as she'd been at Grandview, I didn't want the course deteriorating.  But no way to tell till we got out there.

First though, we had to show jump.   Rowan was up before me by about 20 mins, so Lexi had a long time to learn to hang out in warmup.  She was *much* better there than she had been in dressage, but becoming very attached to Lissy.   Rowan put in an excellent clear round -- and then kindly stuck around with Lissy so Lexi would have a friend.  Does she need to grow up and do it on her own?  Absolutely.  Today?  Maybe not.

And you know what?   She was good.  Really good.  Got the whole canter and jump thing down.  Couldn't really turn or rate the stride at all, but whenever she was pointed at something she picked up the canter and went for it.  Sweet.  A little overly ambitious for the size of the fences *g*   But she did a great job.   Pulled one rail and then wasn't going near any of the others.  hahaha lots of air time!   Good though and eager.  A decent sign for future.   We do need to work on our ability to canter turns though.  hahaha minor detail.
Not touching that!
Em was off on XC next and rode *really* well.  Charlie looked at the ones she though he would and she handled it like a pro.  Sweet.  Then we actually got a break.  And I admit I left my horse with Kennedy -- who was being super helpful -- and had a drink and sat for a couple mins.  So spoiled :)

Rowan was about half an hour before me in XC so again we took both horses over together.  Lex was basically sleeping hanging out w/ Lissy.  Until Rowan left for her round.  Lexi tried to turn herself inside out to get on XC with them.  Omg.  So as a result I didn't get to see much (read any) of Rowan's round as I very definitely had to focus on Lexi.  But I was listening and the announcer said she was clear.  Sweet!   Since when they came back Lissy wasn't at all stressed, I asked them to hang out for a bit to make my life slightly easier.  And it did.  Slightly.  But now Lexi had had enough of this warmup ring game.  And then they wanted to bump my time for other people, but I begged back in and the whipper in (same awesome one from dressage) saw my horse dancing and deemed I could go in my original spot.  Phew.   Head over to XC and you could actually see Lexi's brain falling out her ears....   hahaha oh dear.   Start box was on the other side of a treeline and Lexi was having none of it.  We were back to the standing on the hind legs.  For a second I wasn't sure I'd even get her in the box, but we managed it and with perfect timing since halting would not be an option.  The tight turn, however, did get us a walk and so we *walked* out of the box.  hahaha after all that drama, we had the slowest xc start ever!  Picked up a trot which broke into a canter.  Lexi was doing a great interpretation of a llama and completely oblivious to the jump that was rapidly approaching in front of her.  Tricky.  But I just kept pointing her at it with leg on and she cleared it easily.
Wheeeeeee
Second fence was terrifying, but she wasn't the least bit hesitant about jumping it.  No, instead she cleared it by a few extra feet ;)   Three we jumped the high side.  Of course.  It took everything I had to slow her down before the bank -- but then we were pointing away from home and did the funkiest trot ever toward fences five and six.  They were a *long* way away at a llama-trot ;)    And the rest of the course continued that way -- awesome gallop toward home.  Out of control, but super nice to ride ;)   And very sticky trot away from home.  The jumps themselves might as well have not even been there.  Was a ride and a half, but in the end she was clear with just a handful of time faults.   Not too bad for baby horse's first show.

When I went to check the scores she was in sixth, but somebody behind her challenged their xc scores so Lexi ended up seventh.  Which is fine -- it's a better colour anyways.   Not as good as red, mind you, but certainly better than pink ;)   Rowan was also seventh and Emily showed us both up with third!  And both girls have now qualified for champs.  Woohoo!
Not half bad :)
So yeah, a bit of a rough start and an entertaining ride all day, but overall a great first show!   And pony learned how to gallop!  Woohoo!