Here there be dragons...

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

1st lesson

So this morning was our first official lesson. Getting ready to go out -- w/ enuff time to w/u but not so much time that Cayman will be tired b4 Denny gets there (C's really not very fit @ all). As I'm getting ready to bridle Denny walks in the other door "so you're going to lunge him for a bit first right?" ummmm yes, yes of course I am! hahaha well as of this second anyways! "And you'll be lunging properly... With a lunge whip." Absolutely! Message received loud and clear. But @ least that implies he knows that I know how it's supposed to be -- at least he didn't feel the need to give me a "how to lunge" lesson. So that's a start. By all accounts the lunging focus goes away once Denny's convinced the horse is sane. WAS in fact an option today, but the kind of option where you know what the 'right' answer is :)

So I dutifully go out and lunge him. He couldn't care less. However this HAS eaten up my w/u time, which meant Denny came out JUST as I was getting on. N thankfully Cayman was still good after yesterday and was cool w/ just walking. I got the extended lecture on that - simplified it boils down to "the horse must ALWAYS be relaxed when the rider is on. And EVERY ride is started and ended w/ a loonnnggg walk." Ok sobeit. I'm not sure of the practical viability of convincing a spinny horse in the XC start box to relax, but I'm sure I'll learn :) So Cayman is walking around -- not exatly the txtbook definition of *relaxed* but at least it's a walk when we get the theory portion of the lesson. "So what do you know about the dressage training pyramid?" Oh shit... Of COURSE I know the pyramid. Well I know OF the pyramid anyways ;-P Once upon a time I KNEW said pyramid but do you think I can recall it at this instant?!?! hmmmm well if you're going to be wrong, be wrong w/ confidence: "Relaxation, Suppleness, Contact . . ." fortunately he stoped me there right about where I wasn't sure which step was next (and getting it in the wrong order would be bad. Very very bad.) so I lucked out w/ that. So he went on to discuss the practical applications of said pyramid and how most people get it all wrong :-} Then (now you have to understand, we're still WALKING :) it's "so how much German do you speak?" ummmm yeah that'd be a big-fat NONE. Well do you know the Germand concept of Durchlassigkeit (and yes I looked up how to spell that)? -- YES! Woohoo finally one I can answer :) Thank You German Coaching System handbooks! So we discussed that for a while. I brought all of 4 horse books w/ me out of my library, the 4 I thought were most likely to come in handy. Looks like I guessed right -- they include both the intro and advanced German txt books :) Sometimes I get lucky. N you can guess what I'll be reviewing the next few days. hahaha

So all of this discussion gets applied and Cayman is finally allowed to trot. Woohoo. And thanks to the fact that he's done a hell of a lot more dressage than I ever have he even tried to make me look good! Nice and soft and through and round. Has NO strength @ the moment, but that'll come. Denny deemed him to be "a really nice horse" -- so I was pretty thrilled at that. Of course it came w/ the codicil "I hope he can jump." hahaha Me TOOOOOOOO!!! I get the impression we'll be finding out about that soon. Lesson was AMAZING. Not a hard workout physically (although I suspect that'll come once Cayman is fit enough) but man I haven't thought that much since my last calc exam. hahaha every coach I've had has yelled at me for "thinking too much" -- this one, every 2 seconds was quizzing what we talked about earlier and making sure I'm applying/understanding what he's told me -- while still adding in all the traditional corrections inbetween. Although to be fair I suspect that will be phased out once I prove that I understand and can apply his system -- what I've seen of his other lessons he still asks tons of questions but not nearly w/ the same intensity.

As for Cayman -- he did well. He was lazy @ spots and silly @ spots (he's learned to spook already?!?!) but generally really really good. Then we went for a mini-hack -- but as I was alone and told not to take him anywhere he was even *slightly* hesitant about, we didn't go far. Mostly just around the little field by the sandring. But still, it's a start.

The most fun part w/ C today was this afternoon when he got turned out in a much bigger paddock for an hour or so (runs the length of the three smaller paddocks and around the side) that has a reasonable hill on it, he had a blast galloping from one end to the other (and fast enough that I got asked if he was full TB!) hahaha woohoo!!! Clearly not tooo tired after his recent exertions! Pony can RUN. We *might* be able to make the times :) And he was having soooo much fun w/ it -- alert, head up, araby-type swishy carried tail, setting off all the horses in the mini-paddocks (brat!) and dancing around. Yet when I went to bring him in he came and stood quietly.

Anyways -- I was grinning from that most of the day. Off to read German handbooks now :-P Later!

Country Living

So had a lesson in country living today... Was almost late for work due to COWS crossing the road!

Then coming home for lunch was delayed by scary birds... And get home to find the horses munching away on the front lawn -- having let themselves out of their paddocks. Pics to go w/ this here:

Sheesh :)

Oh and on a completely different note -- US Coke tastes different. I am not amused.

Cayman's 1st Day!

So poor Mr. Cayman is BEYOND skinny. We'll fix that soon, but still... He's also not particularly fit. That will also be fixed :)

He's also coming mostly from DQ world. He has eventing bloodlines, but other than 1 SC he's done nothing eventing related. I'm not convinced he's ever even really hacked.

I rode him a few times last week before bringing him here (thought that might be a wise idea :) and other than one day when he was clearly testing me (it was pretty funny) he was mostly lazy and, admittedly, kinda blah... Oh well -- not fit, etc figured was still worth a try.

Brought him out to the sandring -- I was told to do a walk hack today, and one of the girls offered to babysit so I was aiming to be ready to go when her lesson ended. He was bouncing around on the way out, so I was told to lunge him first. Umm ok. Go get lunge line, and promptly get yelled at for not doing it properly (I freely admit I wasn't doing it properly -- I let him trot around in big circles. No lunge whip, extra lunge line mostly bundled up etc etc. Not dangerous in any way but def not text book style either.) ah well. Will worry about that another day. Go to get on and get growled @ (really!) cause he doesn't stand. So Denny comes and holds him when I get on. Cayman rounds his back up and I can just feel the explosion -- but he just trots off in a VERY animated trot. I was perfectly happy with this! Those of you who knew Zel as a baby will remember this was part of our daily life for several months :) But then I got yelled at (literally) to "make him walk NOW!" ummmm I'd really RATHER let him trot. But clearly not the time or place to argue about it. I let him trot a few more steps and then brought him back. But of course now he's bouncing cause he didn't have a chance to chill :( Was informed I was NOT to go faster than a walk today. Cayman by this point has grown an extra hand (congrats Mary!!!) and is carefully investigating all jumps etc for monsters...
Denny left @ this point (thankfully!) A bit of an inauspicious beginning :( My hacking buddy and I walked around the ring for about 10 mins (it's a big ring :) and let Cayman see the world and discover that mosters really don't live inside green barrels.

So then we venture out into the world... Now brave Mr Cayman has NO problems leaving the ring, passing the scary shed, the pond w/ ducks on it, anything. Until we hit the first field that had XC jumps in it!!!! And no little-white-fence-of-doom in site. He just didn't know WHAT to do w/ it. So our hacking buddy (show name "The Saint" - aptly named) and us wandered around and visited the scary xc jumps (now you have to understand this is nowhere near the actual xc course :)...

Then we managed to navigate between the scary water and the equally scary feeder. Cayman wasn't quite sure which would have bigger monsters in it and so cowered into his new best friend. hahaha not sure how he felt he'd protect him but sobeit...

At this point we have to start to navigate real hills... Now dressage rings tend to be FLAT. hahaha and DQs tend to get really huffy if they're not. And Cayman's brief intro to jumping didn't include any hills... And these hills are really mountains. Poor guy wasn't sure at all what to do about this and his solution?!?! Let's go FASTER!!! hahaha horse who I couldn't get to move at home had power gaits like you wouldn't believe all day today. N yes I realize that's a strength thing, but you see it showed me that he CAN go forward. hahaha and now that I KNOW that, there's hope. Real hope. Of course we have a bit of an issue in that crossing the running stream was no problem at all but entering the field of XC jumps was super scary. Like stop and run backwards scary. I would be the one who'd have an eventer afraid of XC jumps. "BUT LAUR!!! They EACH have a monster in them!!! There's a WHOLE FIELD of monster-houses! We should really go back across the running stream -- monsters drown in the water!" hahaha

Did I mention it was pouring rain through all this -- although for most of it we were in the woods so not too bad...

Anyways -- shortly after that we went back down the mountain -- clinging to his new buddy the whole way... Tomorrow he has a dressage lesson. And another hack. Could be... ummmm entertaining!

X your fingers for us!

Blogging Silliness

hahaha so yeah I totally forgot which email I used to create this blog AND which password went with the email. Do you have ANY idea how many combinations of my "standard" emails and passwords there are?!?!?! Sheesh! SUCH a newbie mistake too -- you'd think I'd know better. But then, we know I'm a *little* sleep deprived these days ;-P yeah, that's it!

So to those who actually do blogs on a normal basis -- is there any point to the "labels"??? Or are they just a waste of time?

1st Day!

Ok I'm exhausted so I make no guarentees as to the coherence of this!

I show up @ 7:30 -- the other two girls there are somewhat hungover after the party last night, so not overly social. But then I'm not particularly social first thing in the am on the best of days! There are supposed to be 4 ft staff (including me) but apparently one of them just randomly decides when she's working. She showed up around lunch time today. Interesting concept! There are also 2 pt -- 1 who kinda does her own thing and just looks after 2 specific horses, and 1 who wants very much to be involved but is still in HS so comes over to the barn whenever she's not in school.

So the morning involves all your typical barn chores -- except taken to an extreme since the BM (who's super nice) is beyond anal about being a neat freak. But sobeit -- we all have our things >;-P However, this is a bit excessive... @ some barns I've worked at you're doing really well if all the stalls actually get done every day. N water buckets get cleaned occasionally. In comparison -- here the stalls are done not once, not twice, but THREE times a day!!! (@ least the ones w/ horses in them). Indoor water buckets are emptied and scrubbed every time the stall is done. Outside buckets once/day. Outside paddocks are picked every day too. Insane. But the place IS spotless -- I'll give em that :) Several things they do in a particularly inefficient manner. No other barn I've ever been @ would allow it -- but no other barn could spare the staff either. For now I'm not about to say anything cause quite honestly I need the break! Had a good 1/2h nap waiting for one of the outside buckets to fill cause instead of going and doing something productive while they're filling, you sit and watch them. That whole "watching paint dry" concept -- yeah right up there. That sort of thing. I wonder what they'd think if I brought a book out w/ me? hahaha don't think I'll try that yet ;-P My camera otoh...

On the plus side -- lunch is an hour and a half! Has ANYBODY else EVER heard of that in a barn job? In ANY job?

People are all very friendly. It seems to be a good group. And the work is pretty evenly shared which is nice. Once I'm used to these friggin mountains I won't be so tired and things will be easier. This week though... Brutal.

The impression that I get...

Ok so on Sat I got up and went over to see Cayman etc. The barn manager seemed to expect me to start THAT day... ummmm no... I talked myself into starting on Sun instead. Sheesh! Got moved into where I'm going to live (stunning house but my room isn't available yet so I'm staying elsewhere till Wed), went to town (in NH -- no big stores in VT. But no sales tax in NH. It's a great concept!) to get some odds and ends and find my way around. Food is HUGE -- "small" meals @ fast food places are = to med + @ home. I can just imagine what large will be. Even microwave dinners are bigger. That night the girl who I'm replacing was having a going away party. Was highly entertaining, but I left early as I felt really awkward being there (she's clearly very close to everyone else and I've met her all of once)... But as the party was going on where I'm living, sleep wasn't much of an option either! So much for getting caught up!

Where I'm Living

The ultimate job interview...

So on Sunday I showed Zel to some people, on Monday I got a call @ 8:30 "our vet will be there @ 11:30, is that ok w/ u?" ummm sure. I get there @ 11, Zel's potential new owner is already there! With trailer! Vet shows up around 12... She passed w/ flying colours, was loaded onto the traier, and gone. I was a little stunned and very upset -- although it helped knowing she was going to an AMAZING home. To get over this, on Tues, I drive 9h to Vermont! Get there just as the sun is setting and am directed to "go down to the house"... ummmm ok :)

Was invited in by May and Denny and had a brief inteview where I mostly tried not to sound like a drugged idiot after such a long drive. I was also STARVING, having not realized the last town WAS the last town on the drive in! Then was shown where I'd be staying the night (a super cute guest cottage on their property) and left in the hands of other working students who I spent some time chatting w/ and getting the general concept.

Next morning I was to be at the barn by 7:30, where I followed along w/ the morning chores and pitched in where I could. Now you have to understand, this barn is IMMACULATE. I've never seen a facility as spotless as this one. I'm not sure I ever want to again ;-P Definitely does not have the lived-in feel to it. In fact if I hadn't seen so w/ my own eyes I don't think I'd've believed there were horses there! But so-be-it. There to learn different things, and that certainly qualifies.

Then the games begin -- the all important assessment lesson! Yikes. Get on a horse I don't know, beyond nervous, and start riding. Watching are Denny, May, the horse's owner, the barn-manager, and a couple random other people. No pressure eh? hahaha was semi-ok once Denny started teaching -- I can follow instructions, mostly :) Although def NOT able to read his mind as easily as I can Marg's -- never realized how useful that skill is till I discovered I don't have it anymore!!! (as in knowing WHICH of the "yellow" jumps he's talking about when the jump in question is actually RED -- and various other challenges :) I figure that'll get easier as I get to know him. Anyways, other than the crazy nerves and riding like a bit of a dork for the first while, I survived! Rule number one (For those not acquainted w/ the rules that'd be: "Keep horse between rider and groud") was obeyed at all times, and at the end the grand summary of my riding was "you're ok". hahaha and I was THRILLED. And hugely relieved!

Spent the rest of the day helping with the daily barn work -- the other workers were friendly and it seemed to be a very good environment. @ lunch-time went to see the place where I'm going to be living, which is gorgeous! And, thankfully, nowhere near as clean as the barn! hahaha only a true horse person will appreciate the rightousness of that :) In the evening went out for dinner with the other girls and was a fairly entertaining evening -- of course to get to anywhere "out" is a solid 40 min drive and into another state. But that's ok. :)

Then the next day, turned around and drove home again... At least the weather was perfect :)

Pics from the roadtrip:

Scary Gravel and Related Monsters - part 2

*part 2*

So then . . . *insert ominous background music* . . . the driveway. He walked right up to it np (usually, if I'm alone @ least, he starts shying a little ways back. He's not so bad if we're with another horse but even then...). N then stop, snort, sideways... But he didn't spin or back up (yeah -- some of the day's lesson has evidently sunk in). He walked over it. REALLY tall, but he did it. ("I'm gonna do it, but I'm not gonna like it" -- I swear he's still a 2 yo child). Right away started snorting at the next pile -- goes to spin away from that, so I point him right back at the one he just walked over. Going AWAY from the barn. nahnah *insert rider mentally sticking out tongue @ pony; hey I can be two too :) - you could just feel his brain spinning "WTF, we already did that, she's supposed to be making me go over there, and I didn't want to go over there, but I don't really want to go over here either, HEY! what am I doing standing on this!" snort snort snort. But stand on it he did. And walked back and forth over it. Anyways eventually that pile got boring so we went to do the same thing at the other WHITE pile. Now WHITE gravel is almost as scary as BROWN grass. And white gravel w/ a strip of paper in it? Well that's just not in his contract. But I think he finally gave up and after the token snort walked back and forth over it several times. Stopped and stood on top to lots of pats. Then up and down the driveway over both parts. And the world was good. After THAT he finally got to go home.

It was definitely the LONGEST ride I've ever had on him. But one of the more sucessful ones too. Now the interesting thing will be to see if any of it sunk in. I have some doubts, but we'll find out soon enough :)

hmmm this is the longest E I've typed in quite some time. But then, it was a long ride :)

Scary Gravel and Related Monsters

This is not technically from my WS days, but the blog was looking a little empty, and I know those who know Colby will appreciate this one from a couple yrs ago :) Enjoy!


So I knew I'd be in for a ride just cause it was morning. It's always a battle when I ride him early in the morning. But I will admit I was a little dismayed when our 15 min drama over getting up the driveway resulted both in hitting the electric fence on one side (it wasn't on - I almost wish it had been) and sliding into the ditch on the other. He certainly does have good balance I finally get him past the scary-pile-of-gravel (both piles) which have been there for weeks now (more time for the monsters to grow) and went out to the hay field where we had similar dramas over the Monster-Housing-Tree, the Horse-Beating-Stick, and the very scary Yellow Rope of Caution (ask Nicole someday about the yellow rope of caution -- that's a long silly story all on it's own, originating from Checkmate). However, what Colby has yet to learn is that I'm very patient and reasonably fit and am willing to simply wait till he gets over it. So we trotted around and around and around. N when that got boring we cantered/galloped around and around and around. Every couple laps we'd change direction and the game would start all over. I figured I'd won when he would both canter around both dirs on a loose rein w/ no shying and trot around both dirs (the L was WAAAYYY more scary than the R all day) nicely on the bit.

Ok so horse has worked, you go home right? Well not so much -- really I figured he had only just warmed up to the point where we could work. Even if it DID take an excessive amount of time to get there. So I took him to the back field -- well he shied at the tiny amount gravel on the driveway... Then we're trotting up the hill (dancing around shying at stuff again) and he quits and spins at a place where the grass is . . . BROWN. Horror of horrors. So I decided that by the end of the day he was going to walk over every terrain change I could find. We trotted around the giant hill a few times till he was doing that properly n then I figured it was time to attempt the behaviour modification. Well you're not new here -- you can well imagine Colby's reaction to that...

I figured gravel was the really big issue (cause honestly, I'm sick of the driveway attitude). So where's there gravel? Well there's a nice flat section all around the coffin ditch.... OMG you should've seen Colby's reaction. Walked him up to it, making it VERY clear that we weren't going anywhere near the ditch (he wasn't even vaguely pointed at it). Stop, snort, spin, bolt. Rinse and repeat. Ad naseum. Finally got him to put ONE foot on it and he lost it -- grabbed the bit and bolted. Had to use a pulley rein which I don't think I've done on him in least two years. I think only once ever and that was the first year I was riding him. So turn him around n back to the ditch we go. So this time I think he sort of gave up -- put one foot on and then jumped over it (fine, close enough, big pats 'you're a star' etc etc). We walk around the little bush and this time both front feet actually touch the gravel. More big pats. Next time he walked over it. Beautiful. Circle the other way to try and walk over the other side. Repeat the entire paragraph. But faster and w/o nearly as much dramatics. But man can your pony spin. Sheesh. So now he'll walk over both sides, both directions, and do little circles around the ditch. So last attempt is to get him to walk over the gravel alongside the ditch. Waaaayyy less drama this time, mostly just for form's sake. So with all that established, we go over the gravel then trot up and around the hill just to free up his little brain, then come back to it at a TROT. ooohhhh scary. We've been away for a good min and a half, the gravel might've grown monsters... nah -- he was good. Trotted over it, went up around the jump (first part of the coffin) and came back and trotted over the other side. Changed dir and picked up a canter and the same thing. Ok so ditch gravel fear conquered. (I did NOT think this would be the appropriate day to introduce the ditch :).

Done right? Mission accomplished. Go home... Not so much. There's LOTS of gravel on the property n I was really not amused w/ the driveway attitude. So I walk up the driveway beside the bank and he steps on the gravel there np (that he had shied at on the way down). Ok progress. Figure I'll go school the gravel at the top of the steps -- but as I turned I realized there's a great pile of it right there! That I'd completely forgotten about. N it's so wide it's hard to evade, even for Colby Stop. Snort. Huff n puff n blow the house down... But eventually he took one step on... N got lots of pats. N eventually he walked across. N got lots of pats. N then I got him to step on w/ all four feet and just stand there. He wasn't too sure about that (it might open up and swallow him after all) but he did it. Then we went for a trot around the field to clear his little brain and repeated. This time when he stopped I let him eat the lone tiny puff of grass to grow in the gravel. Hey maybe this gravel stuff isn't so bad Walk through it both directions. Good to go. Went up to the top of the stairs. NO hesitation at all there.. Walks n trots across it all directions np.
You'll be pleased to know that w/ all the scary gravel to worry about, he couldn't care less about the cows playing and watching this.