Saturday, April 30, 2011

I'm Alive, Barely

This has been a wicked cold. I could use a skin graft for the area under my nose and I'm sure at least one tree has been sacrificed to the Kleenex factory on my behalf. The cough is hanging on also. Last Saturday was the worst. I was too sick to even want to go to the stable but sat around all day in a stupor. I've gradually been getting better and accomplishing quite a bit around the house, albeit with a tissue constantly at the ready.

I did make it to my riding lessons this past week and they were both quite good. The mare has been sleeping in an outside paddock. She was pretty muddy yesterday and since I was running late only got a perfunctory grooming before the lesson. I made up for it afterwards and she looked pretty darn good if I do say so myself. She's managed to rip her new blanket already and is in trouble with the barn manager. She's just a big tomboy.

Our television broke about 10 days ago. We had a repairman come out to give us an estimate. He was supposed to get back to us yesterday but never called so my husband called the shop. Now we're told that the parts are on back order and they may not even be able to get them at all. So I guess we're going shopping for a new TV today since our old eyes can barely see the picture on the 19" screen we've been making do with. The hockey playoffs are on and we can't find the puck!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011


My brain feels like it's stuffed with cotton, my chest aches and my throat hurts. Right now I'm sweating and I don't know if it's fever or a hot flash - they're pretty interchangeable. I'm hoping a hot, steamy shower will alleviate some of these ills.

Had a lesson with the other trainer on Monday. She said that every time she saw me I looked like I'd dropped weight. My secret? Going from a puffy down vest to a fuzzy fleece vest and then wearing a khaki vest. It's all an optical illusion. I really like my "new" khaki vest because it has a bunch of huge pockets for carrots, kleenex and life's other necessities. I got it off of ebay. Since I opened my mouth and indicated I'd like to help more around the barn I was given a few tasks to accomplish. One was holding one of the ponies while she got clipped - easy peasy. Then I braided "my" mare's mane so that it all lay on one side of her neck. Her mane naturally parts about halfway down her neck so one half lays on one side and the other half on the other. After it starts to lay correctly they're going to pull it. What am I going to hold onto when I'm standing in the stirrups???? I think I'm also going to be responsible for keeping her paddock clean. It drives my husband nuts that I perform manual labor for free but this way I get the illusion of owning a horse without the cost or responsibility.

The trainer had me posting at a walk. This is supposedly a good exercise to help strengthen my thighs. Much mane clutching on my part. When it finally came to posting at a trot I was supposed to keep my rear from touching the saddle. Um, major fail. In fact I smacked the saddle so hard a couple of times that I actually felt sorry for the horse. Overall it was a good lesson and I feel like I'm learning some valuable techniques. The book I mentioned - Living With Horsepower - talks a lot about visualization and mental telepathy (for lack of a better expression) when working with horses. Supposedly it is an innate talent for some but can be learned by anyone with strong enough motivation. I'll be sure and write about the first time one of the horses "speaks" to me.

Monday, April 18, 2011

A Long and Boring Entry

A lot of little things going on. Let's see if I can recap the past week. Monday's lesson went well except for the fact that I can't canter to save my life. The minute the mare gets going I start posting which, of course, is her cue to trot and we're done. I am reading a really interesting book called Living With Horsepower by Rebekah F. Witter. I wonder if I will ever have a smidgen of the knowledge that the contributers to this book share.

I spoke to my trainer about volunteering at the summer horse camp. Sometimes getting her to be open about her opinions is like pulling teeth but I discerned that she was less than thrilled at, (1) my receiving lessons from someone else that might contradict hers, and, this is the biggie, (2) the fact that this business is going to be run out of the Municipality's equestrian center which is not supposed to compete with local stables. At least that was the agreement when it was created over 20 years ago. The horse community is suffering economically like everybody else and the people operating the facility are probably trying to bring in extra income to keep it running. I suppose the rules have been altered over the years to allow this but I don't want to partake in something that is opposed by my barn. So, I told her I would be willing to volunteer there as it's really more about getting me up and moving than it is about riding so I hopefully will be able to work something out there. I'll e-mail the other woman and let her know I won't be available after all.

I ordered some new splint boots, a heavy duty hoof brush and some blanket straps yesterday. I came within an inch of buying a new leather halter but decided to wait until I'd attended some of the horse events here to see if any vendors are selling them at a better price. My husband caught me looking at dressage saddles again on line. I'm also waiting to see if the equine swap meet has a saddle before I order one from out of state.

I babysat on Thursday and the kid had a cold. Guess who's coming down with one now? This time it's not a hint but full fledged throat and sinus onslaught. We also had dinner with her and her grandparents on Saturday so I got a double exposure. Just hope my husband doesn't catch it because he is so miserable when sick.

When I got to the barn on Friday the farrier was there so I groomed the mare inside a stall to stay out of the way. I couldn't find the splint boots I use because one of the kids was using them on a pony (excuse for buying my own) I had to wait until their lesson was done before grabbing them. Then, the young girl in our group grabbed my horse's girth. Not a biggie except the girth I ended up using had sheepskin on it and was too big around to be able to slide the breastplate on it. I managed to get through the lesson without killing my privates.

Woke up Saturday morning to the refrigerator making an enormous racket. It sounded like a helicopter was flying overhead and apparently it had started at 0200 hours. My husband is a genius and can fix almost anything. It turned out to be the compressor fan. He first worked on the old one and it stayed quiet only for a couple of minutes. He ended up buying a new part and it's been working perfectly ever since. I don't know if you all clean behind your refrigerator on a regular basis but I don't so had to do copious amounts of vacuuming and scrubbing.

We've been cleaning up the yard and pretty much finished up yesterday. We gathered up all the fallen branches from the windstorm a while back. Now the snow just needs to finish melting and the yard to dry out. It's pretty squishy right now and the dogs smell really wonderful after being out for any length of time. It would be a waste of time to bathe them right now.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Monday Meanderings

I survived the windstorm last week. Friday's lesson went really well and none of us screwed up in any major way. We trotted a lot working on our endurance. I was able to get the mare go from a stop to a trot without any problem since she was in a willing mood. Funny how that works. I've used a breastplate the last couple of lessons and think it's helping the saddle to stay in place. I've read how it may constrict the horse's movement and/or cause pain, so am keeping a close eye on that. All of the horses are shedding and the four of us on Friday produced an awesome amount of hair. I used a rubber mitt on the mare's face and got a ton of short hairs off. I'm going to do it again today, along with her legs.

We had a local election here last Tuesday. My husband and I mail in our votes. He pointed out that the instructions for correctly filling out and mailing in the ballot are designed so a five year old could understand them, yet the issues themselves are worded in such a way that you can't tell whether you're voting for or against something. Just doesn't seem right.

I have received several interesting political e-mails recently that I'm considering posting here. We'll see. I also received one supposedly showing baby pandas and how they were effected by the earthquake. Um, people, the earthquake was in Japan. The pandas are in China, which, according to Google, was not effected by an earthquake. Get a clue.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Stormy Weather

A high wind warning is in effect for the Anchorage Hillside and Turnagain Arm until 4 p.m., with winds up to 75 mph possible. The National Weather Service says gusts up to 45 mph are possible in south and west parts of the city.

I am selfishly glad that I am not responsible for tending any horses on a day like today. I'm sure it makes them skittish. There is snow/rain mixed in with the wind so I'm sure being outside is a miserable experience. I hope we have decent weather this summer. Some years it seems like it snows all winter and rains all summer. I guess I should look into some kind of lightweight waterproof pants to wear if I'm going to be working outside. Some kind of hat might be good also. I have a problem with hoods in that when I turn my head, the hood stays facing forward so I end up looking at the inside of the hood instead of what I'm actually trying to see. Mucho irritating.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

So Far So Good

Sunday's barn show was so much fun. I love to see the little ones on the ponies. One young girl, I'd guess in the 12 to 14 age range, rode "my" mare. She got a blue ribbon in one class and a yellow in another. I was impressed with how the mare looked. It's hard to imagine her movement from her back.

Yesterday's lesson started out as if I had never ridden a horse before in my life. I don't know what was going through her mind but the mare sure didn't want to listen to me. After some time of this my trainer said, "I'm going to go get something to help you." She came back with a crop in her hand. All my mare had to do was see it and she straightened right up and we ended on a terrific note. It was never applied to her and I never even held it; she is that smart.

The lady with the summer riding camp and I finally spoke today. I think we are very compatible and it turns out she is going to take on a lot of volunteers to spread the work load. Also, she has done this before and knows that people start out eager beavers and then quit after they discover the lack of glamour to horse care. She will have fifteen horses, twelve beginners and three intermediate. It sounds like it will be a lot of fun. Now we just have to wait for the weather to improve - it was practically white out blizzard this morning but reached 40 degrees this afternoon. I guess I'm as "in" as anybody at this point.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Keeping My Fingers Crossed

I applied for a barn helper position that I saw on Craigslist Saturday. It appears to be a work in exchange for riding lessons position. I sent an e-mail with my horse-related experience, age, and the fact that I'm not in the best physical condition but am hoping barn work would help improve that. She promptly responded with some information about what would be expected of me and if I was still interested, to call her. I left a message yesterday afternoon and am now waiting for a return call.

She is starting up a new facility and plans to open for business the end of May. I get the impression she may be offering a kid's camp with games and trail rides. These are positives for me as I figure she won't be offering wild, out of control horses plus it would give me an opportunity to do some trail riding. Her ad mentioned the possibility of showing. I plan to attend a lot of local shows this summer as a spectator so this might give me some behind-the-scenes experience.

If I get the job I hope to continue lessons where I'm currently riding, maybe cut down to once a week. I really like it there plus this sounds like a seasonal position so I want to keep good relations with the stable that offers year-round instruction. I don't know if there is any kind of rivalry between barns and don't want to jeopardize my relationship there.

Speaking of my current barn, the schooling show is today and I'm going to head out the door shortly. I hope someone will be riding "my" mare as I've never had an opportunity to watch her being ridden. I'd like to see how she moves.