Sunday, February 27, 2011

Germs are Powerful, Maybe Magical

I have the beginning of a sore throat. The only person who's mentioned having a cold lately is Midlife Mom in Maine. I didn't leave the house yesterday and nobody acted sick at the barn on Friday so this is my only explanation.

We were challenged to try to post without stirrups on Friday. The high school girl perks up and declares, "I know how to do this." I mentally gave her the finger. If getting your butt a smidgen out of the saddle counts, then I succeeded. After class the instructor said she was hoping that if I focused on posting I wouldn't let the horse go wherever she wanted as I tend to do when trotting without stirrups. And by golly, it worked. I was so intent on trying to post that I was making the mare stay on track (for the most part)

The other three students worked on jumping; I'm going to guess about a foot. When it came to my turn the instructor would lay the poles on the ground. So much for my husband's aspirations to have me jump three to four feet. The ladies were trotting their horses and I was encouraged to canter over my poles. The same horse that wouldn't trot but only canter on Monday wouldn't rise to the occasion. I find she tends to be cranky on Fridays. I am constantly being told to shorten my reins but I hate it when she roots and tries to yank me out of the saddle. On the other hand, she kept nuzzling me as I walked her around the ring both before and after the lesson so I'm beginning to think she likes me. It seems like everyone starts out on her then progresses to other lesson horses so she may have learned not to form attachments. I've probably ridden her longer than most so maybe she's warming up to me.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Best Weather Woman Ever

Atlanta weather

The video starts out kind of slow but watch out once she warms up!

Friday Already?

Where did the week go? I don't think I've accomplished anything. I've had a lot of weird dreams at night. It was spring and I was transplanting my African violets outside. WTH?

Another riding lesson without stirrups on Monday. Every time I asked the mare to trot she would start to canter. Now, the first time it happened I had my leg too far back which may have encouraged her. After that she was just doing it because she wanted to. My instructor was loving it; she said I kept good posture and didn't have my hands fly up the way they used to when I felt out of control. The naughty pony was in the arena with us being ridden by one of the very experienced riders. I assume he'd been bad so was having remedial training. She was cantering him some so I wonder if that's what gave my mare the idea she was supposed to canter. I was also called out for making a clucking noise when I'm asking her to walk. So there is a habit I'm going to have to break. Apparently clucking or smooching are to increase speed (isn't walking faster than standing still?) so I should just use my legs and say, "Walk."

I ordered an equine furminator since I groom one of the fuzziest horses in the barn. She's shedding already and it's only February. We're still below zero some nights. I figure she's only going to keep losing more and more hair so I might as well combat it the best I can.

Watched a show on Animal Planet last night about the invasion of pythons, huge rats and other creepy crawlers that have been released in Florida and are reproducing at an alarming rate. Pretty scary stuff. It seems to be out of control. Sure glad snakes can't survive in Alaska.

Monday, February 21, 2011

I Want A Pony

Forgot to mention the cute foal on the cover of the "Back In The Saddle" catalog I received Saturday. It's a brown and white spotted appaloosa. I'm coveting him/her.

Someday I hope to learn the difference between chestnut, bay and the thousand other colorations. Right now brown will have to do...

Blue Monday

A shout out to my blogging buddies who are having complications in their lives. Hope it gets better soon for all of you.

Almost hate to report that it's a beautiful sunny day here, at least for the moment. It was zero when I got up but should warm up to the twenties. I ride later - life is good.

Had my group lesson on Friday. One of the girls (literally - she's a high school student) had cracked ribs so I give her props for being there. I'd probably have been laid up in the hospital. My mare was rooting again on Friday and almost did pull me over her head the first time she did it when she caught me unawares. Supposedly horses can't root and move simultaneously but I was extra cautious when we were practicing leaning forward on their necks.

I admit that I spend too much time on the computer. My husband was complaining about me reading blogs on Saturday. My response was that I wasn't reading, I was shopping. When he asked what I was shopping for, let's just say that he doesn't agree that I need my own saddle. "Do I really need a special saddle for dressage? The stable should provide one," etc.

Later that evening I was telling him about Friday's lesson and how I think that the neck leaning is in preparation for jumping, which I in no way plan to participate in. He said I should attempt jumping, that three or four feet is no big deal. Three or four feet is a hella big deal. It's HUGE! He's still thinking with the mentality of the 12 year old boy when he had a horse.

Later, because I am inherently suspicious, it occurred to me that he's probably encouraging the jumping just so I won't pursue a dressage saddle. I'll show him. I'll tell him I need a special saddle for jumping. Ha - I win! (This is why my fellow students don't think I'm 58. Maturity in certain situations has never been my strong suit)

Re: my previous post. It did occur to me that an argument could be made such as, "Well then, why do bad things happen to those who do turn to God?" I used to drive my pastor nuts with questions like this. Of course the answer is because God's ways are not our ways but that's hard for a non-believer to swallow.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Best Explanation Ever (Warning: Religion Involved)

A man went to a barbershop to have his hair cut and his beard trimmed. As the barber began to work, they began to have a good conversation. They talked about many things and various subjects. When they eventually touched on the subject of God, the barber said, 'I don't believe that God exists.'

'Why do you say that?' asked the customer. 'Well, you just have to go out in the street to realize that God doesn't exist. Tell me, if God exists, would there be so many sick people? Would there be abandoned children? If God existed, there would be neither suffering nor pain. I can't imagine a loving God who would allow all of these things.'

The customer thought for a moment, but didn't respond because he didn't want to start an argument.

The barber finished his job and the customer left the shop.

Just after he left the barbershop, he saw a man in the street with long, stringy, dirty hair and an untrimmed beard. He looked dirty and unkempt. The customer turned back and entered the barber shop again and he said to the barber, 'You know what? Barbers do not exist.'

'How can you say that?' asked the surprised barber. 'I am here, and I am a barber. And I just worked on you!'

'No!' the customer exclaimed. 'Barbers don't exist because if they did, there would be no people with dirty long hair and untrimmed beards, like that man outside.'

'Ah, but barbers DO exist! That's what happens when people do not come to me.'

'Exactly!' affirmed the customer. 'That's the point! God, too, DOES exist! That's what happens when people do not go to Him and don't look to Him for help. That's why there's so much pain and suffering in the world.'

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Boycott Anti-American Women Comment

I've never had a spam commenter before. I removed his comment. What a tool.

I normally would have caught his comment yesterday evening but we had a mini-crisis to take care of. My husband went into the garage around 5:30 and noticed the water heater was leaking. One of the hoses needed to be replaced. He headed off to Ace Hardware for the part. I decided to caramelize onions for the roast beef sandwiches we were having for dinner knowing I could zap them in the microwave later, if necessary. Husband called saying Ace didn't have the hose so he was heading for Home Depot. I sliced the Kaiser rolls for the sandwiches and stuck them back in the bakery bag.

Husband arrives home with a hose. Home Depot didn't have the exact same hose so he had to buy a different length. Long story short, he had to remove a brass fitting and soldier in additional copper pipe to make this new hose fit. The old brass fitting did not want to come loose even using a torch. Once the new hose was affixed there were new leaks to deal with. We ended up being in the garage until after 10:00 p.m.

Note to new brides - Most men love for you to "help" when they're involved in a major project. I didn't contribute much to this whole endeavor other than mopping water off the floor and handing him a tool now and then. The fact that I was "suffering" along with him and not sitting in comfort in the house while he was working was very much appreciated. This isn't just my observation but something I've read in books. Maybe it's because misery loves company? Personally, I prefer to work alone so it may be one of those Mars/Venus things.

So, we didn't eat dinner until about 10:30. I can't eat late at night without getting acid reflux which showed up around 2:00 a.m. Oh joy.

NuzMuz, yes I having been getting my nails done for over twenty years. I first considered giving it up when I retired because it is a luxury but kept doing it since I was able to afford it. Then I seriously considered quitting when I added the expense of riding lessons. But my real nails are so ugly that I just couldn't bring myself to do it. Actually I've become kind of high maintenance since I was diagnosed with cancer. I never colored my hair before but when I lost it all, I kind of went crazy when the new growth started coming in. I am trying not to fritter away money on other stuff and so far this year have done pretty well.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Halfway Through February

Had a fun lesson on Monday. My instructor gave me a crop so I could "tap, tap, tap" while both walking and trotting. I'm so uncoordinated that I was tapping my leg and not the horse but it worked anyway. She was a lot more animated (unsure it that's the right word or not) She's very whip savvy which leads me to believe that's why she spooked a few weeks ago. She saw the whip directed at another horse too close for comfort and took off. That's my story and I'm sticking to it. My instructor also had me holding the reins apart instead of close together. I've got to start questioning why but I'm always so caught up in attempting to do what she's asking correctly that I sometimes don't get around to it.

Yesterday I met the daughter of the woman who gets her nails done before me. She rides at one of the other stables in town. She was saying she started riding at eight and was always the oldest one in her classes. She thinks she got a late start. Ha! Add fifty years to that and you have me.

The riding community in Anchorage is fairly small so she knew a lot of the horses I am familiar with. Apparently one of the ponies I love can be a real stinker and is famous for refusing jumps and having kids go right over his head.

So, did anyone see this story about the teacher that has been suspended for opinions she has expressed on her blog? One of her former students, "said he thought much of what Munroe said was true and that she had a right to voice her opinion, but felt her comments were out of line for a teacher." WTF?

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Fancy Footwork

I forgot to report that I did try a different saddle last Monday. It was actually the one I had originally used but one of the other students uses it on Fridays so I got in the habit of using a different saddle for all of my lessons. I guess it's progress on my part to say that I could sure tell a difference in its feel. I couldn't see that it fit the horse much better. Friday I was back in my regular saddle and this time it didn't slip. What the heck?

Friday, we worked on a dressage move. I don't know what it's called but it involved the horse crossing over its rear legs. We practiced both on and off the horse. I believe "my" mare is trained to Level 3 dressage so she did it right almost every time when I was on the ground. Once I was mounted I guess the crappy rider was giving the wrong cues as she just wasn't doing it right. It's not a great sign to see my instructor sticking her tongue out after I've attempted something, and I've seen her tongue a lot. We had a couple of "almost got it" attempts but I can tell I need a lot more work. But for me, that's what riding is all about. Learning new stuff is exciting and what a rush when I finally get it right.

I loved Pea's comment about having to check each blog in the old days before Google Reader. The old days were last week for me.

Friday, February 11, 2011

It Works!

I now have a reader list. Hopefully I can get all the blogs I read added in the next few days. This is very cool.

Dazed and Confused

One of the bloggers I read mentioned that there was a way to be notified when a blogger posts a new entry. This sounded like a great feature to me as I check a bunch of blogs on a daily basis and some people only post occasionally. What a time saver. Well, I have made several attempts to access this feature and today I think I may have actually done it. I added several blogs to my "blogs I follow" list (which I never had done before) Supposedly, somehow I will be notified when one of these bloggers posts something. I have serious doubts that I did this correctly so I am holding off on adding everyone until I see if this works.

Had a blood draw for CBC yesterday. My doctor only needed to check my cholesterol but I figure the oncologist will want to check everything so I had them take a bunch of blood instead of just a finger prick. All of my doctors are on the same network so it makes it easy for them to access my entire health record. I hate having to leave the house with no coffee. I feel like a zombie.

Anyway, I sped to Costco afterwards to get carrots. I got a ten pound bag but the price had gone up so that it wasn't any cheaper than the grocery store. I guess I'll go back to buying them at Safeway. I have a lesson later today and didn't want to show up empty handed. I recently read a blogger's plea to "not feed treats to my horse" which made me paranoid so I double checked with the stable owner on Monday that it was okay to feed carrots to all the horses. She said I was fine but reiterated that they want me to not feed the treats by hand. Throwing them on the ground isn't as much fun for me but the horses don't care and I think they still associate me as "the carrot lady." They just don't want the horses to get nippy and I guess hand feeding can contribute to bad manners.

I've been perusing used dressage saddles on eBay and other places. Anybody have any advice on what to look for? I've read good reviews on Passier and there seem to be great bargains. Postage is so expensive to Alaska that it will be a major factor, especially if the saddle doesn't fit and I have to return it. I'm hoping I can find something locally to eliminate that problem.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Monday, February 7, 2011

Poop Rush Alaska

My ten year old German Shepherd has degenerative myelopathy. This is the fourth GSD we've owned over the years that has developed it so we're pretty experienced in how to deal with the symptoms. My husband carpeted the outside stairs to give him a better grip going up and down. Friday night he saw one of his rear legs slip into the open area between the steps (risers?) so said that we'd go outside Saturday and screw in pieces of board to block the openings. As usual, I messed around getting ready and he had most of the job done by the time I made it outside. I decided I'd better do something useful so decided to pick up poopsicles.

Has anyone watched the Gold Rush Alaska show? It's a train wreck. On one hand I kind of hope they strike it rich because they work so hard. On the other hand, they work harder not smarter and should stupidity really be rewarded? Anyway, they're always talking about striking the mother lode of gold by digging deeper into the ground. I reached the mother lode of poop when I resorted to using the ice chipper to chip it out of the snow Saturday. Too bad its worthless - we'd be rich.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Two In A Row

Another great lesson. I managed to eventually trot all the way around the arena without stirrups and keep the horse on track. She had veered into the center in an earlier attempt but I was actually able to get her back on track without having to stop to regroup. That was a pretty fantastic feeling of accomplishment. Ditto trotting while standing in the stirrups. We worked on serpentines over poles which was fun with two of us doing it simuntaneously. I had no problem doing it at a walk but my mare is kind of big for tight circles when we advanced to doing it at the trot. We were not supposed to venture out onto the track where the other two riders were traveling. I pretty much failed.

The other three students also played "musical ponies" where they all had to dismount and switch to a different horse so they ended up riding all three. Sometimes being as big as a house has its advantages - I didn't have to switch. It kind of reminded me when I took a bus trip in Europe over twenty-five years ago. The tour guide had the bright idea that everyone would change seats every day. Since I was a smoker back then, me and my ilk were banished to the back of the bus and didn't have to rotate.

They've added a new horse to the stable and "my" mare has been moved from a stall in the unheated barn to living in an outside pen next to the fuzzy ponies. I'm sure she's fine but I still want to buy her new blankets. It was five degrees when I got up this morning so probably got colder last night. I told my husband they treat her like the bastard stepchild. This is why I can't volunteer at an animal shelter. I would be trying to fix what I consider inequities and I'd be broke within a couple of weeks.

I repositioned the saddle about halfway through last night's lesson but it slid back again. One of the other students said there's some kind of harness that fits across the horse's chest and attaches to rings at the front of the saddle to keep it from sliding back. I'm going to ask my instructor if there's one I can use on Monday. I realized my right shoulder was aching from tightening the cinch as tight as I possibly could and it's still not helping.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Got A Lotta Learning To Do

I've just had exposure to two terms I'd never heard before. Behind the Bit has a YouTube video of sidesaddle puissance. Puissance sounds like something infected and nasty but it apparently is a kind of jump-off. Then JJ posted a video of a park horse. "Park horse?" Lives in a park? Google was really no help but it seems to be an English riding discipline (and looks very cool)

I had started reading There Are No Problem Horses, Only Problem Riders by Mary Twelveponies when I was in California last fall. I opted to read a novel on the airplane and have been reading them ever since. After my great ride on Monday I decided that I need to get back to my horse book collection. I've also got two of GaWaNi PonyBoy's books about the relationship between women and horses. I'm sure most of you know this, but if you research a book on Amazon you can usually buy it new or used for a lot less money. I have actually picked up books for one cent, plus postage. I've gotten better bargains there than on eBay.

Husband is muttering about my spending too much time on computer. I know the odds are against it, especially since I have a group lesson tonight, but I'm hoping it goes as well as Monday.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Rim Shots

A 54 year old woman had a heart attack and was taken to the Hospital. While on the operating table she had a near death experience. Seeing God,she asked "Is my time up?" God said, "No, you have another 43 years, 2 months and 8 days to live."
Upon recovery, from her heart problem, the woman decided to stay in the hospital and have a face-lift, liposuction, breast implants and a tummy tuck. She even had someone come in and change her hair color and brighten her teeth! Since she had so much more time to live, she figured she might as well make the most of it.
After her last operation, she was released from the hospital. While crossing the street on her way home, she was killed by a speeding truck.
Arriving in front of God, she demanded, "I thought you said I had another 43 years? Why didn't you pull me from out of the path of the truck?"
God replied, "I didn't recognize you."
Two women were sitting quietly together, minding their own business.