Here there be dragons...

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

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.

Happy Birthday Paula!!!!

Ok everybody now:

Happy birthday to you
Happy birthday to you
Happy birthday dear Paul-la
Happy birthday to you!

Hope it's awesome :)

Not even Kodak could capture all of these crazy memories!

YEAH MORE Truly Intelligent People!!! Although I fear you'll think you've ended up in the wrong place after reading today's post!!! hahaha hmmmmm any chance we could get up to 20 b4 I go south?!?!?! (that'd be FRIDAY people WOOHOO!!!! :) Comeon, any lurkers left out there???

hahaha omg Kerri I was totally thinking of you and the rolling-the-roundbale-in-the-mud today! For those of you who weren't there for that (which would be everyone OTHER than Kerri :) our boss had gotten the tractor stuck in the mud while trying to put a round-bale out for the horses and was NOT happy about it. Then Kerri had the brilliant idea that she and I could ROLL the roundbale the rest of the way. Uphill. In the knee-deep-tractor-sucking mud. N somehow convinced me to go along w/ this. By the end I (who can ALWAYS stay clean - or that's the story anyways) was absolutely COVERED in mud and my sides hurt from laughing so hard. I'm sure the horses watching us thought we were insane :) It was definitely a you-had-to-be-there moment, but I have faith that those of you w/ vivid imaginations can come up w/ a pretty accurate visual.

Anyways -- fast-forward a couple years and you get today. The goal was simple -- take the XC start-box (think heavy wood portable fence) and move it to Summer Barn (Summer Barn is WAY @ the top of the mountain -- basically temporary stabling for their horse-shows etc. Cute little barn -- in the winter it's used as storage for all the stuff they don't want to leave outside).

Temp's about 5 deg and it's sunny out. Not bad for this kind of job. Now the farm truck was not easily accessible, so we took the gaiter instead. NP. Except that when we got to the XC start box we realized that the pieces are all significantly BIGGER than the gaiter’s trunk (for lack of a better word). And they're heavy and awkward w/ big feet on the bottom of them -- but the gaiter being the size it is, only ONE foot could fit in at a time. And of course they're NOT big enough to have BOTH feet out (which would've balanced it all).

Anyways -- Tory was determined that we could do this, so we set about figuring out HOW. And as we maneuvered the first (of 6) pieces of the start box around to figure out how best to do this, it started raining. Classic. Well w/ some creative stacking we managed to get 5 of them on. Ok from side to side, but precariously balanced front to back...

So we climb back into the gaiter -- she's driving. I'm sitting in the passenger seat, twisted around to hold on to the one KEY piece of our stack -- so long as it stayed in the gaiter, so should the rest *g*. And to add to this, Remy (the dog!) is trying to sit on my lap, while I'm twisted around backwards. And Remy is NOT a lap-dog size :) He doesn't outweigh me yet, but prob will by this time next year!

So we start slowly moving. And the rain changes to hail. And the wind directs it right at us. Tory's trying soooo hard to get us up the mountain w/o running into any of the XC jumps while being blinded by the hail. I'm doing everything I can to keep the stuff from sliding off the back. Remy's keeping guard and shaking like crazy cause the temp dropped like 10 deg in 5 mins or less... And then we get to the first steep part of the XC course... Still trying to get UP the mountain to Summer Barn... Now you'll recall, the instability was front-back. Which means as we start to go up, that damn gravity interferes and tries to pull our wonderful creation back DOWN. hahaha Well there were def a few moments that I wasn't convinced we were going to make it w/o losing everything. N by this point the weather was REALLY horrid so it was very much a laugh or cry moment -- there was a lot of laughing going on throughout this endeavor.

We finally get it where it should be and then have to figure out how to disassemble our wonderful stack! hahaha Well gravity actually (albeit unintentionally) helped w/ that -- fortunately we didn't break any in the process (although one, admittedly, may need a quick tune-up before it gets used next year!). Then there was the issue of the stall door wouldn't stay open so we kept getting stuck. It was really a bad comedy routine -- under the truth is stranger than fiction category; if I'd made it up it would've been rejected as unbelievable! But we did, eventually, get all the pieces safely inside. And returned all the way back for the one lone one we'd left behind... And it was almost harder to get up because it didn't have any others to counter-balance it so it was unstable side-to-side as WELL as front-to-back. But by this point at least the hail had turned to snow.

I, however, was still dressed in my 'sunny and not-to-cold' clothing. Which was def NOT waterproof. So by the end of this I was pretty freezing :( Tory made the executive decision that the next chore on the list should be the one in the only heated place on the farm :) hahaha and by the time we were done that it was sunny and warm again. The weather gods were having fun at our expense today! >;-P

And later this afternoon it was nice enough to go hacking. Seriously. And I met a deer. One deer, all by himself, who had staked out his place on the path and was NOT about to let us pass. A troll-deer I swear! hahaha and little RC who taught me all about Cow-Eggs (ummm see the other post :), wasn't the least bit phased by the troll-deer. I, otoh, was far more concerned about a prey animal that doesn't run away than I was about a rock -- but what do I know? We took another loop around, but sure enough when we got back the deer was still there. I have no idea what it was doing. It's very lucky I wasn't a hunter! It eventually meandered enough off the path that we could pass, but stood and watched us the whole way... I almost wonder if it's the same one I met at the water jump a few wks ago -- it wasn't the least bit concerned about my presence either. I do wish I'd had my camera w/ me though -- could've had lots of close-up deer pics today!

Lesson learned today -- do NOT, under any circumstances, have a pizza and a GIANT hot-chocolate right before a dressage lesson. No matter HOW friggin cold you are. Or how you THINK you have a good 3 h to digest before the lesson (time got bumped up significantly :)... Just don't do it. It's not worth the risk. N of course it *would* be the first serious dressage lesson I've had since I've been here. Only advantage to that is it was short cause RC can't DO serious dressage for very long yet!

Say what???

I learned something today I simply have to share. This post is for those of you whose horses are afraid of big rocks. You'll note that most horses who fear big rocks, also fear cows. And most horses who fear cows, also fear big rocks.

Today I learned why.

Big rocks (or what we mere humans sense to be big rocks) are not, in-fact, big rocks, but rather COW EGGS! Seriously. But cows aren't hatched...? oh my poor-little-ignorant-friend but they are. Only certain ones though -- the horse-eating, child-stealing kind of cow that every intelligent creature SHOULD fear, are hatched. From cow eggs. That look like rocks. The *problem* is that hatched-cows look very much like born-cows... There's really no way to tell which might be of the hatched variety and so you're MUCH safer off running away from ALL of them. Just in case.

So now you know.

The voices in my head are snoring.

We leave on Friday. I've already started packing. hahaha those of you who have known me any length of time will realize how MUCH that indicates I'm ready to go. I am the queen of last-second packing :) That being said, I *really* hope I have a day off between now and then to get organized. N I'd also *really* like my ipod to be fixed by then, but that doesn't seem likely to happen :( Booo :(

Had a girl riding today who was very much of the "do it my way, do it now" type of rider -- was interesting to watch after all the lectures of late... Denny DID manage to get her to soften up and the horse certainly went much better once she did. But she was definitely having a tough time with it. Have to give her credit though -- it clearly went against everything she wanted to do, but she gave it a fair try. Didn't even roll her eyes *g* Although she did disappear rather instantly after her lesson was over :) hahaha most people hack for a while and then hang out before heading out... At least if things have gone well :)

A bit of a different take on physical size today. "You have an advantage in being small -- you HAVE to do it right." hahaha ummmm ok :) But the point was that a really big, strong guy can get on a large number of horses and physically muscle them into doing what they want. But the average woman simply doesn't have the strength for that -- so they have to negotiate the results w/ a little more finesse. And the result, theoretically, is a much more relaxed/rideable horse. The analogy was the people who just toss on the draw-reins -- look, he's perfect! But two days w/o them and the horse is inverted etc etc... Big-strong-guy can hold horse in position, but two days w/ another rider and they're toast.

Just a veiwpoint I hadn't thought of b4, so figured I'd share :)

4 days :)

They say you should learn something new every day -- they never said it should be something important.

So today was more on the "how to be your own coach" concept. As in there is a coach who is always available to you, doesn't charge for lessons, and presumably always has your best interests at heart.... Better make sure it's a good one! hahaha Thought it was an interesting point @ least. I really miss teaching -- clearly I need to get on this concept to fill the gap >;-P hahaha

As to actual riding -- you'll be glad to know it IS also getting better. It's not entirely theory I'm doing here. hahaha there's something to be said for riding under supervision ALL the time (whether officially or unofficially) -- your bad habits tend to go away a whole lot faster (the reins are only a *little* too long now most of the time, instead of *miles* too long all the time!)

So I have a place to live down south now -- and a super-kewl roommate (at least from what I know so far), so I'm pretty excited about that.

On a totally random note -- we ALL know Tim Hortens is WAY better than Dunken Donuts (the only thing around here -- no Timmie's anywhere around): BUT I have to admit, I tried a donut from DD that I've never seen at Timmie's b4, and really Timmie's HAS to get on this. One of those jelly type donuts (which I usually don't care for) but the outside was cinnimon powder instead of white and the inside was apple... mmmmmmmm sooooo yummy... hahaha just thought I'd share :) I was also highly amused that the girl who brought the donuts had to clarify to THREE different people that no she had not fallen off the day before *g* Tradition gone wrong eh? It's no longer that you HAVE to bring donuts if you fall, it's that IF you brought donuts people think you fell.

Flight home for Xmas is booked :) Woohoo!!! I suspect I'll start counting the days shortly after I finish counting the days till we move south. It was like 27deg down there today so def looking forward to that! We leave next Friday. Officially this time. Or so they say >;-P hahaha

Always play as though the master were watching...

Although around here he is!!! lol. Sheesh. But yeah, today's discussion was about how to be your own coach. And the IMPORTANCE of being your own coach. The point being, 90+% of the time, you ride alone - so to really become great at it, you have to be able to coach yourself. And to do THAT you need to know the theory, as well as be able to objectively evaluate what you're doing -- both positionally and mentally. Since we all know being a coach is @ least partially being a psychiatrist! hahaha

Also had a discussion about obedience and what that word means in relationship to horses. And when somebody claims their horse is being disobedient -- is he really, or has he been poorly trained or are you asking incorrectly or etc etc N just that you have to think these things through before reacting -- and of course you only have a split second to do that :)

And how being able to judge obedience ties in w/ being your own coach and the importance of both.

So really it was a LOT more interesting than any of this sounds here, but it turns out that I'm really tired so not conveying it well. Sorry about that -- maybe tomorrow :)

Never fail to recognize the sucess in failure.

So when you're an adult, and you decide to randomly put your life on hold, there is a fair amount of chaos involved. What do you do w/ your apartment? How will you pay your bills? (funny those don't disappear just cause you're making no money!) What do you do about your job? (that one was very easy since I was being downsized anyways :) But really, all of these things fall into place. The biggest concern for me was What do I do w/ my pets?!?! Now my last fish had passed on and not yet been replaced, so the tank just went into storage. My horse was sold the week before I left. My parents very kindly accepted my cat for the interm... But I didn't know any bunny-people... What to do w/ Bilbo? Well Anna saved the day! And has been taking GREAT care him -- I'm not sure he'll even want to come home... And the point to all this -- it's Anna's birthday!!! Woohooo! hahaha so happy birthday Anna, from me, and Bilbo, and anybody who's enjoying this blog -- cause none of this would be happening w/o you :)

So today was XC day again!!! Woohoo!!! And for the first time I didn't feel completely discombobulated. Take a year off and it takes FOREVER to get it back (and by forever I mean what like 4 lessons? hahaha but still :). That being said, it was also the first time I thoroughly screwed up -- but it proved Denny's point quite nicely so I was forgiven *g* Yeah I was pretty close to being eliminated at the 2nd fence. Skinny brush jump (about pt height). No problem. Except it's A, skinny, B, very upright, and C just happens to be located at the bottom of a hill off a turn. N worse, a hill that didn't LOOK bad @ all -- till u were riding it. I got totally suckered. hahaha Yeah so I had TWO runouts before I smartened up. Sheesh. And then on the 3rd try I cheated and trotted. And definitely got called on that (trotting fences is not allowed - and I KNOW it's not allowed. But I also know it works! hahaha and sometimes you just have to get the job done.) "Alright -- now go do it properly. In canter." hahaha - yeah ok. But we've already cheated so won't be any problem now. Sure enough, a non-issue. Ah well -- overall though it was a much more sucessful school then the past few have been. Partially cause little RC is getting more fit, so he CAN get his hocks under him, and partially cause I'm getting back into the whole jumping thing AND getting used to the whole MOUNTAIN thing :) May (Denny's wife) was out w/ both a vid and a still camera -- n from what I've seen she's got pretty good timing w/ the stills... So I'm hoping I'll get to see some of those (very good w/ a camera. Not so good w/ a computer -- whether or not they make it to me might be questionable).

So XC theory -- when you get into trouble, STAY STILL! (not sure this particular riding lesson applies so well to real life... Maybe that's why people find it so hard?) He says one of the most fatal mistakes he sees is when people can't see their spot and they panic and throw themselves up the horse's neck... (thinking this is his variation of my "Jump 1st = Jump Alone" :) But of course throwing yourself up the horse's neck then puts all your weight ON said horse's neck -- making it very difficult for them to lift themselves up and SAVE you! hahaha If you're counting on your horse to bail you out, the least you can do is make it easy for him. Sit still, keep your chin up and your leg on, and do NOT go forward until you feel him leave the ground.

There was one girl riding (solid @ T, was here to see if Denny thought the horse had potential for prelim - answer was absolutely). Anyways - you would not believe the difference this made. I mean yeah the general concept is pretty classic -- but her "jumping up the neck" was *maybe* an inch. She was about 1/4 a stride ahead of the movement. Really subtle flaw. I would never have caught it if it hadn't been pointed out to me (yeah coach's eye improving! Cause now I'll know it if I see it again -- well when I get students to this level and can worry about it! hahaha gonna be an intense summer girls *g* :) But anyways, Denny called her on it and when she did it right the diff in her horse's jump was amazing. He always had a little... hmmm almost, hesitation... before takeoff. Nothing really bad, but just a pause b4 he jumped. Well when she managed to stay still that went away and the horse just flowed over the fences. Was really kewl to watch. N you could tell she felt the diff cause when she did it right she came off the course just beaming :)

Thanks to Zel, I don't have this issue :) My focus of the day was entirely keeping the horse balanced and in a frame he could jump out of (an issue none of the others had -- movement to die for!). But we're starting to be allowed to jump real fences, so that makes it a little more interesting.

One phrase of the day that caught my attention, although it wasn't directed at RC... "That horse is stuck to the ground". Now whatever image you've got is prob pretty accurate *g* Horse was being VERY nappy -- didn't want to leave his friends to go jump. N was basically stuck to the ground. "I'm not moving and you can't make me" hahaha but he DID get going and after that was the FIRST to do any course and that helped a lot.

Moving date's been changed again -- 14th now. Sheesh >;-P So we'll see...


-- ps all you lurkers out there, it's time to become Truly Intelligent People!!!

-- pss - no not really, I just had to include that for Paula :)

A little bit of nothing goes a long way...

So today was a day off -- spent it mostly enjoying the incredible weather and daydreaming/planning depending on how you look at things :) hahaha

Was the first day that I've been out and didn't feel the need to take any pics. Clearly time to move :)

Which will hopefully happen next Wed, but we'll see... Will believe it when we're on the highway!!! hahaha Have not yet started packing but really should do so soon. Looks like little RC may be coming south too :) So that could be fun. But again, will believe it when we're on the highway!

And on a completely unrelated note -- for any who haven't caught it yet, Obama's victory speech: -- I hope one day to write as well as whoever wrote that!

A picture's worth a thousand words... Well maybe not these 'pictures'!

So the elections today caused a traffic jam on my way home from work. And by traffic jam I mean I had to slow down slightly where the two roads intersect (there are no actual signs there) and actually SAW another car on the road. hahaha

18 deg and sunny today. All the jumps have been put away for the winter :( The solution to this -- XC!!! Woohoo! Doing actual courses now, so was able to get rolling and settle into a rhythm. Waaayyyy more fun. DO think a running martingale would've been a good thing though... hahaha forgot that minor detail till it was too late -- oops :)

So today's jumping theory will be illustrated in stick figures. (I just hope this posts correctly!)

awwwww stick figured didn't work :( Not a fixed-width font and I can't figure out how to change it. So now we have the revised version:

/ <-- br="" galloping.="" horse="" is="" this="" your="">

| <-- be="" before="" br="" horse="" how="" is="" jump="" this="" to="" want="" you="" your="">

_ <-- br="" don="" end="" how="" if="" is="" t="" this="" up="" you="">

hahhaha Denny illustrated all this by means of hand signals :) Basically the horse naturally gallops flat, long and down. And will get flatter, longer, and lower as you go if you let him... It is very hard (and SCARY!) to jump out of that position. So before the jump you have to convince him to go back together and get his hocks under him so he CAN jump (apparently horses don't understand physics -- but then if I recall correctly I didn't do so well in physics either!). Anyways -- this was why we got to do actual courses cause in order to play w/ the gallop and learn to adjust it, one has to actually gallop :) Fun fun fun!

He wants them sitting up 3-4 strides before the fence. Every clinician I've ever ridden w/ has a magic number (David O'Conner's was EIGHT) -- and everybody's magic # seems to differ... I like the 5 range personally (and that's together by 5, not starting to get him there then! hahaha) cause I figure that leaves enough time to adjust if the distance isn't perfect -- by 3 you're really too late! Or @ least I would be *g* But that's just my opinion.

That being said, we were doing PT courses so 3-4 is just fine cause really the horse could jump any of them at a trot (or flat-out gallop as the case may be) if necessary. But still, the concept is to learn so to be able to apply @ prelim +...

Anyways -- I have to go pretend to be social now :( Later!

30 Things in 30 Years

This is completely unrelated to anything you might expect on this blog, but I was so impressed by it I wanted to share:

Background: heard this on the radio today -- thought the timing was pretty good... (like I said, radio choices here are country, oldies, or church. GOTTA get the Ipod fixed!!!)

Then I came across this blog -- the challenge was to come up w/ 30 things to do in the next 30 years and this was one woman's response:

She just had her 82nd birthday. I've scrolled through some of her other posts -- I REALLY hope I'm going that strong @ 82!

One that caught my attention started w/ "My little boy, he's 57..." hahaha I guess it's all in the point-of-view.

Anyways -- just thought I'd share... Off to figure out MY 30 things now *g*

All I'm doing is rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic...

So the barn is basically in a state of almost-controlled-chaos as the packing continues -- esp as nobody seems to know for certain when we're moving. I'm highly amuesed by the fact that the most inefficient person I've ever met, is the one w/ all the lists! hahaha Could prove an interesting challenge -- esp if they randomly move the date up again. I'm also a *little* concerned as I don't have anywhere to live down south yet... hmmm but I figure that'll sort itself out :)

Today's leeson: "It's all about core-strength". Yeah -- you can imagine where the lesson went from there :) hahaha so I *might* be a little sore tomorrow, but I'm absolutely certain it'll be nothing compared to that one lesson w/ Mary -- and I don't think she was even trying! >;-P hahaha sorry Mary *g* I know, wimpy eventers... But seriously, if you want an ab workout, call her.

On the plus side, I'm finally relearning how to sit a brutal TB trot... "This horse is a good example of why you rarely see TBs in competitive dressage." -- yeah so that's what I'm starting w/. We're working mostly on developing enough strength so that he can carry himself, and then convincing him to carry himself uphill and together instead of long a strung-out. "Selling Zel was the right thing to do. Selling Zel was the right thing to do." Maybe if I say it often enough I'll believe it? But man did she ever spoil me in some ways :) To be fair, this one does too -- just in different ways. I sincerely doubt he'll ever buck me off (hahaha now who wants to guess what tomorrow's post will be about.... :) N while he can be quite spooky, at least he doesn't seem to hallucinate (although I gotta admit that particular tendency usually amused me :) But really, other than the fact that they both go forward and they're both little, they're about as different as you could get. But hey, a good rider should be able to ride anything right? What I really want to know is if he can JUMP. We've only done baby stuff so far (and admittedly that's all he's fit for) but I'm not convinced yet that he really has the scope in him :( Although after yesterday I KNOW he's got the speed, so if he can jump we're set.

On a completely random note -- the people I'm living w/ here are having an election-party tomorrow. This tells you something about the people I'm living with. I'm a little curious as to what would happen if their guy lost hahaha

We shall see...

To ride or not to ride? What a stupid question!

So I went on THE most fun hack ever today. But I have to tell you, the people I was riding w/ don't define "hack" as "lazy-trail-ride" the way I tend to hahaha. Oh no. There was a whole lot of power trotting, some cantering, a fair amount of bouncing-in-place (given that 2 of us were on TBs and the one who knew were we were going was NOT :) and a couple gallop sets :)

I, not knowing the plan (but admittedly easily convinced), was in dr tack :( Boooo on that. So stirrups promptly got rolled so I could at least get off his back... Still not proper XC length of course, but better.

3 horses, little RC who's full TB but not very fit, Johnny who's also full TB and IS very fit, and Cotton who's paint w/ who-knows-what in him. Both Johnny and Cotton upgraded to T the weekend I got here so they're pretty well good to go. RC was living in a field till a couple wks ago *g*

Some of the trails we were on were snowmobile trails, so they were A, in very good condition and B, signed. hahaha the one that had a "sharp curve" warning had grafitti scribbled on it saying "REALLY BAD". We took that particular warning to heart and slowed down a bit *g* -- I wish I'd taken a pic, but we were going entirely too fast for that.

Very good thing these are XC horses cause more than once we found ourselves in water obsticals; one in particular was entertaining -- bridge was under water and def not safe for horses... so we just went around the bridge and through the stream instead. hahaha there was another area where the path had been flodded out except for one tiny section in the middle of this "lake" -- we figure all good water complexes have something in the middle of them. There were also a few random logs etc that you just have to go over... hahaha

So being as we were on a mountain the trails twisted and turned and we were generally always going up or down. We quickly got into the habbit of going up a whole lot faster than down *g* But never super-fast cause the two of us on fast horses don't know the trail. But then the woman who was leading turns to us and says "ok so as soon as we make this turn, there's a gallop hill that should even tire Johnny out. You guys can be as idiotic as you want; I'll meet you at the top" hahaha So Johnny's rider looks at me "you ready?" oh yeah... But they've been doing cross all summer and have the 0-60 in a stride or less thing down. hahaha RC hasn't quite got the instant take-off down yet -- it took him 3 or 4 strides to really kick into gear -- BUT we caught up! And WOW what a ride. hahaha I haven't gone that fast in several years. Zel was VERY fast when she wanted to be, but not full-TB fast. I'd forgotten what that kind of ride is like. N of course the first time you duck to dodge a branch the horse takes your weight-shift as a sign to go faster... hahaha There was one turn that little RC did entirely on his own cause I couldn't even see where we were going! Good pony :) Now we were, in fact, going almost straight up a mountain -- n I could feel RC run out of gas b4 we reached the top... But of course, being a TB, was running on adrenaline and had NO interest in stopping. And I admit I just let him go :) I could see where it ended so I didn't think he'd really come to any harm. N was soooo much fun, for both of us *g* But I def made sure he got a nice long walk break at the top of the mountain. I was very impressed that he could keep up w/ the other (fit!) TB -- I really hadn't expected him too. The last horse made it up a min or two later... She also galloped, but on a different scale *g*

So once we break through the trees at the top of said gallop hill all of a sudden there's this stunning vista. Unbelievable views of the mountains around. And there's a random telephone pole in the middle of the field, which Johnny's rider immediately trotted over to "here Laur, you have to sign the book." ummmm ok??? So there's a box attached to the pole, and in it is a zip-locked bag w/ a book and writing untensils. Sure enuff, messages from all sorts of people who made it to the top of the mountain w/ dates etc... They *think* it originated w/ the snowmobilers logging miles, but seems to have been taken over by everyone. So yes I signed the book :) They told me I couldn't dismount to do so, so I'm not convinced it's legible, but it did amuse me. N of course RC was tired enuff after the gallop up the hill not to wander toooooo far.

I'll tell ya, much as I enjoy the fall hack w/ the ladies @ home (you know who you are) every year -- this just blew that all away. The unbelievable scenery and crazy mountain paths, combined w/ the adrenaline rush XC. D I really wish you'd been here for this one.

I'm still grinning. Hours later.

Pics if you're interested:

Sport Psyc 101

Ok much as I *despise* being cold, I have to give winter one thing -- the sky, on a really cold, clear, winter night, is beyond amazing. N yes I might've *almost* crashed the hay-cart into a tree cause I was star-gazing in the most literal sense of the word *g* But I realized it in time so it's all good :)

Sorry things've been a little sporadic lately -- BOTH jobs are absolutely insane at the moment; this means I get home from the barn late and then have several hours of office type work to do -- I'm afraid blogging time is what gets cut... Blah. But such is life eh?

*we now interrupt your usually scheduled program*

So I'm not doing Nanowrimo (that'd be National Novel Writers Month: :) this year - SOMEthing had to give - and am somewhat disappointed about it, but (as I was writing today's post) a nano-friend of mine suggested the blog version which now exists -- and THAT I think I can do :) Soooo IF I pull it off, there will be posts every day this month. Don't know if that's a GOOD thing or not -- may not even be technically possible over the two days we're moving, but I'll figure something out :) hahaha

And now, back to our regularly scheduled program...

As you know, we're moving soon. This is proving to be a somewhat entertaining process -- esp as for reasons I really don't understand they move a bunch of stuff back and forth that doesn't get used at the other location. For instance -- buckets. Today they took down dozens of buckets from the storage shed and packed them... Now the fact that they were IN the storage shed shows that they *never* get used (@ least not here, which leads one to wonder why they got packed and BROUGHT here in the first place!)... N really, how hard would it be to have a set of buckets at each barn? There's TONS of these sorts of things that just leave me shaking my head... But hey, to each their own right?

Today's theory was sport/horse-psyc... "When you're riding, you have to be a trainer, not a competitor". If you think this one through, it makes a lot of sense. Goes along w/ the whole "ride the horse you're sitting on" concept. And of course, it's absolutely true -- if you get on your horse saying "we absolutely have to do X now" there's no way it's going to happen. In fact, it's a pretty safe way to guarantee it won't happen. And I'd be willing to bet anybody who's ridden for any length of time in any discipline will have tried it at some point, and failed miserably. hahaha I can SEE you nodding :) Of course we know I have a rather vivid imagination *g* N yes I'm guilty too -- Zel drilled that into me far better than any other horse I've ever sat on. But I eventually listened... And learned...

Ok so it's not that you just never have a plan, but more that you stick w/ the training scale and if you don't make it TO your plan you accept that and work on what needs to be done. So in dressage, if the temp has dropped 10 deg and the wind has picked up and your horse is a *little* fresh (read: "running around like a giraffe on crack" - to borrow a $700 Pony phrase), it is perhaps *not* the appropriate time to introduce piaffe. hahaha That day (esp if you are NOT a fan of the go-gallop-your-horse-before-dressage school of training) you may very well spend the whole ride finding and installing his brain. Also known as step one of said scale: relaxation. Or in jumping when your horse has SUDDENLY REALIZED there are MONSTERS living under the 2' log that he's seen a million times b4, it is, perhaps, not the day to introduce ditches. Even though there's a ditch on the course you're running next wknd.

As competitors we get very focused on what needs to be done to win the next event, reach the next level, etc etc... But as trainers we need to focus on the horse as an athlete, and what does that athlete need to work on, or even is ABLE to work on, in any given day -- w/o the "I want" in there. The horse really couldn't care less that champs are in a week. Or that your upgrade is next Sat. He sees monsters today and that's that. It's only AFTER you get rid of the monsters that you can perhaps negotiate your way to the competitor's goals -- and the only way you'll do that is to put aside the competitor and bring in the trainer.

Then to follow along w/ that is the two ways of convincing your horse to do something: persuasion and coercion... We all aim for the first (obviously :) but it's all too give in to the 2nd... You WILL do it and you'll do it NOW! Which, admittedly, is *occasionally* required. But most of the time we slide into that mode almost w/o knowing it -- the leg gets a little stronger, the hands get busy, the mind starts going "would you just DO it." N once the mind kicks in you're toast. Cause then you'll be tense and try to force it, and once the horse feels that he'll be tense. N last time I checked tense was the opposite of relaxed... Which puts you BELOW step one. Not a good place to be to fix things. (see above competitor vs trainer paragraph :) hahaha

In most sports, training the athlete psyc is how to get "into-the-zone" or remain focused or push through the wall or whatever. Riding is the *only* sport that requires this level of mental agility. To both be determined, focused, and competitive enough to make it to the top (as required for all sports); and at the same time be able to entirely turn that off to train the horse (who most definitely is not determined, focused, or competitive -- except maybe about food!) to take you there. Can you imagine if the tennis racket suddenly decided to be afraid of the ball? Would make that sport a WHOLE lot more fun to watch. Or if the soccer ball decided it'd rather eat grass than go into the net? Or if the gymnast's bar decided it didn't want to stay straight? We'd have some VERY entertaining sports :) And, more importantly, how many of those athletes would be able to deal w/ it?

So that's an awful lot extrapolated from one sentence -- see I really DID get an English degree *g* -- but I know it's something I'm guilty of so I guess it struck home... Can't count how many times my coaches have told me "you KNOW how to ride, everything now is mental." (well except for my foray into dressage -- there I DON'T know how to ride so there's still lots to fix! hahaha) anyways -- this is the first one I've ridden w/ who attempts to train the mental aspect as much, if not more, than the physical. He just expects that the physical skills to be there. Which I guess is fair enough given the level of most of his students.

Ok, I think it's time to stop now :)