Here there be dragons...

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

What have I done to annoy Mercury?

Or perhaps it's actually Vesta at work, who felt I should remain home a little longer :)

Regardless of which god is playing games, it appears I'll be a few days late returning to Tamarack...

So it starts w/ "The Beast" -- which is how my new truck has been named; for it is, indeed, a beast. At least when compared to the rabbit :) Anyways -- it was working beautifully. I had it packed, hooked up to the horse trailer, and ready to go. All was well w/ the world. So 4:45am I go over (it was parked at a friend of my mother's house cause it had a bigger driveway) and start it. Or try to anyways. Truck makes lots of unhappy noise, but does not actually start :( Poor form.

Call CAA (procrastination has its benefits -- I never got around to cancelling my membership when I got the rabbit). CAA comes, gives it a boost, fails miserably :( So being that it's boxing day and nothing will be open, we tell nice CAA guy he can leave it (he put a fair amount of effort into trying to make this vehicle cooperate) and we'll deal w/ it. Go home and sleep till a civilized hour, at which point I call and beg my uncle (who's an amazing mechanic) to come to the rescue. And being a wonderful soul, he does. Finds a place that's open to get the part he thinks it's likely to be and then comes over. Unfortunately my description wasn't precise enough so it turned out to be the wrong part. Once he saw it, he could diagnose it accurately, but realized he'd need it towed to the shop to fix it.

Ok so call CAA again, and while waiting for them we disconnect the trailer (using an old pair of boots as wheel blocks :), and wait for them to get there. Trailer is towed to the shop where he spends all of his vacation day working on it (of course being my vehicle it HAS to be difficult and not function the way it's supposed to for what should've been a 1h fix). He discovers it needs a diff part -- calls open part store, but they don't have any in stock. Can't get the part till Mon. :( This is less than good news.

Alright, so discuss options w/ my parents and they decide that I should fly back the next day, and they'll drive my truck/trailer there on Tues and fly home on Wed. I have amazing family :)

So call and book relevant flights etc. Get to the airport, flight's on time, all is good. By the time I got through customs, flight was showing as being 2h late; ok still no big deal. 2h later, it was another 2h late -- but this time they gave a reason. Apparently the flight crew was stuck in Chicago where they were very delayed and when they got here, we'd be going. Ok fine.

A while later, the announcer comes on and tells us their plane HAS landed, we're just waiting for crew to get through customs (have to go through CAN and back through US) and we'll be going in 1/2h. Woohoo! All good right?

Yeah, not so much. 20 mins later we get an announcement that the flight has been cancelled. Cute eh? The excuse? Flight crew has reached their maximum # of hours and can't legally fly any more. The other flight was SO late (we should've landed in NC well before this point) that they've passed the limit and that's the end. And to top it off -- no available flights until Monday night.

So since by this time it's looking like my parents driving just might make it back before me, I figure it makes more sense to just drive back on Tues... Now just have to keep fingers crossed that the truck really DOES get fixed on Mon!!! hahaha

Merry Happy Best . . .

Merry Christmas!!!

Happy Hanukkah!!!

Super Kwanzaa!!!

Fabulous Festivus!!!

Wonderful Winter Solstice!!!

Merry Three Kings Day!!!

Happy Eid'ul-Adha!!!

Super St. Lucia Day!!!

Awesome Omisoka!!!

Merry Boxing Day!!!

Have I missed your holiday? If so, my sincerest apologies! Please educate me on it :) For that matter -- feel free to tell me about how you celebrate any of the above! I'd love to know!!!

Regardless of what you choose to celebrate (or not!) -- all the best!!!

Hell yes I can ride! I was riding when I fell off.

Twice. In less than 24h. Seriously. "We're really sorry Mrs. Cude; we tried to send her home in one piece, but she just wouldn't cooperate" <-- --="" a="" after="" airplane="" an="" and="" as="" both="" br="" cases="" chance.="" conversation="" denny="" didn="" esp="" fall.="" fell="" from="" going="" hahaha="" have="" his="" horse="" i="" in="" kidding.="" maybe="" mock="" mother="" my="" no="" phone="" reconsider="" second="" should="" t="" that="" the="" this="" to="" too="" up="" you="">
Albeit one of them was actively trying to buck me off at the time. Denny says to me: "you were sticking that *really* well -- I thought you were going to pull it off till she slipped" -- hahaha tis a shame he never met Zel in her baby years :) Then he'd understand where that particular skill set came from! hahaha Miss Sienna was thoroughly annoyed at me for suggesting that bolting for no apparent reason was not required. She, however, has nothing on a little chestnut mare I used to own, and so was nowhere near succeeding in her attempts to drop me... Only managed to tangle up her own feet! hahahah -- having said that, she'll pull it off tomorrow before I leave for the airport! I'm sure she's practicing in her field right now >;-P

She does have one thing on Zel though -- speed! That little one can drop her butt and GO. hahaha when we get to prelim or so, start boxes are going to be an awful lot of fun! AND she has now demonstrated that she CAN tuck her hocks under her -- when we get to a point in her training where that's required (that'd be right after we can steer and stop), I'll know she's capable of it :)

Ok gotta run. A TON of stuff to do before I go HOME. WOOHOOO!!!!!! Can't wait :)

How to ride XC: "go that way, fast, and jump anything that gets in the way"

So my new favourite three words: "bring your vest" -- hahaha because this translates to "we're doing XC today" wooohooo!!!

Best. XC. School. Ever. Literally. And given the oh hundreds of XC lessons I've had in the last 20 years or so, that's saying something.

So the whole "speed/balance/impulsion" thing got applied -- but the diff is, I could actually do it *g* And I realize that this is mostly due to the hours of drilling dressage and stadium in the ring, but still -- it was the most amazing feeling. Gallop forward, flat, fast (well fast is relative... Smokey learned to gallop today *g* hahaha that was cute; Si goes faster when I'm trying to go slowly! :)... Then sit up, tuck hocks under, bring front end up, see spot, jump fence, repeat *g*

Yeah nothing new, but my position felt significantly more solid, so that was a good confidence boost. AND sure enough being able to *ride* the gallop made getting the right spot almost idiot proof. hahaha sad though cause of course I've always thought that's exactly what I *was* doing. I *know* you have to balance the gallop before the fence. So what was the difference? The amount of compression. WAY more than I've ever done in the past. But what a great feeling when it worked. Wow.

And the difference in the riding of the girl I was with was incredible to watch. Went from scary and somewhat out of control, to almost text-book perfect in about an hour. Brilliant. With almost the exact same revelation -- the balance and compression is a LOT more than she's done in the past. And, of course, this comes entirely from the leg... I had very little weight in my hands at any point.

Also got to jump my "2nd ever XC school" horse (Smokey obviously, Si's still @ w/t phase of life!) in and out of the water. Superstar :) Also up and down the bank, over a ditch, and up/down steps. He had no concerns about any of it.

Sooooooo much fun. Si went hacking again -- which was also good -- but I gotta admit I'm still way high from the XC school :)

Drawing on my fine command of the English language, I said nothing.

So I've been riding Miss Sienna outdoors! Woohoo :) She went for her first hack today -- through part of the XC course AND a trail through the woods. Was, of course, a star :) We still, admittedly, haven't gotten to that all important third gait... But walking and trotting and exploring the big scary world is going well :) N of course now that all's good and we're on a good schedule, I'm going to go home for Xmas and undo everything. That first ride back could be interesting. Ah well. *Really* want to come home, so I'll just have to deal w/ Si when I get back :)

So as every DQ knows, it's important to learn German to ride dressage well (yes the two are directly related!) hahaha well we start w/ the important words -- in my dressage lesson the other day, my riding was pronounced to be "not sheisse" hahaha I'll leave it to you to look that up :) At some point in the same lesson I had "that's really improving" which of course entirely made my day. But if improving gets me to "not sheisse" I have to wonder just how bad it was when I started! hahaha Riding's soooo good for the ego >;-P

Gotta admit I'm still really excited about Si's first hack :) hahaha it's the little things in life. AND I think *technically* her first XC jump -- out of the ring! (this is, literally, a log flat on the ground. She could EASILY walk over it should she wish to :)

If I can't be good, at least I can be entertaining.

I woke up this morning and was absolutely freezing. So I put on my nice warm fuzzy breeches under my jeans and multiple layers on top. World is good (winter here does NOT require the snowsuit etc layers). Then I open the door to the outside world. And get hit by a wave of . . . HEAT! It was like 10 deg warmer *outside*. Tells me two things -- first, we *really* need to get our heat fixed and second -- I LOVE winter here. Was like the perfect late-Aug day today. Temp 20-25 deg all day. Slightly cloudy so not too hot... mmmmm perfect :) Other than the fact that I was *way* overdressed! hahaha first thing I did when I got to the barn was change -- some advantages to keeping a mountain of clothing in your car!

The question of the day: does it make a diff if the ab workout from dressage comes from laughing too hard instead of sitting trot? hahaha I have never laughed so hard in a dressage lesson before :) Unfortunately, I think it was very much a series of "you had to be there" moments so I'm not even going to try to explain (or more accurately: I typed it, it read as ridiculously stupid, I deleted it :).

The advice of the day: "Don't bounce". hahaha Which was freely acknowledged to be just about as useful as "just ride better". Although have to wonder how bad it was when I got told "why don't you make it easier on yourself and just cross your stirrups? It's kind of cheating, but it's ok for now" hahaha ah well. Good days and not so good eh?

So today the concept of dressage as preparation for show-jumping was applied in the lesson... Was def dressage, but dressage w/ "improving your eye" -- as in canter, on the bit, w/ correct speed-balance-impulsion, around and around the Wheel of Death. And then use that to improve the dressage-trot. Was surprisingly effective. (for those who aren't students of mine and so *may* be unfamiliar w/ that term -- the Wheel of Death is where you have one fence that you jump over-and-over-and-over-and-over again on a 20m/10m/whateverm circle. The idea being to A - jump on a curve w/o losing bend, B - hit the right spot every time, and C - be accurate enough to keep the same circle line each time). Anyways, since it was a dressage lesson, the "jump" was more accurately a pile of poles, but same concept. And the trot after was amazing -- swingy, back up, etc etc Back to the "gymnastics to warmup for dressage" concept.

As to Sienna -- she's long-lining in the outdoor world now (pics here: if you're interested :) AND being ridden. Woohoo. She is NOT, however, permitted to lunge anymore *g* hahaha classic eh? Why? Yeah that'd be because she reves herself up when she lunges (ummm decidedly the opposite of what we want to happen!) and isn't fit enough to handle running around 15m circles... Which puts us right back where I started -- just getting on and riding it out. Although to be fair, she's a whole lot more chilled about that general concept than she was when I did it the first few times.

I'm finding my way back to sanity again, though I don't really know what I'm going to do when I get there.

So I finally got permission to ride Sienna outside...

Now, Denny wanted me to ride w/ somebody cause of the obvious herd thing -- horse will be calmer w/ another horse. The *idea* is great. The issue, is that we have NO calm horses! hahaha So the BM picked the one likely to be best -- also a chestnut mare (albeit not a tb), also a baby. Maybe 6mths ahead of Si in training. She was already lunging when I got there. Her baby was being *good*. Till my baby joined in. So Sienna sets off the other horse. Then I finally get Si chilled out and the other horse sets her off again. And we continued playing this back and forth game for a while.

Anyways BMs horse eventually chills enough that she can get on. Issue being, once she's on she leaves the "lunging area" (still in the sandring, mind you, just not on the 20m circle anymore), well Si lost it. Which then of course set her horse off... And well you see where this is going :) hahaha but her horse chilled pretty fast and Denny told her to just let her "stand and watch until that one stops being a wingnut." Well I gotta tell ya, the tone of voice coupled w/ that particular word choice, instantly mentally transported me in time and location... Why? Cause he sounded *xactly* like my dad used to when we were kids and one of us was being an idiot :) hahaha so there ya go Dad -- you should've been a horse trainer! *g*

So after much drama, horse is finally deemed to be sensible enough for me to get on ("better 10 mins of lunging than 10 weeks in traction" <-- 19="" :="" a="" about="" adjacent="" aid="181973&l=2b796&id=823765365" album.php="" am="" an="" and="" anyways="" around="" barn="" basically="" be="" because="" before="" behind.="" bounded="" br="" but="" by="" carefully="" caught="" chaos.="" completely="" controlled="" couple="" day="" deemed="" deer="" def="" dogs="" event="" experienced="" extra="" far="" fast.="" field...="" followed="" following="" for="" from="" getting="" good="" grows="" hahaha="" hands="" haven="" her="" herd="" here:="" horse="" hot="" http:="" hunt="" i="" indoor="" it.="" it="" just="" lead="" line="" loses="" much="" not="" now="" of="" outside="" pic="" pics="" quote="" really="" relocate="" rest="" ride="" s="" she="" sigh="" so="" sobeit="" somewhat="" sounds="" spins="" starting="" stupidly="" t="" that="" the="" them="" things="" this="" those="" through="" time="" to="" traumatizing.="" typical="" unclip="" up="" walk="" was="" who="" why="" would="""" yeah="" young="">
But once indoors I got to get on w/o any further lunging, no longlining (which she's really good at for reasons I don't entirely understand), AND we finally got to trot. hahaha now I realize that it's very sad that this was an exciting thing, but baby steps :) Since about the 3rd day when it became very evident just how unbroke she was, I've only been allowed to walk. But she trotted, calmly, both directions AND 20m circles. HUGE progress from the horse who would rather rear than turn right and who really didn't want to go slower than a handgallop.... Or so I keep reminding myself anyways!

How do you catch a loose horse? Make a noise like a carrot.

Ok I have to say I LOVE winter here. But the temp changes are INSANE. Now this is NOT a complaint -- not even close. Merely an observation. hahaha the other day it was -5 when I went to work *brrrrr* and 21 *woohoo* when I came home... Every day this week I've managed to be dressed wrong -- summer clothes and freeze... Winter clothes and cook :) It's gotten to the point that I start w/ a layer and a half and add or subtract all day as necessary My car currently has more clothes in it than my closet! Although today was easy -- 25 deg all day. Not half bad :) Although I admit it made me laugh when "winter wonderland" came on the radio!

So the barn is set up that all the stalls open outside -- the "aisle" is, in fact, outside. Well I got into an "interesting" situation w/ the outdoor thing and Miss Sienna the other day -- she started backing up when I went to put the bridle on. Not doing anything bad, just going backwards... We've all been there -- typical baby evasive manouver right?

Only thing is, remember, we're outside. She backed her way past the end of the aisle, down the hill, and just kept going. Me walking alongside all the way. Not so helpful suggestion from bystander "why don't you put her in a stall?" umm sure I'd love to -- how do you suggest we *get* her there?!?!? Sheesh. Eventually she stopped for half a second so I could get the bridle on, and then we could go forward again. Needless to say, today I DID put her in a stall before attempting to bridle! hahaha not quite sure how you solve that particular training issue when there are no walls to take advantage of. My "wait it out" strategy that generally works at home (they eventually hit a wall) definitely wasn't guarenteed to work here!

Sienna met the wash stall today, and other than the fact that she doesn't xtie yet (so needless to say was NOT going to attempt it in this situation) she was awesome about the whole hose thing. Stood better for that then anything else I've done w/ her. Silly girl. Track training can be good for some things eh?

Ok so who wants to guess what the number one correction I get while longlining is? Whoever came up w/ "shorten your reins" gets a gold star >;-P hahaha classic eh? But in this case it's cause it seems like a *really* BAD idea to stand that close behind the horse. And logically I *know* I'm out of range and Denny wouldn't let me be too close, but still standing there it's just a little closer than my comfort zone allows. I've seen this horse buck remember *g* May not be anywhere near as impressive as Zel, but I still don't want to be right behind her when she does it! hahaha so the reins slowly get longer so I can be farther back... This theory fell apart when I was told to do 10m circles though. Then the reins HAD to be shorter... Ah well.

So dressage is easy -- all you do is "ride from the inside-out and then the outside-in". This made me laugh. Denny didn't seem to understand what was so funny. Poor guy went to great lengths to clarify; didn't realize that I understood entirely what he was saying, it just amused me the way he chose to say it. hahahah I've had this issue w/ enough of my coaches that I've decided I must have a *very* odd way of looking at the world. But it keeps me amused anyways, so I've decided it's pretty harmless. Anyways, for those who weren't there of the inside-out/outside-in conversation, the slightly elaborated version is you ride first by creating the power w/ your inside leg and pushing it diagonally forward to the outside rein. Then you take it w/ the inside rein and redirect it in (hence INside bend :). This came along w/ half a dozen analogies running from squishing clay against a bowl (who does that?!??!)... But the idea being that the horse is the clay, hand is your inside leg pushing it out to the edge of the bowl, and the bowl is your outside aids (esp rein)... Mold the horse between the aids... Etc etc etc

Absolutely nothing new in that, but it was the discussion of the day so figured I'd share... There was also more of the "horse MUST be relaxed before anything" and the diff between a horse ready to work for dressage (and the def of relaxed for that) and a horse ready to work for XC. This difference is the primary reason subtle aids are often rendered ineffective on XC -- cause the horse is not relaxed enough to tune into them. CANNOT be relaxed enough to tune into them by the sheer demands of the sport. Hence why you have to learn to ride three different ways for the three different phases. And to TRAIN three different ways. But on DQ days, relaxed is first. And with babies, relaxed is always first. For those who actually like the whole theory thing, this article appeared in our tackroom (which translates to "read this") the other day:

Ok well my eyes glazed over like an hour ago and I'm not the least bit convinced any of this is coherent, so I'm off to sleep... Funny how I had a lot more time when I had no internet at home!

Commercial Adventures

Only horse related thing I did today was wander around a new (to me) tack store :) Fun, but I was good and didn't buy anything! Really -- you should be proud.

So I drove to Raliegh today (a little over an hour away) to see about getting my iPod fixed... N have to say the customer service there was absolutely amazing. Place was packed, but enough staff to help. Somebody came up to me right away and introduced herself. When I told her why I was there, she took me over to the person I'd have to talk to -- he was with a client, so she said she'd tell him I was here and he'd be there in a second.

Ok no worries... Although I was sort of amused when she promptly turned and walked the other direction, but I could hear her talking -- sure enough, they're all wearing ear pieces so they can talk to each other w/o interrupting the client. So person two comes over and addresses me by name, introduces himself, asks the issue, plays w/ the ipod to test it himself making some comment about "it's tragic when such a beautiful piece of technology doesn't work right" hahaha. Anyways he tells me I have to talk to their techies and I need an apt to do that. Walks me through how to set it up online (for future reference -- I didn't bother to point out that I'm not planning to be back), finds me an apt in half an hour. Which is fine, I'd been planning on xmas shopping.

So I wander around the mall for half hour n come back. Same sort of process, I get "signed in" which makes my name appear on the board to let me know where I am in line... They were ready w/in seconds of the time they should've been. Then techie guy (who gets to make warentee decisions etc) took my ipod, and in under two minutes w/ no hassle I had a new one and was out.

N just looking around, one girl was waiting to have her laptop looked at, well one of the guys came over and cleaned it for her in the meantime (like the keys/screen/etc). Overall I was so seriously impressed I thought I'd share :)

Then I get home and my pc won't turn on :( Had some very scary moments there. It got immediately taken to BestBuy (5 mins from home) where the service was nowhere near as good, BUT when I DID get to talk to somebody they managed to make it work again. Go home, back everything up. Apparently they don't think my pc is going to live much longer :( Very sad.

Never be afraid to try something new. Remember, amatures built the ark; professionals built the Titanic.

Amazing day today :)

So lets start w/ Smokey... Jump school... And I have to admit he totally and completely suckered me. Beyond suckered me actually. Usually I can tell when a horse is trying to get the better of me, but no, I freely admit I was completely oblivious here...

hahahha so what happened? Well his owner doesn't jump, so everything's new to him, so I've only been jumping him over very little fences (E height or so). And honestly, I figured that was about all he had. He's incredibly honest, but we *barely* clear them, and while he's got good form, I was not convinced there was much there.

Uh huh. Well today I was riding w/ a girl who was making a sales vid for her horse (who's ready to upgrade to T) -- so the fences were quite a bit bigger than we usually do (she got up to almost 4')... I was fully expecting them to be dropped for us, but no. When it was my turn it was just my turn (well all except the 4' one -- it got significantly lowered :)... Ummmm ok... hahaha well sure enuff the little goofball can JUMP! hahaha and *barely* clears every one. What it comes down to is he's smart and lazy. So he expends the bare minimum of effort req'd to get over each fence. But some of those fences were a decent size, including one wicked skinny brush oxer -- wasn't the biggest, but was a whole lot more technical than anything he's seen and still reasonably sized -- enough that on other days we were always told to skip it, and he stalled before it but still made it over.

hahaha so of course now I'm wondering just how high he *can* jump A couple pics here if you're interested:

Anyways, as previously mentioned, the girl I was riding w/ was making a sales vid -- so May was there filming. And when they were done, May filmed my last couple rounds (she also took the still FB pics earlier in the ride). Always good to see video of your ride; you can learn from video of your ride. Right, what I didn't expect was to watch the video WITH Denny. That is an entirely different experience *g* hahaha yup, when I went over to do late night I brought my little flash drive up to get the pics from May, but she didn't have the vid on her computer... No no, it's hooked up to the tv and ready to go... From Denny "You really should watch this. Would you like some wine?" hahaha n all I could think was 'uh oh, am I going to need it?' :) But no it was good. Intense, but good :) Went over what was good, not so good, and what was greatly improved from previous but still in need of work... Since this was the first I'd heard of anything improving that part of things was nice *g* N of course Denny's really sharp so between me being a smart ass and him flipping between being a serious coach and joking around it was somewhat entertaining. Way more useful than the "watch the vid @ home alone" in that when I do that, I can only see what I *know* I do wrong. Watching w/ your coach you can see the things you don't know about and also get the more objective view that can also see the good.

And then there was Miss Sienna. W/ her, at the end of a *very* long session I got told "It started out really bad, and ended up really good. You did your job." And theoretically if I do it again tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow we'll slowly get somewhere. Teaching her to both lunge and longline... She's *really* not into the whole lunging thing, but was remarkably tolerant about longlining. The catch is that I have never longlined b4 (have asked several of my coaches to teach me and always get "oh sure, no problem" but never any follow through... And yes I know it's not rocket science, but I'd still rather learn to do it right!) Whereas here, on a horse who doesn't know how to do it I get to learn. Green on green. We all know where that leads! hahaha Classic eh? So given that it was her first time ever doing it, and I have NO experience, Denny was the one steering...

So for the curious -- intro to long-lining. Pretty much exactly what you'd expect.

Step 1 -- lunge till horse chills. Change direction and repeat process.
Step 2 -- move around till horse is ok w/ you being diagonally behind her.
Step 3 -- tie stirrups to girth, run lungeline on offside through stirrup w/ "driver" behind horse and slightly offside. Person two has a leadline on the nearside at the bit. Driver walks behind horse to nearside and lets horse get used to feel of lungeline around hocks etc...
Step 4 -- 2nd lungeline on nearside, through stirrup to driver.
Step 5 -- 2nd person leads horse around w/ driver following.
Step 6 -- Driver takes over commands w/ 2nd person just as backup.
Step 7 -- 2nd person detaches leadline and gets out of the way.
Step 8 -- Driver now under control.

It was a complete non-issue for Sienna. She was a little puzzled at times, but not particularly stressed about it. And after *this* game, I finally got to get on. (it's been like a week :) Got told "treat her like she's two and you've *just* backed her". So that's the route we're taking, and I suspect it's exactly the right way to go. Take longer and tons of patience, but I think I'll have a much more confident horse in the end. Did a lot of walking around, changing direction, etc etc. There was none of the "won't go right" (I wasn't allowed to get back on till we could lunge w/o any sign of that -- hence the wk off... And Denny was standing where he would be if he were lunging, still holding the lunge whip "just in case" -- but wasn't necessary). Lots of greenbean steering (wide opening rein etc) and since she's uber-sensitive to the leg, I was mostly just trying to get her used to it being there. But in general I was really happy w/ her. Once the longlinging is a little more established, Denny wants me to longline her all around the xc course and across the bridge to where Smokey lives... hahaha could be entertaining. But she's been totally kewl w/ everything like that I've tried w/ her in hand (up and down banks, over the ditch, etc etc) so I don't expect an issue.

The one thing I was both happy and a *little* concerned about is that she is ridiculously fit! Smokey gets ridden 5-6 days/wk, and I still have to give him extended breaks after most courses to get his breath. Sienna has lived in a field the last year, galloped around like an idiot for half an hour (literally) and it took less than a minute for her pulse and respiration rate to go back to resting. Absolutely insane. Sweats up a fair amount, but her breathing and heartbeat show no signs of stress. N while this will prob be a huge advantage once I can actually ride her, right now it's really making things a whole lot more difficult since the "tire them out" theory of horse training really can't be applied! hahaha Gotta love TBs!

Our Regularly Scheduled Program

So Nicole you remember way back when you were riding Tux, how I used to have you jump as a w/u for your dressage lessons? Well it turns out I'm not insane! woohoo! Or @ least, if I am, I'm not alone in my insanity.

Yes indeed, today's lecture was about how the great German dressage trainer Snuffelupagus (or you know, fill in his *real* name here. Hahaha damn good thing I'm not in a sport that requires much name dropping eh? For the record, it's not that I forget the names, it's that I never catch them in the first place!) Anyways, Snuffy who has, of course, won everything there is to win in dressage, advocates cavelleti and gymnastic exercises in the warmup dr wu. Theory being it gets them (well certain horses anyways -- obviously doesn't work for everybody!) to loosen up and use their back, to move forward, and to get their hocks under them. And really, what more do you want for dressage?

hahhaha so my (generally useless) spell check recommends "Snowflakes" for Snuffelupagus. I wonder what Snuffy would think of that? It certainly amused me anyways :)

Si had her first Denny lesson today. We never got beyond lunging *g* Ah well -- at least we got that far and her "I won't go right" behaviour was seen and dealt w/ w/o us being kicked out of class :)

We interrupt this program for a brief political broadcast

Sad news in Ottawa:

There will be no Nativity Scene in Ottawa, Canada this year! The Supreme Court has ruled that there cannot be a Nativity Scene in Canada's capital this Christmas season. This isn't for any religious reason, they simply have not been able to find Three wise Men in the Nation's capitol. There was no problem, however, finding enough asses to fill the stable.

Life is crazy but fun :)

So it's been a while :) hahaha I finally get internet at home and promptly stop working. Classic eh? But I *am* caught up on my work, so that's a good start.

Jumping lesson yesterday as a blast -- stadium was brilliant "speed, balance, impulsion" hahaha -- difference being it's actually starting to work... Then XC. Woohoo! We really didn't do anything all that exciting but it was just fun to be out of the ring... N Smokey horse has no concerns about ditches, banks or water s that's always good.

Ok so this is very short -- too much else to do right now. More later :) Maybe :)


Winning the battle against perfection!

So I now understand now why none of the horses here are the *least* bit concerned about deer -- as I watched a herd in broad daylight treat the paddocks as an interesting gymnastic exercise (despite the path directly beside them :) But it was *very* kewl to watch.

As of 9:00 tonight I now have internet at home. Woohoo! hahaha and that would be the *longest* I've gone w/o internet at home since the internet existed! I will prob miss my lovely coffee shop though. Will have to stop in once in a while just cause *g*

Alright so to ride *well* you have to be able to use each side of your body equally and independently. Sure no problem right? But then consider all the things we do one way and only one way... When you're sitting with your legs crossed, you'll default to the same way every time... Or if you're standing w/ your arms crossed in front of you... Same thing. Ever try carrying your purse on the *wrong* side? Ok well now here's a challenge for those of you who work in a barn. Try, for one week, switching your hands... What do I mean by that? Well if you always sweep w/ your left hand on top of the broom, use your right hand there; I figure it'll take about a minute before you instictively switch back :) Or less. For myself, I discovered I use my left side for anything requiring strength and the right side for anything requiring dexterity. So for example I'll carry the grain bucket w/ the left hand and feed it with the right... I can sweep with either hand on top, but raking took some thought *g* Not sure why it's any different but sobeit. hahaha N if I need to balance something on my hip it'd better be the left side or whatever it is will be on the floor >;-P But it makes sense that the more evenly you can coordinate your body in day-to-day life, the better prepared you'll be to ride well... Or that's my theory anyways :)

Had my first *real* dressage lesson since I've been here today. What do I mean by *real* dressage? Well it was in a dressage ring of course! Clearly that's what makes it "dressage" instead of just "flat" hahaha. This would be w/ Smokey -- Sienna's not quite ready to fit in the dressage ring yet :) hahaha

XC tomorrow!!! woohoo!

Ok enuff randomness. Night!

A canter is a cure for every evil. ~Benjamin Disraeli

So we were talking about "overcoming instinct" today. Denny told us about a conversation he had w/ a retired major general who was in charge of the US Special Forces (n if you've been reading this more than a day or two, you'll know of course that I totally don't remember his name. I suppose I really *should* start paying attention to those details :) -- but still pretty impressive job. Anyways he apparently was talking about how if a team is ambushed, their instinct is to turn and run -- which will, more often than not, get them killed. So they have to be taught in that instance to run INTO the ambush -- preferably firing their weapon the whole way.

Theory being of course that if people can be taught to overcome the strongest of self-preservation instincts, surely we can learn to override significantly less critical instincts like say jumping ahead or constantly looking down... Just something to consider the next time your coach nags you about something you've heard a million times before :)

Speaking of -- I haven't been told to shorten my reins in ages. Not sure if they're actually shorter or if Denny's just given up >;-P hahaha but I *do* at least pay attention to it now, although they do occasionally still get a *little* long I must admit...

oh and another recounted conversation w/ the same person -- What is the perfect age? The age where physical ability: strength, reflexes, flexibility, et al merges with mental ability: reason, control, logic, etc The ability to plan a mission, figure out all the inherrent issues/consequences, and the physical ability to carry it out... That'd be... 30! hahahha woohoo! I win. Of course this has absolutely NO practical application to my life, but it amused me sobeit.

Random theory of the day: "don't neglect the canter". The most important gait because, among other things, *every* stadium course you ever jump will be in it. And a significant portion of your dressage test. And possibly parts of your XC course (the most critical parts @ that -- like 2 strides before the coffin!). Also usually the only gait w/ a moment of suspension aka natural lift... What you're trying SOOOO hard to accomplish in the other gaits happens all by itself in the canter (albeit to varying degrees depending what you're sitting on :) School the canter w/in the canter for its own sake. Then school the canter to improve the trot (particularly effective on the less-than-energetic horses :)

BOTH horses were superstars today -- even though it was insanely windy. So even though no jumping (so sad -- we don't do nearly enough jumping as far as reaching my goals while I'm here goes. The only down side so far), was still a really great day. AND turns out Sienna is totally kewl with the farrier. Finally Tim won't have to cringe every time I call >;-P hahaha (for those not aware of the background, the last two chestnut mares have both been ummmm shall we say less than cooperative for the farrier)... AND he says her feet are actually really good, they just haven't been looked after. I had been thinking as much, but not really holding my breath, so was good to have confirmed.

Oh and windy days -- yeah sweeping an outdoor aisle, in the fall, on a crazy-windy day, is about the most futile task out there. Just for the record.

I solved the world's problems, but I forgot to take notes.

Torrential rain this morn. Needless to say, when we were done chores the bm and I retreated indoors -- she went to clean our tack room and I went to clean Denny's... (that in itself is a challenge -- how do you clean something that's already spotless? Although maybe that's WHY it's spotless :) Well I was far enough lost in my own world that I jumped when the door opened -- Denny and bm there "comeon, we're going for breakfast. Or brunch." ummm ok... I genuinely believed he was joking. But nope -- literally he and May took us out for breakfast because it was deemed too miserable out to be working. hahaha absolutely amazing. And totally turned the day around. The weather then kindly followed and the torrential rain stopped about the time we got back.

This is def a good job for spending time in lost in thought. Hours of completely mindless chores -- you can totally set your body on autopilot and think about a million and one other things. I've become somewhat amused by how far away my mind can wander given enough time! hahaha I still haven't figured out who's getting what for xmas (that one's hard to focus on when it's 15deg out!)... What to do when I get home after this is usually high on the list :) And how to accomplish it! Sometimes it's "oh I should blog about this one..." hahaha but I never remember it when it comes time to actually write. Ah well.

Miss Si tried her games again today, but allowed herself to be "convinced" a whole lot easier this time around. Also, for the first time I rode her w/ another horse in the ring -- and was *really* glad to see she didn't have the typical trackie reaction to the other horse coming towards her. Now we were just walking, but still she kept her cool pretty well regardless of what the other one did, so I figure that's a promising sign...

When you're standing on the edge of a cliff, a step backward is progress.

Short cause I'm beyond tired :(

Miss Si decided to be a 4yo chestnut mare today. "please turn right" "no" "turn right" "NO" "Si there's a wall to the left, you really have to turn right now" "NO I DON'T! Look at me, I can stand on my hind legs and SPIN to the left!" "yeah well now you just have to turn right farther...." Rinse and repeat ad naseum. I was not overly amused -- but was glad Denny was nowhere to be seen >;-} I suspect if this behaviour repeats it is NOT going to go over well. Just being nappy -- this all took place *every* time I tried to ride her past the door on the right (we could go by on the left np). Needless to say, when we did leave, we left through the BACK door -- much to her dismay... hahaha

ah well -- patience right?

Lessons learned from Rachel and Chris...

hahaha so I am listening to the silliest conversation by the teenage type people sitting on the other couches here -- topic is "living in Canada" hahaha a fraction of the commentary is almost accurate the rest is pretty funny. Listening to them puzzle over how "bagged milk" works was what first caught my attention (apparently it's powdered -- you add water and shake!) -- it spiraled down from there :) Fortunately people randomly laughing while typing are assumed to be reading something funny on their screen, not evesdropping on the conversation...

Today was a whole lot of theory -- n since I don't feel like typing a 2h transcript, I'll pick and choose :)

So we start with our favourite trainers: Rachel and Chris. What, you don't know them? Yeah me either. Totally randomly Denny announced "Rachel sees Chris, I see Chris" Say what?!?!?! Yeah that kinda came out of nowhere and def took me a minute to figure out... Chris? Rachel? huh??? Names (of people I almost never know but apparently should) are often thrown at me and I tend to gloss over them cause since I don't know them they don't register -- but this was a little too "See Spot run" for that. Fortunately my little brain put the pieces together before I looked like a total idiot. This would be the training scale :) Rachel and Chris being solid traditional German names of course *g* -- aka: rhythm, suppleness, contact, impulsion, straightness, collection... Yeah the light went on -- it just had a dull bulb so took a few seconds to warm up :) hahaha

Anyways so a review of this and importance of relaxation etc somehow led to a discussion of what it takes to be a top level rider (beyond bucket loads of $ and incredible amount of skill of course :) -- anyways, one of the issues was the ability to accept and deal w/ "plateaus" in training -- both horse and rider. We've all been there -- the light goes on and things go AMAZING and you get better and better and you think you'll be a superstar by the end of the month... And then it stops. Or even worse, slides backwards as you try frantically to recreate your superstardom. And then for several months you go nowhere. And you start to wonder why, exactly, you're spending all this time, money, and effort for a sport you're *never* going to get any better at. Any of this sound familiar? As a coach, dealing w/ these plateaus and keeping your students going through them is one of the biggest challenges. As a rider, it's the only thing that's ever made me seriously consider quitting. But this one analogy of Denny's (which he freely acknowledges he stole, but I'm afraid the source - Rachel maybe? - went in one ear and out the other) resonated w/ me...

So here goes: You have a lawn right? And if you don't have a lawn, you know someone who does... This lawn grows grass. (about now the smartass side of me was saying, nope, I forgot to water it, the grass died... Fortunatly the "intelligent student" side of me knows enuff to shut the smartass up and nod wisely instead :) Anyways -- to continue. The lawn has grass. Therefore you have to cut the grass. If you sit and stare at it, the grass never seems to do anything. But, as is the way of things, about two weeks later you have to cut the grass again. So when did it grow? No matter when you looked at it, you never saw it growing -- but it clearly got taller. So it is w/ developing your riding, or your green horse... It feels like you're going nowhere -- but to somebody who hasn't seen you in 2 wks, or 2 mths, or 2 years -- the difference is phenominal. And all the time and effort you put in while sitting on that plateau will eventually help catapult you to the NEXT plateau where you can start all over again! Now doesn't *that* sound like fun?!?!? >;-P

Also had the "you can't train your horse to respond to a whisper if you're always shouting at him" lecture -- on the importance of subtle, consistent and repeated aids rather than just stronger ones. And the follow up "you must have enough fine motor control to be able to do *exactly* the same thing every time -- no matter what the horse is doing under you".

Which brought us back to Rachel and Chris and the fact that the horse *has* to be relaxed (ok which part of CHESTNUT OTTB MARE did you miss???) before anything else can work. hahaha and then there's Smokey which has taken *relaxed* to a whole new level... If Smokey were a person he'd be lying on a beach somewhere warm, smoking something that's not legal everywhere, and enjoying every second of it! hahaha

So on an entirely different note -- was supposed to have internet at home tonight, but no... Not till Wed now *sigh* Oh well.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Ok so I know it's not Thanksgiving for, well, almost everybody reading this :) But as I said, around here it's a VERY BIG DEAL and as such, seemed necessary to post :)

What I want to know is how I, who has no family here and can count the number of people I know on my fingers, managed to get invited to THREE Thanksgiving Dinners??? hahaha well that'd be cause said people I DO know are super friendly :) N of those I'm actually going to two -- one today @ Denny and May's and one tomorrow at our place (yeah that one'd be hard to miss :). I suspect the one at our place will be somewhat entertaining given that:
A) NONE of us know how to cook - the stove has yet to be turned on since we moved in (apparently the people coming are bringing dinner)
B) We have fewer dishes than people -- and that's NOT counting guests (hmmm can we say paper plates anybody???)
C) We have no furniture (well that's not quite true -- between all of us, our total furniture includes: 3 blowup beds and one couch) hahaha but nothing that resembles a table...

Perhaps it won't be the most *formal* dinner ever eh? Should be highly entertaining though. Must go gain some weight now. Gobble Gobble!

It's what you learn after you know it all that's important.

So I got thoroughly shown today :) But it was amazing. Denny was riding w/ me in my lesson (a fairly regular occurance) n I was jumping around n I guess he got bored w/ the flatwork he was doing... hahaha felt the need to demonstrate how it's *supposed* to work. Yeah a top level rider on an amazingly athletic horse -- was absolutely incredible to watch. There's not much I wouldn't give to be able to ride like that. Horse hasn't jumped in almost 4 months (for a variety of reasons, none of which were soundness related) and is *very* looky and not an easy ride. Yet EVERY spot was bang-on perfect. You could literally see the horse sit-up and change his balance 4 or 5 strides out of the fence. Was really impressive to watch.

N of course I'm just competitive enough to figure "well if he can do it why can't I?" hahaha yeah whatever *g* We won't mention the 40+ years of top-level experience *g* But our next few rounds were significantly better, so maybe there's something to that.

The question of the day: "When can you see your distance?" "ummm consistantly??? 4 or 5 strides out..." I sheepsihly replied, fully expecting to be nailed for it. "4 or 5??? You can go to the Olympics on 3." hahahha yeah and to my absolutely stunned expression of that statement I got "I'm not kidding." So there's hope yet *g* I did have to PROVE the "4 or 5" that I claimed -- but fortunately I know better than to exaggerate my abilities so this was not an issue.

Ok well it's been a *very* long day and tis not over yet so must be off!

I'm a well educated fool...

Well I finally got a day off! Woohoo! And spent it running around of course. Now I thought it'd be a good plan to go get groceries. It's mid-week, mid-afternoon, should be no problem right? I'm a foolish, foolish girl. Turns out it's the Tues before Thanksgiving. And Thanksgiving here is a VERY BIG DEAL. And so grocery stores two days before said VERY BIG DEAL are worse than the mall at home on Boxing Day. Seriously. Absolutely beyond insane. Will be staying far away till @ least Mon :)

A commercial moment: today's blog is brought to you by Panera Bread. Yes indeed cause w/o them we wouldn't have a blog cause I wouldn't have Internet. There are chains from home that I miss here (ummm can we say Tim Hortons??? Pizza Pizza??? Mr Sub???) but I gotta admit I'll miss this one when I get home. Coffee shop type but with *really* good sandwiches. Not cheap admittedly, but good :) And of course, free wifi :) And VERY comfy couches to lounge on while taking advantage of said free wifi... N all the staff @ this one seem ridiculously friendly -- but I don't know if all of them are like that. So that's the commercial of the day -- if you're travelling in the states and looking for some good food and a comfy place to sit (esp if you happen to have your notebook w/ you :) stop in.

Finally went to look around Southern Pines. It's a great little town. Takes a bit to get the hang of driving there though -- if you're driving the main street (which is intersected in normal size blocks like a traditional grid layout) -- you have no stop signs, but have to yield to anybody coming from your left. Anybody coming from the right you have right-of-way over, but if they're coming from the left you have to stop... A *little* scary till you get used to it. The street looks like a normal divided road (one or two lanes going each way w/ train tracks down the center as the dividing line. However, it's actually laid out as two one-way streets. The difference? Now there's parking on both sides of each direction. Which means people randomly stop and/or pull out in front of you from either side. Tons of fun. The only redeeming factor is since it IS the south, everything moves in slow motion *g* Would NOT want to do that drive in a hurry! Walking it, however, was really nice. I took window-shopping to a whole new level as I spent entirely too long wandering along and going in any store that had an interesting looking window.

Christmas stuff here just seems wrong though. No snow, temps in the teens, and birds singing. Somehow the inflatable reindeer just look hideous -- now they're beyond tacky anywhere, but in this environment they're just wrong.

Had to laugh at the small-town-isms here. Don't know if it's a love-it or hate-it thing, but from the outside view it's just amusing. We all know the horse world is *very* small. Now when you shrink that and move said "horse-world" all w/in 20mins of each other in a small town it becomes a little excessive. Something happened at work today (while I was off exploring) and when I got home my roommate asked me about it. How did SHE know??? Well her bm also works at the tack store, and somebody in the tack store mentioned hearing about it at the feed store from somebody who'd been connected to somebody who was there. Follow that? The entire community is a game of telephone *g* They also have an email list that connects them all -- occasionally they get messages about lost or missing horses when somebody falls off in the foundation (HUGE -- like 4000 acres -- area donated solely for horse use. Denny's farm backs on it -- happy hacking for us! For the curious: So anyways -- the e list does have a practical use, but I get the impression that more often than not it's mostly gossip :)

Well my day off is over :( Ah well. On the plus side -- we have heat again (did I mention it's been out the last few days??? Iffy @ night when the temps drop down to about freezing AND our hot water is connected to the heat so no heat = no hot water!). AND I'm supposed to have both phone and internet as of Fri pm. I'll believe it when it happens, but still a good start :) We still have no furniture or dishes of course, but hey have to tackle things in priority order eh?

One Really Scary Butterfly From Total Disaster!

hahaha omg I laughed and laughed when I saw that. And because I did, instead of more silly Sienna Stories I'm going to post bumper stickers. Enjoy!

(oh and before I do, a total mini-brag -- I got through a whole lesson on Smokey w/o being told "Rhythm" once Of course, I'm beyond exhausted now. But still pretty happy. It's the little things in life :)

Ok fun stuff for today: you thought you knew how to ride...HA!

I know the Alphabet - AKEHCMBF

I can count - 1 2 3a 3b 4 5 6 7a 7b 7c 8 9 10

There's nothing like having 17 hands between your legs

(Eventing) Proud Smurf

My boy was acting like you... He got GELDED

proud owner of a very pretty but completely useless horse

My horse ate my paycheck!!!

Golf is for people who can't ride polo ponies

My TB is smarter then your honor student.

Men are like horses: but horse are actually worth the effort

Grand Prix Pleassage rider: All the fun of dressage, none of the bickering

Caution: Chestnut Mare On Board

Caution: I Already Gelded The Horse, And He Didn't Tailgate

I Didn't Fall Off, The Tack Threw Me

Yes, I Fell Off At The Walk - OK, At The Stop

Pony is a four letter word!

Riding is...humbling.......

3 horse owners 4 opinions

Its ALWAYS the rider's fault

Ponies..Good thing they're cute....

Horses are like potato chips, you can't have just one

There are 2 kinds of eventers - those who've fallen in the water jump and those who will

Diamonds Are Cheaper

I Didn't Fall Off, I Was PUSHED

Only Spook If Your Rider Isn't Paying Attention

Single handedly keeping tack stores open.

Are you excited by black leather, tall boots & whips? Then you'll love Dressage!

you'll never win Olympic gold by shaking a carrot stick at a warmblood...

Dressage: the perfect sport for masochists and people with OCD.

Anything that is dreamable is also reachable... ride high on your dreams and make them come true

Still taking lessons......after all these years......

my heart my horse

Stay in the ring


My kingdom for MY horse

my pony is my therapist


Consider, for a moment, the origin of the words we use...

In particular -- "bombproofing". Cause around here it's taken literally. This would be because we're next to a rather large military base! hahaha on semi-regular intervals throughout the day you'll hear a thundrous boom from that direction as they blow-up whatever it is they feel like blowing up that day >;-P But by far the most entertaining is the dressage lesson being interrupted by the three helicopters flying directly overhead -- and randomly dropping people out of them!!! hahhaha Nobody landed anywhere near us of course, but it certainly caught my attention, to say nothing of my horse!

Miss Sienna was very def a 4yo CTBM today. High as a kite and thoroughly unimpressed w/ me suggesting she might want to chill. Or at least stop bouncing in circles. I didn't think that was so much to ask -- but then, what do I know? It was also all I could do to keep her away from the VERY interested stallion. Hormones much? Sheesh.

Silly Sienna Stories

Ok I absolutely adore my new pony :) hahaha In some ways she's soooo unbelievably easy (well @ least compared to how Miss Zel was @ the same age -- but I'm beginning to discover MOST horses are easy compared to how she was! hahaha talk about the "teenage years" sheesh). Anyways -- in some ways I completely and entirely forget she's only 4... And then in others, I'm reminded *g*

For instance, I was told when I brought her home that she doesn't cross-tie. Ok no worries -- I've been x-tying her w/ leadline still attached and breakaway ties and just generally being careful about it. N she's been really good. ESP given that the xties are OUTside. This is necessary as the barn aisle is ALSO outside *g* These are the kinds of things you just can't do at home! hahaha Anyway back to my story. Responsible baby-training behaviour got completely thrown out the window as I abandoned her for like half an hour standing, alone and unsupervised, in said xties while I went to deal w/ a sick horse who took instant and immediate priority (horse is fine now). I return, and she's just standing there chillin. Patient as can be...

Take horse for a walk and we come across a herd of deer. Well they def caught her attention and she grew (woohoo 15.3 here we come!!!) hahaha but she didn't do anything spinny... I was soooo impressed.

So good right. Now you understand why, when I was leading her, completely daydreaming and paying no attention whatsoever (like I said, on the ground I tend to forget she's four... Mounted there's no question :), I was a *little* surprised when she sat down and bolted -- evidently terrified. But she is respectful of the leadline so when she hit the end of it she whipped around in the tiniest lunging circle you've ever seen. Got her stopped but she was still a rather large bundle of nerves n I look to see what it is that's spooked her...

...Yes my new event horse, who's ok w/ deer jumping around her, is afraid of a xc jump. This does not bode well. Esp as since said XC jump happened to be electrified (it's in the fenceline of the stallion paddock -- hotwire running over it) so I couldn't even take her over to it to let her see it's not a monster (can you imagine THAT reaction!!!) hahaha So instead we went for a loooonnnngggg detour to the XC course and went to look @ several of those jumps... They're not scary though -- evidently only jumps that are part of the fenceline are scary. Ah well -- "repeat after me: must not pretend 4yo tb is 10... must not pretend 4yo tb is 10..." maybe it'll eventually sink in.

Tried to take her out to graze -- yeah, no. Not going to happen. There's simply WAAAYYYY too much else to look at, and really she has lots of hay in her stall. Now that she's out she's got bigger priorities than eating! Maybe THIS is why she's so skinny! Sheesh.

Ok well that's enuff of that... Thanks for reading my "happy new owner" stories :)

Short n sweet

Jump school today. Woohoo! And for one who's been riding only babies, and speedy babies at that, it was quite the culture shock! hahaha Smokey is a pretty cute jumper but @ every fence I have NO faith we're actually going. He's entirely honest, we just generally have no pace @ all... Attack mode is def a foreign concept for this horse... hahaha going to take me a bit to get the hang of reving him up! But soon, I hope, things'll be going well!

Speed, balance, impulsion. Sound familiar? But the challenge was the opposite of everything I'm used to riding. hahaha but that's ok :)


So I finally put some pics up hahaha for the curious :) Haven't had time to take many farm pics yet, but there's a few from around home and both Si and Smokey...

Yikes, gotta run!

Some creatures have the capacity to fill a space we never knew was empty.

So subject line doesn't really have anything to do w/ anything -- I just saw it and was in a sappy mood so figured I'd use it :) Besides I have a new horse -- that applies right? Actually, it does -- I've been SO happy since she came (was that REALLY only yesterday???) -- didn't really get that anything was missing till then... Still riding tons - it's all the same right? Wrong. >;-P There ya go, I learned something today.

Sienna the wonder-horse (ummmm yeah that'd be the new CTBM hahaha :) has been banished to indoors until such time as the farrier deigns to arrive :( Boo. Her feet are in *really* dodgy condition -- for those who know Sugar, WORSE than hers used to be! Believe-it-or-not... But I guess that's what happens when you don't see a farrier for well over a year *sigh*

I'm still soooooo excited though. hehehe oh and I totally got yelled at about rhythm again. Sheesh. Evidently I'm kewl w/ letting the horse set the rhythm -- which was absolutely FINE on Miss Zel who had just about txt-book perfect rhythm *g* hahaha however evidently it doesn't work so well on other horses. On Smokey (borrowed horse -- wanna guess what colour he is??? Comeon... Yup -- you guessed it! Paint! hahaha Seriously -- I have NO idea where the name came from, but to each their own...) -- anyways back to my story -- on Smokey the snapped command "rhythm" means GET MOVING. On Sienna it means SLOW DOWN. hahaha N there I am just happily going along w/ whatever they give me. N Smokey goes slower n slower n slower until we'd be hardpressed to catch the average turtle (gives new meaning to Mary's verb "turtling" hahaha)... While Si gets going so fast I can't even post anymore! hahaha Ah well -- will def be an interesting comparison riding the two of them together!

WAAAYYY too excited to sit and type a blog entry!

So my news of the day -- I bought a horse!!!!!! OMG. That I saw for the first time yesterday. I'm still a little stunned. But I just adored her. It was like when I got on Zel the first time. Of all the horses I've ever ridden, she's only the 4th I've ever felt that for. N I've recently realized, they've ALL been chestnut mares. hmmmm maybe there's something in that :) Esp for a girl who claims not to like chestnuts (black or blood-bay is def where the kewl kids hang out :)hahaha This one is full TB, off the track. Beyond green. *Some* attitude *g* All she knows is GO and GO FAST. But reasonably chilled about unmounted life (although that may change w/ FOOD -- she's sooooo skinny). She's tiny -- 15.1ish. But still growing, so that's good. One of these days I'll have time to look up her ancestry -- apparently she's reasonably well bred.

Trial ride :)

I'm so excited :)

I also rode my "borrow" horse for the first time today. I haven't worked that hard on a horse . . . ever? hahaha maybe as a little kid on a school-pony, but that'd be the last time :) Beyond lazy. But actually has very decent movement and an awesome jump. So he'll get me fit and let me play around a bit -- and his owners are about the nicest people I've ever met so that helps. All he's ever done is hunt (think following the fox in the field, not outside-diagonal-outside-diagonal :) -- but he's brave outside so xc should be a blast.

Random horse news

yeah so it looks like I might be "buying" a horse. For less than I paid for my hot-chocolate :) Woohoo! Of course there's the minor catch of the evil triumvirate. Yes that's right -- tb, chestnut, mare. You'd think I'd know better! hahaha

Also found a (actually broke) horse that I can borrow for lessons. So that's promising.

Another night of late-night arrivals. Blah. Life should settle into a routine in the nxt day or two. AND I should have internet soon which means MUCH better blogs :) Theoretically anyways...

Power's about to die. Work took all my battery -- the nerve! hahaha

Please be patient, I'm not done being me yet.

So the 2am unload went well. All the horses are fine, although they were pretty zonked today -- every one of them was sleeping in the sun @ one point! 2nd shipment is not tomorrow 2am but the morning after. So I get one night of real sleep.

Will admit I crashed pretty hard at lunch time. Made me feel old! :( Used to be that out till 2 or 3 and up for work @ 7 was a non-issue -- in-fact a fairly regular occurrence! hahaha but apparently not anymore.

So much to everybody's dismay, I appear to have packed winter w/ us!!! :( Boooooo Temp isn't actually down to freezing yet but it's still pretty cold :( Well just overnight -- about 15 during the day, so that's very civilized. But the night's and early am are def cold! The people who actually live here are thoroughly unimpressed.

Today I learned the downside to no winter -- fire-ants, BIG snakes, and poisonous spiders :( ICK!!! The only one I've actually met are the fire-ants (which I was warned about) -- they're all over the place. Some form of spider makes webs out of crazy-glue! As the one who has to get RID of said webs, I'm very glad we don't have those @ home. hahaha Hoping to avoid the big snakes altogether I must admit.

Hopefully trying a bunch of horses tomorrow in search of an RC replacement... X your fingers for me :)

The Beginning of the End

From my files -- just cause it seemed relevant :)

A friend gives you a horse...
You build a small shelter...$750
You fence in a paddock...$450
Purchase small truck to haul hay...$12,000
Purchase a 2 horse trailer...$2,800
Purchase 2nd horse...$2,500
Build larger shelter with storage...$2,000
More fencing...$1,200
Purchase 3rd horse...$3,000
Purchase 4 horse trailer...$17,500
Purchase larger truck...$23,000
Purchase 4 acres next door...$38,000
More fencing...$2,000
Build small barn...$18,000
Purchase camper for truck...$9,000
Purchase tractor...$23,000
Purchase 4th & 5th horse...$6,500
Purchase 20 acres...$285,000
Build house...$185,000
Build barn...$56,000
More fencing & corrals...$24,000
Build covered arena...$182,000
Purchase Dually...$44,000
Purchase gooseneck w/living quarters...$45,000
Purchase 6th, 7th & 8th horse...$10,750
Hire full time trainer...$50,000
Build house for trainer...$84,000
Buy motor home for shows...$125,000
Hire attorney -- spouse leaving you for trainer...$35,000
Declare bankruptcy, spouse gets everything.
Friend feels sorry for you a horse.....

uh oh... A free horse.... hmmmm

So Tamarack NC isn't as fancy as Tamarack VT (or maybe just seems that way cause all the surrounding farms are???) but I actually like it way better. It's laid out in a much more useful design. And I'm highly entertained by the fact that the XC jumps in the fence-lines are, as often as not, bigger than the actual fence! (pics someday in the near future :)

The property where I'm living IS stunning. So I get my fill of that there :)

The question of the day -- do I want a free horse? hahaha I can see all the horse-people cringing from here. But the thing is, the two horses I was offered to ride (both AMAZING) can't leave the property where they are -- which is not Denny's. So that's not going to work so well (although I'm def going to see if I can still ride one of them @ lunch time...) So now looking for something to take to Denny's -- I know nothing about the freebie other than it's right of the track and owner can't afford to keep it. Should find out more tomorrow.

First load of horses gets in at 2am tomorrow am. This means I have to work @ 2am tomorrow am. Am not particularly amused :(

Ah well. Off for now...

You couldn't've custom made a place better for me if you'd tried!

So thinking of my nano friends now -- sitting in a coffee shop that offers FREE wi-fi! What a concept! hahaha n yes, this is because I don't have internet @ home yet, but sobeit.

Apt is SOOOO nice. Cute, just the right size... Two bathrooms -- one w/ an old-fashioned bath tub and one w/ a shower. Thought that was sort of interesting. Brand-new carpet and paint (presumably because they're trying to sell the place. RM is super-nice. Apparently she only moved in yesterday (AND moved all her horses) and Denny had told her I'd be in tonight which is why she wasn't there... First thing she said when I got her on the phone "are you ok? I was worried when I got your message and you weren't here or at Denny's"... So I thought that was cute anyways.

hmmmm battery power is dying, must type faster...

Gotta admit it's very nice to walk outside braced for the cold and it not hitting :) I have been warned that'll go away -- but given that the barn (where I'm staying, not Denny's) has all stalls opening out and x-ties outdoors, I have to figure the weather can't be toooooo miserable.

The "southern" thing is a little excessive. I've been "ma-am"d more times in the last 24 hours than in my whole life. That along w/ "dear" and "honey" are rapidly going to drive me insane -- but Maam is def the worst! hahaha

So RC is not coming south. I was a little concerned about what I was going to ride -- Denny didn't know if he'd be able to find something. But I picked up 2 horses where I'm living in a little less than half an hour so I'm not too concerned. hahaha

In the hotel parking lot this morn somebody noticed my license plates "what are you doing here?" "horses" "oh an eventer?" hahahah definitely have landed in the right place. There aren't too many where the first thing people assume when you say horses is eventing. Driving around is beyond amazing. Multi-million $ horse farm after multi-million $ horse farm. The kinds of farms where the house has a matching little house (or two) for their staff. It's beyond insane. But great for the daydreaming. hahaha And what's not horse farms is golf courses (which doesn't actually matter to me in the least, but I thought it was a good combination). AND almost all the horse farms seem to be eventers! hahaha only reason I guess this is cause they all have both a dressage ring (or 2) and a jumping ring. Haven't seen much XC -- but then you rarely can from the road. The one that made me laugh was the one that had their dressage ring framed w/ nicely painted stadium poles! Was @ Tamarack briefly this morn -- looks amazing (of course) but I couldn't find people so I didn't stay long. Will be back there this aft...

So 5 mins away is Aberdeen which has every kind of fast food, restaurant, and chain store you can imagine. WAY closer than the 35 min in VT Also has the BIGGEST Walmart I've ever seen. And then some. A small city could fit in there. Which would be ok except it's Saturday. I'm not used to shopping on Saturdays... Not an experience I care to repeat.

OK battery's threatening to quit so I'm off. Later!

Riding Disciplines Explained

I can't lay claim to writing this -- it's been floating around for years. But it did amuse me somewhat...

The backyard rider is usually found wearing shorts and sports bra in summer, and flannel nightgown, muck boots and down jacket in winter. Drives a Ford Tempo filled with saddle blankets and dog hair. Most have deformed toes on one or the other foot from being stepped on in thin Keds sneakers. Pulls a two-horse bumper-pull trailer stored behind the barn, used for hay storage. Her horse, Snookums, sports a hand-cut (with scissors) bridle path; duct tape holds a shoe on until the farrier gets by next month. Overheard frequently: "It's too hot/cold/wet/dry to ride."

The endurance rider wears Lycra tights in wild neon colors. The shinier the better, so the EMT's can find her body when her horse dumps her down a ravine. Wears hiking shoes of some sort, and T-shirts she got for paying $75 to complete another torturous ride. Her horse, Al Kamar Shazaam, used to be called "you bastard" until he found an owner as hyper as he. Can spook at a blowing leaf, spin a 360 and not lose his big trot rhythm or give an inch to the horse behind him. Has learned to eat, drink, pee and drop to his resting pulse rate on command; he has compiled 3,450 AERC miles-- with his rider compiling 3,445-- the missing five miles are the ones when he raced down the trail without his rider after performing his trademark 360. Over-heard frequently: "Anyone have Advil?" "Anyone got some food? I think last year's Twinkies finally went bad." "For this pain I spend money?" "Shazaam, you **** -- it's just a leaf [thud]!"

The natural horsemanship devotee looks like a throwback from a Texas ranch, despite the fact that he lives in the suburbs of New Jersey. Rope coiled loosely in hand in case he needs to herd any of those kids on roller-blades away from his F-350 dually in the WalMart parking lot. Cowboy hat strategically placed, and just dirty enough to look cool. Levi's are well worn. "Lightning" is, of course, this natural horsemanship guy's horse. Rescued from a bad home where he was never imprinted or broke in the natural horsemanship way, he specialized in running down his owners at feeding time, knocking children off his back on low-hanging branches, and baring his teeth to look mean. The hospitalization tally for his previous handlers was 12, until he was sent to Round Pen Randy; after ten minutes in said pen, he is now a totally well-broke horse, bowing to the crowd, and can put on his own splint boots (with R.P. Randy's trademark logo embossed on them). R.P.R. says, of all this, "Well, shucks ma'am, tweren't nuthin'!" "It's simple horsemanship." "With this special twirly flickitatin' rope ($17.95 plus tax), you'll be round-pennin' like me in no time!"

The dressage queen is freshly coiffed and dressed. Diamond stud earrings are elegant and stately, and not so large that they blind the judge during her passage-piaffe movements. $30 dollar denim jumper is worn over $300 full-seat white breeches and custom Koenigs. Her horse, Fleistergeidelsprundheim ("Fleistergeidel" for short) is a 17.3-hand warmblood who was bred to make Grand Prix in a European nation where his sellers are still laughing hysterically when they talk about 'zat crazy American.' Despite being runty, his new owner fell in love with his lofty gaits, proud carriage and tremendous athleticism. Never mind that this talent was not revealed until he was chased by a rabid fox, and has not been repeated since.

The hunter/jumper competitor is in a wide-striped polo shirt and beige breeches. The polo is so folks will know they're a jumper rider until they put on their shirt and stock tie. Baseball cap is mandatory after a ride, in order to exhibit free advertising for that trainer's stable for which they've forked over a mere grand or so per month. Her horse, Neverbeenraced, is a prime example of American Thoroughbred. The coat is deep bay, no markings, a textbook TB head (no jowl), and no unusual conformational characteristics other than crooked legs. Perfect, just perfect. The gelding has learned to count strides all by himself, and asks in midair which lead his mistress would like to land on today.

The eventer is always hunched over. Bent forward under the load, it's from carrying three saddles, three bridles, three bits, and all related color-coordinated gear to every three-day event on the East Coast, or it could possibly be a defensive stance for protecting his/her wallet, which is, of course, nearly empty after buying three saddles, three bridles, three bits and all that color-coordinated gear. Looked down on by the H/J set as "people who just run their horses at fences" and by the dressage queens as "not pure dressage riders," eventers are smugly convinced that they are in fact the only people in the world who CAN ride, since the H/J's don't jump real fences and the dressage queens don't ride real horses. One popular horse, Fastnhighasican, is a Thoroughbred track reject who had never won (or placed) in a single race. Perfect eventer! He has two speeds: gallop and stop'n'dump, which are used at his discretion for all three phases of eventing. His favorite stunt is performed at cross-country water obstacles where his rider invariably stands up slimed in waist-deep in murky pond water and threatens to sell him to Fleistergeidel's owner. Called "Hi-ass" for short, Fastnhighasican delights in another hilarious speed variation, the imfreeandyoucantcatchmegallop, a real crowd-pleaser. It brings down the house when he stops and licks the Crisco off his legs before continuing on to the merciless telephone-pole jump just ahead.

If you don't know where you're going, you'll end up somewhere different...

Ok so the drive from Strafford VT to Southern Pines NC took me just over 15h. I left @ 4:40 this am and got there @ 8:45pm. Missed rush hour in all the major cities (the am ones -- the first one I was just before and NY I was just after. The last one I was well after the dinner rush).

I can't take credit for that -- the timing was sheer luck since everybody who I asked about has only done the drive w/ a horse trailer which takes significantly longer.

This drive was longer than the ON-VT one, but went by much faster -- whether that be the obscene amounts of sugar and caffene I consumed on the way or just a more fun drive, I'm not sure. Was also kinda kewl to watch the seasons in reverse... I left in winter, went through fall in NY/NJ area, and eventually got back to late-summer (it's about 18deg out now - @ 11:00 @ night) and none of the leaves have started changing. Although the DO get winter here, it's just shorter and not as brutal...

My iPod randomly decided to start working half way through the drive. I have absolutely no idea how or why but was greatful for it. Although no book cause I didn't bother to dl one since it wasn't working yesterday >;-P

GPS is a wonderful invention. It may not always take the most *direct* route, but it WILL get you there. Eventually :) Or @ least mine does. Although I will admit I opted NOT to follow the direction that suggested a U turn on a divided highway!!! hahaha

So all was good -- till I got to where I'm going to be living and there was NOone there :( Well -- except the horses. I called the girl I'm going to be living w/ and left a message. N then my phone promptly decided it didn't feel like communicating. Any number I tried after that (including hers again) just got a busy tone. Weird. But could be some strange cell-to-cell while roaming issue -- I've hit that b4... Anyways, end result is I couldn't stay there, couldn't get a hold of the other two to find out if they came all the way today or stopped somewhere else, so didn't want to go to the farm not knowing that. Found (yeah GPS) a hotel like 5 mins from where I'll be living -- yeah they had one room left, directly above the bar and "it's music night". No thanks...

That did take me through the actual town of Southern Pines though -- which (on first impression, in the dark) is very much like downtown Oakville (ok I realize there's a very limited number of readers who'll get that reference, but I've been up since 4:30 this am and can't think of a broader one right now!) But the same little rows of shops and it looked like water in the background but I'm not *really* sure of that.

So I went back to the highway and followed a sign for a Best Western (and like 4 others who are all in the same parking lot). The guy who signed me in was awesome -- did some fiddling and got the price dropped about $30 so that was hugely appreciated. Now I'm here, and I mostly signed in so that those w/ the "mom" gene who were worried about me driving alone can know I made it safely :)

Might write something more coherent tomorrow. Now though I must . . . . ZZZZZzzzzz

Eventing 101

It has come to my attention that there are some people reading this relatively regularly who are NOT, in fact, horse people. (yeah I know, I was stunned too *g* But I have some really awesome friends who go above and beyond :)

So first off, for those of you who really have NO idea who Denny is: -- also, if you scroll way down to the pics of Epic Win, he's the sire of RC :)

Anyways -- I thought I'd run through the basics -- those of you involved yourselves feel free to add!

Rule number one, in any equestrian discipline is "keep horse between rider and ground". hahaha beyond that, things change dramatically depending on what you're doing. I'm an eventer. Eventing is the horse version of triathalon and eventers, as a group, are generally considered *slightly* insane and/or rediculously brave. The best ones are neither :) But I digress (hmmmm somewhere I have a thing about the diff types of riders -- I'll look it up and give it its own post).

Anyways -- 3 phases: Dressage, XC, and Stadium. And, like in golf, the winner is the competitor with the LOWEST score overall.

Dressage is like figure skating -- you ride a set pattern and are judged on accuracy, movement, etc etc *yawn* This is incredibly technical and requires the kind of mindset that few event-riders or event-horses possess. Tricky, as it is also, as often as not, the deciding phase as to who wins. In dressage, every movement in your test is scored out of 10 (and just to make things really nasty some movements get double or triple scores) -- you want HIGH marks for that. 10 is unheard of. 0 means you didn't manage to do anything that even vaguely resembled what the test requested. Steady 7s would be *really* good. I've had at least one test w/ 2s and 9s on the same page >;-P This would be the brilliance or disaster riding that is so frowned upon by my coaches (can't imagine why!). hahaha anyways -- does this all seem wrong to the whole low-score wins thing? Yeah it is, dressage just HAS to be difficult. So after you get your (hopefully) HIGH dressage score, some funky math is performed on it to give the number of penalties instead (theoretically this is all the marks you DIDN'T get -- so if you had an 8 for the movement, you now have a 2 -- but the math isn't actually that simple). hahaha with me still?

Every eventer's goal is to "finish on their dressage score" -- which means that whatever score they have after their dressage test (somewhere between 30-80, pref the lower end of that scale :) is the one they end the day on. Because after dressage, things can only get worse. hahaha isn't it a great sport???

So traditionally XC is next, but in recent years most venues have started running stadium next. This is sometimes a timing issue (easier to schedule) and sometimes a safety issue (if you don't ride well enough to get around stadium, should you really be running xc???). Stadium is like what you see on TV -- a bunch of pretty painted poles that you have to jump in a particular order. It is NOT a race. There is a maximum time allowed, which you will incur penalties if you exceed it, but you don't get extra points for going faster. Penalties can also be gathered by knocking down rails or opting NOT to jump a fence on the first try :) hahaha You can knock down as many as you like, but stopping at 2 or 3 (depending what level you're in) means you're eliminated. Boooo.

And then there's cross-country (XC)... This is what eventers live for. Because really, both of the other phases are Olympic disciplines in themselves -- if you didn't want to do XC, you'd stick to one of those (and there are lots who do :). "To ride XC is easy: you go that way, really fast, and jump anything that gets in the way". hahaha I have no recollection of who said that, but it's always made me grin. This is done outside, at a gallop (how FAST a gallop changes depending on what level) -- it is also NOT a race, but has a max time that you cannot exceed (and at the low levels also a MIN time -- you're not allowed to go too FAST either!!!). You jump "natural" fences - some of which are more natural then others! hahaha Big logs, picnic tables, benches, flower boxes etc. In/out of water, over ditches, up banks, off drops, etc etc etc. These are the kind of jumps that don't fall down when you hit them, so you'd better ride it right on the first try! It is an adrenaline rush unlike any other.

Oh and I almost forgot -- in XC you can wear whatever you want :) (well so long as you include helmet/crash vest/boots/medical armband/etc) -- but where both dressage and stad are very formal (traditional black jacket/helmet/gloves, light breeches, etc) on xc colour is legal. Which means you get some ummmmmm interesting colours. And some HIDEOUS colours. And some that just make you ask "what were they thinking?!?!" hahaha but the coordination is the key :) And it's an art to pull it off.

So yeah, THAT'S what I'm doing here :) And really, what I do at home too :)

Now continuing the 101 thing, some random acronyms/phrases that appear in the blog:

PE/E -- pre-entry/entry -- the lowest levels, technically unrecognized but usually run as though they were. Max height 2'6 and 2'9 respectively. PE also sometimes called smurf or grasshopper (as in the jumps are no higher than the grass!). In the states E = BN or beginner novice.

PT -- pre-training (in US this is Novice), 3' fences, very straight-forward courses.

T -- training, 3'3 fences. This is where life starts to get interesting -- you get combos/water/ditches/etc on xc and triples (3 fences in a row w/ usually 1 stride between them) in stad. (although apparently where I'm going next week, even the lowest level courses have water/ditches/etc -- so that could be entertaining :)

P - prelim (in UK/Europe/Aus THIS is Novice -- so when someone says they ride Novice, WHERE is seriously relevant!), 3'6 fences. This is serious eventing. And the jump from T to P has toasted me 3 times in a row now :( REALLY hoping the next horse I find has the scope for it. Above that are Intermediate and Advanced (this being olympic level).

hmmmmm let's see what else...

Fjord's are a breed of horse from Norway that have a very distinct "look" to them :)

DQ = Dressage Queen... There's a long history behind this grand tradition that isn't within the scope of this blog :) Suffice to say the DQ does NOT jump, or ride outside, or wear colours, or do anything else the rest of us would consider fun *g* Nicole and I had an entertaining time exploring this world last year :) It's all very civilized - we just didn't fit in at all hahaha not sure WHAT that says about us!

HP = Hunter Princess... This is the jumping variation of the DQ -- looked down on by EVERbody because, well they're not nearly as good at the attitude thing as the DQs and they don't *really* jump so the sports that do shrug them off as well... hahaha Nobody in their right mind goes to visit this world, and people in this world never leave.

Hocks -- ah the all-so-important part of the horse. Basically the what you'd call the knees on the hind-legs :)

Hacking -- this is essentially trail-riding, although the way eventers (or endurance riders) hack tends to be a little more intense :)

Anyways, I've managed to bore myself now. I can't imagine you're still reading. So I'll stop :) Questions? You know where to find me!

The tack lecture finally sunk in... Maybe >;-P

An experiment...

Take one horse (that'd be RC), one rider (that'd be me), one jump, and six saddles. And see what a difference the saddle can make...

Now we all know my saddle has long since been banished, and I've been riding in one of Denny's -- anyways, today the game was to find one to take south.

I would never have thought the saddle could make *that* much of a difference. Yes I've been TOLD that b4, but to actually feel it... One crazy glued my leg into the right place but made me feel as though I was sitting on a teeter-totter; couldn't get my balance to save my life and was constantly ahead of the motion. Another took every bad habit I possess and exaggerated it (needless to say that one got promptly rejected :). N all sorts of inbetween. The one I ended up w/ was properly balanced, puts my leg in sort-of the right position, and has some funky spring to it that I don't know what that's about but posting trot is like being on a trampoline *g* But of the ones I tried it was the best all-round and would actually be w/in my price range were I to eventually decide to buy one. So we'll see after a winter of riding in it what happens :)

Of course none were as nice as the one I've been riding in, but unless I win the lottery that'll never be an option anyways so may as well suck it up *g*

So I will be doing the drive tomorrow iPod-less :( No ipod = no audio-book = :( There are times when being stuck in the middle of nowhere is NOT a good thing. Hopefully can get it fixed (or a new one) in SP.

I am a packing Goddess! (and a modest one at that :)

So when I moved out here, all my horse's stuff went in the trailer w/ him, and I packed up everything I wanted to take into my little blue Rabbit and away I drove...

This in itself was a more impressive feat than one might imagine.

The trick is that in the move down south, I won't have any space in a trailer for the horse stuff... So today, I once again packed up the little rabbit -- but this time it had to include all my stuff AND all the horse stuff! So the horse stuff got cut down to the minimum of what I need for day-to-day and what I need to compete... The rest got banished to storage where I'll retrieve it in the spring. That being said, I was still VERY impressed that I managed to pack all the rest. hahaha seriously -- picture the amount of stuff you pack to bring to a horse-trial. Then picture the amount of stuff you pack to go live somewhere else for 6 months. Then try and stuff all that in a tiny car. AND I still have the passenger seat free! HA!

Well I was amused anyways. Let's just say it's a good thing I like puzzles. The other people around were absolutely convinced it wasn't going to happen and offering suggestions about mailing etc... All very valid, but I'd much rather just pack well *g*

That being said, UNpacking said car is going to be a bit of a nightmare. But such is life eh? It is also significantly harder to drive -- not nearly as responsive when it weighs twice as much. hahaha can't imagine why. Oh well :)

Tomorrow's my last day working here... Friday I drive :)

Shortest blog entry ever!

Seven HUNDRED bales of hay stacked. And all the normal chores. And riding. AND packed all my barn stuff.

I'm zonked.

Good night.

In honour of Remembrance Day

Salute to a brave and modest nation
- written by: Kevin Myers, 'The Sunday Telegraph' LONDON:

Until the deaths of Canadian soldiers killed in Afghanistan , probably almost no one outside their home country had been aware that Canadian troops are deployed in the region.

And as always, Canada will bury its dead, just as the rest of the world, as always will forget its sacrifice, just as it always forgets nearly everything Canada ever does. It seems that Canada's historic mission is to come to the selfless aid both of its friends and of complete strangers, and then, once the crisis is over, to be well and truly ignored.

Canada is the perpetual wallflower that stands on the edge of the hall, waiting for someone to come and ask her for a dance. A fire breaks out, she risks life and limb to rescue her fellow dance-goers, and suffers serious injuries. But when the hall is repaired and the dancing resumes, there is Canada, the wallflower still, while those she once helped Glamorously cavort across the floor, blithely neglecting her yet again.

That is the price Canada pays for sharing the North American continent with the United States, and for being a selfless friend of Britain in two global conflicts.

For much of the 20th century, Canada was torn in two different directions: It seemed to be a part of the old world, yet had an address in the new one, and that divided identity ensured that it never fully got the gratitude it deserved.

Yet it's purely voluntary contribution to the cause of freedom in two world wars was perhaps the greatest of any democracy. Almost 10% of Canada 's entire population of seven million people served in the armed forces during the First World War, and nearly 60,000 died. The great Allied victories of 1918 were spearheaded by Canadian troops, perhaps the most capable soldiers in the entire British order of battle.

Canada was repaid for its enormous sacrifice by downright neglect, it's unique contribution to victory being absorbed into the popular Memory as somehow or other the work of the 'British.'

The Second World War provided a re-run. The Canadian navy began the war with a half dozen vessels, and ended up policing nearly half of the Atlantic against U-boat attack. More than 120 Canadian warships participated in the Normandy landings, during which 15,000 Canadian soldiers went ashore on D-Day alone.

Canada finished the war with the third-largest navy and the fourth largest air force in the world. The world thanked Canada with the same sublime indifference as it had the previous time.

Canadian participation in the war was acknowledged in film only if it was necessary to give an American actor a part in a campaign in which the United States had clearly not participated - a touching scrupulousness which, of course, Hollywood has since abandoned, as it has any notion of a separate Canadian identity.

So it is a general rule that actors and filmmakers arriving in Hollywood keep their nationality - unless, that is, they are Canadian. Thus Mary Pickford, Walter Huston, Donald Sutherland, Michael J. Fox, William Shatner, Norman Jewison, David Cronenberg, Alex Trebek, Art Linkletter and Dan Aykroyd have in the popular perception become American, and Christopher Plummer, British.

It is as if, in the very act of becoming famous, a Canadian ceases to be Canadian, unless she is Margaret Atwood, who is as unshakably Canadian as a moose, or Celine Dion, for whom Canada has proved quite unable to find any takers.

Moreover, Canada is every bit as querulously alert to the achievements of its sons and daughters as the rest of the world is completely unaware of them. The Canadians proudly say of themselves - and are unheard by anyone else - that 1% of the world's population has provided 10% of the world's peacekeeping forces.

Canadian soldiers in the past half century have been the greatest peacekeepers on Earth - in 39 missions on UN mandates, and six on non-UN peacekeeping duties, from Vietnam to East Timor, from Sinai to Bosnia.

Yet the only foreign engagement that has entered the popular non-Canadian imagination was the sorry affair in Somalia, in which out-of-control paratroopers murdered two Somali infiltrators. Their regiment was then disbanded in disgrace - a uniquely Canadian act of self-abasement for which, naturally, the Canadians received no international credit.

So who today in the United States knows about the stoic and selfless friendship its northern neighbour has given it in Afghanistan?

Rather like Cyrano de Bergerac, Canada repeatedly does honourable things for honourable motives, but instead of being thanked for it, it remains something of a figure of fun. It is the Canadian way, for which Canadians should be proud, yet such honour comes at a high cost. This past year more grieving Canadian families knew that cost all too tragically well.

Lest we forget.