Here there be dragons...

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

A picture's worth a thousand words...

Didn't want to ride today.  Feeling all sorts of unmotivated.  Sadly since acknowledging to myself that this summer is going to be all about schooling and involve very little competing, my ambition has been noticeably absent *sigh*   Riding just to ride is *tons* of fun -- outside on a warm summer night or a crisp fall day or with friends.  Much less so alone, on a cold snowy day when winter should be long since over, and we're still indoors going in circles.

So I had this great plan -- it involved a book, a fire place, and a cat curled up on my lap.  But then those rude beasts Dedication and Work Ethic, aided by their boss Guilt simply wouldn't leave me alone *sigh*  So I dragged my sorry seat up into the saddle.

Where my barely-broke greenbean promptly made me laugh at her mad dash down the long side away from the scary jump.  hahaha I am having *way* more fun with this horse now than I was a couple months ago.  So that alone made getting on worthwhile.  Shortly after I'd mounted Amy came in, ostensibly to jump crew (THANKS AMY!) but, unbeknownst to me, she also had her camera with her.  As a result, this story comes with pictures!  Woohoo!

Warming up :)
Lexi was being remarkably good about the fact that the gymnastic was right next to said scary jumps.  Only looked very briefly the first time or two and then completely focused on the jumping game (which she seems to really enjoy. Sweet!).  If I'm counting correctly, this would make for her fourth time jumping.

So we built up the jumping slowly, as you might expect, until eventually we had a bounce (her first ever!  Yeah!), one stride to a vert, one stride to an oxer.  She was none-to-sure about that bounce at first, but she figured it out and was hoping through the whole thing reasonably well.

Things were going really well, but we were jumping toward the viewing lounge and at one point as we were cantering away from the last fence, somebody caught her attention in the lounge and was good for a quick spin.  No big deal, it's a baby move.  Got her going forward again and didn't think anything of it.  Until our next line...

Jumped in no problem...
Focused on the last fence

Clearing the oxer with a bit more space than technically necessary :)
Nice, forward, reasonably balanced landing -
by this point I should've clued in to her focus...

So the world is good right?  We've finished the line.  All is well.  And then...

OMG!!!!   *insert screeching breaks sound here*
Was there something truly horrifying in the viewing lounge?  Nope, empty.  And her focus was definitely not there...  Was it the scary jumps?  No - they're way behind us at this point...   So why the drama?  There was...  *gasp*  A line of dirt.  In the, well, dirt.  hahaha Oh dear is it ever going to be a fun summer.  The quick spin from the round before left a skid mark in the dirt and it was *NOT* to be crossed.   Too funny.  So we eventually walked over it a few times and then Amy kicked more dirt over the dirt, easily erasing said line since my goal of the day was fun jumping stuff, not bravery training.

Did it a few more times just to remind her that she could, in fact, canter away from the jump without being eaten, and finished on that.  I sense ditches and water are going to make for some fun stories >;-P  But some day...  Some day, she'll be a super star :)


Mix a little foolishness with your serious plans. It is lovely to be silly at the right moment. -- Horace

Got on Athena today for the first time since last summer.  That mare just makes me grin like a little kid on a pony.  I don't know what it is about her but from the first ride she's had that effect on me.   That being said, omg does she ever make me appreciate Lexi *g*   Athena tries her heart out and yet will never have a fraction of the movement, balance and coordination Lex has at four without even trying.

Sasha was *such* a superstar at puppy class on Thurs.  Starting to make her way through the weaves with fewer and fewer guides and a fair amount of speed :)  Even went bravely across the teeter-totter.  She is totally addicted to the A-frame though -- that's a little excessive :)  hahahah seems totally ok with the chute (tunnel with the all but the opening collapsed) -- runs through knowing there'll be a frisbee flying on the other side *g*  Now I just have to convince Lexi to be so brave and we'll be all set!   Ah the joys of baby animals.

Readers of fantasy -- I stumbled upon The Book of Deacon the other day.  And promptly got nothing else done.  hahaha it's a good trilogy, but be warned -- it's not three stories in the same world, it's one story in three books. So don't start reading till you don't need to surface for a couple days.  Unless, unlike me, you're not *quite* as obsessive about things and are actually capable of putting a book down and functioning in real life.

And while we're at it - another shout out for Lindsay Buroker - if I had to pick a single favourite fantasy series, it just might be her Emperor's Edge books.  Tbh, the description of them didn't really appeal to me and the cover actually turned me off entirely.  Even though it was *free* I didn't read it for months because everything else always seemed more appealing.  But when I did get into them?  By about the third chapter I was hooked, and each book was better than the one before.  Her books have a loose plot running through them all, but each is also its own unit so it's not quite as life-sucking to start the series.  But by far the best part about them is the character development.  Her two primary characters will leave you randomly wondering some day, hey I wonder what they're up to now?  The writing is light, so you feel like you're flipping through quickly and don't have to think too hard, but the books are reasonably long so there's no loss.  It's possibly the only series I've read of more than about three books, that doesn't lag in the middle (Sword of Truth anybody?  Fabulous start and end - the first as a stand-alone is one of my fav fantasy reads, but may as well skip half a dozen in the middle of the series).  And some of it is quite sharp - good one-liners.  Definitely worth a read - esp as the first one is free in ebook.  If you don't enjoy it, all you've lost is a few minutes of dl time.

And as far as writing goes - had real hope for a FridayFlash today -- but it turns out it's already Saturday *sigh*   Oops.  Sorry about that.  hahaha  Not exhausted yet though so maybe next week's magic might happen?  Admittedly don't really have any ideas floating though -- still stuck in Jezina's world as I'm in what *should* be the LAST round with my editor!  Woohoo.  If the world is good my book will be available May-ish :)  Maybe even earlier in ebook format.  Can you believe it?   I can't - not really.   But then I also hardly believe I get to go to the barn instead of the office every morning *g*   hahaha  Speaking of - had a blast teaching tonight.  Extreme gymnastics *g*  And the girls did an amazing job with them!  Woohoo!

Ok yeah, happy day - you get the point.  I think I need a little less caffeine.  Later :)

Just a kid on a pony...

I'd like to say today's ride was a good ride, but it wasn't.  Not technically anyways.  It was, however, a whole lot of fun.  And just occasionally that counts for a lot *g*   Lexi was super high -- first time I've ever seen her like that actually.  Felt like a real TB *g*  But she was civilized about it -- no bucking, spinning, rearing, silliness -- just deemed that we were going for a canter, a fairly fast canter, and I was welcome to come along if I liked :)  hahaha but on the plus side, she was remarkably well balanced.  That counts, right?  Never did get even a fraction of what she's been giving me consistently on the flat lately, but had a lot of fun running around the ring for no apparent reason.  hahaha oh dear.  This moments after somebody asked if I wanted to go to a dr clinic in May :)   Maybe she already feels about dressage as most event horses do?

So my mum found a whole box of ribbons I won as a kid.  Kinda cool to dig through -- found my very first first place ribbon!  (side note - also my very first ribbon :))   Honestly I have to admit the vast majority of them I have no memory of.  Tbh - even most of the ones at the barn from the last couple years I have little to no memory of unless something unusual happened.  But the ones that *did* trigger memories -- those have lasted a LONG time and were well worth remembering.  And some of them have stuff written on the back which mostly makes me smile.

Yeah Lexi's better!

Yeah!  Lexi's better :)  Woohoo!  Got to ride today - so much fun.  Pony still *very* afraid of our scary jumps, but they give us all kinds of impulsion.  Well, that and the fact that she hasn't been ridden since Wednesday...  Short ride, but lots of fun on the flat.  Correct leads with every canter transition.  And jumped all the non-scary under 2' fences like a pro!  Even had a rateable canter.  *That* I was really thrilled about :)  Yeah!  But mostly just excited that she's feeling like herself again.  That and a little concerned at how not brave she is ;-P   Those scary fences are beyond scary.  Oh dear.  But some day, she's going to be brilliant :)

Poor pony :(

It's been quite the week.  Camp's been a ton of fun -- but exhausting.  hahaha I never understand quite why it wipes me out so much.  Camp *should* be way easier than my normal life.  I don't have to do stalls, I'm home by 5:00 every night...  Easiest week ever.  But I find it so much more exhausting than my usual crazy schedule.  Odd.  Ah well.   At least the girls were a lot of fun and made steady progress all week.  That part is always really rewarding -- intensive training bumps them up so much faster than]twice/week lessons...

So Wed started out well -- a super fun ride on my horse who was *very* high thanks to the scary jumps in the ring.  Great camp day that ended with all the girls jumping all the scary fences successfully.  Nice dinner out with a friend from out of town.  All good right?  And then I got a text from one of my boarders.  "Your new grey horse is sick."  Frig :(   So not good.

So I asked her for what she was seeing, and I asked Kirby - who was on for night check - how far away she was, because I was about an hour out :(.  Kirby said 10 mins, and the info I was getting from my boarder suggested I needed to get there.  She very kindly kept the horse walking till Kirby was able to take over, and Kirby - being the amazing person she is - took care of her till I got there, despite not feeling well herself.  Based on the text updates I was getting, I decided to call the vet on the way - so he got there about 10 mins after I did.

Lexi was definitely unhappy and very sucky.  Quite colicky :(  Not severe (thankfully!) but seemed to be getting more uncomfortable rather than less, so I was very happy when the vet came with drugs *g*  Tranq and Banamine did wonderful things for her comfort.  But then I needed to be able to check on her when the drugs wore off...  2h for the tranq and 4 for the Banamine...  9:30 now.  Blah.   So trusting her to be ok while she was knocked out, I left her in her stall and went home to get some overnight supplies, and then booked it back again.  Checking on her at 2h intervals all night was all sorts of fun *sigh*   The tranq lasted significantly longer than the expected 2h.  She was still somewhat drunk at the 2am check.  She was noticeably uncomfortable when the Banamine wore off, but better than earlier in the eve.  We walked for a while and then I just sat by her stall and watched to see if she'd roll or do anything for a while.  When I decided she was getting better rather than worse, I went back to sleep for an hour (yeah for pull-out couches!) until the next check.

Each check after she was progressively better and the next day she seemed pretty normal.  Gave her restricted food and turned her out in a smaller paddock with less hay and warmer water just-in-case.  Today she got to go back in her normal paddock.  Seemed all good, but still sort of dopey and less responsive than usual.  So she gets a couple days off till she's feeling better.

And I have to say -- to all my friends who have small children -- you're insane!  One night of up every 2h and trying to work all day did me in -- doing that every night for months?!?!  By choice?  Awful idea >;-P

Was very happy with how camp went this week, but I'm exhausted and didn't get nearly as much done in the evenings as I'd hoped.  Turns out sorting through photos and writing blog posts takes longer than one might think.  hahaha ah well.  Only thing I'm a little disappointed about is a lack of Friday Flash.  Still have 2h, but I think sleep is going to win out.  Booo.  Someday soon!

Spring Training Finale

Last day was tons of fun.  In the morning we did some serious jumping -- starting with competition-style courses and finishing with some tight jumper-turn practice.  Ironically the "scary" jumps from Wednesday were the easy jumps today :)  The girls did a great job -- making me think we're all set for show season!

Everybody - horses and riders were pretty beat by the afternoon set, so we played around instead.  The girls warmed up with no reins -- it was amazing how freely the horses moved :)  So then they switched horses.  Emily got her pony back -- she rode Bella all last year and was really happy to ride her again, Olivia rode Lissy -- one of her favourites, and Chelsea tried out Charlie.  And on their new horses too they rode with no reins and lots of giggles.  Then we switched back to the original horses, but took off the saddles -- no reins, no saddle...  As natural a form of riding as there is.  They even jumped a little :)

Overall a great week.  Everybody's a little exhausted, but the girls rode really well and came a long way in a short time.  Really looking forward to show season now :)

Day 3 and 4 :)

So last night I had a sick horse, so apologies for the lack of blog post but I was at the barn all night.  Was a very long night *sigh* but horse is feeling much better today, so that's a good start.  And I was sort of amused that every time I went in the barn with a flashlight, Mimi would try to follow the light :)  When you're stressed and exhausted it's amazing what little things are amusing.

But the end result is that camp day three and four are getting one big blog post :)

Dressage day three was about riding an accurate test -- we did some more work on getting and keeping the horses connected and some work on test moves, particularly 20m circles at B/E.  It's amazing how often circles change shape or size *g*   BUT there was a reason for this as today the girls got to test ride.  We did a mini-lesson and then I gave them about 10 minutes to do an independent warmup before riding a test (huge thanks to Aileen for scribing!).  The girls each put in really decent tests, showing aspects of all the hard work from the last few days.  Really cool to watch.

Jumping yesterday was all kinds of fun.  We were working on building confidence and trust over "scary" fences.  We started with a simple gymnastic that grew quickly to a rather large trot fence.  After that, all the scary fences, which are no more than two feet, seemed tiny and so scary only in appearance.  I was super-impressed with how the girls were riding.  They got the horses over every scary obstacle  even when there was a whole course full!  Charlie *really* doesn't like liverpools, but Em managed to convince him that even it was ok.  hahaha  Then we followed that up today with jumping a full course - which the girls were responsible for designing.  They had a couple unusual distances, but they all managed to navigate it smoothly :)

Can't believe the week's almost over already!

Spring Training - Day 2

Girls and ponies are all a little tired after today, but some amazing things were accomplished!

Relaxing at the end of the day
In our seriously intense and very long dressage lesson this am, all three riders got their horses on the bit, had accurate and correct lateral work, and just generally amazing results.  Sadly I was so busy being impressed by their riding, I forgot to take photos *sigh*  hahaha ah well.  The girls know they did it :)  Definitely a new high for Chelsea and Lissy who brought it to the next level and kept it there!  Woohoo!
Chelsea and Lissy
Lunchtime theory was about setting gymnastics.  The girls worked together to set their afternoon gymnastic -- first by pacing out the distances and then checking their approximations with a tape measure.  They did a really great job of this, had everything within a couple inches.  Woohoo!

Olivia and Bella
Jumping was applying yesterday's equitation exercises over fences.  The girls did a great job through the gymnastic they had built, each continuing the skills they started working on yesterday.  Emily had some of her best jumping yet with Charlie!  Woohoo!  And Olivia has a new challenge jumping with the stirrups looped *over* the saddle instead of attached.  She did an excellent job with it :)  Chelsea's pony was way tired after their superstar performance this am, so her job was to help her pony through it.   Tomorrow's activities are rider challenges not horse challenges, so she'll get to relax a bit then.  Bella is super-fit and not the least bit tired by all the camp games, but the other two who usually do one lesson/day are looking forward to a lighter  challenge tomorrow *g*

Emily and Charlie
And that challenge includes scary jumps!  So we spent some time this afternoon putting together said scary jumps :)   Thanks to Rebecca for the covers - these are going to be all sorts of fun!

Sasha testing out the new jump :)

Time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time.

A post about absolutely nothing because I'm writing the GRS post and feel like I should also write a dragons post.  That, and I'm waiting for my cookies to finish cooking before I go download photos for the GRS blog and figured this'd kill just enough time.

Fav quote of the evening: "I like the devil category. Not sure what that says about me."   hahaha - was watching Jeopardy and doing really well in a category all about devils *g*   Oops.

And the one that amused me the other day...  The last cognizant thought I had before falling asleep was how wonderful it'd be if I *actually* managed to sleep all night. I shrugged it off as unlikely and fell asleep. And for the first time in I have no idea how long, stayed asleep. So  figure tonight, the last thing I think should be how wonderful it'd be if I *actually* won the lottery ;-P

My pony was very unsure about the new scary jumps we put in the arena today -- tomorrow's ride could be entertaining :)   Sasha had no problems with it though :)

Testing out the new jumps
My book is getting so much closer to being finished -- I can actually see the finish line now :)  Makes me a little anxious, but excited at the same time.  Does mean any *extra* writing time has been going there rather than new projects or even FridayFlash.  Hoping with this week working a more traditional number of hours I might get one in.  Fingers crossed :)

And your groaner for the day...  Fran sent me this (blame her!) and it's so very bad I had to include it:

Three parrots slide down the chute...

Upcoming Events!

For those not on Facebook, a quick look at what's coming up:

This week - March Break Camp.  Usual lessons cancelled.

Sunday March 24 - Last theory day of the session (1:30)

April 7 - Equine Canada Rider Level Exams (10am)

April 14 - Competition Meeting (1:30)

April 28 - Spring Cleaning (10am) - ALL hands greatly appreciated :)

May 5 - Waylon Roberts jump clinic

May 12 - Braiding clinic

and way in the future:

Aug 24 - Mud Hero!!!  Woohoo!

Oct 20 - Hyde Moffat Clinic (more info in September :)

Competition Camp Day 1

So competition camp is pretty intense this year.  Only three riders, so lots of riding time.  We started the week with an intense focus on details.

Dressage was first - a series of lunge lessons.  The riders were each working on different challenges and putting their horse on the lunge line allowed them to focus solely on themselves.  One has a habit of collapsing one side so we were doing lots of exercises to get her sitting straighter and more balanced.  I have a few more ideas to try with her over the next few days :)  Should be entertaining.  A second rider's challenge is suppleness through her back so she was working on relaxing into the canter and moving with the horse in both the sitting trot and the canter -- with some great results!  The third rider is working on bringing the horse from a training level frame to a first level frame, so she did a lot of work on using her seat to bring her horse's back up, and at the end when she was given her reins, she had some pretty amazing results :)   Very kewl to watch.

At lunch we discussed SMART goals and discussed some potential immediate, short and long term riding goals.  Since all the riders are competing this summer, these are fairly relevant :)  We also reviewed last year's goals for those who set them. Had they reached them?  Why or why not?  Reviewing is always helpful both as a scale of progress and to help with setting new ones.

The afternoon was a detail-focus of jumping skills.  Even though all these girls are comfortable jumping in the 2'6-2'9 range, we went right back to how the foot should sit in the stirrup.  hahaha it's amazing how much an exceptionally detailed evaluation of an automatic skill can reveal.  Mostly the focus was on the correct positioning and use of the lower leg.  Most novice riders have a tendency to turn out too much, and so we worked on moving beyond that with a focus on the correct balance and contact between the thigh/saddle and the calf/horse.  We also gave some attention to the all important knee and hip angles, and how to release without lowering the upper body.  Then the game was repeated in motion *g*  We did a test run with the riders trying to carry a flower between their leg and the horse.  Sasha enjoyed picking up all the flowers after :)   Then it was time to apply said new position to a course of poles.  Not only did they have to navigate accurately, including one flying change and two bending related distances, but they also were expected to do the whole thing in two-point AND count down to each pole.  Pole courses never seem all that impressive to look at -- but let me tell you, it's a lot easier to "just get around" a massive course, than to ride poles flat on the ground perfectly.  And of course the hope is, once you can do it with poles, that you'll be able to apply that over fences as well!  Of the riders we had two working on accuracy and one working on rhythm and all made significant improvement by the end.  

Overall a great start to the day!  Looking forward to the rest of the week -- and even more toward show season!

The thing all writers do best is find ways to avoid writing. - Alan Foster

Schooling Lexi on Friday was one of those sessions that's a good training day but not necessarily a good ride.   She was a difficult combination of high and lazy.  Ugh.  ADD with no forward.  It was not exactly a fun ride, but in the end she was bending and moving somewhat forward and we ended on a happy note.  I'm starting to introduce basic lateral work, and this weekend she really seemed to get it.  Pretty excited about that :)

Was highly amused today -- she's had trouble picking up the right lead from the beginning, but it's getting progressively better.  Today she was fabulous on the right - getting it several times in a row - so I thought we'd end with the "easy" left.  hahaha yeah, about that.  Took about three tries!  hahaha fix one and break the other.  Sheesh.  Such a typical baby thing.

So your product check of the day/week/month:  -- this site finds collections of indie books in various genres and offers them as a group for sale for a limited time (the current one is fantasy books).  But the fun part is -- you decide how much they're worth (from $1 up), what percentage of your money should go to the author and what amount to the website, and if you'd like some of that to go to charity.  Books are all DRM free, so they'll work on whichever ereader you like.  Have fun!

Of course now I have several books to read, including several *actual* old-school books that Amy lent me, and I'm afraid to start any of them because I know my productivity will decline significantly.  Today's goal is to get caught up on blog posts.  So instead of writing the posts I'm *supposed* to be writing, I'm writing this one instead.  At least that's reasonably productive procrastination :)

Alright, back to work with me.

In riding the more one does, the less one succeeds. The less one does, the more one succeeds.

So I haven't really been writing much about Lexi because she's just so green that everything is very baby steps and, done right, not terribly exciting.  Or so I thought anyways.  But then the girls told me they actually *wanted* to read about it.  And let me tell you, as a writer, there's nothing more inspiring than having somebody tell you they want to read what you write.  hahaha  So I'll see what I can do about including some more baby-Lexi stories :)

So with her, it's all about the little things.  The very little things.  Yesterday I was thrilled because I got some bend on about half of our turns.  Any bend at all has only been happening for a couple days, so half of the turns had me pretty excited :)   The day before the exciting moment was that our right canter transition was quiet, in rhythm, and on the correct lead.  Any one of those three things is usually worth celebrating, so all three at once?!?!  Wow :)  hahaha  I'm super excited about any transition I can get quietly and without resistance -- when I feel like we're not getting anywhere, I remember those first few days when we *literally* went nowhere *g*  Some day we'll be able to go places by just thinking about it :)  Maybe not yet, but some day...

Last week was her second jump school.  Started with poles and built up to a little gymnastic...  Ended up with a triple combination.  Woohoo!  First fence was, admittedly, only about a foot high *g*  But the last was a legit 2'9.  Which I realize isn't too exciting in the grand scheme of things, but for her second time jumping with a rider I was pretty happy.  Especially happy because it was easy for her and she was totally getting the game.  Of course she also thinks things on the ground are terrifying - every time.  So could be an interesting summer :)

So having my Wednesdays off is making life run a lot smoother.  Amazing how fast though the day "off" fills up.  Today was pilates, car in for an oil change, laundry, got caught up on some correspondence  some financial fun and games, phone calls made, show season and WR clinic organized...   And suddenly the day is gone.  But there're still like eight items on my to-do list.  Sheesh.  Ah well - next week right?

Fun and games at the last show of the season :)

Our final schooling show of the season was excellent!

Fun was had by all!
The dressage tests were starting to seem more like dressage.  Even when Brena's test was interrupted by all the other horses spooking at something outside and darting into the ring (I was happy to see all the riders not only stayed on, but got under control and out of the ring really fast!), she didn't seem terribly frazzled.

Alison and Dixie
For the jumping classes we did the jumper round first.  Today's class was Table A -- the first time these riders have had to do both a clear round and a jump off, and I was really happy to see some changes in how lines were approached.  I had a lot of fun designing these courses and while they were more complex than the previous ones have been, I was really happy at how well the girls rose to the challenge.  A couple girls had challenges riding horses they've never ridden before, but they all figured it out as they went along :)

Olivia and Louis
This was followed up by equitation over fences which seemed really easy after the jumper rounds.  Good to see the development in the riders between the first show of the year and the last.

Rowan and Dixie
Overall we ended up with Olivia in first for the novice division, Alison for the intermediate, and Rowan for the advanced.  Awesome job ladies!!!

Also going on today was the showdown for season high-point champion between Olivia and Rowan -- In the end, Rowan snagged first by a mere 3 points.  Both were about 20 points above the next competitor.  Awesome job ladies :)  First place received a lovely trophy, a ridiculously large ribbon (I'm seriously jealous of that one!), and a stunning custom ear bonnet done in her xc colours.  2nd place also got a seriously large ribbon and a bonnet with her colour sparkles.  They were super pretty and donated by Cavalletti Custom Bonnets - huge thanks!

HUGE thanks to everybody who helped make this series a success!  My dad for harrowing the arena each time and helping with the barn while the show was running.  My mum for helping with organization, scribe and secretary jobs.  Steph and Katlyn for scribing - even on insanely cold days!  All the girls who pitched in to get the barn done at various times:  Rebecca, Amy, Paula, Steph, Emily, Brena -- greatly appreciated!  And of course to Amy for judging the whole series for us!  Thanks so much for all your help to keep our shows going smoothly!