Here there be dragons...

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

Happy Mother's Day!!!!

hahaha ok so the title might seem a little misplaced, but Mum and I celebrated Mother's Day on Wednesday :) May was just a little too cold.

So for Mother's Day I wanted to find something we could do together and I stumbled upon the idea of an Urban Quest. My dad would later describe it as a car rally on foot -- and it seems that's fairly accurate. A series of challenges that would take us on a tour around part of Toronto and end us up at a mystery restaurant. For dinner you pick the type of food -- we went for pub -- and they make your reservation somewhere...

So we picked an evening that I had off from the barn where the weather looked good (this combination is not as easy to find as you might think!) and signed up!

They gave a suggested parkinglot -- Adelaide and Spadina. Ok we get there and the first clue is a word puzzle. Solve the puzzle to find out where to start. hahaha so sitting in the corner of the parking lot while rush-hour pedestrian traffic past us by, we solved the puzzle and learned we were to start in Kensington Market. Sweet.

Only one problem -- neither Mum nor I had any idea where Kensington Market may be. hahaha oops. So Mum hit up the smart phone, googling away, while I took the more old fashioned method and made a new friend. Random woman who looked like she knew her way around town - quite cheerfully gave us directions. And off we went.

Wandered through Chinatown for a bit, and with her directions and a little help from Google, found it. And while I'd heard the name many times, I honestly had no idea anything about it.

It was highly entertaining! Colourful and busy, the street housed a variety of shops from various places and decades of the world. Mostly of the alternative variety. Found a fairy store I was quite amused by :)

So our quest took us in search of a cat on a chair. Ummmm I think maybe you'll have to wait for the pic of that one :) It'll come, just not tonight. Then cutting back through china town looking at dragons, lions, and lettering we couldn't read. hahaha lots of fun.

From here we explored the walk of fame looking for names of various stars, and took in some of the jazz festival while we were there. And this led us to the key to unlock our reservations.

Now since I hadn't checked my email since I started said quest, I never got the message with the url for the mobile aps. So we fought with the normal url for quite some time. Booo. But eventually we got it to work and found where we were going to eat.

Food was great, and tons of it! And just enough of a walk back to the car to walk some of it off :)

Was a great day, have some fun pics that I'll add in shortly :) Definitely worth a go if you want a slightly different thing to do for a couple hours...


So at 8:30 tonight I was exhausted. Didn't want to go to bed cause I figured I'd wake up at midnight wired. So I figure go kill half an hour and then go to bed. All good right? Well now it's after 11, I'm part way into a new excessive project that I have exactly 4 days left to complete. Oh comeon - you know I'd never do anything the easy way. I've also discovered my nanonovel never actually uploaded the final version. hahaha the html version worked with the ending but all the downloadable versions didn't -- so when I wanted to download it, I couldn't. Sheesh.

Alright back to work. Or sleep. Or something.

#FridayFlash 56 - Home

Happy birthday Hailey! Hope you have a great summer of amazing rides :)

Slightly different style of Flash this week -- let me know what you think!

Please note that all characters and events in this work - even those based on real people - are entirely fictional >;-P

Alana was grounded. Again. And this time it really wasn't fair! All she'd done was mention that it was Jessi's turn to do the dishes and ask why she should have to do them. Jessi would certainly never have to do her chores. But now she still had to do the stupid dishes for her stupid sister AND had no access to her phone or computer for a week! How was she supposed to do her homework? Did they *want* her to fail? Probably. Then they could ground her for that too.

She finished the chore and fled the house, slamming the door as she went. They'd hate that, but she knew by the time she got home it'd be forgotten. Hopping on her bike she peddled furiously to the one place that was hers; the one place her siblings and parents never interfered. The barn.

Alana ditched her bike and went into the barn, the smell taking the edge off her temper as quickly as it would've made her younger brother cringe and whine. The horses were all outside, and the barn was spotless - her coach was insanely picky about that. It's just a barn after all. But the girls all knew things just went much better when you smiled and did it the way she wanted.

She quickly cut through the barn and, grabbing a halter and lead line, headed out to the paddock; she could hear a lesson going on in the distance, but that wasn't why she was there. As she approached the gate she called her pony's name. He looked up from his grazing, nickered, and trotted away from the herd towards her. 'At least somebody loves me', she thought as she fed him his carrot and wrapped her arms around his neck.

They'd told her she'd have to sell him -- she was growing too tall and needed a bigger horse. But how could she sell her best friend? She buried her head in his neck and wiped the tears with his mane. He turned his head around and nudged her shoulder with his muzzle as if to tell her it'd all be ok.

Haltering him, Alana led him out of the paddock, closing the gate behind her. She contemplated hopping on him bareback and riding him back to the barn. It'd be fun. And he'd let her do it. She knew he would. But she had no helmet. And her coach just *might* kill her if she found out. Or worse, kick her out! And she would find out. There was no doubt about that. So she dutifully led her pony back the way she'd been trained.

She groomed and tacked up quickly. Usually a task she enjoyed and spent endless hours doing, today she just wanted, needed, to get out. And he understood – picking up on her mood and fussing in the cross ties instead of standing quietly as he’d been trained to. As quickly as possible she and her pony were back outside, dressed and ready to go. She vaulted into the saddle, a move she was quite proud of, and turned away from the lesson still going on in the background. Still mad at her parents and devastated that they’d even consider *mentioning* selling her beloved Prince, she turned and headed out to the field. He started to dance underneath her, picking up on her distress and knowing a calm walk through the woods wasn’t going to be the answer for either one of them.

They picked up a power trot, the pony straining at the bit, eager to go faster. She started to relax as she smiled at his antics. “Not yet Prince,” she told him out loud, “you have to warm up first.” They trotted two laps around the conditioning trail; she laughed out loud when he used a squirrel racing up a tree as an excuse to bolt. “Not yet,” she repeated as she checked him. Half way through the third lap she let him roll into a canter, and by the time they hit the start of the fourth he was flying.

Her heart pounding she raced with her pony; they flew around the track – he stretching as fast as possible, she leaning low to his neck, loving every minute of it. The only sound was his hooves crinkling the grass as they hit, and his breath matching his stride. She couldn’t see – the wind was too sharp in her eyes. But she trusted him completely. And so they flew.

Eventually, after what seemed a lifetime and only a split second all at once, she knew he’d gone far enough and sat up to slow him down to a more reasonable pace. They trotted for a little while down some of the side paths, just enjoying being together. When they got to the pond, she hopped off and let him have a drink and a graze, enjoying just being with him.

She had all but forgotten what had sent her fleeing to the barn in the first place, and knew deep in her heart her parents would never really make her sell him. They could be totally horrid and always favoured her sister, but that was a line not even they would cross. She picked a dandelion and fed it to her pony who accepted it with quiet grace before she remounted to head home.

The ride back was quieter than the trip out, but the grin from the wild gallop remained on her face as they sedately strolled back, reins on the buckle, Prince a calm old school pony once more. Back at the barn, carefully controlled chaos reigned, as the lesson had finished so the students were all gossiping and reliving their lesson while untacking and bathing their horses. “Have a good ride?” one of the girls asked Alana as she and Prince joined them. And as easily as that, she was welcomed home.

The real 7 wonders of the world

So I've mostly been posting things on the GRS blog lately -- have that *almost* caught up now, just the Wayne Roycroft clinics (which were *amazing* btw. Having a multiple-Olympian school your pony? Pretty sweet!) and we'll be good to go. Pics of the amazing superpony jumping crazy high and the girls' first horse shows... All *finally* up. Still waiting on some pics for the Caledon HT to go up on FB, but in the interim, the blog will be a good start.

Up crazy late now. Not sure why. Just trying to get things done and on a bit of a roll so I figured I'd keep going. Might regret it tomorrow. hahaha ah well. Dixie goes in for her xrays tomorrow, so will be good to know what we're dealing with there.

Loving the storm right now. Problem is that storms like that tend to energize me which is not really the look I'm going for at the moment.

Random thing - I noticed my hair's turning blond for the first time since I was like 8 :) hahaha only thing is, since the top half is always covered by a hat, it's still dark, so now looks like I have a wickedly bad dye issue. Which might matter if I ever went anywhere that I cared how I looked *g* Fortunately not so much of an issue these days.

hmmmm so cats and touch screens - bad combination. Just an fyi >;-P

Oh yeah - the original point to this post (I knew there was one somewhere!). I got this in an e, and while I'm quite certain it never occurred in any classroom anywhere, it's still a good read. Enjoy :)

Junior high school students in Chicago were studying the Seven Wonders of the World. At the end of the lesson, the students were asked to list what they considered to be the Seven Wonders of the World. Though there was some disagreement, the following received the most votes:

1. Egypt's Great Pyramids
2. The Taj Mahal in India
3. The Grand Canyon in Arizona
4. The Panama Canal
5. The Empire State Building
6. St. Peter's Basilica
7. China's Great Wall

While gathering the votes, the teacher noted that one student, a quiet girl, hadn't turned in her paper yet. So she asked the girl if she was having trouble with her list. The quiet girl replied, "Yes, a little. I couldn't quite make up my mind because there were so many." The teacher said, "Well, tell us what you have, and maybe we can help."

The girl hesitated, then read, "I think the Seven Wonders of the World are:

1. to touch...
2. to taste...
3. to see...
4. to hear... (She hesitated a little, and then added...)
5. to feel...
6. to laugh...
7. and to love.

Caledon HT

So today Hailey did her first *ever* horse trial! Woohoo! She took Bella to Caledon and Holly took her horse Roxy, to Roxy's first HT. Both girls put in excellent dressage tests! I was pretty happy with that :)

Show jumping was *tough* for PE -- including an in and out to a four stride. Technically legal, but almost unheard of in that level. There was also one fence that was highly technical just due to where it was placed. But tis ok, challenging courses are just there to eliminate the competition :)

Both girls warmed up really well. Hailey was on first. Now some of you may remember the interpretive dressage circles from last week? Well in dressage this time Hailey followed the traditional (albeit boring) pattern, but chose instead to move the interpretive circle to show jumping. *sigh* hahaha the pony was a superstar and went exactly where she was told -- which unfortunately included a minor detour as H remembered while *passing* jump three that she should technically be going *over* it. Fortunately she DID remember and corrected her minor error calmly and continued around the rest of the course beautifully.

Holly put in a super strong ride on Roxy. Rox was a little overwhelmed by the course but she trusted her rider and together they got around. Fortunately Holly kept her interpretive style within the penalty-free zone by putting a remarkable 4 strides in the 2, but otherwise riding an excellent course :)

Then time for the *real* reason we event: cross country! Woohoo! We walked the course together, then sensing the girls were just a touch lost, sent them around to walk it again by themselves. They came back looking a little more confident although there was definitely some pre-run review:

So then it was time to go. Got Hailey in the start box. "3. 2. 1. Have a great ride!" And I got to watch till she went over the first fence and then she was off on her own while I went to w/u Holly.

I gotta tell ya - it's WAY more nerve-wracking to send your students off on xc then to do it yourself *g* I *love* going into the start box. Feeling the adrenaline racing through your veins; terror warring with excitement while trying to relay "calm and confident" to your horse. And then as you clear the first fence and settle into a rhythm, your focus narrows to only what's important to navigate each obstacle - even the one (and there's *always* one) that you were not to sure of at the beginning. You can feel every muscle move, your body moves instinctively to guide and react to your horse -- to give them confidence when they're unsure, and steady them when they're a little TOO excited. And when they join in the game -- jump into a field and scan for their next jump and you feel them pick up on it and take you to it... Well there's nothing like it. But watching your students go? Man then you get all the scary emotions with a LOOONNNGGGG gap before you see them cross the finish line and get the positive ones :)

Fortunately for me the timing was such that I was busy with Holly till Hailey came back -- so I saw Holly off over her first fence and then could talk with Hailey about her ride. The look on her face was one I've seen before -- the adrenaline and excitement are flowing and she had a ton of fun, but something was not quite right. hmmmm ok "how was it?" -- it's part of my job to ask *g* Well apparently the pony was a little nappy at the start of the course, not too sure she wanted to leave home and friends... But Hailey got her over her difficulties and then she jumped clear the rest of the course. It took me a while to convince her that she actually did *well* and that part of riding is to improve the horse, which clearly she did. And then the smile took over and she was good to go and left to take care of her pony while I waited for Holly's return. And waited. And waited. You see, we had discussed the fact that her horse was not as fit as I'd like her to be, so Holly was trotting all but a few strides before each jump. It was a long wait (esp as I wasn't near anybody with a radio so I couldn't hear how she was doing), but when she finished the horse was in excellent condition and the rider had a huge grin on her face. She was clear for the second time of the day.

So in the end, two girls competed, and two girls brought home ribbons. Not half bad. Congrats to Holly on her well earned SECOND place finish!!! Woohoo. And to Hailey on bringing home 7th at her first ever horse trial. Well done ladies!

My next performance horse?

Gotta love the stuff you find on the internet. The photo goes SO well with the statement :)

Welcome to Athena :)

So with Dixie essentially off for the summer (we'll know more after she gets her xrays next Thurs...) I really felt we needed another school-master over fences... And there are lots of those around, but they usually cost more than my car. And sadly my budget didn't account for buying ANY other horse at this point, much less an expensive one, making it far more of a challenge.

But really, I'm not one to back away from a challenge :) And I have a little bit of experience with this particular game, so I cheated and went to some sources I've been to before. Between them I found 5 potential horses, 3 of which were at one farm. The 4th, at a farm very near the others, and the 5th WAY the other direction. I needed something big enough for adults to ride, well schooled on the flat, and very honest over fences -- essentially something that knows it's job, I don't need to train, SOUND, and the vast majority of my students would be safe riding. And anybody who's ever shopped for schoolies knows your odds of finding this are only slightly better than winning 649. And really, I've already got superstars Bella AND Nick so I'm pushing my luck a little... (Dixie I figure her luck balanced with the current on/off soundness issue)

But anyways -- Hailey and I loaded into the Beast and hiked out to the farm that had three (apparently horse shopping is an entirely valid reason to skip school *g* Let's be honest - it's June... How much work are they going to be doing???). We were a little early so got to see the horses being tacked up, etc.

One, a TB, had lovely confirmation although with legs that had clearly been on the track at some point. It was a little snarky about being groomed and tacked up, but not to the extreme that would be a deal breaker. There was a QH who looked quite good. A little shorter than I was really hoping for, but stocky enough to balance it out. My only concern with her was super-long pasterns... Wasn't sure how that'd hold up to eventing. And the third one was soooooo skinny and because of that looked a little misshapen. She had good legs though so figured we'd see.

So we take all three out. They have no rider, but all seem quiet enough that I was willing to let Hailey get on. She picked the QH first and totally loved her. Smoothest canter ever (or so I was told) and the mare entirely saved her over fences. Ok so we've got the honest and quiet thing down. But she was avoiding the contact, dropping behind the bit, so I got on to see the status of her flat work... Ummm yeah - as soon as I put my leg on she had a hissy fit. hahaha oops. Quite lovely going around with no leg and no reins but as soon as you ask her to *actually* engage (as opposed to just hold her head arched looking pretty) she wanted nothing to do with it. And really, that's not something I have time or interest in retraining.

So next horse. She gets on the TB, and looks good at w/t. Canter was clearly rather jarring as H was having a very hard time sitting, but still acceptable. And then they started to jump. Horse was HOT. Like shooting sideways doing everything she could to get to the fence NOW. It actually could jump, but despite the sellers comments about green riders riding this horse, it was not coming back to my school! I got on her anyways, mostly cause I wanted to. It also preferred to duck rather than accept contact, but this one quickly gave and started to come through nicely (clearly has good training somewhere along the way). So after I had the horse I wanted on the flat I jumped her around a bit -- she was quieter on the aids, but still WAY too much for what I was looking for.

At this point I'm starting to get a little concerned. Only one horse left and she didn't look entirely promising. And it was a LONG drive :( And I was starting to think "well maybe the grey is worth the work..." and arguing with myself - knowing I'd regret it later if I did that. And H gets on the last one and has a lovely walk where the horse is clearly stretching for the contact. Got towed a little at the trot, but even there eventually found her balance. And that trot. O.M.G. Absolutely stunning. hmmmm ok maybe there *is* some promise here. Tried to canter and couldn't get the lead. Less good. Change direction to let her canter her way. All good. Jump - easy, eager friendly AND lands on both leads with autochanges. Nice. Jumping a bigger fence demonstrated pretty excellent form (although *slightly* launched Hailey *g* hahaha you learn a lot catch riding :)

So I get on that one, and totally fell in love. Forward, responsive, and gorgeous movement. The canter's a little rough -- but she also has no weight and no muscle so this is not a surprise. I didn't jump her (poor thing was *tired* by this point) just checked that we really did have 3 gaits and 2 leads. And yes, there was no issue there. Oh, and she has all her lateral work. hahaha "Ok we're taking this one home."

She wasn't entirely sure about getting on the trailer, but she trailered well once she was on. And unloaded and settled very quickly in her new home!

There is a *slight* chance that when she gets fit she might be too strong for the greener riders, but we shall see. Def low int plus will be ok with her. I am soooo excited about her - she is such a superstar :)

Amazing start to summer!

Ok so wow. What an incredible weekend.

Saturday was our photoshoot and BBQ. SO much fun. Despite the threat of thunderstorms and various other calamities, the day went brilliantly. Vic came out to video and photograph lessons and other activities - starting the day with Amy's dressage lesson (with the rather ominous rumble of thunder in the background) and ending with a large group gymnastic and xc school.

We got super lucky in that the only rain that hit (admittedly a rather torrential downpour) was during the one lunge-lesson of the day. So being indoors for that was really no problem :)

For the mounted entertainment we had:

Hailey on Lissy - who she rarely rides but was planning to take to Foxcroft CT the next day :)

Holly on Roxy - this pair is getting ready for Caledon HT

Kennedy on Apollo - Kennedy and Amy together are teaching this horse to LOVE jumping :)

Paula on Sienna - best ride they've had together yet!

Rebecca on Callie - a good friend who brought her horse to play :)

Rowan on Jack - also getting ready for their first show.

Shauna on Bella - it was Shauna's first time doing xc and she did an awesome job!

In stadium, the ring had just been redone (YEAH new footing!) so we didn't have a full course to work with so we played "really big jump day" instead. Doing two sets of gymnastics - one at pony stride and one at horse stride, the girls got to jump as the fences got gradually bigger until I felt it was time for either horse or rider to stop (always wanting to end on a *good* note). Well miss Bella wowed the audience as she jumped over her own height! Go superpony!

Sienna also took Paula to a new height record, easily loping over 3'8" :)

Then we went out on xc where everybody was amazing. ALL of the riders took the horses over fences they've never seen before successfully. Hailey and Shauna had decorated some of them earlier in the day, making for a much prettier course :) And of course playing in the river is *always* fun.

Jack in particular was overly enjoying it :) There's a great video of that - stay tuned :)

All this riding works up an appetite! So we followed it with an *amazing* bbq! Wow - so much yummy yummy food. N thanks tons to my wonderful parents who basically managed the whole thing for me :) Was a great social evening -- riders who aren't here as often got to meet some of the others and everybody seemed to have a really good time.

And as the food wound down, the Hailey and Rowan started braiding for the show on Sunday...

Which had us back at the barn in time for a 7:30am load. Reasonably civilized really :)

The girls were there and all ready on time and the horses loaded like the prostars they are and we were off :) Drive there was thankfully uneventful. I was hit with a huge wave of nostalgia pulling in since this was the barn I grew up at. Something right about the first show my schoolies went to being there.

Lissy and Jack unloaded and settled really well. We took our time getting tacked up and headed for the indoor ring to warmup. Lis had lots of time but I wanted them to keep each other company so she came and hung out :) Jack was a pro-star in the warmup. A little lazy perhaps (understandable cause of the ride on Sat :) but for a 5yo at his first ever show absolutely unbelievably calm. I was both amazed and thrilled.

So we went out for her to ride her test -- and do think he even pretended to be a green horse? Couldn't be bothered to shy at any of the letters or the judges truck. Didn't seem to mind the white fence of doom. No gremlins at X. Nothing. And Rowan, who's never ridden a dressage test in her life, did an amazing job. Corners were square, circles were round, transitions mostly happened where they were supposed to. All the things that seem *so* easy in theory that take most people a lifetime to master :) I was so incredibly proud of them both :)

So then Jack got a break while he came to keep Lissy company for her turn. Lissy was also being a superstar in warmup, but Hailey was just a little ummmm stressed about the whole dressage idea. As a result their test was of the interpretive variety -- including both a counter-canter and a 20m circle that were not technically required. And, as with most of this who go into dressage going "I wish this was over NOW", it was just a little bit on speed *g* BUT, Lissy did everything she was asked to do :) It was just that she was not asked to do exactly what the (very patient) judge was expecting. hahaha after exiting the ring, Hailey started breathing again and we did a quick tack change before heading over to stadium.

Now this being a schooling show, we had the unheard-of option to school the jump course before riding it. Sweet. Given that one of each pair was on their first time in the show ring, I felt this was probably a good thing to take advantage of. But both managed it brilliantly and we were in and out of the ring in no time. When the time came to go, both girls rode like pros. Jack unfortunately had a lazy rail, but other than that he jumped around calmly and confidently. You would've thought he'd been carting kids around for 15years, not his first time ever out! And Lissy and Hailey did the course like superstars. Clean, clear, and under control. Was really lovely to watch.

I was so proud of both girls. Really made my weekend :) Oh, and then the standings... Rowan and Jack WON the division! Woohoo!!! And by a large margin too. And Hailey and Lissy, even with their interpretive dressage, brought home 7th. Sweet!

So yeah, overall was basically an absolutely amazing weekend.


Crazy crazy crazy week... For those interested in the horsey thing, check out the GRS blog -- there've been several posts there about the entertainment and at least two more to come (hopefully soon!)

These include:
- our bbq and jump school day (photos will be added in the near future :)
- Foxcroft CT (where both riders took home ribbons -- Rowan took FIRST!)
- horse shopping adventures (yes I have another horse. And she's absolutely lovely.)

And coming soon:
- Wayne Roycroft riding clinic (he got on Lissy!)
- Caledon HT
- WR coaching clinic (next week :)
So this just amused me:

Gotta love the stuff you find on the internet. The photo goes SO well with the statement :)

Off to Caledon!

Things I love about summer

Ok so admittedly a rather boring title, but sometimes you just need to be accurate... hahaha so that being said...

Things I love about summer:

XC!!!! hahaha comeon, you know that had to be first :)
Heat! Wonderful glorious heat.
Ice cream -- the perfect companion to the wonderful glorious heat.
XC :)
Grazing my horse in the long grass next to the stream after xc :)
Longer days and less brutal work -- a brilliant combination.
Weed eating -- ok so I realize this is technically a chore, but there's something fun about utterly and completely destroying something that's been annoying you. And my visualization skills are strong *g*
XC >;-P
Swimming -- or more accurately occasionally rolling off a floaty toy into pool/river/lake and then climbing back on said floaty toy until warm again.
Driving with the windows open and the radio blaring :)
Sunlight! That's all it takes to make the day at least a little bit better.
Have I mentioned xc???

Yes so I took Li'l Lissy xc this am. What a superstar. Once she got over the "I'm ALONE!?!?!?" panic she was a complete pro. By the end spotting her own fences and taking me to them :) We went exploring and found random things to go over that she's never seen. Forged the river in several locations with never a hesitation. By the second try had figured out how to keep her balance trotting down the hills. But I just loved her attitude. She's see a fence, ears perk forward, body all happy "Hey, let's go jump that! Can we jump that? Sweet!" And then we'd get a little closer and you could feel the equine equivalent of her eyes getting wide... "Ummm are you *sure* we should jump this?" Yes Lis... "Oh, ok then. If you say so." and body relaxes again and away we go. Landing with "wheee! We jumped it!" hahaha she was *such* a superstar. I did have to pull her off the line to one of the T fences she picked that I felt she wasn't *quite* ready for yet since she really should only be doing PE this year (hahaha given that we rarely jump above 2'9" in the ring prob best if we don't try 3' with a drop on the landing on xc :) But dead honest and eager w/o being hot. Within a year or two I can see her and Bella battling it out for being the first year rider show superstar of the group :)

Anyways - was a fun day :)

I love summer.

Great start to the morning!

Yes so I took Li'l Lissy xc this am. What a superstar. Once she got over the "I'm ALONE!?!?!?" panic she was a complete pro. By the end spotting her own fences and taking me to them :) We went exploring and found random things to go over that she's never seen. Forged the river in several locations with never a hesitation. By the second try had figured out how to keep her balance trotting down the hills. But I just loved her attitude. She's see a fence, ears perk forward, body all happy "Hey, let's go jump that! Can we jump that? Sweet!" And then we'd get a little closer and you could feel the equine equivalent of her eyes getting wide... "Ummm are you *sure* we should jump this?" Yes Lis... "Oh, ok then. If you say so." and body relaxes again and away we go. Landing with "wheee! We jumped it!" hahaha she was *such* a superstar. I did have to pull her off the line to one of the T fences she picked that I felt she wasn't *quite* ready for yet since she really should only be doing PE this year (hahaha given that we rarely jump above 2'9" in the ring prob best if we don't try 3' with a drop on the landing on xc :) But dead honest and eager w/o being hot. Within a year or two I can see her and Bella battling it out for being the first year rider show superstar of the group :)

I love summer!

Just a test post...

Soooo.... What do you think of the new look? Was having lots of issues with the old one (not the least of which was the castle not showing so it just looked like a dreary grey background). I'm not sure I actually like it... But it'll do for tonight.

Had a great time at the Lucinda Green clinic today :) Details on the GRS blog. Yeah for xc :)

No Friday Flash this week, but have been posting the occasional "one word" sixty second story on I'm telling you stories... Even in my world I can find sixty seconds most days :)

Off for now.

Lucinda Green Clinic

So I was privileged to catch the second half of the Lucinda Green clinic at Eventing Canada today. Perfect weather and of course an awesome facility made for a great day -- and I definitely came home all re-inspired for event season :)

The focus of the day was on safe riding, control and accuracy -- all arguably part of the same thing :) Safe riding was focused on basic equitation and being able to keep 2/3 of the horse in front of you (compared to the 1/2 often seen in the hunters). A deep seat with the horse up and light in front. This is a slightly more defensive position for when approaching something your horse is likely to question. One rider in particular experienced a significant difference in her fairly green horse's confidence level and jump when she got the hang of this. Was *very* kewl to watch.

Lucinda also encouraged riders to practice using "emergency reins" - which is when your reins are superlong (say after a drop fence) and you keep the contact by having your hands wide and sitting back so you can continue safely to whatever the next challenge is a stride or two out. While in competition it's unlikely you'd ride this way more than a few strides, she was having them practice it on long approaches to the fences -- and all the horses jumped well out of it.

Control and accuracy were together. After each course - and for some horses each fence - the riders were to bring the horse back to a halt. No land and bolt, they have to land, balance and think. Ditches and banks were approached at the walk for everybody below prelim. And very quickly even for the greenbeans technicalities were introduced. Up the bank over a skinny (and I mean *very* skinny. Maybe 4' wide?) Over the skinny, down the bank, over another slightly-less-skinny (in this case, 3 bags of shavings standing beside each other). Nothing tall, but exceptional control and steering required. Highly recommended that all riders approach at the trot and/or coming back to the walk for the bank. And they all pulled it off.

The ditch, likewise, was built up into a coffin -- again made of skinny rails. For all levels. One stride for most of the groups; the prelim guys worked up to a bounce on one side with one stride on the other. And by the end even the "doesn't like ditches" horses were doing it confidently. From there onto the actual (read unmovable) coffin which they all managed, and working on jumping the ditch on an angle (this only for the ones who were reasonably confident jumping it straight). This was followed with work over the weldon's wall (for non-eventers in the group think straight vertical wooden wall with a ditch in front). Again, approaching at the trot the first time to give the horse time to see and understand the issue before having to jump it. The prelim guys got to jump it backwards (with the ditch on the landing) which a couple of them definitely considered but all jumped it on the first try.

And all the time working on the various xc positions and regularly bringing the horse back to a halt after, or even inbetween, the fences.

After the various ditches they moved on to the steps -- much bigger bank than the baby bank they warmed up over. Again always approaching the down in the walk or very slow trot. Up being much easier was basically a non-issue. And every once in a while practicing dropping down the bank (or both steps) and continuing to either a coffin or weldon's wall. Technical to technical with the focus on control and accuracy. And the success rate was huge. Introduce everything slowly and give the horse a fair chance. When they didn't understand or were at all concerned they were given a lead by a more confident horse. Till in the end they were all managing it.

Ditches, banks... To round out the xc trilogy is water! Given the insane amount of rain we've had this year the water complex was full -- as in way too deep to do anything other than walk or trot through, but they all got to do this and try jumping out.

Having worked really hard and mastered the technical arts of xc, they finished by putting it all together with a course that started with technical and finished with a great gallop over the brush fences. End easy and fun :) And smiling. The way xc should be :)

And Lucinda was awesome. Positive and friendly and creating change in every one of them, and yet at the same time not tolerating any stupidity. hahaha I loved it.