Wednesday, March 30, 2011

A Marital Moment

Turner Classic Movie's star of the month for March has been Jean Harlow so we've enjoyed watching her movies on Tuesday evenings. I think it was in The Girl from Missouri where she fell in love with a rich man who thought she was a gold digger. At one point she was telling him that she would be willing to take elocution, tennis and riding lessons to better herself and make her more acceptable to his friends. I pointed out to my husband that I should be able to fit into high society since I take riding lessons. Look up utter disbelief in the dictionary - you'll find his face.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

V. P.’s Aide Apologizes to Journalist Locked in a Closet

March 28, 2011

An aide to Vice President Joe Biden has apologised to a reporter who was locked in a closet for hours after he was invited to cover a Florida political fundraiser because they did not want him talking with the guests.

Spokeswoman Elizabeth Alexander said the decision to hold local reporter Scott Powers there was a ‘mistake’.

And she claimed an inexperienced staffer had put Powers in the closet instead of a ‘hotel room’ as was their normal practice.

The Orlando Sentinel reporter was ushered into the closet inside wealthy property developer Alan Ginsburg’s Winter Park mansion, after being told that Joe Biden and Senator Bill Nelson had not yet arrived.

He was told he could only come out when the politicians were ready to give their speeches.

After 90 minutes he was allowed out to hear Biden and Nelson speak for 35 minutes, before being taken back to the closet for the remainder of the event.

The incident is especially embarrassing for the administration because it comes at a time when the White House has been condemning the treatment of journalists trying to report in Libya.

Just ten days ago, President Obama’s spokesman Jay Carney told reporters: ‘journalists should be protected and allowed to do their work.’

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Who Knew?

Carol at Dressage Training Journal and her commenters were discussing when a horse blows and snorts that it is a good thing. Here I thought my mare was venting her frustration at having big old me on her back and a tight girth so she couldn't breath. Apparently she is liking what we're doing, thus the title to this post.

Stupid saddle slipped back quite a ways yesterday and I didn't feel like getting off and fixing it so now have beaten up lower extremities as a result. The trainer gave me a new girth for her, it's more elastic than the old one, so I was extra cautious when tightening it. The saddle didn't slip sideways when mounting but I noticed there was more sweat than usual underneath the girth after class. Her old one was sheepskin so probably was better at absorption.

Whippersnapper has missed two weeks in a row so I'm thinking she may have changed her lesson days. We had another young woman join us last night. Lots of trotting and going over poles. We were supposed to try to canter over the last two poles, um, not very successfully on my part. I think I'm going to ask if we can work on cantering more during my private lessons. Mare is funny in that she thinks she needs a lot of elevation to clear poles lying on the ground. Her front goes up much higher than necessary when we trot over them. My goal is to "stay with her" when she does that and not fall forward.

There is going to be a barn show in April. I think I'll just observe from the sidelines. I don't feel ready to put myself out there for others to observe, no matter how supportive.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Stink Eye

One of the parakeets was asleep when I opened the blinds by their cage this morning. He didn't bother to untuck his head but opened one eye and glared at me. It was hysterical.

Had a good lesson on Monday with nothing new to report, i.e., mare still shedding. She looked adorable after I brushed out her forelock - it was sooo fluffy. Watched a show on RFD TV last night where a man was plowing with a Shire horse. OMG - its legs looked like they were covered with Hawaiian grass skirts. I'd hate to try to keep those clean.

Went to a podiatrist on Tuesday. I noticed a while back that the middle toe on my right foot was crooked. The doctor thinks I must have broken it at some point. Who breaks their toe without realizing it? Me, apparently. I'm not going to have surgery for purely cosmetic reasons so will have to learn to love my latest deformity.

Started reading Cross by James Patterson while waiting for the doctor. It's a real page turner and I've almost finished it already. That's pretty fast for me as I usually only read a few pages at bedtime before falling asleep.

Today would have been my sister-in-law's 58th birthday. I hope she's at peace.

Monday, March 21, 2011

I think this may be significant (not horse related)

From an e-mail I received:

Always important to watch what is going on behind the scenes, and, usually, scarcely covered in the newspapers.

Little by little the subtle changes come until one day we will wake up and be the United Socialist States of America. 2012 is just around the corner so get and stay engaged as if our nation depended on it because it does!!!!!

U.S. Department of Justice ditches red, white, and blue stars and stripes.

Well, how interesting! It seems the U.S. Department of Justice has changed its web site. Gone are the colorful red, white, and blue U.S. Flag decorations on the page.

Replaced by stark black and white.

And at the top of the page, is a rather interesting quote:
"The common law is the will of mankind, issuing from the life of the people."

Catchy, huh? Just one tiny little (too small to be relevant obviously) point --the quote is from C. Wilfred Jenks, who in the 1930's was a leading proponent of the "international law" movement, which had as its goal to impose a global common law and which backed 'global workers' rights.'

Call it Marxism, call it Progressivism, call it Socialism -- under any of those names, it definitely makes the DOJ look corrupt in their new website with Marxist accessories to match.

See for yourself

How very interesting that 'they' couldn't find a nice quote from one of our Founders. People, we have lost our Republic. This is an example of the slow, methodical misuse of power our current government is doing as they lead us to socialism, and destroying our republic as we have known it.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Knut, Dead at Age Four

I don't know a lot of celebrity names but immediately recognized Knut's. RIP little buddy.

Saturday, March 19, 2011


I misrepresented the yelling in my last post. The instructor is not yelling at me in an angry fashion - just has her voice raised so I can hear her from the other side of the arena. I was trying to go for sort of a tongue-in-cheek essay but I obviously didn't succeed. I'm pretty sure I need hearing aids. I did have my hearing tested several years ago and the man said I was borderline. I'm probably beyond that now. I do have a hard time hearing if there are several sources of noise happening simultaneously. That has always been a problem for me, however. I hated when I'd be on the phone and people would be carrying on a different conversation standing in front of my desk. I think it may be related to my inability to multi-task.

Me during a lesson:

At a couple of points in our lesson last night we looked like the Keystone cops. None of us could seem to coordinate our positions so we'd all be bunched up together or we'd all decide to cross the arena at the same time to get away from each other. We finally got ourselves pulled together and had a really fun lesson. We decided where the poles on the ground were going to be laid and then each developed our own pattern for going over them at walk, trot and/or canter. I even managed to canter for a couple of beats at the end.

I prepared bran mash for all of the horses after class. The smallest pony was in an outside pen so I put the bucket in front of my feet when I turned to re-latch the gate upon entering. The next thing I know I have a pony head between my legs helping himself to the mash. I am Miss Popularity on mashing days. Everybody is shedding and I've been used twice as a scratching post for horse heads.

The moon was just rising over the mountains when I was driving home. It was beautiful. The icy road conditions not so much.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

It's Snowing

About three inches so far. My husband asked if it depressed me and I said no. I'm used to it after living in Alaska for 36 years. It used to bring me down back in the seventies. We've had lots of bright sunshine recently and more is predicted for tomorrow. One aspect of our weather that took some getting used to is that sunny days are colder than cloudy ones in the winter. Apparently the clouds hold in the heat (totally unscientific explanation) I would go outside without wearing a jacket on sunny days my first spring and would about freeze to death. I grew up in California and sunny skies meant warmth. Not here. Anyway, I know this snowfall will melt relatively quickly, even though more is predicted for Sunday. We've had snow in May. Never June that I can remember.

Had a semi-craptastic lesson on Monday with a different instructor than my regular lady. It started out great - tacked up the horse, walked her around and then mounted her on my first attempt as if I actually knew what I was doing. It was grand and I felt terrific. My regular instructor is always telling me to take up my reins - this other woman kept telling me to loosen them and move me hands in tempo with the horse's head. I have a feeling this should be a natural rhythm and not take so much effort on my part to make it happen. It felt totally forced.

Then I was corrected when I was told to move the horse from, say, the letter M diagonally across the ring (to K?) Apparently this lady wants me to have the horse's rear at the letter when I start the diagonal as opposed to her front, which is what I have been doing. At least that was the impression I was getting when she was shouting, "No, no, no!" at me. Sometimes I just feel like an idiot. But, on a positive note, she did say that I showed a lot of improvement from the last time she gave me a lesson and that I was doing a lot of self-correcting and wasn't getting as flustered when she yelled at me. (It's probably that I'm just becoming desensitized to being yelled at since it happens all the time) - (kidding)

Then it came time to dismount which I totally know how to do and no longer hit the mare's butt with my right leg. I'm halfway off when she yells at me to look at the horse's head (why?) which caused me to flop around on top of the saddle and almost not get my left foot out of the stirrup in time. I told her I usually do much, much better but still was told to do exercises to strengthen my legs. Bah!

Have to go shovel snow before husband finishes his portion and berates me for still being in my pj's. It appears to have stopped snowing as I wrote this.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Money Is No Object

Had a couple of comments about the expensive horses I was looking at. Some site I was looking at the other day mentioned Trakehner horses - a breed I'd never heard of. So I of course had to Google it and found The American Trakehner Association.

Here's the $65,000 gelding.

I couldn't relocate the $90,000 one but did find a $100,000 bargain:

Several months ago the Sunday Parade section of the newspaper featured Tom Sellick and mentioned that his daughter competed at show jumping. Some of the women at my barn have competed in California and I asked if they'd ever met her - they had. I made some comment that it must be nice to have a millionaire father to support a horse habit and was informed that, believe it or not, their money can't begin to be compared to some of the other horse owners. So the economy may be hurting for most of us but it hasn't impacted the uber rich.

Saturday, March 12, 2011


There were only two of us at last evening's lesson. The other woman was on a horse that she'd never ridden before. He can be challenging but by the end of the lesson was behaving better for her than he does for the woman who usually rides him. I was impressed.

My mare wasn't real happy to see me and actually turned her butt to me when I went to get her out of her pen. She also was giving me fits when I tried to bridle her so I knew I was in for a fun ride. She actually didn't behave badly but I just wasn't getting that feeling of us being in harmony that I have on other occasions. We did a ton of trotting so by the time the instructor had us lose the stirrups I could barely keep my legs in position. I kept being corrected to use my thighs, not my knees. The saddle slipped a little when I dismounted so somebody had been extra contrary at tightening the cinch. She is cinchy and goes into drama queen agony before I even get the straps hooked to the billets. Having the saddle slip when I mount is my biggest fear and I think is why I'm always so hesitant when it's time to get on which in turn gives her the opportunity to move away from the mounting block. Vicious circle.

I talked to my instructor before class about how I'm not ready to enter any "real" shows this year. We agree that I should attend and observe these shows and if I'm to do any competing it should just be at the barn shows. I can get by wearing my paddock boots and half chaps (cleaned up, of course) white breeches, a shirt and jacket.

My desire for my own dressage saddle has turned into more of an argument than a discussion with my husband. I don't think he's going to be a good horse husband. Yesterday he was grumbling about what a racket it is that students pay "them" to groom "their" horses. I don't dare tell him about the other stuff I voluntarily do like sweeping the aisles, hauling water, etc. He always thinks I'm being taken advantage of when in reality I'm doing something I want to do. You'd be hard pressed to get me to do something I dislike for nothing. He had a horse as a kid and is totally over them. I'm just beginning this journey and I hope it doesn't turn into a contention in our lives together. He'd probably have a heart attack if he knew I was looking at horses for sale in the $60,000 to $90,000 range the other day. I like to window shop. I don't feel compelled to buy. He doesn't bother looking at something unless he's actually in the market for it. He says it makes him depressed to look at stuff he can't have. Not me, I love to fantasize.

Speaking of fantasies, if I was a magician I could construct a horse out of all the hair my horse is shedding. She's getting darker as she's shedding out. I think she's dun colored and I am considering dragging my hair dresser to the stable to see if she could color my hair the same as her mane. It has a bunch of different colors, including silver, which would be appropriate for my age.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Dressage Show Clothing

Swiped from Dressage Training Journal
Check out Item #4 - white breeches - the horror! Who dreamed this up? Is there a famous rider that could change this requirement the way the Williams sisters have eliminated wearing nothing but white for tennis players? Not that I necessarily approve of all of their outfits - Cher cornered that market years ago - but still now tennis players are wearing colors. White is so impractical. I don't have tall boots either. Who am I kidding, I don't have 90% of those items.

I feel guilty spending as much as I do on lessons. I can't see myself putting out the money for show gear. Someone has a Stubben all purpose saddle for sale on Craigslist for $400 that I am tempted to look at/try out. Husband is still not on board with the idea - Why am I spending money on a horse I don't own? He just doesn't "get" the little girl pony fantasy. I can pretend the mare is mine.

Midlife Mom asked if I was feeling better. My sore throat never developed into anything and was gone in two or three days. Now that I've mentioned it I'll probably catch something nasty. That seems to be the way it works. If I ever called in sick to work because I wanted to goof off, I'd invariably get sick within a few days and have to tough it out because I'd already used up my sick day.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

42 Degrees!

This may not seem very warm to those of you who live in more southernly climes but it is definitely welcome here. I could hear the water in the drainpipes from the melting snow when I was outside today. Didn't need a hat or gloves and just wore a sweatshirt. I also cracked open a couple of windows to let in some fresh air. I know we'll probably get more snow but this time of year it melts pretty fast.

I hate housework but am trying to be better at it. I figure if I'm willing to groom a horse both before and after riding her and then spend a considerable amount of time sweeping the aisles in the barn, that the least I could do is brush my dogs and vacuum today.

Yesterday was my first lesson using a Whinny Widget. My instructor calls out what I'm supposed to be doing and I try to make the horse do it. We went through the same pattern about four or five times. Let's just say that I'm glad I wasn't being scored. It probably would have been a minus number. I've already received a couple of tips - don't look to the side when you're supposed to stop at X in the middle but keep focused straight ahead. Also, you should change the diagonal at X so that you're posting in the proper position when you make your next turn. Apparently these are little things that can give you extra credit. Wait, what, do I really want to compete? Competition will require special clothing, entry fees, paying to use the horse and have it transported, fees to have my instructor coach me. I must be losing my mind.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Whinny Widgets

Monday my instructor suggested I pick up a Whinny Widgets booklet the next time I'm at the tack store so we could work on dressage configurations during my private lessons. Being the obedient student, I made a special trip to purchase same the very next day. Those things sure are expensive for being about six tiny laminated, spiral bound pages. I made myself dizzy in bed that night studying the various tests. I need a way to mount this booklet on my saddle so I can look at it while riding since I need both hands for the reins. Actually my trainer is going to use it and tell me what to do. Oh, and get this - in dressage you aren't allowed to communicate verbally with the horse. I'm screwed.

So, on the home front we've been having beautiful, sunny days, albeit quite cold. All this sunshine is motivating. Yesterday I was going to dust and then I glanced at my grimy kitchen cabinets and decided to wash them down. I saw a blurb on Yahoo news the other day where Flylady advises wiping them down daily in a matter of minutes. Mine took three hours and a lot of climbing up and down. But they're clean, even if still an ugly laminate. I'm wondering if it could be painted. This house was built in 1973 and has all the original cabinetry. My husband refuses to consider remodeling - if it ain't broke, why fix it?

Ran some errands yesterday and saw the cutest little conure (bird) for sale at Petco. It was young, born in November, and had been hand raised so very friendly. It would hop up and down for attention. There was a time when I probably would have bought it to add to my menagerie but now the thought of all the riding lessons I could pay for with its purchase price kept me from bringing it home. Maybe I'm actually getting a handle on my impulse buying...