Here there be dragons...

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

What have I done to annoy Mercury?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Merry Happy Best . . .

Merry Christmas!!!

Happy Hanukkah!!!

Super Kwanzaa!!!

Fabulous Festivus!!!

Wonderful Winter Solstice!!!

Merry Three Kings Day!!!

Happy Eid'ul-Adha!!!

Super St. Lucia Day!!!

Awesome Omisoka!!!

Merry Boxing Day!!!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Commercial Adventures

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Amazing day today :)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Our Regularly Scheduled Program

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

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

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

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

We interrupt this program for a brief political broadcast

Sad news in Ottawa:

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

Life is crazy but fun :)

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

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

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


Winning the battle against perfection!

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

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

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

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

XC tomorrow!!! woohoo!

Ok enuff randomness. Night!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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